Archive for the ‘police procedural’ Category


Paperback Published: 26 January 2017
Reviewed 31 January 2017

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre as part of blog tour



When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work. With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment. Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deep to stop the killing. And this time—it’s personal.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Evil Games” is definitely a book that has nothing to fear from the the curse of ‘second book syndrome’ – Angela Marsons absolutely marks her place amongst the greats of the police procedural/mystery/thriller genre with this one.

For those unfamiliar with the Kim Stone series, I would definitely recommend heading back to book 1, Silent Scream, to dive in to the whirlpool that is Kim Stone.  The plot is such that this can be read as a stand alone, enough information is given about previous cases so that you will have grasp of what has passed but why deprive yourself of this series?!

I’m not going to breakdown the plot here, but I will say that readers may feel some discomfort with some subjects in this book as they are of a sensitive nature – however Angela Marsons shows the utmost respect to her readers and subjects by handling these sensitively and ensures that any mention of abuse remains pivotal to the plot without becoming gratuitous.

As a character, Kim Stone is utterly complex and one a reader feels driven to find out more about.  She has a past that is kept well hidden, and slowly it’s being revealed, almost like peeling an onion.  Despite shedding a few layers, Marsons keeps her readers hooked by hinting there is more to her creation that she’s revealed.  The professional relationship between Stone and Bryant makes for great reading, they work well together and he seems to have figured out how to work alongside Stone to get the best from her.

Angela Marsons has to have one of the most wickedly twisted imaginations out there, creating such intricately evil characters, disturbingly haunting plots and characters that you either are cheering on or want to physically scream at.  It’s little wonder her books have sold in their millions and I can see why.  Each of the Kim Stone series is a book that is difficult to put down, you promise yourself ‘just one more chapter’ and before you know it, it’s the wee small hours of the morning and you’re still reading.  The pace of this book is frantic, and there are several points in the plot that catch you off guard.

The next book in the series is “Lost Girls”, the paperback is due out June 2017.

You can buy a copy of “Evil Games” in the UK here.

My thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for the opportunity to read this and be part of the blog tour.

About the Author:


Angela Marsons is the author of Amazon #1 Bestseller SILENT SCREAM.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their bouncy Labrador and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (My Name Is and The Middle Child) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 8 books. The second, third and fourth books in the Kim Stone series, EVIL GAMES, LOST GIRLS and PLAY DEAD are also now available.

For more information about Angela Marsons and her books go to her website http://angelamarsons-books.com or follow her on Twitter @WriteAngie


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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Mark Hardie’s debut Burned and Broken, and share my review of this impressive novel.



 An enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague’s death, they’re under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force’s reputation. 

When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth some dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?

My Thoughts & Review:

The book opens with the horrific scene of DI Sean Carragher burning to death  in his car.  The discovery of his unrecognisable body in the burnt out vehicle sparks an investigation by DS Frank Pearson and the Essex Police Major Investigation Team.  As far as openings go, this is a pretty powerful one, it immediately grabs the reader’s attention.

The narrative jumps back four days, the author recounts the events leading up to the investigation of DI Carragher’s death.  During these four days the reader is introduced to Donna Freeman, a sixteen year old in her first year out of care.  Donna is convinced that her friend Alicia has been murdered and continuously tries to get someone to listen to her that it was not an accident.  We also discover that DI Carragher was being investigated by Professional Standards for suspected corruption, witness intimidation and assault to name but a few, and that there are no shortage of suspects connected with his death.

In amongst the sprawling investigation, DS Frank Pearson has his own troubles, in poor health and undergoing tests for suspected pancreatic cancer and estranged from his wife.  DC Catherine (Cat) Russell finds the reach of the Professional Standards investigation into her former partner (DI Carragher) is coming too close to home, falling under suspicion by association, she desperately wants to protect Sean Carragher, but remaining loyal will mean telling lies for him.
The death of one of their own sees the Police throwing resources at this case to solve it quickly, but that also means there are many pair of eyes watching the investigation, ones that will not approve of the discoveries made by Pearson and Russell.

