Two Girls Down Louisa Luna

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One of the best things about e-readers, and the various sites from which you can download books, is that I have discovered authors that I would never have encountered in the bookshops of the UK.

Various holidays over the years have resulted in me finding authors, and then have the frustration of not being able to buy their books here.

Today’s review highlights how good it is to find a good book by a great author, who is published in the UK, but on a small scale, and who I would probably never found.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a gem of a book.

When two very young girls go missing from a Mall in Pennsylvania their single mother is left distraught. Jamie Brandt is a single mom and her two girls, Kylie (10) and Bailey (8) are her life. The small-town Police Department are understaffed and over worked and, as much as they want to find the find the girls, it seems an impossible task.

Jamie’s Aunt contacts a Private Investigator in California with a history of recovering missing children.

A bit like a Female Jack Reacher 33 (but a lot more realistic) year old Alice Vega arrives in town and starts her own investigation.

Realising she need local help, and restricted by the Police, she reaches out for former cop Max (Cap) Capland, a single father with a very forthright 16-year-old daughter.

The investigation into the disappearance of the two girls leads Vega and Cap through the underworld of small town USA. Whilst battling with the underworld they butt heads with the Local Police.

There is the inevitable will-they-won’t-they element to the relationship but it definitely adds to the story.

The twists and turns come fast in the case and it is not a book where you will easily guess what the ending is going to be, but it’s a great ride getting there.

For those of you, like me, who have never read a Louisa Luna book before, I would compare her stories, and writing style, to Marnie Riches. If you like the Girl Who….. series and Born Bad, you are going to love this book.

Pages: 320

Published by: Doubleday

Publishing date: 9th January 2018.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Walls Hollie Overton

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I’m going to say this right at the beginning of this blog. This is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever read.

Kirsty Tucker is a Public Information Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She has one of the toughest jobs in the prison, dealing with death row prisoners, and the press who want to talk to them as their execution approaches.

In her private life, she is a single mom bringing up her teenage son, Ryan, whilst looking after her ill father.

When Ryan gets into a fight at school Kirsty can’t believe what she sees. Her usually studious son has beat up one of the school jocks. When she finds out Ryan has been taking secret martial arts lessons she goes to confront the instructor.

The instructor is Lance. He’s attractive, fit, attentive and single. The obvious relationship soon blossoms and Kirsty and Lance become inseparable.

Everybody loves Lance, but what are his secrets and what type of person is he really.

Meanwhile Kirsty is developing an unusual friendship with a death row inmate, Clifton Harris-The Baby Killer. Nobody likes, or trusts, Clifton so why does Kirsty connect with him so well.

This plot is full of twists and turns. Not everybody is who they seem to be and, as a reader, I found my allegiances, and suspicions changing throughout the book.

Kirsty and her family are put in danger, she gets hurt, but who can she turn to.

How is she going to ensure the family’s safety, can she bring herself to deal out her own justice, or should she turn to somebody else.

There are very few books that have made me exclaim out loud, but there was at least twice when my wife looked across at me and asked me why I was shouting out loud.

The characters in this book are fascinating. I defy anybody to not connect with Kirsty.

There is no way I could see the way this book was going to end, there were times when I thought just end now why things are going well, there were others when I wanted it to keep going.

This book goes beyond the usual victim-revenge story. It covers the ethics of thought. Can a victim become an aggressor?? Will the normally law abiding, placid person, manage to take things into their own hands, and if they do, do they think they can live with the consequences, legal and moral?

Most authors would have been happy to end this book at an earlier stage of the story, but Hollie Overton has done a masterful job of continuing a story beyond where many would have placed the last full stop (period).

In the Acknowledgements Hollie Overton said writing this book challenged her in ways she’d never imagined. Well she met the challenge well and has produced one of the books of the year.

Clear the number one spots on all the book sales and download charts, The Walls is published this week.

Pages: 385

Publisher Digital: Cornerstone Digital

Publisher Hard Copy: Century-Penguin Random House

Available on Amazon: 10th August 2017.

The Night Market Jonathan Moore

 

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Set in the near future, I don’t think it would be right to label this book as Sci-fi, more like an anticipation of how things will be in 50 years time.

Carver and Jenner are two Inspectors in the San Francisco Police Department. On Thursday night they attend a grisly murder scene with two uniform cops.

The body is decomposing before their eyes, but not in a way they have ever seen before. As they begin to examine it a HazMats team burst into the room and usher them through decontamination.

Sunday morning Carver wakes up in bed with no memory of anything since Wednesday.

His neighbour, the hermit like Mia, is reading a book at his bedside and informs him she saw some people bring him home on Friday, and that she had looked after him ever since.

