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

The Lost Man – Jane Harper

Crime Fiction  5*s


Having come late to the party with Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry, I was determined not to be left behind by her latest novel, The Lost Man, a standalone read set in the outback of Australia.

The Lost Man had me swept along into an entirely different place, a different lifestyle and that daunting and dangerous landscape. This a book that will evoke a whole range of feelings in its readers and because of that it is not for the faint-hearted.

 We start with a description of a headstone, the marker for a legend that has been mutated during the years since it was placed there to mark the place where The Stockman died and on the day in question there is another body close to the headstone, another casualty to a lifestyle which is beyond ordinary comprehension.  Cameron Bright was the middle sibling of three brothers and his elder brother Nathan, and the younger, Bub, gather at the site where he perished through lack of shelter from the overbearing sun, or was the story of his death quite that simple?

Jane Harper is a master at showing (and definitely not telling) and she takes us on a tour, into the house where Cameron ran his  to the family he has left behind, two small girls whose daddy went out shortly before Christmas to fix something on his land and never returned. Cameron was man who knew the land, it was where he was born after all and now his wife Ilse is left to cope without him. Fortunately Uncle Harry is around as is the boy’s mother although as is only to be expected the house almost hums with confusion and grief.

What Jane Harper does that is even more explosive though is to start peeling back the layers of this family. Nathan pretty much takes centre stage as we journey with him back in time and slowly, oh so slowly but perfectly so, we learn the truth about an event many years ago that is still making its mark today.

I really couldn’t tell you what I enjoyed most about this book – was it the brilliant descriptions of a place? It really is testament to the author’s prowess that she managed to conjure up the heat and power of an open landscape of the outback in Queensland, when her reader was sat with the wind and rain howling across a small island on the other side of the world. I haven’t ever been to Australia and if I did the outback would probably not be my chosen destination, and yet for the duration of this book, I was very much there in the house with Isle and her girls Sophie and Lo. I watched Cameron’s mother Liz weep in the deepest of darkness when the generator was switched off by Harry at night-time.  Perhaps the legend of the Stockman had something to do with the appeal, or equally the unravelling of a mystery that is dark, don’t for one moment imagine that the grim scenes at the beginning of the book mean you’ve passed the worst, there are shocks still to be revealed.

In conclusion I loved this book because it covers a great deal of ground, there are deeply upsetting moments but perhaps in keeping with the characters that inhabit the real-life place, there is something very measured about the delivery. No over-hyped action scenes here, just the truth which is sometimes a whole lot worse.

I’d like to thank the publishers Little Brown for allowing me to read a copy of The Lost Man, and to Jane Harper for moving me with this incredible novel. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 22 November 2018
Publisher: Little Brown
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Crime Fiction
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Snapshot of Murder – Frances Brody

Crime Fiction

Despite coming to this historical crime series relatively late they have become a firm fixture in my autumnal reading with something so appealing in going back to seemingly less complicated times but of course not neglecting the fact that some people are always going to be bumped off! The bonus with this series is that the murder is more or less of page and the reader can enjoy the mystery without needing to get themselves overly anxious about the killing bit. And so it is for A Snapshot of Murder, the tenth in the Kate Shackleton series.

The year is 1928 and the Brontës are becoming big business, so much so that a museum is opening in Haworth and it’s big news. Back at home Kate is indulging in her other passion than sleuthing as a member of The Headingley Photographic Society. The young lad Derek proposes a group outing and although, as always when a committee is involved, there is plenty of huffing and puffing about the donation to be made and the location to be visited they eventually set off for the opening of the museum with the hope that they will capture some fantastic pictures in the bargain. One thing to say for these novels is that Frances Brody really knows how to lay the groundwork for book and luring you into a time and place.

