Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Murder Mile – Lynda La Plante

Crime Fiction
4*s

Jane Tennison has made it to a Detective Sergeant by the time Murder Mile begins, although being 1979 she is known as WDS just in case anybody should be any doubt that she is female. The widespread strikes that occurred in the ‘Winter of Discontent’ mean that rubbish is piling up in the streets and the rats are becoming brave. All is quiet on the night shift though until an unidentified woman is found dead, amidst the rubbish on the streets of Peckham, a less than desirable area of London.

I love this series which takes us back to Jane Tennison’s earliest years. The fairly well-to-do young woman who defied her mother to become a policewoman instead of making a desirable marriage always had the spark of the woman we know she became (through the TV series Prime Suspect) but she is raw, prone to thinking and talking far too much for her junior rank, and most crucially being female in what was very much a man’s world.

By 1979 she has been promoted and is fairly established, now the sexism is less overt, but not by any means eliminated but although these elements are not only present, but absolutely fascinating, fortunately the author has remembered that readers of crime fiction want a solid mystery to solve as well as enlightenment about the (relatively) recent social history.

So we have one dead body which despite some elementary mistakes made during securing the crime scene, is quickly promoted to a murder. With Jane forgoing sleep to secure herself a place on the investigation team she follows a lead. Where it takes her has trouble written all over it in very large letters. Alluding to interference from the Masons many of whom she knows to be in the police force, has Jane learnt how to hold her tongue at the right time.

There have recently been a few debates on crime fiction series in the book blogger world, and here we have an acclaimed writer making the most of the form by using it to develop her character. This character development is all the more believable because we know the finished article so to speak.

Having started with a fairly meek young woman, by this, book four in the series we have a far more firm and decisive woman, one who is no longer so easily put off her stride by her peers and is learning that no matter how brilliant her deductive skills, policework depends on an entire team. That tightrope is now being walked a little more carefully by the young detective.

Great characters can only take us so far in crime fiction though and of course in the hands of such an assured writer as Lynda La Plante the reader is guaranteed a solid plot, fairly told with enough red herrings to keep those brain cells ticking over and evaluating the facts while the clues unfold at a pace that feels natural to the background investigation. In fact, everything I look for in my crime fiction.

I’d like to thank the publishers Bonnier Zaffre for allowing me to read an advance review copy of Murder Mile which will be published on 23 August 2018. Not a book to be missed for those who enjoy a trip back to the past alongside good quality crime fiction.

First Published UK: 23 August 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books in the Tennison Series

Tennison: Prime Suspect 1973
Hidden Killers
Good Friday

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (August 14)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week my choice of opening comes from Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante which is the fourth in the series of books that takes us back to Jane Tennison’s life in the 1970s, that is before Prime Suspect.

Blurb

February, 1979, ‘The Winter of Discontent’. Economic chaos has led to widespread strikes across Britain.

Jane Tennison, now a Detective Sergeant, has been posted to Peckham CID, one of London’s toughest areas. As the rubbish on the streets begins to pile up, so does the murder count: two bodies in as many days.

There are no suspects and the manner of death is different in each case. The only link between the two victims is the location of the bodies, found within a short distance of each other near Rye Lane in Peckham. Three days later another murder occurs in the same area. Press headlines scream that a serial killer is loose on ‘Murder Mile’ and that police incompetence is hampering the investigation.

Jane is under immense pressure to catch the killer before they strike again.Working long hours with little sleep, what she uncovers leaves her doubting her own mind. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

CHAPTER ONE

Jane Tennison, recently promoted to sergeant, looked out of the passenger window of the CID car at the snow which was falling too lightly to settle. It was 4.30 on a freezing Saturday morning in mid-February 1979 and recently the overnight temperatures had been sub-zero. The weather reports were calling it one of the coldest winters of the century.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now I’ll grant you that isn’t the most exciting of opening paragraphs but I think that there are some authors who can write about the most mundane of subjects, and us British are famed for our endless conversations about the weather after all, and yet somehow I feel I’m going to be put under the author’s spell. Although coming relatively (ok, really) late to her writing, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style in Good Friday, the second in the series and I love the 1970s setting.

