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

Something to Live For – Richard Roper

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

I often find that the books that I remember the most are not those that come from my ‘favourite’ genres of crime and psychological thrillers, but from other genres. I’m not sure where you shelve uplifting and life-affirming reads but Something to Live For is first and foremost in the category for 2019.

Andrew works for the council where one of his duties is to trace the relatives of those who have died with no known family. Anyone who has worked in an office will recognise some elements of Andrew’s work, especially the absurdity of his manager Cameron. Cameron was both arguably the cause of the misunderstanding around the existence of Andrew’s family and his panic over the exposure of the actual non-existence of the carefully crafted wife and two children. So far so amusing around a man who is so sad he has invented a make-believe family, but intriguingly this is a springboard to a story far broader, and deeper than the one you might be expecting.

One day a new employee arrives, Peggy Green and rolls up her sleeves, literally, to help Andrew search through the debris of some poor deceased man’s home to find links to family. Having warded off some chancer on the doorstep, and searched meticulously it appears that the man will have a ‘pauper’s funeral’ i.e. one only attended by the vicar and Andrew who does so out of the wish that someone witnessed the event. Peggy however is the catalyst for Andrew to look at the realities of his life. Meanwhile Cameron is pushing ahead with his plans to get the team to bond via a Come Dine with Me series of evenings – obviously Andrew with his make-believe life is going to run into problems but let’s face it many of us shudder at the mere thought of being forced to bond with our colleagues, especially in our own time!

This is a book that starts off as being mildly entertaining and then slowly creeps up on you and steals your heart. Partly that’s because it truly does take you through the range of emotions, and perhaps these feel a bit more authentic because they are from a man’s point of view which arguably isn’t as overworked as the female perspective in this type of book. Another plus is Andrew is just an average man; he has no disability physical or mental, his love of model trains is not dressed up as something anything other than it is and I for one found that incredibly refreshing. This could be a classified as a book about loneliness, and it is one of those books that makes you reflect and consider how easily that someone can come adrift from society but it is also about the essential goodness of people, something I think has been delivered in a timely manner when all around us seems to be endless news about the harm people do to each other.

I was extremely grateful to receive an advance copy of Something to Live For from the publishers Orion Publishing Group ahead of publication date of today! This unbiased review is my thanks to them, and the author Richard Roper for an entertaining yet thoughtful story which reflects a part of life that we prefer not to see!

First Published UK: 27 June  2019
Publisher: Orion
No. of Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Only a Mother – Elisabeth Carpenter

Psychological Thriller
4*s

It is rare that a book tackles what happens after a murderer has been convicted. I don’t mean so much what is life like in prison for the perpetrator but what happens to the relatives, both those of the victim and those connected by blood to the killer.

Only a Mother really examines the aftermath of a crime and the ripples that it causes years after the murder was committed. Craig Wright was convicted of the murder of an eighteen year old girl when he was twenty and has been in prison for seventeen years, his mother has been in her own prison for the same amount of time, convinced of her son’s innocence she is now ready to welcome him home. Home is Preston and the locals have long memories and are an unforgiving bunch. Erica, his mother, is shunned in her home town, she travels to the next town to go shopping to avoid the stares, the taunts and attracting unwanted attention.

Luke is a reporter on the local newspaper, he is mentoring a youngster and is updating the locals on Craig’s impending release. Luke is at that point in his life when he feels the best is behind him and he’s following some diet with ‘points’ that makes him hungry! He’s thrilled when his article attracts lots of angry and sad faces, he’s getting recognition he hasn’t had for years.

Which neatly leads onto one key winner as far as I’m concerned is that this book is clearly written in the here and now. Erica has been on a prisoner’s family forum for so many years she’s become a moderator. Luke neatly gives his views on the millennials from his lofty middle-age and cleverly mimics the change in language of headlines over the years (we move to someone being spared jail in the early noughties to the more recent screaming headline ‘criminal caged for assault!’)

This is a tense book as despite the crime being firmly in the past, it hasn’t stayed there. In part because there was another murder very close in time to the one Craig was convicted of but he wasn’t charged as he had a watertight alibi. It is this fact that has Erica clinging to his innocence and perhaps the same that means the locals feel he has got away with another murder. Either way from a reader’s perspective, it is hard to warm to Craig although I did find myself having more sympathy for Erica. The book raises that dilemma – what would you do? At what point do you turn your back on your own flesh and blood? That’s not to say Erica doesn’t have her doubts when the fully grown large man is back under her roof and then another girl goes missing!

