Posted in Author Interview, Blog Blitz, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Fourth Victim John Mead 4*#Review @BookGuild @JohnMeadAuthor @rararesources #PoliceProcedural #CrimeFiction #EastEnd #London #BookBirthdayBlitz #BookReview #BookBloggers

Whitechapel is being gentrified. The many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of tranquillity and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…

Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Matthew Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight.  And, it looks as if the inspector is already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with fatal head injuries, down to a mugging gone wrong.  The victim deserves more.  However, the inspector isn’t ruling anything out – the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.

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#TheFourthVictim
Author Interview – John Mead – The Fourth Victim

Is this story inspired by a real event? If not, what are the inspirations behind this story?

Most of the ideas I have are sparked by incidents I’ve heard about or been involved in. However, they do get greatly adapted to fit the plot.  For example, the idea to set the main narrative of The Fourth Victim in Whitechapel came from walking past Lehman Street police station and wondering what a modern-day Jack the Ripper might be like. It didn’t take me long to decide that the events if enacted today, would be more mundane – less sensational in this jaded age – and  Jack would be psychoanalysed to death. Though he or she would, no doubt, be a Twitter celeb – at least for a day!

Given that I wanted to write something about how the police deal with mental health issues, and how this impacts on the nature of criminality and victimhood; then that ‘Whitechapel Ripper’ setting seemed to put everything into place.

Is it important to create memorable detectives in this genre? Why do think this is?

In general, I would say it is important to create a memorable team of detectives. Even if it is mainly a partnership – Morse had Lewis but also Dr Max DeBryn and Strange, while Poirot had Hastings and Japp.  Although neither Morse nor Poirot could function in a modern police force. A better example would be Vera or Montalbano, both of whom have their teams and sidekicks.   It is the people around the central character and their relationships which define them and make them memorable.

It is, therefore, necessary to create characters which are relatable, well-rounded humans with flaws and inconsistencies. The interactions of these characters are what creates interest and bring the story alive. I tend to find ‘lone wolf’ characters unrealistic, especially in the police as these are organisations based on teamwork. If you consider some of the more modern ‘classic’ detectives, like Martin Beck or Wallander, they may not be the best team players but they are still part of a team and interact with them.  This is as true of the criminals – no one is all good or all bad – and the victims. Both of which are often used as mere plot devices and quickly forgotten, while in reality, they are central to the crime.

Do your detectives have to be likeable? Why is this?

No, not essentially, in reality, how many of the detectives you read about would you want to spend an evening with (Holmes would be insufferable and Jimmy Perez would be maudlin)? I would say it is more important to make them understandable, to show their weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as their strengths – this is what makes a character interesting and, hopefully, why people want to read about them. 

Take Maigret or Elise Wassermann, these characters only become likeable once you start to understand their backgrounds and relationships. Both these characters might seem to be the typical ‘lone wolf’ detective but neither would be anything more than a cypher until you realise that Maigret needs his wife to give him a strong anchor in life and Wassermann, who is autistic, is really doing her utmost to fit in. Otherwise, neither of them would be particularly likeable.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

Sometimes, someone, I come across sparks an idea for a character and, at other times, I realise a character I have written reminds me of someone I know.  But, on the whole, I find the characters develop a life of their own – once you have a few basic characteristics defined for a character it is surprising how complex they can become.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I enjoy books that teach me something: whether it is about writing technique, a moment in history or life in general.

Treasure Island is technically the best book ever written. Not a word is wasted, the plot is fast-paced, the characters are well rounded and every scene comes to life.  Which is quite a feat?

Though I like anything by PG Woodhouse for his wordplay, and CJ Sansom and C Hibbert for their impeccable research.

These days I generally read crime fiction – usually, police procedurals – and the masters of this genre are Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö who wrote the Martin Beck series.

What are you currently writing?

Having decided to write a trilogy based on the Metropolitan Police’s Major Investigation Team East – who deal with murders in modern-day East End of London – I have discovered this is actually a ‘trilogy’ in four parts. And I am currently working on the final two parts of this series, the second book in the series – Geraldine – is being published at the end of September. 

However, I am also working on the plot of another book, an allegorical story of modern life.  It’s about a paranoid white suprematist who befriends a homeless Muslim woman – now if I can pull that off who knows what will come next …

What are the best and the worst things about being a writer?

I absolutely love the act of writing, editing and all aspects of the process – I become totally absorbed by it. Unfortunately, because I am naturally lazy, I completely hate the thought of having to start writing, editing or anything else connected with the process, and do all I can to put it off.

