Archive for the ‘crime thriller‬’ Category

Breaking Bones


** My thanks to Hannah at Endeavour Press for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **



The streets of Preston are alive with music and banter. But nothing can drown out the sound of breaking bones
Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice. The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves.
Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall.
Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement… to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi.
Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both.
Every dog will have its day…
This gritty, addictive crime story fizzes with the energy of the eighties. 
Breaking Bones will appeal to fans of Martina Cole, Roberta Kray and Stephen Leather.

My Thoughts & Review:

The 1980s setting of this book intrigued me enough to pick this one up, having been a child of the 80s I’m always interested to see how the decade translates onto the pages of a book, and I was pleasantly surprised with Breaking Bones.  The setting felt authentic (as far as my acquired knowledge would permit), the fashions and music of the time definitely felt authentic that’s for sure!

In Breaking Bones, the reader watches the rise of three lads to the dizzy heights of criminal kingship through the eyes of Detective Jim Hacker, the three lads in question, “The Three Dogs”; Frankie, Eddie and Tony were childhood friends.  All three have an unhealthy fascination with violence and are quick to leap to violence in any situation.  Detective Hacker is a fantastic narrator, his obsession with the trio feels so real and dangerous that readers cannot help but become somewhat involved with it too.  Like any detective, his gut instinct tells him that Frankie, Eddie and Tony are responsible for more crimes than the police can prove, but to get the proof that’s needed he will have to sit and wait for them to mess up.

Jamie Strange finds that the tentacles of The Three Dogs have a way of creeping into his life when his fiancée Lauren leaves him for Frankie.  Instead of disliking Lauren for her actions, I ended up feeling sympathy towards her.  She’s a well written character that readers will become invested in.

The plot is dark and gritty, is has elements of brutality which add to the story line, and over all it’s a well paced novel.  The gangland element combined with the crime thriller makes this an enjoyable read and one that I think would appeal to fans of crime novels.

You can buy a copy of Breaking Bones via:

Amazon UK


Follow the blog tour:

Breaking_Bones FINAL

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Hello and welcome along to another post to celebrate indie publishing, where I like to shine the light on another book from an independent publisher or author and share some book love with you all.  Today I am delighted to share a review of The Last Thread by Ray Britain, and also a short interview with the author.

Book Feature:



Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location and the discovery of a burnt out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. Short of experienced senior investigators, ACC Steph Tanner has no choice but to take a professional risk. Throwing Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation, Tanner appoints him as SIO to lead the investigation.

But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many ‘loose threads’ as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation?
Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow?


My Thoughts & Review:

The Last Thread is a remarkable debut novel, with a superb plot and some fantastic characters.  There are so many strands to the plot of this novel that I feel that I should take a moment to appreciate how complex it is but at the same time how exceptionally interesting and thrilling a read it is.

The main character DCI Doug Stirling first appears in a very precarious situation, on top of a bridge with a fifteen year old boy who is about to commit suicide, and Stirling is there as negotiator.  Stirling succeeds in getting the boy to talk to him and trust him to take his hand before unfortunately the boy falls to his death.
The subsequent investigation by the Police Complaints Commission into the incident leaves Stirling on restricted duties and at the mercy of a Chief Inspector who has an agenda.
As it this weren’t enough for our protagonist to deal with, he’s then brought into the investigation of a gruesome death, a body discovered in a burnt out car and warned to keep a low profile whilst internal investigations are ongoing.  Once a positive identification is made the case is thrown open and the intrigue ramps up a notch or three.

For me, this book really stood out from the “normal” police procedural with the level of detail included.  It’s obvious from the writing that the author knows British policing and procedures and it’s really quite interesting to see a side of reality we don’t often get to witness.
The characters are interesting and varied, and I loved seeing the office politics play out between certain personalities.  Doug Stirling is a fantastic character that I hope to see more of in the future!

A brilliant crime thriller with realistic police procedural details – highly recommended!


You can buy your copy of The Last Thread via:

Amazon UK
Author’s website

Author Feature:

Ray Britain’s debut novel The Last Thread was published September 2017. Following a highly successful career in policing in the UK, it should be no surprise that his story is a complex crime investigation story.

Ray served in the Midlands region of the United Kingdom gaining promotion to a high rank, working in both uniform and investigative roles, but the investigation of crime and the camaraderie of investigators remained his first love. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), Ray led many investigations, some of which engaged specialist, national capabilities. For fifteen years he was also a Hostage & Suicide Intervention Negotiator responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily.