As might be expected no sooner have they arrived in the picturesque location than there is a murder! As it happens the victim happens to be the most disagreeable male character so we can swiftly move on with nary a tear shed. Even better there is an instant mystery as his wife Carine, also a member of the photographic society, has just discovered that her fiancé a man she believed to have died in WWI is actually alive and well and returned ‘home.’ It also hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that while Tobias Murchison was busy being disagreeable and boorish, young Derek had provided a bit of solace to Carine. The motives are stacked up, the opportunities catalogued and the local police predictably a little bit confused and so our intrepid sleuth Kate Shackleton is roped into the investigation.

As always with these books the chief protagonist comes over as a very capable woman. The setting may be many years ago but she is fairly modern in her outlook and not inclined to faints or vapours, or to be fair constantly underlining how difficult it is for women in society at the time. In fact I think I’d get on very well with Kate Shackleton who seems to have an abundance of intelligence and a fairly bright outlook on life when you take into consideration that she investigates the worst humanity can do to each other.

The settings are brilliantly done, with the link to the Brontë family and Wuthering Heights in particular the photographic theme lends itself so well to really setting the scene thereby conjuring up the much-loved book as well as setting the scene for murder in 1928!

As this is a series we meet some past characters including Kate’s bubbly niece Harriet but somehow unlike many other crime fiction series all the characters except those that take centre stage are more or less backdrops, so while it is nice to meet them the book really is focussed on the main players in the mystery itself.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Little Brown Book Group, and the author Frances Brody for a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable trip to Brontë land in A Snapshot of Murder!

First Published UK: 25 October 2018
Publisher: Little Brown
No of Pages: 448
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
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The Kate Shackleton Series

Dying In The Wool: 2009
A Medal For Murder: 2009
Murder In The Afternoon: 2012
A Woman Unknown: 2013
Murder on a Summer’s Day 2013
Death of an Avid Reader 2014
A Death in the Dales 2015
Death at the Seaside 2016
Death in the Stars 2017


Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Want You Gone – Chris Brookmyre #Blogtour #bookreview

Crime Fiction

Computer hacking isn’t a subject I’d normally be drawn to as anything IT related is a turn-off as far as I’m concerned, but as I’d heard such good things about this author and having no hope of catching up on the previous seven books in the series, Want You Gone was where I started, and I was totally drawn into the world of internet chat rooms with anonymous men ‘there are no women on the internet’ conspiring to all sorts of three-letter acronyms.

Sam Morpeth is struggling, she’s at college but in charge of her disabled younger sister, Lily, as her mother is in prison. Sam is a loner, she doesn’t fit in at school, and she’s struggling to pay the bills. Sam decides she has no option but to take a part-time job in a sandwich shop, but then she attracts the wrong kind of attention. Added to all of that she’s sure that her mother is keeping secrets from her.

Jack Parlabane is kicking off the traces to whatever trouble he’d been in which something to do with the hacking scandal, and he’s found employment as a journalist on a new paper, Broadwave. He’s determined not to mess up again especially as he’s enjoying the opportunity to do more in-depth reporting and his links to a hacker give him an in on a recent security breach by the hackers at a major bank. With the police looking for the perpetrators and the bank severely embarrassed will Jack be able to uncover the truth?

If I’m reading contemporary crime fiction, I like the themes to be current and thought-provoking and Chris Brookmyre carries off this brief off with alacrity. Obviously the internet has been part of our lives for long enough for it to be hard to remember what life was like before it, but the telephone hacking scandal is recent enough for the repercussions still making their mark and I suspect most journalists work in a more circumspect way then they did before the Leveson inquiry. All of this is well-reflected in the storyline without the reader feeling hammered over the head, there simply isn’t time as the plot moves along at a fair old pace, with twists and turns, all aided and abetted by the shadowy nature of the characters. In another novel all the cloak and dagger might seem all too convenient whereas it fits perfectly with the themes that underpin this compelling read.

There is masses of action in Want You Gone and despite the technical aspects of this book, it never felt burdensome and everything was clearly explained in words that this technophobe could understand. I liked the interaction between Sam and Jack, there comes a point where despite neither trusting, nor liking, the other, they had to work together for a common aim. A tough piece of character conflict to pull off at the best of times, but in the midst of a fast and furious storyline where believability becomes crucial, on reflection I realised the importance of this outstanding piece of writing.

