Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Boundary – Andrée A. Michaud

Crime Fiction
3*s

Set on the border between the US and Canada there is no doubt at all that this literary crime fiction is incredibly atmospheric. Not only is it evocative of the time it was set, 1967 Boundary combines this with a real sense of place, a holiday town populated mainly by women and children during the summer months with the men returning from work at the weekend.
So an idyllic setting with a lake and woods and sounds of the sixties running through two friend’s lives as Zaza and Sissy wield there charms on all around them. Andrée watches from the side-lines knowing that she is far too young for the ‘almost’ young women who laugh and swear and flirt their way through life.

But behind the summery scenes are the undying stories of a man, damaged by life as a solitary Canadian trapper. Pierre Landry had lived in a cabin in the woods. His tragic end and the crimes attributed to him, including the infatuation with a local woman, clinging to the town, unwanted and yet all-pervasive and the children tell stories about the ghost of Pierre Landry.

Barbeques are lit and children called in for food, dolls played with, dens made and the fairground welcomes its guests as every other summer’s day and then, Zaza goes missing. The nearby police are called, the older more experienced officer, Michaud, is haunted by a young girl’s murder, while the younger, Cusack gets worn down by the ensuing investigation into Zaza’s disappearance.

We are told the story from a number of the characters viewpoints including Andrée’s, the police and members of Boundary’s town. These different viewpoints paint a vivid picture of a town marred by events and the change of atmosphere is all-encompassing.

The story starts very slowly and although it isn’t a particularly long book, it took me a long time to finish. In part this was down to the small font which I’m sad to say I struggled to read after a full day working looking at a computer screen and I really needed daylight to see well. This in turn didn’t help the lack of forward momentum early on in the book as I was able to read so little. This may sound odd, and perhaps not entirely fair, particularly to those of you who have younger eyes than mine, but it did seriously hamper my enjoyment of what was clearly a book with lots to offer. I was reading a proof copy though so I’m not sure if the finished article will make for easier reading, but this was a book where I would have preferred an eBook. After the investigation starts the pace picks up and the various strands of the plot begin to draw together to create a convincing, if sad, story. I felt the characters acted in a consistent manner and I felt an affinity for Andrée, and not in the usual way that I feel for child narrators, she wasn’t like me as a child but her feelings felt particularly authentic.

This felt like a grown-up version of crime fiction with plenty of layers and issues to ponder which in many ways lends itself to a more contemplative reading experience than most crime fiction.

I’d like to thank the publishers No Exit Press who allowed me to read a copy of Boundary ahead of publication on 23 March 2017. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: No Exit Press
No of Pages:  320
Genre: Crime Fiction – Literary
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Legacy – Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Crime Fiction
4*s

Well this new series was my introduction to Yrsa Sigurðardóttir the Icelandic author who has come highly recommended. I wouldn’t say I’m an out-and-out lover of Scandi Noir, as some of it is a bit too dark for my tastes, but here goes, here’s  what I thought.

The book opens with a deeply sad meeting of the equivalent to Social Services where three young siblings are separated to be adopted, ‘the only way to give them all a chance says the director, ‘they can’t stay together’.

The story then moves to 2015 when two young boys alert their neighbour because they’ve been unable to wake up their mother. There’s a reason for that, their mother is dead, brutally murdered by someone who has taken killing to a whole different level. Please dear readers, if you are particularly sensitive and prefer your murders to take place ‘off page,’ avoid this book. That said, this isn’t a book where you are bludgeoned by horrific images on every page there is too much else to be absorbed with.

The woman’s seven year old daughter Margret had seen the murderer and she is taken to the Children’s House, a centre where children who have been abused or otherwise caught up in a crime are treated and questioned, to give a witness statement there. The highly trained team which includes child psychologist Freyja, who I suspect may be the link we follow throughout the series. Freyja is compassionate without being overly sentimental and dealt predominantly in common sense which is how I prefer my protagonists to be.

