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** My thanks to Alison Brodie for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Devious, ruthless, and loyal.

Zenka is a capricious Hungarian with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knives and shotguns.

Jack discovers he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charge. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she will make Nicholas into the sort of son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas is learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed. As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a mob boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Zenka was a book that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about it, I’d seen it reviewed by other bloggers and was curious about it as they’d raved about it.

What can I say about Zenka?  It’s an adrenaline packed, madcap, vortex of crime fiction, black humour with a smattering of romance thrown in for good measure.  Now to try and break that down into something that resembles a review without regurgitating the blurb….hmm this could be tricky!
There are so many strands to the plot of Zenka, for a start, Zenka is the name of our protagonist.  She’s Hungarian, a pole dancer in one of the clubs owned by Jack Murray (a gangster) and when Jack saved her life she decided to become his “guardian angel”.  Simple enough so far….
Zenka’s attempts to help Jack and his son connect are disastrous, but they make for entertaining reading.

The clever use of the letters written by Zenka to her friend explain so much about this character, and I found that the more I read, the greater my understanding of her became.  I was initially a little hesitant with the accent that Zenka had, but it grew on me through the book and I ended up hearing her speaking in that accent as she spoke.

Characterisation in this is superb, you really get a feel for the personalities and the quirks of the main characters and it’s hard not to become invested in them.
The humour woven throughout the book is excellent, I found I was chuckling out loud at certain scenes, Jack and Trevor at Christmas, Jack and Zenka trying to “toughen” Nicholas up are just some of the ones that immediately spring to mind.

It’s a well written crime thriller with a difference.

 

You can buy a copy of Zenka via:

Amazon UK

 

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It was a great honour to be able to read an advanced copy of this book, Helen Cadbury creates a fascinating and gripping tale that has readers hooked from the very opening pages, she shrewdly leads them down a path littered with clever subtleties and flags of danger whilst enticing their imagination to run riot.  When a book offers so much you just know you’re going greedily devour it!

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Description:

It is the middle of a long night shift in Doncaster for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee. With a sexual assault court case and a missing girl also vying for his attention, Denton and the murder investigation are drawn towards the neighbouring greyhound stadium where all is not as it seems. With the worlds of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse pressing in on all sides, Denton is walking ever closer to serious danger.

My Thoughts & Review:

Part of my enjoyment of this book centred around the main character, PC Sean Denton.  A fresh faced constable who along with his partner PC Gav Wentworth gets pulled into a case that involves so many aspects it might leave their heads spinning.
Denton dreams of becoming a detective, it’s the one thing that he really wants but fears that his dyslexia will hold him back, and it’s something he keeps secret from those around him.  This extra layer to Sean Denton just makes him a little more “real” for readers and makes him stand out at someone who is determined to work hard for his goals.

When I went into this book I was aware that it was the third in the series (yes, breaking my own rules once again!), and I can happily say that this reads well as a stand alone book.  Helen Cadbury ensured that she wrote just enough explanation for events and backstories to be sure that new readers would pick up on Sean Denton’s previous tales but not enough to bog down those already familiar with the series.  And if I’m honest, the wonderful style of writing has me keen to go back and read the previous two books just so find out the details of what went on before this book.

The plot moves quickly and keeps readers engaged, and as the tensions mount and the strands of the plot weave together to form an inescapably brilliant conclusion it becomes harder and harder to drag your eyes away from this book.  It’s one of those books that calls to you and stays inside your head making you wonder about it.   The clever plotting will have readers muttering aloud or commenting in excitement once Helen Cadbury lets them in on the mysteries within the book, but some of the explanations remain just out of reach until Cadbury is ready to share them and boy, it’s worth it!

All of the characters in this are quite interesting, and despite some being less than favourable and their actions being questionable, you still feel somewhat invested in them and their situations.  The exploration of some of these characters was fascinating to read, especially Sarah.  I found that the more I learned about her, the more intrigued I became.  And I think it’s fair to say that Sean Denton has secured a place in my heart with this book, he comes across as very likeable and the sort of character that you could probably cast from your circle of friends.

It’s with great sadness that I have to say that there will be no book four in this series as sadly Helen Cadbury passed away in June 2017.

 

Follow the blog tour:

Race to the Kill tour poster

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Hello and welcome to the second post this Friday to “Celebrate Indie Publishing”, I promised you not one but two books, so here is the second book to feature today.  This time we have Death Parts Us by Alex Walters, it was published on 28 September 2017 by Bloodhound Books.


Book Feature:

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Description:

A chilling new crime thriller from a best-selling author.

Twenty years ago, Jackie Galloway was a senior cop with a bad reputation. Then he ended up on the wrong side of the wrong people, and his career was ruined. Sacked and with no pension, he ends up eking out his last days on Scotland’s Black Isle, his mind lost to dementia, supported only by his long-suffering wife, Bridie. 

Then Galloway is found dead. The police assume the death to be accidental, until Bridie Galloway reveals that her husband has been receiving threatening letters containing only the phrase: ‘NOT FORGOTTEN. NOT FORGIVEN.’

