Last month was the York Literature Festival. I was absolutely thrilled when the festival offered to do a book collection for Bookcase for All and they were fantastic in publicising the project throughout the festival. Therefore I was very excited when I found out that the final event was going to be a Crime themed one at Waterstones.
The theme of the event was Northern Noir and it was a discussion by two authors Robert Scragg and AA Dhand. Obviously as always I cannot resist buying new books so I had a very enjoyable evening and left with two new signed books.
The first I read was What Falls Between the Cracks by Robert Scragg. It starts with a severed hand being found, which DNA identify as having belonged to Natasha. She hasn’t been seen for 30 years but nobody has reported her missing. It is down to detectives Porter and Styles to find out what has happened, and why her family didn’t track her down. Their case soon becomes even more complicated when it links with another investigation and sparks begin to fly.
This was certainly an accomplished debut novel. It starts relatively slowly which draws you in. As the pace of the investigation ramps up so does the pace of the novel. The writing flows naturally, especially the conversation elements. However there were an awful lot of characters which it was sometimes hard to keep track of in the middle, but as the story progressed things slotted into place.
I liked the characters of Jake Porter and Nick Styles. They complemented each other very well and I enjoyed the banter between them. The story itself is also good, you know early on who the ‘baddies’ are but as the story progresses as with all good crime fiction things are never quite what they seem.
Overall this was a good read and I look forward to reading more featuring Porter and Styles. It was also a fantastic closing event to a great festival.
I’m sat here typing this in front of my laptop which has a little camera hole at the top. I have to say I am rather freaked out having just finished The Intrusions by Stav Sherez. I have read Stav Sherez’s previous novels and thoroughly enjoyed them so after hearing him talk in Hull I had to break my self-imposed ban on buying any more books (that day) and picked up a copy of the The Intrusions. I’m glad I did, despite it freaking me out a little.
The Intrusions starts when a clearly distressed young woman arrives at the station claiming her friend has been abducted and that the man is going to come back for her. At first it seems to Detectives Carrigan and Miller that it is a case of someone abducting woman from a back packers hostel. However it soon becomes much more sinister. It is tricky to say more about the story without giving anything away, but it involves online stalking and webcams.
I am a big fan of this pair of detectives. Geneva Miller is a strong woman who despite her occasionally annoying habits I really like. The pairing with the slightly gruff and reckless Jack Carrigan works really well.
The plot is fascinating. It is a story that you think is going to be one thing, yet twists and turns into something else entirely. One of the things I really like about these novels is the style of writing which seems to flow effortlessly. Whilst it is clearly fiction by the end you feel like you have learnt something and somehow your thoughts on society have changed slightly. I like novels that make you think differently, and this will certainly do that. However this in no way detracts from the story which kept me gripped throughout. It was a very modern thriller that is all the more scary because of the very real premise it is based on.
This is the third novel to feature Carrigan and Miller however I think it would still work well as a standalone. If you like police procedurals with a modern day moral tale included then I would thoroughly recommend those by Stav Sherez. However you might want to disable your laptop camera before you start reading!
I picked up a copy of this from Netgalley ages ago and for some reason I kept overlooking it. Until a trip to Newcastle where there was no wifi in my room and I hadn’t updated my kindle recently and this was at the top of the list. Well once I started I couldn’t stop.
The Fourth Monkey is about a killer who sends body parts of his victims to the police to taunt them. First they get an ear, then the eyes following the ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ monkeys. Detective Porter has spent 5 years chasing the 4MK (4th Monkey Killer) whilst also dealing with a tragedy in his personal life. Just when he thinks he will have to give up, the police seem to get a big break. So starts a race against time to find the next victim.
This was a really gripping novel, that I felt had that great combination of gruesome murder and humour. I like a serial killer story, and read a lot. Therefore to find one that to me felt a bit different is a real bonus. There were some great one liners in this book that made me chuckle, especially in the interaction of the detectives. The story also includes a diary of the young 4MK and details his relationship with his parents and how his childhood was. Personally I wasn’t as keen on the diary element as I was on the rest of the story, mainly because it makes some very uncomfortable reading. Yet it also gives you an insight into the killers childhood that almost make you feel a bit of sympathy for him.
This is definitely not a book for the feinthearted. There was a scene with a rat which made me squirm. However it is a great read that I would highly recommend if you like a gruesome story with a touch of humour.
I was lucky enough to meet Laura Lippman at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a couple of year’s ago and have always been a fan of her books. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel Sunburn.
Polly is on a family holiday to the beach when she walks off leaving behind her husband and daughter. She lands in a small town in Delaware and gets a job at the High Ho restaurant. She is soon joined by the mysterious Adam who gets a job as a cook. Whilst he is obviously following Polly for some reason, it is soon clear that he also has secrets. As they both become more drawn into each other’s worlds the lines between truth and lies get more blurred.
This was a really intriguing story. Whilst it wasn’t one you’d class as fast paced, it felt almost hypnotic in it’s telling. It has been likened to some of the classic noir tales such as those by James M. Cain and that is a great comparison. It starts off as a relatively simple premise, we are lead to believe that Polly is the kind of woman who can leave her child behind and therefore is uncaring. Yet as the story flows you realise that things are not as black and white as they seem. Adam could be Polly’s hero turning up just when she needs someone. Yet there is more to him than meets the eye and it soon becomes clear he is not necessarily the person we are first led to believe.