This is a very cleverly written thriller, with layer upon layer of detail. The use of different perspectives for narration gives the reader a good insight into the Police investigation as well as the life of Donna in care.
The novel is split into three distinct parts, and this is a very effective technique for setting out the story, indeed this would also make this an idea book to transfer to screen.
Well paced plot, with brilliant little details added for that extra something special.  The characters are well crafted, realistic and credible.  The location used is a welcome change from the normal big cities, so thank you Mr Hardie, you’ve broken away from the “norm” and given the reader what we’ve been screaming out for.

A very impressive début novel and one I would have no hesitation to recommend.

You can buy a copy of Burned and Broken here.

About the Author:

Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing fulltime after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!



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Published: 12 January 2017
Reviewed: 11 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK as part of the blog tour




My Thoughts & Review:

The Dry was an example of a book I saw spoken about on social media, many commenting that this would be the book to look out for, a story so cleverly crafted and interwoven, atmospheric to the point of rendering the reader speechless.  Well that was more than enough to catch my interest and thankfully I managed to get a copy to review and see for myself just how good this book actually was.

Initially I found this slow to get into, perhaps it was the fact that previous to this I’ve been lucky enough to read some amazing pacy thrillers, but fellow reviewers suggested persevering, stating that they had loved this book, so I continued reading.
Looking back I can appreciate the slow opening now, working so well with the depressive atmosphere in Kiewarra, the arid heat causing people and animals to slowly wilt and languish.

Aaron Falk is an interesting character, not only because of his link to the deceased Luke Hadler and the secret they shared, but also for the person he has become since leaving the town twenty years ago.  His inability to say no to Hadler’s parents means he becomes involved in the investigation of the deaths of Hadler, his wife and his son.  The oppressive hostility he faces from the townspeople shows just have little their mindsets have advanced in the decades after his departure.  Working alongside Raco, the new chief of police they discover there may be more to things than initially thought.
Both of these characters were very interesting and readers will feel able to connect with them quite easily.  Conversely, Grant Dow was a character that I struggled with, malicious, nasty and downright horrible – a very well crafted character!  Emphasising the point that some bullies never change.
The juxtaposition of the open space of the town and the closed knit community always makes for engaging reading, and that is definitely the case here.  Outsiders are exactly that, people from outside the town, and are made to feel this the entire time they there – the atmosphere is very oppressive and claustrophobic.  None of this is aided by the drought that is ravaging the town, people are quick to mistrust, tempers are frayed and it only needs a small spark to ignite the arid landscape.   Adding to the overall enthralment of the novel.

Jane Harper has shown herself to be a very accomplished author with this impressive debut, and although it was slow to begin with I am very glad I stuck with it.

You can buy a copy of The Dry here.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!


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Published: 1 November 2016
Reviewed: 14 December 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Legend Press in exchange for an honest review



The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.

When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.

Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.

Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

My Thoughts & Review:

Beneath the Ashes is actually the second book by Jane Isaac to feature DI Will Jackman, but thankfully this can be read without having first read Before It’s Too Late, there is more than enough detail given in this to be able to make connections between characters and events so there is little to detract from the enjoyment of reading this book in that respect.

Jane Isaac has great skill when it comes to being a story teller, her writing is intelligent and gives the reader the feeling that they are as much a part of the investigation as DI Jackman and his team.  I initially began reading this thinking that I would read a few chapters to get a feel for the story, but soon I realised this is not a book to pick up and put down at your leisure.  I found I needed to know who the body was in the barn, I needed to know what the connections were but more importantly, I felt that I needed to know more about DI Jackman.
In any police procedural the lead detective is usually the focal point of interest for obvious reason.  But here we are rewarded with a detective who has a very caring side, a strong work ethic and overall seems a genuinely nice guy – far from the ubiquitous grumpy, chain smoking, heavy drinking miser that we have come to know from this genre.  This in contract with the female lead character makes for interesting reading, while most readers will warm to Jackman, many will feel that Nancy Faraday is harder to connect with.  Her views are somewhat naive at times and she seems to act without real thought – but then as a victim of trauma you can hardly blame her.