Life is full of contradictions.

#TheFourthVictim

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

My Thoughts…

The iconic setting of Whitechapel for this book puts you in the correct frame of mind for murder. Although this part of the EastEnd of London, is much changed, it seems the possibility of a serial killer is an uncomfortable echo of its gruesome past.

Detective Inspector Merry, who on the surface is anything but, and Detective Sergeant Lukula make an interesting an investigating duo. The other members of the murder investigating team are also distinctive, and despite their personality differences, the team functions well.

This is a character-driven police procedural, with well-drawn realistic characters whose multiple human frailties make them authentic. The plot gives heavier emphasis on the police team’s personal lives than is usual in a police procedural. This adds interest to the more routine parts of the story, but for some will detract from the main storyline.

The investigation of the crimes is detailed and well researched. There is also a mental health theme in this story, which is contemporary, and again, shows copious research.

The plot has twists and false information, and the ending draws everything together in a satisfying way.

John was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.

He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.

Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern-day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Sleepover Carol Wyer 5* #Review Detective Natalie Ward #crimefiction #policeprocedural #familydrama @bookouture @carolewyer #bookreview #bookbloggers

Roxy had a secret. Now she’s gone.

When fourteen-year-old Roxy says she’s going for a sleepover at her best friend Ellie’s house, Cathy sees no reason to check her daughter’s story. The two families are neighbours, and the girls are in and out of each other’s homes every day.

It is a decision she will regret. A day later, Roxy is found murdered in exclusive Linnet Lane, miles across town, in a house owned by two brothers with no apparent connection to Roxy. Detective Natalie Ward, called to lead the investigation, is determined to get to the bottom of why Roxy was in the basement of this grand Victorian mansion when she should have been eating chocolate in her pyjamas with her best friend.

As Natalie begins to look closely at Roxy’s stepfather and three brothers, she discovers that Roxy had recently been admitted to hospital with suspicious injuries. Her mother Cathy seems very jumpy and Ellie refuses to talk. Who are the people that knew Roxy best in the world protecting?

Then Roxy’s mother Cathy disappears.

When Cathy’s body is discovered close to where her daughter was found, Natalie is forced to face the grim fact that the killer is just getting started. She is troubled by the reaction of Roxy’s brother Seth to the tragedies and when his alibi falls through she brings him in for questioning, certain she is making headway.

But while Seth is in custody, one of Roxy’s school friends is found murdered and Natalie knows she must cast her net wider. Things take a more sinister turn when Ellie vanishes, her mobile phone switched off. What is Ellie hiding about the night Roxy died that could put her in terrible danger? And can Natalie work it out before another innocent life is taken?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is the second book I have read in the Detective Natalie Ward series. It is an excellent police procedural and crime fiction novel. Fused with family drama, the characters are believable and complex, they have flaws and secrets, which make them realistic.

The fast-paced plot is suspenseful, building with each new character, and incident. The initial case appears normal, straightforward, but it isn’t, and as the crimes compound, so do the suspects and possible reasons. The twists are clever and keep you guessing, and there are plenty of heartstopping moments.

The urban setting is authentic and grounds the events that occur, making you believe they could happen. The story doesn’t lose sight of the human element and there is plenty of poignant emotion in this book.

The police team is what makes these stories resonate. They all have different personalities, problems and personal lives, but they are a team. They act, and think as one entity, each person in the team matters, they care, cover for, and criticise each other and this makes them believable.

The ending demonstrates the power of careful detective work, as the web of lies and secrets are exposed, and the antagonist is finally revealed. I did work it out but changed my mind several times because of the wide cast of suspects and the plot’s many twists.

A well thought out police procedural with a complex, dynamic detective team, and a clever twisty plot, which gives the reader a believable, emotional story.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

Dancers in the Wind Anne Coates 4* #Review @UrbaneBooks @Anne_Coates1 @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #PoliceProcedural #Crime #CrimeFiction #HannahWeybridge #Journalist #BlogTour #BookReview #MondayBlogs

#DancersintheWind

SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?

Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red-light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. 

Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.  

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I received a copy of this book from Urbane Publications in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced police procedural, with a twist.

Journalist, Hannah Weybridge, is also a single mum, freelance now, she works mainly for magazines, but work is hard to find, when you not in the centre of things. The chance to write a news article is too good to pass up, even if it means leaving the world of free make-up samples and glamour behind.

Tom Jordan is the Senior Investigating Officer(SIO) in a murder investigation. The victims are all young street workers, and they are connected.

