Archive for the ‘crime fiction’ Category

Vile City Cover

Published:  11 May 2017



DI Duncan Waddell has big problems. He’s borderline diabetic, his boss thinks he’s in the Army and the paperwork is piling up faster than the underwear at a porn shoot. The last thing he needs is the country’s biggest case to land on his lap.

Three women have gone missing in the city he’s fast coming to despise, victims of the GLASGOW GRABBER as their assailant has been dubbed by local hack and all round pain in the backside, Catriona Hastie.

Shelley Craig’s the Grabber’s latest victim, snatched as she and her boyfriend took a shortcut through Glasgow city centre. And she’ll do anything to make it home.

Handling this baffling case is stressful enough without Waddell’s pal DC Stevie Campbell, who’s in a coma after being attacked by a suspect, starting to talk to him. Trouble is, only Waddell can hear him.

My Thoughts & Review:

As a fan of Scottish crime fiction it seemed only natural for me to jump at the chance to read “Vile City”.
From the very opening pages the reader is faced with an action packed sequence as police officer is attacked, this helps to set the pace for what turns into a taut and chilling crime thriller.  Following the disappearance of two women from the City, DI Duncan Wardell and his team are struggling to find a suspect, motive or link between the cases when a third young woman is abducted and her boyfriend is knocked out and left lying in the gutter.  Shelley Craig’s disappearance sparks a media frenzy, and adds pressure to the already overstretched investigating team – one of their number is lying in a hospital bed in a comatose state.
As DI Wardell and his team delve into the connections between witnesses and evidence it soon becomes apparent there is more to this case than they imagined.  At the heart of the investigation are some sordid goings on involving human trafficking, swingers clubs and sex games gone wrong.  There are also several dangerous characters thrown into the mix to make it that little bit more treacherous.

Wardell is a police officer who has seen most things, investigated many crimes and still manages to have a heart of gold.  He cares about the victims of crimes and wants to do his utmost to catch the criminals that plague Glasgow’s streets.  He’s also a loving father and caring husband that tries to shield the harsh realities of his work from home.   The scenes where Wardell visits his friend DC Stevie Campbell are well written, Wardell questioning whether Stevie is recovering and talking to him or if it is merely his mind playing tricks on him in a state of exhaustion.  Either way, having Wardell go and talk over aspects of the case opens him up more to the reader and gives a wonderful insight into how he works through the case, Stevie almost acting as Wardell’s conscience.
His junior officer DC Brian McKeith is a different kettle of fish entirely.  A new addition to the investigating team, he feels that he doesn’t fit in with the team – his place being the one previously held by the comatose DC Stevie Campbell.  He’s quite an enigma, there are times he comes across as rash and foolish, but there are also moments where he is astutely perceptive.  It’s clear from Wardell’s narrative that this young detective has a lot of learning to do but also a lot of personal growth might be needed too.

The plot of this felt very current, human trafficking is a topic that is appearing more often in crime novels and with the migratory climate being as it is, it is not too difficult to imagine this is a scenario playing out in cities across Europe.
There is a chilling danger that leeches slowly from the plot of this book, there are many aspects of danger that hide in the shadows and knowing who to trust seems to be key.  The way that the author reveals shock after shock leaves readers reeling, momentarily stunned by the levels of deviance and deception that have played out on the pages.

“Vile City” is a good crime thriller that moves along at a swift pace and pulls readers in.
The writing is clever and concise, dialogue feels natural and characters seem believable and I would recommend it to fans of Scottish crime fiction as well as crime thriller fans.

You can buy a copy of “Vile City” via:

Amazon (UK)
Amazon (US)
Amazon (Canada)

My thanks to Kate and Noelle at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity & Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the blog tour:

Copy of @TAsTPublicity (1)


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Published: 4 April 2017


A woman’s body washes up on a remote beach on the Inishowen peninsula. Partially-clothed, with a strange tattoo on her thigh, she is identified as Marguerite Etienne, a French woman who has been living in the area.

Solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is consumed by guilt; Marguerite was her client, and for the second time in her life Ben has failed someone who needed her, with tragic consequences. So when local Sergeant Tom Molloy dismisses Marguerite’s death as the suicide of a disturbed and lonely woman, Ben cannot let it lie.

