I Know Your Secret – Graham Smith

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When Father Peter Paterson is discovered crucified to the stone floor of his church, DI John Campbell leads the investigation in his first case in charge of the Cumbria Major crimes Team, while DI Harry Evans spends the last week of his police career attending the trial of his wife’s rapist.

With the Priest seemingly killed for no reason, the pressure on the team increases when a rape case and a con trick are added to their workload. Unknown to the police, members of the public are receiving blackmail demands.

Fearing more attacks on the clergy, Campbell does everything he can to solve the case, while Evans spends his evenings dispensing his own brand of supposedly helpful interference.

An absolute belter of a book…

Those of you who follow this blog will have seen me on the Matching The Evidence blog tour last month, celebrating the release of the novella that is literally crammed (timeline wise) between DI Harry Evans book one Snatched From Home and I Know Your Secret, the second novel in this increasingly addictive series.

As I said,  I Know Your Secret is the second book in this series and coming hot on the heels of earlier tales, it’s worth noting that whilst you can happily pick up and read this book as a standalone novel, your experience is greatly enhanced by reading the previous installments as it improves your understanding of the characters and the motivations of the members of the Major Crimes Team.

The opening pages of I Know Your Secret are gritty, as they describe the brutal murder of Father Peter Paterson.  while the method used to set up the scene, will not only leave its imprint on your mind, but ensure you are hooked into the story and keen to discover exactly whodunnit and why.

Easily read in one sitting thanks to its pacy, addictive and dare I say it “unputdownable” style, it’s an absolute belter of a book. With several interwoven plot lines to keep you on your toes, I know your secret is a fabulous story about a functional disfunctional team, interspersed with the just enough dark humour and not enough political correctness to ensure you engage fully with the story, and all of those involved.

I’m already excited to read more about Harry.

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Melody Bittersweet & The Girls Ghostbusting Agency – Kitty French

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Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet

She’s single, she’s addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and … she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder? 
Waking up lonely on her twenty seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change. 

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat. 

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there’s the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job… 

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night.

Take some Janet Evanovich, mix it up with some classic Scooby-Doo mysteries, throw in some Ghostbusters, some of M Knight Shyalaman’s Sixth Sense along with a pair of devilishly handsome but totally inappropriate suitors, and you’ve got your next funtastic read.  If anything can take a grey, miserable time and turn in on its head into one filled with smiles and laughter, this book can do it

Melody Bittersweet is a hilarious narrator, and absolutely adorable, you can’t help but fall for her charms as she converses with ghosts, translates their thoughts and words to the “I-don’t-see-dead-people” folks, and solves mysteries, all while caught between an outrageous ex-boyfriend and an all too desirable complete non-believer out to discredit her at all times.

Her sidekick’s are just as much fun, and I’m really struggling to decide who I like the most.  Feisty Italian descended Marina, loyal and innocent Artie, Melody’s interfering family or LeStat the pug, there’s so much to look forward to from this interesting bunch that I’m already keen to find out what’s next.

With an interesting and tragic family mystery to solve, there’s plenty in here to keep the cosy crime fanatic in you enthralled, just enough romance to spice it up, and some great wisecracks, and while you let yourself go in the company of Melody Bittersweet, I will be eagerly awaiting the next instalment…..

 

Death At The Seaside – Frances Brody

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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 . . .

I’m a big fan of cosy mysteries, so it’s quite surprising to note that this was the first Frances Brody novel I have read, despite the fact that this is the eighth book in her series featuring Kate Shackleton. With that in mind it was no hinderance to my enjoyment of the novel. As far as I could tell there are no spoilers in here for previous books, and I felt no need to have read any of them before this one, although there are plenty of references to past events that have given me a keen interest in catching up with some of the earlier books.

It’s a great read that’s ideal for snuggling up in a cosy armchair on a wet miserable afternoon and transporting yourself to the beautiful seaside resort. I loved the genuine sense of time and place I felt when reading Death at the Seaside, falling completely for the 1920’s atmosphere, of this truly British seaside mystery.

There are delightful characters, and a an intriguing plot line to ensure you keep turning the pages, which you will clearly want to keep doing.  If you love some good old fashioned escapism, this is definitely the book for you.

Lunch with a Coyote

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A daughter disappears in the middle of the night. What happens in the aftermath of this tragedy-after the search is abandoned, after the TV crews move on to cover the latest horrific incident-is the story of Coyote. There is a marriage and a detective. There is a storm, a talk show host, and a roasted boar. People are murdered and things are hidden. Coyotes skulk in the woods, a man stands by the fence, and a tale emerges within this familiar landscape of the violent unknown.

