Last Cry Anna-Lou Weatherley

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I struggled with writing this blog. There is so much good to say about this book; the story, the characters, the writing, but there is a couple of things that very nearly put me off it.

I’m glad they didn’t, I’m glad I stuck with it to the end. It’s a great book with a great story so what could I have possibly found wrong with it. I’ll tell you at the end of the blog.

The book starts with a murder in a hotel. I think it’s safe to say that the victim, a successful banker, is killed by a very attractive Escort, or a woman posing as one. The killer is aware of how to stage a scene using Counter Forensics. She makes the death look like a suicide at first inspection, but she knows that a good cop will spot it for what it is straight away. Is that what she wants?

That’s exactly what she gets. DI Dan Riley is sent to the scene and immediately see’s it for what it is. Riley is a complex character who is still in mourning for the loss of his partner, and their unborn child, in a motorcycle accident 2 years ago. As much as he is mourning he is also trying to get his life back on track, and has started to dabble in the dating scene. The scenes where he is conflicted about his basic feelings, of wanting to be with somebody else whilst feeling guilt at charting on his dead partner, are brilliantly written.

The book has two protagonists, the killer, and Dan Riley. Chapters are devoted to each, and every chapter had me hooked. The killer is horrible and everybody will be fully aware of what she is doing, and wonder how stupid the other victims are for not seeing her for what she is. But that’s the thing about killers, they don’t have a sign tattooed on them to give us a warning.

Riley is just the type of man you’d like to share a drink with, or just sit down with and have a chat. He is what most Police Officers are, normal.

The killer is working to a plan and the bodies are starting to pile up, but will Riley managed to identify her, and stop her before she commits her worse crime. I can guarantee that the last 30 pages of this book will have readers gripped, and what an ending. By the time you get to the end you will think you have it all sorted in your mind; but then there’s that last few pages.

So, what were the things that were wrong with this book. I read it on a Kindle and I thought there was a reason that I didn’t know the name of the main protagonist, even though he’s there almost from the start. Then I began to wonder if the author had just forgot that she hadn’t given him a name; but no, we find out his name 14% into the book. I knew everything about him before I knew his name, it just felt strange

Secondly, and this would usually really wind me up, you can drive a bus through the inaccuracies in the Policing in this book. There are problems with procedures and ranks. There are things that happen during the investigation that had me shacking my head, after all if you have CCTV of somebody entering a room, how can you not have footage when they leave the same room.

But if you can get past these, this book is really worth reading. A great story, with a great ending.

Pages: 307

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 31st January 2007.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

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Christmas Recommendation, A Deadly Game, Joanne Griffiths

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A Deadly Game; Joanne Griffiths my second Christmas Present Recommendation

In September I reviewed a book by  a new author, A Deadly Game by Joanne Griffiths

I loved this book for two reasons. The first was that it approaches the crimes in a different way to most books. The book gives a lot of time to the after effects of the crime on the families that become involved. The emotions of the victim’s families and their frustrations when the police don’t seem to be making any headway in finding the killer.

The second thing I loved is the area the crimes are set. I know the area well and Joanne Griffiths does a great job of describing Aston, in Birmingham, and the people who live there. A mix of industry and low-income housing with people struggling to make ends meet, and now the worry of a serial killer equals a perfect mix for this crime thriller.

This book would make a great Christmas present for anybody who likes a good Crime/Psychological Thriller with a decent bit of who-done-it thrown in.

The link below is to my original blog

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/a-deadly-game-joanne-griffiths/

Murder Game Blog Tour

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Caroline Mitchell writes from experience. Her biography, on her own website, tells us that she was once a Police Detective who worked on cases involving high risk victim of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. This is a woman that’s “been there and got the T-shirt”, and it shows in her writing.

Rarely do I read books as realistic as the ones Caroline writes, and even more rarely does an author hook me with her stories from the very first page, but she does.

Murder Game Description

 A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead.

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die…

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one…

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

 My Review

Everybody loves a good serial killer story, and this one is really good.

Detective Sergeant Ruby Preston, and her team, are back.

Years ago Mason Gately was caught in the act of murdering his 6th Victim. Nicknamed by the press The Lonely Heart Killer, he found his victims through the personal adds in local papers, Gately had a very specific way of killing the women over several days.

When Melissa Phillips, the wife of a high-profile BBC News Journalist, goes missing; and he starts to receive images of her, similar to those sent by Gately of his victims to their families, alarm bells begin to ring.