Ben uncovers Marguerite’s strange past as a member of a French doomsday cult, which she escaped twenty years previously but not without leaving her baby daughter behind. Disturbed by what appears to be chilling local indifference to Marguerite’s death, Ben pieces together the last few weeks of the French woman’s life in Inishowen. What she discovers causes her to question the fragile nature of her own position in the area, and she finds herself crossing boundaries both personal and professional to unearth local secrets long buried.


My Thoughts & Review:

When I heard there was a follow up to Andrea Carter’s “Death at Whitewater Church” I was instantly curious, having thoroughly enjoyed the first book of the Inishowen Mystery series I was keen to see if the second instalment would live up to the standard in place and I should never have doubted the author, once again she has penned an amazing novel that grabbed my attention from the first page.

Solicitor Ben O’Keeffe really should have looked into a career as a rally driver, indeed when we first encounter her in this book she is driving at breakneck pace along the coast roads of Inishowen to where a body has washed ashore.  Fearing the worst, Ben wants to find out if it is her client Marguerite Etienne and sadly Ben is able to identify the body as being Marguerite.  The Guards write it off as suicide, especially after hearing from Ben that Marguerite had been to see her to draw up a will, thinking that she was putting her affairs in order before taking her own life.  Ben is not so sure and demands answers.

Ben is a tenacious character, her determination to do the right thing for those she cares about can often lead her into dangerous situations and at times she seems to have a reckless regard for her own safety.  But her kindness and compassion towards others offsets this, always taking the time to speak to the locals in the village she works and lives in, visiting the bookshop to chat with Phyllis (and rehome a few bundles of orphan books – good lass!), and being an integral part of the local community.
The chemistry between Ben and Guard Tom Molloy is wonderfully scripted, as the reader only sees their interactions from Ben’s point of view it’s hard to tell is the gruff and stoic Molloy feels the same way, but you do get a feeling there is ‘something’ between them, but both have their secrets and won’t open up to each other.

The clever way that the plot is woven means there are links and clues that the reader will try to piece together to preempt where the tale is heading (unsuccessfully in my case),  but Andrea Carter masterfully draws it all together with a fantastic conclusion.

As I mentioned, this is the second instalment in the Inishowen Mystery series, and this book is perfectly readable as a standalone, there are hints to previous events and Ben’s past before she settled in Glendara but the author includes enough detail so that you don’t feel you’ve missed out on anything pertinent.  I would however recommend reading the series in order purely for enjoyment if nothing else.  This is a wonderfully atmospheric setting for a crime thriller, the windswept beaches, the jagged coastal settings and the small villages make for a brilliant backdrop and add to the tension that builds throughout the plot.

Now to wait patiently for the third instalment……….

You can buy a copy of “Treacherous Strand” via:

The Book Depository

My thanks to Helen at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read and review this book.


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Published: 26 January 2017



A serial killer to chill your bones

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that I stumbled upon “Rattle” quite by accident on social media one day, lots of fellow book bloggers were chattering about an amazing psychological thriller that needed to be read and savoured – what more encouragement did I need to get reading?

Fiona Cummins is a new author to me, and so in this respect I had little idea what to expect when I picked up a copy of “Rattle”, but happily I was hooked from the opening pages.  The plot is intriguing and cleverly woven through the novel, there is a prevailing darkness that leeches from the pages of this book, making this an incredibly addictive and gripping read.

Because I hate giving spoilers I will avoid saying too much about the plot, but I will mention the Bone Collector.  The Bone Collector is a serial killer like no other I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of encountering (perhaps not the best word to use but I will certainly give you an idea of the malevolence of this character).  He’s the sort of character you should only read about in daylight hours, sinister doesn’t begin to describe this psychopath.  Utterly terrifying and lacking in empathy as any decent psychopathic serial killer is, the reader is then given a glimpse into the mind of the Bone Collector through his thoughts – oh how I appreciate a well written killer.
All of the characters are interesting in their own respects and the way in which they are written makes the reader feel empathy towards their fates.

