Songs of Innocence Anne Coates

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Hannah Waybridge is back in this great series set in the 1990’s

The London based investigative journalist has had some success with recent investigations, but when she stumbles across the Police recovering a body from a local pond she doesn’t realise she is about to be thrown into another.

The body is of a young Asian girl. Although the Police originally think the death is an act of suicide her family are convinced it is anything but that.

They attempt to hire Hannah to investigate the death but as a journalist she insist on doing it as research for an article, and refuses payment.

From then on she is thrown into the murky world of “honour killings” within the Indian community. The story looks at the expectations and limitations placed on some Asian girls, and their families. She identifies the fact that girls in their early teens are sometimes sent to India to marry much older men, often under false pretences.

But what happened to the girls that refused, or who were married but failed to meet the in-laws expectations of a wife.

As Hannah begins her investigation  more bodies are found. Young girls start to come forward with their own accounts and worries.

As Hannah digs deeper problems start to surface in her private life. The father of her child is in prison having been arrested as part of a people smuggling ring Hannah helped uncover in a previous investigation. As he tries to contact her it becomes apparent that she is being followed.

Is it something to do with her current investigation, or something to do with the pervious one. Is this why her ex is trying to reach out to her?

The story has plenty of twists and turns, both in the investigation into the deaths of the Asian Girls, and in Hannah’s private life. As the book races to an end the Hannah is in increasing danger. The end is brilliant.

This book highlighted problems within some sections of the Indian community in the 1990’s. These problems didn’t go away, and throughout the of the 2000’s I  have worked on numerous investigations involving Honour Killings, arson attacks, and Suicides linked to the problem. Anne Coates has painted a very realistic picture of the issues faced by some of the girls, and young women, in that community. She has captured the terror felt by some girls, and their families, and the very real dangers they faced from within the community and their own extended families.

The story is stunningly realistic.

Pages: 320

Publishers: Urbane Publications Ltd

Publishing Date: 24th May 2018. Available to pre-order now on Amazon

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Blood Rites David Stuart Davies

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This is the book that takes all the Police Procedural Novels stereo-types, rips them up and throws them in the bin.

 

Set in 1985, when being gay was still seen as being taboo in the Police, the main protagonist is Detective Inspector Paul Snow.

 

Paul is gay, and to protect his professional “credibility” he keeps it to himself. In fact, to protect himself, he has been celibate for 10 years.

 

As the story starts Snow is dating a recently divorced Headmistress from a local Catholic school; and to convince himself he has changed, he even sleeps with her.

 

If this book hadn’t been so well written some people might find this story line insulting, but it isn’t. It highlights the struggles people had and the book is set right in a time when bigotry was rife.

 

The book starts with a killer washing a blood-soaked knife in his kitchen sink, and then regresses 3 months to the start of a killing spree.

 

Whilst Snow is on a date with Matilda, the Headmistress, a man is mugged and the mugger is later knocked over and killed in a hit-and-run. The mystery killer of the novel loves the instant karma that has served justice, and a seed is planted.

 

It’s not long before the killer starts his spree.

 

Snow and his team investigate the first murder, the victim is a drunk wife beater.

 

As more murders take place Snow and his team make very little headway. Pressure is starting to mount on Snow; both professionally to catch the killer, and personally as he struggles with his sexuality and a conflict in his relationship with Matilda.

 

The plot moves quickly, and realistically, showing the investigation from Snows perspective. His frustrations with the lack of a break in the case multiply with every new victim. The only apparent connection between the victims is the manner in which they are killed.

 

When he does begin to realise there is a connection he has no proof of it, leading to more frustrations.

 

The book crashes to an unbelievable climax that actually had me utter an expletive out loud, luckily, I was sitting in the lounge on my own. What an ending. I honestly cannot think of another one like it.

 

There has to be a sequel, and I can’t wait to read it.

 

Pages: 304

Publisher: Urbane Publications Limited

UK Publishing date: 9th November 2017.

Available now on Amazon

Nemesister Sophie Jonas-Hill

 

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A deeply complex book, with many twists and turns, this book will never be described as bubblegum for the brain. Dark and sinister from the start to the end it kept me engrossed from page 1.

It starts with a woman with no memory stumbling into a shack in deepest Louisiana. Barely conscious she holds the male occupier at gunpoint, he sees she’s hurt.

From that point on the story gets dark. Not unlike the Bourne Identity the main protagonist starts to regain her memory and the story of what leads to her appearing in the shack starts to unfold.