In ‘The Last Thread,’ Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader in the driving seat of a complex investigation with all the uncertainties and realities of modern crime investigation.

Ray’s interests include: mountain walking, rugby, skiing, Dad dancing, reading, and sailing.
(Author bio courtesy of Amazon)

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I most enjoy scoping and plotting the story, creating the twists and turns and the faux leads, or red herrings, to intrigue and interest the reader until the end of the story. I also like developing the characters so that they can become friends to the reader or, if not friends, then interesting as to what makes them tick. Having been a professional investigator for many years, studying and analysing people’s traits and characteristics in interview was always a fascinating process, particularly when seeking a confession or some fine witness detail. People come in infinite variables and are endlessly fascinating.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Proof reading and endless editing which is extremely tedious but essential to be sure you’ve made the best use of language and trim away excessive detail. Or, indeed, to flesh out a character to achieve their purpose in the story.

And what is the most challenging part of getting yourself published?

Without doubt, it’s getting yourself noticed. A challenging as the writing is, in many ways it’s the easy part. There are so many books being self-published through Kindle and the like that it’s a challenge to get yourself ‘seen’. Thank fully, we have excellent book review blogsites such as ‘The Quiet Knitter’ which are of tremendous help to new authors like me.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Hmm, I’m not sure. I think that given my background, I should stick with what I know and only if sufficient people like my writing, would I consider branching out into a different genre. Anyway, I have too many plotlines and romantic entanglements for my protagonist, DCI Douglas Stirling, in my head for the time being.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I’ve finished working in the conventional sense of the word and as writing is a very sedentary occupation, particularly when in the throes of the storyline, I try to keep myself sensibly fit by going to the gym a few times each week. I love walking, particularly in the mountains and fell walking and as there aren’t any mountains in the Midlands, the Lake District is my favourite destination in the UK.

Do you have a set routine for writing? Rituals you must observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

Not really. Having worked in a reasonably disciplined organisation for over thirty years leading investigations and large-scale teams, I’m a ‘self-starter’ anyway. I use a laptop for writing and back up each day’s work to both cloud and to a hard drive in the event of a catastrophic system failure, or theft.
Writing has seen me keeping some very strange hours, though. If I can’t sleep I have to get up and use my time usefully so if I’m wrestling with the plot, or a particularly tricky item in the story, I might get up and write through the night. It can make me a bit grumpy in the mornings, I’m afraid.

What’s on the horizon? What can your fans look forward to next?

Subject to readers enjoying my writing and the characters in it, ‘The Last Thread’ is just the first in a series of DCI Douglas Stirling investigations. The next book is mind-mapped out, I’ve drafted the Prologue and committed the first murder. Most satisfying!

You mentioned mind-mapping?

I’ve been a big fan of mind-mapping for over twenty years. I use mind-mapping software to capture my thinking, any research required, parallel story lines and timelines and my character profiles to ensure consistency and so avoid any mistakes. In short, I aim to treat the reader with respect. I want them to immerse themselves in the story without the distraction or irritation of inaccuracies or inconsistency.

Sounds great! So, where can we buy ‘The Last Thread’?

It’s for sale on Amazon and all good e-readers, or simply visit my website at
http://www.raybritain.com/ where you buy it through there.

My thanks to Ray for joining me today and sharing more about himself, and I am so excited to hear that book two is plotted out …..fingers crossed we can get reading soon!

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** My thanks to the wonderful folks at Bookouture (aka Kim & Noelle)  for my copy of Murder Game and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **



A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead. 

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die… 

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one… 

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.

My Thoughts & Review:

Fianlly, the third book in the Detective Ruby Preston series, oh how I’ve waited to get my hands on this book!!  I’ve been a fan of this series since book one, Death Note but have been a fan of Caroline Mitchell’s writing for some time now.

The plot of this book is brilliant, and absolutely gripping.  I loved that Ruby is back in a relationship with Nathan Crosby, the danger and the clandestine air to their pairing just makes this all the more exciting!