The real mastery in this novel comes with the weaving of apparently unrelated threads of plot into one massive and unbelievably brilliant conclusion.  Try as I might, there was no way I would have even guessed half of where the plot went, which was refreshing as many police procedurals seem to follow the same well trodden path.

I look forward to the next book in the series to see where DI Jackman goes from here.

You can buy a copy of Beneath the Ashes here.


About the Author:

Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014’.

In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It’s Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within, to follow on 2nd May 2017.

Both DI Jackman and DCI Lavery will return again in the near future. Sign up to Jane’s newsletter on her website at www.janeisaac.co.uk for details of new releases, events and giveaways.




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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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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for The Girl Who Had No Fear and share an extract from Marnie’s latest thriller to feature Georgina McKenzie.



Amsterdam: a city where sex sells and drugs come easy. Four dead bodies have been pulled from the canals – and that number’s rising fast. Is a serial killer on the loose? Or are young clubbers falling prey to a lethal batch of crystal meth?

Chief Inspector Van den Bergen calls on criminologist Georgina McKenzie to help him solve this mystery. George goes deep undercover among the violent gangs of Central America. Working for the vicious head of a Mexican cartel, she must risk her own life to find the truth. With murder everywhere she turns, can George get people to talk before she is silenced for good?

You can buy a copy of The Girl Who Had No Fear here

Extract from The Girl Who Had No Fear:

Chapter Five

‘What do we know about our man in the canal?’ Maarten Minks asked. Neatly folded into his chair, he sat with his pen in hand and his pad open, as though he were poised to take notes. Van den Bergen could deduce from the shine on his overenthusiastic, wrinkle-free face that he was on the cusp of getting a stiffy over the discovery of this fourth body. Waiting for his old Chief Inspector’s words of wisdom, no doubt. Bloody fanboy.

‘Well,’ Van den Bergen began. Paused. Rearranged his long frame in his seat, grimacing as his hip clicked in protest when he tried to cross his legs. ‘It’s interesting, actually. His wallet and ID were still on him. No money stolen, so he couldn’t have been pushed into the water after a mugging.’ He took the smudged glasses from the end of the chain around his neck and perched them on his nose. Wishing now that he’d had the scratched lens replaced when George had told him to. Trying to focus on the handwriting in his notebook. Hell, maybe it wasn’t the scuffing. Maybe his sight had deteriorated since the last eye test. Was it entirely unfeasible that he had glaucoma? ‘Ah, his name was Floris Engels – a maths teacher at Bouwdewijn de Groot Lyceum in the Old South part of town.’

Minks nodded. Pursed his lips. ‘A teacher, eh?’

‘Yes. I checked his tax records. Head of department at a posh school on the expensive side of town.’ Removing his glasses, Van den Bergen stifled a belch. ‘IT Marie’s done some background research and revealed nothing but a photograph of him on the school’s website and a Facebook account that we’re waiting for permission to access. It’s unlikely he was some kind of petty crook on the quiet, as far as I can make out, but I got the feeling he might have been dead before he hit the water.’

‘And the number of canal deaths are stacking up,’ Minks said, lacing his hands together. That fervour was still shining in his eyes.

Van den Bergen could guess exactly what he was hoping for but refused to pander to his boss’ aspirations. ‘I’m going out there with Elvis now to interview the Principal and some of his colleagues. We’re going to check out his apartment too. Marianne’s doing the postmortem this afternoon. She says, at first glance, she thinks maybe there’s been some foul play.’

‘Excellent!’ Minks said, scribbling down a note that Van den Bergen could not read. ‘Lots going on. I really do admire your old school methodical techniques, Paul.’ The new Commissioner beamed at him. His cheeks flushed red and he leaned his elbow onto the desk. ‘Will you be disappearing into your shed for a think?’