I started this review by stating that I’d become aware of this author through other bloggers and decided that I couldn’t possibly catch up on the series which is why I took the plunge at book eight. I now revise that opinion, I will be seeking out the previous books and whilst it is unrealistic to imagine that I will read them all before the publication of book nine, I need to know more about Jack’s life before it became entangled with Sam’s.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little Brown Books who allowed me to read an ARC of Want You Gone. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the talented author, Chris Brookmyre.

First Published UK: 20 April 2017
Publisher: Little Brown Books
No of Pages: 432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Out of Bounds – Val McDermid

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

Well once again I’m going to give some of you the heebie jeebies by admitting that I have jumped in at number four in the Karen Pirie series! I do have The Skeleton Road on the TBR and I really should have read that one, at least, first. But I didn’t and this book was entertaining enough that the slight hints regarding previous characters has given some spoilers but Out of Bounds was entirely readable as a stand-alone novel.

After a car accident where young and reckless joyrider Ross Garvie, crashes a land-rover killing his three passengers and leaving himself in a very bad way routine blood samples are taken. When put into the database they provide a familial hit for a particularly nasty rape and murder some twenty years previously. The problem being our young joyrider was adopted and so the cold case lawyer has to go to court to ask for his records to be released. I loved this part, rarely do we see the actual pleas to the courts for legal directives in police procedurals and it was good to have a little aside from the investigation and of course it adds tension, is permission going to be granted? And ultimately how ethical is that?

Meanwhile there has been a suspected suicide on a bench, Gabriel Abbott has died due to a gunshot wound to the head. The investigating officer wants this one wrapped up without any fuss but a link to a terrorist killing of four people twenty years previously means that Karen Pirie isn’t so sure. Pushing the boundaries of her remit to the very edge she begins making enquiries into both the past and present case.

I have a particular love of the past colliding with the present in my crime fiction reads and so I knew before I started that I was highly likely to enjoy this book, after all there is not one but two cases where what happened in the past is linked to the present. That said, I had almost forgotten how much I love Val McDermid’s writing, it’s been a while since I picked up one of her books despite being a fairly early adopter of the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series I stupidly let her drift to wayside.. no more! I particularly love Karen Pirie’s character. She is tough without being overbearing and despite some huge personal issues (this was where I should have read the series in order) she forges onward not impervious, but with a quiet determination, which I fully admired. But out of everything it is her relationship with the rather dim Jason, her second (and only) in command. This relationship more than adequately indicates the nature of our chief protagonist as well as providing a good few laughs along the way. With Jason being so slow on the uptake it also gives the author a platform to make sure the reader is following any complexity without ever sounding patronising – brilliant pairing and for this alone I want to read more of this series.

Val McDermid also keeps the present very present indeed. In this book there is a side story which concerns a number of Syrian refugees who have been relocated to Scotland and without spoilers I would just like to make the link to my review of Small Great Things by Jodie Picoult;, this is the way I prefer to read about the sensitive issue of racism, because there was no doubt what the author’s view is, but in no way did I feel I was being asked to pick a side in an argument, and I learnt things that I didn’t know.

In a swift conclusion, two great main storyline which are well-plotted, a fantastic array of characters, all realistic and rounded along a superb vignette of contemporary issue all nicely packaged in a straightforward police procedural with no complicated structure at all – no wonder Val McDermid is such a hit, not just in her native Scotland but around the world. If you love crime fiction and haven’t read any of the previous twenty-nine books that this talented woman has published, where have you been?

I received my copy of Out of Bounds from the publishers Little Brown Book Group and this unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 25 August 2016
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages: 448
Genre: Crime Fiction
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Death at the Seaside – Frances Brody

Historical Crime Fiction 4*s
Historical Crime Fiction

Well I came a little bit late to this party as this is the eighth of Frances Brody’s novels set in the 1920s featuring private investigator Kate Shackleton. I’m delighted to say it didn’t matter and I thoroughly enjoyed the character without needing the background from the previous books.

