Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Thirteenth Coffin – Nigel McCrery

Crime Fiction 3*s
Crime Fiction
3*s

Flicking through NetGalley as I do on a far too regular basis I came across The Thirteenth Coffin, recognising the author’s name from the excellent non-fiction Silent Witnesses, an engaging read on the history of forensics, that I read a couple of years ago, I decided to try this fiction novel, the fourth featuring DCI Mark Lapslie.

Nothing whets my appetite when it comes to serial killers than one that has a novel method, motivation or detective. This book seemed to fit the bill, the police realise they may have a serial killer on their hands when on investigating the death of a tramp in an old disused Cold War Bunker the police find twelve coffins and twelve dolls – some of the dolls are in the coffin but not all. The dolls, made of papier-mache with wax heads seem to represent jobs or hobbies so there are among others a fireman, a teacher, a bride, a general and a nurse. It looks like someone wants twelve people dead. And then a bride is shot on her wedding day…

The investigation is underway by DCI Lapslie and his team which includes Emma Bradbury as they try to find a link between the victims past and present – the reader gets some insight from details about those who died earlier in excerpts that are given throughout the book. As a twist on the drunk and miserable detective Mark Lapslie is a man suffering from synaesthesia (the rare neurological condition that causes his brain to crosswire his senses), something which was initially interesting but I’m afraid I found the descriptions of voices as tastes and the logistics of communicating with his team broke the story up without adding a great deal in return.

The plotting was superb, I really liked the way the author took his inspiration from the mini coffins found at Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh during the 19th century and used it to create a story which had a more credible than most motive for murder, one where for once all the victims weren’t beautiful young women. Unusually I cottoned onto this motive fairly early on in the book which took away some of the admiration of the detective’s deductive skills but there was still plenty of drama to keep me going until the end especially as that was only one piece of the jigsaw that needed completing.

I think this would make a great crime drama for TV; Nigel McCrery has written for many crime series on TV including Silent Witness and New Tricks but I’m not convinced that the protagonist translates as well onto the page, the sights and sounds would be much more effective with some dramatic music and other visual special effects with a spooky voice-over than being told that this man’s voice tastes like petrol or this person ’has a voice like soothing chamomile tea with honey’ An enjoyable enough crime thriller which despite the high body count didn’t have me wincing at endless descriptions of unnecessary violence but sadly not one that had me on the edge of my seat either.

The Thirteenth Coffin will be published on 31 December 2015 by Quercus books who were kind enough to allow me to read this book in return for my honest opinion.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 23)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading The Thirteenth Coffin by Nigel McCrery

The Thirteenth Coffin

Blurb

Stretching along the shelf, standing upright, were twelve wooden coffins. Nine were closed, and three open . . . with little dolls standing inside them . . .
It was supposed to be the most special day of her life – until the unthinkable happened. Leslie Petersen is shot dead on her wedding day. With the bride’s killer vanished without a trace, the investigation into the murder grinds to a halt before it’s even begun. But then, the decomposing body of an unidentified homeless man is found in an old Cold War bunker, and DCI Mark Lapslie makes a bizarre discovery. Hidden near the body is a shrine full of miniature wooden coffins. Each coffin contains a little doll, all dressed differently. One of the dolls is dressed as a bride – could this be a link to Leslie’s murder? And if so, who do the other dolls represent? Can Lapslie and his team stop the countdown of the ‘dying dolls’ before it’s too late? NetGalley

I have recently finished The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith which is a mystery told through the eyes of a female reporter.

The Jazz Files

You can read the synopsis and a taster from this book in yesterday’s post

Next up I plan on reading The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed… NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (November 1)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

A day late, but as (surprisingly) I have a few books that have been added to my shelves, I thought I’d share them with you.

To read in November, I have The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas. Last year I enjoyed Your Beautiful Lies by this author and have my fingers crossed that this one will be equally good.

The Secret by the Lake

Blurb

A FAMILY TRAGEDY
Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.
A SISTER’S SECRET
But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.
A WEB OF LIES
Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves? NetGalley

December reading includes The Thirteenth Coffin by Nigel McCrery, the creator of Silent Witness. I haven’t read the earlier books in this series but I did enjoy Silent Witnesses his non-fiction book the history of forensic science.

