Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Girl in the Woods – Camilla Läckberg

Crime Fiction
4*s

Camilla Läckberg has provided this reader with another meaty read in this the tenth in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck. This story is lengthy and involved. Readers won’t be able to stop themselves remembering some real-life crimes, especially those involving child-killers with the most obvious inspiration being drawn from Anne Perry and her friend Pauline Rieper, not a comfortable subject at all.

The main story is that set in the present day of the disappearance of four-year old Nea Berg from the same farm that another four-year old child went missing from thirty years before. Then Marie and her best friend Helen were accused of murder at the tender age of just thirteen. This is therefore in true Camilla Läckberg style a crime in the past with parallels in the present.

What makes the disappearance of Nea Berg all the more chilling is that Marie Wall had returned to Fjällbacka in her role as Ingrid Bergman in a new film. Marie had used the crime she was accused of thirty years ago to help propel her into Hollywood stardom, and it had worked but she had not set foot back in the small Swedish town since she left all those years before. Helen meanwhile had married a local man aged eighteen and lived a quiet life now mother to a teenage son she is fearful that Marie’s return will encourage the story to come to life again.

The chapters each cover many viewpoints each including scenes at the police station as our old favourites interview witnesses, pour over forensic reports and the ever dependable station chief Bertil Mellberg gives television interviews and interferes in Patrik Hedström’s handling of the case. As always it was great to catch up with everyone in Fjällbacka’s Police force and it does provide some much needed light relief in this dark and disturbing tale.

Erica already had a book in the pipeline about Stella Strand and her two accused killers and so when parallels are drawn between the crimes she is on hand with her notes so far, and the interviews she continues to hold with key people from the time.

Interspersed with the current investigations and happenings are chapters on The Stella Case giving the reader insights that haven’t necessarily been discovered, including those thoughts of the lead investigator. Intriguingly there is also a far older tale to be told that of Elin Jonsdotter in Bohuslän in 1671, what relevance this strand has remains a mystery for much of the book. If all that wasn’t enough the author includes another strand about Syrian refugees.

I enjoyed this greatly although I was reminded why I normally save these novels as holiday reads; The Girl in the Woods is a whopping 592 pages long and packed full of information which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to short bursts of reading. For the first time in this series I did have moments where I wondered if the author had been slightly over-ambitious in the amount of different strands that run through the book, not that it was confusing, far from it, but the read felt far darker overall than the previous books in the series, and they were hardly laugh a minute reads. However, if you are a fan, as I am, there is much to feast on not only while you are reading this book but there are bigger themes and philosophical questions to ponder long after you finish the last page.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to HarperCollins UK who allowed me to read advance copy of The Girl in the Woods before publication on 22 February 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 22 February 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages: 592
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Books in Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck series

The Ice Princess (2002)
The Preacher (2004)
The Stonecutter (2005)
The Gallows Bird (2006)
The Hidden Child (2007)
The Drowning (2008)
The Lost Boy (2013)
Buried Angels (2014)
The Ice Child (2016)

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

Crime Fiction
4*s

I finished this book having realised fairly early on that I had approached what I was about to read from totally the wrong angle. This is one fiendish puzzle with complexities that are beyond devilish.

The premise of the book is seemingly one of a Golden Age mystery where our chief protagonist has to solve the puzzle of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. He has eight days to do so. So far so simple the clock is ticking and the clues are presented and you put them together and try to get there before he does. Oh, you are sadly mistaken if you think that is all there is to it!

The problem is far more complex in that our man inhabits different characters for each of these eight days and the same day keeps repeating. So he starts of as a doctor and he sees some stuff going on from that character’s perspective but when he wakes up again he is someone totally different and finds some new clues but also sees different aspects to the stuff he learnt the day before. All the while he is trying to keep hold of his true self whilst inhabiting what are mostly a disagreeable bunch of people.

Thrown into the mix is a nineteen year old mystery, linked to the return of Evelyn Hardcastle from her stay in Paris. There are also plenty of other dastardly goings on from blackmail to murder all to be kept on top of. Allies are formed but whether they are wise ones or not remain to be seen.