Ruby’s boss, DI Downes, had worked on the original case and knows that some of the details of the original murders had never been released to the public. So how does the new killer know how to recreate the murders in such detail? Is Gately actually the Lonely Hearts Killer, or is the wrong person in custody.

As more people go missing the similarities between the murders continue and each case is a rush against time to save the victim.

Meanwhile the killer is contacting a confidential telephone help line and talking, in a round-about way, about his crimes. Will the call handler understand who they are talking to?

Ruby is still dating her first love, who she is only recently become reacquainted with, Nathan. Just to add spice to the story Nathan is part of one of the biggest crime families in Shoreditch.

This relationship opens doors for Ruby to interview Gately, and so begins a relationship very similar to that of Starling and Lecter.

What sacrifices will Ruby have to make to get the information she needs, and how many people will suffer before she gets it.

This is another great story in this series by Caroline Mitchell. Each book gets better, and as ever I was left wanting to read the next one straight away.

I suppose I’ll just have to be patient.

Amazon Links for Murder Game

UK: http://amzn.to/2v1l8v5

US: http://amzn.to/2umrDqp

Caroline’s website

www.caroline-writes.com

Their Fatal Secrets Janice Frost

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Another new author to add to my list of must reads. Janice Frost kept me captivated with this book from the moment I read the first chapter. What I enjoyed, and found different to a lot of the books I’m reading is, it wasn’t heavily weighted to the Police side of the investigation.

The book starts with a body being fished out of a canal by two drunk students. The body is quickly identified as Leanne Jackson, a good girl turned bad, and then turned good again. The biggest part of the investigation is working out why this girl has been murdered.

However, it’s not the Police investigation that the book follows. Jess Stokes watches the Police Divers searching the river. Before Leanne had gone off the rails she used used to protect Jess from bullies when they were at school. Twice since Jess had seen Leanne as she got into trouble with the Police but ignored her. She had also ignored an email from Leanne asking for help. Now she is dead, and Jess feels guilty enough to try and work out what happened to her.

The Police team investigating the death start to make slow headway and Jess always seems to be one step in front of them. When Jess, and the 2 other women living in the flats in the same house as her, start to make disturbing discoveries, she starts to think she is being warned off. Is she putting herself in danger, should she stop.

There is a wonderful juxta-position between the naive Jess and her neighbours, and the Police Investigating team.

Ava Merry is the DS on the team, she is a fit extrovert who doesn’t mind partying. Ava and Jess have a passing acquaintance as early morning swimmers at the local pool and Jess reaches out to Ava to gauge how the investigations going.

When things at Jess’s house start to take a nasty turn Ava starts to become worried for her safety. Will it stop her digging.

This book is based in a town with a canal and marina. The murderer is shown straight away, as is the crimes he is committing, so there is no mystery. The man works in partnership with other criminals to get young girls onto a canal boat.

The tension in the book is all about Jess’s welfare, her investigation, and the Police’s investigation.

A real page turner the outcome is not clear right up to the last couple of pages.

I have often wondered why more crimes aren’t set on Canal Boats. They have free roaming rights across the country. As far as I’m aware there is not much in the way of surveillance on canals, and nobody takes any notice of them.

I once investigated an arson where the fire setters had used a canal boat to get into a remote car park on an industrial estate and start a fire which destroyed a factory before making their 3mph get away. Meanwhile the Police closed the roads of around the incident.

When you think about it a lot could be going on in those boats.

Pages:241

Publisher: Joffe Books

Available on Amazon

Broken Bones. Angela Marsons. Blog Blitz. Review and Preview

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On November, the 3rd the latest book in one of the best Police Procedural Series.

Angela Marsons has based her fictional detective in the very real Police Station of Halesowen, in the West Midlands. This is a perfect setting, giving her the opportunity to explore crimes in the urban deprivation of some parts of the industrial Black Country, whilst also having access to some of the wealthier areas of the borders with Staffordshire and Worcester.

The crimes and the people that Angela writes about are realistic and believable. Broken Bones is book 7 in the series but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, but I guarantee that you’ll read the other 6 if you read this one first.

One of the most outstanding things about Marson’s writing is the way she makes the reader invest in her characters. With each book the story of Stone and her team is developed. Along with some recurring peripheral characters, the team become embedded in the mind of the reader. I find myself looking forward to the next instalment to see what is happening in their professional and person lives, almost as much as I look forward to seeing what crime they are going to be faced with next, and how they are going to solve it.

Marsons also deals with crimes prevalent in the modern day; forced labour, the slave trade, drugs and prostitution; and the effect the crimes have on the criminals, their victims, and the families of those involved.