Meanwhile the local Police force has been under fire with many of the lead detectives needing to keep a low profile in both the press and community and so it is that the newly promoted Detective Huldar leads the investigation into the murder of the young mother. He’s aware that should he fail, that will be the end of his career but when he quickly establishes that his victim seemed to have no enemies, he is struggling for a lead. Our Detective Huldar clearly considers himself a bit of a ‘lad’ but since it’s obvious he is so far out of his depth and he gained my sympathy as he kept on turning over those stones in order to solve the mystery. I actually think the better side of his character is shown by his pairing with his partner Rikhardur. He is not the sort of man to heap the awful jobs on someone else, he purposely watches the post-mortem as he understands his position.

In between the scenes at the Children’s House where Freyja attempts, fairly fruitlessly to coax some details from young Margret we meet a group of young men who are friends because of their interest in listening to short wave radio and it seems to one of the group, Karl that the mysterious numbers broadcasts are a coded message meant for him.

With so much going on, I became completely absorbed by this rich complex tale and never forgot that sad opening but struggled to find a link in the main body of the story. Instead the strands hear which all seemed to be diverging in different directions were skilfully nudged into place within the last portion of the book to bring the tale to its stunning conclusion.

I will be looking out for the next book in this series although I hope to explore some of Yrsa Sigurðardóttir back catalogue before then too.

I was lucky enough to be sent this book by Amazon Vine on behalf of the publishers Hodder & Stoughton and this unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
No of Pages:  464
Genre: Crime Fiction – Scandi Noir
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

Cut Short – Leigh Russell

Crime Fiction
3*s

I know, I really don’t need to be starting any new crime series as the ones I have on the go, and try hard to keep up with already fill up a fair few slots on the trusty spreadsheet, but this book was already on my kindle having been purchased three years ago.

Now I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t too sure about Geraldine Steel’s debut outing at first but reminded myself that it is hard to introduce a whole new bunch of characters with enough of a back story to make it into a full series and the plot was definitely an intriguing one.

In Woolmarsh following the breakup of a relationship and she’s looking forward to a quieter life than that she left behind, but it isn’t to be. No sooner has she moved into a gated apartment than a killer strikes leaving behind a woman hidden in the park for a small child to find. Not a great way for Geraldine to start her new life! Partnered with the affable DS Ian Peterson the pair along with the rest of the team are under pressure to apprehend the strangler, particularly when it isn’t long before he strikes again.

There are several strands to the story with one pertaining to someone vandalising Geraldine’s personal property and another narrative from a clearly disturbed man who talks to a woman called Miss Elsie which kept my interest when the police investigation inevitably stalled. All too soon the press are asking questions about the competence of the officers in charge and women are protesting about their safety.

The fact that this series is soon going to be up to book number nine leads me to believe that the character development that perhaps this book would have benefited from, the author having favoured dastardly plotting, will soon be realised. It is all too easy for these police procedurals to feel like a rehash of something done before and yet I did feel that this showed a lot of promise. Yes, Geraldine was prone to going home and drinking wine, but hey, so I’m sure do lots of her readers and they don’t have to wonder which member of this small town out and about strangling people even while the police are on every corner! She isn’t too beset by personal problems although she has the odd reflective moment, but on the whole she uses the fact that she’s single with no personal claims on her time to work. We are told, that she uses her attention to detail and great memory to put together the clues and in this case, it works.

In the first paragraph I alluded to the wealth of characters in this book which can be tricky to manage and Leigh Russell gets over this by introducing them throughout the book as they are required, in many ways this book is almost written for TV which led to a disjointed feel in parts but there was also an awful lot that appealed and I certainly found myself racing towards the ending.