In this book Kate Shackleton is on holiday. She’s travelled to Whitby to visit an old school friend Alma, a woman she hasn’t seen for some time although she has met up with her daughter Felicity who is Kate’s god-daughter. The holiday begins well with Kate co-ordinating her plans with her assistant Jim Sykes and housekeeper Mrs Sugdon staying close by. Oh for the days when everyone was on holiday together and life was so much simpler!

Sadly Kate’s visit takes her past the jeweller’s shop where her husband proposed to her, sadly he lost his life during the war and there is a moment of poignancy before Kate decides to enter the shop to buy Felicity a present. What she finds instead of a gift is a dead body. In the 1920s phones were rare so Kate is forced to leave the jeweller’s shop and raise the alarm, this action, plus her being an outsider leads her to being suspected of committing the murder. Added to that Felicity has gone missing and Alma is frantic.

This is a solid mystery novel, in a wonderful setting at one of my favourite times in recent history, a time that lends itself to secrets required to maintain respectability to others, and we all know where secrets lead, especially in crime fiction! When Kate catches up with her friend Alma she finds her living in the most peculiar of houses, a grand place which is literally disintegrating around her and the man who owns the other half of the house! She also finds out that Alma rents a space on the pier and acts as the local fortune-teller, abiding by strict regulations about hours of occupancy to keep this position while a more genuine spiritualist can be found. All of which lends itself to a varied and colourful mystery, where any violence is ‘off-page’ and yet the strong character of Kate gives the book real structure and stops it slipping into fluff.

For the most part the book is narrated by Kate herself, she is a practical woman, but a ‘real’ woman, she misses her husband but doesn’t dwell too much on her loss, she is also open it would appear to another husband, but only if the right man makes the offer, she isn’t going to accept a life that won’t make her happy. And it appears that being a private investigator does make her happy, we get the feeling that she is better able to carry out her sleuthing when she is part of the community rather than in Whitby where she is an outsider but I’d need to read the other books to be certain. Because Kate is a practical woman, and one loyal to her friends, some of which lead to mini-adventures such as tracking down Alma who is busy ‘communing with the moon’ leading the local police to wonder if Kate knows about the local smuggling of whisky that they are trying to clamp down on but at least we have a woman who will climb a steep and unfamiliar hill in the dark with no wailing for a man to come and rescue her. The remaining parts of the book are narrated by Alma with very short sections by Felicity whose entries are much darker and more mysterious tone.

A very enjoyable read which despite the title made the perfect autumnal read. I was given my copy of this book by Little Brown Books, and I reciprocate with this honest review.

First Published UK: 6 October 2016
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Perfect Girl – Gilly Macmillan

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller

The Perfect Girl is the kind of book that you can get lost in, a totally compelling read that urges you to read just a few more pages and I enjoyed every minute of the journey.

Musical prodigy Zoe Guerin’s mother Maria is found dead very close to the beginning of the book, soon after Zoe and her Stepbrother Marcus perform a duet at a church in Bristol to mark Zoe’s comeback after she was incarcerated for causing the death of three teenagers. Having served her time she  has now  moved well away from the scene of the crime to have her ‘second-chance life’, complete with a new baby sister.

As is common to all of these types of books you can barely manoeuvre between the various issues being tossed from the pages; this one includes bullying, alcoholism, childlessness, hothousing and a whole host of others all of which muddy the waters as to who was twisted enough to kill Maria.

The story also uses multiple viewpoints to tell the sorry tale so we hear from Zoe, her aunt Tessa, Tessa’s husband Richard, Marcus and the attorney all have their say. This switching around is managed skilfully and I have a fondness for looking at an issue through differing eyes which in this instance really added to the tension and who and why the crime was committed. It is also an opportunity to give the reader the background, particularly that of the two sister’s Maria and Tessa although on reflection I’m not sure quite how convinced I was by Maria’s transformation from wild child to pushy parent but I always find with books like this, there is so much enjoyment to be gained from riding the waves it is best to suppress the little niggles that tend to crop up.