Carver is the main protagonist of the book and most of the narrative is told from his point of view. As he battles to regain his memory he starts to put together what happened to him and his partner; but who can he trust, Jenner is back at work as though nothing had happened, and he knows nothing about Mia. There is nobody else.

His investigation links to the murder he and Jenner had been investigating for some time. Somebody was killing people in China Town. They were having their faces carved open and then being cut in half. How is this linked to Thursday nights body.

His discoveries will put him in danger, test his relationships and see people die.

All of this in the first 15% of the book (on an e-reader) and what follows is a good old fashioned conspiracy theory set in a slightly futuristic San Francisco.

The story is compelling, and I found myself totally engrossed in it. Jonathan Moore has set the story in a time which is not unconceivable, and his descriptions of the City, its population, its crimes, and its utter deterioration are as addictive as the characters.

I don’t usually read Sci-fi, and I haven’t seen anything in the blurb for this book to suggest it is, but the story is so well written that I didn’t realise it was set in the future until I was hooked by it. Then there was no putting it down.

I will be looking up more of Mr Moore’s books. This one is very good.

Pages: 272

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 11 January 2018.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

 

Anatomy of a Scandal Sarah Vaughan

 

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Just to deviate from my usual reading I was looking for a Political, or Court, Drama. Anatomy of a Scandal came up in the Amazon search engine when I put both categories in so I thought I’d give it ago, even if it did say “female fiction” as the main category.

Well either I’m in touch with my feminine side or they have the category wrong. I found this to be a thoroughly engrossing read.

The synopsis for the story reads like it should be from a tabloid news front page, but it is written with the panache of a broad sheet.

James Whitehouse is a high profile Conservative MP, a cabinet minister, and a very good friend of the Prime Minister. They have been friends from school and were members of the Libertines at Oxford University.

The story starts with Sophie Whitehouse, his wife, waiting at home for her husband who is uncharacteristically late and out of contact. When he walks through the door he looks worried; and he should be, he’s just about to tell his wife he has been having an affair with a pretty young researcher, and that the press has got hold of the story.

Could it get any worse?

Oh yes!

The researcher Olivia Lytton accuses James of rape and he is arrested, and the case goes to court in a high-profile media circus of a hearing.

Sophie decides to stand by her man; but does she believe him.

Kate Woodcroft QC the CPS prosecution Barrister is convinced James is guilty and is prepared to do almost anything, within the law, to see him found guilty.

The story concentrates on the Court hearing whilst flashing back to James and Sophie’s University days and the shenanigans of the Libertines. Will this history show why Sophie is so adamant that James is innocent, or explain why she wants to stand by him? Will it show why Kate is so determined get a guilty verdict.

There are places in this book, where Sarah Vaughan described places and people very deeply, that I have to admit to speed reading or skipping text as; but the story is outstanding.

Throughout the book I found myself taking sides, then changing my opinion. If I had been on the Jury I might have had a hard time reaching a verdict…..at times.

By the end of the book my allegiances were firmly on one side, but I dare say people will have different opinions.

I am so glad I decided to look at a different genre of book.

Pages: 400

Publishers: Simon & Schuster UK

Publishing date:  11 January 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon

 

Buried Secrets T.J. Brearton

 

Buried Secrets T.J. Brearton

A happy young couple, Brett and Emily, buy their dream small holding in upstate New York.

Digging an area of garden, close to the edge of some woods, Brett uncovers some human bones.

Meanwhile reformed criminal James Russo is arrested for failing to pay his fines for driving whilst uninsured. With no means of paying the fines he is sent to the famous Rikers Island Jail in New York. His cell mate is an ex mixed martial arts fighter Nate Reuter. Nate is in jail for being part of a lame group of bank robbers the press labelled “The fighting Bandits”

The Police Investigators seem to be going through the motions with the investigation into the buried bones but one of the Officers casually shows the mug shots of the Fighting Bandits to Brett, stating it’s an unrelated inquiry.

As a failed journalist/writer Brett sees an opportunity to resurrect his carer and write a book and starts his own investigation. Unfortunately he reaches out to his ex-girlfriend Meg to help him, much to Emily’s frustration; but is Meg really helping, or is she in it for her own gain, journalistic or personal.

In jail Reuter is attacked and Russo steps in to his aid. Because of the fight his jail time looks set to increase until a visit from a female prisoner changes everything. She will post his bail if he does one job for her, and just as an encouragement she sends a psychopath to his wife and daughter.

And so begins a story which kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish. The two storylines are obviously connected but how and why. Who do the bones belong to, and why are they buried with a cryptic note.

