Wednesday, 16 August 2017

David Hadley

I've enjoyed David's work in the past and this one really tickled me.


The Dirty Book

Amazon.com link

My review -

Robert Block is a writer with literary pretentions, whose agents has tried without success to get a publisher for one of his elevated works. Under pressure to produce more, he finds a forgotten work on his hard drive – Her Dark Confession – written in his early days. He self-publishes it and it’s a runaway best-seller. It should be easy to confess and take the credit for his dirty book’s success but for various reasons, some of his own making, he can’t.


I really enjoyed this sideways look at the world of writing and publishing, book snobbery and populism. Block has talent but he’s also idle and self-indulgent. It’s a treat to watch him dig himself in deeper with things he ought not to have touched in the first instance. I don’t want to give too much away but I enjoyed the ending too. A good read and a good laugh.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Blake Crouch

I'm partial to a bit of sci-fi and this one didn't let me down.



Dark Matter

Amazon.com link

My review -

It’s so hard to get my head around this review – and if you read the book you’ll realise why I say that. We’re all aware of the theory of parallel universes but it’s so different seeing dry theory populated by characters you’ve come to believe in. Jason finds he’s only one of, potentially, a massive number of men who can claim to be him. He’s desperate to get back to his wife and son.


In my view, this story was never less than gripping and escalated to breath-takingly exciting in the final few chapters. I found myself feeling fear and shock, and wondered how the story could be resolved. There’s a certain inevitability to the ending but I didn’t have that feeling right till the very end. It’s a tour de force and I enjoyed it immensely.

Friday, 11 August 2017

John Bowen

John Bowen has appeared on this blog before and each time the genre is different! That in itself is a laudable talent. This group of short stories is an absolute delight. Distilled fiction at its best.


Cold Sweats and Vignettes

Amazon.com link

My review - 

This short collection of short stories fairly crackles along. A thief steals something which isn’t as harmless and he thought, the Large Hadron Collider warps time, a crash landing made this reader do a double-take and a gangland super-thug gets his comeuppance. There’s a bonus cartoon strip too.


The stories in this collection have a fresh feeling; old themes are seen from new angles. I read straight through, each little tale whetting my appetite for the next. The downfall of any collection is always the weakest story and I really didn’t think there was one. If you enjoy a bit of speculative fiction you should really give this a whirl. It’s a quick read, a great read and it’s even a free read!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

J A Clement

A longer work by J A Clement this time. One for the fantasy readers. I think it's splendid!


Song of the Ice Lord

Amazon.com link

My review - 

The Ice Lord is an uber-villain who cannot be killed. He has devastated the world, and only three tribes remain to stand in his way, if they can. A ‘Maker’ – an inventor, who lost a hand in battle – and a bard, make a strong bond. Between them, they come up with a plan, instigated by a dream of the Maker’s in which the spirits of ships lend him aid.


This is a lyrical work, filled with the traditional stories of the tribes, and it reminded me of some of the Norse tales. It took the form of a journey to a final show-down and, although drenched in bloody battle, the characters are warm and beguiling. Fantasy at its best. I really enjoyed this book.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Malcolm Hollingdrake

I'm not good with a series. It takes a lot of time and commitment to follow a whole series of books but a really good indication is whether or not they make sense as stand-alone stories. These certainly do. This is number five.



Dying Art

Amazon.com link

My review -

Never one to read a series in a sensible order, I’ve gone from Book 2 to Book 5 of this series and found art-loving DCI Cyril Bennett recovering from a professional and personal tragedy. This story is so well told that you don’t need to have read the previous books. I like that in a series! On his return to work, the fact that a local art gallery has been burgled and that there’s a suspicion that fake art works have found their way into the system, means this job it totally up his street. Greed and murder are close bedfellows in this book.


I really enjoyed the story, straying into the machinations within the art world. It’s known that fake art works find their way into the system, even though that means faking their provenance too. Malcolm Hollingdrake delves into murky depths here and it’s a twisty and exciting read. I’m sure those who’ve followed all the books in the series (embarrassed blush!) have gained greater depth within the characters but a great read is a great read, and this one is!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

J A Clement

This little story reminds me of childhood folk tales. Short, but sweet.


