Top 12 Crime Books of 2017

 

Hello and thanks for joining me for my annual celebration of the very best in crime.

This year, I have cheated a little. I have included one book (correction two books – haha!) that will be published in January 2018. This is because I do not want you all to miss out on something special.

In no particular order! They are all AMAZING…

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1.Fast Falls the Night by Julia Keller

My love for this series just grows. Fast Falls the Night is the latest instalment in the Bell Elkins legal crime series. I really want to sing its praises. Julia Keller writes beautifully. This is classy literary crime fiction. She raises awareness about poverty, drug addiction, the effects of unemployment and life in small town America. Her books focus on the very dark side of life. As well as this social commentary, we have a wonderful lead in Bell. In the latest story, Bell and her colleagues face a drug epidemic in their locality.

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2. Unforgivable – Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas became one of my favourite authors with his very excellent Unforgivable. He is a hidden talent in the world of crime. This book follows on from Thomas’s debut Ash and Bones. Will MacReady is the new boy in the police. The police force we see is brutal and hierarchical. A club where you have to earn your stripes. What makes this series stand out is the excellent attention to detail. Mike Thomas gives us a fabulous, authentic, action packed story. This time, terrorism strikes the heart of Cardiff.

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3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is really gorgeous. This is one of those books that I absolutely adored, from the very first word. Eleanor is damaged and has retreated into her own little world. She tells herself she is ‘fine’. She is clearly not. There is a mystery about her. As the book unfolds, you start to know Eleanor and see what has made her that way. You fall in love with her. Unmissable.

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4. Little Deaths – Emma Flint

Little Deaths is powerful. It is quality historical crime, rooted in reality. Set in New York 1965, a working class woman is imprisoned for the murder of her two children. Throughout the book, we get to know the accused, Ruth Malone. Flint shows us just how tough life can be living under blatant prejudice and discrimination. This isn’t an easy read. It hits a nerve. It is very much meant to. Clever and outstanding.

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5. An Act of Silence – Colette McBeth

Colette McBeth shows she has her finger on the pulse with An Act of Silence. This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read this year. It is intelligent and ever so twisted. This is the tale of a mother and son, a disgraced politician mother and her comedian son. It is about the abuse of power and about the complexity of modern family relationships. My tip is read everything Colette McBeth writes.

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6. The Killer – Susan Wilkins

If you have missed Susan Wilkins’ genre twisting gritty trilogy, then shame on you! This is one huge reminder to get your hands on them all. We got to know and love Kaz Phelps in The Informant and The Mourner. Now she is back in The Killer. The girl with attitude, from a criminal gangster family. Wilkins puts the grit in gritty, giving us a character who refuses to play the victim. Kaz is a marked woman. Watch her in action. She truly kicks ass!

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7. Western Fringes – Amer Anwar

Western Fringes is a fresh original crime novel from the pen of Amer Anwar. Set in the Asian subculture in Southall, it really ticks all the right boxes in bringing a vibrant community to life with a super dark story. It has some unforgettable characters. We get the most delightful pairing in Zaq and Jaqs, the two young men who are on the trail of a missing girl. They made me laugh. Anwar has just the right comic touch. Western Fringes is definitely one of the best, bringing to life diversity within the UK and a cracking story.

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8. The Lies Within – Jane Isaac

I’ve long been a fan of Jane Isaac. She is a talented crime writer, who has established herself as someone who can consistently produce high quality reads. Her Will Jackman series is just excellent and has me screaming with anticipation. In my opinion, The Lies Within is the best to date and I urge you all to see for yourselves. Part legal thriller, part police procedural with the addition of gorgeous Will Jackman as investigating officer, we follow the case of Grace Daniels. Grace is accused of murder. Did she do it?

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9. Perfect Prey – Helen Fields

This is perfection in a book. Perfection in a series. Perfect Prey follows on from Perfect Remains, which introduces French D. I. Luc Callanach and D. I. Ava Turner. This is crime with a very Scottish flavour. It is dark. It is brutal. It is just wonderful. Perfect Prey sees the city of Edinburgh turned into a blood bath. I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens next. Helen Fields is a must read author! Miss this, miss out!

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10. Sweetpea – C J Skuse

Sweetpea was a complete joy to read. Black comedy at its best. It was the dark quirky comedy of 2017. We follow Rhiannon, a woman who is a killer on the side. She is not all bad though. An anti-hero for 2017. A British female Dexter. We hear her thoughts through her diary. We get to know and love her. We understand why she bumps off certain people. I urge you all to read this one. It will make you smile!