As far as thrillers go, this is definitely one that raises the bar.  Fiona Cummins has written an incredibly sinister debut that moves swiftly and enthrals the reader.  She introduces an unnerving antagonist that creeps out most readers, and creates a cast of characters that readers become so invested in that they are driven to keep reading despite the evil emanating from the Bone Collector.
The writing itself it atmospheric and the vivid descriptions make this book stand out for me.

You can buy a copy of Rattle via Amazon here or Wordery here


Many thanks to Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.



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Published: 17 February 2017

Copy provided by Bookouture as part of blog tour



Two sisters. One murder. And an unbreakable bond.

Growing up in squalor with their drug-addicted prostitute mother, sisters Georgie and Marnie Parker have had to endure the very darkest side of life. 

When their mother is sentenced for brutally murdering a client, Georgie and Marnie’s already precarious lives are blown apart and they now share a terrible secret. Sent to a children’s home, the sisters hope this might finally be their safe haven after years of neglect. But they soon discover they’re in real danger.

Desperate to find a place of safety, Georgie and Marnie run for their lives, but end up in the hands of Delray Anderton. A violent London gangster and notorious pimp, Delray has big plans for beautiful teenager Georgie, seeing her as a chance to make some serious money.

Fiercely protective of each other, Georgie and Marnie must escape the clutches of a man who will do anything to keep the sisters for himself. And, they must keep the promise they made to each other – no one can ever know the truth. 

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Promise” is a book that I might not have ordinarily picked up to read, Casey Kelleher isn’t an author I’ve read much from but she came highly recommended by some wonderful and trustworthy bloggers so I figured it was worth taking a chance.

This is a very gritty read, with topics that make for uncomfortable reading but they are handled with sensitivity and the writing is superb.  The pace of this was matched well to the plot, catching the attention of the reader quickly and remaining enthralling throughout.  I enjoyed that the plot kept me hooked in,  needing to read on to see what happened next, see how the characters developed.
The characters were incredibly well crafted, some so absolutely beyond redemption that the reader cannot help but be drawn to them, utterly fascinating specimens of the human race for their abhorrence.  The juxtaposition of Georgie and Marnie, witnessing and enduring some truly awful things and remaining strong in the face of adversity is magnificent writing.

I’d say it’s not a read for the faint hearted, this book certainly packs a punch.  It reminds me somewhat of Martina Cole’s books, there’s the same sort of gritty, gripping toughness about it, but also a vulnerability just under the surface waiting to grab the reader and pull on their heart strings.  I may well have to go back and read some of Kelleher’s previous books now, just to see what I’ve been missing out on!

You can buy a copy of “The Promise” here


My thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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Published: 5 December 2016
Reviewed: 26 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Oldcastle Books


I don’t really want to say too much about the plot, it’s very clever constructed so to give away any of the subtle nuances would spoil it for other readers.

What I really liked about this one was the way in which Luke McCallin took details of Berlin’s history and wove them tightly with a thrilling plot where spy networks and undercover agents appeared.  Being able to transport the reader to the rundown scenes in Berlin at that time is incredibly powerful, the war damaged buildings loom on every street, the distrust towards ‘informers’ and occupying nationals is evident through the writing and offers the reader a glimpse into a world they may not have experienced.

Reinhardt is a very well constructed character, a very richly detailed character that McCallin has taken great time and care over.  The back story for Reinhardt is interesting and makes him easier to connect with, his guilt and fear are palpable.  His constant struggle with trying to do the right thing makes for engrossing reading.

I was surprised to find out this was actually the third book to feature this character and will definitely be going back to read the previous two books.  I felt there was a ‘Bernie Gunther’ sort of ethos to this, which personally was a good thing as I really like Philip Kerr’s books.  This can definitely be read as a stand alone, there is more than enough detail given about Reinhardt to form opinions of the character and his personality etc.

Overall an enjoyable read, a slow burner that has just the right amount of thriller, intrigue and menace.

My thanks to Oldcastle Books and No Exit Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

You can buy a copy of “The Ashes of Berlin” here.

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Helen Fields fantastic thriller “Perfect Remains” which was published 26th January 2017 by Avon Books.



If you’ve been following the blog tour you will know that the author, Helen Fields has been killed and the breadcrumb trail of clues is slowly revealing more about her killer.  Today I can share clue number 6 with you, can you work out who it is yet?

Follow the blog tour for clues about Helen’s demise and who the culprit is.


