How can you spot a murderer? Leo Stone is a ruthless killer – or the victim of a miscarriage of justice. A year ago, he was convicted of the murder of two women and sentenced to life in prison. But now he’s free, and according to him, he’s innocent.
D.S. Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve finds out, the less convinced she is of his guilt.
Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘Cruel Acts’ is an excellent police procedural novel, absorbing, chilling and suspenseful, it is meticulously plotted. The characters are complex and realistic, they draw you into their lives and make you want to know what happens next.
The story focuses on a serial killer who is released pending retrial due to a jury irregularity. The police have to make their case again, but this is not as straightforward as it appears. Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent find poorly investigated leads, new victims and then a new missing person, the plot is twisty and keeps you guessing, but like all good crime novels, the clues to solve the mysteries are there, but can you find them?
This isn’t a graphic serial killer novel, although this is the catalyst for the story, there is much more to it. It reads well as a standalone, this is the first Maeve Kerrigan novel I’ve read. but it is so well written I would like to read the rest of the series too.
There are many interesting character dynamics between members of the police team. Kerrigan and Newton’s friendship is the most notable, but all of them add depth to this complex story and increase its authenticity.
The beginning and end are particularly menacing, but this is a page-turning read, that’s hard to put down.
Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords.
Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?
As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her.
But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?
Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘The Island’ is the second in the #HiddenIceland series of noir crime novels. I haven’t read the first book, but this reads well as a standalone. Hulda is a troubled detective and her personality and emotional pain, make her perfect for the ethos of this series. The story is sinister and suspenseful, but rather than relying on action scenes for its interest and impetus, it delves deep into the characters and their secrets to reveal the plot’s twists and turns.
Hulda is haunted by her past and elements of the crime resonate with her, making her more personally involved with the events at the island and its players than is wise.
The story flicks between different timelines, which demands concentration. You need to enjoy this deep, slow-paced, dark storytelling to get something from this book, but it is authentic and a good example of its genre.
DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down…
When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.
Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.
Guest Post – Rachel Lynch Will DI Kelly Porter always stay in the Lake District?
With Kelly’s experience, it’s always possible that someone like her would be seconded or invited to join or help out elsewhere. Constabularies regularly share resources, and of course, crime is often national and even international (like in Dark Game). I can see Kelly going back to London, and I can also picture her further afield. Her reputation has grown over four books and continues to do so.
The settings so far have created a credible, dark and
mysterious world of crime that is different to that found in cities, but Kelly
will find herself in demand elsewhere in the future, that is certain. She is
eminently capable of helping other agencies too, such as government departments
and the military. Police procedural theory is always developing, as crime- and
criminals- become more daring and complex to evade ever tightening laws and
methods to catch them. Kelly loves catching criminals, who invariably think
themselves cleverer than the system. She also champions the families of the
victims, who suffer much longer after a crime has been solved.
The crime genre is a fluid one, and the illegal activity
contained within doesn’t have to always be the most shocking and depraved acts-
it can be about issues such as domestic abuse, school bullying, drug taking,
theft, embezzlement or arson. It’s the interplay between the protagonist and
the antagonists that is important to me. The criminal always sees themselves as
one step ahead of Kelly, but their confidence always quickly unravels as she
identifies even the smallest of mistakes. Like any human undertaking: crime
isn’t an exact science, and there are too many variables to go wrong:
technology, forensics, traitors, money trails, accidents and witnesses.
As long as Kelly Porter investigates serious crime, she’ll
take on cases large and small, because that’s what stokes the fire in her
belly. She’s seen too many devastated relatives, friends, brothers, mothers and
children to let any criminal get the better of her.
And she can do it anywhere!
Thank you for reading
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Starting with a tragic event, the reader is still reeling, when a young child faces danger at a fairground. This story deals with every parent’s worst nightmares.
The Lake District setting and weather is an important part of the story as three seemingly unconnected events, form part of the puzzle Kelly Porter has to solve.
The police and forensic procedure is an interesting part of the fast-paced plot, which is full of twists, clues, action, and emotional angst. The crime is contemporary and demonstrates the worrying infiltration of organised crime into rural areas.
Kelly Porter continues to be a great character, clever, and finally coming to terms with her personal demons. The police team and her family provide believable supporting roles and the antagonists are convincingly immoral and driven by money at the expense of human life.
I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.
Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work. Twitter: @r_lynchcrime
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.