When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they will ever see them again. The community in the surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.
But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or set on revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know that one little boy, in particular, is fighting for his life.
It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure that someone close to them is lying…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Another interesting female detective with a past that threatens her professionalism. Anna is a likeable protagonist and her dilemmas are both realistic and relatable. She is the Senior Investigating Officer on a mass abduction case. She knows from personal experience what the parents are going through but can she be focused and objective enough to bring a successful outcome to a such a devastating event?
Having your children abducted at gunpoint is every parents’ nightmare and this is uncomfortable reading at times. The stories of the children and their parents help to set the crime in context and present many possible motives and suspects. The characters’ flaws make them believable and many of the parents are not easy to empathise.
Generally, this is a fast-paced story, which produces an authentic kidnap scenario. The suspense is created well and sustained throughout and the ending is satisfactory, although there are questions left for Anna that will no doubt be revisited in subsequent stories.
Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw’s not interested in the infantry. Shaw likes the proper criminals, the ones who can plan things.
For two years he’s been painstakingly building evidence against an organized network, the Eardsley Bluds. Operation Perseus is about to make its arrests.
So when a low-level Bluds member is stabbed to death on Gallowstree Lane, Shaw’s priority is to protect his operation. An investigation into one of London’s tit for tat killings can’t be allowed to derail Perseus and let the master criminals go free.
But there’s a witness to the murder, fifteen-year-old Ryan Kennedy. Already caught up in Perseus and with the Bluds Ryan’s got his own demons and his own ideas about what’s important.
As loyalties collide and priorities clash, a chain of events is triggered that draws in Shaw’s old adversary DI Sarah Collins and threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane…
I received a copy of this book from Atlantic Books – Corvus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is the third book in the Collins and Griffiths series, although this story reads well as a standalone. I needed more backstory on the two detectives, to fully appreciate their relationship.
This is a story about knife crime and gangs and their omnipotent presence in parts of London in the 21st century. The crimes and the gang’s influence on the young men in the area, make this story believable. The police procedural aspect is authentic and well-written. The problems experienced by the Met as different departments clash, whilst pursuing competing outcomes is realistic.
Told from several points of view, the story gives all sides and the boundaries are blurred. The reader can understand why gangs are so attractive to young men who have no family life and little to look forward to in the future. The infighting within the police force is also seen to be counterproductive to the end goal of crime solving.
A dynamic police procedural with harrowing true to life characters and crimes that will draw you into a world of crime, dysfunction and gangs.
Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her
child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her
boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where
mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.
As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person? Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong? Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim. like stories that keep you on the edge of your seat then this is for you’ ‘Kept me guessing right up to the end’
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a powerful crime based thriller with a likeable female detective, and an authentic setting and details. The story features some unpalatable scenes, which I did not enjoy reading. They are however essential to the progression of the characters and the plot but be warned this is not an easy book to read.
The detail and the plot are well- written and the pacing fast and suspenseful. There are many criminals at work and a multitude of crimes for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues to solve. The characters are realistic, although as you would expect in this type of story not always likeable. The plot is well thought out and believable and it’s difficult to solve the crimes.
A suspenseful, menacing crime thriller with authentic police procedures and believable characters and plot, worth reading.
Guest Post – Sarah Flint:- The Power of Paperbacks
As a child,
one of my favourite trips was to the local library in Carshalton. It’s only a
small village library and I was allowed to walk there alone from quite a young
age. I would regularly take out my maximum four books to be read avidly in my
allotted time. The children’s library was always fun and noisy with regular
clubs and other activities – but the adult library was almost completely silent
– and it was with wonderment and reverence that I was occasionally allowed to
It opened up a whole new world to me, a world that
looked, sounded and smelt different; one where adults would glide silently between
rows of colourful, well-thumbed books, that in turn opened up the world to
It is a sphere that children still love to inhabit, if
we, as adults give them the chance.
Physical books are visual, inviting, and appeal to the
senses. If they are placed in shop windows, or at the entrance to transport
hubs, you cannot help being drawn to them, wondering whether they can transport
you to a place far away from the mundane.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle too, but there can be nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a glass of wine – or in bed with a mug of hot chocolate, or, even better, on a sun-lounger with a cocktail in hand – and starting to read the opening sentences of a new book. The initial pages are turned rapidly, slowing slightly as the story ebbs and flows until the chunk of pages on the right-hand side grows thinner and thinner and the speed at which it disappears hastens to a sprint finish. When that final line is read and the covers of the book snap shut, the satisfaction is palpable. The book moves on, into the hands of the next person, on to the shelves of a hotel, a charity shop, a second-hand book shop. I’ve even seen old telephone kiosks decked out as ‘bring and borrow’ libraries.