Today I went out for lunch to pamper myself a little and find a quiet place to read.

My book of choice was the novella Coyote by Colin Winnette. It turned out it was a good job I had ordered a cold sandwich, and not something hot to eat…

From the opening page I was enthralled and I sat engrossed for just two short hours while I completely devoured this book. It was mesmerising. I’ve spent the afternoon reflecting on it and I know it’s going to take some time and probably a second read to process it properly.

In Coyote, we watch the parents of a missing child disconnect and reconnect over and over following the unexplained disappearance of their young daughter. It’s an aftermath that is heartbreaking, haunting, and one that feels entirely all too real.

Through the eyes of the mother we are told in short sharp bursts, the blunt edged truth of a life of loss once the media circus has died, when “the world”, no longer cares that this couple have lost a child. She is the perfect narrator for this tale, with a voice so easily identified with, telling of the times she would think badly of her daughter, despite her fierce, protective love for her.

Coyote is a straight to the bone, depiction of a breakdown, with a tragedy thrown in to boot. In my mind it’s quite simply a book you will either get completely and love, or feel confused and not.  Either way, it’s a story that is going to stay with you for some time.  I know it will with me.

 

Little Boy Blue – M J Arlidge

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img_2880Detective Inspector Helen Grace is no stranger to tragedy. But when a body is found in a Southampton nightclub, the death cuts too close to the bone.

Hiding her personal connection to the victim – and a double-life which must remain secret at all costs – Helen becomes a woman possessed, working her team around the clock to chase down every lead.

As the killer strikes again, the investigation takes its toll not only on Helen but also her senior officers. Tempers flare, friendships fray and Helen faces an impossible choice.

Confess her sins and lose control of the case? Or keep living a lie, protecting her darkest secrets, and risk getting trapped in this tangled web?

But whatever she does, this killer will not stop until the truth is revealed: there are some fates worse than death . . .

Absolutely amazing….. ’nuff said……

OK so first things first.  Little Boy Blue has a big part of its plot line based around the BDSM community.  There is nothing truly shocking in here, but to those who find these subjects making them feel a little red faced? Be warned.

Next up, Little Boy Blue is the fifth in the DI Helen Grace series, so the biggest question is, if you’ve not read any previous novels can you read it as a standalone novel?

Yes, of course you can.  It’s cleverly written with enough back story to the characters to tell you all you need to know to enjoy the book, but to avoid spoiling previous books.

That said, Should you read it without reading the first four books?  In my opinion, it’s one big definitive NO, read them all, in order, and do it now.  You’re already missing out on some amazing books.

I say this because as a reader you develop an intimate relationship with the characters throughout the course of a series, and many of the characters that appear in Little Boy Blue, we have met before, and it is these past relationships that enhance the impact of this latest novel.

The “love it” moments that make you flick the pages faster, and the “oh no, how dare you!” moments that make you want to through the book down in frustration are all the more emotional with the understanding of Helen’s back stories.  I honestly felt every pang of guilt, frustration, anger, and confusion that DI Grace goes through as the story unfolded and ultimately making the sting in the tale the most difficult ending to a book I’ve had to bear in a very long time.

It’s definitely Arlidge’s best yet, a book that will constantly keep you guessing as the storyline untangles, and with a killer you will not see coming.

There is one thing I guarantee with Little Boy Blue, as you close the final pages,you will be shouting

“hurry up and write the next one already!”

all whilst googling the release date for Hide and Seek and getting your pre-orders in now.

 

A Masterpiece of Corruption – L. C. Tyler

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imageIt is December 1657. John Grey, at his cramped desk in Lincoln’s Inn, is attempting to resume his legal career. A mysterious message from a ‘Mr SK’ tempts him out into the snowy streets of London and to what he believes will be a harmless diversion from his studies.

Mr SK’s letter proves to have been intended for somebody else entirely and Grey finds himself unwittingly in the middle of a plot to assassinate the Lord Protector – a plot about which he now knows more than it is safe to know. Can he both prevent the murder and (of greater immediate relevance) save his own skin? Both the Sealed Knot and Cromwell’s Secretary of State, John Thurloe believe he is on their side, but he is unsure that either is on his. As somebody is kind enough to point out to him: ‘You are a brave man, Grey. The life of a double agent can be exciting but very short.’