A Sprig of Holly

Amazon.com link

My review -

Young Greta and her grandfather are in trouble. It’s deep snow, they’re nearly out of fuel, so they go out to collect some. She’s hit and knocked unconscious by a falling tree and her grandfather is trapped beneath the trunk. All seems hopeless, but help comes from a surprising source.


This reminds me of the stories I read as a child. It’s got a bit of natural history and a dollop of magic. It’s only short but comes full circle and is a satisfying read. A little gem. I’m looking forward to Book 2.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Debbie McGowan

I've just read this as the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act was celebrated. Huge coincidence? Or not. Debbie offered it free so I partook!


When Skies Have Fallen

Amazon.com link

My review -

Although this book was published two years ago, I found myself reading it at the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act, which began the process of decriminalising and equalising gay relationships in Britain. Arty is a member of the RAF ground crew and he embarks on a relationship with Jim, an American airman. Because of the fear of arrest, they manage to convince everyone that Jim is in a relationship with Arty’s dance partner, Jean. We’re taken through their lives after the war, right up till the Act of Parliament, at which point Arty writes to inform his parents of who their son really is.


It’s difficult to imagine the fear hanging over people early in my lifetime, who simply wanted to spend their life with the person they loved. Not merely society celebrities, like Oscar Wilde, but ordinary men and women like us, were imprisoned unless they admitted to an illness and accepted some quite barbaric treatment. I find you can know this on an intellectual level but until you read even a fictionalised account, you can’t imagine the terror of the knock on the door at night. As always, Debbie McGowan’s characters are written with a sure hand and become totally believable. This is a real food-for-thought book, as well as a darned good tale of enduring love. Highly recommended.

Tara Lyons

I admit I'm often guilty of buying the latest book in a series when I haven't read the earlier books. A good series can stand this treatment, and this one certainly does.



Deadly Friendship

Amazon.com link

My review -

DI Hamilton is on a holiday weekend in the Lake District but he can’t escape work. He’s there when a body is discovered. This leads to the reopening of a case from the Met, his own area, and he investigates a group of friends, who all seem to be covering something up.


As one of the characters says, some friendships can be toxic. We have two narrators here, one of whom is the killer. Felicity is one of the first of this group that we meet and she’s not a sympathetic character. Some of the others aren’t nice people either, so we’re spoilt for choice as to who we finger for the murderer! The pace is nicely judged and the ending a surprise, but not an incredible stretch of a surprise. It’s the third in a series but I’ve not read the others and it stands alone very well. I also really enjoyed having a DI who wasn’t a maverick, breaking the rules to get to the results – a likable and believable character. Altogether, a great read.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Alex McGilvery

A feeling of evil can attach itself to a place and Alex McGilvery has caught it brilliantly here. Myth and modern life meet in this book. I love the cover, too.




Wendigo Whispers

Amazon.com link

My review -

Leigh and her husband move to a new town, Spruce Bay, after she has suffered a psychotic illness which her medication now controls. The town is on its uppers, with a defunct mining industry, a demoralised Cree population and out of work whites. Leigh, a primary school teacher, and her husband Jim, a police officer, arrive to find there’s a dark fear in the town.


I leapt at the chance to review this book because I already knew a little about the wendigo from Algonquin folk tales. Alex McGilvery explores the theme as it applies to an individual and to a town with a terrifying and believable tale. The story also explores a decaying community and the ways in which their self-belief can be bolstered. Without being preachy, it sounds a note of hope. A really gripping and exciting story.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Laura Marshall

When Netgalley offered this book I was intrigued. It's a compelling study of young people trying to fit in to a peer group, with a knock-on effect into adulthood. 