So it’s complex and ideally, to have any hope of keeping track of what’s going on, I would have needed an entire wall of notes to keep track of various characters and their actions because sometimes the chief protagonist jumps back in time. This means that character is for example unhappily at midday on day four or rather in his fourth host, anticipating where they need to go next to find a missing piece of the puzzle and then it’s back to the second host to pick up where he last left off. To be fair the author gives the reader pointers and reminders but it is a book to throw yourself into and hope that you can keep manage to hold enough information in your head to keep pace.

Now I’ve reached the end I’d ideally go back and savour just how clever the whole book is, but if I’m honest my brain hurts from the effort. Which has left me with a problem on how to rate the book. I really admired both the premise and the execution (of the book not Evelyn Hardcastle) and I did nearly work out one strand of the mystery proving that I wasn’t completely confused by it all, but I’m not used to a book being such hard work. Ideally this would have been better as a holiday read, it’s not a book to escape a hard day’s work with, it is a fiendish puzzle that won’t let you go! If all that isn’t enough this tale told in the first person present tense, which is entirely fitting, also poses philosophical questions which soon become apparent. Now I have the answer to the mystery I can ponder those at my leisure.

I take my hat off to Stuart Turton for the most original read I have read for a long time.

I’d like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing plc for the chance to read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle prior to publication on 8 February 2018. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 8 February 2018
Publisher: Raven
No of Pages: 528
Genre: Crime Fiction 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Dark Angel – Elly Griffiths

Crime Fiction
5*s

Well I just love this series with the balance between the look at old bones, and often new ones too, with the ongoing drama in Ruth Galloway’s own life along with that of DCI Harry Nelson and the rest of his team.

In The Dark Angel rather than Ruth’s boss Phil taking to the television we have an Italian archaeologist who is about to reveal some Roman bones to the audience when something interrupts filming. Desperate to provide some authenticity to his dig and tempt the TV crew back, Dr Angelo Morelli invites Ruth to Italy to lend a helping hand. Ruth is in a bit of a rut, her mother died recently and there has been some other unwelcome news in her personal life and anyway Kate could do with a holiday so she decides that Italy is the perfect answer. Inviting her friend Shona and her son Louis the party board the plane for Italy and Angelo’s apartment in a hilltop village.

Meanwhile in Norfolk Nelson is warned that a man jailed for a heinous crime ten years previously has been released. Mickey Webb made some wild threats at the time he was jailed aimed at Nelson but it seems that he has come out of prison a reformed character and one who has found religion, and a good woman to boot.

Italy has plenty of history and of course although Ruth is there to look at some Roman bones the party have hardly made themselves at home before they are informed that they are staying in the home of a former hero of the Second World War when Italy was occupied. And this is exactly why I love this series, no matter the crime, and there are I’m pleased to report, there is one, there is so much detail to enjoy on the periphery to the storyline all told in such a ‘chatty’ manner it is listening to a friend. That combined with catching up with the latest escapades which entertain me enormously while bones are tested, theories are expounded and suspects questioned.

With events happening in two different countries, both personal and criminal, the action moves quite swiftly despite the somewhat more relaxed holiday feeling to brighten the darker moments in Italy.

Elly Griffiths has compiled a great character in Ruth. She is intelligent without being condescending, worried about her appearance but also not overly envious of those with looks. She has turned into a pragmatic single mother to Kate and yet she is no angel – the asides when Louis breaks glass after glass in the apartment provides a wry smile from anyone who has ever had to spend an extended amount of time with a child that doesn’t behave like your own. She has moments of fierce introspection and yet she is obviously a capable and inspirational forensic archaeologist – someone I’m sure would fascinate me if she was a real live breathing person.

This is a series where you should start at the beginning as the story arc becomes more and more integral to the enjoyment of the books as the series goes on and to be honest the ‘non-crime’ sections are a bigger proportion in this episode than the previous books but if you are already a fan, you are in for a real treat.