Ruby Preston finds herself up against a ruthless killer, one who seems to be playing a deadly game and worst of all paying homage to a serial killer who is now behind bars for the crimes he committed.  The copycat killer is taunting the police, leaving pictures as clues for them to solve, and pitting them against the clock before a second victim is taken.  If this killer isn’t enough to chill readers to the core, then the original killer definitely will.  Ruby goes to him in prison, hoping that he might be able to answer some of her questions, but he seems to have his own agenda which adds a wonderfully gripping edge to the plot.

Anytime I’ve seen Caroline Mitchell interviewed on a blog or appearing on social media she comes across as such a lovely and friendly person, so kind and generally the sort of person you could chat to over a cuppa (and cake!), but somehow she manages to create characters who are the antithesis if of herself.  The killers in Murder Game are so disturbing, making this the perfect read for Halloween season.  I did find there were a couple of times I squirmed as I read, that old “someone walking over your grave” sensation kicked in a couple of times but that wasn’t enough to drag me away from this book!  Absolutely stunned when the final reveal came, hat tip to Caroline Mitchell there, even with the number of psychological thrillers I’ve read I didn’t see the killer’s identity coming at all!

If you’ve not read any of Caroline Mitchell’s books I would seriously recommend them, and urge you to pick up the Ruby Preston series!

You can buy a copy of Murder Game via:

Amazon UK 🇬🇧: http://amzn.to/2v1l8v5

Amazon US 🇺🇸: http://amzn.to/2umrDqp


Don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part in the BlogBlitz for Murder Game:

Murder Game - Blog Tour 2

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Hello and welcome along to The Quiet Knitter!  It’s Friday, and that can only mean one thing (well for here anyway!), it’s time for another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing”.
This week I am delighted to bring you a book from No Exit Press and I thoroughly recommend checking them out both as they have some cracking books to offer!  Today’s book in the spotlight is “Deadly Alibi” by Leigh Russell and she’s kindly taken some time out to face a grilling for the author feature.

Book Feature:


A hand gripped her upper arm so suddenly it made her yelp. Biting her lower lip, she spun round, lashing out in terror. As she yanked her arm out of his grasp, her elbow hit the side of his chest. Struggling to cling on to her, he lost his footing. She staggered back and reached out, leaning one hand on the cold wall of the tunnel. Before she had recovered her balance he fell, arms flailing, eyes glaring wildly as he disappeared over the edge of the platform onto the rails below. . .

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt… Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine’s life turn toxic in more ways than one.

For fans of Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsons and Robert Bryndza

Look out for more DI Geraldine Steel investigations in Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, Murder Ring and Deadly Alibi


My Thoughts & Review:

I think it’s only fair to admit that I broke my own rule with a series….I started this series on book 9!  But I will be going back and binge reading the previous 8 as soon as I can as I loved Geraldine Steel and want to know more about how she got to this point in her life and career.  So rest assured, if like me you are impatient to read this book, it can be read as a stand alone.  Leigh Russell has included ample detail to give readers a good grounding of DI Steel as well as the events surrounding her to make this an enjoyable read for new audiences but adds in details that will delight fans of the series.

To rehash the plot in this review would do this book an injustice, suffice to say that I don’t think I could without giving mammoth spoilers!  There is so much going on in this book that it’s like being on a rollercoaster.  One moment you’re gently putting the pieces together to try and work out who’s behind the heinous acts and the next you’re on the edge of your seat, frantically speed reading to find out what’s going to happen next!  It’s the sort of book you need to give all your attention to, and I was fortunate that I managed to read this in one day so I could feel the tension woven through the plot, become immersed in desperation and frustration being felt by the characters as they were led into a whirlpool of doubt caused by the suspicions around them.

A superb crime thriller with so many exciting and intriguing plot points, the case that DI Steel works on fast becomes addictive reading, and as readers try to piece together the clues it’s impossible not to start jumping to conclusions.  I will admit to being fooled by the red herrings that were cleverly placed in the plot, I thought like the police initially and could have kicked myself once I realised…..fantastic writing!!.

I would absolutely recommend Leigh Russell’s DI Steel series based on this one book alone, it’s fair to say she’s secured a new fan!  Now off to No Exit’s website to buy all the other books!

You can buy a copy of Deadly Alibi via:

No Exit Press (publisher’s website)
Amazon UK

Author Feature:


After many years teaching English in secondary school, internationally bestselling author Leigh Russell now writes crime fiction full time. Published in English and in translation in Europe, her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson titles have appeared on many bestseller lists, including #1 on kindle. Leigh’s work has been nominated for several major awards, including the CWA New Blood Dagger and CWA Dagger in the Library, and her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson series are in development for television with Avalon Television Ltd.
Journey to Death is the first title in her Lucy Hall series published by Thomas and Mercer.



