Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

In Safe Hands-4*#Review- J.P. Carter- @AvonBooksUK @JPCarterAuthor

When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they will ever see them again. The community in the surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or set on revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know that one little boy, in particular, is fighting for his life.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure that someone close to them is lying…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Another interesting female detective with a past that threatens her professionalism. Anna is a likeable protagonist and her dilemmas are both realistic and relatable. She is the Senior Investigating Officer on a mass abduction case. She knows from personal experience what the parents are going through but can she be focused and objective enough to bring a successful outcome to a such a devastating event?

Having your children abducted at gunpoint is every parents’ nightmare and this is uncomfortable reading at times. The stories of the children and their parents help to set the crime in context and present many possible motives and suspects. The characters’ flaws make them believable and many of the parents are not easy to empathise.

Generally, this is a fast-paced story, which produces an authentic kidnap scenario. The suspense is created well and sustained throughout and the ending is satisfactory, although there are questions left for Anna that will no doubt be revisited in subsequent stories.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

Fatal – 4* #Review – Jacqui Rose-@AvonBooksUK

An eye for an eye.
Cabhan Morton wants to leave the Russo crime family for good and live in peace with his daughter, Alice Rose. But the Russos won’t let him walk away without a fight.

A tooth for a tooth.
Franny Doyle would do anything for Cabhan and Alice, but helping them escape the vindictive Russo brothers won’t be easy. The only place they’ll be safe is back in Essex with Alfie Jennings.

A daughter for a daughter…
Franny knows she won’t be welcomed by Alfie with open arms – but she doesn’t have a choice. The Russos are out for blood and they won’t stop until Alice is dead…


I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books, and so this affects my review of Fatal. As a standalone, the story works, but the characters don’t, you need to know their stories before the events in Fatal, and so to fully appreciate this story read Toxic first.

The story is fast- paced, violent and focused on the seedier side of life. This gives it the necessary authenticity for a gangland novel. Believable characters and a realistic plot make this an adrenaline packed read.

If you are a fan of gritty, organised crime based thrillers this will excite you.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

The Follow – 4* #Review – Paul Grzegorzek @KillerReads @PaulGlaznost

Danger is never far behind…

He knows the man is guilty. And he will do anything to prove it…

PC Gareth Bell watches the psychopath who stabbed Bell’s partner stroll out of court a free man. Somebody on the inside tampered with the evidence, and now one of Brighton’s most dangerous criminals is back on the streets again.

Bell’s personal mission for revenge takes him onto the other side of the law and into the dark, violent underworld of the glamorous seaside city. Soon he faces a horrifying choice: risk everything he holds dear, or let the man who tried to kill his partner walk free.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins- Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Brighton, popular holiday destination since the Regency times. Known for its cafes, bars and the fabulous shopping, but beneath the surface is a  criminal world that preys on the vulnerable.

Gareth Bell is a policeman with a mission, to bring to justice the man who almost killed his partner, but how far will he go and what is he prepared to risk to achieve his aim?

One event leads  Gareth Bell, the protagonist on a path that blurs the line between right and wrong. Gareth’s actions and motivations are realistic. Violent scenes are common in this novel and a little repetitive, probably as it is all seen from Gareth’s point of view.

This is a fast-paced, authentic police procedural. It is full of action but there are also details of police procedurals, which are an intrinsic part of the job and often hamper the capture of criminals, in the main protagonist’s opinion.

If you enjoy police procedurals this has lots of it, which should appeal. The dilemma and its fallout makes for an interesting plot and provides insight into PC Gareth Bell’s character, and I look forward to the next book in the series. 

Posted in Book Review, Crime

Gallowstree Lane – 4* #Review -Kate London @kate_katelondon @CorvusBooks

Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw’s not interested in the infantry. Shaw likes the proper criminals, the ones who can plan things. 

For two years he’s been painstakingly building evidence against an organized network, the Eardsley Bluds. Operation Perseus is about to make its arrests. 