I read this book as part of my Mount TBR Challenge 2017 – this is number 7 out of my target of 36 for the year but… I must put the series books aside as I’m very tempted to buy Road Closed which sort of defeats the point of the challenge.

mount-tbr-2017

 

 

First Published UK: 2009
Publisher: No Exit Press
No of Pages:  435
Genre: Crime Fiction – Police Procedural
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

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

Quieter than Killing – Sarah Hilary

Crime Fiction
5*s

Quieter than Killing starts with a chilling prologue; a young boy listens to the sound of a car being washed, carrots being chopped and a boy in a red bedroom surrounded by a girl’s possessions. This outwardly domestic scene has an unfathomable undercurrent that let me know from the first short sentence that the latest book in the DI Marnie Rome series, her fourth outing, was going to be a real treat.

So starts another brilliant outing for DI Marnie Rome and her partner DS Jake Noah in a race against time to work out what links what appears to be violent attacks on people who have previously been convicted of crimes as disparate as kidnapping and assault. Then the new perpetrator goes too far and one of their victims dies. Who is picking these latest victims and why won’t they reveal who is hurting them? With crimes that seem to take no account of age, sex or years since the original crime, finding the killer is going to need the sharpest of detectives. Meanwhile Marnie is left shaken when her parent’s former home is burgled and her tenants badly hurt at the same time and are in the hospital.

During earlier books in this series we’re aware of the crimes committed by Marnie’s foster brother Stephen and his mischief-making is still ongoing, as are Jake’s problems with his younger brother who has been embroiled in the local gangs. This mixture of police investigation with their personal problems is one of the aspects I really enjoy and the two worlds are becoming too close for comfort for both officers. The pair find themselves investigating the gangs and their increasingly young recruits. And then things seem to get personal and with Marnie’s boss, and chief protector and supporter, off work with a serious illness, Marnie has to learn to confront attacks both personal and professional without him at the same time she has to prove herself to the woman drafted in to lead the Murder Investigation Team.

The plotting as ever is exquisite with perfect pacing which takes us down more than one blind alley, each time the tension rises to a new height. This is the twistiest of the series yet, but the author keeps a handle on the strands so that at no time did I consider any revelation, one too many. It is refreshing to be able to relish a story without feeling as if everything is positioned just to confuse, but that these events are not only possible, but likely to happen.

Of course the most engaging of plots wouldn’t get far without great characters and whilst the two detectives are already well-defined, they show parts of their characters that haven’t been quite so obvious before and they are joined by a great supporting cast. To Sarah Hilary, it doesn’t matter if you are a goodie or a baddie, she will add layers to both surprise and delight.

So we have plot and characters and even better Sarah Hilary adds a brilliant turn of phrase to the trinity. For anyone who is under the misapprehension that crime writers can produce a great book without knowing their crime as it is all about the whodunit and less about the well-crafted phrase, all I can say is read this book and experience how great a read can be when all three come together.

I am very grateful to the publishers Headline who allowed me to read an advance copy of Quieter than Killing ahead of publication of 9 March 2017.
Previous books in the DI Marnie Rome Series:

Someone Else’s Skin
No Other Darkness
Tastes Like Fear

First Published UK: 9 March 2017
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Let the Dead Speak – Jane Casey

Crime Fiction
5*s

Eighteen year old Chloe Emery left her father’s house and made her way home to her mother and in these earliest scenes I was left in no doubt at all that something awful is about to happen as her neighbour, Oliver Norris, offers her a lift and drops her home. She dashes inside the house out of the rain and then slowly, very slowly, she realises that all is not as it should be. The house smells funny and there is mud everywhere, only it is not mud, it’s blood.

Maeve Kerrigan has been promoted and she is now a DS, eager to prove herself in the new role and determined that Josh Derwent is going to realise she doesn’t need him treating her like a junior anymore. The pair are called to the Emery house where despite the lack of a body, a murder investigation is launched; Chloe’s mother Kate is nowhere to be found and all her belongings are still at home. This could prove to be a PR disaster for the police if Kate is not dead, but an equal one if they don’t treat it seriously enough.

Right from the off I had masses of questions, was Chloe really as slow as she seemed, and if so why was her bright younger neighbour, Bethany Norris so keen to spend so much time with her? With Chloe reluctant to tell the officers exactly where she’s been since she left her father’s house, or even why she left without saying goodbye, the police are sure they are missing some vital information. But, at least Chloe is safe staying with the Norris’s while the house is a crime scene.