I found myself drawn into the small group of characters, the intensity of everyone searching for the truth but unsure where to find it. Erica’s furtive posting on the forum seeking the reassurance from her friends there that she is doing the right thing and of course she reflects, as mothers are wont to do, on the past – right back to the birth and what she could have done differently.

This was an insightful book that shone a light on a relatively neglected aspect of crime, the hurt that doesn’t fade and the need of some people to believe that all is not quite as it seems.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Random House UK for giving me a copy of Only a Mother ahead of publication on 27 December 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author for such a thought-provoking read.

First Published UK: 27 December 2018
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

To Catch a Killer – Emma Kavanagh

Crime Fiction
5*s

Emma Kavanagh manages to write crime fiction almost in the tone of someone who has experienced the very events herself. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising given her background as she spent many years working as a police and military psychologist, training firearms officers, command staff and military personnel throughout the UK and Europe. In other words she knows how people behave in moments of peril!

To Catch a Killer opens in the middle of just such a moment, the kind of moment that I suspect I am alone in being able to thankfully say, I have not experienced in real life. Just as well because the book scared the bejeebers out of me! The memory of a day, one just like any other until the day DS Alice Parr answered a call on the radio to assist a paramedic save the life of a woman who had her throat cut. Warning, do not read this book if you are squeamish or eating your dinner, that feeling of being in the moment results in those heart-thumping moments you get viewing hospital dramas – you know it is fiction but even so…

Once the victim has been taken to hospital of course the police have to work out who the perpetrator of such a crime is and given that the attack took place in a London park, in the morning, how could they commit such a bloody crime in broad daylight with no one spotting what was going on?

So the reader has plenty to ponder and be warned although initially you may feel the pace is reasonable, it soon becomes quite fast and furious and given that the plot is complex, you need your wits about you. In other words this is a book to set aside some time to really get the best out of it. Fortunately to offset the blood and gore we have two female police officers who work well together, Polly’s somewhat less serious nature while not detracting from the crime does give the reader some smiles to lighten the load along the way.

We also get to visit another location, unusual in British crime fiction which normally tends to stay fairly close to home with a big deal being made if officers cross into the next county. In this book they have to get on an airplane to carry out some of the investigating which adds a whole different feel to the storyline.

The result of all this is an immensely satisfying crime fiction novel that really held my interest throughout and although I did manage to work out a tiny bit of the puzzle, the rest worked their magic and left me reeling at the outcome. This is the first in a trilogy that will feature Alice Parr a fact I was unaware of until I read the cliff hanger at the end which I have to confess isn’t my favourite way for a book to end as I suspect I will have to recap before the second book is published, but I will definitely be making sure I read a copy.

I therefore must say a huge thank you to Orion Publishing Group for allowing me to read a copy of To Catch a Killer prior to publication on 24 January 2019. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 24 January 2019
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Great Reads by Emma Kavanagh

Falling
Hidden
The Missing Hours
Killer on the Wall

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Peacock Summer – Hannah Richell

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

An old lady, an older house and peacocks! That alone was tantalising enough for me want to know more, and just look at that stunning cover! So I’m delighted to say this story didn’t disappoint at all, in fact it took me off to a mysterious manor with secrets at its heart.

Maggie is summoned back to her sojourn in Australia to the news that her Grandmother Lillian Oberon has been admitted to hospital. Seeing her beloved Grandmother, the woman who has raised her since she was tiny, begging to be allowed to spend the rest of her days at Cloudesley, her home in the Chiltern Hills, Maggie resolves to be on hand. No matter that what happened before her flight to Australia has made her something of a person non grata in the village of Cloud Green. She’s shocked to find a house has deteriorated further in her absence and is now in dire need of some monetary input, money it appears that simply isn’t available. But a promise is a promise…

As Lillian recovers back at home her mind continually returns to memories of the year 1955 when as a young bride she was dealing with the night terrors, and worse, that her husband Charles suffered with. The entrance of a young artist Jack Fincher brings colour into her life as he spends the summer turning the old nursery into a jewellery box of a room with his Trompe-l’œil designed to show off the treasures of Cloudesley to their best advantage.