As the title suggests the girl has a sister. The mystery woman starts to remember the sister, or is it implanted memories of someone else’s life, or maybe even memories of her own life.

The story moves rapidly and switches, in some places confusingly, between the present and the memories. But this is good, this is very good; because for the first time, for a long time, I read a book that kept me on my toes. It kept me hooked like no other book has for years.

The man in the shack takes care of the girl. But who is he, and why is he helping her.  A couple of Freudian slips, when he is talking to her, puts the girl on her guard. Is he spinning her a false story, or is her memory loss causing her to be forgetful or misunderstanding.

As her paranoia grows his activities seem become more intimidating in their innocence. Why would a complete stranger help somebody with no memory who has stumbled into his remote shack.

When the shack is attacked it seals the woman’s faith in her helper. She is after all free to leave if she wants to, then he locks the doors and puts the key in his pocket.

Exploring the house when he’s asleep the woman makes a discovery and starts to piece things together in her mind. Should she escape, or is she safer where she is, does she have a choice.

I loved this book. It finishes on a cliff hanger, and I was pleased to see that Sophie Jonas-Hill is working on the sequal.

Hurry up Sophie I can’t wait for Broken Ponies

Pages: 304

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publication Date: 6th July 2017.

Available to pre-order from Amazon

The Man Who Played Trains Richard Whittle

 

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The Man Who Played Trains. Richard Whittle

The style of writing, and the story, took me back to my days reading Hammond Innes and early Robert Ludlum in the late 70’s early 80’s. Grown up boys own stories. Stories of ordinary men pushed into unusual circumstances in subtle ways that are totally realistic.
In the modern day Mining engineer, and consultant, John Spargo, receives a phone call to tell him his mother is in hospital. Rushing to her bedside he finds she has been beaten up in a home raid. Sadly she dies and John sets out to find out what the person that raided her house was after. The house is in the little run down mining village of Kilcreg, a cul-de-sac town on the Scottish coast. The town used to have a mine, run by Spargo’s father, but since it closed there has been no work and the elderly population wouldn’t be responsible for the attack.

Meanwhile in 1944 a German U-boat captain, Theodore Volker is trying to get home to see his young son. He is a good man whose wife had been killed during an air raid, he looks after his crew, and speaks his mind about the state of the German war effort, and the way they are beginning to lose the war.
When Volker is confronted on a train, by a stranger, and taken to a Luftwaffe base in Berlin, it becomes obvious he is being recruited for a secret mission. A mission to the UK.
As things start to gather pace Sparo’s daughter is kidnapped and he takes on his own mission, to find his daughter and discover why his mother was killed, by who, and why.
It’s no supplies that the happenings during the end of World War 2 are connected with the happenings in modern day Scotland, but how.
This book blends the two story-lines together in an intriguing novel that has been an absolute pleasure to read.

This style of book has gone missing over the last few years in favour of unrealistic adventure thrillers. It’s good to have it back

Thank you Richard Whittle.

Pages: 480

Publisher: Urbane Pulications

Available on Amazon for the Kindle

the lighterman Simon Michael

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Charles Holborne. A Barrister that changed his name from Charles Horowitz to improve his chances in the legal profession.

Charles Holborne, the man whose morals and ethics keep him sane.

Those morals and ethics are about to be tested.

In the previous two books in this series Charles Holborne has acted as a defence Barrister in some high profile cases. He has lost his wife, who he was arrested for murdering; he has gone head to head with crooked Police Officers; annoyed the Kray Twins, and been alienated by his peers. He has started relationships and lost his families trust.

In this book, we find out more about Charles. How his family were bombed out of their home during the blitz. How the young Charles ran away from being a refugee in Carmarthen, and returned to his bombed-out home. How he ended up working with family on tugs and barges on the Thames before joining the RAF to become a fighter pilot.

When, in 1964, one of the boat crew is accused of murder Charles is immersed in the working boat world of the Thames again.

The story looks at the gangland culture of London. Examines the bribery and corruption by, and off, Police Officer’s in and around Soho. Delves into the Gay culture of the mid 60’s, and its dangers.

In 1964 Charles is just beginning to attract clients again, but is living under the threat of being on Ronnie Kray’s “list”.

Merlin is accused of Murdering a Waterguard, a 1960’s river Policeman, come Customs Officer, and Charles is manipulated into representing him in Court: But who is Merlin and why has Charles been made to represent him.