This story doesn’t hide anything, there are no surprises. Its hook is the naive innocence of Brett; the attempts of Russo to stay on the straight and narrow and still protect his wife and daughter; the conniving drive of Meg. To have captured all of these characters so well is a testimony the writing of T.J. Brearton

Pages: 328 

Publisher: Bookouture

Available to pre-order on Amazonfullsizeoutput_a7b

Publish date 18th August 2017

Kill Me Twice Simon Booker

 

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Kill Me Twice      Simon Booker

When this book popped up for review there was two things that immediately attracted me, the synopsis, and the authors biography.

The book did not disappoint.

I like books where the crimes and happenings are not seen from the Police point of view. The person outside the investigation, the witness, the victim, the person who discovers a crime and is affected by it, or is not believed, the wrongfully accused trying to clear their name. Some of the best books I have ever read have been narrated by, or had the main protagonist, that have come from one of those groups.

This book involves a few of those in its list of characters.

Morgan Vine is an investigative journalist who has succeeded in annoying most of the legal profession, including the police, by publishing a book about miscarriages of justice. So when she, and her 20 year old daughter, Lissa, are attacked whilst walk some cliffs it is safe to say she is not the Polices favourite victim. Strangely during the attack Lissa has her hair set alight with the attacker using a zippo lighter, so distinctive in sound, but so common in use.

A few days later Morgan visits a 27 year old single mother in the Mother and Baby Unit of the local prison. The woman, Anjelica Fry, is incarcerated for murdering her baby’s father and setting his flat on fire with the body in it; but she is adamant she is innocent and believes that Morgan can prove it.

As Morgan begins to consider the case her daughter becomes more and more withdrawn, and emotional. Dealing with the case and her daughter is stressing Morgan out.

When an incident occurs that makes Morgan and Lissa move out of their home on the beach, and into a local hotel, Morgan begins to believe Anjelica’s story.

As the investigation continues Morgan meets some fascinating characters.

Woman released from the prison who have secrets to keep, and babies to feed.

Prison Officers with secrets in their past

A Prison Governor purportedly running a clean and successful institute

A forensic Dental Odonatologist with a reputation second to none

A flirting Police Inspector

And a very handsome temptation in the way of Ben Garmiara a Fire Scene Investigator.

Without giving away too much of the plot Morgan begins to think that the body found in the fire is not Karl, Anjelica’s baby-father. How will she prove it when the top Odonatologist has given evidence in court identifying the body by his teeth.

Trying to convince the original investigating team is impossible. Morgan turns to the flirtatious DI Neville Rook, who has taken a shine to her since investigating the attack on her and Lissa on the cliff, though even he is underwhelmed by her thoughts

Lissa still becomes more withdrawn as Morgan’s investigations continue. Could she be involved in some way and is her mother’s blindness to this putting her in danger.

When a recently released prisoner and her child turn up at the same hotel as Morgan and Lissa are staying in things take a twist for the worse.

With seemingly nobody believing her Morgan carries on until she finds one ray of light. Ben the Fire Investigator, but is he too good to be true.

The end of this book is every bit as enthralling as the beginning, and there is not let up in pace and enjoyment through the middle either.

Simon Booker has written a great story that interweaves several strands all of which you know will come together, and they do.

As a Fire Investigator myself I was ready to suspend my own knowledge to read this book, but I didn’t have to. There are some points in this book which most people will take for granted, but there are a couple of little things in here that made me sit back and go, “WOW, he really does know what he’s on about”

It’s the attention to detail that makes a good story.

Simon Booker has more than created a good story, he’s created a credible story.

For me they are the best ones.

Pages: 448

Published by: Zaffre

Available on Amazon for pre order

Publish Date: 24th August 2017

The Stolen Girls Blog Tour

 

 

The Stolen Girls Blog Tour

Last year Patricia Gibney arrived on the crime book scene with her debut novel The Missing Ones.

The first book was excellent and this book hasn’t proved to be the “difficult second book” in fact, if anything, The Stolen Girls is even better than the first.

This story has many layers, there are plots that run parallel to the main one and create their own intrigue, whilst weaving in and out of the main story.

The young girl being held captive and abused.

The immigrants held in the local “immigration centre”

The young woman, forced into prostitution, and her son that turn up on DI Lottie Parker’s door step.

The mutilated bodies that start turning up in roadworks all over the small midlands Irish town of Ragmullin.

A local gangster that has been in hiding in Spain, returning to town and causing chaos.

The Kosovo conflict of the late 90’s and the actions of some of the British troops, and the effect those actions are having today.

Gangland rivalries.

The list doesn’t end there but I don’t want to spoil the book.

All, of these threads are crafted together like different twines in a tapestry to make a fantastic picture.

The story is fast paced, and even at a moderately thick 461 pages the book flies by.

It’s not just the story that makes the book special, it’s the characters.

