DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.
But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift. Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half-frozen in the snow.
As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….
Can James stop the killer before they strike again?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I initially read a sampler of this book in the Summer and only read the full version this month.
This is a police procedural with a festive setting. James, a detective inspector in the Met moves to Cumbria when the threat of vengeance from a gangland boss looms. The village in Cumbria, the childhood home of his wife Annie has its share of deceit, hate and secrets but is someone willing to kill?
James is a likeable protagonist, straightforward and dedicated. Annie’s past in the village is chequered. Has her moving back started something dreadful?
There are no murders, only menace and threats in the early part of the book. Suspense builds and the reader realises that this is going to be a Christmas the villagers’ don’t forget.
The murders are suspenseful but not overly graphic. The police investigation is realistic and the conflict and crossover of personal and professional for Detective, James relatable.
Whilst I worked out the murderer, this added to the reading experience making the story authentic and immersive. There is little character development for the investigation team, but hopefully more will be revealed as th series progresses?
This is a good holiday read for crime fiction readers.
When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis?
On the home front, Archie’s marriage is rocky and his two teenage daughters are giving him all sorts of trouble. The frail but beautiful Helena Harper and her magnificent house offer an oasis of calm as Archie struggles to discover who is responsible for her husband’s disappearance. Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened?
Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time as the case descends into a bewildering morass of obsession, violence and murder.
Longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins Memorial Prize for an Unpublished Novel
Finalist in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best First Novel
I enjoy reading stories set in different locations, and this is a crime novel set in New Zealand. It has a small-town ethos with the sense of community and intrusiveness that defines them. The plot hinges on a missing person, a businessman with secrets and possibly a reason to disappear. Whilst this is a tried and tested plot trope, this one has the added complication of threatening emails and the implication of fraud against the background of a world financial meltdown.
The detective team is relatable, especially Archie, the detective sergeant, with a complex personal life which brings his character to life and makes him authentic. The characterisation is detailed and the plot twisty making this enjoyable read.
Christina is an author and proofreader living in the Waikato region of New Zealand. Several of her short stories have been published in anthologies, most recently in Fresh Ink: A Collection of Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand 2019. Into the Void is her first crime novel and was longlisted for the Michael Gifkins Memorial Prize in 2019. It is also a finalist in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best First Novel.
When DI Gus McGuire is called out to the murder of a pregnant woman, the crime scene tells him that this killer is not only taunting them … he’s also just getting started.
With ritualistic precision, the killer has placed a series of clues beneath the victim’s feet. Gus soon realises that these clues link back to his mother’s past as a child in foster care in Scotland.
When I am king, dilly dilly,
Troubled by his mum’s secrets, Gus is in a dark place. Side-lined from the main investigation, Gus works another murder, not realising that the two are linked and that the killer is closer than he realises … Dangerously close.
You shall be queen.
Then the killer begins to target people near to Gus. Angry and determined Gus races to unravel the past and catch this sadist before the loss is too much for him to bear. The seventh gripping thriller in the DI Gus McGuire series
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a compelling noir crime read which explores contemporary and historical issues through the characters’ experience. A balance of police procedural, family drama and psychological suspense the story is intricate and intriguing.
The investigation team are diverse and full of authentic characteristics. DI Gus McGuire is an excellent lead detective he is driven and effective. There is a personal connection for DI McGuire in this story which forces him away from the front line initially to face painful family secrets.
The crimes committed in this story are grisly, and the antagonist intelligent, but lacking in humanity. Told from multi viewpoints they immerse the reader in the characters’ actions and emotions.
This story reads as a standalone for new readers of the series with enough character details to make them understandable and the team dynamics apparent.
Unbound Ties is a deep and haunting noir crime story which resonates.
Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.
Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.
In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.
When a body is found in the grounds of a prestigious Wiltshire private school, DI Gillian Marsh takes on the case. The young groundsman, Bradley Watson, has been shot dead, pierced through the heart with an arrow.
As the investigation gathers pace, DI Marsh is frustrated to find the Whalehurst staff and students united in silence. This scandal must not taint their reputation. But when Gillian discovers pictures of missing Whalehurst pupil, fifteen-year-old Rachel Snyder, on Bradley’s dead body – photos taken on the night she disappeared, and he was murdered – the link between the two is undeniable.
But what is Whalehurst refusing to reveal? And does Gillian have what it takes to bring about justice?
I received a copy of this book from Headline Accent via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Two different points of view draw the reader into the characters’ lives from the first page. There are hints of what is to come for both characters, and the reader is aware of a tenuous connection but nothing more. The story’s development stems from these characters and their motivations.
Two investigations demand the attention of DI Gillian Marsh, the missing person case overseen by her detective sergeant, and the murder which is hers to solve. DI Gillian Marsh is a believable character with flaws and insight, which make her a realistic investigator. There is a good balance of the detective’s personal life and the police procedural. The characters are authentic, but many are unlikeable.
