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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Lightening up, with cooking, craziness, chaos, cosiness, and con jobs…

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I’ve had a tiring few weeks, with the last one being particularly exhausting, so I took some time off from the deep, dark, psychological thrillers I usually read and I went to my comfort corner, keeping with crime but going as wacky, crazy, and cosy as I could.

These were my choices…

CRAZY, CRACKPOT AND IMPOSSIBLE CONS…

All pulled off like the perfect A-Team plot.  Let go with an enjoyable read and challenge yourself to see how many of Lee’s TV references you can spot!

FBI agent Kate O’Hare’s covert partner has been kidnapped. But she is in hot pursuit…

Nicolas Fox, con man, thief, and one of the top ten fugitives on the most-wanted list, has been kidnapped from a retreat in Hawaii. The kidnapper doesn’t know that Nick Fox has been secretly working for the FBI and that his partner, Special Agent Kate O’Hare, is on their trail.

The pursuit leads to Belgium, France and Italy, and pits Nick and Kate against a deadly adversary: Dragan Kovic, an ex-military officer from Serbia. He’s plotting a crime that will net him billions… and cost thousands of lives.

Nick and Kate have to mount an audacious con to avert catastrophe. The pressure’s on for them to make this work – even if they have to lay their lives on the line…

GRANNY’S GOT A GHOSTLY NEW PARTNER IN CRIME! 

If you like Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur, you’ll love Agnes Barton

Ever since Agnes’ car accident, things have changed drastically for her. When she wakes up in the hospital, not only is her son Stuart there, who she hasn’t seen in years, but a ghostly apparition!

Instead of getting ready for the loony bin, Agnes and Eleanor help ready the Butler Mansion for a grand opening as a bed and breakfast on Halloween, except they find the body of Katherine Clark. It’s game on, as usual, for Agnes, except she now has a new partner, one who has remained silent and is—well—a ghost.

Agnes now struggles to keep her wits, keeping her ghostly companion a secret from Eleanor, not such an easy feat since Eleanor is sharp as a tack. Not only that, but where has Stuart been all of these years and what is he up to?

HERCULE POIROT MEETS AGATHA RAISIN…..

“They say one should never trust a thin chef. By this measure, Chef Maurice was very trustworthy indeed.”

Take one sleepy Cotswold village, mix in one Poirot-esque murder mystery, add a larger-than-life French chef with an appetite for solving crime, and season with clues and red herrings galore . . .

It’s autumn in the Cotswolds, and Chef Maurice is facing a problem of mushrooming proportion. Not only has his wild herb and mushroom supplier, Ollie Meadows, missed his weekly delivery—he’s missing vital signs too, when he turns up dead in the woods near Beakley village.

Soon, Chef Maurice is up to his nose in some seriously rotten business—complete with threatening notes, a pignapping, and an extremely well-catered stake-out. Can he solve Ollie’s murder before his home-made investigation brings the killer out for second helpings?

 

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.

The Nightmare Place – Steve Mosby

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Sometimes, there’s a thin line between love and hate. Or at least that’s one theory for DI Zoe Dolan, tracking the Creeper – a stalker who’s been breaking into women’s homes and attacking them. But the Creeper’s violence is escalating and there’s no pattern, no clue as to how he’s getting in, and no clue as to who’s next.

Until Jane Webster gets a call to the help line where she volunteers. It’s meant to be a confidential service and Jane is torn – it could be a hoaxer, but the soft voice at the end of the line has the ring of truth about it. He says he loves these women – but it’s a love that ends in blood.

When Jane tells the police, it should be the lead that Zoe needs – but it only pulls her further into a case that is already taking her dangerously close to the past she’s never fully escaped. For Jane, Zoe and all the other young women of the city, suddenly nowhere is safe. Particularly their own bedroom at the dead of night…

 Whatever you do, don’t read it alone at night.

Your own home,  the one place you’re guaranteed to be safe, aren’t you? In the case of The Nightmare Place this is one thing that is just not so. ‘The Creeper’ is finding a way into women’s houses, through locked doors and closed windows.  No one knows how he is getting in, they just know the pain, devastation, and increasing level of violence that is going on once he is inside.