It is hugely gratifying and addictive to hear about a
great read and then actually have the means in your hands to share in its
Technology is fantastic and has opened the doors,
particularly for the younger generation, to so many different experiences – but
nostalgia is still alive and kicking. People still love the feel of a book in
their hands, the sight of a classic car trundling down the road, the crackling
melody of an old 78 rpm record revolving on a deck.
I am a child of the 60s. I have watched the world change and develop beyond belief in the last fifty years and I embrace technology because it is the way forward, but sometimes it does feel a little insular. So many people are glued to their mini screens these days that communication becomes impossible. The back of a Kindle or laptop gives no insight into the world within it, whereas the cover of a book entices people to enter and devour its contents.
I will never forget the sight of my sister’s paperback on the shelf of my local supermarket; how excited I was to see a customer pick it up! I wanted to shout out loud that my very own sister had written it. It was exactly the motivation I needed to try writing myself, and I have never looked back. I love eBooks because they are so accessible, transferrable and straightforward, but my dream has always been to get on to a train or a bus, enter a cafe or station and see somebody reading one of my books. That is why it means so much to me, to be published in paperback.
With any luck, that wish might soon be granted!
Judging by the latest
development, maybe it hadn’t been going as well as he’d claimed.
Charlie checked which member of the office had dealt with the family. It was Colin. His desk was the other side of the room to hers. She got up to speak to him. He was the straight, white, middle-aged male member of their team, similar in age to Bet but as opposite, in every other way as was possible. He was divorced and now single, with barely any access to his two children, who had been taken off to Ireland by a vindictive ex-wife years ago. Thin, tight-lipped and sad, he had a dry sense of humour and made it his business to look after the rights of all fathers and their children. He worked tirelessly with social services, going above and beyond what was normally required to ensure each child could know both parents. Charlie fully expected to see him on TV one day, dressed up as Superman swinging from Big Ben. What he didn’t know about family law was not worth knowing.
He was poring over his
computer screen, his face serious.
‘Colin, have you got a
He looked up and nodded.
‘Do you remember dealing
with a family called the Hubbards? Quite recently?’
He leant back frowning,
before rubbing his chin with thin fingers.
‘Yes, I do. It was a
couple of months ago.’ He scratched his chin again. ‘If I remember rightly,
Julie Hubbard, the wife, had her wrist broken by her husband. She said she’d
tripped and broken it in a fall but then refused to co-operate any further. One
of their sons, Richard, said that his father had done it.’
‘I think I know who I’d
He shrugged. ‘Everyone
thought the same, but what can you do? Richard phoned the police each time. He
wanted to give evidence but Julie refused to let him and he did everything his
mother asked. With just the one juvenile son as a possible witness, it was
pretty much impossible to prove. Why do you ask?’
Charlie thought about
what Colin had just said. For a young boy, Richard had certainly been brave,
going up against his dad like that. The kid was protecting his mother in
whatever way he could. Maybe Keith had started bullying him too because he
resented the way he defended his mum. Maybe that was why Julie left and had
only taken him. Ryan was certainly less vocal. Maybe Ryan was safe and she’d
only had the time and resources to take one? There were too many maybes.
‘Because Julie and
Richard Hubbard are the mother and son that have gone missing.’
Colin frowned and shook
‘Really? Though I have
to say I’m not surprised. I always thought there was something strange going
on. The boy would plead with his mum to leave his father, but she just
wouldn’t; it was as if she had another agenda. On the last occasion I saw them,
Richard was literally begging her to leave Keith, but she whispered something
to him that I couldn’t hear and he shut up straight away and seemed happier. I
wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’d been waiting until the time was right.’
‘But why not take the
other son, Ryan, too?’
‘He kept out of it
really. Didn’t want to get involved. I think he sided with his father a bit
‘So did he have a good
relationship with Keith then?’
‘He probably had to
because he didn’t have as close a relationship with his mother as Richard did.’
‘So what would be your
gut feeling? Do you think Keith Hubbard could be responsible for Julie and
Colin pursed his lips
and looked straight up at Charlie.
‘I wouldn’t like to say.
He is a nasty bastard and could easily have done something, but you know what
some women are like. It wouldn’t surprise me if Julie Hubbard hadn’t been
planning this all along.’
With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.
As the city of Oxford prepares itself for the inaugural Miss Oxford Honey Beauty Pageant at The Old Swan Theatre, excitement is in the air.
But when one of the leading contestants is found dead, suspicion hangs over the competition.
Poisoned, the authorities assume her death was suicide. But after a malicious series of pranks and blackmail attempts are reported, WPC Loveday and Coroner Clement Ryder are called upon to solve the case.
In an atmosphere of fierce competition, the list of suspects is endless. Could what have started as harmless fun become a deadly race to win the prize?
With time running out, the duo need to spot the killer before tragedy strikes again…
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A lovely example of an unusual pairing working in the world of crime detection. Loveday and Ryder bring youthful naivety and aged wisdom to solve a clever crime, against a background of sixties prejudice, chauvinism and social class divide.