Friend Request

At the time of writing, this is not yet realeased in the US

My review - 

Louise receives a Facebook Friend request. It’s from Maria, a girl she was at school with. The surprise, though, the thing that makes her shrink back in horror, is that Maria died twenty–five years ago at their leavers’ party. Louise is horrified because she believes her and her friends’ bullying cause the death. Only her husband knows her part in it as he was at the same school. The plot becomes more entangled when there is a school reunion for their class.


This is an interesting study in what young people are prepared to do to fit in with their peers. When your contemporaries’ opinions define you, you can persuade yourself to go against your own better nature and good sense. Louise is still, in adult life, bending her own nature and desires in order to fit in with those of others. If Maria is dead, someone else sent that friend request. Someone who blames Louise. Right at the very end, the story went a little out of my credibility zone but nonetheless, I enjoyed it a great deal.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Mark L Fowler

I love writers who aren't stuck in a rut, and Mark Fowler is demonstrably one such author. This is his first crime story and I'm chuffed to see it's the start of a series. I love the cover too, incidentally.





My review -

On a redevelopment site in Stoke, a boy and his dog find the bones of a teenager. He went missing on his way home from school thirty years ago. DI Tyler and DS Mills interview his old school mates, teachers and his sister. They begin to pick apart who could have been involved but the problem is evidence. It’s who you know that can keep your nose out of trouble, it seems.

I really enjoyed this crime story, including the plot, which takes us back to a different era in school discipline, and the characters, particularly the two lead detectives on the case. Tyler is new to the area and Mills a native. As you read, you can feel their growing respect for one another. It’s a team that I hope we’ll see again. As in life, not every thread is tied up. There’s someone bad still at large. I wonder if Tyler and Mills will come up against him again. This could be the start of a great new detective series. I really hope so, and heartily recommend this book to all crime readers.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Dean C Moore

This is the second of Dean's books that I've read. I know they won't be for everyone but they're pretty high-tech and they always give me a laugh. 


Setup: Android Assassins

Amazon.com link

My review -

What can I say? The Futurists of the FBI have a strange way of recruiting. Max Chase has been set up and is now a wanted man. Problem is, his wife and son are being pursued too. They are accompanied in their journey to foil an evil genius by another ‘family’ of three androids. These three are made to resemble Chinese domestic workers but have massively useful powers. It looks bad – but it could be worse.

Dean C Moore has a vivid imagination – I’d hate to be in one of his dreams! The story here is long but the action never lets up. It’s set in the near future and there’s the horrible suspicion in the reader’s mind that some of these things could really happen. Not too many, I hope! This is an exciting, action-packed romp with a huge body-count but seasoned with a great deal of humour. I’d love to see a film of this. It’s vivid and thrilling – and probably hugely expensive in special effects!

I received an advance review copy of this book.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Claire Douglas

Claire Douglas seems to home in on the theme of identity. Those of her books that I've read, I've loved.



Last Seen Alive

My review -

Libby and her husband Jamie are offered a house-swap for a week, exchanging their compact flat in Bath for a large, beautifully renovated mansion of a place in Cornwall. Libby deals with the owner only by telephone but an amicable agreement ensues and Libby and James seem to have fallen on their feet. Things don’t add up, though, and the place begins to get creepy. Jamie suffers from food poisoning and when he has to spend the night in hospital the dream holiday falls flat. The mysterious owner then tells them he’s going to stay in London so they can return to their own poky flat.

This is a superb story about identity. It seems to be a pet theme of the author’s and she handles it very deftly. The story develops, taking us away from the picture we had built up and replacing it with another. I found myself not knowing who to like or trust. Another great story from Claire Douglas.

Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy of this book.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sarah Waters

This wartime story is told in a kind of reverse order. It's not as complicated as it sounds!


The Night Watch

Amazon.com link

My review -

Duncan is in a dead-end job, having been in prison. His sister is seeing a married man. Kay lives a solitary aimless life. Julie and Helen’s relationship is rocky due to Helen’s jealousy. Little bits of their 1947 lives are dropped as hints that something in their past is relevant to their situations now. And then we go back, and a little further back, to see what happened.