Princess, a young street worker, is the focus of Hannah’s article, she is smart, streetwise, but Hannah still sees, the vulnerability, hidden behind the make-up. She feels sorry for her but is not prepared for the disruption to her life, when they meet again.

The plot has a sinister ethos, everyone is a suspect, Hannah doesn’t know who is telling the truth, who she can trust. She keeps her secrets too. The web of danger closes in, Hannah wishes she’d never met Princess.

This story’s themes are dark. There are violence and abuse, but this is not graphically described. The story doesn’t rely on sensationalism. The themes of corruption, cover-up and vice are common in crime novels, but they are given a new angle here.

The police investigation makes this part police procedural, but the main character is the journalist Hannah. She is ill-equipped, naive, but courageous and tenacious in her investigation. She is believable and easy to empathise. The tentative relationship between Hannah and Tom, adds a romantic layer to the story, it also adds to their inner conflict of how much information to share with the other.

The ending is a perfect fusion of action and suspense, with a satisfying conclusion that makes you want to read the next book in the series.

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#AnneCoates

For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both. Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, she has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind and Death’s Silent Judgement began with a real event followed by a ‘what if …’. That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime

Silent Night – Geraldine Hogan 5*#Review @bookouture @GerHogan #DetectiveIrisLocke #Ireland #policeprocedural #crimefiction #BlogTour

‘She reached into the pram and placed her hands on the cotton blanket. It was still warm. But her smiling, new baby sister, with her wide blue-grey eyes, was gone…’

Twenty-five years later, three bodies are found at a ramshackle cottage in the Irish countryside, and Detective Iris Locke is sick to her stomach. The victims are Anna Crowe and her two young children.

Iris has only recently joined the Limerick Murder Squad. Against her father’s advice, she’s working the narrow lanes and green hills of her childhood. Iris still remembers Anna, who was just a small girl when her baby sister was snatched, never to be seen again. It was the one case Iris’ own father never solved, and Iris can’t help but wonder if the two crimes are connected.

She’ll stop at nothing to find Anna justice, but a fire has destroyed almost all the physical evidence, and Limerick is the same small town she remembers: everybody protects their neighbours, and Iris has been away for too long.

Can Iris unpick the lies beneath the surface of her pretty hometown, and catch the most twisted individual of her career, when reopening the old case means reopening old wounds for her team, the rest of the community, and her own father?

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

My Thoughts…

All the ingredients for a stunning police procedural, are in this first book of the Detective Iris Locke series. An ambitious, clever detective, an atmospheric authentic setting, believable characters and unexpected twists in the poignant case, they are investigating.

The tragic first event sets the scene for this story and draws you in, even though you can’t immediately see how it is connected to what follows. Iris is desperate to work in Murder, and she needs to prove herself. Hardworking, and likeable, she is not sure if she can fit in with the other detectives. There are some wonderful characters in this story, the detectives are recognisable, and avoid stereotypes. Even Slatterly, who is the closest to a stereotype has a reason for his behaviour that is eventually revealed, making him believable.

The investigation is well thought out, and interesting, lots of suspects, with the true reasons behind the crime hidden until the end. The twists are believable, and unexpected, especially towards the end, and everything comes to a satisfying conclusion. With the prospect of more investigations for Iris and the team

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Geraldine Hogan

Geraldine Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree in Training and Management from University College, Galway. She is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of four contemporary fiction novels under the pen name Faith Hogan.
Silent Night is her first crime novel, her second is due out in December 2019.
She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Fantasy, Horror Fiction, Magic, Noir

The End of the Line Gray Williams 3* #Review @canelo_co @gray_books #noir #magic #fantasy #dystopian #crime #paranormal #bookreview

A fast-paced thriller set on the streets of a London rife with undercover magic.

Abras, as they are known, can harness these illegal powers, but for con-artist Amanda Coleman – whose father was a powerful and abusive practitioner – magic is anathema.

When her criminal crew decide to hire an Abra to help with their heists, they don’t expect to raise a demon or to quickly lose control of it. Now Coleman and her crew must travel across Siberia to a remote stone circle in order to kill this murderous creature, who has destroyed everything they hold dear.

But as the demon’s power grows, a battle of wills commences. Coleman must fight to survive, facing demons both in chains and within herself.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Fantasy and paranormal fiction do not have the popularity of a few years ago. The current trend for fusion in genres allows for paranormal and fantasy themes, to fuse with the crime fiction genre, something which has always been popular in graphic novels.

‘The End of the Line’, is a crime based story set in a dystopian world, where magic is outlawed, and paranormals are used to further criminal ends, often, as in this case, with disastrous results.

