Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Political Thriller, Thriller

Fight to Survive Alan McDermott 4* #Review @AmazonPub @Jambalian #Thriller #PoliticalThriller #InternationalThriller #ThomasandMercer #EvaDriscollThriller

She’s working for her enemies. Or so they think…

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.

But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?

When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final instalment really be her last?

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Having read the first Eva Driscoll thriller, I missed out on the second, but this story is a standalone read, with all the necessary backstory.

Eva is attempting to stay under the radar, but her compassionate nature, which is at odds with her profession, forces her to do the right thing, but at what personal risk? Her next assignment comes from the organisation she is hiding from, they make it impossible for her to refuse, but are they organising her demise? What follows is a well researched, action-packed extraction from North Korea, it doesn’t go to plan, and when she escapes against the odds, why would she ever go back?

The characters are realistic, and there is a return of some old friends, the violence is believable, but not too explicit. The plot is fast-paced and relentless, there is no time to get bored. The twists are well-thought-out and give this series its edge.

The perfect series, for lovers of international and political thrillers.

Posted in Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, International Thriller, Political Thriller

The Beijing Conspiracy – Shamini Flint -5* #Review @severnhouse @ShaminiFlint @LoveBooksGroup #PoliticalThriller #Espionage #Asia #China #US #BlogTour #LoveBooksTours

#TheBeijingConspiracy

“I need your support. There is no one else I can trust. Please help her. Please help our daughter.” When ex-Marine Jack Ford receives a letter containing news of a daughter he never knew he had, he feels compelled to return to China, a country he hasn’t visited since 1989 when, as a young American spy, he fell in love with a beautiful student activist and found himself caught up in the horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But why has Xia got in touch now, after a thirty-year silence? On arrival in Beijing, Jack finds himself accidentally in possession of an explosive piece of information both the Chinese and American governments are desperate to get their hands on. Alone in a strange city, suspected of being a traitor by his own side, not knowing whom to trust, Jack is faced with an impossible dilemma: should he save his new-found daughter or prevent a new world war from breaking out?  

Amazon UK

#LoveBooksTours

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

A perfect balance of adrenaline-led action and careful suspense building makes this political thriller, exploring the 21st-century cold war between China and the US, a gripping read. The contemporary placing of the action and the undoubted knowledge of the current political climate makes this a believable story. Reinforced with a complex, troubled protagonist, and a cast of realistically flawed antagonists and allies. The line between friend and foe is hard to draw in this novel, adding to the stories authenticity.

Jack Ford’s life changed in 1989 with the Tiananmen Square massacre, his subsequent military service has left him with PTSD, and a life that is an emotional wasteland. An unexpected plea for help from someone he once loved, has him travelling back to Asia, where he is embroiled in a battle between China and the US, with him as the fall guy.

This is a story of factions, misinformation, conspiracy, espionage and political wrangling. Jack is the lynchpin, to maintaining the status quo, and avoiding world war, but is the greater good worth the personal cost, for Jack?

There are some thinly veiled characters in this story, which add to its realism, the problems exposed are realistic, disturbing, and as you read on, you are invested in the outcome, because it feels so close to the world’s present-day crisis.

An easy to read, and fast-paced international thriller, with a strong espionage theme and astute political commentary.

#ShaminiFlint

Shamini Flint lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. She began her career in law in Malaysia and also worked at an international law firm in Singapore. She travelled extensively around Asia for her work, before resigning to be a stay-at-home mum, writer, part-time lecturer and environmental activist, all in an effort to make up for her ‘evil’ past as a corporate lawyer!

Shamini writes children’s books with cultural and environmental themes including Jungle Blues and Turtle takes a Trip as well as the ‘Sasha’ series of children’s books. She also writes crime fiction featuring the rotund Singaporean policeman, Inspector Singh. Singh travels around Asia stumbling over corpses and sampling the food …

Posted in Book Review

Death Notice – 4* Review -Zhou HaoHui

For nearly two decades, an unsolved murder case has haunted Sergeant Zheng Haoming of the Chengdu Police Department. Eighteen years ago, two victims were murdered after being served with ‘death notices’. In refined calligraphy, their perceived crimes were itemised, and they were sentenced to death. The date of execution was declared, as was the name of their executioner: Eumenides.

Now, a user on an internet forum has asked the public to submit names for judgement – judgement for those the law cannot touch. Those found guilty will be punished, and there is only one sentence: death. The user’s handle? Eumenides.

Does Zheng have a lead? Has a long-dormant serial killer resurfaced? Perhaps modern police techniques – criminal profiling, online surveillance and SWAT quick response teams – can catch a killer who previously evaded justice? Or perhaps the killer is more than a match for whatever the Chengdu Police Department can muster?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced police procedural set in China with well-written suspense elements and an authentic setting. Translated into English this book, reads well. ‘Death Notice’ is a mixture of cold case investigation and the present day pursuit of a serial killer.