Although this is the third book in the series, the other’s being ‘ A Fatal Obsession’ and ‘A Fatal Mistake’, this is the first book I have read. The setting is authentic but takes a little getting used to. The characters are interesting, but if you get the chance, read the other stories first, to get to know the character’s stories.
The story revolves around a suspicious death and a beauty contest, there are numerous suspects and secrets and the crime-detecting is subtle. The ending is realistic and leaves the reader with a cliffhanger and a moral dilemma for Loveday.
Worth reading if you like retro crime novels with a murder mystery theme.
When a missing teenage girl reappears unharmed but pregnant, the case falls to DI Edina Ogborne, the newest recruit of Canterbury Police. But Ed’s already got her hands full with a team who don’t want her, an ex who won’t quit, and terrible guilt over a secret from her past.
As Ed investigates the case, she discovers Canterbury has seen this crime not once, but several times before. And when Ed and her detectives encounter missing historic police files, falsified school records, and Ed’s new lover as a prime suspect, it becomes clear that the system has been corrupted.
Can Ed find the kidnapper behind these depraved crimes before he strikes again? Or has time already run out?
A fast-paced police procedural, with an ambitious female detective. Ed Ogborne, whose impulsive behaviour in private, often creates problems in her professional life. The new girl in Canterbury, she has to gain the trust of her team and solve an abduction of a teenage girl.
The characters are complex and work well together. The antagonist is not what you first assume, but is a serious threat to the girl taken. There lots of suspects and historic connections. The detective team has a good dynamic, with each detective having their own story and emotional trauma.
This has the potential for making a good police procedural series.
I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A young man’s body is found burnt and tortured by a Manchester canal. Detective Rachel King investigates. But she has a secret, the love of her life is a well-known villain. He has recently come back on the scene. But what does he really want?
A brutal serial killer with a taste for good-looking young blonde men.
A student who believes she has a lost brother. But even her own father doesn’t believe her. She was involved with the first victim.
As the murders continue, can Rachel keep her family together and stop the killer?
THE DETECTIVE DCI Rachel King. Thirty-nine-year-old mother of two teenage daughters. Divorced from Alan. She lives in the Cheshire village of Poynton – about ten miles from central Manchester. She is good at her job, gets results but does make mistakes. One of them was getting involved with a budding villain in her teens. No one, family, friends or colleagues know anything about this.
A killer with a grudge and a taste for punishment, a detective with a secret and a girl searching for a missing sibling all intertwine to make ‘Next Victim’, an absorbing murder mystery.
Detective Chief Inspector Rachel King is good at her job but is this at the expense of her family life? A particularly grisly murder takes all her concentration, but someone from her past could damage everything. Rachel is a complex, realistic character. She’s flawed and dedicated to her job. Her ex-husband seems to want to be more than the father to her kids, but she has a secret she cannot share.
This is a well-written murder mystery/police procedural. All the characters are authentic and vividly portrayed and the crimes though terrible are not too graphic. The fast- pacing keeps the reader’s interest and this promises to be the start of a good series as Rachel’s past collides with her present
I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Catapulted into an adrenaline-fueled, suspenseful scenario that is packed full of vivid, often grisly imagery from the start, this story’s hook draws you into a complex case for DI Helen Grace. The reader’s first meeting with the main protagonist is thought-provoking and immediately demonstrates she has emotional issues, an independent spirit and a well-hidden vulnerability.
The ‘New Forest’ setting conjures up many hiding places for the killer, and such an ancient place must be haunted by past events, all of which add to the story’s chilling atmospheric quality. The plot cleverly acquaints you with several possible suspects as the body count rises.
Reeling from recent past events DI Grace and her team welcome a new member who has a profound effect on the case and Di Grace. The storyline hints but does not reveal all this new officer’s secrets.
The pacing is good, and the clues and misinformation are woven expertly into the story. Even though this is the only book I’ve read in the series, I connected with the main characters and understood their relationship with Di Grace. Don’t be afraid to read this as a standalone; it works well.
An exciting, driven police procedural with an intriguing, female detective.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK- Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.
But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown into the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.
Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed?
Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…
The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?
The quintessential cosy mystery a beautiful rural setting, a village full of quirky, nosy characters and female crime writer who courts danger and trouble in the same way the characters in her books do.
Melissa seems much older than her mid-forties, I have to admit I imagine Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher when I visualise her but apart from this misconception, she is the perfect protagonist for a cosy mystery. Initially published under a different title in the twentieth century, the book is only dated by its philosophy on relationships and women living on their own.
The storyline is fast-paced and engaging. Melissa’s independent character and mindset come across well in the story, and the plot twists are just the right side of believable. The suspense in the final chapters builds to adrenaline fuelled ending, full of action and powerful imagery.
An enjoyable, escapist read that I suspect may become my secret addiction.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.