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.


Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (January 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!


This Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler a book which is all about consequences and one that horrified me as I read it on a freezing cold January evening wrapped up in my duvet!

This Perfect World


Heddy Partridge was never my friend. I have to start with that. Heddy Partridge was never my friend because I was pretty, popular, clever and blonde and my friends were pretty, popular, clever and generally blonde, too. Heddy Partridge was none of these things.
Laura Hamley is the woman who has everything: a loving and successful husband, two beautiful children, an expensive home and a set of equally fortunate friends. But Laura’s perfect world is suddenly threatened when she receives an unwelcome phone call from Mrs Partridge, mother of Heddy – the girl Laura and her friends bullied mercilessly at school. Heddy has been hospitalized following a mental breakdown, and Mrs Partridge wants Laura’s help to get her released.
As Laura reluctantly gets drawn back into the past, she is forced to face the terrible consequences of her cruelty. But, as her secrets are revealed, so too is another even more devastating truth, and the perfect world Laura has so carefully constructed for herself begins to fall apart. This Perfect World is the debut novel from a brilliant dark new voice. Goodreads

2012 yr

In January 2012 I read The Missing by Jane Casey a standalone read by the author of the fantastic Maeve Kerrigan series.

The Missing


Jenny Shepherd is twelve years old and missing…Her teacher, Sarah Finch, knows better than most that the chances of finding her alive are diminishing with every day she is gone. As a little girl her older brother had gone out to play one day and never returned. The strain of never knowing what has happened to Charlie had ripped Sarah’s family apart. Now in her early twenties, she is back living at home, trapped with a mother who drinks too much and keeps her brother’s bedroom as a shrine to his memory. Then, horrifically, it is Sarah who finds Jenny’s body, beaten and abandoned in the woods near her home. As she’s drawn into the police investigation and the heart of a media storm, Sarah’s presence arouses suspicion too. But it not just the police who are watching her.


Worthless Men by Andrew Cowan is a mesmerising and thoughtful book about World War I, one that deserved far more prominence than it received in my opinion.

Click on the book cover to read my review

Worthless Men


It’s market day in an English city two years into the Great War. The farmers are coming in from the country, the cattle are being driven through the streets and that evening a trainload of wounded soldiers is due to arrive.
At the local mansion, its new hospital tents to the ready, waits Montague Beckwith, himself a psychological casualty of the war. In the town’s poorest quarter, Winnie Barley prays that Walter, her missing son, will be on the train (but that her violent husband is not). In the pharmacy, Gertie Dobson dreams of romance while her father keeps unsuitable men at bay. And everywhere is Walter, a ghostly presence who watches as the girl he loved from a distance is drawn into Montague’s orbit.
Weaving together multiple viewpoints, Andrew Cowan creates a panoramic, extraordinarily vivid portrait of a place as individual as it is archetypal. Here is a community where the war permeates high and low; where the factory now produces barbed wire, the women are doing the men’s jobs, and the young men are no longer so eager to answer the King’s call. And here is the tragic story of a casual betrayal, and a boy who proved that those at the bottom of the heap – the worthless ones – could be the most valiant of them all. Goodreads

A psychological mystery about a stalker is 2014’s favourite/most memorable read and my choice has now been endorsed making it a Spring 2015 choice for the Richard and Judy Book Club! The Book of You by Claire Kendal

Click on the book cover to read my review

The Book of You


Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.
Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.
Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined. Amazon


My top read for 2015 is The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins picked for the compulsive reading experience. The story is told from the viewpoints of three women. The main plot unfurls over a gripping month and a half where the reader is treated to a twisty turny read full of suspense.

Click on the book cover to read my review

The Girl On The Train


Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train. Amazon