This story looks at an existing situation and shows us how the characters got to where they now are. The war is an ever-present horror in the later sections and a haunting wraith in the first. Sarah Waters’ writing is always beautiful and the characters’ dialogue is spot on, bringing them to life. I really love this idea of going back in a story, rather than forward. We are often given hints of a back-story but here we live through those events as they happen – just in reverse order. This fills in a lot of things we didn’t know, but explains the situation in the earlier, 1947 section. It’s an unusual device but it worked very well for me.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Frank Westworth

This author has written novels I've never quite had time to read - but this series of short stories is a great way in to getting to grips with the characters.


First Contract

Amazon.com link

My review -

Meet JJ Stoner. He’s a killer. He’s in the Army. That’s what they do. But Stoner goes beyond… He’s removed from his role and offered another, if he’ll take it. It’s that of a contract killer. Initially things aren’t as straight forward as he might have hoped.


This is a short story but it’s not short on ideas or action. Stoner is a callous killer yet a curiously attractive character. The story is beautifully told and packed with characters and incident. This is the start of a new career for JJ and I enjoyed reading it.

***





My review -

Stretch is a navy man and he falls for the wife of an army man. Not a good mix. He appears to be a womaniser but this particular woman has really got to him. Then she is seriously injured. He meets Stoner, investigator and ruthless eliminator if need be, who gives him an opportunity to – to do what he feels he has to do.

This is the sort of story where you have to face that two wrongs don’t make a right and that you would hate to be in this situation. Really, what would you do? Stoner is an antihero and certainly isn’t a man to emulate – but in the context of the stories, he has his own code and follows it. It makes for very good reading, but not for characters you’d particularly like to meet!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Heather Burnside

A second Manchester-based series by Heather Burnside and it's off to a great start.


Born Bad

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Adele and her brother Peter are like chalk and cheese. Peter turns to petty crime, which then becomes not so petty, while Adele works for her A levels. She’s hard pressed to do so. Her mother lives on tranquilisers and her alcoholic dad is physically abusive to his wife. The children learn to tread carefully. She can’t understand why her mother puts up with the abusive treatment and humiliation her father hands out.

This is the first of another series set in Manchester, my native city, and it has such a sense of place. It’s a long time since I heard one or two of the words or expressions used here and they nailed the story geographically for me. Heather Burnside is so good at getting into characters’ heads and leaving you understanding their predicament, but I confess, I didn’t expect the turn the story took. I found it very good indeed.


I received a review copy of this from the publisher.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Jean Gill

I asked to review this book because I have a left-handed granddaughter. It's easy to forget how the world is right-hand-centric.



Left Out

Amazon.com link

My review -

Jamie is picked on at school for her clumsiness, which she attributes to being left-handed as nothing she uses is suitable. The only real friend she has is Ryan. He encourages her to research left-handedness and she finds out how many famous people, present and past, have been southpaws. She writes for the school newspaper, as does Ryan, though using a pseudonym. To both their horror, Ryan’s mum takes him away from their school in Wales to her native America but Ryan has hopes of wangling his way back.


This is a great little book which takes issues of bullying and being different, and manages to celebrate some of those differences. It opens the eyes of left and right handers to just how difficult it can be to use ordinary items – a potato peeler, for example – but how many left handers turn out to be extraordinary people. It’s not just a preachy book, though. It’s got some dark themes running under it, and a real page-turning feel to the plot. A very good read.

Too much back-matter for me but that's a personal preference.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

V K McGivney

A great writer of science fiction - one to watch.


Inheritors of the New Kingdom

Amazon.com link

My review -

Richard, writing his doctoral thesis, looks out in the early hours and sees what he can only think is a UFO. An elderly nun has seen it too, as has a local man living rough. The old man’s beaten up, the nun disappears and Richard is determined to find her, feeling that he’s in danger too. His new girlfriend, an old school friend he’s not seen for ten years, becomes involved and reports him missing in his turn.