This was change from my usual books, but I really enjoyed it. The gentle pace made for a nice relaxing read on a train. However the twists were certainly there and even though you feel you know most of the story by the time you are halfway through there is still so much that is unknown you just have to carry on. I really liked the fact that everytime I thought I had a handle on who was good and who was bad something else became clear and thoughts changed.
It’s hard to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say for me the ending was perfect. I would thoroughly recommend Sunburn especially if like me you enjoy reading a strong female lead in a very compelling story.
Sunburn is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunburn-Laura-Lippman-ebook/dp/B0771X1KMX
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.
Closer Than You Know by Brad Park introduces us to Melanie. Having survived a difficult childhood she is now happily married with a young son. Her life seems to be in control. Until she arrives to pick up her son from his child minder to find out that he has been removed by social services. Her problems then increase when she is arrested for drug possession and she realises that someone is trying to frame her.
The story is told not only from the point of view of Melanie, but also that of Amy who is the assistant commonwealth’s attorney. She is assigned to Melanie’s case, but is also hunting down a serial rapist who has been active for years.
This was a good read. The story itself was interesting although in parts it did feel a little implausible. However it is no lie that I couldn’t put this one down. The twists and turns just kept coming giving it a real rollercoaster feel. The characters of Melanie and Amy were both well written. Both women were in incredibly frustrating situations and despite their different circumstances they both felt powerless at times. One thing that really stood out for me was the fact that at no point did it become obvious that this was a man writing from a woman’s point of view. I find often certain words or phrases sound a bit out of kilter but not with this one.
This was the first I have read from Brad Park’s but I’ll certainly keep an eye out for the rest of his novels if they are all such a roller coast as this one was. Closer Than You Know is out on the 15th March. Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.
Today is World Book Day, and I suspect there are scores of children everywhere dressed as Harry Potter, for once slightly gutted that school is shut due to snow.
Every day is book day in my world, just without the fancy dress. So today a cancelled train to Edinburgh gives me the perfect opportunity to read. However my latest read certainly isn’t one for children. It was The Collector, the second novel by author Fiona Cummins. Her debut novel Rattle was one of my favourite books of a couple of years ago, so I was very excited to get a copy of her follow up in my Festival goody bag last year and the Collector certainly didn’t disappoint.
The Collector starts shortly after the first book finished. There is a girl missing, and Brian Howley, the Bone Collector is on the run. In Rattle, Howley’s collection was destroyed and now he is trying to rebuild it. Detective Etta Fitzroy is back on his trail and is determined to prove she is up to the job of catching him again. Jakey is also back and having escaped from The Bone Collector once he is determined that no one else will suffer. This time we also meet Saul, with an alcoholic mother he meets Mr Silver and is soon under his spell.
This was another gripping read. The Collector grabs you from the start and continues at break neck speed until it reaches it’s disturbing conclusion. The Collector is terrifying and I think one of the reasons it is so creepy is that everyone can identify with collecting things. I was always collecting something when I was younger, even now I have a collection of fridge magnets. So collecting is something that you can understand, although hopefully no one reading this is collecting body parts!
The writing is superb in this novel, and the characters are that great mix of both good and bad that keeps them realistic. The viewpoints change throughout giving us an insight into not only Etta but also Howley and Saul which makes it a real page turner.
The Collector is an excellent novel. It is definitely best to read Rattle first but I would thoroughly recommend making your acquaintance with the Bone Collector and what more excuse do you need too treat yourself than in celebration of World Book Day.
Today I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Evidence of Death by Peter Ritchie published by Black and White Publishing.
In Evidence of Death Billy Nelson returns to his loyalist roots following his discharge from army service and leads a gang in a series of violent attacks. Being forced out of Belfast which has changed since he was there he moves to Edinburgh. Here he decides to get into the drugs business and take on the criminal underworld that stretches from Edinburgh to Glasgow and back to Belfast. It is newly promoted Grace Macallan who has to try and keep the streets of Scotland safe whilst dealing with police in Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Evidence of Death by Peter Ritchie is the second in the Grace Macallan book, and although I hadn’t read his previous one there is enough in the story to fill in some of the background. This was a really interesting read that grabbed my attention from the start.
It is quite a violent novel, yet it doesn’t seem out of kilter with the book. Rather the violence draws you into the incredibly seedy and disturbing world that Billy Nelson inhabits. I particularly liked the character of Grace Macallan. She is tough, and doesn’t take any nonsense as you would expect. However we also get glimpses into a softer side of her.
There is a lot of police procedural in this book, yet that in no way distracts from the story. I actually found it fascinating learning details about how the police work. You almost felt like you were part of the investigation. I was also bizarrely drawn to some of the characters, even those who you are not meant to like, which says something about the quality of writing. Even mindless thugs have a different side sometimes!
I very much enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more from Peter.
Evidence of Death is out on the 22nd February and can be purchased here.