What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

What I like most about being an author is not having to get up early to go to work. I love writing. Nothing will stop me when I’m feeling creative – or if I have a publisher’s deadline looming – but now I can start my working day in bed if I feel like it. For me, that is pure luxury, especially on a cold winter’s morning.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  

This is a hard question to answer as I genuinely love everything about the writing process, from typing the first words of a new book, to completing final edits. It can be hard. Sometimes a plot doesn’t work out in a realistic way, a character refuses to behave as I had intended, or my editor points out a gaffe, and I invariably have to spend time sorting out my muddled timelines. But on the whole I love every aspect of writing and consider myself extremely fortunate to have fallen into a career I enjoy so much.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

That is an impossible question to answer, as it’s equivalent to asking which is my favourite book. There are so many to choose from that I can’t pick just one.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

Is there ever a time for a writer when he or she is not plotting a book? Eugene Ionesco said “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of writing or thinking about writing.” That tends to be my experience. Other than that, I love spending time with my family.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

When I started writing I had essential rituals, certain pencils, and particular locations, but with fifteen books to my name, I have become far more relaxed about external props. All I need is my ipad, my keyboard, and my ideas, and I can write anywhere. I have a desk at home where I do most of my writing, but I’m equally happy writing on a train, a plane, a beach, in a coffee shop, in bed, in my garden – because I carry my writing space with me in my head. And when I’m writing, I’m not really in any of those external locations, I’m thinking and feeling as a character in a fictitious world. I’m Geraldine Steel, puzzling over enigmatic clues, or a killer working out how to dispose of a body without being caught….


A huge thank you to Leigh for taking part and for sharing some more about herself, it’s always nice to get to know the person behind a book.
If you would like to know more about Leigh and her books, check out the following links:

On Twitter:  @LeighRussell @LeighRussell
Website: http://www.leighrussell.co.uk/


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Cover Reveal

** My thanks to Noelle & Kim at Bookouture for the opportunity to read this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **



She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.
The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before. 

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago. 

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack. 

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer

Brilliantly gripping, Cold Blood will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending. 

My Thoughts & Review:

We all have those authors who’s books we will buy without a moment of hesitation, the ones we will patiently wait for publication dates to roll round so we can get our mitts on a copy to devour and Robert Bryndza is one of those authors for me.  The moment I heard about Cold Blood I rushed to Amazon to pre order a copy and then proceeded to wait impatiently until it appeared on my kindle.

DCI Erika Foster returns in the fifth book of the series, and life isn’t quite ready to go easy on her.  The discovery of a dismembered body in a suitcase washed up from the river Thames is just the start Erika’s problems.  Soon another body is discovered with a similar MO and Erika is convinced they have a serial killer on their hands, but the discovery of cocaine hidden inside one of the bodies prompts Erika’s superiors to pass the case to another team, freeing Erika to deal with other cases.  Unfortunately for Erika she is attacked whilst carrying out her duties and this leaves her incapacitated while the case is mothballed.

Robert Bryndza has mastered the art of layering complex threads throughout his plots and holding them perfectly taught to ensure that readers are taken on a spine chillingly twisted journey with his characters.  The clever use of short chapters make this such a gripping read and one of those “I’ll just read one more chapter” sorts of books….
Atmosphere is absolutely key in this book, and readers cannot help but feel drawn to the situations our protagonist charges into.
Erika Foster is battered, bruised but never gives up.  Her mental state has taken some helluva knocks in recent years and the fact she picks herself up, shakes off the muck and gets back in the fight is superb to see.  It’s so good to see a strong and determined female detective who as developed well over the course of the series.  The dynamic between Erika Foster and her DI Kate Moss is still great, they work well together and there is a great chemistry between them.  It is good to see that the team can work well without one of their own, Petersen of course was injured at the end of the last book so his absence makes sense and does not seem to impact on the team dynamic as a whole.

This is a heart racing, hold your breath, drama packed instalment of one of the best crime thriller series available!  Robert Bryndza is a genius and raises the bar for the genre!   I would urge you to discover this series now if you don’t already follow it!

