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  • Title: Die For Me
  • Author: Jesper Stein
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 16th January 2020

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

A brutal stalker is preying on women in Copenhagen.

DI Axel Steen begins an obsessive manhunt that sends him spiralling out of control.

The investigation is fraught with heart-stopping near-misses, dark mysteries, and a final revelation with devastating consequences.

A raw psychological thriller from a master of crime storytelling.

My Thoughts:

After reading the previous novel by this author, I was keen to see what Jesper Stein had lined up for his maverick detective in Die For Me. The previous book, Unrest, is available to buy and read before you plunge into the icy depths of this book.

Little has changed with Axel Steen, he still displays a flagrant disregard for the rules and his superiors, he walks a perilous tightrope between right and wrong, often straying too close to the depths of darkness. His personal life is a tangled web, his ex-wife is in a relationship with one of his colleagues, a particularity smarmy example of a human. His love for his daughter is one of the few calming influences on the detective, but his dogged determination and sheer bloody mindedness when it comes to his work often leads him to break promises or bring her in to situations that her mother deems inappropriate – a constant bone of contention between the two parents.

The plot is as ever is complex, dark and uncompromisingly emotive. With such a sensitive subject, Stein writes with a sensitivity and respect towards the victims in his novel, but ensures that he portrays the events and vicious perpetrator in a balanced way. The brutal realities of the plot are hard to read, but there is almost a balance in the way Stein details how the victims live with the aftereffects of the violence they endured. The attention to detail feels genuine, it reads as though he has carried out many hours of research into the impacts on mental health and well-being as well as the physical effects of sexual assault.
Technical details of the investigation, in particular the forensic side of the investigation, are fascinating. The complexity of the information is laid out to allow readers to immerse themselves in it, but take away knowledge from it too. I also found it interesting to see how cold cases are reexamined and where links can be made to current cases by a detective making a connection and not giving up on the case.

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Welcome to another Celebrating Indie Publishing post! Today I am thrilled to indulge another of my great interests, true crime, with a review of Krays: The Final Word.

  • Title: Krays: The Final Word
  • Author: James Morton
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 14th November 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Think you know everything about the Krays? 

Think again.

Britain’s most notorious gangsters as you’ve never seen them before.

Britain’s most infamous criminals: the Kray twins. The extent of their activities has always been uncertain. But now, it is time for the conclusive account of their story, from their East End beginnings, to becoming the kingpins of London’s underworld.

This objective account, compiled by best-selling crime author and criminal lawyer James Morton, cuts through the conflicting versions of their stories and answers burning questions still being asked, 50 years after their infamous conviction. How was the clergy involved in evading police action? What was Charlie Kray’s true position with his brothers? Just how many did they kill?

Featuring an in-depth discussion at the supposed claims they killed up to 30, and a deep dive into the death of champion boxer Freddie Mills, The Final Word compiles all previous accounts and then some to find the truth behind their legendary status.

This is the Krays – all facts, no fiction.

My Thoughts:

There have been so many books published about the Krays over the years, each proclaiming to give an insight into the gangland legends that were Ronnie and Reggie Kray, but many are sensationalist or controversial, so I was keen to read this and see what James Morton could offer.

Before getting into this book, I looked up the author to get an idea about who he is and what his background is to get a feel for what sort of book I was embarking on. As a best-selling crime writer, criminal lawyer and the ghost writer for Frankie Fraser, I felt that I was in safe hands with James Morton.

The examination of the lives of the Kray brothers is fascinating and feels to steer away from the usual sensationalism that is rife in many true crime books. Whether this is down to Morton’s time as a lawyer or his own personal writing style, it makes this much easier to read and feels somewhat more authentic.

Exploring the impact these two men had on society as well as the criminal world, Morton also gives information about how the brothers rose to the heights they did and the route they took, the people they were involved with and what brought about their eventual downfall.

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  • Title: Code Name: Lise
  • Author: Larry Loftis
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 9th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing.

Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission.

It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill. As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them.

They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and on to concentration camps in Germany, where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

This is portrait of true courage, patriotism and love amidst unimaginable horrors and degradation.