We have a new younger woman on the team too, Georgina who it’s safe to say isn’t a hit with Maeve and so her efforts to impress fall somewhat flat but it takes her a while to cotton on. This is just one example of how Jane Casey gets the tone exactly right. Maeve may well not take to Georgina, but she tries. She doesn’t go for the all-out put downs but tries to temper them with some helpful advice, that way when Georgina screws up, we all know who to blame.

This is, like all the other books in the series, action packed with life-threatening moments coming not just where you expect them, at the end of the book. The pacing is immaculate, once I started this one, I really was terribly reluctant to put it down. There is intrigue as well as all the deadly sins, none as deadly as those inflicted on those who should be closest to us, our family. The casual lies, betrayals and greed are sewn deep into the very fabric of this book, and few of the minor characters come away with anything like an intact reputation which gives plenty of suspects to be suspected!

Now if you want taut plotting and a cast of characters to delight, then you don’t need to look any further, Jane Casey delivers on both. Even better there is an undercurrent of humour which serves to deflect from any of the horrific pictures your imagination may serve up, and believe me, there are plenty of such opportunities.

I was extremely lucky to be given a proof copy of Let The Dead Speak by the publishers ahead of publication date of 9 March 2017!

The Maeve Kerrigan Series in Order

The Burning
The Reckoning
The Last Girl
The Stranger You Know
The Kill
After The Fire

First Published UK: 9 March 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Long Drop – Denise Mina

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

This is the story of Peter Manuel, not a recreation of his crimes scrawled baldly across the page but a nuanced look at the man, both behind the vile acts he perpetrated and the one that he was in his own mind. In Peter’s head there was still the possibility to be another Peter, the one who was a writer and was famous for something other than burglarising, vandalising and raping. When he met the long drop (the method used for hanging in Scotland) he wasn’t the other Peter though, he was the man who wasn’t as clever as he thought he was.

Denise Mina has created a night Peter spent with the father of one of his victims. A father, husband and brother-in-law to three women who didn’t live to say what their last night was like but William Watt wants to know, particularly as he was arrested for the crimes himself, and so his lawyer Laurence Dowdall, having secured Manuel’s agreement, accompanies the men on a meeting in a restaurant one wintry Glaswegian night in 1957. Laurence Dowdall leaves the two men to it and they spend the entire night drinking, visiting clubs before finally winding up drinking a cup of tea in a car outside Manuel’s house, his mother a mere shadow behind the curtains.

The nuanced and assured storytelling is gripping with details oozing out of each sentence, not just about the crimes but about the characters, the essence of the lives they lived and the Glasgow of that age before the slums were cleared and Glasgow was cleaned up. It tells the story of a whole community which had violence running through it. The men jostling for position, just as Manuel and William Watt did in the pub, desperate to hold prime position, not to be outdone by lesser men. Being hard was what it was all about and the men who both protected and beat their women with fierce pride.

Of course we do learn about Manuel’s crimes too in a similar fashion, this isn’t a linear story telling, it is all the more captivating because we wait for the details; the half-eaten sandwich left abandoned at the murder scene, the empty bottle of whisky left on the sideboard for the police to find after the shock of the broken bodies left in the bedroom have been discovered. There is no doubt that Peter Manuel was not a nice man but we also see him through his parent’s eyes. One particular scene about their visit to the prison is one that I suspect is seared into my memory for ever, the emotions roll off the page in an understated manner which pulled at my heart-strings all the more for those that remained unsaid. I have a particular respect for writers who leave the reader the space to fill in the gaps, to allow them to put themselves in the shoes of a mother of a murderer without justifying the emotions she felt and what she might feel in a week hence.