So when a low-level Bluds member is stabbed to death on Gallowstree Lane, Shaw’s priority is to protect his operation. An investigation into one of London’s tit for tat killings can’t be allowed to derail Perseus and let the master criminals go free.

But there’s a witness to the murder, fifteen-year-old Ryan Kennedy. Already caught up in Perseus and with the Bluds Ryan’s got his own demons and his own ideas about what’s important.

As loyalties collide and priorities clash, a chain of events is triggered that draws in Shaw’s old adversary DI Sarah Collins and threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Atlantic Books – Corvus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is the third book in the Collins and Griffiths series, although this story reads well as a standalone. I needed more backstory on the two detectives, to fully appreciate their relationship.

This is a story about knife crime and gangs and their omnipotent presence in parts of London in the 21st century. The crimes and the gang’s influence on the young men in the area, make this story believable. The police procedural aspect is authentic and well-written. The problems experienced by the Met as different departments clash, whilst pursuing competing outcomes is realistic.

Told from several points of view, the story gives all sides and the boundaries are blurred. The reader can understand why gangs are so attractive to young men who have no family life and little to look forward to in the future. The infighting within the police force is also seen to be counterproductive to the end goal of crime solving.

A dynamic police procedural with harrowing true to life characters and crimes that will draw you into a world of crime, dysfunction and gangs.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

5* #Review – The Sting – Kimberley Chambers @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS

Best friends Tommy Boyle and Scratch always had each other’s backs. Dragged up in care, and cruelly betrayed by everyone they trusted, they made a pact to fight their way out of the gutter – together.

TWO SIDES OF THE LAW

Old loyalties die hard on the streets of London. Tommy throws his lot in with the notorious Darling family – even if it means leaving Scratch to the wolves. She’s destined for a different path, reinventing herself as copper Kim Regan.

ONE DEADLY SHOWDOWN

Now they’re on opposite sides of the law. Running Operation Sting, Kim will rip the heart out of the Darling’s empire – and only her old pal Tommy stands in her way.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction- Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

What I love about this story is the author lets you live your characters’ lives, and find out what made them the people they are, before launching into the present day story.

 Set in the seventies and eighties, Tommy and Scratch’s lives are full of tragedy, finding each other is the only light in their dark, young lives. Then events take over and instead of them against the world, they find they’re pitted against each other.

The characters are believable but not always likeable. The motivation for their actions is always clear. This story does highlight the horror of child abuse, which is never an easy subject to read, but it is dealt with sensitively. The abuse the two main characters suffer is integral to their future character development and initially defines the adults they become.

‘The Sting’ is cleverly written, with a unique mix of poignancy and violence. Tommy is an anti-hero and a victim of abuse. The story doesn’t end well, it couldn’t with such a believable plot, but there is hope for some and a lovely twist at the end.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Thriller

Mummy’s Favourite 5* #Review -Sarah Flint- Guest Post – Extract @SarahFlint19 @Aria_Fiction

He’s watching… He’s waiting… Who’s next?

Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.

As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person? Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong? Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim. like stories that keep you on the edge of your seat then this is for you’ ‘Kept me guessing right up to the end’

Paperback:

Amazon UK
Blackwells

eBook

Kobo

Google Play

iBooks

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a powerful crime based thriller with a likeable female detective, and an authentic setting and details. The story features some unpalatable scenes, which I did not enjoy reading. They are however essential to the progression of the characters and the plot but be warned this is not an easy book to read.

The detail and the plot are well- written and the pacing fast and suspenseful. There are many criminals at work and a multitude of crimes for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues to solve. The characters are realistic, although as you would expect in this type of story not always likeable. The plot is well thought out and believable and it’s difficult to solve the crimes.

A suspenseful, menacing crime thriller with authentic police procedures and believable characters and plot, worth reading.

Guest Post – Sarah Flint:- The Power of Paperbacks

  As a child, one of my favourite trips was to the local library in Carshalton. It’s only a small village library and I was allowed to walk there alone from quite a young age. I would regularly take out my maximum four books to be read avidly in my allotted time. The children’s library was always fun and noisy with regular clubs and other activities – but the adult library was almost completely silent – and it was with wonderment and reverence that I was occasionally allowed to enter.