Is he taking the piss, Van den Bergen wondered? But then he remembered that Maarten Minks was neither Kamphuis nor Hasselblad. This smooth-skinned foetus had been fast-tracked straight out of grad school. At least Van den Bergen’s long-range vision was good enough to corroborate that there was a raft of diplomas hanging above Minks on the wall behind his desk. A framed photo of him posing with the Minister for Security and Justice, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the bloody Prime Minister. No sign of a naked lady statue or stupid executive toys. This youthful pretender to the policing throne was all business. But he could think again if he thought Van den Bergen was going to discuss the shed. ‘Do you have any suggestions regarding the shape the investigation should take? Any priorities I should know about?’

‘See how the autopsy pans out. But if there are any similarities with the other floaters, I think we need to consider …’

Here it was. Van den Bergen could feel it coming. He shook his head involuntarily and popped an antacid from its blister pack onto his tongue.

‘… that a serial killer is on the loose.’

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, extracts and some fascinating guest pieces written by Marnie.

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Published: 6 October 2016
Reviewed: 24 November 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by author in return for an honest review



“We have a dead child, and a crime scene that has been remarkably well kept for us.”

A young child lies mummified in a barrel. His hands, cable-tied, appear to be locked in prayer. As forensic officers remove the boy they are in for an even bigger shock – he is not alone.

With his near-fatal stabbing almost a memory, DI Bob Valentine is settling back into life on the force but he knows nothing will ever be the same. Haunted by unearthly visions that appear like waking dreams, he soon understands he is being inducted into one of Scotland’s darkest secrets.

When the boy in the barrel is identified as a missing child from the 1980s, it re-opens a cold case that was previously thought unsolvable. When further remains are unearthed, the facts point to a paedophile ring and a political conspiracy that leads all the way to the most hallowed corridors of power.

Summoning the Dead is a fast-moving mystery that eerily mirrors current events, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Angela Marsons and Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I initially started this book I wasn’t sure what to expect, the subject matter didn’t sound like it would be the easiest book to read – the death of a child is always a tough topic to read about but I had faith in Tony Black’s abilities as an author and so dipped my toe into the murky abyss that awaited.

Summoning The Dead is actually the third book in the DI Bob Valentine series, but thankfully this can be read without having read the previous books (Artefacts of the Dead and A Taste of Ashes) but after reading this book I will be downloading the other ones on to my kindle asap.  Black ensures that there is enough detail in the book so that a reader can enjoy this without feeling that they have missed salient points from previous stories.

Weaving together stories from present day and from 1980s, the reader is witness to  the investigation into the discovery of a body of a young boy in a barrel which reopens a cold case from over 30 years ago.  But this shock discovery and the subsequent investigation leads to the unearthing of a complex web of child abuse and scandal that beggars belief.

The fact that this book deals with topics such as paedophilia and child abuse make it one that some readers will feel caution towards, however I do believe that Tony Black has written with sensitivity and care.  The plot is otherwise brilliant, it’s intriguing and cleverly twisted so that the reader can try and guess what is happening but does not always manage to second guess the author.

DI Bob Valentine is a wonderful character, and he is developed well throughout this novel.  The descriptions of him form a fantastic mental image, he’s weary from work and home life, he’s recovering from a near fatal stabbing but he’s still determined to solve his cases.  He comes across as a humble man, and he has an ability/gift to connect with the victims of the cases he works on, call it psychic powers, call it old fashioned “copper’s gut instinct”, it makes him a special character that is more connected to the cases he works.  His relationship with DS McCormack is so well played out, there is a great dynamic between the pair.  Her support to him with his gift/ability means he has someone he can speak openly with without fear of seeming foolish.

Short chapters make this a quick read, the writing itself is clever and a joy to read.  The marvellous descriptive nature of the writing really made me feel like I was there in the book, it’s never easy to describe Scottish weather – horizontal rain tends to receive questioning looks but in this book it works well!

I have a bit of a soft spot for tartan noir, and have been a fan of the genre for many years, and I can honestly say that I will be adding Tony Black to the bookcase alongside my prized copies of Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin’s books.

You can buy a copy of Summoning The Dead here

About the Author:

Tony Black is the author of 13 books, most recently A Taste of Ashes, the second novel in his DI Bob Valentine series. He has been nominated for six CWA Daggers and was runner up in The Guardian’s Not the Booker prize for The Last Tiger.

