Tell No Lies Lisa Hartley

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Internal compartmentation in covert policing makes life dangerous for the undercover police officer; but, are Met and the NCA working with or against each other on this case.

The secrets that are being kept have far reaching effects on the investigation and the personal lives of some of the officers carrying it out.

There is a new drug baron in one of London’s suburbs. Actually, it’s more accurate to say the old one has been arrested and is in prison and some low-level dealers are trying to muscle their way into the big time.

But then a body is found tortured to death, and its linked to a second death that happened a few days earlier, that of a Policeman that died in similar circumstances.

The Met decides to send in a team of undercover officers.

This story follows Detective Caelan Small. At the start of the book she is recovering from a recent undercover operation that has damaged her physically and emotionally. She is given no choice go to work or go away. So, she assumes an identity she has used before and goes in search of information about the new drugs dealers.

She soon establishes that there may be more than one gang involved and that the dead Policeman may have been running his own investigation, “off-the book”

The investigation leads to some of the more salubrious areas of London, and this is where the book really comes into its own.

Lisa Hartley describes the areas and people of London involved in the gang and drugs culture very well. I was hooked by its reality.

The story is very fast paced. In fact I intended to read it over a week and ended up not putting it down, and finishing it in a day.

Its pace is breathless. The story takes place over just a few days and I felt like I was there with Caelan. Feeling her frustrations at her Senior Officers who were making decisions based on facts she could not be told, the frustrations of knowing other officers are working with her, but feeling they are working against her.

I felt the anxiety she feels when she has to make snap decisions, putting herself in danger, but more worryingly potentially putting others in danger.

The story is complex, and right up till the last page I had no idea how it was going to end.

I loved it

 

Pages: 331

Published by: Canelo

Publishing date: 19th February 2018

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Next to Die T.J. Brearton

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How do you draw up a list of suspects when the deceased has made enemies every time they do their job.

And, what if the dead person is not even the intended target, but it’s a case of mistaken identity by the killer.

Imagine the type of plot line you could write with just those two principles. Well you don’t have to imagine it anymore. T.J. Brearton has taken these two strings and knitted one hell of a story.

The book starts with the killing of a Social Worker who has been working late into the evening and is the last to leave the office. She has made enemies, lots of them, people who have kids taken from their parents often do, but is this what got her killed.

Bobbi, is one of her co-workers, and although a lot younger, bears a passing resemblance to her, and she drives an almost identical car. Was she the intended victim, there are good reasons she could have been.

Detectives Mike Nelson, State Police, and Lena Overton, Lake Haven Police, take on a joint investigation. Working together brings them closer together and there is a definite chemistry between the two but will it hamper the investigation.

As they start to look into the murder they find a unsolved crime from 10 months earlier. If the two are really connected does that mean that there have been other crimes that have not been reported, is somebody attacking Case Workers from Social Services. If they are does that mean that the attacks haven’t finished, who will be the Next to Die, and can the detectives from 2 different agencies work together to stop the killer.

Nobody in this book, except Nelson and Overton, are who they first appear to be. Everybody has something lurking in their past, but does that make them a suspect or a future victim.

I have rarely read a book which kept me as engrossed. Every string of the plot is gripping, the story as a whole is addictive.

The characters are well written; the scenes are well described; the plot is captivating.

T.J. Brearton has quickly moved to the top of my list of authors whose books I look for as soon as they are available. He has gone from the “to be read” pile, to the “Must be read” list

Reading his biography it is easy to see why; he  studied psychology, philosophy, and religion to gain a degree in Social Sciences. He has been a photographer and a film maker.

What does this tell me about him?

As a photographer and a film maker he will have observed people; as a student of psychology and philosophy he will understand the people he observed.

That is why his characters are so good. Those characters make excellent stories.

Its early in the year but I should imagine this will be one of the best books I read in 2018.

Pages: 356

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: TODAY GO AND BUY IT

Available on Amazon

 

The Baby Sitter Sheryl Browne

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8 years ago young Grace watches as her house burns down. Her Mom, her sister, and her Moms latest husband are trapped inside. Grace doesn’t care.

When a Police officer finds her hiding in a bush he takes her to the detective in charge of the investigation, DI Mark Caine.

Today, Mark and his family are living happily in a small town. The house next door suffers a fire and the new neighbour, a single young woman, Jade, is left homeless.