It opened up a whole new world to me, a world that looked, sounded and smelt different; one where adults would glide silently between rows of colourful, well-thumbed books, that in turn opened up the world to them.

It is a sphere that children still love to inhabit, if we, as adults give them the chance.

Physical books are visual, inviting, and appeal to the senses. If they are placed in shop windows, or at the entrance to transport hubs, you cannot help being drawn to them, wondering whether they can transport you to a place far away from the mundane.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle too, but there can be nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a glass of wine – or in bed with a mug of hot chocolate, or, even better, on a sun-lounger with a cocktail in hand – and starting to read the opening sentences of a new book.  The initial pages are turned rapidly, slowing slightly as the story ebbs and flows until the chunk of pages on the right-hand side grows thinner and thinner and the speed at which it disappears hastens to a sprint finish. When that final line is read and the covers of the book snap shut, the satisfaction is palpable. The book moves on, into the hands of the next person, on to the shelves of a hotel, a charity shop, a second-hand book shop. I’ve even seen old telephone kiosks decked out as ‘bring and borrow’ libraries.

It is hugely gratifying and addictive to hear about a great read and then actually have the means in your hands to share in its contents.

Technology is fantastic and has opened the doors, particularly for the younger generation, to so many different experiences – but nostalgia is still alive and kicking. People still love the feel of a book in their hands, the sight of a classic car trundling down the road, the crackling melody of an old 78 rpm record revolving on a deck.

I am a child of the 60s. I have watched the world change and develop beyond belief in the last fifty years and I embrace technology because it is the way forward, but sometimes it does feel a little insular. So many people are glued to their mini screens these days that communication becomes impossible. The back of a Kindle or laptop gives no insight into the world within it, whereas the cover of a book entices people to enter and devour its contents.

 I will never forget the sight of my sister’s paperback on the shelf of my local supermarket; how excited I was to see a customer pick it up! I wanted to shout out loud that my very own sister had written it. It was exactly the motivation I needed to try writing myself, and I have never looked back.  I love eBooks because they are so accessible, transferrable and straightforward, but my dream has always been to get on to a train or a bus, enter a cafe or station and see somebody reading one of my books. That is why it means so much to me, to be published in paperback.

With any luck, that wish might soon be granted!

dav

Extract

Judging by the latest development, maybe it hadn’t been going as well as he’d claimed.

Charlie checked which member of the office had dealt with the family. It was Colin. His desk was the other side of the room to hers. She got up to speak to him. He was the straight, white, middle-aged male member of their team, similar in age to Bet but as opposite, in every other way as was possible. He was divorced and now single, with barely any access to his two children, who had been taken off to Ireland by a vindictive ex-wife years ago. Thin, tight-lipped and sad, he had a dry sense of humour and made it his business to look after the rights of all fathers and their children. He worked tirelessly with social services, going above and beyond what was normally required to ensure each child could know both parents. Charlie fully expected to see him on TV one day, dressed up as Superman swinging from Big Ben. What he didn’t know about family law was not worth knowing.

He was poring over his computer screen, his face serious.

‘Colin, have you got a minute?’

He looked up and nodded.

‘Do you remember dealing with a family called the Hubbards? Quite recently?’

He leant back frowning, before rubbing his chin with thin fingers.

‘Yes, I do. It was a couple of months ago.’ He scratched his chin again. ‘If I remember rightly, Julie Hubbard, the wife, had her wrist broken by her husband. She said she’d tripped and broken it in a fall but then refused to co-operate any further. One of their sons, Richard, said that his father had done it.’

‘I think I know who I’d believe.’

He shrugged. ‘Everyone thought the same, but what can you do? Richard phoned the police each time. He wanted to give evidence but Julie refused to let him and he did everything his mother asked. With just the one juvenile son as a possible witness, it was pretty much impossible to prove. Why do you ask?’