DI Alec McKay is struggling to come to terms with life without his estranged wife Chrissie, and is living in isolation on the Black Isle. As a junior officer, McKay had been allocated to Galloway’s team and has bad memories of the man and his methods. Now he finds himself investigating Galloway’s death.

But when suspicion falls on him and more police officers are murdered, the pressure is on for McKay to solve the case.

Why would the killer seek revenge twenty years after Galloway left the force?

As McKay fights to link the events of past and present, he realizes that time is rapidly running out…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve done it again, I’ve broken my rule about reading books in a series out of order, there, I’ve admitted it and we can move on.

In all fairness this book can be read as a stand alone book but if you want to read the series I would highly recommend it.  After finishing Death Parts Us, I headed straight over to Amazon to buy the first book in the series Candles and Roses so that I could find out what really happened before this book and can happily report that these can be read out of order and it’s actually quite nice to have read them out of order.

When I started reading this I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I am a huge fan of Scottish crime thrillers so was keen to try this book.  Certainly the book description grabbed my attention, but I was also intrigued by the setting.  The Black Isle and Inverness are places I’ve visited quite a lot, we recently holidayed up in Fortrose on the Black Isle so I was interested to see if the author could bring the place alive through the book.  He certainly did, so many of the places mentioned brought memories of being on the Black Isle, and I could envision the winding roads and side streets so clearly.

DI Alec McKay is a character that I thoroughly enjoyed  reading about, his cantankerous ways reminded me of a few male members of my family, and I loved his sense of humour.  The sarcastic moments that played out in his head during conversations were hilarious at times and really made me like him that little bit more.  There’s something about the way he is described that brings such a clear image to mind, I found that after I’d finished reading this I was mentally casting actors to play in him a TV series.

The sheer brilliance of the plot caught me off guard, just about when I was beginning to feel smug about working out part of the “whodunit” I was left open mouthed and stunned that I’d got it so wrong, fair play to you Alex Walters, you laid a fantastic trail of red herrings to lead me astray!  The idea of police officers being killed off makes for an interesting twist, you don’t see that played out too often in crime thrillers.  The way that the plot links up and plays out is wonderful, small details you might not think are key suddenly become wee light bulb moments and you find that you’re racing through the book to find out how it all links up in the end.

A fantastic thriller that I would have no hesitation to recommend and will be keenly keeping an eye out for more books featuring Alec McKay!

You can buy a copy of Death Parts Us via:

Amazon

 

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Published: 2 November 2017

 

Description:

JOHN WALLACE IS A TARGET
Hiding off-grid after exposing the shadowy Pendulum conspiracy, Wallace is horrified to discover he is still marked for death.

THERE ARE ONLY TWO PEOPLE HE CAN TRUST
DI Patrick Bailey is still reeling from the murder investigation that nearly cost him his life.
FBI Agent Christine Ash is hunting a serial killer with a link to an unfinished case

HE MUST FIND THE TRUTH
The death of a London journalist triggers an investigation that brings them back together, hurling them into the path of an unknown enemy.

BEFORE THE KILLER FINDS HIM
Hunted across the world, they are plunged into a nightmare deadlier than they could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts & Review:

Freefall is another tantalisingly explosive instalment in the Pendulum trilogy that picks up right where book one finished and fans of the first book will definitely not be disappointed by this fast paced and compelling read.

John Wallace is a broken man and seems hell bent on a path of self destruction, his life has been thrown into a vortex of danger and desolation ever since he first encountered the killer known as Pendulum.  It’s also good to see the return of Christine Ash and Patrick Bailey, their appearances bring a fantastic edge to the plot as well as offer superb scope for character development.  A lot of Christine’s back story came out in the first book, and so readers new to the series won’t have the full details reading this book alone, but that’s not to say they won’t get a good idea about her past and who she used to be.  Patrick on the other hand, is slowly unravelling after the events previously and cannot seem to get off this path, seeing his slump played out so clearly on the pages is sobering to see.

The plot itself (no spoilers here!), is akin to brilliance.  It makes for addictive reading and I can see why the screen rights were snapped up by Tom Hardy’s production company, Hardy Son & Baker.  This is a series that would make for excellent viewing as well as reading!

A fascinating narrative gives the reader the feeling that they are caught up in the momentum of the book, and make no mistake, this is addictive reading with clever nuances and subterfuge woven tightly throughout.  Adam Hamdy blew me away with his first book and I’m so pleased to say that the series has got even better with Freefall, I didn’t think it would be possible, but he’s done it!  ]

Everything you need in a good thriller is in this book, gripping plot, action, brilliant characters and an underlying menace that keeps you reading long into the night!

My thanks to Headline Books for the opportunity to read an early copy of this.

You can buy a copy of Freefall via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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Published: 10 August 2017

 

Description:

How do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?

There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

My Thoughts & Review:

The concept of this book is very intriguing and one that I was desperate to find out more about after reading such a fascinating blurb.  I did wonder whether I might struggle to get my head round the mono/duo concept, but found I accepted it unquestionably which meant I could get caught up in this deliciously clever thriller.

