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.

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

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