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

Daisy in Chains – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

A deliciously dark read which was simply superb!

What you want to know a little bit more? Some book reviews really don’t have to say too much at all. If you’ve read any of Sharon Bolton’s previous books you’ll know she really does know her craft; not only can she come up with a great story her characters are always fully formed. None more so in this book when the trio of characters she has created will soon have you under their spell.

Hamish Wolfe is in HMP Isle of Wight prison, convicted of the murder of three young women, fat young women. Judged by his peers to be guilty of luring the women to caves in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and killing them. The former doctor’s mother, Sandra has set up a group to campaign for his freedom.

Sandra Wolfe invites Maggie Rose, Lawyer and true-crime writer who has managed to free seven other convicted criminals to help her but Maggie just isn’t sure that this is a case she can win but she agrees to meet the group. And what a group they are; a writer that conjures up the group mentality while picking out distinctive characters for the reader to examine, avoiding obvious clichés yet leaving this reader in no doubt of how these meetings have played out in the past is one heck of a writer!

Pete Watson was the officer that had Hamish convicted and doesn’t want Maggie digging around in the background to the killings. A man with a lot on his plate as his boss is the man who now lives with his ex-wife and their daughter what or who is he really trying to protect?

I defy anyone to read this book and not to be drawn by these captivating characters who are dancing a dance of attraction, but what are they attracted to? Beauty or brains? Who exactly is manipulating who?

With the story told in a linear time-line we also have letters written to and from the prison, emails and chapters from the  draft of the book that Maggie is writing about Hamish, complete with the corny title The Big Bad Wolf! All of these items reveal that Maggie isn’t quite the cool calm collected women she presents to the outside world. On the other hand Pete doesn’t seem to quite sure whether he is still investigating the disappearance of a potential first victim to provide yet more proof of Hamish’s guilt or whether he is helping Maggie to clear his name. This is a tricky and unusual mind-set for any character in crime fiction. Normally everyone is sure which side of the fence they sit on and stick with it but I got the sense that Peter was trying to fulfil too many briefs and expectations. Perhaps his heart is ruling his head? And what about Hamish, the obvious question is of course around his guilt – did he murder those women? – but the book also goes further in asking is he capable of such an act? A question which is almost as compelling with a different burden of proof required.

The short chapters beg you to read just a little bit more and yet despite the great plot, the fabulous characters there is a questioning quality to this book. I have always dismissed the women who feature in true stories of women who are drawn to men in prison, but Sharon Bolton does go some way to examining the psyche of these relationships in an overt way and a more subtle one – I was drawn to Hamish, even without seeing him in the flesh.

Definitely one of the best crime fiction reads of the year so far I can’t recommend this stand-alone story highly enough.

I’d like to thank the publishers Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Daisy in Chains prior to publication on 2 June 2016. This unbiased, yet gushing review, is my thanks to them.

Other Books by Sharon Bolton (aka S.J. Bolton)

Lacey Flint Series

Now You See Me
Dead Scared
Like This For Ever
A Dark and Twisted Tide

Short Stories

If Snow Hadn’t Fallen
Here Be Dragons

Standalone Books

Little Black Lies

 

 

 

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

A Dark and Twisted Tide – Sharon Bolton

Crime Thriller  5*'s
Crime Thriller
5*’s

This, the fourth in the Lacey Flint series is almost totally set on the river Thames in London. Lacey has left the police having taken the decision to join the Water Police after a scary event in Like This, For Ever. Hoping for a more tranquil life Lacey is missing her old boss Mark Joesbury who has gone undercover but enjoying living on a boat on the Thames as part of the riverboat community.

Don’t expect a gentle start to this book, the first corpse appears within pages, found by Lacey, there is some seriously scary episodes with crabs and Lacey has taken it upon herself to take up the dangerous occupation of swimming in the Thames every day. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the Thames and I would not dip my toe in it let alone think it was a good spot for swimming! It isn’t long before a link is made between this body and some previous unidentified females and as it appears likely that the corpse was placed for Lacey to find, she has seemingly got herself drawn into a murder investigation despite her change of career. So Lacey is back working with Dana Tulloch in a somewhat more supportive relationship than the previous novel.

