Wednesday 20 December 2017

Darren Humphries

Norris was a minor character in a previous book of the author's. I'm glad he gets a whole book to himself here.

Norris Goes West link

My review - 

Children are disappearing from the streets of Liverpool and Norris goes under cover, ostensibly seeking his father and putting himself in danger of kidnapping. Naturally, it happens, and he and a group of street urchins – and Miss Laura – are taken across the Atlantic to the US. At the same time, Spenser Warwick and the Countess de Loesseps are travelling to the same destination for him to take part in readings of his work.

Norris was by far my favourite character in the first book of this series so I was delighted to read a whole book in which he takes the lead. I also fell for the young street gang and their worldly wisdom. The reason for the kidnappings is explained – and what a reason! A great, humorous and rollicking adventure. 

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Alice Castle

The seond in the London Mysteries, The Girl in the Gallery tackles several diffcult themes but in the hands of Alice Castle, they are leavened with her heroine Beth's natural humour.

The Girl in the Gallery link

My review -

Beth is once again first on the scene when a body is found, this time in her local art gallery. A young girl is draped over a sarcophagus with her arms crossed on her chest, like a classical figure. In a dither, Beth phones an ambulance, as the girl still has a pulse, and her acquaintance from a previous murder enquiry, Inspector Harry York. Suicide or attempted murder? Then another girl from the same class is found deeply unconscious.

Because she’s determined and dogged, Beth can’t let this go and leave it to the professionals. She’s sure there’s something toxic going on with that group of girls. The writing is gently and funny, while not diminishing the anguish of those involved. Beth’s a brilliant character, intelligent and nosy and an excellent foil for the profession, Inspector York. There’s also a spark between them which I hope continues to flare in later stories. A series to sit back and enjoy. Thoroughly good!

Saturday 16 December 2017

L M Krier

This is the first in a rather different detective series and I know I'll read more when time allows.

Baby's Got Blue Eyes link

My review - 

DI Ted Darling is investigating a murder. Soon there are more bodies and things come very close to home for him. Ted Darling is a refreshingly unusual detective. We’re becoming used, in fiction, to maverick police inspectors sailing very close to the legal wind and getting away with it because they get results. I suspect, even hope, that these exist only in fiction. Ted works by the book (mostly) and unusually, has a happy home life. This, too, is refreshingly different.

I enjoyed this story, though I guessed the villain some time before the end. I found Ted’s relationships both at home and at work very convincing and the story was well paced. The last part was particularly exciting. I shall certainly read more in this series and I recommend it to all crime fiction fans.

Monday 11 December 2017

Carol Wyer

Another belter in the Robyn Carter series. We're really getting to know Robyn's team now and it adds so much to the stories.

The Silent Children link

My review -

DC Robyn Carter is, as usual, overworked! She gets drawn into more than one case and has a suspicion there’s a connection. She also has more than a suspicion that her previous partner’s death may have been staged. This is a worry which diverts her from her work so she passes it on to her cousin Ross. The story includes flashbacks to the earlier life of one of the characters – and it’s well done.

I’m getting to know and enjoy these characters as we see a little more deeply into their lives. Robyn is patient and painstaking and this brings her results, but it’s always a matter of teamwork. Red-herrings pull them this way and that and the ending is memorable. a very good read indeed.

Sunday 10 December 2017

David McGowan

Nevada is the third of a science-fiction 'alien invasion' trilogy. You can find all three on Amazon. Here's my review of this grand finale.

Nevada link

My review -

This final part of the epic three-part saga of an alien visit to earth is an action-packed thriller of a book. The group begin to realise the importance of the small statue the young boy Tucker carries with him, guarded as always by his beloved dog, Samuel. A race against time rounds up the story and there’s some real heart-in-mouth stuff going on here. This is ‘alien invasion’ with a whole different angle and context and I loved being pulled out of my expectations.

The interplay between the characters is strong and believable. These people are alone in their world and if they can’t fulfil their quest, there will be no world. It’s a dire situation and the amount of danger, fear and longing points that up very well. I loved the way that some characters were not as I’d thought them. I’ve always enjoyed David McGowan’s writing and his imagination and this is a stunning conclusion to what’s been a thunderingly good tale.

Andrew Barrett

A new, stand-alone thriller from Andrew Barrett. See, he doesn't just do Eddie Collins!

The End of Lies link

My review - 

This stand-alone crime story is told by Becky Rose whose husband Chris, working for the police, has a plan to make them rich. Why should the gangsters be untouchable, he asks. It all goes wrong when Chris is found stabbed to death in their living room and a group of thugs ransack their home looking for something. Becky stands up to a vicious gang boss in terror of her life. Nevertheless, she’s not a likable character.

In this book, Andrew Barrett has created a fast and action-packed story which moves about in time with the death of Chris as the balance-point. Before he dies, we hear of their plans. Afterwards, Becky fights to outwit a gang boss and get the money her husband was implicated in trying to steal. The backward and forward chapters fill in details for the reader without that feeling of disorientation it can sometimes create. It’s an exciting story and an unusual take on the police versus gangs model of crime fiction. It’s a roller-coaster of a read and I really enjoyed it!

Sunday 3 December 2017

Jonathan Hill

Best. Maureen. Ever! A short story you can read in your lunch hour. 

A Surprise for Maureen link

My review -

Christmas with Maureen. We expect a bit of posturing, a lot of sherry and a session or two with her friends, Tim and Louisa. Tim, her young friend, comes around after his grandmother’s death, with a surprise for Maureen. She’s not sure she wants it!

You can read end enjoy this if it’s your first encounter with Maureen. This story, for me, sees her settle down into being a real person. She’s always been a little hysterical and yet here she’s more human and vulnerable. I like her this way. The story is gently funny and Mo, though laced with sherry as is usual at this season, has developed a lovely relationship with Tim. They can cheek one another but there’s genuine fondness there. Watch out for the scene in the pharmacy where you’ll discover she’s not really lost her feistiness! Funny, sweet and very seasonal.

Saturday 2 December 2017

John Marrs

A book which could split opinion because of the motives of the main protagonist. You'd have to judge for yourself but the way the story unfolds is masterful.

My review -

Laura is a volunteer at The End Of The Line, a telephone helpline for people who don’t know where to turn next, and feel their lives are a burden. They don’t seek to influence their callers, just to allow them to talk. Laura is popular with her fellow workers, bringing in baking and fundraising for the charity. She is doing a little more than listening to their clients, it appears.

This book is written from more than one view point and allows us to see what is really happening, and what its effects are on the lives of the wider community. Our realisation is gradual and the build-up of tension, and the horror of what’s really going on, is part of the allure of the writing. Nobody, it seems, is what they really appear. Another excellent book from the pen of John Marrs.

Friday 1 December 2017

Lexie Conyngham

I've always loved Lexie's writing style in the historical mysteries, but she can turn her hand to anything, as this story shows.

Jail Fever link

My review - 

A mystery illness is striking the prison populations and killing people within hours. Nobody survives – then a little girl, whose father is in jail, comes down with it. She’s unconscious, for several days. There are teams working night and day to try to find a cure. Nearby, an archaeological dig unearths a seven hundred year-old body and post mortem results are striking.

This thriller is set both in modern times (around the year 2000) and in the medieval past. The stories on these timelines are strangely linked and at times the book is very exciting. There’s a sound archaeological background to this story, and it picks up on some of our modern fears of big companies and their tactics. I also love the man in the cloak! You must read it. It’s so unlike anything else I’ve ever read and I enjoyed it a great deal.