Charlie thought about what Colin had just said. For a young boy, Richard had certainly been brave, going up against his dad like that. The kid was protecting his mother in whatever way he could. Maybe Keith had started bullying him too because he resented the way he defended his mum. Maybe that was why Julie left and had only taken him. Ryan was certainly less vocal. Maybe Ryan was safe and she’d only had the time and resources to take one? There were too many maybes.

‘Because Julie and Richard Hubbard are the mother and son that have gone missing.’

Colin frowned and shook his head.

‘Really? Though I have to say I’m not surprised. I always thought there was something strange going on. The boy would plead with his mum to leave his father, but she just wouldn’t; it was as if she had another agenda. On the last occasion I saw them, Richard was literally begging her to leave Keith, but she whispered something to him that I couldn’t hear and he shut up straight away and seemed happier. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’d been waiting until the time was right.’

‘But why not take the other son, Ryan, too?’

‘He kept out of it really. Didn’t want to get involved. I think he sided with his father a bit more.’

‘So did he have a good relationship with Keith then?’

‘He probably had to because he didn’t have as close a relationship with his mother as Richard did.’

‘So what would be your gut feeling? Do you think Keith Hubbard could be responsible for Julie and Richard’s disappearance?’

Colin pursed his lips and looked straight up at Charlie.

‘I wouldn’t like to say. He is a nasty bastard and could easily have done something, but you know what some women are like. It wouldn’t surprise me if Julie Hubbard hadn’t been planning this all along.’

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.

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Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery

4* Review – A Fatal Flaw – Faith Martin @HQStories @FaithMartin_Nov

1960, Oxford

As the city of Oxford prepares itself for the inaugural Miss Oxford Honey Beauty Pageant at The Old Swan Theatre, excitement is in the air.

But when one of the leading contestants is found dead, suspicion hangs over the competition.

Poisoned, the authorities assume her death was suicide. But after a malicious series of pranks and blackmail attempts are reported, WPC Loveday and Coroner Clement Ryder are called upon to solve the case.

In an atmosphere of fierce competition, the list of suspects is endless. Could what have started as harmless fun become a deadly race to win the prize?

With time running out, the duo need to spot the killer before tragedy strikes again…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A lovely example of an unusual pairing working in the world of crime detection. Loveday and Ryder bring youthful naivety and aged wisdom to solve a clever crime, against a background of sixties prejudice, chauvinism and social class divide.

Although this is the third book in the series, the other’s being ‘ A Fatal Obsession’ and ‘A Fatal Mistake’, this is the first book I have read. The setting is authentic but takes a little getting used to. The characters are interesting, but if you get the chance, read the other stories first, to get to know the character’s stories.

The story revolves around a suspicious death and a beauty contest, there are numerous suspects and secrets and the crime-detecting is subtle. The ending is realistic and leaves the reader with a cliffhanger and a moral dilemma for Loveday.

Worth reading if you like retro crime novels with a murder mystery theme.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

 

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK


I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK

I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects.
The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

4*#Review: The Taken Girls – G.D. Sanders @AvonBooksUK @GDSandersAuthor

Someone is watching them…

When a missing teenage girl reappears unharmed but pregnant, the case falls to DI Edina Ogborne, the newest recruit of Canterbury Police. But Ed’s already got her hands full with a team who don’t want her, an ex who won’t quit, and terrible guilt over a secret from her past.

As Ed investigates the case, she discovers Canterbury has seen this crime not once, but several times before. And when Ed and her detectives encounter missing historic police files, falsified school records, and Ed’s new lover as a prime suspect, it becomes clear that the system has been corrupted.

Can Ed find the kidnapper behind these depraved crimes before he strikes again? Or has time already run out?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced police procedural, with an ambitious female detective. Ed Ogborne, whose impulsive behaviour in private, often creates problems in her professional life. The new girl in Canterbury, she has to gain the trust of her team and solve an abduction of a teenage girl.

The characters are complex and work well together. The antagonist is not what you first assume, but is a serious threat to the girl taken. There lots of suspects and historic connections. The detective team has a good dynamic, with each detective having their own story and emotional trauma.

This has the potential for making a good police procedural series.

I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.