This without a doubt is one of the best books I’ve read based on a true crime with this relatively short book being jam-packed with details which are wide-ranging. It did help that I had recently watched the television drama In Plain Sight, because previously I hadn’t heard of this man, although I’m now aware that for years afterwards his name was used as a synonym for the bogeyman for Glaswegian children.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of The Long Drop prior to the publication by Random House UK on 2 March 2017. This unbiased review is my thank you to them and of course the incredibly talented Denise Mina.

First Published UK: 2 March 2017
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 240
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths – Blog Tour (#BookReview)

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

I am a huge fan of this series which features the down to earth Dr Ruth Galloway and the surprisingly complex DCI Harry Nelson so I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, the ninth book in the series which was published on 23 February 2017.

the-chalk-pit-blog-tour

To kick off the tour I give you my humble opinion of this great book!

Book Review

Another outing for Ruth Galloway and this time the action is firmly set in Norwich when bones are found in an underground tunnel under Guildhall, which is something of an inconvenience for Quentin Swain the architect who is looking to use the space to build a swanky restaurant. Ruth overcomes her dislike of enclosed spaces to take a trip below the city to take a look; she’s fairly sure that they are old bones so sends them off to be tested.

Meanwhile the police are investigating the disappearance of a homeless woman, Babs in Norwich who has disappeared without trace. Eddie who has made the police station his bedroom, has reported her missing and it is clear when the police starts talking to the other members of the community, that they are worried about her too, but many are cautious of the police. And then a housewife goes missing in very suspicious circumstances and the police are forced to consider whether there can be a link to Babs.

I have to say that this book treats the subject of homelessness with far more nuance than any other that I’ve read. Elly Griffiths has given each of the many men, and they usually are men, a realistic story of how they came to be on the street, and why they are unwilling to accept the help offered to them but she has resisted the urge to make them all out to be saints which means that her attempts to make them realistic characters is so much more effective.
One of the many aspects of this series which I love is the link between Ruth and DI Nelson through their daughter Kate and the peek behind their working lives into what can only fairly be described as muddled. These insights leak around the side of the main investigation, never overwhelming it but often cleverly linking or echoing the themes.

In this book Kate is offered the part in a play. Ruth isn’t too sure whether this is a good idea but a few words from her mother and outright disapproval from Nelson means that Kate winds up playing the child Alice in a quirky adaption of that famous story called Alice Underground. The adult Alice being played by Cassandra wife of DS Clough.

The other aspect I really enjoy is that upon opening up the latest in the series I feel like I’m meeting old friends with the characters, distinct and engaging as ever, we had plenty of news to catch up on while underground tunnels were being searched and pits opening up in the road are causing chaos in Norwich. Ruth Galloway also links back to past books with little asides so this really is one of those series which is best read in order although there is a helpful who’s who guide at the back of the book for those of you reckless readers who are happy to dive in straight at book nine!

The familiarity of the characters alongside the first person narrative really make me feel that I am part of the book. So I know what’s going on and I can often predict the individual character’s response, but the plotting is so devious that I am no match for the detectives, I am merely on the side lines waiting for them to crack the case in indomitable style.

Although to be honest there isn’t one of these books that I haven’t enjoyed, the plotting in this one seemed tauter and the links more robust than some of the previous books. When you combine the excellent mystery with some intriguing personal lives and a look at a community which rarely has an accurate spotlight trained on it whilst seamlessly providing the history of the underground tunnels in Norwich, The Chalk Pit was a sure fire winner.

ellygriffiths-c-sara-reeve-3
Elly Griffiths – Sara Reeve

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

First Published UK: 23 February 2017
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages:  384
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I like my crime fiction to feature past crimes which are bought into the present, that feeling of past and present becoming so tightly linked is really appealing and so the premise to Sewing the Shadows Together called to me from the moment I read the synopsis.

Shona McIver was raped and murdered over thirty years ago, she was just thirteen years old Her brother Tom and her family moved to South Africa following the shocking crime in in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Her best friend Sarah remained in Portobello but what happened left a long shadow over both of their lives.