River Thames and Cleopatra's Needle
River Thames and Cleopatra’s Needle

As always in Sharon Bolton’s writing there is a wealth of fascinating characters, and in this novel, Lacey’s neighbours are at the heart of it as the deftly drawn characters make an instant impact. There is also an ongoing mystery of who Lacey really is and why does she regularly visit her friend and convicted serial killer ‘Toc’ in prison. The book has a map on the first page, something I love, and the fantastic description of Deptford Creek where the majority of the book is set had me visualising the empty warehouses, the old pumping station and marinas as well as the more familiar landmarks of London.

A must read for Lacey Flint fans, the twists and turns up to the high standard expected from Sharon Bolton and the ending perfectly poised for the next episode. This is one series that I would suggest reading in order because the layers added to the chief protagonist each time are an addition, rather than an aside to this series without ever taking over the main plotline.
I was delighted to receive a free copy of this book from the publishers, Random House UK, ahead of the publication date of 8 May 2014.

Lacey Flint Series in order

1. Now You See Me

2. Dead Scared

3. Like This, For Ever

Read my reviews including that of the short story featuring Lacey Flint; If Snow Hadn’t Fallen here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (January 10)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

Yesterday I came home to find that the postman had delivered one of last weeks Friday Finds; Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers and in the same package was The Corpse Garden by the recently deceased crime writer Colin Wilson an illustration of my diverse reading tastes as well as two books that simply can’t be put on the bookshelf side by side!

The Corpse Garden

Colin Wilson is one of the top modern non-fiction crime writers. In The Corpse Garden, he unravels the s tory behind the facts in order to get to the heart of the West murders Amazon

So what was going through my mind when I chose this book? Well having read (and suffered some trauma in doing so) Rose West: A Making of a Monster by Jane Carter Woodrow I realised that there was one book about this couple that I haven’t read!

My second choice from Amazon Vine is The Book of You by Claire Kendal

The Book of You

Blurb

Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there. Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand. Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined. But how do you protect yourself from an enemy no one else can see? Amazon

I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be a year with lots of psychological thrillers which is fine by me!

From NetGalley I have managed to bag a copy of After I Left You by Alison Mercer which will be published 31 July 2014 by Random House UK

After I met you

Blurb

Anna has not been back to Oxford since her last summer at university, seventeen years ago. She tries not to think about her time there, or the tightly knit group of friends she once thought would be hers forever. She has almost forgotten the fierce sting of betrayal, the heartache, the secret she carries around with her, the last night she spent with them all.
Then a chance meeting on a rainy day in London brings her past tumbling back into her present, and Anna is faced with remembering the events of that summer and the people she left behind. As Anna realises that the events of their past have shaped the people they’ve all become, hope begins to blossom for what the future could hold . . .Netgalley

This seems like it may be less dark than many of my other choices.

I have also found out about some books to be released later this year which I have to read!

I’m looking forward to S.J. Bolton’s latest Lacey Flint book, A Dark and Twisted Tide due to be published in May 2014

A Dark and Twisted Tide

Blurb

Young policewoman Lacey Flint knows that the Thames is a dangerous place – after all, she lives on it and works on it – but she’s always been lucky. Until one day, when she finds a body floating in the water. Who was this woman and why was she wrapped so carefully in white burial cloths before being hidden in the fast-flowing depths?
DCI Dana Tulloch hates to admit it, but she’s fond of the mysterious Lacey. Even if she keeps on interfering in her investigations, and is meddling with the latest floater case. But now she’s got to break some terrible news to her – news that could destroy Lacey’s fragile state of mind.
And Lacey will need to keep her wits about her because there’s a killer that’s lurking around her boat, leaving her gifts she’d rather not receive . . .