Mark and his wife Mel hardy know the woman but when they find out she is a qualified child minder they agree to take her in to look after their children so that Mel can start to concentrate on her art.

What could possibly go wrong

Anybody who has watched a film which includes a “bunny-boiler” will know what comes next, but strangely this book hooked me. Even though I thought I knew what was coming next, most of the time, it was written in such a way that I wanted to carry on reading, and at times its scary reading.

When Jade moves in things start to go bad. At first its little things that could be put down to other people mislaying things, but she is evil and her activity starts to intensify.

Nothing is sacred, pets, kids, wife, husband. What is she after? Why is she doing what she is doing, or more to the point, how will she be stopped and will everybody survive to tell the tale.

There is a lot to like about this book, the plot, the characters, the way it’s written.

There were times when it made me cringe, in a good way. At the beginning I nearly put it down, ten pages later I was glad I didn’t.

I finished it. I enjoyed it.

Pages: 384

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 8th March 2018

 

Unconvicted Olly Jarvis

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Jack Kowalski is a 26-year-old Defence Barrister. Being so young he not only has to navigate the Laws, Ethics, and Traditions of the Court room but he also has to put up with the bullying ways of some of the more senior Barristers and Silks in his own Chambers.

When a man, who is apparently insane, rapes his wife, Jack gets the case and manages to get the man released from custody. A few days later the same man is arrested for murdering his wife.

Jack now has the moralistic dilemma faced by many defence Barristers.  Did he get guilty man acquitted, and did that man go on to murder his wife.

Owing in some small part to his success in that case, and largely because of his Polish heritage, Jack picks up a second rape case to defend; that of a prominent young footballer.

Has the player really raped the girl or is she no more than a tabloid whore who is out to ruin the young man.

This story is so on point for today’s news that it is almost anticipating tomorrows headlines.

Jack is a great character and the dilemmas he faces are very real for people who work on the defence side of a criminal trial. As the story follows Jack through the Court proceedings it brings up things which we are seeing on a daily basis in the news. Men named and shamed, victims anonymity, issues of disclosure, or lack of it and misleading information being tendered to both Prosecution and Defence.

The story looks at the snobbism which is rampant in the Court hierarchy and how difficult it is to be a young Barrister in an old established system. But the most impressive thing for me is the way Jacks thoughts and feelings are established on the page.

Many times I have sat in Court, as a Prosecution Expert, and wondered how the people working on the defence could balance their own convictions and ethics with what was playing out during a trial.

As a work of fiction, this is about the best I’ve read when it comes to modern day proceedings and the people involved in them

 

Pages: 318

UK Publisher: Canelo

Available on Amazon

Cold Heart Stephen Edger

 

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This is the 3rd book in the Di Kate Matthews series, a series that just keeps getting better.

The story starts in the middle of an investigation. 15 year old Daisy has been missing for 7 days and Matthews is interviewing the Head Teacher of her school.  During the interview a member of staff announces that he thinks he has found a body in the derelict school sports hall.

What he’s actually found is a resuscitation doll; but what Kate finds when she’s looking around the building is what appears to be a kill room, with lots of blood and a foot.

And so begins a complex investigation, which has the team going off in many directions.

Like any real Police Investigation the officers are led by the evidence and their own instinct. At times the plot is like a domino rally. Once one domino has been set tumbling it sets of others, at times the domino’s split and two trails set of in opposite directions but eventually all coming back to the same point.

The accidental discovery of the kill room seems to signal bad news for Daisy’s family but are the team investigating Daisy’s murder or has she become involved in something which has led to disappearance.

With corruption, prostitution,  and many other serious crimes on the table maybe Daisy going missing is the best thing that could have happened.

This book is really good and had me turning page after page. In fact I read this in as close to one sitting as any book I’ve ever read.  Roll on book 4 .

Pages: 350

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 12th March 2018.

The Reunion Samantha Hayes

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How would I describe this book.

It’s like an episode of Midsummer Murders that’s been directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

I was figuratively peeping between my fingers when I read parts of it.

The story starts with a bunch of teenagers having a day on the beach. One of the girls, Claire, is looking after her younger sister Eleanor. When Eleanor goes for an ice cream she never comes back.

The main part of the book starts 21 years later. Claire is now married to Callum and has two children of her own. She still lives in the same seaside town where her sister went missing. Her Mom and Dad live in the same farm they have always lived in.