You can buy a copy of Cold Blood via:

Amazon UK 🇬🇧
Amazon US 🇺🇸


Cold Blood - Blog Blitz

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Published: 27 July 2017



The second in the terrifying DI Callanach crime series. Fans of M.J. Arlidge will be hooked from the very first page.

In the midst of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.

DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have no motive and no leads – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.

It’s only when they realise the words are appearing before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

My Thoughts & Review:

Helen Fields has done it again, she’s penned one of the grittiest, most gruesome yet amazingly fantastic books I’ve got my mitts on!  I do want to point out that although this is the second book in the DI Luc Callanach series, it can be read as a stand alone,  but why deprive yourself?

‘Perfect Prey’ sees the return of DI Callanach which will delight fans, the delectable French Scotsman has returned to solve crimes and keep the residents of Edinburgh safe….well once he and DI Ava Turner have managed to crack the case that is.
The pairing of these two detectives is the work of genius really, the dry sarcastic exchanges between the two characters is witty and entertaining but underneath it all is a real sense of care between these two.  Callanach’s relationship with the officers in his team is also great to see, and it’s nice to see how it has developed from ‘Perfect Remains’.  Each of the notable characters in his team has developed well, DC Tripp is one such character, his enthusiasm shines from the pages and contrasts well with DS Lively.  His attitude has remained the same and the ongoing battle between Callanach and Lively makes for some entertaining reading.

The plot is deviously twisted and cleverly played out, the pace moves along swiftly as readers become ensnared by the hunt for nameless victims and their fiendish killers, all of this just makes for completely gripping reading.  The dark web technical aspects to the story have just enough detail to add an authenticity and realism to the plot without becoming too much.
It did feel a little like DI Turner took a lesser role in this, however once the pace picks up readers become aware of personal issues that she is facing so it all makes sense.  The relationship between DI Turner and DCI Edgar was questionable at best, and I have to salute Helen Fields for creating such a deplorable character.  He’s craftily been brought to life with qualities that rank him higher up the scale for hating than the killers!
The killers, well that’s an ingenious set up.  The way this aspect of the plot plays out is so incredibly frightening but at the same time riveting reading.

Now the wait begins for January for book 3 in the series to come out…….

You can buy a copy of ‘Perfect Prey’ via:

Book Depository


My thanks to Sabah at Avon Books for the opportunity to read this fantastic book!


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Hello and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for Malcolm Hollingdrake’s latest crime thriller featuring DCI Bennett!  It’s a huge honour to take part in this tour and I am delighted to be able to share a fantastic guest post written by Malcolm.


DyingArt hand.jpg

Following his recovery from a personal and professional trauma, Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett has been declared medically fit to resume his police duties. He returns to discover a complex case involving the art world.

Soon Bennett unearths a dark side of the industry where greed, ambition and dubious practices thrive and, where there is money to be made, violence and murder are never far away.

Working their way through a maze of galleries, museums and the internet, Bennett’s team struggles to make sense of the evidence.

Can Bennett tell the difference between what is real and what is fake?


You can buy a copy of Dying Art via:


About the Author:

You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route.
Malcolm worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.

Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and has four books now available. Presently he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm has never lost his love for his home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all three novels.

Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It’s a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in his latest novel.


Guest Post:

Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett stared at the strange face that gurned back from the misted bathroom mirror; it was far from the face he knew. He deliberately closed his eyes but only one obeyed his order, the right eye continued to study the reflected disfigurement. It had to be said that the toothpaste liberally spread round his lop-sided lips and the fact that it continued its path to drip from stubble on his chin, didn’t enhance his appearance. Three days ago he had been fine. It had been a long day, yes, nothing abnormal in that, followed by a few relaxing drinks in the Black Swan and one or two night-caps once home and this was what he had awoken to.

“Bloody Bell’s pissing, poxy palsy,” he groaned in a strong, Yorkshire accent. “Great!”


It seems but a moment ago that I set the ball rolling with this opening paragraph of ‘Only the Dead’ the first in the DCI Cyril Bennett Crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but on reflection it has been quite a trek!

For one thing it was titled, ‘Keen as Mustard’, and it was self-published on Amazon. I had sent the manuscript to a number of agents and publishers but received the usual, ‘Thanks but no thanks’, response. Not one to give up too soon I wrote the next Bennett book, again self-published and titled, ‘Just above Hades’. I designed both covers. Again I eagerly sent book two out, like Noah sending the dove from the ark. Nothing!