I love these books so I was pleased to see there isn’t too long to wait until this one comes out!

Learn more about this series by reading my review of Like This Forever (Lacey Flint #3)

The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer is due to be published in March 2014.

The Facts of Life and Death

Blurb

‘Call your mother.’
‘What do I say?’
‘Say goodbye.’
This is how it begins.
Lone women terrorised and their helpless families forced to watch – in a sick game where only one player knows the rules. And when those rules change, the new game is Murder.
Living with her parents in the dank beach community of Limeburn, ten-year-old Ruby Trick has her own fears. Bullies on the school bus, the forest crowding her house into the sea, and the threat of divorce.
Helping her Daddy to catch the killer might be the key to keeping him close.
As long as the killer doesn’t catch her first…Goodreads

Read my review of  Belinda Bauer’s previous book Rubbernecker

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

Like This Forever – S.J. Bolton

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

I came across S.J. Bolton through Amazon Vine when I was offered Dead Scared which blew me away, I love the protagonist Lacey Flint and S.J. Bolton’s writing is plot driven and authentic. This is one of those author’s I’m so pleased I found and her books always make it to my wishlist.

S.J. Bolton has produced another fascinating book featuring Lacey Flint, the third in the series. In this book Lacey is not working after her ordeal in Cambridge acting undercover in the prestigious university instead she is on the peripheral to the on-going investigation into the missing boys; all aged 10 to 11 who are found near the Thames with blood drained from their bodies. Her old boss Mark Joesbury is involved in the investigation as is her previous mentor Dana Tulloch.

As well as the police investigation a young boy, Barney, who lives next to Lacey is interested in the crimes, reading the Facebook updates and discussing the details with his school friends. Barney is really at the heart of this story, his voice authentic and his fears real, keen on blading, football,and sneaking away from his busy father to hang out with his friends, he is sure that another boy will go missing and he is eager to stop that happening. With the police monitoring social websites too, and a maverick academic ruling the news, this story is firmly placed in today’s world. I found myself mesmerised by the story, the twists and turns were all too alarming, the landscape too well described and the thoughts of a young boy very disturbing but totally believable.

I wouldn’t recommend reading this book until you have read the previous two in the series, the amazing Now You See Me and the equally engrossing Dead Scared and just like these, this is a dark read, not simply a police procedural and S.J. Bolton pulls the style off to perfection.

Now You See Me (Lacey Flint, #1)Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first outing by S. J. Bolton’s of Lacey Flint and it is amazing. A serial murderer is on the loose in London and the crimes may be linked to Jack the Ripper. Lacey returns to her car one night and finds a body against her car, straight away it is clear that this book is not for the squeamish.

Given the the killer’s apparent interest in Lacey she is moved from a witness to one who ends up working closely with Mark Joesbury on the case. Lacey is strong, determined and clearly has not had an easy life, there is the undeniable tension between her and Joesbury which remains just that, no endless soliloquies on longing for him but as the reader I want to know how the relationship will develop.

This book really does have it all, the atmospheric descriptions of London, plausible and gripping writing, the feeling that something even more awful than you have just read is about to happen and a particularly likable, yet believable, character in our protagonist Lacey Flint. A perfect mystery story which I found defeated my reasoning with its twists and turns. I had already read so can recommend the second book Dead Scared and I the third, Like This, For Ever is due April 2013 and on my wishlist in anticipation.

View all my reviews
If Snow Hadn't FallenIf Snow Hadn’t Fallen by S.J. Bolton
Having read Now You See Me and Dead Scared the wrong way round I initially thought that this book followed Dead Scared due to the fact it was set in December 2012. This was wrong, it should be read after Now You See Me.

This is a perfect short story with a huge amount happening in a matter of 85 pages. It is rare for me to read a short story without feeling in some way cheated, SJ Bolton however produces the goods.