DI Zoe Dolan is trying to find out who he is and how he is getting in and Jane just might hold the key, but for her talking to the police means breaking the fundamental rule of the help line where she works, trust is paramount and confidentiality is guaranteed.  Can she reconcile passing on what she knows with breaking the rules of the organisation?

Despite its difficult and violent content, it’s got some well portrayed, down to earth characters and a with its fabulously woven plot it is an easy book to read and become enthralled by.  The Nightmare Place is a brilliant, and brutal book.  It will scare you, play to your paranoia and have you checking your locks. Whatever you do, don’t read it alone at night.

The Liars Chair – Rebecca Whitney

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imageRachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business . . . They have everything.

However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack.

Destroying all evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David’s darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it . . .

A startling, dark and audacious novel set in and around the Brighton streets, The Liar’s Chair will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final page has been turned. A stunning psychological portrait of a woman in a toxic marriage, Rebecca Whitney’s debut will show that sometimes the darkest shadow holds the truth you have been hiding from … 

A definite winner…

I thought 2014 was a fantastic year for debut novels, but already it seems that whilst we are barely into 2015, this is shaping up to be an even better year.

Rebecca Whitney’s debut has, for me, firmly established her as a writer of fabulous dark psychological thrillers, this is an amazing depiction of what can happen when one person relinquishes control, and how explosive and destructive the results can be when the balance of power in a relationship changes by even the smallest amount.

The Liars Chair is a totally addictive book, and I found reading it was like watching the most uncomfortable and disturbing piece of TV you can imagine and being unable to tear your eyes away from it.   You know you don’t want to bear witness to, or to be part of Rachel’s complete unravelling, but you cannot do anything except carry on reading and watch her complete breakdown, all the while praying for her salvation.

Rachel’s husband David is a completely vile character who immediately sets your teeth on edge with his controlling behaviour and all the way through the novel, as he becomes more and more loathsome all you want is for him to get his ‘just desserts’. That said Rachel is in no way a particularly likeable character either, the uncomfortable sense of her own complicity in the poisoning of her marriage and her totally selfish actions at the time of the accident, never quite leave you even though you feel sympathy for her situation, and find yourself willing her to find a way out of it.

The Liars Chair is a fantastic first novel that had me wanting to scream and shout at its characters, then forced me to throw it down in frustration, before immediately picking it back up to find out what happened next, and to me any book that can provoke such a strong emotional response is a definite winner.

The Blood Dimmed Tide – Anthony Quinn

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Blood Dimmed jacket

London at the dawn of 1918 and Ireland’s most famous literary figure, WB Yeats, is immersed in supernatural investigations at his Bloomsbury rooms.

Haunted by the restless spirit of an Irish girl whose body is mysteriously washed ashore in a coffin, Yeats undertakes a perilous journey back to Ireland with his apprentice ghost-catcher Charles Adams to piece together the killer’s identity.

Surrounded by spies, occultists and Irish rebels, the two are led on a gripping journey along Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, through the ruins of its abandoned estates, and into its darkest, most haunted corners.

Falling under the spell of dark forces, Yeats and his ghost-catcher come dangerously close to crossing the invisible line that divides the living from the dead.

Poets, politics, the paranormal, this book has it all.

After the success of his first novel Disappeared, Anthony Quinn returns to Ireland with new title The Blood Dimmed Tide, only this time it is to an Ireland heading towards the end of the First World War, when the country is striving for separation from Britain, the Anglo-Irish aristocrats are abandoning their great homes to flee to England, and Irish prisoners destined for execution are instead being returned to their home.

As someone who doesn’t usually read historical crime, and given the alternative first/third person narrative of the story I felt it took me a little longer to become gripped by the story than I am used too, but once I was hooked I was hooked. With its myriad themes and characters there is something in here for everyone.

I also enjoyed the setting and felt that the Ireland envisioned in the tale is almost a character in itself. Quinn is adept at creating haunting and atmospheric visions of Ireland at this time, which I felt really enhanced the supernatural feel and mysteriousness of the tale.

The Blood Dimmed Tide has been billed as the first in a series of three historical novels set around WW1 and The War of Independence, and it has certainly sparked an interest in me around this period in history, so I’ll be looking out for more from Mr Quinn.