All-in-all Angela Marsons writes the books I want to read.

Realistic, believable, fast paced, criminal physiological thrillers with no promise of a happy ending.

Below is my review of Broken Bones and a preview of the prologue of the book.

The Review

It’s here, the 7th book in the DI Kim Stone series. I tweeted, as soon as it became available, that Angela Marsons was the only author that I put other books down for, to read hers, when they come out. 

Did it live up to my expectations?

Hell Yes!

Detective Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back. The story starts with a young girl sitting on the roof of a Black Country Tower Block on Christmas Day. She gets pushed off.

 Over the next few weeks as the midlands is covered in snow, a baby is abandoned outside Kim’s Police Station, a prostitute is murdered on her patch, and as the team become involved in solving these crimes they become start to uncover a link to illegal Romanian workers.

 The books takes the reader into the underworld of prostitution, drugs, and modern slavery.

 With two main line of inquiry and Kim has to split her small team into pairs.

 With the team are recovering from the events of a few months earlier, Kim pairs up her young Detective Sergeant Kevin Dawson, with her young Detective Constable Stacey Wood. This partnership is the Yin and Yang of policing. Full-on-Kevin is a typically out-going personality that likes to push the limits, and is full of self-confidence. Black Country girl Stacey, is quiet, methodical, and deep thinking. They both have a positive effect on each other, and bring the best out of each other as people, and as Police Officers. As they investigate the abandoned baby case they are thrust into the world of illegal immigrants and forced labour.

 Meanwhile Kim uses her trusted crusty-old Sergeant, Bryant, to keep her on the right side of the line that divides pushing Police Procedures to the limit, and breaking the law.

 Kim and Bryant look into the death of the prostitute and the investigation takes them to the seedier side of two “titutions” that go hand in hand. Destitution and Prostitution.

 Bully boy pimps, gangs, drugs, the horror of street-walking-sex-trade workers, physical abuse, and grooming are day to day occurrences  for the prostitutes of the Black Country.

 Now, just to make matters worse, somebody has killed one of their own. As Kim and Bryant start their investigation they come across some familiar faces and the reader gets to see the other side of their lives. The vulnerable women and the desperation that leads them into the life they live.

 The story covers the investigations into these crimes, and others that get committed, compelling end.

 When I first started blogging I said I was dubious about prolific authors who publish more than 1 book a year. My thoughts, and experiences, were that a good book takes time to write, and that anybody who managed 2, or more, each year was just churning out words and hoping their fans would keep buying.

 Angela Marsons has proved the exception to that. 7 books, in this series, in a little over 2 years; and over 2 million copies sold. Each book raises the bar, each book is better than the last.

 The only other author that has kept me hooked on a series, of Police procedural books, for this long is Tess Gerritsen with her Rizzoli and Isles series; and that is not bad company to be in.

 She remains my favourite author, and there are a lot of good authors out there at the moment.

The Preview
PROLOGUE

Black Country: Christmas Day

Lauren Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen-storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid onto her bare feet dangling over the edge. The cold breeze nipped at her wiggling toes.

The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over. By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters from the pound shop and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection. From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.

Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean. Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and housed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.

There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.

But today a peace settled around the estate, giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queen’s Speech.

Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a glass of gin in her hand. Her one concession to the event was the line of tinsel wrapped haphazardly around her neck as she stumbled from the living room to the kitchen for a refill.

Lauren didn’t expect a present or a card any more. She had once mentioned the excitement of her friends. How they had enjoyed presents, laughter, a roast dinner, a chocolate-filled stocking.

Her mother had laughed and asked if that was the kind of Christmas she wanted.

Lauren had innocently nodded yes.
The woman had clicked the television to the Hallmark Channel and told her to ‘fill her boots’.

Christmas meant nothing to Lauren. But at least she had this. Her one piece of Heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.

She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.

How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?

She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan.

She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.

She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.

She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.

And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.

She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.
Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.

Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro, gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.

Lauren took a deep breath and exhaled. In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.

She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.

She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.

She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her
Broken Bones by Angela Marsons, out on 3rd November 2017

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2wwkvci

US 🇺🇸  http://amzn.to/2vDLPsP

The Lost Child Patricia Gibney

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You know the saying “You can’t put a good book down”. Well I literally spent every spare waking minute I had reading this book. From page 1, I was hooked and only came out of it when I had to.