You can buy a copy from Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Published: March 2017
Reviewed: 23 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Trapeze in return for an honest review


For fans of Disclaimer and I Let You Go, Tattletale is the debut psychological thriller you can’t miss.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who believed in fairytales. Now she is out to get your happy ending.

One day changes Jody’s life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags’ life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiance Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind.

But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit…

My Thoughts & Review:

When I saw the folks at Trapeze saying how good this book was and how it would be one of those books not to miss out on I knew that it had to be something pretty special and one that I might need to read.

Tattletale is an incredibly tense read, it’s creepy and there’s an aura of claustrophobia that leeches from the pages.  The reader is aware that danger lurks in the shadows and the silence but cannot stop reading.  As the story unfolds the reader learns that things are not as clear cut as they may have initially seemed.

The tales from Mags and Abe’s childhood are disturbing and saddening reading, the details adding to the overall picture of these complex characters and give an insight as to how they ended up where they are today.  The narrative from a young girl, the identity of whom we find out later is utterly harrowing and uncomfortable reading.  The reader knows what is happening from the subtle and not so subtle language used by Naughton which makes this an emotional read and one that I can only describe as traumatic but enthralling.

The writing itself it a thing of beauty, it really is.  The clever layering of plot and small details mean that the reader experiences some amazing writing.  Building a complex plot is one thing,  but to combine it with incredibly intense and clever psychological framework is taking it to another level.  Deviously, Naughton allows the reader to form their own conclusions from the breadcrumb trail she sets out before slowly revealing what actually happened, and despite the clues being there, I will admit I sat back for a moment and was wowed at what I had read.  Exploring sensitive subjects in a novel can be difficult for some authors, they need to be written with objectivity and the correct level of sensitivity, but I think that it is handled well here, but I would urge caution, as it does handle some topics that some readers may feel very uncomfortable reading about (child abuse and rape).

Definitely recommended for fans of psychological thrillers

You can pre order a copy of Tattletale here.

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 17 December 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Penguin UK – Michael Joseph in return for an honest review



There’s the lost.
There’s the missing.
And there’s the taken.

She asked me once if we had any secrets, and I shook my head.
‘No secrets between us,’ she said.
‘No,’ I answered. ‘Never ever.’

In a Durham hotel at dawn, celebrated preacher Tristan Snow is murdered as he prays. None of the other guests – not even his daughter, his wife, or her sister – saw or heard anything.

But then again, they all had a motive for murder.

Detective Inspector Erica Martin is confronted by secrets and lies, lost in a case where nothing is what it seems.

With no answers, DI Martin is consumed by questions: Is anyone in this family innocent? When the victim might have been a monster – is there such a thing as justice? And does anyone deserve to die?

My Thoughts & Review:

Despite being the second book to feature DI Erica Martin, The Taken reads well as a stand alone – thank goodness for me as I’d not read Bitter Fruits.

When evangelical preacher Tristan Snow is found dead in his B&B in Durham Erica Martin and her team find that there is more to this case than they first suspected.  What then follows is a dark and twisted case with no shortage of suspects, ones who are determined to keep their secrets and reveal as little as possible.

Despite there being so many characters in this novel, the author takes great care to ensure that the reader gets a clear picture of the vital ones.  Using techniques such as writing chapters in italics throughout the reader is privy to a letter written by the wife of the murder victim.  This gives a fascinating insight into this character and allows the reader more opportunity to try and understand her, as well as give more ammunition to dislike her.  In fact, a lot of the characters in this are quite hard to like but this does not make them less interesting, quite the opposite.

This is a deliciously clever book, the plot is well woven so that there are multiple suspects and even more motives for the killing. This seemed to have an added *something* making it better than the average police procedural novel for me, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was just something about this one.  It’s the sort of book you desperately want to read on to see “who, what and why” but at the same time you don’t want to finish the book.  A very gripping and compulsive read!

You can buy a copy of The Taken here.


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Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 7 December 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review


In a remote corner of Lagos in Nigeria, a stranger delivers a homeless boy to an orphanage, where the welcoming staff hide a terrible secret.

At a squalid flat in the docks area of Cardiff, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range. The killer slips away.

Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help – but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path…

My Thoughts & Review:

Mike Thomas is a new author to me, but when I heard that he had won around fans of Stuart Macbride’s with his writing I knew I had to try his books.
Ash and Bones is the first book by this author that I have read and it certainly won’t be the last.  I absolutely loved the gritty, fast paced feel of this novel, it kept me reading well into the wee hours of the morning (a victim of “just one more chapter” syndrome).

In the beginning I was stumped to see how Mike Thomas could link the events in Nigeria and Cardiff, and part of me wanted to read on to see if he actually managed to tie them together.  But thankfully the two strands weave together to form an outstanding thriller and lay the foundations for a brilliant series featuring Will MacReady.

I won’t regurgitate the plot, but suffice to say it’s gripping, gritty and so deliciously complex that the reader cannot help but be lured in.  The characters in this felt authentic and realistic, the dialogue between MacReady and Beck was brilliant and gave a great insight into the dynamic between these two.  Seeing the ways that Beck tries to keep MacReady in hand make for entertaining reading, poor lass has her work cut out there.  MacReady is a great character, desperate to prove himself but a wee bit of a rogue when it comes to bending the rules.

When reading a novel written by someone who has intimate knowledge of the police force and crimes I always think it shows in the details they are able to include.  Mike Thomas served as a police officer for many years and this translates through his writing, giving the reader a real feel of authenticity.  It’s always a treat to read these sorts of books, as a reader you are privy not only to the workings of an author’s mind but also to the functioning mind of an ex police officer who goes to great length to ensure sufficient detail so they can to enhance your reading experience.

Thankfully, book two is coming in 2017 and I cannot wait to see where Thomas plans to take DC MacReady next!  Definitely an author to keep an eye on for the future!

You can buy a copy of Ash and Bones here.

About the Author:

Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff’s busiest neighbourhoods in uniform, public order units, drugs teams and CID. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.

His debut novel, Pocket Notebook, was published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House) and longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. The author was also named as one of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for 2010. His second novel, Ugly Bus, is currently in development for a six part television series with the BBC.

His new novel, Ash and Bones, was published in August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre.

He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife, two children and an unstable, futon-eating dog.

More details can be found on the website www.mikethomasauthor.co.uk

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It’s time to finally set in stone the books of the year, a list that I have created, edited and ripped up mentally for the past few days…..When you’ve read so many books over the year it’s hard to narrow down a top 5, a top 10 or even a top 20, but I will attempt to share my top books of 2016.

Top Indie Books:

In no particular order:

  • Death of a Nobody by Derek Farrell (Fahrenheit Press)
  • The Mine by Antti Tuomainen (Orenda Books)
  • Summoning The Dead by Tony Black (Black and White Publishing)
  • A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone (Orenda Books)
  • A Man With One of Those Faces by Caimh  McDonnell (McFori Ink)
  • Casing Off by P.I. Paris (Black and White Publishing)
  • Death In Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson (Urbane Publications)
  • Doorways by Robert Enright (Urbane Publications)
  • The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn (Orenda Books)
  • The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann (Manilla / Bonnier Zaffre)

Top Crime Fiction & Thriller:

I really tried to keep this to 10…..but well I just couldn’t…..

In no particular order:

  • Strangers by Paul Finch
  • Dark Water by Robert Bryndza
  • Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge
  • The Killing Game by J.S. Carol
  • Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst
  • The Dead House by Harry Bingham
  • All Fall Down by Tom Bale
  • Out of Bounds by Val McDermid
  • Blood Lines by Angela Marsons
  • Love You To Death by Caroline Mitchell
  • The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza
  • In The Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride

Top Books of Brilliance or Smile Inducing Wonderment:

In no particular order:

  • The Accidental Dictionary by Paul Anthony Jones
  • How To Find Your (First) Husband by Rosie Blake
  • The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland by Julia Stuart
  • The Life Assistance Agency Thomas Hocknell
  • The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
  • A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn
  • 183 Times a Year by Eva Jordan
  • Christmas Under A Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin
  • A Home in Sunset Bay by Rebecca Pugh
  • Christmas At The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

What books would you rate as your top ones for this year?  Have you read any of these ones?  Let me know your thoughts below.

And just because I can, here’s ones I think will be top books for 2017….

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