Dr Ruth Galloway Books in order

The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead
The Ghost Fields
The Woman in Blue
The Chalk Pit

 

First Published UK: 8 February 2018
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2018

A Patient Fury – Sarah Ward

Crime Fiction
5*s

I knew from Sarah Ward’s first book featuring Connie Childs that this was going to be a series that had me hooked and I can now safely declare that the third book, A Patient Fury, confirms my prediction. In this episode Connie Childs is more driven, contrary and tenacious than ever before and so for all her faults it is impossible not to admire her.

Connie has been off work for quite some time but she’s now re-joined the team having recovered from her injury during a recent case, so what if at her most introspective she wonders if it is too soon? Then while she’s just finding her feet she is called out by DI Francis Sadler to a fire in Bampton. A house has gone up in flames and the occupants are all feared to be dead. No officer likes a fire, and Connie is no different but when she can’t accept the sequence of events provided by the Chief Fire Officer it looks like sparks are also going to fly between her and her boss. DI Sadler really isn’t up for Connie’s side investigations and nor are the victim’s family.

On one level this series is a solid police procedural set in the fictional town of Bampton in the Peak District. I was lucky enough to read my copy whilst on a weekend break near the non-fictional town of Leek which confirmed that the author has provided the reader with a setting which is in keeping with the reality of the area. But above that Sarah Ward gives us a plot that is both credible and yet audacious. The lines of enquiry are followed but there is more beneath the surface than trying to find the answer to the three main questions: means, motive and opportunity, the lid is also lifted on family life, the parts that we often don’t want to acknowledge.

Connie Childs narrates a good proportion of A Patient Fury but as in the previous books, we also hear from someone on the edge of the investigation, Julia, who is connected to the family who lived in the burnt house. Julia is an interesting woman, a giver of tours underground for school children and the like by day and the tour guide for ghost walk’s around the area by night. She has also lost a parent in mysterious circumstances in the past so whilst most of the book is linear, we also have flashbacks to the early eighties. Regular readers of my reviews will know that I find the collision between past and present irresistible.

This is a book full of red herrings and that of course the puzzle is one of my favourite aspects of the crime fiction genre. There is no cheating and although I had my suspicions on whodunit I wasn’t entirely sure why and although I don’t usually mention the ending – this one has the justness that early proponents of the genre would have delighted in just as much as I did.

Despite there being lots going on in this book both in terms of diverse investigations (mainly the diversity is Connie going her own route) and the number of characters, the writing is both clear and compelling. The author has allowed one of her detectives to move to another Police Authority which works well and allows a new character to step into the team mixing up the dynamics most satisfactorily and will hopefully allow the series to continue to grow and delight for many more books yet. If you haven’t read this series and you love well-written crime fiction, I suggest you add them all to your bookshelf.

A Patient Fury is the fourth book I’ve read for my Mount TBR Challenge 2018 having been purchased in September 2017 so I gain another third of a book token!

Previous Books in the DC Childs Series

In Bitter Chill 
A Deadly Thaw

First Published UK: 5 September 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Books I have read, Books I want to Read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2018

Dead Souls – Angela Marsons

Crime Fiction
5*s

I am a huge fan of the DI Kim Stone series set in the Black Country and so it is to my immense shame that it has taken me quite so long to getting around to reading the sixth book in the series. Fortunately this explosive episode will spur me on to reading the next one which is ready and waiting on my kindle for my future enjoyment.

When routine demonstration dig for forensic archaeologists turns into a something far more practical than expected. Bones are found in the examination site and Macedonian forensic archaeologist Dr A. summons our feisty and tenacious DI to the site. Unfortunately given that DI Kim Stone has had a difficult relationship with the neighbouring force’s Detective’s, Tom Travis, for nigh on five years so she is not overly impressed when he turns up claiming that the investigation should be led by his team. Certain that Woody will back her plea for her team to continue Kim Stone is less than impressed when she’s ordered to work alongside Travis as a new model in joint investigations, pooling resources to get results.

What happens next is a tests Kim’s patience and professionalism to the max.