In the present day it is announced that the once young man, committed to hospital after being convicted of her murder, is to be released. Worse still it has been proved that he wasn’t the murderer. Tom is in Portobello at the time the police re-open their investigation having travelled over on family business and to attend a school reunion. What better background can you conjure up than a reunion organised by just the sort of woman who always organise such events, pushy and shallow with a conviction that everyone must have fun! The question is, is the real killer someone Tom and Sarah know; will the murderer be unmasked?

The emotions are so perfectly drawn in this novel. There is a bit of everything on the entire spectrum and because I was so drawn into the tale, I really felt the highs along with the lows. With a fast-moving plot with a surprising number of potential suspects who could have been part of the secret that Shona mentioned on the evening she disappeared. The result for the reader is many theories built and swiftly dashed to smithereens as another smidgen of information is revealed; just the kind of plotting I most enjoy. Although there was one moment when the coincidence seemed a little too convenient, on the whole I was convinced by the plot, in other words the clues were there.

And then there is the setting, which, because I chose to read Sewing the Shadows Together because Joanne from Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie have kindly provided a piece for the next Put A Book on the Map post which will be up tomorrow, is nothing but evocative. I have never been to Edinburgh and yet the seaside suburb of Portobello lends itself perfectly to the scene of the murder.  Don’t you think a murder committed in beautiful surroundings, seems so much more horrific? It is also presented as a fairly close-knit community back in the 1970s with enough key items from the time as markers but not so many that it feels like a trip into nostalgia. Not that all the action takes place in this setting, we journey to the Outer Hebrides to visit some of Tom’s scary relations and back to South Africa when he returns to visit his beloved aunt for one last time. There is no doubt in my mind that Alison Baillie is not only able to weave a convincing story but is able to make you feel as if you’ve visited the places themselves. Amazing as I have no first-hand knowledge of any of these settings.

There are a wide range of characters in the book, and as there are quite a few the author has managed to keep them distinct and interesting, although in some cases far from likeable and at times I couldn’t help wonder why this beautiful seaside setting hadn’t seen more murders over the years!

First Published UK: 23 July 2015
Publisher: Matador
No of Pages:  377
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Rush of Blood – Mark Billingham

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

So you’re on holiday in Florida, you’ve met up with another two couple’s from the UK, spent time together all fairly standard stuff and then on the last day, a girl goes missing from the resort. You’re interviewed by the police and allowed to return to the UK. Would you make a date to meet up with your fellow holidaymakers away from the sun?

Well that’s exactly what the couples in our story did. It has to be said some were keener than the others to get together but they grouped together round Angie and Barry’s table they begin to get to know each other on home ground so to speak. Inevitably the conversation becomes dominated by what could have happened to Amber-Marie and how she had disappeared so suddenly. Of course it goes without saying that one uncomfortable dinner party isn’t enough for these intrepid travellers, as Ed and Sue host one as do Marina and Dave. For the reader who doesn’t have to endure the actual company, these are brilliant parties with each character showing their hand a little bit more.
Over in Florida Amber-Marie’s mother Patti Lee Wilson is naturally distraught and the manager of the resort where she has camped out is fearing she is bad for business, or he’s simply run out of what little compassion he has.

Jeff Gardner is working the case in the US and left to voice the increasingly trite sounding reassurances that the case is getting the department’s full attention. And then there is a murder in the UK and a bright trainee PC, Jenny Quinlan decides to contact Jeff and so the investigation progresses both sides of the Atlantic.

In between the dinner parties themselves not only does the investigation gather pace but we hear what the characters are doing, what worries them and, for some, what have they found on the internet that they can mull over and dissect at the next meeting. We also hear the killer’s voice but I have to admit, it wasn’t who I thought it would be.

I can safely say that none of the characters have bucket loads of redeeming features but they are all recognisable, you probably work with at least one of them! There characteristics range from mousey through to an arrogant assumption that their opinion is what everyone is waiting for, from the geeky nerd to the wannabe actress and from the neurotic to the grumpiest man on the planet – why the couples are with each other is intriguing enough let alone why they would voluntarily chose to spend time with the other couples!