The answers, to those question, lie in this marvellously written story. Not only does this book stand alone as a good novel, but it complements the two previous books. The reader will learn more about Charles, his youth, his family, and his private life.

I love books which have me reaching for the internet to research things that are mentioned in them. I spent ages looking at the world of the boat workers of the Thames. I found myself reading about the London gang wars of the 1960’s.

I picked this book up and was immediately hooked, 5 hours later I put it down, finished.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book, from front to back, in one sitting.

Pages: 400

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Available on Amazon for the Kindle.

Deaths Silent Judgement Anne Coates

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Deaths Silent Judgement    Anne Coates

What a fantastic read.

Set in the 1990’s, an era which is rapidly becoming my favourite for crime fiction, the story in this book is realistic, and frighteningly believable

Journalist Hannah Weybridge is back, and the story starts a short time after the end of Anne Coate’s previous book Dancers in The Wind.

When Hannah finds her best friend murdered in a church life begins to take an interesting and dangerous turn.

Her friend Liz was a dentist. She had a successful practice in the City, but since returning from carrying out charitable work in Somalia, she has also worked in the church roviding dental care to vagrants.

This opens a whole list of characters who Hannah meets.

Liz’s Mom, Lady Celia Rayman, is not happy with the Police investigation into her daughter’s murder and asks Hannah to have a look at the case.

As Hannah starts to dig she meets the vagrants who live in the Bull Ring, a cardboard city at one of London’s Train Stations. Finding out that Liz had Biblical knick-names for these patients she ponders  if the names have any significance.

She digs into the charity that Liz worked for in Africa, uncovering the uncomfortable truth surrounding Female Genital Mutilation, kidnapping, and trafficking, but has this got anything to do with Liz’s murder.

Then there’s the clergy. Liz was killed at a church working for one of the local Priests projects.

When the priest goes missing and turns up a few days later, in intensive care, Hannah becomes concerned that the church is trying to cover things up.

Hannah Weybridge is one of those characters that it is easy to fall in love with. Still traumatised by the events which took place in Dancers in the Wind. Living at home with her 14-month old daughter she is paranoid about most things. Her daughter is looked after by her Nanny, allowing Hannah to carry on her work as a journalist, but that career has been hampered by the earlier events. The story she submitted was spiked and Hannah has been shackled by a contract that allows her very little scope to write.

With her personal life falling apart, or at least becoming very complicated Hannah starts to piece together the jigsaw that was Liz’s life.

Did it involve her work with the Vagrants?

Was it something to do with the charity work that Liz had been working on?

Has it got something to do with the church?

Is Liz’s family history anything to do with her death?

All of these strands are possible right up till the last couple of chapters when things start to become resolved.

Right at the very end there’s a nice little twist. A cliff hanger which will have you waiting for the next Hannah Waybridge story just as much as I am.

Pages: 244

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publishing Date: 11th May 2017.

Pre-order available on Amazon

Imperfection Ray Clark

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This book seems to have had a luke-warm reception looking at the reviews on Amazon.

I have to disagree. I found it intriguing and charming.

I liked the characters, I liked the settings. I think Ray Clark has managed to balance the need to give enough information, and not give too much gore in the description. I went back and read a couple of the murder scene depictions and yes, they are horrific murders, but they are described in an almost sympathetic way. There are too many novels these days that rely on the shock factor.

There was one thing I did find irritating. At each murder scene, there is a clue in the form of what appears to be a quote from a stage play, a film or a book. Everybody is perplexed as to where it has come from, or has it just been made up. I just wanted to shout “google” at my Kindle.

That said this is a good story. It’s almost Sherlock Holmes like in its setting. The first murder happens on the stage of a local theatre in Leeds.

What follows is a series of murders based around theatrical themes and personalities.  Some of the characters are strange, but in an addictive way. They fit into the story by being just like the type of people we all imagine working in that field.

The plot ticks along nicely as DI Stewart Gardiner and his team, especially DS Sean Reilly begin to put the case together, but every time they think they have it cracked, or can try to anticipate the killers next move, they are thrown by the next murder.

Clark writes from the suspects point of view as well, or has he. So yes, it is quite easy to form an opinion of who you think the murder is but you should read right to the end of the last page to make sure you’re right.

If you do read it to the last page. You won’t be disappointed.

I read it. I liked it, and I will read the next one.