Well what do you think, would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 11)

Well the daffodils are out here in Jersey just in time for Mothering Sunday and in celebration I have been planting my sunflower seeds in the hope of getting more than the one plant I managed last year.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with my review of Bring Me Back the latest psychological thriller by B.A. Paris which was published on 8 March 2018.

My excerpt post this week came from one of my Classic Club reads, The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin.

This Week in Books featured the authors Kit de Waal, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Hore.

My second review of the week was also for a psychological thriller; Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh, a superbly plotted tale that had plenty of surprises along the way.

Friday’s review took me back to the 1970s with the very first book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, A Clubbable Woman written by the hugely talented Reginald Hill. Whilst the attitudes of the day didn’t really work for me, I am very glad I met this pair who are in my favourite of all crime fiction series.

My week was rounded off with the results of The Classic Club Spin sending me back to 1862 with Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir which was the first in a new series by this Icelandic writer. I have to say a year on, I haven’t got the murder scenes out of my mind, so unusual and vivid was the description this isn’t a book to read if you prefer your fiction towards the cosy end of crime fiction. The Legacy is in part the story about three young siblings that are to be adopted following the murder of their mother. Despite the initial scenes this isn’t a book where there is blood and gore on each page, instead I discovered a well-written book with a rich and complex plot with plenty of strands that kept me in its thrall.

The Reckoning, the second in the series, will be published on 3 May 2018.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

Detective Huldar is out of his depth. His first murder case is like nothing he’s seen before – a bizarre attack on a seemingly blameless woman.

The only evidence is a list of numbers found at the scene, and the testimony of the victim’s eleven-year-old daughter, who isn’t talking.

While his team attempt to crack the code, Huldar turns to child psychologist Freyja for her expertise with traumatised young people.

Because time is running out…and the one thing they know for certain is that the murderer will strike again. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I have just one NetGalley find this week, from one of those authors that have added to my shelves over a number of years, Dorothy Koomson whose latest novel The Brighton Mermaid will be published on 17 May 2018.

 

Blurb

Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you NetGalley

I also visited my library and picked up a couple of books – in all honesty, I’m not quite sure why as I have eight review books to read before the 5 April and probably won’t have time to get to either of them but I may find the secret to expand time before they are due back.

Tennison by Lynda La Plante which is the start of the series that goes back to the 1970s when Tennison was setting out as a new constable. I actually watched the TV adaption and read the third in the series, Good Friday last year and I was so impressed I wanted to read them all.

Blurb

From the creator of the award-winning ITV series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the fascinating back story of the iconic DCI Jane Tennison.

In 1973 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case. Amazon

I was also delighted to find A Spot of Folly by Ruth Rendell a selection of ten and a quarter stories of murder and mayhem which was published in October 2017. I was a big Ruth Rendell fan so I’m looking forward to reading these previously unpublished short stories.

Blurb

New and uncollected tales of murder, mischief, magic and madness.

Ruth Rendell was an acknowledged master of psychological suspense: these are ten (and a quarter) of her most chillingly compelling short stories, collected here together for the first time.

In these tales, a businessman boasts about cheating on his wife, only to find the tables turned. A beautiful country rectory reverberates to the echo of a historical murder. A compulsive liar acts on impulse, only to be lead inexorably to disaster. And a wealthy man finds there is more to his wife’s kidnapping than meets the eye.
Atmospheric, gripping and never predictable, this is Ruth Rendell at her inimitable best.

The stories are: Never Sleep in a Bed Facing a Mirror; A Spot of Folly; The Price of Joy; The Irony of Hate; Digby’s Wives; The Haunting of Shawley Rectory; A Drop Too Much; The Thief; The Long Corridor of Time; In the Time of his Prosperity; and Trebuchet. Amazon

Do any of these take your fancy? What have you added to your bookshelf?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 4 books and since I have gained only 1 my TBR has fallen, not as much as it might seem if you read last week’s post, where the maths was out, but hey, the total is now 187
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 54
NetGalley Books –21

I have banked another third of a book token this week but nor have I bought any books, so I’m still 2 2/3 books in credit!

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

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 23)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well the last time I posted a weekly wrap up was 11 June 2017 and I want to thank all of you for bearing with you through my erratic posting. The brief story is that I went on holiday to Kos where I planned a funeral for Mum, we returned to Jersey following the funeral in the UK. Meanwhile my partner’s father was admitted to hospital in Spain where he lives and subsequently intensive care so I ended up making an unscheduled dash there; happily he is very slowly recovering and I am now home again.