The third book in the series had a working title of, ‘Inked’ and this too was optimistically sent out to a number of publishers but alas nothing. I probably should have given up, thrown in the towel at this stage but I enjoyed the process of writing, creating a parallel fictitious world that was mine. It sounds selfish and personal but the characters I had created had become part of the fabric of my life; I just couldn’t let them go. It was then that serendipity played its hand.  A number of things happened that I’ve detailed before in other posts and as if by magic I had a contact…Bloodhound Books to whom I sent manuscript three.

It’s funny that throughout history there are people who see what others miss and this can certainly be said of Betsy Reavley and Fred Freeman. Somehow they saw something in my writing that was worthy of a more in-depth look, what their expert eyes saw, I know not, but they believed the story to be worthy of a commitment and so it was that they offered me a contract for that book, book three which became, ‘Flesh Evidence’. They then realised that I had self-published books one and two and accepted those plus one other; I suddenly had a four book deal; I had the makings of a series.

From being totally dejected to being ecstatically excited took but a matter of days. It’s funny what effect those few words, We’d like to offer you a contract, can have on an individual. So what happened? Well, the first three books did really very well and book four ended series one. Now you have the beginning of the second DCI Cyril Bennett Crime series set in the beautiful surroundings of Harrogate. ‘Dying Art’ brings together two of my passions, my writing and my love of Northern art. To think that this has happened only since August, 2016. I feel proud to have five books published.

To get this far I have had a great deal of support. My wife, Debbie, never lost faith in my ability to tell a story, friends who have committed time, the bloggers, without whom I’d be nothing and the enthusiasm of the readers. Their support of the Bennett series has been both amazing and humbling. Their positive comments and reviews have generated an even keener appetite to create more of these books. I thank you! My sincere thanks, as always, to Bloodhound Books for their belief in me when nobody else did. There are two other people I must name and thank, Helen Claire who saw something in my work at the same time as Bloodhound. I hope you like your character in the book, Helen, and Caroline Vincent who has been a guiding light and true inspiration.

I would like to leave you with book five, ‘Dying Art’ and hope that you enjoy this latest DCI Bennett case whilst I continue writing book six.

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Published: 23 February 2017



Longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017

When Maggie Laird’s disgraced ex-cop husband suddenly dies, her humdrum suburban life is turned upside down. With the bills mounting, she takes on his struggling detective agency, enlisting the help of neighbour ‘Big Wilma’. And so an unlikely partnership is born.

But the discovery of a crudely mutilated body soon raises the stakes… and Maggie and Wilma are drawn into an unknown world of Aberdeen’s sink estates, clandestine childminding and dodgy dealers.

Cross Purpose is surprising, gritty, sometimes darkly humorous – a tale combining police corruption, gangs and murder with a paean to friendship, loyalty and how ‘women of a certain age’ can beat the odds.


My Thoughts & Review:

When I saw that this crime thriller was set in my home town of Aberdeen I knew I had to read it, there’s something about books being set in a place that you know that immediately makes them jump out.  Equally, when a respected blogger recommends a book to you then you know you’re on to a winner, and I can honestly say that it was worth listening to Gordon on this one!

Maggie Laird’s life is thrown into turmoil when her husband suddenly dies, she seeks out the help of her nextdoor neighbour to get to the mortuary to identify the body of her husband not realising that this simple act of kindness would lead to a great friendship and business relationship between the two.
George Laird was a police officer, who was “forced” into early retirement because of disgrace, investigation was what he knew best so he set up his own detective agency, and following his death, Maggie decides to take a gamble on running the business with the help of Wilma to try and pay the bills that are mounting up.  But Maggie also has an ulterior motive for running the detective agency, she wants to exonerate George’s good name.

Maggie then walks a tightrope of increasing danger when she becomes entangled with some of the Granite City’s finest (or perhaps most dastardly) criminals.  Keen to show no weakness, Maggie puts up a strong facade and comes across perfectly businesslike when she needs to, but underneath it all she is fragile and trying to balance her grief whilst keeping things together for the sake of her grown children.
Her sidekick in all of this, “Big Wilma” on the other hand is as fearless as they come.  She definitely reminds me of many an Aberdonian woman in her ways.  She’s down to earth, no airs and graces but would loan you her last fiver if she thought it would help you out.  Both  Maggie and Wilma bring something different to the partnership, and it’s true about opposites attracting, where Maggie is reserved and quiet, Wilma is sharp tongued and spirited.  The dialogue between the two is fantastic, many of their exchanges felt absolutely authentic to the point I could hear the accents of the parts of town they were from (even with doric, we like to mix things up so folk fae Kincorth spik diff’rint frae ‘he folk fae Northfield).  And I have to say that the geography of the book felt pretty authentic to me, even down to the mentions of the layout at Castlegate with the Mercat Cross and the shops.