For some reason the start to my summer reading has involved quite a few books detailing domestic violence of various degrees and in various time periods and this belongs firmly in that bracket. Lillian is a second wife who believes, or is made to believe that she is inferior to the first. Charles has rages bought on perhaps by the war but Lillian, as is commonly the case, is trapped. Even though by this time divorce was possible Lillian feels compelled to look after Albie, Charles’s son and to ensure that the private care given to her sister is continued. It isn’t always fear that keep those binds so tight. This aspect gives what could otherwise be considered a light read, a darker edge and pleasingly a different angle to this dual time-line read (something that I think makes for the perfect escape to the past whilst keeping the present in focus.)

Maggie’s story whilst more recognisable in many aspects also touches on the darker side. Albie her father has been inconsistent and there is that shadowy event that hasn’t been forgotten, least of all by her.

Not only is this an original tale, full of splendour and visual effects, it is also peopled by those characters that you wish you could meet in real-life. I admired Lillian, wanted to see Jack’s creations and had a certain amount of respect of Maggie’s determination. This is a book where you feel the plotting has been meticulously carried out with none of false tension created by devices clearly planted to spin the mystery out. Yes, I know these are often necessary but it is lovely not to be jolted away from the story with them planted conveniently at the end of each chapter.

I can’t leave this review without admiring the ending, more than that I can’t say without spoiling the book for other readers…

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Orion who allowed me to read an advance copy of The Peacock Summer. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the hugely talented Hannah Richell.

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

 

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

Cry for Help – Steve Mosby

Crime Fiction
4*s

A woman’s body is found. She hasn’t been stabbed or shot, instead she has been tied up and left to die of dehydration. Somehow seems far more brutal, and what on earth is the motive?

Dave Lewis is a man with plenty of baggage, his brother died as a child and his parents were consumed with grief. He works a magician and denounces those mediums who he feels preys on those like his parents, desperate to have some contact with their loved ones. Dave narrates his part of this story in the first person and we soon learn that tragically one of victims is known to him. He’s consumed with guilt that he didn’t try to find out how she was. How in this day and age where we are connected electronically to each other can people in your life fade so quickly into the background?

The detective is Sam Currie who has his own baggage to deal with. He has to put all of that to one side though and try and work out who the killer is and what they are trying to achieve. When a woman gets in contact pointing the finger at a suspect, he follows the lead, but is it the right one?

With the bulk of the book told from the third person covering the investigation and the other aspects to the case, it is fair to say this is a complex, and dark story. This multi-threaded story has a reoccurring theme of responsibility. Obviously our detective has responsibility for finding the killer, particularly one as twisted as this individual seems to be. But was Dave responsible for the death of his brother? Is it really up to him to stop the charlatans profiting from the grief-stricken, or should he allow those who want to believe so desperately to find solace where they can? On the much broader note, are we as a society less connected to each other than we were before the massive advancement of technology. Perhaps actually seeing your friends with your own eyes is more reliable than receiving a text message and assuming all is well. What happens though if that message isn’t sent by your friend and actually they are far from well? How do we know? This theme is meticulously carried through the book, and I do like books that make me reflect in this type of way.

That’s not to say Cry for Help isn’t a satisfying crime fiction novel in its own right, it is with plenty of action, twists and turns and red-herrings and expert plotting to hold this reader’s attention. I have to admit it did take me a while to settle into the style and work out what on earth is happening. I’m not particularly squeamish normally but I did find the descriptions of the girl’s deaths disturbing to say the least. I’m not always entirely sure where the line is between being inventive and going too far but I’d say this was on that very line!

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, the first being Black Flowers, another disturbing and memorable read and I bought Cry for Help after reading that one back in 2011. So you’ve guessed it, this is also a read for my Mount TBR Challenge 2018 being the 20th book I’ve read since 1 January 2018 from my own bookshelves purchased before 31 December 2017.

First Published UK: 2008
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 288
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Greatest Hits – Laura Barnett

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Every now and again a book comes along that wows you with its richness; Greatest Hits is one such novel. There can’t be many people who don’t have a soundtrack to their lives, those songs that were the background to early years, the songs we fell in love to and those that we obsessively listened to as we attempt to mend wounded hearts; for many of us there is a tune that can turn back the years to a distant time and place. Laura Barnett has taken this idea and turned it into a densely woven story.