My Thoughts:

When I first heard about this book I was instantly intrigued, Odette Sansom was a name I had heard of in passing but wasn’t the most familiar with her tale, something I was only too pleased to clear up by reading this book.

In Code Name: Lise, the reader meets a young Odette in France and learns about her early life. We also learn about the sort of person she was, determined, tenacious and above all one that never gave up in the face of a challenge. As she gets older, she meets a man and falls in love, moves to England and life is going well for her, until the outbreak of World War II. Feeling guilt at being in the relative safety of rural Somerset, she immediately jumps at the chance to do her bit by supplying photographs of various locations in France to aid in the war effort, which leads to her becoming an SOE agent.

Odette’s first mission is in occupied France, but her journey to France gets off to an incredibly shaky start. The missions that Odette and the team complete are fraught with tension and make for utterly thrilling reading. The danger of agents being captured and killed was something Odette was very aware of, as was the threat of agents around them having being turned into double agents by the enemy. Fearing cover has been blown, Odette and her commanding officer, Peter Churchill flee for safety. But soon they are caught up by the cunning skills of German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher. Interspersed with the tale of Odette and Peter, is information about Hugo Bleicher, his life to this point and what he faced to get to where he was.

Life as a prisoner of the Nazis and SS wasn’t easy for Odette, but through it all, she never lost her spirit or determination to survive. The treatment she received was horrendous, the physical torture methods used were brutal but the psychological torture was something else, often leaving the prisoners questioning reality and their grasp on sanity. But reading through these awful details, my admiration for this character grew. Seeing what Odette endured and how she survived, I felt levels of emotion bubbling up and realised that I was holding in tears, screams of frustration and anguish and the feeling of utter helplessness.

Code Name: Lise is a truly remarkable tale, poignant and yet empowering, and combined with the writing of Larry Loftis, this reads as a thriller. It’s explosive, it’s gripping and the sort of read that gets under your skin.

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  • Title: Black Wolf
  • Author: G.D. Abson
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 16th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description

FROM THE AUTHOR OF SUNDAY TIMES CRIME CLUB STAR PICK MOTHERLAND.

A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. There are no signs of injury, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Captain Natalya Ivanova’s investigation quickly links the victim to the Decembrists, an anti-Putin dissident group whose acts of civil disobedience have caught the eye of the authorities. And Natalya soon realises she is not the only one interested in the case, as government security services wade in and shut down her investigation almost before it has begun.

Before long, state media are spreading smear stories about the dead woman, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When a second rebel activist goes missing, she is forced to go undercover to expose the truth. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Not only could her pursuit of the murderer destroy her career, but her family ties to one of the victims threaten to tear her personal life apart.

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.

My Thoughts:

After reading the first book in this series, I didn’t think that this author could possibly match the explosive and taut brilliance of Motherland, but I was wrong! Black Wolf is absolutely amazing, the plot is thrilling, the characters are superb and the pace is like a whirlwind!

Black Wolf sees the reader catching up with Captain Natalya Ivanova, a detective with a difference in the corrupt and often murky world of Russian policing. Following on from the politics in Motherland, life has become testing for Natalya. Wrapping up her previous case left her seeing the corruption that was rife around her within her department, and also made things difficult for her husband who worked in the office. A promotion means that her personal life is threatened with destruction, and so it’s good that she has a case to work on over the Christmas period.

The case that Natalya and her deputy are working on is a troubling one, a the body of a young woman has been discovered in the snow in the outskirts of St. Petersburg, but once the connection is made to a group anti-Putin protestors the case suddenly becomes a whole lot more dangerous. Something about the case soon catches the attention of the government security agency and Natalya is warned off, but subtle hints never work on the headstrong detective, ensuring that readers have an adrenaline packed read ahead.
Operating undercover, Natalya is never far from danger and although she tries to limit the involvement of her colleagues, there are plenty who will help her. They believe she is a good detective and will get the much needed answers to solve the case, even if they do end up risking their own necks in the process.

