A Deathly Affair by Leigh Russell

5 Stars from me

Although there is clearly a hell of a back story here that I am missing (I only say that as it is book 13 in a series), I truly feel that A Deathly Affair worked well as a standalone book. Actually, I’m pretty stunned that it is book 13 as it really is gripping and doesn’t smack at all of ‘just the next one in the series as I’ve got deadlines to meet’.

I greatly enjoyed the relationships within this book. The husband/wife, the affair that isn’t quite what it seemed and also the dynamics within the police force were all very engaging.

I liked the police procedural elements and the methodology behind the investigative routes.

I also really like how the story highlights the plight of the homeless – something which I feel is all too easily ignored, yet most of us are only a few steps away from it at any time. A wrong decision, a loss of income, a relationship breakdown, an addiction, a twist of fate or circumstance can all very quickly lead to homelessness.

Synopsis: Four dead bodies. But who is guilty in this deadly web of secrecy and lies?

When two homeless men are strangled to death, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is caught off guard by the cold-blooded nature of the crimes. However, her suspicions are raised as two more bodies are found, forcing her to question the motivation behind the murders.

Plagued by countless red-herrings, the investigation drags Geraldine into the lives of three people caught in a toxic triangle of love and dishonesty. Is this a crime of passion, or is there more to this case than meets the eye? 

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

4 Stars from me

Being a long term lover of shows like Vera and Midsummer Murders, I was delighted to have the opportunity to read The Long Call by Ann Cleeves as it is the first in a new series; featuring Detective Matthew Venn and set in North Devon.

Matthew Venn is a very likeable character who lives in an idyllic cottage by the sea with his (too perfect?) partner. The Long Call features a search for a missing girl and a murder enquiry both of which seem destined to draw Matthew back into a community – and a myriad of painful memories – that he sought to leave behind.

There is a nice mix of complexity and simplicity throughout the book and Ann Cleeves doesn’t shy away from a fair few contentious subjects as the story unfolds.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Long Call and can’t wait to see it on the TV when it is inevitably made into a tv series.

Synopsis:

The Long Call is the captivating first novel in a brand new series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too. Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose. A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

A Window Breaks by C M Ewan

4 Stars from me

This is a really solid good old fashioned edge-of-your-seat style thriller.

It really is one of those books that has everything – a fractured relationship, deep emotional baggage, remote setting, a pet, a secret, a few red herrings, a hero and some bad guys – add to that a massive dollop of sheer fear for virtually all the flipping pages and you’ll get the general idea!

Lovely suspense building, great characters – really strong and well defined, clever plot, believable actions and motives.

I really enjoyed A Window Breaks and I won’t be staying in any remote lodges for a good while!

 

Synopsis:

It’s 2am.

You are safely asleep in bed.

A noise wakes you.

You stir, unsure why, and turn to your partner.

Then you hear it. Glass. Crunching underfoot.

Someone is inside your home.

You can stay and fight. Or run.

What would you do?

In C. M. Ewan’s thrilling novel A Window Breaks, can a family survive being targeted for death at a remote Scottish hideaway? Perfect for fans of T. M. Logan’s Lies and Mark Edwards’ The Retreat.

A Litter Of Bones by JD Kirk

5 Stars from me!

THIS IS SO GOOD! I genuinely can’t recommend A Litter of Bones highly enough, I was absolutely blown away by this debut novel and if I didn’t know better I would have sworn it was written by one of the crime thriller greats.

It is so good in fact that I can almost (almost) forgive JD Kirk for calling his main character DCI Logan. I say that because, for me, there is only one Scottish detective called Logan

DCI Logan is a great character, he has the right balance of flaws and assets to make him a great lead and the supporting cast of his temporary team was equally well constructed.

Clever and innovative storyline, yes I guessed ‘whoduunit’ but that didn’t spoil anything for me – if anything it added to the build up. I raced through the book and loved (almost*) every second of it as the story unfolded. It was well observed, had tangible and likeable characters, had an intense build up of suspense and was peppered with intelligent humour in among the gloom – literally the perfect book?

If you like Stuart MacBride you will love this book, in fact if you are fan of crime thrillers you will love this book.

*If you are a mad ole crazy cat lady then there are a couple of pages you may want to skip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author bio: JD Kirk lives in the wilds of Scotland, where he spends his days making stuff up and writing it down. He lives with his wife, two children, one dog, and – if his daughter has anything to do with it – a cat in the very near future.

Having been writing in various genres for over a decade, JD turned his attention to crime fiction in May 2019, and hasn’t looked back. A Litter of Bones is his first crime novel, and the first of his hundred-plus books that his wife could bring herself to read.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jdkirkbooks/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jdkirkbooks

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19106689.JD_Kirk

Website: http://www.jdkirk.com

Synopsis: Was the biggest case of his career the worst mistake he ever made?