Grey just has to hope that prediction is wrong.

A masterpiece of double dealing and clever plotting…

I have to admit to never really being a reader of historical crime fiction, but I have long been a big fan of LC Tyler, so when the opportunity arose to get an early copy of A Masterpiece Of Corruption , it was one I could not pass up.

The book is set in an intriguing, and certainly in my own circles, largely unknown period of English history, a time when the monarchy had been overthrown and Oliver Cromwell was in power over the country. It is a time about which I know little beyond what I learnt in school far too many moons ago, and one that is ensuring that I am more than a little fascinated with in this adventure.

A Masterpiece Of Corruption is the second book in Tyler’s series about young lawyer, and somewhat accidental double agent John Grey, a young republican, who with a royalist mother and step-father constantly finds himself precariously navigating his way between the two opposing sides.

In A Cruel Necessity, John uncovers the truth behind a murder in his home village in Essex, and begins to unravel the web of royalists, republicans, Roundheads and Cavaliers, spies and informants that surround him in his everyday life. A Masterpiece of Corruption sees him moving on from his discoveries, back in London and returning to his legal studies at the Lincoln Inn.  He is only drawn back into those circles when a mysterious letter, leads to an even more mysterious meeting that sees Grey suddenly working for the advantage of the royalists.  Grey immediately reports his new endeavour to his republican confidante and advisor John Thurloe, looking for help and guidance only to discover they would prefer to assist him in his task in order to further their own aims.

For me it is this meeting in the opening chapters which sums up much of what I love of LC Tyler’s writing, these characteristic bluff and double bluff conversations where no one knows really knows what the other is talking about, and yet each party seems utterly convinced that they do and indeed are also correct in their beliefs.  They inject such realism into a character trying to muddle his way through a potentially dangerous situation, and into a story where everyone has a dedicated side, and yet insists on ‘covering their backsides’, as fear ensures they lack the conviction to stand up and be counted.

John Grey is a fabulous character, still very unsure in his dealings with not just The Sealed Knot, and John Thurloe, but also with his ‘cousin’ Aminta, daughter of his mother’s new husband and his own childhood friend.  He seems completely unable trust in his own feelings about the ulterior motives of any and all of them, despite being quite insightful into the real ‘goings on’.

A Masterpiece Of Corruption is a masterpiece of double dealing, clever plotting, and with a sprinkling of humour as Grey’s puritanism and naiveté is challenged.  It will draw you into its pages, lose you in its history, and deliver you an absolutely cracking read.

 

A Masterpiece in Corruption is published by Constable and available to buy from the 14th January 2016.

 

Follow Me – Angela Clarke

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imageLIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM …

Absolutely bloody loved it.

Still living the student life, years after finishing university, Freddie Venton scrapes by in the world by sleeping on the sofa in the lounge of her shared accommodation and working at Espress-oh coffee. She dreams of being a full time journalist, but is resigned to writing free web copy on student life for ‘The Family Paper’.

After a run in with her annoyingly chipper, all round company man and Espress-oh manger Dan, Freddie has a chance encounter with ex-school friend, Nasreen Cudmore, and as her journalistic insights kick in, she ends up finding herself dressed as a forensics expert and stranded in the middle of a brutal murder scene.

I have to say picked up Follow Me on a bit of a whim, due to its bargain 99p Amazon price tag, and I’m glad I did, I absolutely bloody loved it.

I really enjoyed the realistic way the twitter followers of the #Murderer are depicted, at first joining in with the ‘game’ and then turning when they realise the horror of what is actually happening, the whole playing out of the crimes on social media was brilliantly done, meaning even those readers who don’t ‘get’ / use the various platforms will be able to follow the whole tale.

One of my favourite parts was the way that each of the chapters was entitled with a popular piece of text speak and its explanation, and perfectly summed up the action to follow.  Put together with the way Freddie talks to herself in headline asides, Follow Me is a gripping read that successfully deals with terrible events, without going over the top and becoming too dark for many readers.

Freddie Venton is a great character, feisty, go getting, determined to succeed, and yet staying grounded by the very real devastation being caused all around her.  Her ex-schoolfriend Nasreen is far more straight-laced, and down the line desperately trying to succeed.  I didn’t really warm to her character initially, but as the back story of what happened between them eight years before unfolds I began to change my mind.  I’m certainly hoping we get to hear more from Freddie in the future.