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 Crow Girl Erik Axl Sund

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The Crow Girl     Eric Axl Sund.

I had heard a lot about this trilogy of books before it was amalgamated into one, and at 786 pages it is a big book.

Not only is it big but it is tough reading at times, not because it is badly written, it isn’t, but because of the subjects it covers.

This book looks at systematic child abuse, generational abuse, peer abuse, multiple personality disorders, child trafficking, kidnapping and manipulation of vulnerable people.

Jeanette Kihlberg is an Investigator in the Stockholm Police. Married with a teenage son life at home is not good. Her aspiring artist husband is not pulling his weight and she is having to borrow money from her father. She is becoming more alienated from her son as she spends more time at work.

Then the murders start. The bodies of young men who have been, very severely beaten and mutilated start to turn up around the city. As Jeanette becomes embroiled in the investigation she identifies a suspect, a man already under investigation for child abuse, but her investigations keeps being thwarted by a senior prosecutor.

Meanwhile psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund is interviewing people who have been accused of, and victims of, child abusers. One of the people she is interviewing is Karl Lundstrom, Jeanette’s main suspect.

When Jeanette is refused permission to interview Lundstrom personally she talks to Sofia and strikes up a close friendship.

Another of Sofia’s clients is Victoria Bergmann, a victim of abuse from a young age. Through interviews between Sofia and Victoria, and flashbacks to Victoria’s early life, the reader is introduced to a very disturbed girl, turning into a very disturbed young woman

Another strand of the story sees a young illegal immigrant boy drugged and held captive. He is abused and brainwashed until he becomes a machine carrying out the whims of the person holding him. Through this manipulation, the boy becomes a killing machine, but is he as under control as his kidnapper thinks, and can they really control him.

As Jeanette’s marriage continues to break down, and her professional life become more frustrating she turns more towards Sofia for solace and friendship.

The more Sofia becomes involved with her clients, the more she cognitively deteriorates. She finds herself blacking out when listening to tapes of interviews with her clients. Falling asleep at night her dreams are filled with the implanted memories of Victoria.

I don’t give spoilers beyond halfway through the book, so I won’t comment on who of the main protagonists has the multiple personality syndrome, or how it affects them and endangers those close to them, but it’s one hell of a story line.

This book is not for the feint-hearted. Some of the abuse scenes are amongst the toughest I’ve read. They are graphic but don’t go all the way, just far enough to leave the reader in no doubt as to what happens, or is happening to people.

It is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read.

I think I would have preferred to read it as the tree separate books. I took a break after part one, feeling slightly uneasy about the story; but I soon picked the book back up to finish it off.

I have read a lot of other reviews which say the book is too long. I disagree, it tells the story with no slack. It has to be as long as it is.

I think readers are going to have to find a new name fort this genre, Nordic Noir doesn’t seem right.

Maybe Nightmare Invoking Nordic Noir would be more appropriate.

A great book, but not a relaxing read for your holidays.

 

Pages 786

Publisher Vintage

Available for the Kindle via 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

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

The Killer On The Wall Emma Kavanagh

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The Killer on the Wall      Emma Kavanagh

 

The population of a tight knit town on the Scottish borders is left terrified when three bodies are found propped against Hadrian’s Wall.

Over the next two weeks more bodies are found and then Heath McGowan is found and arrested by Sergeant Eric Bell.

Twenty years later the young girl, 15-year-old Isla Bell, who found the first bodies is now a Criminal Psychologist.

For twenty year’s the sleepy town of Briganton has tried its best to get over its notoriety, bus-loads of tourists still visit the site where the bodies were found, and the occasional documentary team arrive to record a program.

Dr Isla is carrying out a study into Serial Killers using MRI technology to measure their brain functions. At last she has the chance to interview and examine McGowan, The Wall Killer.

And that’s is when the murders start again.

Sergeant Eric Bell, now celebrity cop Superintendent Eric Bell, takes charge of the new investigation but seems to be frustratingly stubborn in his opinions and ways.

Detective Constable Mina Arian, a recent transferee from the Met, doubts Bell and begins to investigate both series of killings. Is the right person in prison, did he have an accomplice, or is there really a copy-cat killer on the rampage.

This story is told via the eyes of three main protagonists.

Isla, the girl that finds the first bodies, and is now the insecure Criminal Psychologist, who is afraid of the dark, and her own shadow at times.

