Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama

In Cold Blood Jane Bettany 5*#Review @JaneBettany @HQStories #CrimeFiction #InColdBlood #BlogTour #BookReview #DIIsabelBlood #FridayReads

No secret can stay buried forever…

As the Whitworth family begin renovations on their new home, their plans are brought to an abrupt end when they discover a body buried in the back garden.

DI Isabel Blood and her team are called to investigate, but as she approaches Ecclesdale Drive, a feeling of unease settles in her gut.

The property cordoned off is number 23. The house she used to live in as a child…

The forensic team estimate that the body has been in the ground for up to forty years – coinciding with the time Isabel’s family lived in the house.

Isabel’s father vanished without a trace when she was fourteen years old. And with her mother remaining tight-lipped about her father’s disappearance, Isabel can’t escape the unnerving sense of dread that it’s his body, buried in the garden.

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

My Thoughts…

This is a fabulous debut crime novel. Its well-crafted plot has engaging and relatable characters and an authentic urban setting. Isabel Blood is a time-served police detective who juggles family and work life with the help of a supportive partner and professional colleagues. She is believable and easy to empathise, essential characteristics for the lead detective in a police procedural.

The East Midland’s setting in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire is familiar to me, as I lived there for many years. The author conveys it’s idiosyncracies thorough dialogue and description so well.

The plot has depth and unexpected twists that keep the reader absorbed and guessing. The ending is suspenseful and concludes the case satisfactorily. Hopefully, there will be more books in this series with its realistic team dynamic, and likeable lead detective.

Jane Bettany

I am the author of In Cold Blood, a crime novel published by HQ (HarperCollins) featuring DI Isabel Blood and set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bainbridge. The book won the 2019 Gransnet and HQ writing competition, which was for women writers over the age of 40 who had written a novel with a protagonist in the same age range.

In Cold Blood is my first novel, but I have been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for over twenty years, many of which have appeared in women’s magazines, literary magazines, newspapers and online.

I live in Derby, UK and have an MA in Creative Writing.

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

Killing The Story Joan Livingston 4*#Review @joanlivingston @darkstrokedark The Isabel Long Mystery Series @rararesources #cozymystery #murdermystery #coldcase #BookReview #BlogTour #KillingTheStory

An accidental death that was no accident…

For the record, Estelle Crane, the gutsy editor of The Observer newspaper, died after a hard fall on ice. But years later, her son discovers a cryptic note hinting her death might not have been an accident after all.

Was Estelle pursuing a big story that put her life in danger?

That’s what Isabel Long — along with her 93-year-old mother, Maria, her ‘Watson’ — agrees to investigate in Dillard, a town whose best days are in the past.

A former journalist, Isabel follows leads and interviews sources, new and familiar. She quickly finds a formidable threat in Police Chief James Hawthorne, who makes it clear Isabel is not welcome in his town — and who warns her against poking her nose into Estelle’s death.

Of course, that’s after Isabel has discovered the chief’s questionable policing and a troubled history with Estelle that goes way back.

Killing the story means dropping it because there aren’t enough facts to back it up. But Isabel won’t make that mistake. She’ll see this one through to the very end.

Can she uncover the plot that led to Estelle’s murder?

Killing the Story is the fourth in the popular Isabel Long Mystery Series. 

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

My Thoughts…

Even though this is the fourth book, in the Isabel Long Mystery series it’s the first I’ve read, and there’s sufficient backstory for this to read as a standalone. Isabel, a former journalist, specialises in solving cold cases, in the area of North Massachusetts where she lives. Her fourth case concerns a former Editor of a small-town paper.

The characters are quirky, and the small-town dynamic is believable. The plot has twists and false leads. The investigative team comprises Isabel and her mother, and these two give the story a unique perspective.

If you enjoy cosy and murder mystery this unusual, and original series should appeal to you.

Jaon Livingstone

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Killing the Story, published by Darkstroke Books, is the fourth in her Isabel Long Mystery Series, featuring a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. solving cold cases in rural New England.

She draws upon her own experience as a longtime journalist in Massachusetts and New Mexico to create Isabel Long, a sassy, savvy widow who uses the skills she acquired in the business to solve what appears to be impossible cases. She also relies on her deep knowledge of rural Western Massachusetts, where she lives, to create realistic characters and settings — from country bars (where Isabel works part-time) to a general store’s backroom where gossipy old men meet.