After the last page, I was left sat in stunned silence, wondering how I was going to wait for the next instalment of life in Ragmullin. Whatever I write below will never do this book justice so please, bear with me and while I try.

The book starts in the 70’s with a drug addled, alcoholic woman, locking her toddler twins in a cupboard before starting a fire in her house. The woman and one of her twins are committed to St Declan’s Asylum.

October 2015 and DI Lottie Parker is back. Her family has grown, by one, as her oldest daughter has had a baby, and the house is more chaotic than ever. No matter how busy Lottie’s work life is, her kids expect her to be the domestic goddess when she gets home. This is having a bad effect on her, and she is back on the booze at night, and is popping Xanax to get her through the day.

Parker and her team are tasked with investigating the horrific murder of a woman in her own home, discovered by her daughter. The investigation quickly establishes that the dead woman is not who they thought, but her mother; and that the person they first though had been killed is missing.

And so, it starts. This investigation leads the team down all sorts of paths. Why was an elderly woman killed and why is her middle-aged daughter missing?

2 days later a cottage is found burning with 2 men inside, the body count is rising, but is this crime related to the murder of the old lady.

Shock events keep occurring piling more pressure on Lottie, so much so she turns to an old friend, Dr Annabelle O’Shea, in the hunt for more Xanax. In return Annabelle tries to reach out to Lottie about her own problems; but Parker is to immersed in her work, and family, to notice her friend needs help.

As the case continues Parkers own team start to wonder about her ability, but the ever-faithful DS Mark Boyd backs his boss and tries to give her professional and emotional support.

As the body count rises, and drugs are found at one of the scenes, a DI from the National Drugs Unit is drafted in from Dublin, piling more pressure on Parker and her team.

Can the murders be drugs related, or is this another blind alley the team are being pushed down.

Do the crimes of the past have anything to do with the happenings of 2015

As the book progresses the reader learns more about the Ragmullin of the past and I think this quote from the book sums it up nicely

In the 70’s The Priests and the Nuns ruled the roost. The Guards were as twisted as the Priests, and Health had crooked people in every organisation you can think of.”

But what effect is that having in 2015. How many of the crimes are related to each other? Is it possible that Ragmullin is just in the grip of a random crime wave?

The book twists and turns to a fantastic final chapter, which is the biggest surprise I’ve ever had reading a book.

Patricia Gibney first came to my attention last year and this is the 3rd Book in the Lottie Parker series. I have no hesitation in saying they are without doubt my favourite books at the moment.

This story is complex with a plot which has many strands in its 483 pages, but Gibney has a great way of keeping the reader up to date with the plot. She uses staff briefings, and chats between Parker and Boyd, or between Parker and one of her family or friends to review the plot. The reader never gets left behind, but neither do they feel patronised.

In the same way, this book can be read as a stand-alone novel. But why should it. It’s the third book in the best series of Crime Fiction Thrillers there is, and they just keep getting better.

Yes I liked it.

Pages: 483

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th October 2017.

Available to pre-order on Amazon And why wouldn’t you.T

A Deadly Game Joanne Griffiths

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This book is one of the best I’ve ever read in crime fiction.

What makes it stand out?

This book looks deeper at the families of the victims than any other book I’ve read.

There is only a short lead up to each victim and the reader hardly gets to know them, but the detail put into the effects on the family which are left behind is mesmerising.

Joanne Griffiths has written about a murderer who she manages to keep anonymous right up until his arrest; but its only his name we don’t know.

We know everything he thinks, we know his wife and child, we know that he is an egotistical, sociopathic, wife beater.

The book follows the investigation into a series of sexual assault murders in the Aston area of Birmingham.

As each victim is murdered the Investigating team seem to get nowhere near identifying the killer.

In turn the killer starts to mock the Police through letters sent to the local media.

As in all investigations there are wrong turns, and the frustration of the Police is reflected in the main Police character DS Jim Wardell

Wardell is a transferee, too West Midlands Police, from Yorkshire via Nottingham, and is escaping a failed marriage. He is a decent man but the frustrations of the investigation are beginning to bear down on him.

The scenes in which he and his partner DC Angela Watkins attend the crimes, and then have to interview families, are written in a way that it is hard not to feel the emotions the officers go through.

The story follows the investigation as the Police openly admit that they are nowhere near catching the killer, only for him to kill again. The phrase “waiting for a lucky break” plays a part in every major investigation and it is no different in this book.

But, will that break ever come…

I highly recommend this book to anybody who enjoys crime fiction, or anybody that just enjoys a well written story.

 

Pages: 322

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Available on Amazon