The one thing Gilly Macmillan has proved is that she really can tell a cracking good story. The plot was meticulously put together, the voices on the whole convincing and the tension created by a violent confrontation at the concert is successfully maintained throughout.

Lest you think this is a book that can only be read as a frivolous time waster albeit a pleasurable one, it isn’t. If you can stop yourself steaming through at a pace, there is a lot said about those people who mask their true selves to the world, how that works in reality and how manipulative adults cause confusion and distress to those around them. Some of the characters in this book may be at the extreme edge of that type but the truth told in The Perfect Girl is not something that just appears in fiction.

I for one thoroughly enjoyed the mix of characters, the underlying storyline of whether children who commit crime can ever put the past behind them to live a life that is some form of redemption is one that I find appealing and although I had worked out some of the ending, there was still enough to surprise me and I’m going to leave the review by saying it raises some difficult questions for the reader which may unsettle some. Although this book didn’t quite blow me away the way Burnt Paper Sky did, the same elements were present that made this an exceptionally good read.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little Brown Book Group (UK) who allowed me to read a copy of this book; this review is my unbiased thank you to them. The Perfect Girl will be published in paperback on 22 September 2016 but is currently available in eBook format and as a hardback book.

First Published UK: 3 March 2016
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages 464
Genre: Psychological Thriller
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

I See You – Clare Mackintosh

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller

I loved Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel I Let You Go I really did wonder whether her second book would reach anywhere near the same standard, I’m delighted and relieved to say there is no doubt that it does – if anything I was even more glued to I See You.

Not being a Londoner but having visited my Grandmother there many times over my formative years I am someone who has a great deal of affection for the underground, albeit from afar. When I take a trip these days I admit I’m less enamoured by the endless stairs, rushing on the escalators and sweaty bodies but I have never tired of working out the length of time my journey will take using her prescribed average of three minutes per stop, a ruse I think she employed to make doubly sure that every journey was packed full of maximum learning opportunity, and this was the mental maths section! Childhood memories of feeling the warm rush of air telling me the next tube was on its way and to ‘stand well away from the line or you’ll get sucked in’ will now be replaced with a whole different perspective because of I See You.

The premise of the book centres on Zoe Walker, a woman in her early forties who sees an advert in the London Gazette in amongst the escort services and chat lines which seems to be her picture. Slightly flustered she takes the paper home to her family who are less convinced than she is that it is her picture, but the seed has been sown and Zoe is unable to dismiss it. She tries the phone number which only returns a single tone indicating it is not in use and the website link only has a white square in the centre of a black page. Zoe turns herself into a bit of a Nancy Drew character when she realises that there is a series of similar adverts.

More than that I can’t tell you about the plot because this is one of those books where you rush along a straight road of a plot-line only to have to swerve an obstacle at high-speed before doubling back on yourself and ending back at the beginning. There is misdirection aplenty so that if even like me you manage to work out the smallest of mysteries you feel like whooping as if you’ve passed an extremely difficult exam under pressure.

The tension created in this book is enormous so prepare to do some extreme mystery solving and the author raises it almost subtlety with the scenes switching between Zoe and a British Transport Police officer who is following up on some missing property from the tube. With Zoe unravelling under her suspicions and Kelly Swift trying to convince her superiors that an unfortunate event in the past should not be holding her career back any more than it already has, both women are motivated by their investigations. With the stakes being raised almost imperceptibly this is proper on the edge of your seat reading.

Clare Mackintosh doesn’t just manage an imaginative plot she also manages to portray her characters with real insight making their foibles and motivation absolutely believable in a way that goes far beyond the identikit police officer or victim. We have a wide range of characters from a journalist, local businesswoman, aspiring actress and estate agent all of whom are fleshed out, almost while the reader isn’t watching, and yet without seeming to depend on the preconceptions we may have about their profession, ages or gender. This is an exceptional skill which I think marks this author out from many others who are battling this increasingly popular genre and one which makes her books a joy to read beyond the thrill of the ride.