She credits her mother, Algerina — the inspiration for Maria, Isabel Long’s ‘Watson’ — for instilling in her a love of reading and the power of the written word.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Greenway – 4* #Review – Jane Adams #mystery #crime #psychological #suspense #detective @JoffeBooks @janeadamsauthor

AUGUST 1975: Cassie Maltham’s life changes forever one scorching day. She and her twelve-year-old cousin Suzie take a shortcut through the Greenway, an ancient pathway steeped in Norfolk legend. Somewhere along this path Suzie simply vanishes . . .

TWENTY YEARS LATER: Cassie is still tormented by nightmares, parts of her memory completely erased. With her husband Fergus and friends Anna and Simon, she returns to Norfolk, determined to confront her fears and solve a mystery that won’t let her rest.

Then another young girl goes missing at the entrance to the Greenway, and Cassie is pushed once more into the darkest recesses of her mind.

John Tynan, the retired detective who’d been in charge of Suzie’s case, is still haunted by her disappearance. He offers his help to Detective Inspector Mike Croft who is leading the increasingly frantic search for the missing child. Has evil returned? And what really happened all those years ago and who can be believed?

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

My Thoughts…

A well-written retro, psychological suspense mystery set in Norfolk.

Cassie is the link between two disappearances of young girls. Her cousin Suzie in 1975 and Sara in 1995, whilst Cassie is revisiting the area after twenty years, as part of her mental health rehabilitation.

There is a multi-layered plot, which encompasses many themes; myths and legends, supernatural occurrences, crime, mental health and police procedural. Some of these are explored in detail, like the day to day police activity surrounding the missing child, others like the supernatural elements, and Cassie’s mental state are hinted at but left to the reader’s imagination to decide what to believe.

Mike Croft the SIO in the case is an interesting character, he has a tragic past, which threatens to impinge on his decision-making capacity in the case. John Tynan, a retired detective who was SIO on the previous missing girl case in 1975, sees the similarities between the two cases, and he supports Mike and his team with the new case. His involvement ties up the historical, and present day elements of the story in a realistic way.

The plot twists are good and the final resolution solves the mystery. Some questions remain but, this is intentional, making this an authentic story, as in real life not every aspect of a crime or mystery can be solved in entirety.

I like the retro ethos of the story, it adds to the plot’s level of menace and the mystery. The complex characters, especially Cassie who is the unreliable protagonist in the story are believable.

Overall this fusion of genres works well and makes the story a compelling read.

Posted in Book Review

Faith Martin- 5* Review – Hillary’s Final Case

Hillary Greene has returned to Thames Valley Police HQ, acting as a cold-case consultant for the Crime Review Team, looking into murders which the police have never been able to solve. This is a crime mystery full of well-observed characters, which will have you gripped from start to the absolutely thrilling conclusion.

THE DETECTIVE DI Hillary Greene An attractive, single woman nearing the landmark age of fifty, Hillary Greene was a police officer of many years’ experience (earning the rank of DI) and came up through the ranks. Consequently, she knew how the system worked and was always fiercely loyal to the force without being blinkered to its faults. Forced to retire early through no fault of her own, she has now returned to the force as a civilian consultant on cold cases.

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My Thoughts…

The final book in the Hillary Greene series answers all the questions both in her professional and personal life. The cases in this concluding book are a continuation from the storyline in the previous book ‘Murder in Mind’.

The crime solving is believable and engaging, not everything is solved, but this adds to the authenticity. All the main characters are featured in ‘Hillary’s Final Case’ and there is a satisfactory resolution of Hillary’s personal life.

I have only read two books in this series, but as they read well as standalone stories this isn’t a problem, Cold cases featuring missing girls are the theme of this book, and all the stories are absorbing and poignant. There are many twists, but it’s rewarding to follow the clues and solve the mysteries and crimes with Hillary Greene and her team.

If you enjoy crime novels and cosy mystery this is a series worth reading.

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

Posted in Book Review

Murder in Mind- 5* Review – Faith Martin

Seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Perkins was found battered to death in her home in 2010. The murder weapon was suspected to be a fire poker and it seems she was quite popular with older gentlemen. 

Her grandson Robbie inherited everything, but he can’t be placed at the scene of the crime. 

WHO KILLED THIS HARMLESS OLD WOMAN AND WHY? AND WHAT SECRETS WAS SHE HIDING? 

Hillary also has a new boss and a baffling cold case to contend with, not to mention a marriage proposal to consider. 

Hillary Greene has returned to Thames Valley Police HQ, acting as a cold-case consultant for the Crime Review Team, looking into murders which the police have never been able to solve. 

She wasn’t sure she wanted to go back. But solving crimes is irresistible for Hillary Greene. 

DI Hillary Greene 
An attractive, single woman nearing the landmark age of fifty, Hillary Greene was a police officer of many years’ experience (earning the rank of DI) and came up through the ranks. Consequently, she knew how the system worked and was always fiercely loyal to the force without being blinkered to its faults. Forced to retire early through no fault of her own, she has now returned to the force as a civilian consultant on cold cases.