The Thirteenth Coffin

Blurb

Stretching along the shelf, standing upright, were twelve wooden coffins. Nine were closed, and three open . . . with little dolls standing inside them . . .
It was supposed to be the most special day of her life – until the unthinkable happened. Leslie Petersen is shot dead on her wedding day. With the bride’s killer vanished without a trace, the investigation into the murder grinds to a halt before it’s even begun. But then, the decomposing body of an unidentified homeless man is found in an old Cold War bunker, and DCI Mark Lapslie makes a bizarre discovery. Hidden near the body is a shrine full of miniature wooden coffins. Each coffin contains a little doll, all dressed differently. One of the dolls is dressed as a bride – could this be a link to Leslie’s murder? And if so, who do the other dolls represent? Can Lapslie and his team stop the countdown of the ‘dying dolls’ before it’s too late? NetGalley

And for January I have a copy of Dead Pretty by David Mark, the fifth in the Aector McAvoy series.

Dead Pretty

Blurb

Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days.
One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done.
But some people have their own ideas of what justice means… NetGalley

I also have a copy of the Murder on the Common by Keith Pedder which my brother has been urging me to read for quite some time, this is the true story of the murder trial where the chief suspect Colin Stagg was found not guilty. Written before he was acquitted and the real murderer discovered, this is Keith Pedder’s justification of the methods used to put Colin Stagg on trial.

Murder on the Common

Blurb

No one could have imagined that when beautiful young Rachel Nickell went for a walk on Wimbledon Common with her little son, it would have resulted in a wicked, sickening crime that appalled a nation; or that the police investigation that followed would cost millions of dollars. This is the inside story of that operation by the police detective that headed it up. It reveals information that has hitherto been withheld, and spectacularly prints letters from the police involved in the operation to the chief suspect that will astonish the reader and bring the details of this terrible case right back into the public eye. Goodreads

I have a copy of The House of Memories by Monica McInerney, author of Hello from the Gillespies

The House of Memories

Blurb

Sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are those that matter most.
Following a tragic accident, Ella O’Hanlon flees to the other side of the world in an attempt to escape her grief, leaving behind the two people she blames for her loss: Aidan, the love of her life, and Jess, her spoilt half-sister.
In London Ella is taken in by her beloved uncle Lucas, whose extraordinary house holds many wonderful memories for her. Along with other members of the very colourful Fox family, Lucas helps Ella to see that she is not the only one still hurting, and that forgiveness can be the greatest healer in a family and in a marriage.
For anyone who has ever loved and lost, this is an exquisitely moving and life-affirming novel by the internationally bestselling author of Lola’s Secret. Goodreads

Lastly, my pre-order of The Lake House by Kate Morton finally arrived!

The Lake House

Blurb

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read. Goodreads

What have you found to read this week?

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

Silent Witnesses – Nigel McCrery

Non-Fiction 5*'s
Non-Fiction
5*’s

So another cold and rainy Sunday afternoon has given me the perfect opportunity to finish this interesting and highly readable book about A History of Forensic Science.

Nigel McCrery created Silent Witness, which aired on the BBC featuring a team of forensic pathologists, as well as the more light-hearted New Tricks, this time about retired policemen solving cold crimes (this series was a must-watch in my household!) The author started his working life as a police officer in Nottinghamshire and towards the end of this book he uses one of the cases he worked on to show how DNA profiling can be successful many years after a murder.

In his introduction the author launches straight in with details of a murder of a young girl with illustrations of how forensics can rule someone out as a suspect, as well as pointing justice in the direction of a perpetrator.

This book goes right back to the early forensics. It must be remembered that identifying someone from their corpse is probably not the easiest task! ‘Always remember you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.’ Margaret Mead US anthropologist (1901-1978) Although arranged in order of chronological developments in real life some of the techniques overlap before the scientists come to an agreement of the best method.
Each chapter of the book not only details the advances in forensic science but also gives examples of how these discoveries were used in evidence in court. There is much to digest in this book but it is all presented in such a way that you don’t need any specialist knowledge to understand. I even kept track during the chapter on ballistics and for the first time understood how bullets can be tracked back to a particular gun.