The joy of reading a series is to meet up with old favourite characters as much as it is to ‘solve’ the particular crime being investigated and Angela Marsons doesn’t disappoint. Although Kim is busy working with Travis to unearth (no pun intended) the old bones, her team are forced to work on without her. A suspected suicide, the horrific attack on a Polish immigrant and road traffic accident force see DS Dawson and DS Bryant pair up together for the first time which leaves PC Stacey Banks on her own in the office. I think it was an exceptionally good idea to mix the team up, with Bryant not around to rein Kim in we see another side to both of them allowing a move away from Kim’s personal problems and see Bryant appreciating other skills apart from his boss’s and it was fabulous to have Stacey in the limelight for a change, again allowing us to see her outside her usual unflappable self.

There really wasn’t much of a chance to take a breath as essentially we’re following three strands of storylines – trying to work out why the bones were on an ancient tenant farmer’s land, meeting with a vile racist intent on moving immigrants out of his area and seeing Stacey investigate under her own initiative. What would Kim Stone think?

The plotting is superb with the answers to some of the questions seemingly obvious, but of course only once I had the answers! Angela Marsons isn’t afraid to tackle some difficult subjects in her books and nowhere more so than in this one, and yet although she doesn’t shy away from exposing hate crime she does so with what I felt was some level of understanding of the subject matter so that I didn’t feel that this was a writer using the storyline as some kind of bandwagon to leap upon but something that has been researched and digested before being offered up to her readers.

I started by saying that I have the next book, Broken Bones, ready to read and I can assure you that after this explosive and exciting read and having reminded myself why I have recommended this series to so many others, I won’t be leaving it too long before reading the next in the series.

Dead Souls was my third book of the year for my Mount TBR Challenge 2018, having been bought in April 2017 it is worth another third of a book token which means I now have one book in the bank!! 

Previous Books featuring Kim Stone
Silent Scream
Evil Games
Lost Girls
Play Dead
Blood Lines

First Published UK: 25 April 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
No of Pages: 414
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Hell Bay – Kate Rhodes

Crime Fiction
4*s

This is a new series by Kate Rhodes featuring DI Ben Kitt who is visiting his home, Bryher, one of the smallest of the Scilly Isles. The title of the book is taken from the name of an Atlantic facing cove on the island named Hell Bay. In the 18th and 19th centuries this was apparently a notorious spot for shipwrecks caught on the rocks at this point.

Living on an island myself it is no surprise that I have a fondness for books set on them and Bryher is the ultimate in island destinations, very small populated by a small community who like to think everyone knows everything about everyone, how could it be that a teenage girl ends up dead with no-one seeing anything untoward? Ah small town settings or islands so few suspects and no chance that anyone had left the island by boat by the time the murder was discovered.  How hard can finding the perpetrator be?

Meanwhile we are aware that DI Kitt is on extended leave from the Metropolitan police but the reasons why aren’t revealed for a while. All he has for company as he lives in his deceased mother’s house is a dog named Shadow that he doesn’t seem overly keen on. But the island is home and he has friends and family in the form of Ray, a boatyard owner so he uses the skills he learnt as a young boy to lend a hand to building a boat. But as soon as it becomes obvious that the local police force aren’t used to dealing with murder he offers his services, after all having worked on the Murder Squad for a decade he has the requisite skills.

Laura Trescothick’s death changes life on the island immediately with the locals scared by the knowledge that there is a killer in their midst. After all this is somewhere where doors are left unlocked, the local shop provides food for one of the residents in exchange for honey and herbs and the pub’s landlady takes it upon herself to serve the returned policeman, also her godson, Cranberry juice when she feels this will benefit his health more than the alcohol he requested. One of the advantages of being an island though is that the journalists can be kept at bay, essentially no-one can leave or come to the island until the perpetrator is found, handcuffed and carted off, by boat to the nearest island with some cells, St Mary.

The characters are complex, yes all of them. We have an American artist, a smallholder, a rich businessman intent on owning all available property on the island and a hotel proprietor who still longs to be a singer. There is also a young bereaved woman who has moved to the island for the peace and quiet but who holds her secrets close to her chest, so you see there are many fascinating people to get to know as we begin to understand their stories.