The violent world setting of this novel is immediately apparent. The leader of the gang is ruthless and emotionally damaged having suffered a personal tragedy. The violence is vividly described, indeed this story would make an excellent graphic novel.

Understandably, there is a great deal of world-building in the main part of this story, which adds to the complexity, and takes the reader away from the main story. If you are a fan of fantasy worlds, this will not be a problem, but if you find it difficult to merge into someone else’s creation, this will reduce the book’s appeal.

The story is fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled and dark. There is little to dissipate the noir world, some of the characters do have redeeming features, but these cost them dearly. The picture painted, is of a world without hope.

So, not an uplifting read, but something to try, if you enjoy fantasy crime in a dark dystopian setting.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction

Boy Swallows Universe Trent Dalton 4* #Review @TrentDalton @BoroughPress @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK #LiteraryFiction #Comingof Age #FamilyDrama #Friendship #Romance #Magic #Crime #UrbanFiction #Australia #Brisbane

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious criminal for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already.

But Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And he has to break into prison on Christmas Day, to save his mum.

A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year.

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Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

I’m always a little wary of critically acclaimed, and over-hyped books, often they are not as good as they are reputed to be. So I started this one with trepidation. Initial impressions are that is honest, raw, and full of experiences of urban life in Brisbane that do not make easy reading.

Eli and August, are brothers, their carers’ lives are driven by drugs, and the boys have to constantly battle adversity to keep the family together. Despite the family’s dysfunctionality, the love the boys feel for their mother and each other dominates this story and puts into perspective many of the bizarre and often frightening experiences they endure.

At the end of this lengthy book, there is a note from the author, about how the story came into being, what it means to him and the story’s themes. It is, on reading this that you appreciate, it is more of a memoir than fiction, although seen through a young child’s and then young boys eyes. I wish I’d read this note first because it grounds this complex story, and makes it more relatable.

There is a great deal of imagination in this story, magic if you like, which I attributed to a young boy’s need to escape from the harshness of his life, and give himself the power to overcome some its more sordid aspects.

I’m still not sure if I liked it, but the writing is engaging and authentic, the story moves forward in an understandable way, and it gives an insider view of Australian life, particularly life in Brisbane and Queensland, through a young person’s viewpoint.

The characters are the lifeblood of this story, and the author indicates that they are based on people he knows or a medley of them, in his personal and journalistic life. Many are not likeable, and the danger the children are exposed to is disturbing, but they are real, and the reality of this story is what stays with you.

An unusual tale of growing up and surviving life in a gritty urban setting. With a cast of characters, covering the spectrum of humanity, and the humour, love and magic required to reach adulthood.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery

The Corpse Played Dead – Georgina Clarke 5*#Review @canelo_co @clarkegeorgina1 #Crime #HistoricalFiction #MurderMystery #ALizzieHardwickeNovel #London #BookReview

‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…’

When an undercover assignment for the Bow Street magistrate sees prostitute Lizzie Hardwicke trade Ma Farley’s Bawdy House in Soho for life as a seamstress the theatre on Drury Lane, it becomes clear quite quickly – what goes on in the wings is much more intriguing than the theatrics being played out on stage…

Soon Lizzie is once again thrown together with the handsome Inspector Will Davenport when a high profile investor is brutally hanged at centre stage and Lizzie discovers the body. With the suspect list rivalling any casting call, Lizzie will have to use every trick she’s hidden up her sleeves to unravel the tangled threads and bring the culprit into the spotlight. 

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Another eighteenth-century adventure with the irrepressible Lizzie Hardwicke and the self-contained detective Davenport. 

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, ‘Death and the Harlot’, there is enough backstory in this to enjoy this standalone story, but you’re missing out if you don’t read book one.

Lizzie remains a believable historical character, with flaws, a clever mind, courage and compassion. The tentative friendship between her and Davenport develops in this story, the opposites are perfect counterpoints for the other, leading to humour and witty dialogue. The possibility of love hangs in the air, but both are emotionally damaged, and the trust between them will take a while to build.

Lizzie goes undercover as a seamstress in the famous Drury Lane Theatre, a wonderfully atmospheric setting for a historical murder mystery. The disruptive incidents that have occurred soon turn into something more deadly and Lizzie has to find the culprit. 

There are lots of suspects, clues and drama in this story, with a medley of historical figures and authentic fictional characters, it holds your interest, proving to be as enthralling as any play staged in the famous theatre.

A lovely, original story with realistic characters and a clever plot.