The plot is complex as are the characters. The writing style isn’t descriptive, but there is sufficient information for the reader to understand what’s going on and try to solve the clues. The procedures are bureaucratic and appear dated but presumably are reflective of police procedures within China.

I enjoyed the writing style and the author’s ability to create suspense. There is an overriding mystery to solve, which will span the series but this first book ties up the immediate loose ends while leaving the detectives and the reader further mysteries to solve.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Blitz :The Killing Time – M.J Lee 4*Review

As tensions simmer in Shanghai, children go missing…

Shanghai 1932: Inspector Danilov hasn’t recovered from the death of his child… but across a Shanghai riven with communal tensions, children are going missing.

Missing, and then murdered. Who is responsible? Why have the children’s bodies been exhibited for all to see?

Just as Danilov thinks the stakes couldn’t be higher there is a new dimension, Japan, a rising power flexing its muscles. In fractious Shanghai, an explosion is long overdue. With the clock ticking can Danilov and his assistant Strachan solve the case? The fate of Shanghai may be at stake. So is Danilov’s job… And his sanity.

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Extract

Back at Central Police Station, the detectives’ room was empty save for Strachan and Danilov. The rest of the squad, or what remained of them after the Shanghai Volunteers had decimated the ranks, were at lunch, on patrol or simply avoiding work with all the professionalism of the accomplished loafer.

Strachan was hunched over the missing persons file, while Danilov was busy sending smoke rings up to the kippered ceiling, where they hung floating in the air before gradually dissipating like a wastrel’s fortune.

‘Why was the ear removed, Strachan?’

The detective sergeant knew better than to speak now. Danilov was only turning the problem over in his mind; he didn’t require a response.

‘And why slash the face but leave the birthmark? If anything identifies him, it is the mark.’ Another stream of smoke rose to the ceiling. ‘We need to go back to where the body was found.’

It was Danilov’s belief that a crime scene yielded as much information about the killer as the body itself.

‘When, sir?’

‘There’s no time like the present.’ He stubbed the cigarette out in the empty ashtray and adjusted the lamp over his desk so it was at exactly forty-five degrees. Anything less or more would be a distraction. ‘Have you found him yet in missing persons?’

‘Nothing so far. He might not live in the International Settlement.’

‘From the French Concession?’

‘Or any of the Chinese areas along the border: Chapei, Siccawei, Nantao, Hung Tsung.’

‘Hmm, but why risk transporting him? With all the recent tensions, the Volunteers are manning roadblocks at all the major crossing points.’ Danilov shook his head. ‘No, he came from the International Settlement. Too risky to move him around. Keep looking; you might want to check the Criminal Intelligence files too.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘I always thought Criminal Intelligence was the wrong name for the division. Criminals lack intelligence. That is precisely why we are able to catch them.’

‘An oxymoron, sir.’

‘A what, Strachan?’

‘A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear next to each other, like “the young couple were alone together”.’

‘You’re spending too much time with my daughter, Strachan.’

The detective sergeant smiled at the thought. ‘I’m enjoying helping her with her English literature degree. We’re reading Jane Austen at the moment. I didn’t know a—’

He was interrupted by a knock on the glass that separated the detectives’ room from the rest of the station. A small, round woman entered.

‘Inspector Danilov, the chief will see you now.’ She lowered her voice. ‘He has five minutes, fitting you in between a committee on the uniforms of Sikh policemen and a meeting about the new filing system for criminal records. I’d hurry if I were you.’

‘Thank you, Miss Cavendish. I’ll come right away.’

The inspector stood up from his chair, feeling the ache in his knees. Winters were the devil to him, bringing back old pains he thought he’d left behind.

‘The chief inspector is in a jolly good mood today. They’ve approved his proposal on overtime pay for ancillary staff.’

‘Does that mean you will receive more money, Miss Cavendish?’ asked Strachan.

‘Less, actually. He’s removing all allowances. No more overtime pay, no more travel expenses, no more meal allowances. I don’t know when these budget cuts are going to stop.’

‘It’s what President Hoover calls the Great Depression, Miss Cavendish.’

‘Another oxymoron, Strachan?’

Miss Cavendish’s right eyebrow rose. ‘An oxy what?’

‘Don’t ask. My detective sergeant will have you reading Jane Austen next.’ Danilov put on his jacket. ‘While I’m gone, Strachan, ask around the station, see if anybody has heard anything about any kidnappings recently.’

‘Kidnappings, sir? Why?’

Danilov tapped the side of his beak-like nose. ‘A hunch. Back in 1912, when I was in London… ’

‘And I was in school.’