Ten years ago, DCI Jack Logan stopped the serial child-killer dubbed ‘Mister Whisper,’ earning himself a commendation, a drinking problem, and a broken marriage in the process.

Now, he spends his days working in Glasgow’s Major Incident Team, and his nights reliving the horrors of what he saw.

And what he did.

When another child disappears a hundred miles north in the Highlands, Jack is sent to lead the investigation and bring the boy home.

But as similarities between the two cases grow, could it be that Jack caught the wrong man all those years ago?

And, if so, is the real Mister Whisper about to claim his fourth victim?

A Litter of Bones is the explosive debut crime thriller novel from JD Kirk, an exciting new voice in Scottish crime fiction.

The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant

4 Stars from me

Wow! To say this book ‘packs a punch’ is such an understatement – it more ‘smacks you around the head with a 9 iron!’

The Good Neighbor starts off softly, albeit with a traumatic and shocking event – 14 year old Brittany has disappeared during the night, seemingly snatched from her bed. I have to confess I was lulled into thinking it would jog along nicely so boy was I taken by surprise!

The pace accelerates and accelerates before plunging you into free fall as more and more of the story is revealed. There were twists and turns around every corner all neatly packaged within this highly readable tale.

Be warned though, there are several moral questions hidden within these pages… Would you? Could you? How far would you go if you were in Taylor’s shoes, Moira’s shoes, Crystal’s shoes, Brittany’s shoes?

I haven’t read anything by Cathryn Grant before but she is certainly an author I will look out for now!

My thanks to @CathrynGrant and @damppebbles for letting me be a part of #damppebblesblogtours

Synopsis: Sometimes the past just won’t stay buried.

When 14 year old Brittany Cushing disappears one night, her parents are devastated, certain she has been taken.

They can’t bear to think about who has done this and why, about what might be happening to their precious daughter.

Their neighbor, Taylor, is a rock, doing everything she can to help – organizing search parties, setting up a Facebook page, …

As this affluent California community becomes focused on the hunt for the missing girl, it slowly becomes clear that her disappearance is linked to terrible secrets from the past.

Secrets that must be kept hidden at all costs….

The Good Neighbor is a gripping psychological thriller that twists and turns as it races towards its nerve-shredding climax. Perfect for fans of K. L. Slater, Teresa Driscoll and Mark Edwards.

About Cathryn Grant:

Cathryn’s fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines, The Shroud Quarterly Journal, and The Best of Every Day Fiction. Her story “I Was Young Once” received an honorable mention in the 2007 Zoetrope Fiction contest.

She’s the author of the Alexandra Mallory Psychological Suspense series, Psychological Thrillers, Suburban Noir novels, The Haunted Ship Trilogy, and the Madison Keith Ghost Story series.

When she’s not writing, Cathryn reads fiction, eavesdrops, and tries to play golf without hitting her ball into the sand or the water. She lives on the Central California coast with her husband and two cats.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CathrynGrant

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CathrynGrant.Writer/

Website: https://www.cathryngrant.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathryngrant_fiction/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cathryn-Grant/e/B004G1I484?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3&qid=1566901527&sr=8-3

The Lying Room by Nicci French

5 Stars from me!

I found The Lying Room to be a highly engaging, fast paced read that I absolutely raced through as I just kept on wanting to know what happened next!

Central character, Neve, is one of those perfect people who everyone adores yet is utterly unassuming and apparently unaware of her magnetism. Friends, colleagues, even strangers are seemingly drawn to this calm, warm, efficient woman who busily spends her life making things right for others.

She treads carefully around the feelings of her husband and her daughter, she keeps a watchful eye on her sons and is the only person who ever notices that the guinea pig hasn’t been fed. She buoys up her colleagues at work and his the central pin of a decades long friendship group. She also does all the shopping, endless loads of laundry and cycles everywhere. She and her husband share most other domestic chores and their days and nights revolve around keeping all these plates spinning. So much so that she is susceptible to the attentions of a man who notices her – in a way that she hasn’t felt noticed by anyone for a very long time and they begin an affair.

As mentioned in the synopsis (full synopsis at the bottom of this page) one day she discovers that her lover has been murdered and rather than calling 999 she makes the snap decision to try and cover up any evidence that she was ever in his life.

I really liked the police character, DI Hutchings and felt thoroughly immersed in Neve’s world as I read this book. If you ignore the affairs, murders and deceit… it is a pretty enviable life.

Great book, great characters, fast paced and compelling – highly recommended.