He has written three crime series, a number of crime novellas and a collection of short stories. His next crime title is DI Bob Valentine 3, Summoning the Dead in summer 2016.

For more information, and the latest news visit his website www.tonyblack.net or follow him on Twitter @TonyblackUk


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Published: 1 September 2016
Reviewed: 31 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by The Borough Press in return for an honest review




‘Hits the sweet spot between literary and crime fiction – Gripping’ ERIN KELLY

‘For those who love their crime fiction rich in psychology, beautifully written and laced with dark humour. Dive in’ LUCIE WHITEHOUSE

Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.

Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.

The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing persons case becomes a murder investigation?

My Thoughts & Review:

Missing, Presumed was one of those books that everyone was saying good things about so it was only natural for me to want to read it and see whether they were right.  Thank goodness I was able to get a copy, it is a good police procedural with drama and is very character driven.
The reader is introduced to Detective Manon Bradshaw and her team who are investigating the disappearance of Edith Hind.

Detective Bradshaw is a great character, she is a woman who wants to find love and have children some day and her experiences of internet dating were far from positive.  She’s quite a realistic and believable character, her forays into the world of dating are numerous and add a light-hearted feel to the narrative in places.  Her colleagues are equally interesting and entertaining, especially DI Harper.  The in-depth interviews carried out in the course of the investigation with Edith’s family allow good scope for character development and but also meant that the more I learned about these people the less empathy I felt towards them.

For me the pace of this book was more of a slow burn rather than a speed reading exercise but the writing makes up for this.  It’s cleverly plotted, wonderfully descriptive and quite an intelligent read.  It is clear from reading this book that time and care has been taken over the research, the police procedural aspect felt realistic.  A very good read, and one I would recommend.

You can buy a copy of Missing, Presumed here.





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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on Katerina Diamond’s blog tour for The Secret and share an extract from this utterly dark and twisted thriller.

Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?

As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.

And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…

Extract from The Secret:

‘Detective Grey?’ DCI David Stanton’s voice snapped her out of her trance; she put the photos down and turned around. He stood in the doorway to his office, looking sullen and stern like he always did. Sullen and stern, but undoubtedly attractive. Imogen felt her stomach flip slightly.


‘My office!’

She walked across the room, aware that the sound of her heels carried, hoping no one would look up. The day was coming to an end; only the brown-nosers would be around now. The brown-nosers and her. She stood to attention as Stanton closed the door behind her. Her boss was a tall man, a good few inches over six foot. He had medium-brown hair with flashes of grey at the temples and he was never completely clean-shaven, almost, but not completely.

‘Is there a problem, sir?’

‘I thought you were gone for the day?’

‘Just wanted to get my paperwork done tonight, sir. You know, while it was fresh in my mind.’

‘I admire that work ethic, Grey.’ He walked back around and released the shutter on the blind. ‘It couldn’t wait till tomorrow?’

‘It could have, yes.’

He was a foot taller than her. She could feel his warm breath brush the top of her ear as he stood behind her, close but not touching.

‘So, why are you really here?’ he whispered. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, her skin prickled as he said the words. She could feel his body heat, he was right there, right behind her. She wanted him to throw her down on to the desk.

‘I’m not sure, sir,’ said Imogen at last.

‘Stop calling me sir, Imogen.’

He was really close now, as close as it was possible to be without contact. She could feel the desire in him, feel his temperature rising. They were touching without touching, longing to put skin on skin. To feel fingers tracing the lines of each other’s body, to kiss, to lick, to bite. Their flirtation had almost reached breaking point. How much longer could they play this game?

‘What should I call you, then?’ she asked quietly, suggestively. Every part of him was leaning towards her. She was delirious with excitement and anticipation. As he leaned closer still, there was a sudden knock at the door and she felt Stanton take an abrupt step backwards. The spell was broken.

‘Come in,’ he said, clearing his throat, moving away from her. Imogen swallowed hard, trying to slow her heart rate back down.