Cass Wheeler is a singer songwriter and Greatest Hits is the story of her life, exploring through her own lyrics the key events in her life from the earliest days with her decidedly less than maternal mother Margaret and her father, the local vicar Francis, who would read to her from adult books to sooth her to the woman she is now, reflecting on her years of silence, having turned her back on music. For Cass there were no songs left to write and no music to fill her days.

Greatest Hits is supported by a wonderful cast of characters who in turn support Cass through her life, most notably Aunt Lily and her assistant Kim. With any book spanning decades the links to the past are most important and in true reflection of real life we also see that some people are in our lives for brief amounts of time, but nonetheless have a huge impact as was the case with her childhood friend, Irene, and perhaps more importantly Irene’s mother who provided the mothering that was bereft from her own life. All of these different yet vivid characters provide the supporting acts to Cass’s story.

Each of the sixteen long chapters are headed up with one of the titles of the songs that Cass is compiling of the music that reflects her life. Below the title we have some lyrics from the songs as well as the fictional release date and other recording details. We therefore dive back to the early days and those memories, whilst in the present we have some clues as to the tragedy that struck Cass and led to her disappearing from her successful music career at its height in the 1970s to the withdrawing from life as well as music in the early 2000s. This layering of a story is exceptionally well done and Laura Barnett weaves the past and the present convincingly with the brightness of the triumphs with the depths of despair not forgetting those more mundane or mixed emotions which all of us experience.

Despite not being a famous singer, and not having spent my life penning songs or living in the lap of luxury and only being born as Cass was releasing her early music, Cass’s life felt like one I could have been part of, so evocative were the descriptions and so rich in both characters and writing style. This is a book to wallow in with a story that transports its reader to a time and place far away. For those who really want to get the full experience a soundtrack is being produced with Kathryn Williams performing the songs contained within the book to be released in conjunction with this novel. But even without the added interactive element Greatest Hits is in my opinion a triumphant second book to follow up to  The Versions of Us which I also adored.

I’d like to thank the publisher Orion Publishing Group for allowing me to read an advance copy of Greatest Hits ahead of publication on 15 June 2017. This honest review is my thanks to them and the talented Laura Barnett for a fabulous read.

First Published UK: 15 June 2017
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
No of Pages: 464
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Tattletale – Sarah J Naughton

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

I love unusual settings in books and this one was stunning. Set in a renovated church which has been altered and now houses vulnerable or adults in need, the stained glass windows divided between flats giving different colours depending which part of the building you are in. Jody lives in a flat in the building as did Abe, the young man who has been found in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs. Now in a coma, his next of kin Mags (Mary Magdalene) has been summoned back from her job as a lawyer in Vegas to the UK as she is his next of kin. Mags and Abe are not close and Mags doesn’t endear herself to the nurses caring for Abe or Jodie, in large part due to her remoteness to Abe.

This is a cleverly layered psychological thriller which demands careful attention. The main mystery is was Abe, as the police believe, suicidal? Or was he pushed over the bannisters? Jody doesn’t believe her boyfriend would leave her, they’d just returned from a night out and he was checking the door was closed properly against intruders, he had no reason to kill himself.

Mags doesn’t know what to think. She didn’t know Abe but it is clear early on that the two shared a difficult childhood where the rule of divide and conquer meant the two were locked in a life of self-preservation. The obvious consequence being was that if the other was the focus of the negative attention, all the better. What happened in their early life is slowly revealed over the course of the book giving a rich background to both characters. All the more important as we only view Abe through the eyes of those around him.

Jody comes across as a fairly passive character, her devotion to Abe unstinting and she is willing Abe to recover although the prognosis is, at best, bleak but she is also damaged by her past and to boot has received a caution for falsely crying rape. What the truth of Jody’s past is another mystery.

There are some really tough scenes to read in this book and although they are integral to the plot, it does make for difficult reading at times. On balance although we hear from both Jody and Mags in depth with some excerpts which I initially attributed to completely the wrong character, this is a plot led book. The rights and wrongs of the way this plot develops giving the reader an opportunity to question the morals of the tale, which for me overshadowed to a large extent, the characters that are behind it. While I felt sympathy for the damaged inhabitants of the church building, I also felt distanced from them, this is in part due to the problem with unreliable narrators, whether that unreliability is understandable or not!

