Posted in Book Review

Murder in Mind- 5* Review – Faith Martin

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.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

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.

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Posted in Book Review

Down to the Woods-(D.I.Helen Grace)- M.J. Arlidge – 5* Review

 

If you go down to the woods today

The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…

When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – a serial killer is on the loose.

You better not go alone…

Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator before more blood is shed.

But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

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.

Posted in Book Review

Betty Rowlands – 5*Review Murder at Hawthorn Cottage

Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective? 

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?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

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.

Posted in Book Review

No Time to Cry -4* Review – James Oswald

Posted in Book Review, Guest post

Blog Tour: Deep Fear – Rachel Lynch – Guest Post – Researching Forensics – 5* Review

DI Kelly Porter is back. But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer’s morning in the Lake District, a woman’s body is discovered outside a church. She’s been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

Links to Book:

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Guest Post

Researching Forensics

By Rachel Lynch

 

Today, forensic evidence is essential to get a conviction. Circumstantial evidence can be argued away by skilful barristers and so-called experts. Science is rarely disputed, and so any Police Procedural, in my belief, has to have plenty of forensic procedure. I love reading about it and I love writing about it, and I hope my readers do too.

I created Ted Wallis, the Senior Coroner for the North West of England, purely by chance, but I liked his character so much that he’s now a permanent fixture. He’s becoming Kelly’s go-to for all things scientific and he’s also quite a father figure to her. She loves bouncing ideas off him and they enjoy each other’s company. He’s experienced, deliberate, trustworthy and reliable.

I research forensic procedure and technique a lot. One, because I enjoy it, but also because I can’t imagine an investigation without it. All forces in the UK used to be able to use the Forensic Science Service (FSS), but sadly it went way over budget (not that there ever was one set), and created quite a scandal when it emerged how much it cost the taxpayer for the privileged use of up to date technology (how dare they). It’s quite a bone of contention still, as it means that now each force has to pay private labs to chase results and process items and it’s astronomically expensive. One investigation could involve the processing of hundreds of items, then they need to be stored, often retested and compared against other tests. It’s a sad loss to the police force, but the price of budget cutting.

For the purposes of tension and pace, Kelly needs to have access to state of the art lab technology, otherwise, my novels would be tomes of ethical debate surrounded by dilemmas of whether or not to pay for speed DNA profiling or expert fibre analysis, not both. Crime readers don’t want to read about budgets, and so Ted has access to what he needs, and he can pull strings with several labs in Carlisle on Kelly’s behalf.

I’m also keen to avoid repetition, so each autopsy needs to bring something new to the table (forgive the pun). Ted himself needs to be surprised by the depravity of the lengths that some killers will go to and I think it does him good to have a few unconventional cases in the twilight of his career. I have studied anatomy and physiology as part of my sports training and massage courses and, although it’s not essential, it certainly helps. Gore will always divide readers but I hope to achieve the right balance to keep fans interested but at the same time not be gratuitous, which I hope I’m not.

Police work isn’t pretty, and it isn’t for the feint hearted, neither should crime novels be so. We’re dealing with the scum of society and the most sick and twisted minds. It’s bound to get ugly once in a while.

The most important aspect for me is that the facts exposed by the scientific research are always made relevant to the story. Everything that Ted discovers is relayed to Kelly, and each piece is processed so that it contributes to the final conclusion; this is my absolute priority where forensic investigation is used. No piece of evidence is ever thrown in by chance.

So where do I get all the information? The internet mainly. I Google some scary stuff. I also use personal testimony, books and my imagination. I go by the loose guide that, if someone has thought it, it’s probably been done, and nothing much surprises me about the lengths that serious criminals will go to snuff out a human being. After all, crime fiction is about the good guys (or girls) beating the bad guys (or girls). And the stakes are always higher when the baddies are particularly nasty.  

My Thoughts…

I read and reviewed the first book in the DI Kelly Porter series – Dark Game, and while I enjoyed it, for me, it was overly graphic and too factual, in parts. Deep Fear, the second book in the series has retained the action, pace and suspense of the first, while losing some of the gore and facts, making it a perfect 5* read.

Kelly Porter is a dedicated police detective, it is part of her life, and she often sacrifices personal matters for the job. Kelly’s complicated relationship with her sister Nikki continues in this sequel as does her on, off relationship with ex-serviceman Johnny, both give an insight into Kelly’s emotional side and are integral to the plot.

The dark and twisty plot makes compelling reading and something you have to finish. The Lake District and Cumbria is an exciting setting, which gives the perfect cover for heinous crimes. The stark contrast of the beautiful lakes and hills with the dark, horror of the murderous crimes adds to the suspense.

The authentic and well-researched plot and the realistic characters make this story come to life, with a well disguised serial killer. The final chapters are adrenaline-fueled with a heart-stopping ending. All the questions thrown up by the story are dealt with believably, although there is one loose end about a person of interest, which could be part of another investigation?