The door opened as Stanton smoothed his tie and sat down behind his desk, in an obvious attempt to hide his stimulated body. He didn’t look at Imogen.

Jamie, the desk sergeant, entered and handed a file to Stanton.

‘Thanks, Jamie. Detective Grey—’ He looked up at her. She could feel the heat in her cheeks. ‘You can go home now; finish your paperwork tomorrow. You’re done for tonight.’

Imogen nodded. Without making eye contact with him, she walked out of his office and grabbed her stuff from her desk. Looking back once, she saw Stanton putting his jacket on, shrugging his arms into the sleeves. She forced herself to look away. She needed to get home, and she needed a cold shower.

You can buy a copy of The Secret here

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 Dance With The Dead

Author: James Nally
Published: 28 July 2016
Reviewed: 2 August 2016
5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by HarperCollins UK, Avon in return for an honest review
Aspiring actress Elizabeth Smart lands her centre stage role: her mutilated body is found dumped in North London’s red light district.  Clasped in her hand is a piece of human hair belonging to an unidentified body of a woman murdered two weeks ago.  

PC Donal lands himself a place on the murder squad just as his unconventional brother, journalist Finton, unearths the secret double life of Elizabeth. 

The bodies mount, each clinging to the strands of hair belonging to the previous victim.  The police are convinced it’s the act of a serial killer.  But how does Donal convince them it’s not?
The only people he can trust are the victims he dances with in his dreams.  

My Thoughts & Review:
Dance With The Dead sees the welcome return of PC Donal Lynch.  For anyone not familiar with this character, the first book Alone With The Dead is utterly brilliant and well worth a read.  This can be read as a standalone, but why deprive yourself of James Nally’s writing?  

We open in early 1990s London and Donal has been moved to the Cold Crime Unit, a punishment for his behaviour at the end of book one.  The discovery of a mutilated body in the Red Light District is the perfect opportunity for Donal to ingratiate himself back in to the embrace of the Murder Squad.  His work on cold cases involving prostitutes leads him to believe there is a connection between the historical cases and this new body.  

With “help” from his journalist brother Fintan, Donal really has to be careful walking this tightrope.  When the patriarch of the Lynch family unexpectedly arrives from Ireland, a spanner is thrown into the works.  Donal already having a seriously troubled relationship with his father because of the connections to the IRA and the Troubles finds juggling the presence of his father, attempting to solve the mystery of the murdered woman and the budding romance with Zoe from Forensic Science Service almost too much to handle. 

As the case escalates the cover ups, deception, political intrigue and corruption intensify.  London’s gangsters, police corruption, IRA, Irish Peace Talks, Special Branch and paedophilia are just some of the things involved in this multi layered wonder. 

Happily, the author has continued on Donal’s sleep paralysis, and this time it enriches the story so much more.  Plagued by hangovers, his ghostly visions seem to haunt him even when awake.  Nally cleverly writes this aspect of the story to allow the reader to interpret it as though it’s in Donal’s head, a bad dream if you will, however I like to think of it as it’s his “old fashioned gut instinct” talking to him.  

Donal is a wonderful character, so thoroughly well written.  He’s a tortured soul, with an incredibly dry sense of humour and a loving for Shiraz.  His brother Fintan is another brilliant character, incredibly unscrupulous.  I was delighted to see him appearing more in this book, and found myself liking him and his antics more than I had previously.    

Once again, Nally has given the reader a book that transports them back in time.  Referencing events from the early 1990s, giving a history lesson about the Irish-British Troubles, he takes the reader right into the heart of dark atmospheric world he has scripted.  Setting and atmosphere are key in thrillers, and this book has it in abundance.

James Nally is a gifted writer, he constructs a a book that is dark, twisted, and mercilessly violent but at the same time it is rich with humour and wit (at times the inappropriateness of the humour is what makes it even funnier).  It is so cleverly plotted, layer upon layer of detail brings this story to life, the characters come alive and the atmosphere feels real.     

I cannot wait to see what James Nally comes up with next for Donal, just please don’t make me wait too long to find out!

You can buy a copy of Dance With The Dead here. 

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