The development of the characters in this was well done, it was nice to see focus was shared between more than just the female sleuths, seeing the story from the perspective of the police detectives and being able to share their frustrations that they could not move their investigation added depth.  Some characters in this will definitely make you feel a bit uncomfortable and that is down to the skill of the author.  It takes great skill to create a character that makes the skin crawl and that’s exactly what Claire MacCleary does here.  For a debut novel I was very impressed, it felt that a lot of work had gone into laying the foundations for a solid plot that could be expanded upon throughout the book as well as leaving ample opportunity for future books.

Wee word of caution for those not familiar with doric, a handy link to help you translate any words you might get stuck with is The Doric Dictionary – it’ll save you getting crabbit fan yeh cannae understan’ fit ‘he quine is spikin aboot!

My thanks to Gordon McGhie and Sara Hunt at Saraband/Contraband for the opportunity to read and review Cross Purpose and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of Cross Purpose via:

The Book Depository


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Valerie Keogh TOTMS



When Kelly Johnson’s husband disappears, her perfect world in the Foxrock suburb of Dublin falls apart. Then she stumbles on a dead body in the graveyard behind her house.
A coincidence? Garda Sergeant Mike West thinks so until he finds a link between the dead body and Kelly’s missing husband.
And then to add to the problem, Kelly disappears.
The investigation takes West first to Cornwall and then to Cork, on the trail of a tangled case involving identity theft, blackmail and illegal drugs. And as if the complications of the case weren’t enough there is the constant, irritating – and definitely unsuitable – attraction, to the beautiful Kelly, who will keep disappearing!.

My Thoughts & Review:

There’s something about Scottish and Irish crime fiction that I adore, perhaps it calls to my roots being a humble 1/2 and 1/2 lass, or perhaps its the wonderfully rich personalities that inevitably shine through in these books…

“That One May Smile” begins with Kelly Johnson beginning another day, barely surviving after her husband vanished three months ago without any explanation.  Her life has fallen apart, she fails to see that her beautiful home as turned into a midden, that personal hygiene is no longer of importance to and all she wants is her husband Simon home.  Realising she is without her lifeline coffee, she quickly dashes out to the shops and on the way  back home she discovers a dead body in the graveyard behind her home.  Suitably shaken, she phones the Guards to report it who come out to investigate.

Garda Sergeant Mike West is curious about the case, and as a detail driven character he is determined to find out every minor detail that he can to tie things up.  He discovers a link between the dead body and the missing Simon Johnson and quickly realises there is far more to this case that initially thought.  The case would be a whole lot less troublesome if Kelly Johnson stayed put, making discoveries of her own she heads off to search out answers to her own questions.

From the very outset this was a very intriguing read, and I had many questions.  What happened to Simon Johnson, who was the body in the graveyard, what did that clue on the body mean, what was the connection between it all??  Valerie Keogh spins a fantastic tale that twists and turns, keeping her readers guessing at what might happen next.  The characters that have been created are interesting and challenging.  I found that initially I struggled to connect with Kelly Johnson,  but on reflection the situation that she was in was not an easy one and who knows how they would react in those circumstances.  The development that she undertakes throughout the book is well thought out, when revelations are unearthed Kelly is shocked but processes them logically and finds an inner strength to keep going.  Despite Kelly being the main character, I felt that I got to know Mike West better.  The details given about the detective showed a wonderful insight into this character, his torturous past is detailed later on in the story and gives a great understanding of why he is a stickler for detail and directions.  I really want to mention Detective Peter Andrews, one of West’s colleagues.  Whether this character was intended to be funny I do not know, but the quick wit of this character alone makes this book worth reading!

A very well written book with a gripping plot and well paced.  I cannot wait to read the next book in the series “Close Ranks”.

You can buy a copy of “That One May Smile” via Amazon here


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


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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.

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