Much life Motherland, Black Wolf portrays a fantastic image of the Russian wilderness, the harsh and biting cold of the season is so well described that I felt myself shuddering at mentions of trekking through the cold, or removing gloves to be able to use phones. The feeling menace that lurked throughout the plot was enough to keep me on edge reading this but also ensured that I was hooked. The writing is taut and punchy, meaning that I could not put this book down, it’s one of those “just one more chapter” books, where you find that you’ve read well into the wee hours but you don’t care because you need to know what happens.

As the plot opens up and the characters continue to develop in complexity, the reader is rewarded with a truly exceptional novel that takes them on a journey into the dark and dangerous side of Russian corruption, the unknown looms menacingly as the reader turns the pages. Although some forms of corruption may seem obvious, their motivations albeit flawed, some believe their actions are the right course or the only course of action. Others are just morally corrupt, their motivations purely self-serving and acting in their own interest which makes things all the more frightening, wondering how far they are willing to go to achieve their goals.
Writing like this, Abson ensures that he snares the interest of his readers, grabs their attention and does not let up.

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  • Title: A Death in Chelsea
  • Author: Lynn Brittney
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 14th March 2019

Early copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially-formed crime fighting team based in a house in Mayfair.

A call comes through to Mayfair 100, where the intrepid team of investigators eagerly await their next case. A society gossip queen has been found hanged in her room in mysterious circumstances. Her enemies are numerous – and her family are convinced she was murdered.

Can the group uncover the truth?

My Thoughts:

Although A Death in Chelsea is the second book of the Mayfair 100 series, it was the first book that I read and I did feel that I could read it and get a grasp of the characters in the investigation team. However, I would recommend reading Murder in Belgravia for completeness sake.

This is an enjoyable read set in 1915, a time that of course sees Britain engaging in WWI and facing many social challenges on the Home Front. So when the death of Lady Adeline Treborne is brought to the attention of the MET Commissioner, it’s only a matter of time before the case is assigned to Beech and the Mayfair 100 team.
The cast of characters that drive the story are magnificently created, appearing very realistic in the time and setting, the women that make up the investigative team are fascinating, each possessing their own quirks and personalities. Heading up the Mayfair 100 team are police officers Chief Inspector Peter Beech, Detective Arthur Tollman and PC Billy Rigsby, who must juggle the legalities of the investigation whilst ensuring that they get results. But for me, it was the strong and opinionated women who stole the show, Mabel, Sissy and Caroline are just brilliant!

The investigation is far from easy or straightforward, the team find that they are led down various paths, uncovering secrets and skeletons from their pasts, but the wonderful dynamic of the personalities involved makes this so enjoyable to follow. Watching the development of relationships between the members of the team were fantastic, especially the contrast between the policing of Tollman’s days and the more modern ways of Rigsby, but their friendship always felt strong and real, despite opposing viewpoints at times.

Clever characterisation, strong research into social and economic factors and some brilliant writing make this a must read for fans of historical crime fiction. There’s so many threads to the plot, and I hate to admit it, but Lynn Brittney had me fooled as to the motive and identity of the killer. But she didn’t half wow me with her crafty writing and leave me desperately hoping for another case for the Mayfair 100 team!

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** My thanks to Mel at Mirror Books for my copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **

 

Description:

When the bound, hooded corpse of an unidentified man is found propped up against a gravestone in the central cemetery, Axel Steen is assigned the case.

Rogue camera footage soon suggests police involvement and links to the demolition of the nearby Youth House, teeming with militant far-left radicals. But Axel soon discovers that many people, both inside and out of the force, have an unusual interest in the case and in preventing its resolution.

With a rapidly worsening heart condition, an estranged ex-wife and beloved five-year-old daughter to contend with, Axel will not stop until the killer is caught, whatever the consequences. But the consequences turn out to be greater than expected – especially for Axel himself.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve been on a bit of a Scandi crime appreciation spree recently, watching some fantastic Norwegian TV and reading some impressive books, so it seemed like a natural choice to pick up a copy of this to read.

Unrest is a Danish police procedural which features maverick detective Axel Steen, a man who it seems on the face of things is very troubled. A seriously disturbed sleep pattern sees him turning to regular use of cannabis, but this never seems to help stave off the erotic dreams he has about his ex wife. His waking hours are spent baiting and taunting his colleagues and superiors, missing his five-year-old daughter and fearing death. His choice of home is perhaps not the best when riots erupt in the district of Nørrebro. From his home, he has a view of the area as fire breaks out, protesters rally and all hell breaks loose. A phone call brings him into the middle of the danger zone, a body has been discovered in the local cemetery and worryingly, the body of the deceased wears the same guise as the autonomists rioting in the streets.