This is a brilliantly multi-layered story that gets better and better as the story unfolds. This is a brilliant read for those who enjoy their crime fiction to be measured rather than frantic and like putting the pieces of the puzzle together for themselves. The superb plotting combined with the often bleak island setting and the complicated DI Ben Kitto made for rewarding reading.

I’d like to thank the publishers Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read an advance copy of Hell Bay, this unbiased review is my thanks to them. The hardback and eBook versions of this book was published on 25 January 2018 however if you want to wait for the paperback is will be published on 3 May 2018. I’m also delighted to confirm that it appears that DI Ben Kitto will be back in another book in this series called Ruin Beach, hopefully fairly soon as there was an excerpt at the back of this ARC!

First Published UK: 25 January 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Shoeless Child – J.A. Schneider

Crime Fiction
4*s

Shoeless Child opens with the horrific murder of a woman and the escape of young Charlie Sparkes from the murderer following his mother’s order to run.

Meanwhile Homicide Detective Kerri Blas has returned to work after a stint on desk duty following a previous murder investigation that required her to see occupational health along with a period out of the field to recover. She is keen to be back on the team and working with her partner Sergeant Alex Brand although the partnership is under wraps from the boss, being strictly against the rules.

With Charlie eventually found and able to guide the detectives to the scene of the crime his mother is found wounded, but alive and both are taken to hospital. The resulting trauma has caused Charlie to shut down and he is unwilling and unable to talk to anyone at all and the police need him to identify the murderer.

This is an exceptionally fast-paced thriller that starts with a horrendous act made especially raw by the use of Charlie’s viewpoint for the escape scenes. It is no word of a lie that my heart was in my mouth during this part. Fortunately the whole of the book isn’t quite as traumatic and eases its way into a police procedural with Kerri at the helm. She might not be the boss but her ability to read a crime scene and people has obviously impressed the rest of the homicide team and more often than not she is given a chance to act on her intuition. When even her the Chief bowed to these skills I must admit I took a bit of deep breath as I am cautious about detectives that ‘just know’ something in my crime fiction but I’m pleased to say that although the police procedures seemed a little looser than certainly the standards their UK counterparts have to meet, there were clues that led to the final unveiling of the perpetrator.

With Charlie in a state of shock it is left to Kerri to make a bond with the previously bright and happy five-year-old which she does incrementally and with a great deal of affection. The book really should be called the Kerri and Charlie show because despite a wide array of characters, including a whole host of subjects that could have wanted Charlie’s pretty mother Rachel dead, these two really do steal the show.

Not only do we have a wide range of suspects, each creepier than the last, (personally I’d have been tempted to lock them all up for being despicable human beings) but there are red-herrings a plenty along with a few more dead bodies, just in case the break-neck speed that is maintained throughout the book allows the reader to breath once in a while, there is a surprise around every corner. This meant that I was on high alert for clues during the entire read and even the good guys, yes there are some, were treated to my contempt as was sure they were only being nice to hide some character flaw.

For those crime fiction lovers that love fast-moving plots which are underpinned with a solid plotline you can’t go far wrong in reading Shoeless Child, which is full of thrills from beginning to end.

Shoeless Child is actually the fourth in the Detective Kerri Blasco series and as I haven’t read any of the others, I can confirm that this works perfectly as a standalone thriller.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the author Joyce Schneider who provided me with an advance copy of Shoeless Child. This unbiased review is my thank you to her for such a thrilling read.

First Published UK: 24 January 2018
Publisher: CreateSpace
No of Pages: 278
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

I’ll Keep You Safe – Peter May

Crime Fiction
4*s

Since The Lewis Trilogy goes down as a favourite read of mine of all time, I was delighted to be offered a copy of this, the latest standalone novel, by Peter May also set in the Outer Hebrides. You will just have to imagine my excitement when I opened the front cover to find that I’ll Keep You Safe has a wonderful map of the places on the islands mentioned throughout the novel. Even better for those with a lack of Gaelic, there is a list of pronunciations so I didn’t have to do what I normally do which is to make up a word that looks close all the while knowing that wouldn’t pass muster anywhere except in my head.