‘Thank you, Strachan, for reminding me of your youth and inexperience. As I was saying, back in 1912, there was a gang of kidnappers operating in Poplar who encouraged the families of their victims to pay up by sending them a severed ear. It invariably concentrated their minds as they haggled over the price.’

He turned to go.

‘Did you catch them, sir?’

‘Who?’

‘The kidnappers?’

‘Of course. Like all criminals, they became greedy. Demanding money once too often and removing far too many ears.’

Miss Cavendish tapped her watch. ‘The chief inspector is waiting.’

‘I’ll ask around, sir.’

‘And don’t forget to chase the report. I want it on my desk by the time I’ve finished with the chief inspector.’

‘Yes, sir.’

Danilov followed Miss Cavendish down the corridor to Chief Inspector Rock’s room.

‘I could ask around for you too, Inspector. People tell me things; I don’t know why,’ said the elderly woman over her shoulder.

‘People do it because you are an excellent listener, Miss Cavendish, with a capacity for gossip that puts Catherine the Great to shame.’

They both stopped in front of the chief inspector’s door.

Miss Cavendish played with the rope of pearls that surrounded a roll of fat on her neck. ‘You do say the nicest things, Inspector. But I’ll ask anyway.’

She knocked.

A loud ‘Come!’ from inside.

‘Into the dragon’s den. Good luck,’ she whispered, opening the door. ‘Inspector Danilov as you requested, Chief Inspector.’

‘Thank you, Miss Cavendish. Do come in, Danilov, and take a seat. I won’t be a moment.’

 

My Thoughts…

Shanghai in the 1930’s was a tinderbox, and this story captures this ethos perfectly. Japan’s annexation of Manchuria created additional tension between the Chinese and Japanese populations within Shanghai, and it’s against this setting the fourth Inspector Danilov tale takes place.

Dark and tragic crimes are the central theme of this story, and the child murders are difficult to read. Trying to solve them forces Inspector Danilov to confront his demons and personal tragedies. As this is the fourth book in the series, undoubtedly the reader has already learnt a great deal about Danilov and his colleagues and family in the previous books.

Authentic Danilov’s idiosyncrasies make him easy to like, he is the typical smart, driven detective, whose career is his life often to the detriment of his family and health. The plot has twists, and the pacing varies with the action. A little slow in the first few chapters, it gains motivation as the plot becomes convoluted.

As a standalone, read it is good, but it would be even better if you’d read the previous books in the series. This disturbing story has an evocative setting, enigmatic detective and exciting political theme, making it an absorbing read.

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

M J Lee has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a university researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, TV commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the north of England, in London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning advertising awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and the United Nations.

While working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarters of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in the 1920s.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practising downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake, and wishing he was George Clooney.

Twitter: @WriterMJLee

Posted in Memoir, Non-Fiction

Finding Gobi Dion Leonard 5* Review

In 2016, Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner, unexpectedly stumbled across a little stray dog while competing in a gruelling 155-mile race across the Gobi Desert. The lovable pup, who earned the name ‘Gobi’, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion over the treacherous Tian Shan Mountains, managing to keep pace with him for nearly 80 miles.

As Dion witnessed the incredible determination of this small animal, he felt something change within himself. In the past, he had always focused on winning and being the best, but his goal now was simply to make sure that his new friend was safe, nourished and hydrated. Although Dion did not finish first, he felt he had won something far greater and promised to bring Gobi back to the UK for good to become a new addition to his family. This was the start of a journey neither of them would ever forget with a roller coaster ride of drama, grief, heartbreak, joy and love that changed their lives forever.

Finding Gobi is the ultimate story of hope, of resilience and of friendship, proving once again, that dogs really are ‘man’s best friend.’

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts… 

A lovely, honest, heartfelt memoir from an ultramarathon runner. Dion shares how meeting a little dog in China during a gruelling race changed and enriched his life.

This true-life story has a happy ending, so you know from the beginning whatever happens things turn out well for Dion and his doggy friend.

Dion is a driven individual whose childhood ended abruptly with the death of the man he called dad. Much of Dion’s motivation for pushing himself beyond reasonable limits can be traced back to his childhood. The memoir flows like a novel and is full of action, conflict, grounded characters and poignant moments.

Meeting Gobi is serendipitous, and Dion is determined she will be his. The sacrifices he makes, the people he meets and the different culture he learns to live with making this an enthralling read. Gobi’s story is touching, and many times your heart is in your mouth as you wonder if she will ever make it to the UK and life with Dion.

The insight into 21st-Century China is fascinating. The real-life action is heartstopping and the bond between man and dog rewarding. So familiar to everyone who shares their life with a doggy friend.  Whether or not, China, dogs and running are part of your life you will enjoy this well-paced, action-packed, original story, I did.

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