This doesn’t have the fast pace of some psychological thrillers and I did find it took me a while to ‘place’ the characters in the early part of the book until their individual voices developed. While the narration of the other inhabitants of the church adding their details to those of Jody and Mags builds to give a fuller picture of the critical moments in the plot, for a while it just felt as if the story was becoming ever more murky, but full credit to the author, the pulling together of these stories was exceptionally well done. Sarah J Naughton has produced a psychological thriller with a unique feel.

I’d like to thank the publishers Orion, for allowing me to read a copy of Tattletale, the first book for adults by Sarah J Naughton, ahead of publication on 23 March 2017.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Field of Blood – Denise Mina

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

Look at me starting a series right at the beginning! This is the first in Denise Mina’s Paddy Mehan series set in early 80s Glasgow. Young Paddy Mehan is a copyboy, with ambitions to become a journalist on a Glasgow paper, full of youthful anxiety about her well-covered figure, equally in awe of, and disturbed by the older male journalists and their antics in the bar, a place they seem to spend most of their time.

There were so many fascinating layers to this story and not just connected to the horrific crime, the kidnap and murder of four-year-old Brian Wilcox and the swift arrest of two ten-year-old boys as a result. There is discourse on the divide between the Catholics and Protestants in the city, the unemployment rife at this time, the expectations of a family on the youngest daughter in terms of her behaviour and the disapproval of the wider community that Paddy Mehan managed to bring down on her young head at one point in this tale. And key to the tale is that of Police corruption.

The time is eloquently set, this is the era just before my teenage years and subsequently the one which shines brightest in my mind. I can’t remember the last time I bought a packet of refreshers, but when Paddy did so, I could feel and taste them popping on my tongue – Paddy’s clothes, her view of the world around her felt authentic to both her age and the time period. The sense of place also felt real, I could easily visualise the places described, despite never having visited Glasgow in my life, a testament to the skill of this author.

Alongside the main crime and Paddy’s investigative and journalistic skills, we also hear about an older Paddy Mehan, this man was a career criminal who was kept in solitary confinement for seven years for the murder of a young woman, a crime he insisted he had never committed. Our Paddy, the wannabe journalist had become fascinated with this man, her namesake and her ambition was to write, as journalists had in the 1960s, true investigative journalism probing and finding evidence that had never before seen the light of day. These excerpts from the 60s are fascinating and even more so when you reach the afterword and realise why the author chose to insert these into what on the face of it appears to be a completely unrelated crime to the central mystery of this book.

I’ve talked about everything but the crime to be solved, and that’s because this book made me think of all the periphery subjects whilst the mystery of what happened to the victim Brian Wilcox on the day he disappeared from his garden. This is a horrendous crime and although it is quite graphically described at the outset the author didn’t revisit the horrors of that day, rather the emphasis was on his family and the community following the arrest of the two young boys. During the course of this book our young Paddy finds evidence, she makes bold moves, but this is crime fiction and so she learns that what she is looking at may not be the real answer, perhaps it is a red-herring?

The number of themes, the protagonist who is unlike any other I have come across, the whole press room alongside the time period meant that I found this to be a truly exceptional read. I was devastated to find that I had mistakenly believed I had another book by this author within my TBR stack, sadly I don’t and I’m trying hard to resist buying every single one of her other books! I’m fairly sure that the first on the list will be the next two books in this trilogy as I want to see how Paddy grows and develops because this was a truly stunning opening shot.

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

The Shadow Year – Hannah Richell

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

I really enjoyed Hannah Richell’s debut novel, The Secrets of the Tides, so when my friend beat me to picking up this one from a used book corner on one of our outings at the end of the summer, she kindly agreed to pass it onto me. Having assured me it was well worth a read I finally got stuck into the book, and was quickly immersed in the story of five friends who decide to have an unconventional gap year in the 80s by squatting in an unused shepherd’s cottage in the Peak District.

