All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.
But that was thirty years ago. Now he’s living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island – until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories: an author, hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.
But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that’s remained unsolved for thirty years.
If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary. But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder . . .
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Eight Detectives has stories within a story, a mathematical rather than emotional interpretation of murder mystery and an increasingly menacing atmosphere between the reclusive author and the inquiring editor. Rather like a treasure map, the short stories provide snippets of information for another as yet untold one.
Classically written, relatable murder mysteries engage the reader. The plot twists unexpectedly into a surprisingly contemporary murder mystery with psychological suspense. This is a book for the observant, are the protagonists reliable?
Eight Detectives is an absorbing and addictive read. It would make a great party game.
Vintage Crimes will be a CWA anthology with a difference, celebrating members work over the years. The book will gather stories from the mid-1950s until the twenty-first century by great names of the past, great names of the present together with a few hidden treasures by less familiar writers. The first CWA anthology, Butcher s Dozen, appeared in 1956, and was co-edited by Julian Symons, Michael Gilbert, and Josephine Bell. The anthology has been edited by Martin Edwards since 1996, and has yielded many award-winning and nominated stories in the UK and overseas.
This new edition includes an array of incredible and award-winning authors: Robert Barnard, Simon Brett, Liza Cody, Mat Coward, John Dickson Carr, Marjorie Eccles, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Anthea Fraser, Celia Fremlin, Frances Fyfield, Michael Gilbert, Paula Gosling, Lesley Grant-Adamson, HRF Keating, Bill Knox, Peter Lovesey, Mick Herron, Michael Z. Lewin, Susan Moody, Julian Symons and Andrew Taylor.
I received a copy of this book from Flame Tree Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Crime Fiction is a genre where short stories work well, and this anthology of classic vintage style stories is proof. The book features a range of crime stories, some genuinely vintage others written by contemporary writers. It’s a book you can dip in and out of which is lovely.
Setting and characters are important in short stories, and there are some great examples of both in these stories. Some stories are atmospheric with a hint of menace, whilst others have strange endings.
The varied plots mean this book will appeal to many readers who enjoy classic crime and mystery fiction. The one’s I enjoyed most used sensory imagery well and made imagining the events easy.
Martin Edwards (editor) is the author of eighteen novels, including the Lake District Mysteries,and the Harry Devlin series. His ground-breaking genre study The Golden Age of Murder has won the Edgar, Agatha,and H.R.F. Keating awards. He has edited twenty eightcrime anthologies, has won the CWA Short Story Dagger and the CWA Margery Allingham Prize,and is series consultant for the BritishLibrary’s Crime Classics.
It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened. Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120. Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow. Because something was coming. Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves. Making them cheat. Making them steal. Making them kill. Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
The third book in the Detective Sergeant Pace series this story is complete and reads, as a standalone. However, reference is made to the detective’s former life and reading the previous books would give more information on this.
This is an impactful read which graphically explores inhumanity. I didn’t read the chapters that detailed animal cruelty. That apart, this is a well-written story. It’s told from a character called Evil’s point of view who judges humanity with a unique moral code.
Evil enacts a vendetta of sorts on Pace. The inhabitants of Hinton Hollow are collateral damage.
The ending befits what comes before. Whether you like it or not, and this story will divide its readers, it is a memorable experience.
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series.
He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children.
Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.
Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. DCs Tim Myerscough and Bear Zewedu found a corpse, but when Hunter arrives it has disappeared, and all is not as it seems.
Hunter recalls the disappearance of a dead body thirty years earlier. The Major Incident Team is called in but sees no connection – it is too long ago. Hunter is determined to investigate the past and the present with the benefit of modern DNA testing.
Tim has other problems in his life. His father, Sir Peter Myerscough, is released from jail. He, too, remembers the earlier murder. There is no love lost between Hunter and Sir Peter. Will Hunter accept help from his nemesis to catch a killer? Hunter’s own secret is exciting and crucial to his future. Will it change his life? And can he keep Edinburgh safe?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Book five in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series intrigues the reader into the dark world past and present of Edinburgh’s crime scene. Hunter is the link in the crimes and the mystery as the reader is taken back in time to his first body, which disappears. Does a recent murder have connections to the cold case and what his Hunter’s connection to the two murders?
Authentic, diverse characters relatable dialogue and a twisty plot make this addictive reading. The mystery unfolds and reveals some of Hunter’s secrets too. The vividly portrayed setting and compelling characters give the story its noir crime ethos, which is evocative of these crime mysteries.
Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fifth novel in the series, Hunter’s Secret, is published by darkstroke. Her first non-fiction book, Let’s Get Published is available now.
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Lies, secrets, and a sinister plot hide in broad daylight at the heart of the Club Pacifica.
