Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Sorrow Bound – David Mark

Police Procedural  4*'s
Police Procedural

This is the third in the Aector MacAvoy series and although I haven’t read the previous books it worked well for me as a stand-alone read.  As in all the best novels in this genre there are a number of strands to the story, not least Aector’s struggles to get back to his previous self after whatever incident had injured him in his previous outing. To help him integrate back into his role he has to see the Police psychologist to get a clean bill of health. Aector isn’t really terribly enamoured with spilling his secrets to Sabine Keane and is relieved when he has a murder to investigate along with his superior Trish Pharaoh.

Aector comes across as a really likeable man who has a strong grip on what’s right and what is wrong. There is no falling out with either his superiors or the most junior members of his team but when it becomes apparent there is a sadistic serial killer menacing the good citizens of Hull, Aector is determined to find the culprit, and of course to catch him there he has to understand the motive.

A crime committed long ago, a drug dealer who wants to own the city and blackmail of another police officer are all put into the mix which meant that there was no time to sit back and relax for a moment during Aector’s race against time to stop any more murders.

This is not one for the faint hearted, this killer is brutal and David Mark doesn’t spare the reader any of the horrifying detail with more than a dash of violence in many an encounter. However, I think the subject matter is given a little lift by the observations such as walls being described as the colour of Elastoplast, the musing over whether his psychologist had been saddled with a rhyming name from birth and one action scene in a laundrette made me smile whilst simultaneously wincing, an art indeed!

Although the serial murder plot is neatly tied up with only a slight rising of my eyebrows as to motive the ongoing issue of the drugs plot that wove its way through the book is left to be continued in the next book where Aector may have to face the consequences of a long kept secret.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher’s Quercus ahead of the publication date 3 April 2014 in return for my review.

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

The Outcast Dead – Elly Griffiths

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction

The Outcast Dead features a fictional baby-farmer, made more gruesome by the addition of a hook to replace her missing hand.  Mother Hook as she was known after her death was tried, found guilty and executed for killing children in her care so the discovery of a body, which could be this infamous woman, real name Jemima Green during a dig at Norwich Castle prompts the TV series Women Who Kill to turn up to film ‘the discovery.’ Phil, Ruth’s boss at the University is keen to take part as the archaeology team work on identification of the remains.


Norwich Castle

Meanwhile DCI Nelson is plunged into the worst kind of investigation, an investigation into a mother whose third child has just died.  Nelson is cautious of her innocence but equally anxious not to upset the bereaved mother when he is plunged into the disappearance of a young child and he race against time to find her before it is too late.

I have only read the first in this series (The Crossing Places) featuring Ruth Galloway, something I must rectify as I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed reading about Ellie Griffith’s unglamorous forensic archaeologist, so fortunately I got the references to the death of Scarlet Henderson which still haunts Nelson but this was easy to read as a stand-alone in its own right.  Ruth is a real woman who clearly adores her daughter but also loves her job and is passionate about recording all that she can discover of the bones that she discovers.  She is pragmatic about her Phil’s vanity and there are some delightfully catty asides aimed at him.  She is delighted to explain her work to a wider audience whilst not enjoying being the focus of attention during filming.

Although the writing style (in the present tense) does take some getting used to I soon managed to immerse myself in this book, the wonderful imagery, tense relationships and a genuinely gripping plot which is fast paced. The reason why these books work for me is that there are a myriad of relationships that underpin the crimes being investigated.

Quercus were kind enough to allow me an ARC in return for this review which has paid off for them as I have already purchased Dying Fall to listen to on audio! The Outcast Dead was published on 6 February 2014.

Girls who got pregnant in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century had few options if marriage wasn’t an option, particularly if they weren’t living in rural areas where the children could be passed to members of the immediate or extended family.  One of the more favourable options was to give their child to one of the woman who were known disparagingly as baby-farmers.  These women were paid to take care of the child.  If the payment was made as a lump sum the less scrupulous in the profession weren’t averse to hastening an infant’s death, often using opiate based medicines which quietened the child at the same time, thereby making more room and another lump sum.

Read my reviews of some other books that feature baby-farmer’s here:

The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies a fictional account that features Amelia Sach who plied her trade in Finchley

The Woman Who Murdered Babies for Money by Alison Rattle is a non-fiction account of the baby-farmer Amelia Dyer

Caversham Lock by Michael Stewert Conway is a fictional account featuring Amelia Dyer

The Outcast Dead – Amazon UK



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

Entry Island – Peter May

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction

Peter May has written another compelling book following on from the brilliant Lewis Trilogy. Entry Island has everything within its pages a few mysteries, historic detail, a bit of romance, a difficult relationship all set on two islands, so expertly described, that is impossible not to picture them as the pace of the story sweeps you along. As soon as it became clear that this was a story of both past and present, I realised I was in for a real treat. A murder mystery in the present and an atmospheric history lesson in the past and the link which is Sime.

Entry Island is a Canadian Island where the inhabitants speak English and routinely leave their doors unlocked. It is a safe place to live, so when Kirsty Cowell’s husband is murdered and she is the only witness suspicion naturally falls to her. Sime Mackenzie is the English speaker who makes up the team of investigators from Quebec Sûreté who are flown in to investigate, the locals having no experience of a crime of this magnitude. As soon as he meets Kirsty he feels that he knows her, not the best start for an interrogation for a case that his boss expects to be resolved by her arrest as speedily as possible.

Sime is a chronic insomniac and soon something causes his almost non-existent sleep to be punctuated by vivid dreams where he remembers the story of his namesake an ancestor who left the Isle of Lewis on a ship from Glasgow to Canada where he made his life. The stories were told to him by his Grandmother who read parts of them from his handwritten diaries to the young Sime, seeking an escape from his miserable present life Sime is determined to find out as much as possible about his namesake.

Entry Island is a fascinating read, made more so by the realistic way that May’s characters behave. This is not a sanitised version of the hardships that the crofters on the Isle of Lewis faced but full of raw need for food balanced against the need to belong. A raw and emotional picture painted of the differing lifestyles between the crofters and their hand-to-mouth existence and their landlords who lived in castles, ate nourishing food and hunted deer for fun. If like me you have been mourning the end of the Lewis Trilogy, Entry Island will not let you down.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers Quercus in return for this honest review.

Entry Island Amazon UK