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.

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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/

Mississippi Burning Greg Isles

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As a white, 1960’s born, British man, I am vaguely aware of the problems that America had in the 60’s, with particularly the Southern states struggling with integration. I’ve read books which have mentioned the KKK and other white supremacist groups, but never have I read a series of books which bring home the problems that were, and are still being, encountered in these areas.

Greg Isle has written series of books set around the happenings of Natchez, a small town on the Mississippi. There are 6 books which use the town as a backdrop, and all of them include the same list of central characters at their core. The final three have been categorised as “The Natchez Burning” Trilogy. All six of the books are great reads. The Trilogy is the natural progression from the first three, the final book in the series Mississippi Blood is simply stunning in the way it concludes this epic series of books.

Set a few weeks after the traumatic end of The Bone Tree, Penn Cage, the Major of Natchez, is still shocked by the fact that his girlfriend has been killed, and that his father is in prison. For years Dr Tom Cage has fought for the rights of the black people in his town. He has been the sworn enemy of a vicious group of white men known as The Double Eagles, and one of their main leaders, and original members, Snake Knox is still at large.

Tom is charged with murdering his one-time lover Viola Turner, with who he has recently found out he has a son, Lincoln.

Lincoln is out for revenge on the man who he now see’s as being responsible for his wayward upbringing. He will do anything to ensure his “father” is punished.

The corrupt County Sheriff, Billy Byrd is in cahoots with Snake Knox, and the local prosecutor Shadrach Johnson has been a violent opponent of Dr Cages for years, so the odds of him getting a fair trial seem very slim.

Whilst Penn tries everything in his power to uncover evidence against others to incriminate them in the murder of Viola, Dr Tom seems intent on self-destruction.

Hiring one of his best friends, Quentin Avery, the best defence lawyers in the south, Dr Tom opts for an unorthodox approach to his defence.

As an ex-prosecutor Penn is driven to distraction by his father’s tactics, but Tom and Avery won’t explain their tactics to him.

The trial is almost farcical as the prosecution and defence ignore all the rules, and the Judge decides to give enough leeway for them both to go head-to-head in an epic court room battle.

The trial lasts for 4 days but during that time pressure is put on both sides by outside influences including Snake Knox, the FBI, and a gang of bikers known as the VK’s.

People are threatened, assaulted, murdered. Old alliances are destroyed and new ones made. Family members on both sides suffer. Penn struggles to keep his family alive outside of the courtroom, and together inside it.

History of Dr Toms past comes out in the trial, history that his family are not aware of, and it has the potential to tear them apart.

New characters come, and go, but they all add to the plot. Not one word of the 702 pages is wasted.

This book would be hard to read as a stand-alone novel; and to be honest I wouldn’t recommend you read it as one. I would recommend all of the other books as some of the best I have ever read.

The first two chapters of this book include news articles which are there as a reminder of what happened in the The Bone Tree & Natchez Burning. As a quick catch-up they are great but they do not replace the actual books.

Throughout Mississippi Burning the reader is taken back to past events in the trilogy and the other 3 books in the series.

In all the books I have ever read, this is the most compelling series I have read.

If you like John Grisham, but with less filters, you will love these books.

If you are looking for a set of books to keep you occupied for a couple of months I’d recommend reading all six, one after another. But if you do, you will have one hell of a void to fill when you finish.

I actually wish I was the 18 year-old me, In my cabin on a merchant tanker with nothing to fill the off duty hours but read books. I would sit and read the lot back-back.

I hope this is not the end of the Natchez books. I’ve loved every page.

 

Witness Caroline Mitchell

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Another original concept for a psychological thriller by this brilliant writer.

I sat down with this book early on New Year’s Eve afternoon, and put it down when the fireworks were going off outside.

What a way to end a year.

This story has, at its core, an abusive relationship where a man keeps control over his girlfriend by demeaning her as a person; physically, emotionally and mentally.

The relationship ended 10 years ago and is recalled in a journal kept by the main protagonist Rebecca. Her nightmare came to an end when her abusive partner Solomon was jailed for a serious crime.

Becky, as she is now known, has started a new life in the wilds of the Welsh Countryside. She is married to a vet and has a lovely daughter.

Everything is good in Becky’s life until she finds a strange phone and starts getting texts on it. Solomon is out of prison and wants revenge for his ten years behind bars.

Becky is to witness a crime for every year he has been in prison. She cannot tell anybody about the crimes, she cannot tell the Police she has witnessed the crimes, and worse of all, she must choose the victims of the crime.

At first the crimes are petty but each is more severe and people start to get hurt.

This book explores the abusive relationship in 2005. It describes how Solomon targets a weak Rebecca at a time when she is most vulnerable, and how he uses his personality and charisma to embed himself in her life.

The parts of the book set in 2015 explore some moral dilemmas that are frighteningly realistic. This book explores how a person can choose which of the people they love to suffer over another. Would it be easier to substitute strangers for loved ones……….Could you use the Witness tasks to extract revenge???

Who will be the victim of the ultimate crime.

The story is great, it’s original, and it had me hooked from start to finish.

The writing is excellent. There was no point in this book where I “skipped over” any passages.

Save the best till last, as the saying goes. Well this was the last book I read in 2016, and I can’t think of a better read all year.