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11. The Chalk Man – C. J. Tudor

The Chalk Man will finally be published in January 2018. Woohoooo!!! I have been shouting about this one for months. I predict it will be a best seller. It is special and wonderful. It has a touch of retro 1980s magic, some creepy chalk drawings, a bunch of kids and a gorgeous mystery. I read it in the summer and have been a massive fan since of C. J. Tudor. Look out for it. Remember the name. Pre-order it. Buy it! It is not long very until January! You will soon see what I mean …

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12. Love Like Blood – Mark Billingham

I love the Tom Thorne series, with a passion. He is one of the best detectives out there. Blunt, non PC and the sort of bloke you could have a drink with. We are now at book fourteen. For those of you who have managed to miss this series, please remedy this straight away. You have missed out on an outstanding series, that just gets better over time. In the latest instalment, we get the combination of Thorne, honour killings and a whole lot of trouble.

Special mentions

No list would be complete, without a few special mentions.

I would like to gush loudly about C. J. Carver‘s action packed thriller Know Me Now. You all want to meet Dan. Trust me on this. And of course Ruth Dugdall‘s My Sister and Other Liars which is a very unique pyschological thriller. It has the rather fascinating and disturbing setting of a psychiatric unit for adolescents with eating disorders.

Thank you! Here’s to more fabulous crime in 2018!

 

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The Cover Up by Marnie Riches #blogtour #exclusiveextract

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Welcome to my turn on #TheCoverUp blog tour. We all fell in love with Marnie Riches with her The Girl Who series. Then Marnie upped the ante by putting the Bad in Manchester, Badchester was born. Now who isn’t excited that there is a follow up Born Bad? If you want to get a taste of The Cover Up, look no further for a very exclusive extract. Oh yeah!!!!

The Cover Up is published by Avon on 11 January 2018 and is available to buy here

What’s The Cover Up all about?

Watch your back. Everyone else will be.

How far would you go to protect your empire?

Manchester’s criminal underworld is reeling from the loss of its leader, Paddy O’Brien. In the wake of her husband’s death, Sheila O’Brien takes charge of the city, and for once, she’s doing things her way.

But she hasn’t reckoned with the fearsome Nigel Bancroft, a threat from Birmingham who is determined to conquer Manchester next.

As a power tussle begins, Sheila is determined to keep control of the empire she has won – even if it means she has to die trying…

A heart-stopping read with a gritty edge, perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers.

****Exclusive extract****

[Extract 2, Chapter 3, pp. 18-22]

Sheila

‘Come on. We’re late,’ Sheila said, dragging him through the depressing upper mall of the shopping centre, where half the units were still unoccupied, post-recession.

She took a step onto the escalator down, checking her watch again. Her shoulders were so hunched up inside her cashmere coat, Conky was tempted to reach down and smooth them out.

‘He can fuck away off. Make him wait!’ he said, catching the reflection of the two of them standing together in a shopfront window. Still disbelieving that this doll was his lover. Paddy O’Brien would be spinning in his grave. But he now knew the truth of how Paddy had treated his wife behind closed doors. Screw him, the wife-beating bastard.

‘Tell me again what you found out about this Bancroft?’ She fixed him with those cobalt blue eyes, the crow’s feet crinkling around them like an elegant, ageing frame around crisp, perfectly composed photography.

Marching past the brightly lit shops to the exit, he explained. ‘Nigel Bancroft runs Birmingham, basically. He’s big in commercial property. He owns a chain of restaurants – tapas, burgers, Tex-Mex: places where you can eat and drink. Backs small business start-ups. But naturally, that’s all bullshit.’

Outside in the gusting wind, Sheila click-clacked ahead of him to the stone stairs that led down to the Lowry Theatre. The giant silver structure, comprising several bold shapes lumped together, always put Conky in mind of the old metal storage tins that knocked around the kitchen of his childhood home, into which his Mammy had stashed food and cash for the bills, lest his father fritter it away down the bookies.

Today, as with most other days in Manchester, the cloud cover was heavy, lending the deserted paved plaza and the hulking grey structure that sat beside it an oppressive Soviet air.

Sheila was struggling on the steps in those shoes.

‘Give me your hand?’ he offered.

‘I’m fine. I’m not a cripple.’

She shooed him away, but even after months as a couple, it felt more like he’d taken a hefty right hook.