Readable as a standalone but if you want the full impact of DI Kelly Porter and her team, read Dark Game first.

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

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 the 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

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour-Dead and Gone- D.L. Michaels- Extract and 5* Review

Paula Smith could have had it all. Hugely successful in her fashion business, she lives the kind of life she could never have imagined. Her world should have been an idyllic one if it weren’t for her husband Danny who is resentful of her success and increasingly prone to alcoholic rages. Paula knows she should leave him but she if she did, he would pick up the phone to the police and her life would come crashing down around her.

Sarah has found the kind of happiness with Martin she never thought possible. He is everything she could have wished for in a man. Caring, sensitive and loving, yet he has a secret that could threaten everything they share. But he is not the only one with a secret….

DI Annie Parker, mother, grandmother and widow, has plenty of baggage of her own, but she’s still determined to be the best police officer she can be. When she and her sergeant Nisha Patel hear about a 20-year-old murder that nobody knew about, nothing will stop them from tracking down the killer, even if it brings them up against one of the most dangerous crime families in the country.

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Extract
1
Annie
North Derbyshire
I am so not in the mood for this!
A silver Range Rover has slipped into the parking spot I am reversing into. The last space close enough to the supermarket entrance to avoid a long and slippery trudge over ice and snow.
‘You selfish bastard!’ I shout over my shoulder, as I hit the brakes – and the car horn.
A dark-haired lad in his late teens springs out of the driver’s side of the 4×4. He’s an Adonis. Tall, broad and way beyond handsome. Despite it being minus three, he’s in a skin-tight white T-shirt that shows off muscled arms, bouldered shoulders and a broad chest.
I roll down my window and shout, ‘Hey, I was going in there! You’ve taken my space.’
‘Then you should’ve been quicker, grandma,’ quips Adonis with a cheeky smile. ‘It’s mine now, innit?’
I want to kill him. And that’s despite the fact that I am a grandma. A very proud one – though I do quickly tell people that I’m only forty-four, which I’m sure is exceptionally young to be a grandparent. And secondly, he’s right, the parking place certainly is his. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, as I certainly know, given my particular line of work.
So, that should be the end of the matter.
But no bloody way is it going to be.
I get out and stomp towards him.
‘I’d like you to move your vehicle, please. You could see me backing in.’
He laughs in my reddened face. Not a slight snigger. Nor a cynical smirk. Oh no, this is a full-on chuckle.
The 4×4’s passenger door opens. An older man, with sandy hair, eases himself out. ‘What’s going on?’
‘Granny ’here is ’avin a laugh, i’n’t she?’ He nods in my direction. ‘Wants me to shift the motor coz she says she was ’ere first.’
‘I’m picking up medicine for my sick granddaughter,’ I announce, defiantly.
The passenger’s blue-grey eyes study me as he tugs on a brown leather jacket. ‘Do as she says,’ he tells his friend. ‘Get it moved.’
Adonis looks shocked. ‘What d’you mean?’
‘You heard me, thick lad, get it shifted.’
He thinks better of arguing and instead tells me, ‘Back up, then, or I can’t get out, can I?’
‘Thank you!’ I boom sarcastically.
As I get back in my car and start reversing, I guess the older man knows who I am. Right now, he’s probably telling his young friend my full and awful story. ‘That’s Annie Parker,’ he’ll be saying. ‘A year ago, her husband and daughter-in-law died in a car crash, not far from here. A bus driver fell asleep. Ploughed right into them. It tore the family apart. Her son had a mental breakdown and tried to kill himself. Now that poor bitch is looking after him and his little kiddie.’
I am getting a parking space out of pity.
It’s the last thing I want.
But I’ll take it.
Maybe it’s because we’ve just had Christmas and it’s close to the anniversary of their deaths, but right now everything seems to remind me of my husband, Jack, and daughter-in-law, Lily. I think the only reasons I don’t fall apart are the need to work for a living and to look after my son, Tom, and granddaughter, Polly.
The Range Rover reverses out quickly. Adonis slams it into first and sprays icy slush everywhere. A stupid, final gesture of anger.
And then a thought hits me.
I might have got this all wrong.
I hit a speed-dial number on my mobile and switch to hands-free as it connects. ‘Control, this is Detective Inspector Annie Parker. I need a PNC check on a licence plate. Registration Bravo, Mike, Zero, Two, Mike, Alpha, Mike.’
Before the reply comes, I’m forsaking the newly won space, slaloming around shoppers and heading for the exit.
‘DI Parker, the plates belong to a black Audi A6,’ says a male controller. ‘It’s registered to a Mark Andrew Mason and was reported stolen in Westminster.’
Stolen.
‘Then I need back up, please. I’m in my own car, a blue Golf, and in pursuit of a silver Range Rover bearing that registration.’
Pulling onto the main road, I catch a glimpse of the 4×4. It’s at a set of traffic lights, some five vehicles ahead.
‘DI Parker, this is Control. Please state your exact position so we can get officers to you. Over.’
The lights change, and traffic moves. ‘I’m at the crossroads of Vincent Street and Main Street, heading east, towards the A515. Over.’
There was something about the older man. What was it? Is he on a Wanted List? Have I seen his face on a recent police circular?
I just can’t place him.
We pass through another set of lights and turn onto a dual carriageway. The Range Rover shifts into the outside lane and glides away.
I glance at the speedo. My little car’s doing seventy, meaning their disappearing 4×4 must be clocking ninety, maybe a hundred. ‘Control, this is Annie Parker, I’m on the A515 heading south. Suspects’ vehicle is now doing excessive speed, and I am unable to keep up.’
‘DI Parker, this is Control. Two traffic vehicles are already dispatched.’
Colin Ronald Richardson.
That’s who he is!
Armed robber.
It’s all coming back to me.
The last time I saw Richardson, I was a new PC, and part of an early morning raid that saw him pulled out of the scraggy bed of a very scared young hooker called Sharon Croft. Poor girl made the mistake of running for the bathroom, and a police dog bit her ankle and brought her down face first on the landing.
I call it in. ‘Control, I believe one of the suspects to be Colin Ronald Richardson, a known criminal who has in the past been armed. Please advise local CID and Tactical Firearms.’
‘Will do. Over.’
There’s a roundabout ahead, and the traffic is slowing. I have a siren, but I don’t want to use it. It would clear a path for me but also blow any chance of a covert follow.
I switch lanes as we slow to a halt, turn the wheel sharply and take the Golf up onto a grass verge, hoping to skip a good hundred metres of traffic.
The back end bumps up along the frozen turf and for a second the tyres spin. It’s a long time since I did my skid pan course but I remember not to accelerate too viciously. The car gains traction, and I start to make progress. Stranded drivers, amazed and enraged by my manoeuvre, blare their horns.
Up ahead, I see the end of the backed-up cars. And a problem.
The banking is cut off by a crash barrier.
I’m going to have to rejoin the traffic. And you can be absolutely certain no one is going to let me in.
At the last moment, I spot a gap.
A fanfare of horns accompanies my certifiably insane manoeuvre. But I get away with it and hit the roundabout traffic flow at about twenty miles an hour.
There’s no sign of the Range Rover.
It could have gone left, right or straight on.
I have no idea which exit to take.
I circle for the second time. Up on the brow of a hill, I catch a glimpse of a silver roof. I turn off and follow.
The chase is still on.’