This story takes on several themes, the largest being First Contact. It also covers the End Times religious sect idea, spiritualism, a little budding romance, and much more. The story is as successful as it is because it has credibility. It’s all too believable which is what makes it such an exciting read. I found myself thinking of the Orson Welles radio adaptation of the HG Wells classic War of the Worlds in the 1930s which was believed by many to be a ‘breaking news’ story and caused widespread panic. This is a considered and well-paced story which evolves towards a very thought-provoking ending. If you enjoy science fiction, I can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s an absolute corker of a tale.


David Videcette

David's an ex Scotland Yard investigator and ex-terrorism specialist so this has an authentic ring.



The Detriment

Amazon.com link

My review -

Jake is faced with a number of crimes which don’t appear to be connected. He recklessly attempts to disarm a car bomb (which fails to detonate anyway). A spy is found in his own garden and it’s assumed he leapt from his window in the block of flats. Jake’s old girlfriend enlists his help in something suspicious. There’s a lot going on in this novel and all of it illegal, nasty and involving high-level corruption.


David Videcette knows how to crank up the tension. His protagonist, Jake, is often out on a limb but can’t let bad things happen. I was torn so many ways in this story, wanting bad people not to get away with it though I feared some of them would. Everything isn’t always black and white and Jake has to deal with the shades of grey and choose between the lesser of the evils. This is a very through-provoking book and the section at the end, taken from real documents, is a bit of a shocker. Really, this is a book not to miss.

Rowan Coleman

My first Rowan Coleman book - I can see it won't be my last!


The Summer of Impossible Things

Amazon.com link

My review - 

After her mother’s death by suicide, Luna and her sister Pia journey from their British home to Brooklyn, their mother’s old home. She has left them a message about something which happened there in 1977 and badly impacted her life and future happiness. Strange things that happened in Luna’s childhood lead her to feel she is returning in time and to wonder if she can possibly alter her mother’s life.

This is a very well evoked time-slip story and brilliantly re-creates the year 1977, which I recall clearly. Luna has the opportunity to interfere in the timeline and save her mother from the disaster which befell her. It becomes obvious that if she is able to do this, she may damage or destroy her own future. The arguments for and against are well argued and the story is absolutely compelling. A real unputdowner!


Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Paul Flynn

Paul Flynn is a journalist and this non-fiction book charts the changing attitudes of the public and the pressures upon LGBT people over the past thrity years. It's gripping.



Good As You

Amazon.com link

My review -

Paul Flynn is a journalist and has watched Britain evolve from largely homophobic to largely accepting, passing through the terrible AIDS years. During the thirty years he charts, the country has also been accepting of other minorities such as colour and religion – but not in every case. Things are so much improved, however, and this book follows our progress as a people. I’d like to think it brought more understanding to a wider audience.

I have to say that, as an ancient, straight woman, this book could be considered to hold no interest for me but that’s not true. I read it in a short time, and was totally fascinated with the story it told. The book works forward through the years but not in any strict way. It’s told through the words of many people and contains funny and heart-breaking stories, as well as much common sense and observational detail. I found myself constantly checking on Google as I’m no follower of popular culture but I suspect many people will know the celebrities involved or have followed the television shows. The style is conversational, easy to follow, and it’s like having a chat with a very knowledgeable and well-connected friend. I heartily recommend this book to everyone.


I received a review copy from Netgalley.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sam Kates

And now for something completely different, as the man said!


That Elusive Something

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Quirke (just call me Quirke) is aware that his relationship is in trouble and before long, things at work go pear-shaped too. His mate Dave is also living an unsatisfying life. After Quirke’s last session with Seff, a compelling, slightly mystical character, he decides to go off and find the community he speaks of. Dave, in it for a walking holiday, accompanies him.


I believe this book was begun seventeen years ago. I can only say it was worth the wait. I enjoy the author’s writing style, always easy without being simple. There’s a lot about human nature here, too. An idyllic life can be endangered not by the environment or outside forces, but from within, by our own flawed natures. I became very engrossed in the story and read it in two days. If I’d not had meals to eat, or a bed to call me, I’d have read it in a single session! Highly recommended if you want something out of the ordinary.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Stuart Warner

A new author (to me) with a lovely style!


