Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Two O’Clock Boy – Mark Hill

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

Starting back in 1986 with a killer first line:

The boy loved his parents more than anything on this Earth. And so he had to kill them.

I have a fondness for books that stretch back to the past for the focus of a current investigation, and this is a bloody one, has its roots very firmly in a time and a place that for most of those who were present, would rather forget! The setting for the past is a children’s home and this one is of the particularly grim variety where the children are overseen by a slovenly couple under the management of a man Gordon Tallis, whose love of power is palpable.

In the present DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley begin their investigation with a triple murder of a particularly horrible nature. Ray Drake has recently been widowed and has a difficult relationship with his daughter April while Flick is newly promoted and with her boss insisting on watching her every move in this investigation, deeply worried that he is already regretting his backing of her promotion. The interaction between the two is puzzling with Fick moving away from her by the book investigating style to the more intuitive one that Drake uses. She can’t understand quite why Drake is so dismissive of her thoughts, with the pair pulling in opposite directions the reader can’t help but wonder is Drake going to pull rank on his newly promoted DS.

There is tension in the past and present scenes, from the first to the last page; this is not a book to choose to relax with, you need to pay attention, close attention. What the writer gives us is a wonderful array of characters who feel realistic. We learn about the mundanity of some of our victim’s lives, many of whom are not the morally upstanding citizens that deserve unreserved sympathy for their plight, but Mark Hill’s pen doesn’t stint in bringing them to life; it is easy to see his scriptwriting talent wrought upon these pages. The drudgery of a day in the life of a shelf-stacker spent dreaming about his retirement in Spain, his life planned in expectation of greater rewards in the future was one of the evocative early scenes which bought the man to life – only for my hopes for him to be shot down in metaphorical flames.

Each of the scenes both past and present are well-drawn without underlining the difference in time periods the obvious way by naming popular products and fashions but somehow the ‘feel’ of the past was there, and that’s written by someone who was of a similar age to many of the children in this book! The author has given a real sense of moral ambiguity with all of the characters and that is never harder to do when the natural inclination towards the children depicted is one of sympathy rather than condemnation but the author obviously works to the maxim that our sensibilities are there to be challenged.

This is a seriously well-plotted book and despite this being Mark Hill’s debut novel, the assuredness of his writing is never in doubt. I knew early on that this was going to be a cracking good read, and it was. Bookended by the stunning opening and one of the best finishes to a crime novel I’ve read for a long time this is one writer who has made it onto my ‘must-read’ list of authors, and not many get promoted to that position after a single book.

I received an ARC of The Two O’clock Boy from the publisher Little, Brown Book Group UK, and in return this unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 22 September 2016
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group UK
No of Pages: 432
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (October 12)

This Week In Books

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 one of the nominees on the The Man Booker Prize shortlist, a book I’m advised has outsold all the other shortlisted books so of course the cynic in me says that’s reduced the author’s chance of winning, but perhaps I’ll be proved wrong. So which book am I reading? Well it’s His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, a historical crime novel which is confusingly convincing.

his-bloody-project

Blurb

A brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish farming community in 1869 leads to the arrest of seventeen-year-old Roderick Macrae. There is no question that Macrae committed this terrible act. What would lead such a shy and intelligent boy down this bloody path? And will he hang for his crime?

Presented as a collection of documents discovered by the author, His Bloody Project opens with a series of police statements taken from the villagers of Culdie, Ross-shire. They offer conflicting impressions of the accused; one interviewee recalls Macrae as a gentle and quiet child, while another details him as evil and wicked. Chief among the papers is Roderick Macrae’s own memoirs where he outlines the series of events leading up to the murder in eloquent and affectless prose. There follow medical reports, psychological evaluations, a courtroom transcript from the trial, and other documents that throw both Macrae’s motive and his sanity into question.

Graeme Macrae Burnet’s multilayered narrative—centered around an unreliable narrator—will keep the reader guessing to the very end. His Bloody Project is a deeply imagined crime novel that is both thrilling and luridly entertaining from an exceptional new voice. Amazon

The last book I read was Pariah by David Jackson, a tale concentrated around Detective Callum Doyle who is based in New York where Doyle is a member of the NYPD. He has a problem though, those close to him keep dying…

Pariah

Blurb

Where can you turn when your very presence brings death to those around you?
That’s the question Detective Callum Doyle is about to face. It begins with the calculated murder of his partner on a vacant lot. But more death is to follow, and when the chilling anonymous messages arrive, Doyle is left in no doubt that this is about him.
You cannot go near your friends, your colleagues, or even your family. Because if you do… they will be killed.
To save others, Doyle is forced to cut himself off from society. But with the investigation getting nowhere and his isolation becoming unbearable, Doyle has to ask himself how much he’s willing to sacrifice to get his life back. Amazon

Next up is Mark Hill’s The Two O’clock Boy which judging by the opening which I shared in yesterday’s post, this is going to be a gripping read!

the-two-oclock-boy

To read the synopsis and an excerpt, please visit yesterday’s post.

Have you read any of these? Do you want to?
Let me know what you are reading this week by adding your comments or leaving your link below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (October 11)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea 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.