The action doesn’t start in the Hebrides though, the setting for the explosive opening is in Paris soon after a confrontation between and her husband Ruairidh (Roo-are-ee) of ten years. Niamh has read an email sent from a well-wisher, informing her that Ruairidh is having an affair with his Russian business associate Irina. Ruairidh and Niamh are in Paris on business, the one they built together selling Ranish tweed, spun locally and sold to high end fashion designers world-wide.

After the opening Niamh is left alone, traumatised by the unexpected turn of events and she starts reflecting on her life living in Ranish, her relationship with her parents and Ruairidh’s parents trying to understand events that have never been properly confronted before.

Peter May has chosen to narrate this tale from two female viewpoints. In the main we hear from Niamh, either reflecting on the past or in the present trying to come to terms with recent events. The other narrator is Detective Braque from the French Police, a divorced woman who is trying to balance her job with the demands of twins, and it has to be said on the most part failing.

I love Peter May’s writing and the picture he paints of life on the Scottish Isles is so vivid that as in his previous books, I felt I knew the place so much so that I could easily be convinced I’ve visited despite the fact I haven’t. The descriptions of summers full of midges, the rain never far away, and the joys of playing house in amongst a pile of peat all add to the picture. Equally well portrayed is what life is like on the island, both in the past when Niamh was growing up and in more recently where she and Ruairidh built their own house at the edge of the island. The claustrophobia of everyone knowing each other’s business, the churches that rule a whole way of life which means discos for the youngsters end earlier to ensure there is no carousing on the Sabbath and the funeral rituals are all presented to illustrate the traditional views held by the islanders.

Despite being swept away by Niamh’s tale I was slightly less convinced by the ending which involved a leap of faith that I didn’t quite manage but there is no doubt at all that I’ll Keep You Safe ends on a bang in keeping with the explosive opening. With a book full of luscious descriptions as well an introduction into traditional weaving this is a book that will conjure up a mass of images illustrating a way of life which is unique to these Scottish islands. Even better these qualities are combined with characters that walk out of the pages and into your life.

I was very grateful to be sent a copy of I’ll Keep You Safe by the publisher Quercus. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.

You can read an extract from this book in yesterday’s post which formed part of the Blog Tour celebrating publication of this novel today, 11 January 2018.

First Published UK: 11 January 2018
Publisher: Riverrun
No of Pages: 436
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Cold, Cold Heart – Christine Poulson

Crime Fiction
4*s

It wasn’t until I finished Cold, Cold Heart that I realised that this is the second book in the Katie Flanagan series, and despite my repeated reminders to myself not to start another series, I’m going to have to read the first, Deep Water.

How lovely it is to have a female protagonist who is a research scientist; this fact alone made me want to read this novel although I have to stress that you don’t need to brush up on your science lessons to enjoy the book with her role providing a backdrop rather than interrupting what is essentially a locked room mystery on an Antarctic station where Katie is researching the effect of darkness on the human sleep cycle, body and mind.

We meet Katie before she sets off to the remote station when Lyle Linstrom recommends her for the role when one of the original researchers has to be evacuated before the ‘over-wintering’ sets in. There are ten people in all on the base, all men apart from Sara the medical doctor who Katie will assist in the hopefully unlikely situation that there is a medical emergency. After all for the eight month duration no-one can get onto the base, nor can anyone leave.

Meanwhile in the UK Daniel Marchmont, a patent attorney, is in charge of due diligence for Lyle Linstrom into an important piece of research that as a venture capitalist he is eager to invest in.

With worrying developments in both the UK and the Antarctic, the reader is kept thoroughly entertained, mind busy trying to work out how the two seemingly separate storylines will come together as we travel backwards and forwards from the brilliant descriptions of the cold and dark, remote world on the research base to the more familiar territory of day and night in the UK. With side storylines of Daniel’s young daughter’s rare illness and the dilemma’s he and his wife Rachel face, to the adventures of Marmaduke the cat, alongside witnessing the unveiling of many of the characteristics of the scientists on the base I was well and truly hooked.