Ramsey, Isla’s husband who was a survivor of the first attack when the tree bodies were left against the wall.

Mina the Detective Constable that was born in Iraq bit moved to London with her family when she was 4. The woman that is badgered by her mother, the cop that thinks everybody else is looking in the wrong direction.

Each of these main protagonists have a great story. All of them are conflicted in themselves, but seem to be spiralling around a conclusion they don’t want to recognise.

This is a great story.

A psychological thriller that kept me reading from the first page right up to the end.

A story that managed to surprise me in the last couple of chapters.

A story that left me wanting another instalment.

Summer holidays are coming, and people are going to be looking for a poolside book. Don’t wait, get it now. You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 384

Published by: Arrow

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.

 

DEAD SOULS Angela Marsons

 

 

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Written from the heart.

It’s a note I’ve never written before when I’m reading a book to review; but it’s there in my note book, right in the centre of the page.

It’s been over written several times so it really stands out, and I can remember every page I was reading when I went over it, because that’s how it felt reading this book.

The book starts off with, what most people wouldn’t class as a crime, a young man’s suicide. The thoughts he goes through, the logic he uses, are so well written that although it’s a short chapter, it’s one which will live with me for a long time.

That suicide is investigated by Kev Dawson and Stacey Wood. Kev is the alfa-male Sergeant and Stacey is the slightly introvert Detective Constable, who does most of the on-line investigation work, from the office.

The scene is bad enough but the suicide note brings out emotions in Stacey that she keeps hidden from her colleagues. The death is suicide, but why did this young lad take his own life. Stacey can’t leave it, and starts to look into the victim and his life.

Meanwhile some bodies have been found in a University Archaeological dig in a field of a farm that straddles the borders of the West Midlands, and West Mercia Police Forces boundary.

Until the bones can be identified, and a date of burial put on them, they must be investigated as a murder scene. DI Kim Stone and her old adversary from the neighbouring force DI Tom Travis argue at the scene over who will take ownership of the investigation.

The next day the argument is solved. The bosses have decided on a joint investigation with Stone leaving her team to work with Travis and his team on the bones found in the dig.

The tumultuous relationship between Kim Stone and Tom Travis is one of the main threads through the book and adds a cracking dynamic to the story.

As Kim is away her trusty Sergeant, and sidekick-partner, Bryant is forced to work with Kev Dawson. Two men doing the same job with totally different approaches, and attitudes. Another tumultuous partnership.

Bryant and Dawson start to investigate several crimes that appear to be race driven and in doing so come across the horrible side of society. The violent racist, bigoted minority which causes so much pain to innocent people.

Becoming deeply involved with the investigation they don’t notice that Stacey is beginning to become secretive and withdrawn as she looks into the young suicide victim’s life.

The deeper she looks into why the lad might have committed suicide, the more bells are rung about her own life.

When Bryant and Dawson deliberately try to stop her becoming involved with the race crimes, “to protect her”, she becomes more and more withdrawn and struggles with memories from her past.

The parts of this book which are written from Stacey’s point of view are stunningly written. Again, that note was over written “written from heart”

Meanwhile in West Mercia, Kim and Travis are looking into the Landowner, and his tenant, of the field where the bones have been found. As they are doing so the bones are being examined by Dr A. One of Angela Marsons peripheral characters that deserve their own book. The interchanges between her and Kim Stone provide that bit of humour every dark story needs; and this is a dark story.

Three sets of bones were found during the dig, and they’re recently enough buried to launch an active murder investigation.

There are three story lines in this book. The relationship between the 2 DI’s Stone and Travis, as they investigate the murder of the people found buried in the field. The relationship between Bryant and Dawson as they investigate the violent race crimes. Finally; Stacey Woods journey into the life of a young suicide victim, and the effects it has on her.

Will the relationships work. Will everybody come out of this in one piece, either emotionally or physically.

This book had me hooked from the very first page and had me enthralled all the way through.

The last dozen or so chapters had me holding my breath so often I was exhausted at the end; and what an ending.

The end of this book is full of twists and turns, and I defy anybody to see the results coming.

I read all the time. It’s my escape from reality. There are several authors I look forward to reading when I know they have a new book coming out.

Angela Marsons is at the very top of that list.

This is the best book I’ve read, by the best author on the shelves at the moment.

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