The Sound of Everything

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Jack has returned to the small town of his birth to take over the family accountancy firm. He discovers that a local man lodged a box with his late father twenty years ago. He and the family concerned assume it to contain something valuable. In between other work, Jack is trying to find it. Though unsure of his aims in life, he meets people from his father’s past and begins to build up a picture.


This is a gentle amble through small-town life with a deeper look at the spiritual side of our nature, though it in no way touches on formal religion. It explores why we’re here and whether out lives had a purpose. I found it a very easy book to read and devoured it in two days. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Jeff Vandermeer

A new author for me and a great imaginer of future worlds. If you love dystopian fiction, go for this one.


Borne

Amazon.com link

My review - 

This story takes place in an almost derelict city in the future. The Company, through experimentation and biotechnology, has produced monstrosities, including a huge bear which terrorises those still eking an existence there. Rachel, a scavenger, finds a plant-like creature in the bear’s fur and brings it home. She calls it Borne and as it grows and exhibits intelligence, she realises she loves it/him like a child of her own. Other powers are at work in the city but the existence of Borne changes the balance.

I found this book thoroughly gripping from the very first. It reminded me of science fiction stories of my younger days which were able to take me out of my own world and into one completely different, and usually far more horrific. The style was thoughtful, occasionally lyrical and always totally entertaining. Heartily recommended.


Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a review copy of this book

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Tom Trott

A new author to me but I enjoyed his style.


You Can't Make Old Friends

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Joe is a private detective, currently out of favour with the police. He’s now getting so little work that he can’t pay his rent and an old client is suing him. Then his old schoolfriend’s body is found washed up on Brighton beach, badly disfigured. Joe recognises him.


There are several strands going on here, with drug dealers, Joe’s old (only) friend and his family and a downright difficult female DCI, newly arrived from London. As one of the characters said to Joe, ‘You’re a good man, but not a nice one’. I really enjoyed this story which had an edginess which gave it flavour. I particularly liked some of the expressions used in the writing – cliché is isn’t. A great read.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Carol Wyer

The second in thje DI Robyn Carter stories and I think the author is really getting into her stride.


Secrets of the Dead

Amazon.com link

My review -

DI Robyn Carter and her team are investigating murders which may or may not be related. Their local newshound has decided that they are and reports on a serial killer, which makes the police’s work more difficult. The murders are occurring over a very short time and Robyn has to work out exactly who is in danger, before more lives are lost.


The case is difficult because Robyn is dealing with a damaged individual seeking revenge and his mind doesn’t work like a normal person’s. She has to second guess him and the resulting search and chase becomes very exciting. The story alternates between the police work and shorter sections from the point of view of the killer. I really enjoyed this story with its side plots which added greater depth to the main tale.

Jonathan Hill

This follow up to A Christmas Outing will please a lot of readers - me included!




This Crazy Thing I Call My Life

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Coming out to his parents was only the first hurdle for student David. He and Jamie decide to get both sets of parents together so they can get to know one another. It sounds nice. It wasn’t! You know the way you can say what you like about your own family but woe unto the one who criticises them in your hearing? That!


Jonathan Hill picks up on our tendency to fly to the family’s defence, even when we know the criticism to be true. The boys have their first row while defending the very attitudes they have complained about in the past. And that’s not even the worst that can happen. This is another very funny and well-observed slice of life from an author with a strong sense of the absurd.


Steve Roach

A short which will make you think, and maybe worry a little.


All that Will Be Lost

Amazon.com link

My review - 

This is a short story with a very thought-provoking message. Michael, aware that the war in the east is encroaching upon his life and his country, has bought a house and created an enlarged basement where he holds a party for friends and colleagues in the magazine he publishes. The war grows ever closer, while Michael and his friends attempt to save what will be lost if the fighters prevail.