A beautiful tropical resort, exciting new friends, and a handsome guest liaison – it’s the perfect getaway for Chloe, a free-spirited Baltimore girl just getting to know herself. But the vacation of a lifetime quickly takes a dark turn when a young, overly flirty bellhop starts following her everywhere. It gets even worse when he disappears, and Chloe is the sole witness.
As bellhop after bellhop goes missing, she struggles to figure out what’s happening. When suspicion falls upon her, Chloe must not only try to rescue the kidnapped bellhops, but also to clear her name.
Complicating things further is the relationship she forms with Mateo, Club Pacifica’s guest liaison. Charming and easygoing, he is everything that her fiancé at home is not, and she finds herself fighting a growing attraction to him. But can he be trusted?
She soon discovers that she’s landed herself in a world of secrets, and, worse, that these are not just those of others, but also the secrets she keeps from herself.
Can she find her way through all the lies to finally discover the truth before it’s too late?
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
This story has intrinsic dark humour with vivid characters and lots of action. The plot is imaginative with good use of sensory imagery. The pacing is frenetic at times, as the bellhops disappear without a trace. Chloe, investigates the mystery, but who can she trust?
Chloe is a likeable character on an emotional journey. Despite the abductions and accusations that define her holiday, it lets her step back from her life. Finally discovering she wants something different.
Fun, danger, mystery and romance are all found in this engaging and unusual story.
Cat Hickey has a Master’s degree in Biology, and teaches Anatomy and Physiology at a university in Baltimore, MD, USA. She writes light-hearted mysteries and thrillers that are based, partly, on her extensive travels around the world. She is also an avid yogi who teaches aerial yoga and practices aerial circus arts, and spends the rest of her time with her four rescue animals, which consist of three cats and a horse.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story which is a fusion of genres is atmospheric, poignant and resonates.
Paul returns to his home village twenty-five years after a murder that left one boy dead, one a killer and the other gone without a trace. Paul’s viewpoint is both past and present. A recent murder introduces the police procedural element with the detective’s point of view.
This is a contemporary gothic style story. It’s creepy with elements of horror, poignant and mysterious. Slow pacing builds the suspense and makes the horror elements more intense.
This is a niche read, but for those, it appeals to, it’s addictive and memorable.
One sunny day in July, someone took three-month-old Alicia Owen from her pram outside a supermarket. Her mother, Marie, was inside. No one saw who took Alicia. And no one could find her.
They silenced her cry…
Fifteen years later, a teenager on a construction site sees a tiny hand in the ground. When the police investigate, they find a baby buried and preserved in concrete. Could it be Alicia?
But the truth will always out.
When Alicia disappeared, the papers accused Marie of detachment and neglect. The Owens never got over the grief of their child’s disappearance and divorced not long after. By reopening the case, DC Beth Chamberlain must reopen old wounds. But the killer may be closer than anyone ever suspected…
The latest crime thriller featuring Family Liaison Officer DC Beth Chamberlain, Hush Little Baby is tightly plotted, fraught with tension and impossible to put down.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story is emotional and poignant because it involves the death of a baby. The author captures the familial guilt and heartbreak in this story as Beth Chamberlain investigates the cold case. The third in the series, there are mentions of previous crimes and so reading the first two books is advised.
Beth Chamberlain is a believable character. Caring and dedicated, she gives the story authenticity. The dynamic in the police team is well-written and the depth, and pacing of the investigation realistically portrayed.
The compelling plot and engaging, though not always likeable characters immerse the reader into this dark world.
Extract from Hush Little Baby Jane Isaac
The detective chief inspector tapped the screen. ‘In the description given at the time, Alicia’s mother said the child was wearing a towelling vest and a nappy. The contents of her changing bag, also taken with her, included a cream shawl, similar to the one this child was wrapped in. The burial site, if we can call it that, is less than two miles from the Owens’ home at the time, and not far from where Alicia went missing.’
‘Could it have been as long as fifteen years?’ Nick asked.
‘They can’t be completely sure before they run tests, but potentially, yes.’
‘So, we think it is her?’
‘From what we’ve uncovered so far, it seems likely. Pete’s been out to see the farmer who owns the land.’
DC Pete Winston approached the front of the room. He was a tall man, with short dark hair and soft brown eyes. The buttons on his shirt gaped slightly over an overhanging paunch. ‘The land was owned by the Moreton family before it was sold for development,’ he said. ‘Old man Moreton must be in his seventies now. He ran the farm with his only son, it had been in their family over a hundred years. He claims he had no idea how the body came to be on his land.’ Pete lifted a hand and circled an area on the map, indicating the location of the farm and the land attached to it. A purple-headed pin close to the edge marked the area where the remains were found.
