Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Dark Game by Rachel Lynch

This excellent thriller exhausted me. I had many matchstick moments, desperately trying to keep awake late at night to read on and desperately wishing my eyes would read the words as quickly as the action was unfolding!

After being let down in the Met, by a colleague, D.I. Kelly Porter returns to her roots in the Lake District and transfers to the Cumbrian police force. If she thought crimes were going to be a bit milder here, she finds she’s very much mistaken. She reopens an old case…a distressing one involving the murder of a young child and at the same time investigates when a local businessman is found dead in a nearby hotel. Lottie’s case is heartbreaking but requires closure, especially for the mother, and the other is seemingly straightforward. But as Kelly digs into evidence in both cases, she discovers that crimes in Cumbria can be as far removed from mild than she ever imagined.

This is an exceptionally well-crafted plot...and extremely well characterised…from the devious, hideously perverted, amoral, seedy characters, to the innocent, virtuous and law-abiding. Whilst the criminals in this story are very likely not going to be seen again, Lynch left plenty of scope for further development of Kelly and her team in further stories. Don’t get me wrong…that doesn’t mean it was lacking in this one!

A terrific, gripping, fast-paced thriller…I sincerely hoped this was going to be the start of a long line of DI Kelly Porter instalments, so I was ecstatic to find I could pre-order the next one, due later this year.  A very very easy decision!



Monday, 9 April 2018

A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Ach! Present tense narrative. Just don’t like it, sorry. For me, personally, it’s awkward and a bit distracting. However, that’s just me, and I’m probably in the minority with this aversion. My rating is in no way influenced by that. But, if anyone else shares my dislike…this is a heads-up!

More importantly, this was a very sophisticated thriller. The writing is excellent: insightful and intelligent and intense. It’s a story packed with mystery and suspense.

FBI agent Elsa Myers searches for missing people: a distressing task when the victims are young teenagers. And when they’re found, they are sometimes corpses. So when young Ruby goes missing, Elsa is determined to find her before she ends up like the latter. But she has to juggle her job at the same time as dealing with her terminally ill father. The father who, ambiguously, failed her in her childhood, but at the same time shares her devastating secret.

The story rolls along at a good pace; it’s compelling and well written: no unnecessary padding, but at the same time no detail is overlooked.

Without doubt, an author to look out for.


Friday, 6 April 2018

Soul Walk by Melissa Bowersock

Number seven in the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud mysteries. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of this paranormal-investigator team's adventures, and until this point, I’d have been hard pressed to choose a favourite. But I think I can vote this one into first place. 

Each investigation is quite different from the last, and at the same time, Sam and Lacey’s relationship progresses…not necessarily without a few bumps along the way…but gently and positively, and it’s an enjoyable lining to the mantle of the main plots of each book. This latest investigation is a biggie in more ways than one: it’s going to be televised for a TV ghost series, which could lead to great things for the pair, but the two ghosts they've been commissioned to release have particularly tragic histories—one of them stirring some painful memories for Sam. Lacey and Sam have a sensationalist TV team to satisfy and difficult research to conduct for two cases, for which records are virtually non-existent. 

As always, Bowersock’s writing is fluid, smooth and cohesive. She always strikes the right balance between the concurrent story lines and each book leaves you wanting more. 

So, the good news is: there's book number 8.

See also:

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Demon Walk by Melissa Bowersock

Sixth in the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud series, the private-investigating duo are asked to get to the bottom of a menacing evil threatening the lives of the San Jan Capistrano mission. A tough nut to crack, this one, as some of the usual methods aren't enough to combat a killer force.

It’s so easy to slip into this duo’s adventures. They’re like old friends, their tales like a comfy sweater or slippers. Better still, their personal relationship is heading in the direction us fans want. 

As always, Bowersock strikes the perfect balance, careful to make this a compelling supernatural mystery without overdoing the romantic elements between Lacey and Sam.

I’m about to do something I very rarely do: dive straight into book 7. I’m not ready to take off those slippers just yet.

See also:
Being Travis
Burning Through
Dragon Walk
Dream Walk
Finding Travis
Ghost Walk
Queen's Gold
Skin Walk
Star Walk
Sonnets for Heidi
Stone's Ghost
The Man in the Black Hat

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Look For Me by Lisa Gardner

This was a book that ticked a lot of boxes: a well-executed crime thriller that commits you right from the word ‘go’. Ninth in a series featuring Detective D D Warren, I worried I might have missed some crucial forerunning elements to give a full picture of any recurring characters, but it was a perfect stand-alone novel. Despite the fact that I guessed ‘whodunnit’ at about 75%, there were enough red herrings thereafter to keep me on my toes and the unravelling was very compelling. 

Five dead family members and one missing teenager, Roxanna: Detective Warren has to determine whether or not she (along with the family’s pet dogs) was fortunate enough to have avoided the same fate or if she was the orchestrator of the massacre. The search for the truth uncovers some unpleasant history in the lives of Roxanna and her pretty thirteen-year-old sister, Lola, one of the victims. Aided by Flora, herself a survivor of a heinous crime, piece by piece, racing against the clock, they peel away the layers of heartache to get to the truth. 

As I said…a lot of boxes were ticked. But a few had to be unchecked. Sloppy editing…missing words and word-endings, some very poor grammar (how does a 'best-selling author' not know the difference between there’s and there are???), some rogue apostrophes, Roxanna’s name misspelt, and alas, some head-hopping. Not sure who to blame here: the author for trusting her editor or the editor for lack of attention to detail. This in addition to some almost illegible  feint text in Roxanna’s autobiographical chapters. I was also slightly bemused by one of the character’s names: Anya Seton. Perhaps Gardner is a fan of this historical-fiction author. 

However, it was a cracking read, well plotted and structured. It was on point, well observed and researched. I particularly liked the relationship between Warren and Flora: their exchanges were sharp, witty and sometimes funny. I shall certainly hunt for other books in the series and indeed other novels by the author.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This was a most enjoyable book…written with a ‘sliding doors’ approach...and one I couldn't wait to pick up at any opportune moment. 

Joanna and her best friend Laura are on a girls’ night out, when Joanna receives some seriously unwanted ‘attention’ from Sadiq. On her way home, she hears someone behind her…seemingly following her. It must be Sadiq. He’s getting worryingly close and as they descend some steps, it happens: the moment that changes lives forever. Notwithstanding, there are two paths, Joanna can take. The story then pursues, in alternating chapters, each of the paths. 

This was brilliantly executed, extremely well written and the characters were very well drawn—Joanna, in particular. I really liked her and her husband’s, Reuben’s, character. 

Much as I was enjoying reading these two parallel universes, how the ending was going to evolve was constantly on my mind: but it came together excellently.

It’s quite a thought-provoking book: whatever you might think, you can never predict how you might act in a dangerous, threatening or serious situation. 

A very good and satisfying book. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

It’s a while since I’ve read a book like this: one where you can’t wait to find a free five minutes to dive in or can’t wait to go to bed to read…or even hope you’re going to get a teensy bit of insomnia!

Unusually authored (two sisters co-wrote), the writing is seamless. It’s a story of greed…and a girl, Amber, who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. It’s also a story of domestic abuse and the cunning the victim, Daphne, uses to escape it. How fortunate that she 'happens' to meet the greedy Amber.

It’s fairly easy to guess early on (well, early-ish) how the story is going to unravel, but the writing and plot is so engrossing, I was more than just a little compelled to read on. It’s a well-structured plot that moves at the right pace. 

Despite the dark elements in the book, the quality of the writing makes this an easy and satisfying read.

These authors have very definitely made it to my look-out-for list.