The idea that people can either remember the day before yesterday, or just yesterday is strangely interesting but at the same time could be fraught with danger.  Depending on how the characters record their thoughts and the events of the day in their diary means their memories may becomes skewed.  Some characters noting that because they perhaps did not keep a full detailed account of one day meant they had grey areas and could not be entirely certain about why something may have happened.  Which in turn made for some wonderful unreliable narration for readers to revel in.

There are characters are difficult to understand, granted when you are only seeing them through the eyes of another character the view is somewhat one sided.  I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of Mark, and as the plot progressed I found I was liking him less and less.  I wanted to try and understand Claire, but because it seemed that she wasn’t sure what memories she could trust or rely on what she had been told it left me feeling some sympathy towards her and wanting to find out what was being hidden and why  .  The very idea that none of the characters could really be relied upon or trusted to tell the truth makes this all the more thrilling to read.  The timescale element to the investigation turns this into a frantic page turner – the detectives trying to solve the case whilst the suspects can still remember the details without having to rely on their diary entries.

A very original plot, with superb writing and one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year, I cannot recommend it highly enough!

My thanks to the good folks at Wildfire Books for the opportunity to read this book.

 

 

 

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Published: 18 May 2017

Description:

A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.

DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local gay rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become more complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.

Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner.

My Thoughts & Review:

Bad Blood is the fourth book by Brian McGilloway to feature DS Lucy Black, and thankfully for me this can read well as a stand alone book, although after reading this I am very keen to go back and catch up on the previous three books.

There is a very current feel to this, the plot incorporating the Brexit referendum as well as issues of racism, immigration and homophobia.
DS Black and her superior officer, DI Tom Fleming are members of the Public Protection Unit which requires them to assist on numerous investigations including the murder of a gay teenager.   With the influx of crime on the Greenway estate, racist attacks and and building unrest it soon becomes clear that their investigations will be far from easy, the PPU having to sensitively navigate round certain figures within the communities to get the answers they need.  The way that Brian McGilloway manages to weave threads of different factions and their grievances is very interesting.  From those who would fight in favour of bakeries discriminating against homosexuality for religious reasons all the way through to people retaining anger at the injustices of the Troubles, the author manages to incorporate details that add to the plot but never overshadows the main storyline.

As a police procedural this is a good read, there are enough twists to the plot to keep a reader interested and keep them guessing as to what may happen.  There are some incredibly well created characters that will delight readers.  DS Lucy Black is a refreshing change from the usual detective, she does not appear to be damaged or have a horrendously sordid backstory and instead works well with others to do her job well.

My thanks to Hayley Camis and Corsair for the opportunity to read and review this book as well as for being part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Bad Blood” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and extracts!

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Hello and welcome along to another post to Celebrate Indie Publishing, today I am delighted to share a book from the wonderful Orenda Books, today’s fantastic book featured is “Faithless” by Kjell Ola Dahl and I’m delighted to say that this post is also part of the blog tour for the book.


Book Feature:

Published: 15 April 2017

Description:

Faithless cover(1)

When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her—and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers—and the killer—before he strikes again. Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, atmospheric page-turner marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Kjell Ola Dahl was not a name that I was familiar with before I heard about this book, and for those out there that are shaking their heads in shock, horror or disbelief, please accept my apologies.  Kjell Ola is lovingly described as the “one of the fathers of Nordic Noir” by  his publisher Orenda Books, and after devouring this book I can see why.

“Faithless” is actually the seventh book in the series following the Oslo detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda, but happily this book can be read as a stand alone.  I did initially worry that I might struggle to connect with the characters because I came to the series so late but they are written so well that you don’t feel that you’ve missed anything.  The shared history and friendship of the detectives runs in tandem with the main thread of the plot and does not detract from the case at hand, the focus is on the crime and investigation. 

There is something special about Nordic Noir, there’s a realistic simplicity to it, the precise nature of which makes it a joy to read.  This realism shows through in the characterisation, Frølich and Gunnarstranda are time served detectives, they rely on gut instinct and experience rather than modern technology.  The simplicity of doing things the “old fashioned” way gives them an authenticity and fits in so well with the creations I conjured in my head whilst reading.
In keeping with the hallmarks of the genre, there is an unfathomable darkness looming on the horizon.  The tension slowly mounts whilst Dahl masterfully leads his readers on a journey of misdirection and plays with their minds, but all the while the darkness swells until Dahl cunningly stuns his audience and leaves them dumbfounded.  

The plot is clever and the numerous strands of the plot weave so eloquently together to form a conclusion that readers will thoroughly enjoy.

As with any translated book from this publisher, the translation work is superb.  Don Bartlett deserves a huge thank you for taking this wonderful novel and making it read naturally in English.  I will admit that I am somewhat hesitant with some translated books, there is always a worry that subtleties will be lost in conversion into another language, that social or cultural aspects may not comfortably translate but here this is not the case, and I would like to offer my thanks to Don Bartlett for his time and hard work in ensuring that his work is to the highest standard.

You can buy a copy of “Faithless” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery
Orenda Books eBookstore


 

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for more reviews, guest posts etc.

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