Christine Poulson has developed some fantastically realistic characters, both major and minor, and impeccably in keeping with their chosen professions. There is the sympathetic doctor, Sara, the chef Ernesto, who is keen and occasionally sensitive about the food he provides for those confined on the base. Craig is the strong silent type, the youngest Adam who despite the vigorous health assessment before being given the go-ahead is slightly wobbly due to the almost unimaginable eight-months confined to base in this remote, cold and dark spot in the world. Graeme the base commander is the strong avuncular type, a wise man who listens to those around him with Alex, the mechanic and Justin and Nick who are the astronomers make up the rest of the party. With the long hours being punctuated with competitive games there also seems to be a joker in the pack but of course some things simply aren’t funny!

Cold, Cold Heart certainly played into my love of crime fiction which takes a different approach and this intelligent offering kept me hooked whilst thankful that it wasn’t me out there in the cold.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author Christine Poulson for arranging a me to be provided with a copy of Cold, Cold Heart after I mentioned her contribution to The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour.

 

First Published UK: 17 November  2017
Publisher: Lion Fiction
No of Pages: 272
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Good Friday – Lynda La Plante

Crime Fiction
5*s

Reading Good Friday I realised how much great crime fiction I’ve missed out on by somehow eschewing Lynda La Plante’s previous books. Indeed it was only the pull of going back to the 1970s that persuaded me to watch the recent TV series Prime Suspect 1973 which I think covers the first book, Tennison: Prime Suspect 1973. Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed the TV series so when I was offered this book, I was delighted to accept and prepared myself for a trip back to 1975 when the IRA were active in the UK.

By the time this, the third in the prequels to the Jane Tennsion series, opens Jane is now a Detective working out of Bow Street in London. She’s feeling a little frustrated at being given the lowly jobs and seeking a way to find a route to a more exciting future. She’s still young, still very much trying to break free from her parent’s expectations but old enough to be tiring of life in the Section house. One morning after she’s climbed up the steps at Covent Garden Station (the lift was out of order otherwise unless you want to have the life sucked out of your lungs on the dizzy climb up the spiral staircase, you don’t attempt that climb, I’ve done it once and said never again!) she sees a woman shouting after a man who has left a rucksack. Sadly the rucksack contains a bomb that goes off and Jane immediately is caught up in the aftermath of tending to the injured.

                        Covent Garden Staircase

It is interesting to see that despite being set over forty years ago, the media play a key role in the story. Although Jane is clear that she didn’t get a proper view of the suspected bomber, she goes to a press conference where an e-fit picture is given to the press. Unsurprisingly this puts Jane not only in the firing line of the media attention, but also potentially compromises her own safety.

Through all the mayhem, trauma and fear that follows the bomb explosion, Jane’s new boss in CID is adamant that she should attend the annual CID dinner at St Ermin’s Hotel, so she has a posh dress to find. All of this lends a somewhat congruous edge to the hunt for the bomber as I’m used to reading books where no-one gets leave, certainly time to prepare for a dinner wouldn’t be top priority, and yet in some ways it felt realistic, Jane after all, despite being important as a witness is not part of the main investigation.

                    St Ermin’s Hotel

As well as the investigation into the bombing we see Jane move away from the Section House into a small flat of her own, complete with disasterous room-mate. We see the stringent rules imposed by the Police Service on its officers at that time, and we also get a glimpse of what life was like for a young woman in the capital during the 1970s. Jane hasn’t yet got the steely edge she will acquire later on, but she does show us some of the tenacity and brilliant thinking which will emerge into the light later in her life. Alongside this there is some ingenious plotting so which had me turning the pages faster than the speed of… well as fast as I could read them!

This was a brilliant read by an author whose work I will be belatedly seeking out during 2018 and I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bonnier Zaffre for sending me a copy of Good Friday, this review is my unbiased thanks to them and to Lynda La Plante for a wonderful read.

First Published UK: 24 August 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No. of Pages: 400
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US