Solving the cases means breaking the wall of silence surrounding them, and DI Marsh and her team are ultimately successful in this.
Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She read law at the University of South Africa and Warsaw University, then gained teaching qualifications in New Zealand. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
The Lawrence’s were the perfect family; successful, beautiful, and happy until one night their whole world was ripped apart. Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan is called to investigate the suspected arson attack and death of the Lawrence family at the charred remains of their stunning home, Kimble Hall. The case takes a sinister turn as the body count fails to tally. Suspecting that someone may have survived the inferno, DS Morgan and her team need to discover whether they have a witness, or someone far more dangerous. Who set the fire? Who wanted this family extinguished beyond recognition? As the case progresses, DS Morgan realises she has a calculating, cold-blooded killer on her hands, and the race is on to track them down before they kill again.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Another gripping blend of investigation and psychological suspense. There a dramatic beginning, and then the painstaking police procedural begins. The ending is fast-paced and adrenaline-inducing as DS Morgan tries to stop the killer.
This is an authentic detective thriller, and the pacing is part of this, slower where the investigation is struggling. The level of menace is high, and the psychological suspense keeps you guessing and on tenterhooks.
Jenna is a complex character, and we learn more about her as the series progresses. The police team dynamic is well-researched and believable.
Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to writing psychological crime. Find Her Alive was her first novel in this genre and introduced series character DS Jemma Morgan. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.
As the Whitworth family begin renovations on their new home, their plans are brought to an abrupt end when they discover a body buried in the back garden.
DI Isabel Bloodand her team are called to investigate, but as she approaches Ecclesdale Drive, a feeling of unease settles in her gut.
The property cordoned off is number 23. The house she used to live in as a child…
The forensic team estimate that the body has been in the ground for up to forty years – coinciding with the time Isabel’s family lived in the house.
Isabel’s father vanished without a trace when she was fourteen years old. And with her mother remaining tight-lipped about her father’s disappearance, Isabel can’t escape the unnerving sense of dread that it’s his body, buried in the garden.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a fabulous debut crime novel. Its well-crafted plot has engaging and relatable characters and an authentic urban setting. Isabel Blood is a time-served police detective who juggles family and work life with the help of a supportive partner and professional colleagues. She is believable and easy to empathise, essential characteristics for the lead detective in a police procedural.
The East Midland’s setting in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire is familiar to me, as I lived there for many years. The author conveys it’s idiosyncracies thorough dialogue and description so well.
The plot has depth and unexpected twists that keep the reader absorbed and guessing. The ending is suspenseful and concludes the case satisfactorily. Hopefully, there will be more books in this series with its realistic team dynamic, and likeable lead detective.
I am the author of In Cold Blood, a crime novel published by HQ (HarperCollins) featuring DI Isabel Blood and set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bainbridge. The book won the 2019 Gransnet and HQ writing competition, which was for women writers over the age of 40 who had written a novel with a protagonist in the same age range.
In Cold Blood is my first novel, but I have been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for over twenty years, many of which have appeared in women’s magazines, literary magazines, newspapers and online.
I live in Derby, UK and have an MA in Creative Writing.
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/.
Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. DCs Tim Myerscough and Bear Zewedu found a corpse, but when Hunter arrives it has disappeared, and all is not as it seems.
Hunter recalls the disappearance of a dead body thirty years earlier. The Major Incident Team is called in but sees no connection – it is too long ago. Hunter is determined to investigate the past and the present with the benefit of modern DNA testing.
Tim has other problems in his life. His father, Sir Peter Myerscough, is released from jail. He, too, remembers the earlier murder. There is no love lost between Hunter and Sir Peter. Will Hunter accept help from his nemesis to catch a killer? Hunter’s own secret is exciting and crucial to his future. Will it change his life? And can he keep Edinburgh safe?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Book five in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series intrigues the reader into the dark world past and present of Edinburgh’s crime scene. Hunter is the link in the crimes and the mystery as the reader is taken back in time to his first body, which disappears. Does a recent murder have connections to the cold case and what his Hunter’s connection to the two murders?
Authentic, diverse characters relatable dialogue and a twisty plot make this addictive reading. The mystery unfolds and reveals some of Hunter’s secrets too. The vividly portrayed setting and compelling characters give the story its noir crime ethos, which is evocative of these crime mysteries.
Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fifth novel in the series, Hunter’s Secret, is published by darkstroke. Her first non-fiction book, Let’s Get Published is available now.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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 Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A contemporary, gritty police procedural with a relatable female detective, and a complex investigation. DS Josie Masters is now a single mum returning to work for the first time since the birth of her son. She’s conflicted, but her driven personality and diligence to her role keeps her on active duty.
Her first murder is personal and violent, and old friend and everything is not as it first appears. The pacing is commensurate with the investigation, which is hampered by further seemingly unrelated deaths. I read this as a standalone enjoyably, but if you can read all of the books in the series to understand the character development and relationships at play.
This has a noir-crime ethos emphasised by the occasional chapters from a disturbed individual.