Thursday 25 May 2017

Joel Hames

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

Victims 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 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 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 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!

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Keith Dixon

I can't be the only person who jumps into a series midstream? A good series will take it and this book is a very good stand-alone.

One Punch link

My review -

Paul Storey is an ex-copper, now working as a driver/security man and One Punch is the nickname of his new employer, Bran Doyle. Doyle made his money through boxing – not always legal fights, either – and now has a business as a property dealer and developer. He’s having money troubles, family troubles, old acquaintance troubles. In fact, none of the characters in this book seems to be who they appear to be superficially. Its great strength is the way it unfolds their individual stories.

This is the second in a series but is perfectly good as a stand-alone. I haven’t read anything else by this author but I can see that changing! The writing is very good, pulling you into the story. The characters are three-dimensional and complex. Unlike many a crime book these days, which seem to strive to find the most shocking twist, the power of this book is that it all feels extremely plausible. I enjoyed this a great deal and highly recommend it.

Saturday 6 May 2017

Andrew Barrett

This is a short story - actually, a novelette, and encapsulates everything we love about the Eddie Collins books. A great introduction.

The Note link

My review - 

Eddie Collins, CSI, is at a crime scene and the weather’s vile, the locals as bad, and he’s being hindered by his colleagues. You could say that by then he wasn’t in a good mood. Back at the station, he finds a note left for him. A very personal and threatening note.

This story, though short, packs a punch. Eddie’s past comes up to bite him and he’s in a very difficult situation with a volatile person. Even in extremes, he can’t keep his tongue in check and there are some very scary but very funny moments in this. Eddie is a character who has grown on me. The older I get the more angry I get at idiocy – especially my own – so I feel for him in his predicaments. If you know Eddie Collins, you’ll enjoy meeting him again. If you don’t, this is an excellent place to start. I’m very happy to give this five stars. 

Thursday 4 May 2017

Lexie Conyngham

Another Murray of Letho. I never tire of them!

Thicker than Water link

My review -

Charles Murray, Laird of Letho, is in St Andrews and visits his old tutor, who is taking the education of young Walter in hand. Walter makes a better student than he ever did junior servant. While Murray is there, a young man is found dead in the garden, apparently deliberately drowned in the fish pond. Murray and the constable try to discover who was responsible. It seems that many of their apparently respectable social circle have something to hide.

This, the tenth Murray of Letho novel, is, for anyone who has followed the series and its early nineteenth century setting, like spending time with old friends. Many of the characters are new but the old Letho crowd didn’t let me down. These stories, though filled with solid and believable characters, are nevertheless driven by plots as complex as the people who inhabit them. It’s not at all clear who has done the deed but as the story unfolds, we discover that so many people had a motive. Trust Murray to sort it out, even at danger to himself. Another addition to a fantastic and well-written series, though it would stand alone very well. 

Steve Robinson

The latest Jefferson Tayte story and this time it's personal!

Dying Games link

My review - 

Jefferson Tayte is summoned home to DC because the FBI want his help. Someone well up in genealogy and its research methods is killing people in a manner to echo the death of one of their ancestors. Tayte is involved because they are all related to past clients of his. The killer is leaving clues – it’s a sick game and if Tayte doesn’t play it, they die. If he’s clever, he might get there before the deadline and save the victim.

Because of the structure of the story – the fact that there are several families and puzzles to sort out from Tayte’s old files, the story builds in excitement. Will he solve it? Imagine failing to solve a puzzle in time to save a person’s life. You’d feel terrible about yourself. At least he’s happy that Jean is safe in England. Tayte has more than a suspicion he knows who’s behind it but the FBI think differently. This story touches on JT’s personal life and previous contacts more than any other and I found it exciting and terrifying in equal measure. It’s a dead sure winner and I enjoyed it immensely.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an early copy of this book.

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Angela Marsons

Another cracker in a great series.

Blood Lines link

My review - 

DI Kim Stone and her team investigate a murder involving a single, unhesitating knife thrust. When more deaths occur with the same method of killing, the investigators are desperate to find what connects the dead. It takes Kim Stone to work out what’s really going on – but that’s only half the battle. Her chain is being yanked from inside prison by the sociopathic psychologist Dr Alexandra Thorne, who knows Kim well enough to understand what her weaknesses are.

I’m really growing to like the characters in this series. They all have their strengths and their faults, just like the rest of us. Whatever else, though, her team trust and have faith in Detective Kim Stone. Angela Marson’s stories are a little different from the run-of-the-mill detective stories which are out there in seemingly huge numbers. I enjoy the threads which run throughout, the stories within the story, and the way they are unravelled for us. A very good read indeed.

Anita Shreve

An old favourite author of mine, I know I'll enjoy her style right from the start.

The Stars are Fire link

My review - 

This story is based in a true event which took place in Maine seventy years ago. After an unusually hot and dry season, Grace’s home is destroyed in a wildfire and she and her children narrowly escape with their lives. Her husband, Gene, with whom she had a deteriorating relationship, is missing, presumed dead. Grace takes a job at the local doctor’s and moves into the home of her late mother-in-law. Her life settles down with her mother and a lodger – a brilliant pianist. Things are not at all as settled as she hopes.

As with a previous novel, Sea Glass, Anita Shreve uses the New England coast to set her scenes and its wild storms for a backdrop to the personal tales of the family. Grace feels like a captive. She’s tied to her children, tied to her husband and very much a product of the age in which she was raised. Anita Shreve’s style of cool and considered prose follows Grace’s self-discovery without making it over-dramatic it. It’s a great display of inner strength and I found it an encouraging story.