Approaching the bridge by the dull grey-brown snake of the River Irwell, he spotted an average-sized man, standing by the rail. Expensively dressed, the man wore a camel overcoat with a grey suit underneath. A big bruiser with close-cropped hair, standing some ten feet away, clad in dark jeans and a leather donkey jacket. Muscle. More muscle – a big black guy with dreads, wearing a parka – standing further down. The well-dressed man glanced towards them, smiling expansively at Sheila. Conky was careful to make a show of touching the place where the gun bulged, not quite hidden beneath the fabric of his coat.

‘Wait here,’ Sheila said, squeezing his arm but not taking her eyes from the man.

‘No. I’m coming with you. You’re exposed.’

Sheila shot him a narrow-eyed glance. Lips thinned to a line. ‘You’re not the only one who’s packing, Conky. I’m not an amateur.’ Her features softened. ‘At least hang back a bit. Give us a bit of distance, yeah?’

Conky halted. Exhaled heavily, chewing over his lover’s stubborn streak like a piece of unpalatable gristle.

‘Nigel?’ Sheila asked, marching forwards with her hand held out.

‘Sheila O’Brien,’ Bancroft said, flashing a dazzling dentist’s-dream smile that almost lit up the dank quayside scene. He clasped Sheila’s hand between his, leaning attentively in for an air kiss on both cheeks, which Sheila reciprocated.

Bastard. Couldn’t have been more than thirty-five, unless he’d had work done. Conky mused that he had the kind of face you saw on tired catalogue models. Starting to go at the jawline and underneath the eyes. A vain man, for sure with that fecking hair gel in his hair. A wedding ring on his finger though. Not that that ever stopped men like Nigel Bancroft. His words were being whipped away by a fickle breeze. What was he saying, with that grin plastered all over his nipped-and-tucked bake? There sure as hell was a lot of laughing going on.

Conky moved a little closer so that he was within earshot of the two once more.

‘You’re even more beautiful than they say,’ Bancroft said in that Brummie accent of his.

‘Who says that then?’ There was a sceptical edge to Sheila’s voice, despite the coquettish giggle.

‘The great and the good of the criminal underworld, Sheila. You and I mix in the same esteemed circles, after all.’

It sounded like the prick had rehearsed his lines. Ma gavte la nata, Conky said to himself, musing on the classic line delivered by Jacopo Belbo in Foucault’s Pendulum. Take the cork out of his arse and let some of that hot air out. Prick.

The two started to walk towards the footbridge that spanned the river. Conky followed, straining to catch their conversation.

‘I can tell you now,’ Bancroft said, ‘when it’s just between lads, the hardest nuts from Portsmouth to Glasgow all say they admire your assets, and I’m not just talking what you’ve inherited from Paddy.’ Wink.

Sheila came to a halt, clutching her bag close. ‘Flattery’s all very well, Nigel, but I can’t bank it, and there’s more to me than a pair of tits, son.’ The mirth had evaporated from her voice, leaving only a sour residue behind, Conky noted with some satisfaction. ‘Now what did you come up here to say?’

‘I hear you’re looking to offload your traditional business interests to a third party.’

‘Who the bloody hell told you that?’ Sheila raised an eyebrow. ‘I certainly never told anyone that.’

Bancroft’s men had moved from their positions by the river’s guardrail and were now also trailing the couple. Conky studied them surreptitiously through the dark lenses of his Ray-Bans, checking for sudden movements. These tossers had been at Paddy’s funeral. Casting his mind back to some of the lesser-known mourners gathered at the back of the throng, he recalled the black feller. Those dreadlocks, tied in a fat ponytail and that acne scarring that covered his forehead and cheeks were a dead giveaway. He had been standing at the side of your Man-at-Burton Bancroft. And now they were in Manchester, thinking they could simply swoop down and pick over the O’Brien empire’s carcass.

‘Let’s just say, I’ve got my sources of reliable information,’ Bancroft told Sheila. ‘News travels fast in our world, and I can help you get on with the things that are more in your comfort zone.’

Conky noticed that the veins on the backs of Sheila’s hands were standing proud. She appeared taut from her feet to her face, like a gymnast holding her body before executing a finale on the beam.

She poked Bancroft in the shoulder. ‘You can take that shit-eating grin off your face for a start, mister.’ Taking a step towards him. Matching his height in those heels. ‘Now, first, I want to know which double-crossing little shit you’ve got working for me, earwigging and then mouthing off about my business. And second, cut the flirtatious crap and tell me what you’re proposing. South Manchester’s mine. All mine. I’m a businesswoman, Nigel. Not a bleeding hobbyist or the show pony you seem to be mistaking me for.’