My advice, don’t miss out go get your own copy of I See You and read it for yourself, although perhaps not on the tube!

I want to say a huge thank you to The Little Brown Book Group who allowed me to read an advance copy of this book, in return I offer this unbiased review.


Published UK: 28 July 2016
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
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Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters #20booksofsummer

Book 6

Little Stranger
Historical Fiction 4*s

It is so difficult to fit this book into anyone genre. It could be historical, being set just after World War Two in post-war Britain but it has far stronger elements of the supernatural than I would contemplate if it were other author, and there is a bit of the psychology of the characters to boot.

Dr Faraday first visits Hundreds Hall in rural Warwickshire as a young boy where he accompanied his mother to the elegant mansion. We first meet him though when he returns as a General Practioner to visit a young servant girl who is laid up in bed who mentions something strange which Dr Faraday swiftly dismisses. However, it isn’t long before he becomes a more frequent visitor over time when he becomes bewitched by the household, and by Hundreds Hall itself.

The wonderful storytelling is enacted through the eyes of this disappointed middle-aged GP, Dr Faraday, who has got to the stage in life where he wonders quite how everything has passed him by. He still lives in cramped rooms, never having the means or the need to invest in anything more. He has his close friends which are married but little else, beyond his work to fill the hours of his day but a family of his own has eluded him.

Normally I am very anti anything supernatural in a book, something I wonder if Sarah Waters was aware of, because although this is for those who want it to be, a ghost story, it can almost be read as a series of events which it is perhaps easiest to blame on the supernatural. Well that’s my justification for enjoying this book quite as much as I did – the rest of you can all enjoy a super scary ghost story to frighten the bejeebers out of you!

The household consists of the elderly Mrs Ayers, her son Roderick who has recently returned from the war and her daughter, the spinsterish Caroline. It is clear from the outset that this is a household who have fallen upon hard times. The Hall is much diminished since the days when Dr Faraday’s had that childhood visit, the retinue of staff have fallen away leaving just a housemaid Betty and Mrs Rush, the daily woman. With many of the rooms locked up those that remain in use are literally disintegrating around the family, with wallpaper peeling and the rain finding holes to drip through the roof. Ultimately this is a character driven novel, set at a particular point in history and the tale that unfolds is disturbing in the extreme as small events become more frequent causing disquiet to spread to every nook and cranny of Hundreds Hall

As is her trademark the lives of all involved in this tale are detailed to the minutest degree, the only author I know who can make each action, gesture and speech add something to the story when put into the hands of many, would promote a grumble about filling rather than substance from me. Instead this author makes these small details add something, not only in terms of raising the tension, but telling us more than would appear about each one of the story-dwellers. The tension she promotes raises steadily right until the end, an ending that I didn’t suspect, but now I’ve read it was most fitting.

Whilst this isn’t my favourite of this author’s books, there was so much to enjoy in all those little details, although I was glad to be reading it in the bright sunshine, rather than on a gloomy winter’s evening.


Publication Date UK: 28 May 2009
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages: 499
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Promise – Alison Bruce

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction

What I want from a police procedural is a solid mystery and Alison Bruce came up with a plot for this, the sixth outing for Gary Goodhew in this mystery series based in Cambridge.

At the beginning of this book Gary Goodhew is still off sick after the events of the previous instalment and Susan Scully comes across something that she believes that Gary should be made aware of, but before she can decide how to break the news there is a murder! Ratty a well-known homeless man who Gary has used for information in the past has been murdered and now the team need to find out who he is and what the motive for his murder was.

I do like this series, the author has come up with a great cast of solid characters. The location is well-described and the secondary characters far more than cardboard cut-outs which all makes for a good background to the serious business of the investigation.