In the park near Lacey Flint’s house a muslim doctor is set alight. Lacey appears to be the only witness to the incident but couldn’t identify those responsible due to the masks they wore. This is a shocking story yet SJ Bolton still manages to layer the tale to give it real depth and some twists and turns in this short perfect tale.

View all my reviews

Dead Scared (Lacey Flint, #2)Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

S. J. Bolton tackles the controversial subject of suicide in her fifth book, Dead Scared. Within Cambridge University psychiatrist Evi Oliver is worried as the number of suicides amongst the students has spiked over the last 5 years and she suspects websites and chat rooms are behind the rise.

DI Mark Joesbury puts forward DC Lacey Flint to go undercover as a student to see if she can discover what, if anything, is going on. Lacey moves into a room previously inhabited by a girl who attempted suicide in a particularly grusome and public way. Within hours Lacey is subjected to a particularly nasty prank and deviates from being an observer to an investigator.

This book is well written, I loved the interplay that Lacey and Joesbury have which started in S.J. Bolton’s previous offering, Now You See Me, where the characters were introduced. In fact the only thing that marred my enjoyment of this book was that I hadn’t read the prequal, something I plan to rectify soon.

The tension slowly increases throughout the book when it seems like Lacey may have come close to the truth, be warned though there is more than a smattering of red-herrings throughout which kept me guessing. This is a belivable and well written police procedural combined with a strong psychological thriller which results in a winning formula.

I received a copy of this book through Amazon Vine

View all my reviews

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

If Snow Hadn’t Fallen – S.J. Bolton

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

Having read Now You See Me and Dead Scared the wrong way round I initially thought that this book followed Dead Scared due to the fact it was set in December 2012. This was wrong, it should be read after Now You See Me.

This is a perfect short story with a huge amount happening in a matter of 85 pages. It is rare for me to read a short story without feeling in some way cheated, SJ Bolton however produces the goods.

In the park near Lacey Flint’s house a muslim doctor is set alight. Lacey appears to be the only witness to the incident but couldn’t identify those responsible due to the masks they wore. This is a shocking story yet SJ Bolton still manages to layer the tale to give it real depth and some twists and turns in this short perfect tale.

Posted in Books I have read

Now You See Me – S.J. Bolton

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

This is the first outing by S. J. Bolton’s of Lacey Flint and it is amazing. A serial murderer is on the loose in London and the crimes may be linked to Jack the Ripper. Lacey returns to her car one night and finds a body against her car, straight away it is clear that this book is not for the squeamish.

Given the killer’s apparent interest in Lacey she is moved from a witness to one who ends up working closely with Mark Joesbury on the case. Lacey is strong, determined and clearly has not had an easy life, there is the undeniable tension between her and Joesbury which remains just that, no endless soliloquies on longing for him but as the reader I want to know how the relationship will develop.

This book really does have it all, the atmospheric descriptions of London, plausible and gripping writing, the feeling that something even more awful than you have just read is about to happen and a particularly likable, yet believable, character in our protagonist Lacey Flint. A perfect mystery story which I found defeated my reasoning with its twists and turns. I had already read so can recommend the second book Dead Scared and  the third, Like This, For Ever is due April 2013 is on my wishlist in anticipation.

3rd March 2013

If Snow Hadn't FallenIf Snow Hadn’t Fallen by S.J. Bolton

Having read Now You See Me and Dead Scared the wrong way round I initially thought that this book followed Dead Scared due to the fact it was set in December 2012. This was wrong, it should be read after Now You See Me.

This is a perfect short story with a huge amount happening in a matter of 85 pages. It is rare for me to read a short story without feeling in some way cheated, SJ Bolton however produces the goods.

In the park near Lacey Flint’s house a muslim doctor is set alight. Lacey appears to be the only witness to the incident but couldn’t identify those responsible due to the masks they wore. This is a shocking story yet SJ Bolton still manages to layer the tale to give it real depth and some twists and turns in this short perfect tale.

View all my reviews