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My Thoughts…

I’ve noticed this cosy mystery detective series has featured consistently in the Kindle bestselling lists, and so I decided to see why. ‘Murder in Mind’ is the penultimate book in the series but after the first chapter, you know who is who, and what Di Hillary Greene’s backstory is, so it reads fine as a standalone.

Although a former DI, Hillary now works as a civilian consultant for a cold crime unit. The reason for using civilians in this crime-solving setting is explained realistically. Against a background of police budget cuts, civilians are cheaper to employ, and she has the necessary professional knowledge and connections to make crime solving in this way possible and authentic.

It’s refreshing to see a woman in her fifties at the forefront of the story. Her expertise and tenacity are unquestioned by her colleagues, both civilian and police, and she is a likeable, relatable character.

I also liked the two younger characters working with her, both have stories and Jake’s is particularly poignant and threatens both his own and the team’s credibility and safety.

The cold crime is brutal and tragic and the list of possible suspects vast, each thread of evidence is explored in a believable and interesting way, with lots of false clues, until the well- thought out ending is revealed.

This is a curious mix of police procedural and cosy mystery, which draws you into the plot and the characters’lives, I want to read the previous books now and look forward to the final book in the series.

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

Posted in Book Review

Ian Rankin- 5* Review – In a House of Lies

IN A HOUSE OF LIES…

Everyone has something to hide
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still – both for his family and the police – is that his body was in an area that had already been searched.

Everyone has secrets
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now – after a decade without answers – it’s time for the truth.

Nobody is innocent
Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.

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My Thoughts…

‘In a ‘House of Lies’ is a polished police procedural with iconic characters, especially Rebus. Even ailing and in retirement, he remains an intelligent, tenacious detective.

DI Clarke is on the Murder Investigation Team (MIT) investigating a murder of a victim from Rebus’ time. Opening this cold case lets out old secrets, and no one is safe especially Rebus. Someone is leaking information to the press, and internal affairs suspect Clarke, who is still smarting from their previous investigation. Corruption, murder and poor policing are all exposed in this fascinating crime novel, and Rebus finds himself with a case that reveals some poignant facts and showcases the best and worst of humanity.

The characters are complex, flawed and realistic, whether they be criminals or police. The tension and suspense increase with each page making it hard to put down. The setting is authentic and the background information cleverly woven into the story, making it an easy standalone read.

Police procedural at its best, whether you are a fan of Rebus or not.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Keep Her Silent- Theresa Talbot – Guest Post -5* Review

 ‘Do that which is good and no evil shall touch you’

That was the note the so-called Raphael killer left on each of his victims. Everyone in Glasgow – investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil included – remember the murder of three women in Glasgow which sent a wave of terror through the city. They also remember that he is still at large…

When the police investigation into the Raphael killings reopens, Oonagh is given a tip-off that leads her straight to the heart of a complex and deadly cover-up. When history starts to repeat itself, it seems the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Oonagh be the next target…?

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Guest Post- Theresa Talbot Keep Her Silence Blog

Hi, thanks so much for asking me along. I’m Theresa Talbot and Keep Her Silent is the second in the Oonagh O’Neil series. This book has been such a labour of love for me. There are three strands running through the narrative; The unsolved Raphael Killings from the 70s, a woman incarcerated in a secure unit for killing her husband and son, and the tainted blood scandal, where thousands of patients across the world were infected with Hep C & HIV through contaminated blood products. The tainted blood scandal is a real-life horror story. Described by Sir Robert Winston as the ‘worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ it has wrecked lives, ripped families apart and destroyed victims hopes & dreams for the future.

Although Keep Her Silent is a work of fiction, this part of the story is based on real characters and real-life events. I’ve worked closely with one of the victims and sadly his story is one of nightmares. I’m a journalist, and although, yes I was aware of the scandal, I had no idea of the impact it had and continues to have on the victims.

I decided on a real-life crime as the main backdrop to my story and in particular this one for several reasons. I’ve always been completely fascinated by institutionalised crime; the way that criminal activity is carried out under the full glare of the public, with very few, if any, perpetrators ever facing justice. We only need to glance back a few years to Jimmy Saville, Paedophile rings within religious orders, and corrupt MPs who never face trial.