With Gary’s backstory being fleshed out and a bit of uncertainty with Marks due to retire imminently the book has the potential to be slightly confusing for those of us who haven’t read the entire series, but I found that despite only reading the first two books it worked well as a stand-alone even though I hadn’t kept up to date with everyone. This book really bought the homeless community in Cambridge to life so that I felt that the victim of the murder was intentionally chosen both by the fictional killer but more especially the author for a purpose.

We are also introduced to Kyle Davidson, a fairly new father as his life is beginning to unravel following his return from Afghanistan. With his wife spending levels high and her inability to put their son Harry at the centre of her life, and Kyle not being the same man he was before his latest tour of duty, I could only speculate how big the fall-out was likely to be. Kyle’s younger sister Leah was another great character, the author having realistically portrayed the life as a teenager without resorting to the tired clichés.

This was a solidly good read written at a good pace, not so fast that it is hard to keep up with all the action leaving no time to ponder on the clues left but neither were there plodding areas where you wonder when something is going to happen. Although nowhere near as brutal as some crime books, there were some descriptions that are best avoided if you are particularly squeamish but fortunately these weren’t dwelt upon for any more than necessary!

I am sorry that I have missed some of the books in this series and with this one seemingly pivotal in revealing much of Gary’s backstory, I’m not sure whether I will go back to read the missing episodes but I’m certainly well-motivated to read the future ones as I do enjoy the original yet not outlandishly so plots.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers, Little Brown Book Group UK who allowed me to read this book for which I have returned the favour by writing this review.

The Promise will be published on 4 February 2016

Previous books in the DC Gary Goodhew Series

Cambridge Blues
The Siren
The Calling
The Silence
The Backs

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Preserve the Dead – Brian McGilloway

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction

This book is the third in the Lucy Black series of which I read and enjoyed the first, Little Girl Lost. In fact I remember this one so well I was surprised to see that I actually read it early in 2011, so the fact I recall it so vividly is a mark of a good book indeed! I do seem to be reading an awful lot of Irish fiction this year but I have to say this is up there with the best of them!

In Preserve the Dead DS Lucy Black is living on her own in her father’s house while he is at the Gransha Hospital suffering with Alzheimer’s, she is in a relationship with Robbie but following an accident in the last book, which Lucy blames herself for, she is unsure whether this relationship is based on love or guilt.

When Lucy is called to pull a dead body out of the water it doesn’t take a pathologist to tell her that this body has already been embalmed, but who would organise a funeral and then dump the body? And so starts a series of interconnecting mysteries that kept me totally entertained throughout this book.

Although Lucy’s personal life features in Preserve the Dead there isn’t so much detail that it overshadows the crimes being investigated. As is often the case in a police procedural there are some tensions within the team, but these details are inserted with the lightest of touches, which makes for a much better reading experience than those writers who lay these issues on with a trowel, after all Brian McGilloway has far meatier subjects to delight us with including exploitation of the poor and domestic abuse – we really don’t need endless petty squabbles to pad this book out with! Although there is a relatively high body count, the murders aren’t depicted in a gruesome manner, so that the impression given is that this story is much more about the who and why than violence dressed up as entertainment.

Set in Derry, Ireland the author gives the reader enough details of the culture of the area, although this story or its detection isn’t dependent on this particular setting, that we get a feeling of the kind of community that our characters inhabit. And what a mixed bunch the characters are, ranging in age from childhood to old-age, from those who are flawed but do their best to help others to those that are downright rotten and plenty that fall somewhere in the middle. I find this eclectic mix of characters not only makes for a better reading experience, it is far easier to follow when the characters are distinct, but also gives a sense of authenticity to the storyline.
If all this talk of characters and style of writing leaves you wondering, yes the plot is fantastic, the mysteries are ingeniously tied together and solved in the main by good old-fashioned police work which is intensely satisfying.

I highly recommend this book and Brian McGilloway is definitely an Irish author that I will be reading more of especially if it features the strong but sensitive Lucy Black.

I’d like to thank the publishers Little Brown Book Group for allowing me to read a copy of this book which was published on 6 August 2015.