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

The Last Thread – Ray Britain

Crime Fiction
5*s

I couldn’t help but be intrigued when I was contacted by Ray Britain to see if I would be interested in reading his book with a view to writing a review, not least because this is a book written by someone who has been on the front-line of policing. You can read my interview with Ray Britain here. That’s not to say I didn’t approach the book with some degree of trepidation as the author was at pains to stress that his novel would reflect real-life policing and I wondered if the reality would quash the exciting storylines, after all most of us realise that what we see on TV and read in some (not all) novels can’t possibly reflect the more painstaking aspects of policing in modern Britain. I needn’t have worried at all, the author has the mix of reality and fictional plotting perfectly balanced and the knowledge that this could be ‘real’ made the resulting read more meaningful.

Our protagonist is DCI Doug Stirling and we first meet him on top of a bridge working in a voluntary role negotiating with a youngster who is about to commit suicide. Not the early damp start to the day that anyone would enjoy and yet the author had me in the moment from the first page willing Doug to be able to save a young life. It’s not to be and we see the stress the DCI is under especially when the Police Complaints Commission become involved in what seems like a never-ending investigation into what happened on the fateful day. Doug tries to put it behind him and due to a lack of professional officers he is working on the gruesome death of a man found murdered in a burnt out car but ordered to keep a low-profile while he’s under investigation. This is where the story really hots up and the mystery thickens by the minute, especially when a firm identification of the victim is made.

The Last Thread is an outstanding debut with an exceptional plot which is complex yet not so much so that I ever lost any of the threads, let alone the last one! The characters are well-rounded, perhaps a little too earnest at times but of course they are modelled on those who are dedicated to the job and not the detectives of old with a permanent pint in their hand and a life full of angst to forget. There are a couple of the rottener types of detectives to keep the book spiced up and the author also provides some of the office banter that keeps far less intellectually puzzling working lives turning up and down the country.

Best of all for me is this book is set in Worcestershire, something I was unaware of when I agreed to read it and as those of you who follow this blog know, I love reading books set in places I’m familiar with and my brother lives in Worcester so this book fully qualifies, and passes the test as I could easily recognise some of the settings described so well by the author.

The Last Thread was a great read, I’m delighted to note that the title implies that Doug Stirling will be returning, soon I hope as a book written from someone who has lived the life but can also tell a cracking good tale is just what this crime lover needs.

First Published UK: 17 September 2017
Publisher: Ray Britain
No of Pages: 536
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Bridesmaid – Jenny Scotti

Crime Fiction 3.5*
Crime Fiction
3.5*

Kelly a sixteen year old girl is found dead in the woods by her neighbour, Joyce Tennant, who was walking her dog Brandy. Kelly had been a beautiful young girl, and she knew it, but she was only sixteen. The whole of the village of Haddley, in Worcestershire, should have been falling over themselves to disclose all they knew to the police but that isn’t what happens.

The inhabitants of Haddley seem to be mainly made up of women of a certain age who like nothing better than to make snide remarks about each other and to each other! The men consist of the doctor, the vicar, the gardener along with an assortment of husbands. After her body is found, the book jumps back to the week before Kelly’s death where soon becomes clear that she had probably made a few enemies in her short life.

With the police investigations severely held up by a lack clues, due to the intransigence of the locals to give up their secrets, they have to resort to chipping away at the little they know about the villagers. Fortunately, but slowly, the jealousy between the villagers begin to give up some of the truth and the whole sorry tale comes out with quite lot of collateral damage.

I really enjoyed this English murder, there are mysterious links to a twenty year old murder of an elderly film star which gives the reader not one but two mysteries to solve. I did find the number of characters, particularly the coven of spiteful women, was difficult to follow at the start but all soon became clear as their roles in the village became more defined. The ending was inspired and I wasn’t even close to discovering who the murderer was.

This book has something to everyone including some ghostly goings on, a missing locket and adultery, but at its very heart, is a village beset by jealousy and distrust.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this honest review.