In the present day Lila is struggling to come to terms with the death of her premature baby following an accident, one that haunts her all the more as she has no memory of what happened. When Lila receives the gift of a property complete with a key and a map via a solicitor she is confused, her father’s will has been settled. Even more intriguing the terms of the gift are that the benefactor is to remain anonymous, Lila racks her brains but can’t think of anyone who would leave her such a bequest. Lila’s husband Tom is busy designing a bridge but when there is a break in his schedule they manage to travel up to take a look. Tom, clearly preferring his busy life in London is fairly underwhelmed by the small, neglected house but anxious to do something, Lila decides the remoteness of the Peak District may be just what she needs and she can use her skills as an interior designer while she decides what to do with the property, and she secretly hopes that it will help her regain the memory of what happened on the day of the accident.

This really is a character led book with some amazing scenery thrown in for (very) good measure. I was transported to the little cottage alongside a lake with Kat, Simon, Mac, Ben and Carla for company. This is an incredibly evocative book which conjures up a place of hope for the idealistic graduates. Where better to try out a self-sufficient lifestyle, particularly when the summer seems to roll ahead forever and there is food to eat from the land, including fish from the lake. The present is equally compelling with the author accurately capturing the essence of the grief that Lila is suffering from, without it becoming so depressing I didn’t want to continue. Just as the interplay between the friends in the 80s is the lynchpin to this part of the tale, Lila’s relationships play an equally profound part in the present.

Of course eventually we learn why Lila has been left the neglected property and what happened to those five friends in the past, and if this book couldn’t garner more praise from me, this was exceptionally well plotted too! There were a number of elements to work out and while some of my guesses were spot on, others were far wide of the mark, although the mystery plays almost a bit part in this novel.

I really loved being immersed in this novel, both past and present, watching the inter-play between the characters was both fascinating and absorbing whilst being dazzled by the carefree start to the adventure yet knowing that darker, colder days were on the horizon.

If you enjoy stories where actions in the past have consequences years later this is a book that has it all, a few mysteries, well-drawn characters and a stunning location.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Defence – Steve Cavanagh

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction
4*’s

Meet Eddie Flynn a con-man, turned lawyer so already we know that this is a man who is prepared to play dirty to win. The setting is New York, the opposition, why only the Russia Mafia, what else would you expect? The stakes, well that would be Eddie’s young daughter who has been kidnapped by aforesaid gang and if Eddie doesn’t buy enough time for the head honcho, Olek Volchek, to escape then young Amy and Eddie himself will be toast.

The story gets right into the action immediately with the reader getting to know the chief protagonist via his present story interspersed with his background which explains his journey from hustler to lawyer, two jobs Eddie is at pains to explain are closer in skill-set than you might imagine. With a group of convincingly clichéd Russians to snarl, threaten and menace at every given opportunity we could forgive Eddie for feeling more than a little anxious, not least because he has a bomb strapped to his back and the detonator is in the hands of Volchek’s right-hand man, but valiant Eddie sits down with a suitcase full of case files and prepares for the courtroom fight of his life.

I enjoyed the courtroom action although I had a sneaky suspicion that Eddie’s inspired cross-examinations were perhaps assisted by the fact that the prosecution seemed slightly less brilliant than we were led to believe, I decided to go with the flow and suspend my belief as Eddie went from courting danger in and out of the courtroom in his desperation to save his daughter’s life. Eddie is forced to ask for favours to help him out and who should he ask? Why his friends of course, who just happen to be a gang leader from another gang and a senior judge, what luck!

This is a fast-paced story with plenty of action but along with that there is a touch of humour, a book that knows its place and is all the more appealing because of that. A book to read for pure entertainment to get into the moment and roll with the punches, gasp at the twists and to hold your breath when everything gets all too much! This would be ideal reading for a long journey, not too complex but fun but don’t choose one with too many changes or you might just end up at the wrong destination.

I have to admit I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did, I’m not a big fan of crime fiction featuring gangs as they are often violent, there is the ever-present suggestion of violence in Steve Cavangh’s book but most of the action takes place off-page, and the mobsters abide by rules that aren’t understandable to any sane human being but although I wouldn’t go as far to say I warmed to Volchek and his side-kicks I didn’t feel the contempt you might expect.

I am sure this won’t be the last we hear of Eddie Flynn and I will be first in the queue to pick up the next instalment having been won over by this likeable if flawed character.

The Defence is due to be published on 12 March 2015 by Orion books but if you want more of a preview I suggest you visit The Official Website of Steve Cavangh & Eddie Flynn. I received my copy from Amazon Vine in return for this honest review.