Steen’s methods are unorthodox to say the least, and he’s not looked upon favourably by his superiors, being reminded by the police chief that he’s on his final warning several times. But somehow, this roguish ways make him quite an appealing character. Readers will feel an affinity with him, he wants answers, he wants to solve the case regardless of the dangers. The juggling of his career with personal life makes for some tricky times for Steen, bringing his young daughter to the morgue so that he can attend a post mortem in one instance, trying to ensure that she has cartoons to watch whilst he attends a less appealing sight.

The writing is superb, there is a real sense of setting with wonderfully vivid descriptions. Tensions of the riots feel so claustrophobic and the danger so real, which makes for quite an unsettling read … I loved it! The clever plotting means that the reader experiences an investigation that is methodical and complex against a backdrop of political unrest with some great characterisation.

Unrest is the first in the Axel Steen series and I really cannot wait to see what happens in the next books.

You can buy a copy of Unrest via:

Amazon UK

UNREST_blog tour 2018 (V2)

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9781907324833

** My thanks to Melanie at Mirror Books for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

SHORTLISTED FOR THE CRIME WRITERS ASSOCIATION DEBUT DAGGER AWARD 

‘The dark heart of Putin’s Russia beneath the glitz of St Petersburg provides the heady setting for this excellent and gripping debut… A Child 44 for Putin-land, this classy page-turner oozes with atmosphere.’
DAVID YOUNG, bestselling author of STASI CHILD and STASI WOLF

‘Gripping, authentic and fast-paced this is a fine thriller that will delight fans of Martin Cruz Smith.’
WILLIAM RYAN, author of the CAPTAIN KOROLEV series

‘Senior Detective Natalya Ivanova does for St Petersburg what Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko did for Gorky Park… taut, fast-moving and compellingly believable.’
TOM CALLAGHAN, author of A KILLING WINTER

Motherland is the first in a gripping series of contemporary crime novels set in contemporary St Petersburg, featuring sharp and intriguing policewoman, Captain Natalya Ivanova.

Student Zena Dahl, the daughter of a Swedish millionaire, has gone missing in St Petersburg (or Piter as the city is colloquially known) after a night out with a friend. Captain Natalya Ivanova is assigned the case, making a change for Natalya from her usual fare of domestic violence work, but, because of the family’s wealth, there’s pressure for a quick result. But as she investigates she discovers that the case is not as straightforward as it may seem. Dark, violent and insightful, Motherland twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion. 

Motherland will appeal to fans of Jo Nesbo and scandi dramas like The Killing and The Bridge.

My Thoughts & Review:

I love scandi thrillers, and have to admit that I have a soft spot for anything with a setting behind the Iron Curtain, so Motherland really stood out to me when I read the description.

Motherland is a gritty and intelligently written, thrilling read.  The author paints a fantastically vivid picture of both the settings and the characters, and it’s not hard to become utterly wrapped up in the narrative.  The underlying corruption that is rife in society adds an interesting arc to the plot, the tentacles of it are far reaching and it almost makes the reader pause to consider which of the characters are corrupt to the core, and which are the ones that offer bribes as a means of getting through life in a corrupt state.

When I started reading this book I was curious to see how the events at the beginning of the book would link up with the plot and was thrilled to see how skillfully the author wove it all together.
The details about the way that police departments work adds a level of authenticity and gives readers a glimpse in to a world they may know very little about.

The character of Captain Natalya Ivanova is crafted so well, she is one that many readers will instantly take a linking towards and will want to find out more about.  The case that she’s working on throws so much at her and leaves her questioning who it’s really wise to speak to and the secrets she uncovers are enough to shake her to the core.

A very enjoyable read that keeps readers hooked throughout!  Highly recommended!

You can buy a copy of Motherland via:

Amazon UK
Wordery

MOTHERLAND-BLOG-TOUR-BANNER

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