My sunflower went to stay with my daughter & son-in-law in their new home, she moved out of our home the weekend before we departed for Kos and once more I have an empty nest! What we hadn’t considered that it would grow so much that we couldn’t get it in the car to bring it home so I now have visiting rights. The new home has a new addition to the family, Bertie the rescue cat who can be seen here with my fabulous sunflower!

Bertie and the Sunflower

This Week on the Blog

Wednesday featured an author post by Chris Curran entitled Ideas and Where They Come From. Chris Curran’s latest book Her Deadly Secret was published on 21 July 2017.
As you can imagine my reading over the last six weeks or so has been somewhat erratic but I but I have read a fair few books so the week ended with a run of three reviews from my backlog…

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen
Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane by Paul Thomas Murphy a non-fiction book about the historical true crime committed against Jane Coulson in 1871 in Greenwich, London. The author’s expert research uncovers not only the details of the crime but that of the subsequent trial including contemporary news reports. With a conclusion that you may or may not agree with this book paints a vivid picture of the life and times of victim and perpetrator.

You can read my full review here or by clicking on the book cover

Blurb

In April 1871, a constable walking a beat near Greenwich found a girl dying in the mud – her face cruelly slashed and her brains protruding from her skull.

The girl was Maria Jane Clouson, a maid for the respectable Pook family, and who was pregnant at the time of her death. When the blood-spattered clothes of the 20-year-old Edmund Pook, alleged father of the dead girl’s unborn child, were discovered, the matter seemed open and shut. Yet there followed a remarkable legal odyssey full of unexpected twists as the police struggled to build a case.

Paul Thomas Murphy recreated the drama of an extraordinary murder case and conclusively identifies the killer’s true identity. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

So despite not being at home very much at all some books have still managed to find there way into my house – I am sharing a small selection here!

From NetGalley I was lucky enough to be approved for Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict which will be published in January 2018.

Blurb

In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances.  Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady’s maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie.  Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie’s search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy.

With capturing insight and sunning heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist.  NetGalley

I also was delighted with my copy of Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre after being blown away by Blood Wedding which I read last year. Three Days and a Life was published on 13 July 2017.

Blurb

In 1999, in the small provincial town of Beauval, France, twelve-year-old Antoine Courtin accidentally kills a young neighbour boy in the woods near his home. Panicked, he conceals the body and to his relief–and ongoing shame–he is never suspected of any connection to the child’s disappearance.
But the boy’s death continues to haunt him, shaping his life in unseen ways. More than a decade later, Antoine is living in Paris, now a young doctor with a fiancée and a promising future. On a rare trip home to the town he hates and fears, Antoine thoughtlessly sleeps with a beautiful young woman from his past. She shows up pregnant at his doorstep in Paris a few months later, insisting that they marry, but Antoine refuses.

Meanwhile, the newly discovered body of Antoine’s childhood victim means that the case has been reopened, and all of his old fears rush back. Then the young woman’s father threatens Antoine with a paternity test–which would almost certainly match the DNA found on the dead child’s body. Will Antoine finally be forced to confront his crime? And what is he prepared to do to keep his secrets buried in the past? NetGalley

I received a copy of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood earlier this month for my birthday – the present giver cleverly knowing that I haven’t ever got around to reading this book since publication in 2009. As this is going to be a Netflix series soon I can now avoid the shame of confessing I haven’t read it every time someone asks!

Blurb

Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.’ Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim? Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery. Amazon

I was thrilled to receive a copy of the winner of Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller launched by Bonnier Zaffre – Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear was published on 29 June 2017.

Blurb

WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone? Amazon

And most recently I received a copy of Good Friday by Lynda La Plante which is the third book in the Tennison series, the first having recently shown on TV under the name Prime Suspect which I thoroughly enjoyed. Good Friday will be published on 24 August 2017.

Blurb

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not.

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation.

‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force? Amazon

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read loads of books and it would appear gained even more!! The spreadsheet is out of control but my best guess at the current figures is:

Physical Books – 103
Kindle Books – 59
NetGalley Books – 15
The current total is therefore 177