Patricia’s main protagonist is Lottie Parker, a mid 40’s Detective Inspector in Ragmullin’s Major Investigation Team. Lottie is struggling to bring up her 3 teenage children on her own since the death of her Husband Adam. She buries herself in her work and relies on her mother to help her with caring for the children. But the children have problems and Lottie isn’t seeing them. This provides a great subplot to the main story.

DS Mark Boyd is a great foil for Lottie. They work together well and have a great bickering but supportive relationship; and they need it because their boss Superintendant Corrigan is an Arse. These two supporting characters make Lottie’s working life more than a little interesting.

The villians and the victims are also well written and add so much to the realism of the books. Is everybody as they seem, maybe not. Patricia has a great way of making the reader believe a character is bad, or good, whilst twisting what they do and say to make your opinion of them change throughout.

The crimes are that well written that at times I thought Patricia was trawling the newspapers to find the dark side of the criminal world to incorporate them in her novels. The balance works so well that, as a reader, I never thought it was far-fetched, it flows, from beginning to end, and it kept me hooked.

When Bookouture approached me to do this blog I asked if I could ask Patricia a few questions. She agreed so between an email exchange, a few twitter interchanges and a little bit of research this is what I know about the lady who is, in my opinion, the best debut Crime Fiction writer of the last 12 months.

I asked Patricia about where the character Lottie had come from

I created Lottie as this strong (and at times, not so strong) character. If I’m t be honest, she was a little bit of an enigma to me. When I was writing her, I felt her come alive – I saw her as a real person. I know that’s an old cliché but it is true.

I am a widowed mother with three children and I said to myself, lets put Lottie in the same situation and see how she copes. I gave her three teenagers, hyped up the mayhem and drama, and let them loose. I must say Lottie is prone to making a mess of things at home and at the same time she is highly dedicated to her job. When she is working on a case, I believe she forgets that Adam is dead and conjures up an image of him at home with the kids. No matter what she thinks, she hasn’t come to terms with Adam’s death or with her own family history. Therefore, she can come across as a bad mother. I want the reader to delve beneath Lottie’s surface and realise that inside, Lottie is struggling big time.

As I’ve continued with her journey, her home-life and family woes have evolved, and in Book 3 I try to let the reader see something of what might be another reason why Lottie is the way she is.

 My next question was about the crimes and the characters involved in the book. For a little Irish Midlands town they seem to have the same problems as some of our inner cities. I love them by the way. So where do these crimes come from. Your imagination or does something in the news at home, or from further afield trigger an idea. In her answer she talks about situations from her first two books

 I have a very dark and murderous imagination! And then every town has secrets it wants to keep buried.

I attempt to give some context to the murders via historical and more recent historical events. In Ireland we’ve had the revelations of the horrific treatment of women and girls in the mother and baby homes and also the issue of worldwide clerical sexual abuse. I didn’t set out to write about this – I was actually writing about corruption re planning and developers – but St Angela’s reared it’s head and the little children looked out of the window and I was drawn into their story.

The Srebrenica massacre horrified me – I compared it to the horror from the Nazi regime – but I was also struck by the illegal organ harvesting in Kosovo. With The Stolen Girls, I focused on the Kosovo atrocities and brought the terror to present day Ragmullin.

 Your description of the Police, they’re procedures, and what is going on in the teams minds are great. Have you spent time doing the job, or researched it somehow.

 I am an avid crime thriller reader and love watching TV police series. I also have a couple of detective friends who hate to see me coming or my name popping up on their phone! Only joking, I think. When I have queries on procedures etc, I lift the phone and hound my detective friends.

Also in this book you used the illegal organ trade and the Balkan conflict. My question there is did the problems of the war give you the idea for the story. Or was there a story line in your thoughts and then you researched to find a war that would fit the blog

 History was my overall favourite subject at school and I read a lot about the Balkan conflict as it was unfolding. I fictionalised events for the story but the illegal organ harvesting that occurred during and after the conflict is based on fact. So to answer your question, I created the storyline around the conflict.

My last question is about future books. I look forward to seeing what’s happening to your characters as much as I do the next story. So. Are things going to get any better for Lottie and her Adam. Or can we expect more heartache and stress for Lottie whilst the kids carry on struggling through their different problems.

 Oh you can be sure things are not going to get much better! But I’m not totally heartless, so I might allow Lottie a little light relief and happiness along the way.

I have also found out that Patricia is editing the third book whilst writing the 4th in the series. Great news I am already looking forward to reading both of these.

Patricia. Thank You for answering my questions, but most of all thank you for these great books.

The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney is published by Bookouture, and is available on Amazon.The two links below are to my original reviews of The Stolen Girls and The Missing Ones.

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/the-stolen-girls/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/the-missing-ones-patricia-gibney/