My opening this week comes from The Two O’clock Boy written by a fellow blogger Mark Hill, previously known as Crime Thriller Fella.

the-two-oclock-boy

Blurb

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…
One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.
Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.
A truth both must hide. NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

The English Channel, 1986

The boy loved his parents more than anything on this Earth. And so he had to kill them.

Perched on the edge of the bunk, he listened to them now. To the squeak of their soles on the deck above as they threw their recriminations back and forth in voices as vicious as the screeching seagulls wheeling in the sky. He heard the crack of the sail in the wind, the smack of the water against the hull inches from his head a soothing, hypnotic rhythm.
Slap… slap… slap…

Well that first line definitely grabbed me and the next begins to set the scene very well I think – how about you? Have you read The Two O’clock Boy?

As always your thoughts and comments are extremely welcome – Would you keep reading?

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 11)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well we’ve had some rain to remind us that it is now the autumn if the way the night falls so much earlier (seemingly) all of a sudden hadn’t already done so.

Worthy points to mention – Happy Valley will be coming back for a third season despite strong suggestions to the contrary, the bad news is the writer hasn’t even started writing it yet!

What does everyone else think to the changes to the Shelf on NetGalley? – I’m not sure I like having all the books that are over three months listed with a count – it makes me feel bad, and some of these are because they were approved months before publication – it doesn’t help that there are so many on the current tab too. If I didn’t have my trusty excel spreadsheet I’d be very confused.

Last Week on the Blog

My week got off to a great start with a very entertaining author post by Caimh McDonnell, a stand-up comedian who has written a crime novel, A Man With One of Those Faces which I reviewed here.

Wednesday’s post included my upcoming foray into the world of Miss Marple – now I love Poirot but when I first discovered Agatha Christie as a teenager, I didn’t really take to Miss Marple – but when I heard about the Agatha Christie Blogathon organised by Christina Wehner, I’ve decided to give her a second chance – keep your eyes peeled on 17 September to see what I thought.

I also wrote a review of Camilla Grebe’s novel The Ice Beneath Her, a superb psychological thriller set in Stockholm, somewhere I’m visiting quite soon although I do hope I don’t meet anyone quite like the characters in this book.

On Friday I posted about the books I read in the 20 Books of Summer 2016 challenge – I completed 15 and had 1 DNF which considering how busy my summer was, is… ok – I will do better next year!

Yesterday my third review of the week was for a family saga, The Jeweller’s Wife written by the talented Judith Lennox. This book spanned thirty odd years and contained all the jealousy, greed, infidelity etc. that makes these types of books so fascinating. I felt like I was spying on the family through a window.

This Time Last Year…

I read the fourth book by Felicity Young featuring Dr Dody McCleland, who works under the forensic scientist Bernard Spilsbury, The Insanity of Murder.  Not only does this book feature a fascinating mystery, it has plenty of period details from 1913 the year it was set, including contemporary views of the suffragettes.

The Insanity of Murder

Blurb

To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?
Dody and Pike’s investigations lead them to a women’s rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge – and before Florence becomes the rest home’s next victim. NetGalley

Stacking the Shelves

Oh dear – the TBR is continuing to rise with a rush of books this week.

First up my willpower would last no longer and I purchased a copy of Sarah Ward’s A Deadly Thaw – her first book in the series, In Bitter Chill having been such an outstanding read, this was entirely unsurprising!

a-deadly-thaw

Blurb

Every secret has consequences.

Autumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . . Amazon

From NetGalley I have The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith which I requested after having been thoroughly entertained by the first in this series, The Jazz Files.

the-kill-fee
Blurb

Do you know who that is Poppy?” asked Delilah.
“I do indeed.”
“So what does it feel like to dance in the arms of an assassin?”

Poppy Denby’s star is on the rise. Now the Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, she covers an exhibition of Russian Art at the Crystal Palace. A shot rings out, leaving a guard injured and an empty pedestal in the place of the largest Faberge Egg in the collection. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers.

Poppy is once again in the middle of a sensational story. Can she solve the mystery before time runs out and disaster strikes? NetGalley

The Kill Fee will be published on 16 September 2016.

I also have a copy of The Two O’clock Boy by fellow book blogger Mark Hill – this is due for publication in ebook format on 22 September, paperback November 2016, and looks to be a hit!

the-two-oclock-boy

Blurb

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth. NetGalley

Little Brown Books kindly sent me a copy of Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody to review ahead of publication of 6 October 2016.

death-at-the-seaside

Blurb

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.

Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma’s daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma’s current gentleman friend.

Kate can’t help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller’s shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby’s idyllic façade, it’s up to Kate – ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – to discover the truth behind Felicity’s disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August . . . Amazon

And lastly this purchase is all down to fellow blogger Karen at My Reading Corner who kindly pointed me in the direction of A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup – how could I resist poison and Agatha Christie!! This is why I love book blogging, kind people pointing out books I simply must have… TBR, what TBR?

a-is-for-aresnic

Blurb

Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s all made-up …

Agatha Christie revelled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random – the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?

Christie’s extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime. Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 3 books, and gained 5 so the total is now on the ascent again to 176 books!

84 physical books
69 e-books
21 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?