‘Moreton was quite clear that this particular field—’ Pete tapped the crime scene twice ‘—has been used solely for crops for the last thirty years. It’s several acres away from the farmhouse and not overlooked. There are no bridle ways or walkways that run through, or close by, and it was edged with high hawthorn hedging along the roadside, until recently when the developers cut it back.’
‘How did they access the field?’ Nick asked.
‘Through a locked gate at the bottom of the road.’
‘So, he’s saying nobody else had access apart from farm workers?’
‘Not legitimately. He did admit there were a few breaks in the hedging back in the day, caused by badgers and other animals, where someone may have climbed through.’
Nick’s face crumpled. ‘Surely the farmer or a labourer working the land would have noticed something freshly buried, or that the soil was disturbed.’
‘Yeah, I mentioned that. Moreton wasn’t convinced.’ Pete glanced down and sifted through his notebook until he found what he was looking for. ‘This was one field in a farm of over 700 acres. They combine crop and cattle. The work is constant. They harvest, cultivate and sow the crops. Often fields aren’t touched for months in between. If the block was buried at the right time, the soil could have had plenty of weeks or months to settle afterwards.’
Beth narrowed her eyes. Once again, it indicated a level of knowledge and planning. To know when the seeds would be sown. Although it would have been cumbersome to transport a concrete lump that size into the field. The killer would have had to dig quite a hole to conceal it. ‘How far does their machinery penetrate the soil?’ she asked.
Pete shot Beth a knowing smile. ‘Down to a maximum of thirty centimetres.’
Which meant if the block was buried deeper than thirty centimetres it could have sat there for years, undisturbed. Beth gave an appreciative nod. ‘What about the builder working the digger this morning?’ she asked. ‘How come they didn’t notice they’d hit the concrete block? Especially if they were working through soil.’
‘They’d been breaking up the foundations of a dilapidated barn nearby. Some of the remains were mixed in with the soil in that part of the field. They probably didn’t give it a second thought.’ Pete snapped his notebook shut. ‘The farmer’s putting together a list of labourers he’s used. They’d know the area, be aware it was remote.’
Freeman thanked Pete and sunk his hands deep in his pockets. ‘As I said, if this is Alicia, the quickest way to confirm identity would be through a DNA check against her parents. Depending on how busy the labs are, we’d hopefully know within two to three days.’
‘I’ve already taken a sample from the mother,’ Beth said. ‘It was couriered to the lab this afternoon.’
Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.
Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.
I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster UK in return for an honest review.
Written in Blood is book 11 in the Robert Hunter series but the first I’ve read and it was good. It starts slowly, with Angela, a professional pickpocket with a tragic history. Unfortunately, she steals something from a ruthless killer that he wants back. The dark game begins as she cleverly involves a forensic scientist and ultimately Hunter and Garcia an elite detective team.
The writing style engages the reader from the beginning and layers on the menace, suspense and twists until you’re breathless. Clever subterfuge and authentic psychological profiling coupled with short pacy chapters and multi-person points of view, make the reader part of the story.
It’s graphic but not overtly allowing the reader’s imagination to expand or shut down the descriptions. It has a contemporary edge which makes it relevant and relatable.
This is a well-written noir crime novel. It resonates due to the quality of the characters and the authenticity of the setting.
Born in Brazil of Italian origin, Chris Carter studied psychology and criminal behaviour at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan State District Attorney’s Criminal Psychology team, he interviewed and studied many criminals, including serial and multiple homicide offenders with life imprisonment convictions. He now lives in London.
Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.
This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?
But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
The predictability of this story’s foundation makes it relatable, and when it all goes wrong so much more chilling. Orla and Kate best friends embark on a long-awaited weekend away. Orla, a new mum, is torn between rekindling her friendship and lost identity and staying home with the child she idolises. She goes and quickly gets into the weekend away vibe. Unfortunately, the next morning Kate is missing, and so is Orla’s recollection of the night before.
The story follows Orla trying to find Kate and what she uncovers along the way. There are lots of twists, plenty of smokescreens and unreliable characters. Who can she trust? The suspenseful, pacy plot engenders a sense of danger.
I like the dynamic between Orla and her unlikely hero. The ending is true to the psychological thriller genre, unexpected, unexplained and unsettling.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A contemporary, gritty police procedural with a relatable female detective, and a complex investigation. DS Josie Masters is now a single mum returning to work for the first time since the birth of her son. She’s conflicted, but her driven personality and diligence to her role keeps her on active duty.
Her first murder is personal and violent, and old friend and everything is not as it first appears. The pacing is commensurate with the investigation, which is hampered by further seemingly unrelated deaths. I read this as a standalone enjoyably, but if you can read all of the books in the series to understand the character development and relationships at play.
This has a noir-crime ethos emphasised by the occasional chapters from a disturbed individual.