Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Play Dead – Angela Marsons

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

I was so excited to be approved to read Play Dead on NetGalley as each of Angela Marsons’ previous three books had me absolutely hooked, and each got awarded the full five stars. After the excitement came the slight apprehension, after all the first three had come swiftly on the heels of each other with the author releasing all three between February and November last year, would this book live up to those? The answer is a resounding yes, if anything this one was even better!

I thought I’d read what I’d written about those before writing this review so that I didn’t sound repetitive, but I’m afraid that simply won’t be possible because what I loved about this book is exactly what made the others so wonderful, but I’ll try…

The story opens with a prologue set in 1996 which haunted me throughout the book, even more so as we hear from the same narrator sporadically whilst we are watching Detective Kim Stone investigate. This investigation is on a site more unusual than most, a body farm in the DI’s native Black Country. Westerley research facility is for the scientists whose work in entomology and the like to help define the time of death of bodies left exposed to the open air and Kim Stone and her partner Bryant were visiting to be educated when a body is found. And so we’re out of the traps with a fresh body, one not chosen by the resident scientists, and it is not long before this is joined by a cold case that Kim Stone has picked up along the way! In boths cases just finding out who the victim was is the first step in a marathon.

Kim Stone is exactly my kind of protagonist; she is damaged by her past but about as far from a victim as you can get. She’s complex, not overly friendly to anyone much and yet she has the respect of her officers, and me. In this case she uses her sharp intellect as she gets to work with the unusual crime scene and follows her intuition to get her first link to the killer. But don’t worry, even this sharp cookie doesn’t own a crystal ball, so the twists and turns hold the interest at optimum level.  Angela Marsons really does manage the pace exceptionally well, there is definitely no dropping off in the middle of these books, and yet she still manages to accelerate towards the end so that you really do get that edge of the seat sensation.

One thing that draws me to crime fiction is the understanding of why the perpetrators act the way they do and in this novel the why as well as the who is put together in pieces so it is far too easy to jump to one conclusion, only to find out that maybe the answer is something quite different indeed. But it isn’t just the perpetrator that gets this treatment, all of the characters are exceptionally realistic, and we get to see behind the scenes of these too. In Play Dead we get a little insight into Kim Stone’s nemesis, Tracey Frost the local reporter.

So once again we have a fantastic plot, equally full of interest and absolute horror, complex and engaging characters from the most minimal dinner lady to the chief protagonists and enough adrenaline to fire up that fight of flight reaction – or in my case rooted to the chair reading frantically to find out how on earth it was all going to end. I love books that sprinkle enough clues to allow me to have a go with my poor investigative skills and in this instance I did have some parts right but there were plenty of aspects to make the finale a compelling read.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bookouture not only for allowing me to read Play Dead for review purposes but also for choosing such a talented author to publish and allowing us all to enjoy a fantastic series, one that is now a definite ‘must-read.’ This review is my thank you to them ahead of publication on 20 May 2016.

Previous Books featuring Kim Stone

Silent Scream
Evil Games
Lost Girls

If you are a lover of contemporary crime fiction, I really can’t recommend this series highly enough.



A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

25 thoughts on “Play Dead – Angela Marsons

  1. I’m very glad you enjoyed this as much as you did, Cleo. It certainly sounds like one a complex narrative with solid plot threads. And I know what you mean about Kim Stone. The best protagonists are strong characters like that.


    1. I think when crime novels include so many characters it makes for better reading if they are really well-defined and that can be hard to do without resorting to caricatures – thankfully Angela Marsons has provided us with a great bunch (particularly Kim Stone)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My interest in crime fiction, like yours, is driven by wanting to understand why people behave the way they do. That urge to know drew me into the psychology field, with an emphasis on dysfunctional families. The children of abusive parents are vulnerable to turning into abusers themselves….but I also see the opposite happening with many. Perhaps the wounded and flawed people who turn themselves around become detectives, therapists, etc.

    This one sounds like a good book. Thanks for sharing.


    1. What an interesting point you make Laurel and I’m particularly glad that you note that although children of abusive parents are vulnerable it is by no means a rule. Too rigid an expectation that one follows the other can lead to punishing a child for the sins of their parents, when the reality is that they may have lots to offer the world. Kim Stone is a fantastic example of a woman who has overcome a difficult past.


  3. Thank you so much, Cleo for this awesome review. Like you I love to understand why characters do things and enjoy figuring that out as I go. Truly appreciate your words and complete understanding of Kim Stone as a character 🙂 xxxx


  4. So good you weren’t disappointed…there is nothing worse when that happens. I really need to get round to the rest of the books that are on the kindle!


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