What starts with the gruesome discovery of a severed head on the Tube soon becomes personal for former DI Cal Drake.
After one betrayal too many, Drake has abandoned the police force to become a private detective.
He’s teamed up with enigmatic forensic pathologist Dr Rayhana Crane and it’s not long before the case leads them to the darkest corners of the nation’s capital and in dangerously close contact with an international crime circuit, a brutal local rivalry and a very personal quest for retribution.
With the murder victim tied to Drake’s past, his new future is about to come under threat.
I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishing in return for an honest review.
The second book of the Crane and Drake series set in London. This is an urban thriller with an enigmatic team of investigators who work in the private sector as they both have issues with the establishment. Cal Drake is an ex-detective inspector, who after a stint in undercover left the police force disillusioned. Ray Crane is a forensic pathologist estranged from her family.
The menacing atmosphere is established from the first page, as is the vibrant urban setting. The observations and characters in the early chapters give the novel a good sense of place. The plot pulls together elements from the first book in the series, and a current, seemingly unrelated case for the new investigative team. Ray’s background is exposed in this second story and the team dynamic becomes stronger.
The characters are authentic and diverse, and it’s easy to empathise with the two protagonists. The plot is intricate and cleverly layered to produce a relevant gritty thriller that exposes the crime in the city and beyond.
Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of Jamal Mahjoub, the critically acclaimed literary novelist. He is the author of the Makana Investigations series, the third of which, The Ghost Runner, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.
The Divinities, the first in his Crane and Drake London crime series, was published in 2019. Born in London, he has lived in a number of places, including the UK, Denmark, Spain and, currently, the Netherlands.
A man who glimpses other people’s inner worlds, and a woman who can foresee death. Can they trace a missing girl before the worst happens?
Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.
Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A book like this succeeds on the quality of its characters, and these are easy to empathise, intelligent and relatable. Harrison is a university lecturer in social anthropology he meets Amy at a low point in her life and saves her. Amy is a paramedic, and ex-military with similar psychic skills to Harrison agrees to work with him to find a missing girl.
The dynamic between Amy and Harrison is believable. A formidable team, stronger together than apart. The case is a noir crime. The immersive writing style draws the reader, into a world of abuse, and trafficking. The well-paced plot has twists and uses vivid imagery to portray psychic experience and settings.
There is a poignant ethos which illustrates the despair of the victims with claustrophobic intensity.
Despite the sadness, this book is enjoyable, and the suspense builds to a justifiable conclusion.
Rebecca McKinney is a writer, therapist and community development practitioner, living and working in Midlothian, Scotland. She shares her home with her husband, two teenagers, three cats, and a growing collection of musical instruments.
The Angel in the Stone: shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize, 2017: Sandstone Press
For the living, it’s closure. For the departed, it’s the last chance to expose the truth.
For as long as she can remember, Arabella has communicated with those who exist only in memory.
Being the centre of attention growing up was uncomfortable, and now, as a renowned psychic medium, it is becoming more of a struggle. Arabella’s ability and reputation always made it impossible to hold onto lasting relationships, but with those who no longer walk this earth, that’s not the case.
Arabella returns to where it all began fifteen-years before – on the very same stage. After an evening reconnecting loved ones and exposing untold stories, Arabella can’t help but wonder about the one unclaimed ‘friend’, and their cryptic message.
In an unexpected turn of events, Arabella finds herself the subject of morning headlines and at the centre of Detective Barnes’ investigation.
Can Arabella use her ability to prove her innocence and uncover the truth about the past?
A family’s past pursues them like a shadow in this riveting and emotional novel of psychological suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of All the Little Children.
American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.
Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.
When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.
As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?
I received a copy of this book from the Lake Union Publishing in return for an honest review.
Dylan, American Rose and their son return to his childhood home in Shropshire. The weather is terrible, the house run down and no one makes them welcome. Rose discovers the family is mired in scandal and is determined to find the truth.
Police Sergeant Ellie Trevelyan faces upheaval in her career and family life. The story told from the two women’s viewpoint explores an unsolved cold case and finds it’s not the only crime.
The sense of mistrust and menace is portrayed well in this story. The plot is well-paced, and reveals its secrets gradually, allowing the reader to learn things at pace with Ellie and Rose. This is an emotional and poignant tale of abuse, lies and loss. The characters are flawed and relatable. The is ending is both climactic and informative.
After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.
As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.
Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.
Jackson Birkman has the perfect life: the lead role on the popular detective show “Dispatching David,” millions of adoring fans, celebrity status, and a beautiful girlfriend. After five seasons, “Dispatching David” has just been cancelled. With the final episode quickly approaching, Jackson is worried about more than just his future acting career. His once massive fortune is dwindling and his girlfriend Clara is pressuring him to propose.
When Jackson unexpectedly dies on the set of the TV show during filming, everyone speculates whether it was suicide or murder. Why would Jackson commit suicide? If it was a setup, who would want Jackson to die? And most importantly, what was the motive of the murderer? As the investigation continues, Officer Wilson inches closer to the truth, uncovering Jackson’s secrets. She begins to think no one really knew Jackson at all, but is determined to solve the case, no matter the cost.
Excerpt from The Long Shadow on the Stage Nichole Heydenburg
“Jackson, do you think you could help me with this box? I thought I could get it, but it’s heavier than I thought,” Clara said, exhaling loudly, her arms shaking while struggling to hold a particularly large box she was trying to carry into his apartment.