Steve Roach has taken the premise that the desire to kill, to wipe out other ideologies, is a disease. It has resulted in a darkly futuristic tale and sadly, feels all too plausible. Let’s hope the spark of humanity is too strong to be quenched. A really good, short read.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Jim Webster

Tallis Steelyard, jobbing poet, again relates stories of his early life. Some wonderful observational humour here.


Tallis Steelyard, a harsh winter

Amazon.com link

My review -

This is a collection of stories about Tallis which go to show that it’s not all drinking afternoon tea or partaking of soirees for a jobbing poet. We discover some of his early life, some of the society feuds he became entangle with, and the story of how he met his wife and acquired the boat on which they live. Great little tales!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Joel Hames

A writer whose work I've previously loved has brought out a novella. I snapped it up!



Victims

Amazon.com link

My review -

Sam Williams is in the very early stages of a relationship with a new girl and learns she’s been abused by a previous partner. This man is still pulling her strings and Sam agrees to help. He has an enemy at work, too, and as the plot progresses, we find out that nothing is really as it seems.


This makes an excellent ‘amuse bouche’ for the longer and more complex story, The Art of Staying Dead, which takes place ten years later. The style is slick and clever and the characters feel well-rounded, not easy to do in a short work. Be aware that the last 30% is the first chapters in The Art of Staying Dead. I prefer a link, myself, as I never read teaser chapters out of context. Nevertheless, in its own right, Victims is a small but beautifully proportioned gem of a story.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Angie Smith

This has got to be a contender for the best title award (if there is one!)


The Spy Who Chipped the China Teacup

Amazon.com link

My review -

Taylor Hudson’s husband wants her dead. He’s paid someone to make sure she is. However, another someone offers to keep her safe. Why should she trust him? Her husband is swimming in very murky waters and she gradually finds out what he’s capable of. The Secret Intelligence Service are involved and there are good and bad within that organisation. We are pulled from side to side, not knowing who is trustworthy and who’s a villain.


I’ll admit that at the beginning I kept mixing Taylor up with another woman who has important scenes – Stephany Pascal. Once I’d got my brain in gear, the action flowed inexorably. Angie Smith can weave a multitude of threads into a single story and take you by surprise as you round each corner. She writes a really mean baddie! The book takes us to various parts of the world and the added detail makes the story come alive. A treat for espionage lovers and an exhilarating read.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

David Haynes

Another modern horror from a great storyteller.


The Church of Broken Pieces

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Frank Wilson makes his living finding and sourcing items, usually old and rare, for clients. His friend John Donovan works with him, and they are approached by a man who wants them to find something for him. His mother’s soul, which he believes someone has stolen. Initially they refuse – it’s too weird. Eventually they go to the run-down town of Hemlock Mill where the lady in question is in a facility where she suffers from Lock-in syndrome. The town is on its last legs and Frank and John meet the doctor and the reverend, both involved with the hospice.


This is a great modern-day horror story. The situation, in a ghost town, where the few authority figures are uneasy with one another, builds as we find out more about what is going on. Wilson begins to feel ill with a presumed heart complaint and this gets worse when he’s in the hospice. The reverend and his associates are not what they seem. I really enjoyed this story and it feels horribly real. Another great book from a really good writer.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Angela Marsons

Number six in the Kim Stone series. They get better!


Dead Souls

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Kim Stone is sharing a case with her ex-colleague Travis. It’s fair to say they don’t get on but the bones they are investigating were found on the boundary of the two police forces. There’s a strange relationship between the land owner and the lease-holder and Kim realises that they are all lying. The hate crimes of thirty years ago begin to find a horrifying echo in the present and one of Kim’s team is in danger.


I now feel I know these characters and yet in each book a little more background is revealed. We learn more about Travis and Stacey’s past lives and once again, understand them better. The dynamic of Kim’s own team is shifted slightly in her absence and it’s great to see how they grow without her constant influence. I love these characters and the cases they get tied up with. Long may this series continue!