Claire’s dad is suffering from dementia and she decides to get her childhood friends back together to spend a week helping her Dad reminisce on the happier days when they all used to hang out together.

They have all moved away but keep in touch. All of them have issues, but don’t we all. There’s Jason, Claire’s brother a struggling actor who’s wife is pregnant with twins.

Then there’s Maggie, who is what can only be called a Nomadic Cougar, and her temptress 15 year old daughter Rane.

Claire’s former love interest Nick. The restaurateur, who is newly single under tragic circumstances, and who still holds a flame for Claire.

Even before they arrive at the farm for the reunion strange things start to happen. Claire is beginning to get abusive phone calls. She’s an estate agent and she starts to get false alarms to viewings.

The subject of Eleanor is never far below the surface. Everybody still remembers the day she went missing, but the only person bold enough to ask questions about it is Rane.

There are simmering undercurrents throughout this book. There is no blood and guts, but there is suspense in abundance.

As the story unfolds there are flash backs form a girl who is being held captive. Is it Eleanor or is it somebody else who has gone missing.

This story kept me turning the pages late into the night and early in the morning. It’s been a long time since a book, which on the surface is quiet and genteel, has had the me feeling so much suspense.

 

Pages: 410

Publishers: Bookouture

Published on: 9th February 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Photographer Craig Robertson

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This book covers issues so current that at times I almost felt like I was reading a fly-on-the-wall expose of a real investigation.

From the start of the book a vicious rapist is identified and taken to court, only to have key evidence thrown out on a technicality. The one and only witness who has been brave enough to come forward to give evidence at the trial breaks down and runs away leaving the judge no choice but to throw the case out.

The accused rapist is a semi-famous business man and his name has been released to the press, his victim is only known by a pseudo name. The moral debate about this is touched on, but what follows is a huge amount of trolling abuse aimed at the victim and the female police officer who took the case to court.

Detective Inspector Rachel Narey is the officer in question. She is becoming the target of abuse and threats of violence.

Rachel is frustrated that the case got thrown out of court, and even more frustrated that a file containing hundreds of photographs of random women taken all over the streets of Glasgow was thrown out of evidence; and that she was forced to return the photos and all copies of them to the accused.

She knows she had the right man, her bosses know she had the right man. They also know that every woman in the photos is a victim, or potential victim, of the attacker. Those photos are now off limits. How can she get after him?

When her husband, Tony, a journalist, is sent the photos on a computer file he knows he can’t tell his wife. He also knows he may have the biggest story he has ever had, but at what cost to his marriage.

Meanwhile a rape counsellor has been on the trail of a man who attacks his victims in a very specific manner, and it’s the same way that Narey’s victim was attacked. She has a file she’s named “The Beast File” containing 9 year’s worth of investigations. She has never got near identifying the victim until now.

Three lines of investigation start. DI Narey is still after her man but is confined by the letter of the law. Her husband Tony is not nearly so confined but without official status he is placing himself in danger.

Then there is Tony’s Uncle Dan, an ex-cop and God Father to Rachel and Tony’s little girl. He arrives to stay and look after the girl because of the threats made on social media to Rachel. He opens up a third line of inquiry when he joins in the twitter chat and ingratiates himself with the bigoted keyboard warriors that hide behind their computer screens.

With all three looking for a way to put the attacker behind bars the story highlights the difference between how different people can get information, legitimately or otherwise.

It shows the frustrations of modern policing, what can be done and what can’t.

It shows the frustrations of victims who get up the courage to step forward, only to be let down by the judicial system.

It shows how easy it is for so called secret identities to be found out; and how they become widely known through social media, and the effect that has on the person who is so often the victim of a serious crime.

This book could not be more topical. It reflects issues that have been in the press very recently, and even mentions the Black Cab Rapist whose immanent release is causing so much consternation.

I like books that get me thinking. This book got me thinking about some of the laws of this country, and the way some trials are reported.

It also got me thinking something I have never thought before. Maybe some of this investigative journalism is better placed to find out the truth than a proper legal investigation.

For a work of fiction that takes some doing.

Then I read Craig Robertson’s biography.

Now I know why this book is so good.

I’m off to find his back catalogue. I can’t not read them. I hope they are just as good as this one. They have a lot to live up to.

Pages: 448

Publishers UK: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date UK: 25th January 2018