In a nutshell that is the beauty of Rush of Blood this standalone novel has a different feel to the Tom Thorne books, although fans will be pleased to hear he does have a cameo role. While there is a mystery to solve it is more firmly in a whodunit than a why which makes it possible for the author to experiment with the amusing character studies which contrasts behaviour between the couples themselves and how they behave in a group situation… and the author doesn’t neglect the detectives either but I’ll let you make your own minds up about them!

I found Rush of Blood an absolutely fascinating read whilst vowing to myself to make sure I look as unfriendly as possible on any future holidays I may take!!

I’d like to thank Grove Atlantic for allowing me to read Rush of Blood. This honest review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 2012
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
No of Pages:  400
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

The Cipher Garden – Martin Edwards

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

We are back in the Lake District with its unpredictable weather and beautiful scenery with the appealing Daniel Kind, historian who finds parallels between his specialism and the work of a detective, particularly when the crimes reach back in time.

I really enjoyed the first of Martin Edwards’ The Lake District Mysteries, The Coffin Trail and fortunately I had already purchased the second in the series. The key mystery in this book is the death many years ago of Warren Howe, a gardener, not greatly liked (in my opinion the best kind of victim as no energy is wasted mourning his loss) who was cut down in a customer’s garden with his own scythe. The case has come to the attention of Hannah Scarlett’s cold case team courtesy of an anonymous letter pointing the finger firmly towards his widow, Tina. But Daniel Kind is also seeking to find out whether there is a cipher in his garden and if so what does it reveal? This involves digging around in a different section of the past that the locals would equally like to be forgotten, but why?

Hannah Scarlett who is still not overjoyed to be heading up the ‘Cold Cases’ team, she would prefer to have been in the thick of the ongoing investigations, calls up the old files and is somewhat heartened to see the original investigation was led by one of life’s lazier policemen. It soon becomes very clear that there were a few likely suspects but in the absence of any real ‘hard-graft’ whoever it was has escaped justice for many years!
There is a proper mystery at the core of this book involving the brutal murder of Warren Howe and then there is the everyday lives of those investigating it but this is perfectly balanced with the lives of Martin Edwards’ chief protagonists Hannah Scarlett and Daniel Kind. In other words there is plenty to keep the reader entertained when the inevitable dead ends are reached.

I am really enjoying my crime fiction reads which have more of a classical feel to them, this isn’t a thriller, so the pace while never slow, is not so fast that everything passes in a blur until the inevitable confrontation. No this is a book that relies on a good plot and interesting characters to keep its reader’s interested. The characters are all exceptionally well-drawn from the teenage daughter of the dead man to the new husband of his widow, they all feel read by having a mixture of characteristics rather than cardboard cut outs waiting for their part in the plot. That said, there are a fair few of these characters to get to grips with and placing them, particularly if you haven’t read the first book, may cause a little consternation but not for long!

There is something I find very appealing about the small town setting and getting to know the inhabitants and the way they tick is at the root of the enjoyment, especially as they have all known each other for years and know where ‘the bodies are buried.’ This adds to the intrigue as Daniel Kind and Hannah Scarlett use very different techniques to get them to reveal the facts and although I had a fairly good idea before the reveal, I’m pleased to report that there was one secret I simply didn’t anticipate.

The Cipher Garden is the third of my Mount TBR reads (books I own and were purchased before 31 December 2016), so I’m bang on target so far but since there are another five books to read in this series, I’m not entirely sure that this is actually helping reduce the TBR, You can be sure I’ll have bought at least one more before the year is out!

mount-tbr-2017

 

First Published UK: 2005
Publisher: Allison & Busby
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Crime Fiction Series – Police Procedural
Amazon UK
Amazon US

The Lake District Mystery Series

The Coffin Trail (2004)
The Cipher Garden (2005)
The Arsenic Labyrinth (2007)
The Serpent Pool (2010)
The Hanging Wood (2011)
The Frozen Shroud (2013)
The Dungeon House (2015)