My Thoughts…

If you’re a crime thriller reader, it’s always exciting to find a new detective you like, and DI Annie Parker is such a character. Reminiscent of ITV’s ‘Vera’, but more conventional, she has a family albeit one fractured with grief but she has the same tenacity, kind heart and innate skill of finding the truth.

The plot is deliciously sophisticated but easy to read. The main characters tell their stories in headed chapters. There are many connections and just as many twists as the plot weaves and intertwines seemingly separate characters and events. Historic and real-time stories make this absorbing, and the final court case chapters are authentic and suspenseful.

DI Annie Parker’s personal life gives essential insight into the woman who gives herself tirelessly to her career, the final scenes are beautifully poignant and provide an extra dimension to this fast-paced crime thriller.

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

D.L. Michaels is a former award-winning TV executive, who married in Tuscany, has one teenage son and lives on an old converted farm in the Peak District. Favourite writers include Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell and Nicci French.

 

Posted in Book Review

4*Review Dark Game (DI Kelly Porter#1) Rachel Lynch

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‘Kelly’s gut turned over as she realised the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out.’

After a scandal forces DI Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies.

Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get to the truth…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Kelly Porter is a career-driven female detective, committed to giving the best to her job, regardless of the personal cost. After a spell in the Metropolitan Police force, she returns ‘under a cloud’, to her birthplace to regroup and heal, expecting the quiet life. She finds a professional team who are willing to give her a chance and more serious crime than she ever imagined possible in such a seemingly peaceful, picturesque setting.
I have spent many happy hours in Cumbria and the Lakes, and it was pleasant to revisit some of these in the well-described settings. The plot of this novel and many of the characters are in sharp contrast to the beauty of the surroundings.
I loved the female protagonist, Kelly Porter. Living in a competitive world hasn’t made her bitter, she’s just made sure she’s better than the rest. This positive trait is easy to empathise. She cares about her mother, her friends and the victims of crime and this compassionate quality is both a plus and a risk in her job.This story has many antagonists, some you don’t expect, and they are believable and complex.
There are many explicitly written gruesome events. For me, the violence was excessive and spoilt my enjoyment of the story. I appreciate these were hardened criminals, but I’m sure most readers could imagine the outcome, without having it so graphically described.
This story is full of detail, again I think a little less would have made it more readable but I’m sure some readers will enjoy this fact-packed read, which seems well researched. The story’s pacing is excellent and the short chapters, build the suspense.
In conclusion, this a good story with an interesting female lead and I look forward to reading what DI Kelly Porter does next. I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.