Also, about the authors… I had no idea that Nicci French was actually two authors! Here are the details: Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield. In that same year she married journalist Colin Hughes.

In the early eighties she taught English Literature in Sheffield, London and Los Angeles, but moved into publishing in 1985 with the launch of Women’s Review, a magazine for women on art, literature and female issues.

In 1987 Nicci had a son, Edgar, followed by a daughter, Anna, in 1988, but a year later her marriage to Colin Hughes broke down.

In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor.

It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at Oxford University at the same time as Nicci, also graduating with a first class degree, but their paths didn’t cross until 1990. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine’s Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society.

Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.

By the mid-nineties Sean had had two novels published, The Imaginary Monkey and The Dreamer of Dreams, as well as numerous non-fiction books, including biographies of Jane Fonda and Brigitte Bardot.

In 1995 Nicci and Sean began work on their first joint novel and adopted the pseudonym of Nicci French. The Memory Game was published to great acclaim in 1997 followed by The Safe House (1998), Killing Me Softly (1999), Beneath the Skin (2000), The Red Room (2001), Land of the Living (2002), Secret Smile (2003), Catch Me When I Fall (2005), Losing You (2006) and Until It’s Over (2008). Their latest novel together is What To Do When Someone Dies (2009).

Nicci and Sean also continue to write separately. Nicci still works as a journalist for the Observer, covering high-profile trials including those of Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr. Novels include Things We Knew Were True (2003), Solace (2005) and The Moment You Were Gone (2007). Sean’s last novel is Start From Here (2004).

Synopsis: In this thrilling standalone from the internationally bestselling author of the Frieda Klein series, a married woman’s affair with her boss spirals into a dangerous game of chess with the police when she discovers he’s been murdered and she clears the crime scene of all evidence.

One little secret between a married woman, her lover, and a killer.

It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair…. 

A Cruel Deception by Kim Booth

3.5 stars from me

It has been quite an hour to read A Cruel Deception knowing that it is the first hand account of the policeman who cracked the case. Truly a privilege to follow his thought processes and procedures as he closes in on the perpetrator.

The crime within A Cruel Deception (well, the main one as there are several little side stories and anecdotes which beautifully enhance and flesh out the pages, I can image an afternoon with tea and cake with Kim Booth is a meandering and uniquely fascinating experience) is one of a brazen fraud, carried out with breathtaking audacity over a period of many years. It is artfully captured within A Cruel Deception and the dogged and determined approach taken by the police to capture such a criminal without the use of modern day technology is to be admired.

As, begrudgingly, is Barbara Hendry who manages to pull of repeated cons against unsuspecting people without all the clever frippery of social media, computers and mobile phones – dreadful woman, obviously, but also clearly very devious.

As a fan of crime thrillers, it took me a little while to adjust to the slower pace of this – after all real – account. I only say that so that others can mentally adjust and expect this change of pace rather than be caught out by it.

Overall, an interesting and rare opportunity to witness some old-school policing first hand.

Book Description: ‘No one knows this horrifying true crime case better than the detective who cracked it. Kim Booth will take you on an unforgettable journey into lies, deceit, cunning and malice.’ Nick Louth
For Joan and Ted Warner, an innocent and trusting couple, a chance encounter with Barbara Hendry, a cunning con-woman who turned their settled lives into a living nightmare.
The Warners were not victims of a remote scam, carried out over the internet by fraudsters from afar. For six years, faking a friendship face-to-face, this plausible woman carried off the impersonation of a member of the nobility fallen on hard times, manipulating the emotions of her victims, deceitfully draining them of every penny they had set aside for their retirement, and plunging them into debt.
Hendrys intention was to slip away, having sucked the Warners dry of all their hard-earned savings. But for some dogged investigative work by a determined detective she would have succeeded- and remained free to prey on other vulnerable victims.
Follow this journey of fraud and depravity in the company of the one man who knows the full story – the British detective who cracked the case and brought Barbara Hendry to justice.
A Cruel Deception is an insightful and gripping work of true crime, which illustrates the depth of wickedness and the possibility that we can all be deceived.
The author retired from the Lincolnshire Police as Detective Inspector in charge of the Lincolnshire Police Economic Crime Unit. He now provides anti-fraud advice and fraud investigation on a consultancy basis together with assisting authors with police procedural issues and story lines.
Author Bio:
Prior to joining the police I had numerous jobs, Worked in a chicken factory for next to nothing, In a Bakery, Royal Mail as a Postman, With my dad who was a civil engineer construction roads and sewerage works and finally in a hotel. Had dealings with the CID and thought “I can do that” and joined the police with the sole intention of being a CID man! Joined Lincolnshire Police in July 1975.