“Ah, sweetie! Why didn’t you wait for me?” Jackson ran over to her and grabbed the box from her arms. It wasn’t that heavy. He brought it into the apartment with Clara trailing after him emptyhanded. “How many do you have left?”
“A lot. Help me,” she pleaded, throwing herself onto his black leather couch and curling up her legs to lie down.
“Are you going to bring in anything else?” He asked, frustrated. He didn’t mind helping, but if she was going to lay around and not do anything, he at least wanted to know the truth and not have her pretend she was working hard.
“Yeah. Just give me a minute. I’m tired.” Clara yawned, pulling the blanket he always kept on the couch over her body and snuggling into the cool leather.
She didn’t look like she was budging an inch, so Jackson grumbled to himself and went back outside to her car, grabbing whatever he could carry to finish moving her stuff in as quickly as possible. He brought inside box after box after box. He stopped beside Clara’s car and leaned against it to rest his tired muscles. Jackson heard footsteps rapidly approaching and was about to turn around when suddenly everything went black.
Nichole Heydenburg earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English with an emphasis in writing and a minor in theatre from Adrian College in 2014. Her one-act play “The Hidden Story” won a playwriting contest and was performed at her alma mater in 2015. She also had several poems published in “The Oxcart” literary magazine. Nichole has been working full-time as the Content Manager for a start-up company for 3 years. When she isn’t writing, Nichole enjoys going on adventures with her husband, reading, playing board games, and the occasional mimosa. “The Long Shadow on the Stage” is her first novel. She currently resides near Asheville, NC with her husband, Zed.
To stay up to date on news about her second novel, as well as read writing and self-publishing tips, subscribe to her monthly newsletter on her website https://www.nicholeheydenburg.com/.
Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver ’s shadowy life.
While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.
But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?
Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
Stories centred around funeral directors always seem to combine darkness and humour with the possibility of crime and this, in essence, is what’s going on here. This is an atmospheric novel. It has vivid imagery and vibrant characters. It’s easy to imagine the events as they unfold, and this makes it addictive reading.
The second book in the series it reads well as a standalone but if you like to know the minutiae of the characters perhaps read book one first? Told from the three main characters’viewpoints it gives the reader an omnipotent view of the story. The plot is complex and detailed but seen through the characters’ eyes riveting reading.
Character-driven you get to know each of the women well and their familial relationship. This story explores love and loss with a poignant intensity relieved by insightful touches of humour. It’s an engaging fusion of family drama, and crime detection, which works well. The Edinburgh setting is evocative and gives the story a unique edge.
Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s alsoplayer-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.
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.
In an idyllic Sussex town, Mr Quinn whispers a secret on his death bed. Hours later the person who cared for Quinn is killed.
Mr Quinn’s secret sets off events unlike anything Detective Grant and Psychologist Ruby Silver have ever seen.
A series of deaths follow as a killer tries to cover their twenty-year trail of murder by drowning.
Grant, Silver and the team must track a killer who has been getting away with murder for years. But when treachery, corruption and secrets from the past are used against Sergeant Tom Delaney, the killer turns their attention to one of Grant’s own…
Detective David Grant and Psychologist Ruby Silver are back in this unmissable new crime thriller. It can be read as the sequel to Deadly Motives or as a brilliant stand-alone.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The suspense builds from the beginning of this police procedural. A man shares a deathbed secret, and the person who hears it dies too.
When the story turns inward onto the police team, they behave professionally, which adds to the authenticity. Insight into the mind and motivations of the killer increases the level of menace and brings the antagonist to life in an alarming way.
Fast-paced, with realistic characters, heinous murders and clues in the past and present make this an enjoyable read for crime fiction enthusiasts.
Ann Girdharry is a British, crime thriller author. She’s a trained psychotherapist and worked as a manager in the not-for-profit sector for many years. Ann is an avid reader and her favourites are crime and suspense. She regularly talks about her favourite reads to her newsletter subscribers. She enjoys travelling and apart from the UK she’s lived in the USA (where her first daughter was born), Norway (where her second daughter was born) and she currently lives in France.
DI Kelly Porter is about to discover just how dark things can get in the Lake District.
When a young woman is found unclothed, unspeaking at an ancient stone circle it’s not clear if any crime has been committed. DI Kelly Porter and her team start looking into the circumstances, but the mystery girl disappears.
Soon after, a brutal murder is committed and sinister markings at the scene indicate that the killer had a message. The investigation reveals that in the beautiful Lake District there are those who believe in ancient ways, and within those circles, old resentments are spilling over into terrible violence.
Kelly has all the pieces to solve the puzzle, but to put them together she must confront a figure from her past: one who nearly destroyed all that she holds dear. Will she avoid the same fate this time, or can the killer stay one step ahead of her to the bitter end?
I always enjoy reading the DI Kelly Porter series. There’s a great balance of human interest and police investigation. Kelly is a conscientious, driven detective, who wants justice for the victims and tempers her investigative skills with humanity. The English Lake District’s raw beauty is a perfect setting. A varied and pacy plot features ancient beliefs, abuse, cold cases and an intriguing mystical element. There’s a shocking murder, a puzzle to solve and a sinister connection with the past.