Personally, my favourite chapter was on poisons ‘after all, they were an extremely convenient way of ridding yourself of an enemy whilst avoiding detection.’ Often used by women it took scientists much trial and error before they came up with conclusive proof that could be laid before a jury.  The chapter on poisons also features quite recent crimes including the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

A must read for anyone who would like an accessible insight into the work of forensic scientists through the ages.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (October 30)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading two books which is very unusual for me. My fiction book is Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer click the cover to see my Teaser from yesterday,

Rubbernecker

and Silent Witnesses by Nigel McCrery is my non-fiction read.  This is a fascinating look, using actual cases at the progress of forensic science over the last couple of centuries.

silent-witnesses-e1380048898301

Blurb

Silent Witnesses looks at the history of forensic science over the last two centuries, during which time a combination of remarkable intuition, painstaking observation and leaps in scientific knowledge have developed this fascinating branch of detection. Throwing open the casebook, it introduces us to such luminaries as ‘The Wizard of Berkeley’ Edward Heinrich, who is credited with having solved over 2000 crimes, and Alphonse Bertillon, the French scientist whose guiding principle ‘no two individuals share the same characteristics’ became the core of identification. Along the way, it takes us to India and Australia, Columbia and China, Russia, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. And it proves that, in order to solve ever more complicated cases, science must always stay one step ahead of the killer. Amazon

I have just finished Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk by Stephen Kaminski, a great cosy mystery which caught my eye because of the great play on words in the title. Click on the cover to read my review.

Don't Cry Over Killed Milk

I plan to read The Moment Keeper by Buffy Andrews next which is due to be published on 1 November 2013 by Carina

The Moment Keeper

Blurb

Our lives are often connected in ways we never would have imagined…
Two babies; two very different upbringings.
First there is Sarah: raised by her loving grandmother, but neglected by her own father who views her as the instrument of her mother’s death. She will lead a hard life, searching to belong and to be loved.
Then there is Olivia, surrounded by love, nurtured and adored by her parents, a golden child with a golden future.
When Sarah’s life is cut tragically short and she is assigned to record the moments of Olivia’s life as her Moment Keeper, their lives become intertwined.
Sarah is able to overcome the heartbreak of her own lost years and Olivia is able to deal with a future that isn’t nearly as golden as what she had planned – or is it? Amazon

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (October 23)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk by Stephen Kaminski

Don't Cry Over Killed Milk

I’ve not long started this one but it’s grabbed my attention, and who can’t fall in love with the play on words?

The latest offering in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery series from the winner of the 2012 Reader Views Literary Award (Mid-Atlantic region).

Jeremiah Milk lived a life filled with emotional extremes. Amniotic band syndrome—a congenital condition—left his fingers and toes malformed. Ridiculed as a child, he became an adolescent hermit. As an adult, Jeremiah’s wounds healed when he landed a position as a park ranger and married a woman who loved him despite his physical appearance. But fate ripped his life to shreds when his wife and infant son died on the same night in separate calamities. Shortly thereafter, the tides turned once more as an act of Jeremiah’s ostensible benevolence translates into a financial boon. The book on Jeremiah’s life closes without mercy when he’s found murdered at Tripping Falls State Park.

Damon Lassard—Hollydale’s loveable civic leader, amateur sleuth, and Jeremiah’s neighbor—springs into action. He’s obstructed by a prickly lieutenant, but wriggles information unknown to the police from a colorful bevy of suspects. Aided by his best friend Rebecca and his reluctant ally Detective Gerry Sloman, Damon engineers a deep dive into Jeremiah’s past to solve the crime. Along the way, Damon strengthens his relationship with the breathtaking Bethany Krims, cracks a local horticultural mystery, and tries in vain to tame his wickedly sarcastic mother.

I’ve just finished Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Under A Silent Moon

I managed more than a few minutes reading time and got into it for the ending which was seriously scary. I’d love to say my review will be up later but still have books from my holiday to review so may be a few days yet. Click on the cover to go to Goodreads.

My next read is going to be Silent Witnesses by Nigel McCrery

silent-witnesses-e1380048898301

This arrived while I was away and after Fiction Fan’s review I can’t wait to read all about the history of forensics