For me it’s more than a scandal, more than a tragedy  – it’s the biggest crime of the 20th century and beyond. For those unfamiliar with the background: In the 70s & 80s, thousands of haemophiliacs and blood transfusion patients were given contaminated blood products, and subsequently went on to develop Hepatitis and HIV. It was soon discovered that pharmaceutical companies making the products were using ‘skid-row donors’ – paying prisoners, drugs addict & sex workers for each donation, with no rigorous checks on where the blood came from. Thousands of people – including children – have died as a result and many more left disabled, yet despite this not one person has faced criminal prosecution in this country. Pharmaceutical giants made millions from this, they put profit before the suffering of mankind, and were given the full protection of the law. Threading this theme through a crime novel seemed natural to me – readers invest in characters, they sit up and take notice of the human tragedy, they laugh and cry and understand how lives are affected – so much more than if they read about it in a newspaper, or see a news item about it.

That said, I’ve never felt so nervous about writing as I was with this book. I worked very closely with one of the victims and was so desperate to get it right and do him justice. He’d been so open and honest, telling his story. He’s lived with this every day for over forty years. I was acutely aware that Keep Her Silent is a work of fiction, and will mainly be read for entertainment – I needed to ensure that it packed a punch. My research took me down so many paths, I was almost overwhelmed at one stage. There was so much suffering and human tragedy and was still happening in plain sight yet no-one seemed to care.

Despite the dark subject matter, the book is injected with humour. Like life, we often use humour to shed light on tragic situations; otherwise, it would become too heavy..

My main character Ooagh O’Neil is a journalist. She’s flawed and troubled and sometimes gets it wrong – but readers tell me they can identify with her. On the surface, she seems to have a charmed life, but underneath chaos ensues. When she discovers the full horrors of the tainted blood scandal she’s like a dog with a bone and won’t let go. Obviously, there could be no ‘happy ever after’ to this book. This is a real-life tragedy that’s still waiting for justice. Instead, I used my own dramatic licence to give some much-needed resolution to this. I felt such a huge responsibility to everyone affected to get it right. Thankfully, so far, it’s had a very positive response

My Thoughts…

Another episode of dangerous investigative journalism with Oonagh O’Neil that unfolds with the unpredictability of real life and grips the reader with its intensity and menace.

If you haven’t met Oonagh previously you’ve missed out, but this story reads well as a standalone, with enough backstory to illuminate Oonagh as a character and provide the pertinent details on her relationships, motivations and demons.

There are both historic and present timelines and several plot threads that are intricately woven to reveal a polished ending. The writing style draws you in until enthralled you have to know what happens next. The themes are shocking, more so because they highlight real-life conspiracy.

A unique combination of crime, conspiracy and killing seen through the eyes of a quirky, on the edge investigative journalist and a cynical, but thorough policeman makes this a memorable story and a series that I can’t wait to continue.

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

Theresa Talbot is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer. A former radio news editor, she also hosted The Beechgrove Potting Shed on BBC Radio Scotland, but for many, she will be most familiar as the voice of the station’s Traffic & Travel.

Late 2014 saw the publication of her first book, This Is What I Look Like, a humorous memoir covering everything from working with Andy Williams to rescuing chickens and discovering nuns hidden in gardens. She’s much in demand at book festivals, both as an author and as a chairperson. Twitter Facebook

Posted in Book Review

An Unfinished Murder – Ann Granger – 4* Review – A Campbell and Carter Mystery #6

 

Posted in Book Review

5*Review: The Blood Road – Stuart MacBride

 Logan McRae’s personal history is hardly squeaky clean, but now that he works for Professional Standards he’s policing his fellow officers.

When Detective Inspector Bell turns up dead in the driver’s seat of a crashed car it’s a shock to everyone. Because Bell died two years ago, they buried him. Or they thought they did.

As an investigation is launched into Bell’s stabbing, Logan digs into his past. Where has he been all this time? Why did he disappear? And what’s so important that he felt the need to come back from the dead?

But the deeper Logan digs, the more bones he uncovers – and there are people out there who’ll kill to keep those skeletons buried. If Logan can’t stop them, DI Bell won’t be the only one to die…

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My Thoughts…

Starting a series at book eleven is probably not the best way to become acquainted with the characters, but despite this being my first Logan McRae book I found the characters delightfully quirky and wholly authentic.

‘The Blood Road’, as the name suggests has a dark theme, not revealed in the blurb I read. ‘The concept of a child auction’ is truly horrific and readers should be prepared to be appalled by some of the events in this story. The scenes with the children are sensitively written but its not for everyone.

The plot is very detailed and includes the remarkable and the mundane, while this adds to the story’s authenticity, it did make specific areas drag for me. The dialogue is what makes this a five-star book; it’s believable, informative, and sometimes amusing. The plot has subtle twists and a suspenseful, adrenaline-inducing ending.

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

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?

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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.