Bancroft’s muscle marched towards her, puffing themselves up like peacocks, squaring for a fight over a hen.

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Perfect Death – Helen Fields (@Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK)

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Perfect Death is published by Avon on 25 January 2018 and is available to buy here

There’s no easy way to die…

Unknown to DI Luc Callanach and the newly promoted DCI Ava Turner, a serial killer has Edinburgh firmly in his grip. The killer is taking his victims in the coldest, most calculating way possible – engineering slow and painful deaths by poison, with his victims entirely unaware of the drugs flooding their bloodstream until it’s too late.

But how do you catch a killer who hides in the shadows? A killer whose pleasure comes from watching pain from afar? Faced with their most difficult case yet, Callanach and Turner soon realise they face a seemingly impossible task…

***Previously in this brilliant series***

Perfect Remains

Perfect Prey

 

My thoughts

Oh hooray! I am so over the moon to get my hands on Perfect Death. I was aching for more, after finishing Perfect Prey. This is one of the series that I have been raving about for some time. This is one of the hottest new series out there. Perfect Death follows on beautifully from Perfect Remains and Perfect Prey. This is quality crime drama. It is the very welcome return of Scottish duo, DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach.

If you are new to the series, I recommend starting with book one, Perfect Remains. We slowly get to know and love Ava and Luc and their colleagues. DS Lively provides the blessed moments of comedy. With Ava and Luc, we get close colleagues with the potential for more. Think Mulder and Scully. Think underlying sexual tension. Fabulous. All of that and some dark bloody crime to give you the shivers.

Perfect Death sees Ava in a bit of an emotional muddle, with a new promotion and the sad loss of her friend, Begbie. Ava and Luc must navigate their special friendship, whilst Ava is the boss in work. DCI Ava Turner is distraught when her former colleague DCI Begbie is found dead in his car. It looks like he has taken his life. Ava launches her own private investigation, to get to the truth. This soon escalates and puts Ava in danger. Luc is assigned a bizarre case and has to contend with a visit from his estranged French mother. A teenage girl is found dead, due to hyperthermia. This could be accidental. But we are in Edinburgh and this is the Perfect series. Nothing is not as clear cut as it is seems. It is challenging and sinister, with a dark murderous figure in the background. Will Ava and Luc get to the truth to prevent further suffering?

Perfect Death is confident and bold. It cleverly gives you multiple perspectives, which take a while to tie together. It is a reflection on death and suffering. We see Ava’s emotional response to the death of a close friend. Luckily, she has the gorgeous Luc to support her. We all need a Luc in our lives. Then we have a twisted killer, who is getting turned on by death and is feeding emotionally off the pain of the relatives. Chilling and disturbing.

Brilliant. Thought-provoking. Utterly perfect!

Highly recommended.

 

 

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The Confession – Jo Spain

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The Confession is published on 11 January 2018 by Quercus and is available to buy here

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry’s many sins – corruption, greed, betrayal – have finally caught up with him.

An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.

Has Carney’s surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?

THE MOST GRIPPING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER OF 2018: PERFECT FOR FANS OF THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR AND THE GIRL BEFORE.

My thoughts

The Confession is a psychological thriller coming from Jo Spain, in January 2018. It is an Irish tale of marital disharmony, dysfunctional families and murder.

The story follows three individuals; the banker, his spouse and his murderer. We also hear from the investigating officer on the murder case, the very tenacious Alice Moody. The banker is Harry McNamara, a man who made a packet from wheeling and dealing before the economic down-turn. Harry is the kind of man, who escapes fraud charges and walks away with a smile on his face. He is married to Julie, an alcoholic teacher. One day, a man calmly walks into his house and clobbers him to death with a golf club. The story follows the history of the three as they move towards this point in time. Why was Harry killed? Was this just a random killing or did the killer have a motive?

I was most fascinated by the history of Ireland and its economic ups and downs. This is where the story shines and comes into its own. We really get an understanding of what it is like to be poor and rich in this unique country; two extreme situations. From Harry we see what it was like to live the high life and to float on the wave of optimism, prior to the global crash of 2008. From J. P. and from Julie, we get a more everyday perspective on life in Ireland.

I enjoyed the odd relationship between Harry and Julie. This is a very dysfunctional marriage. A marriage of unequals held together by longevity and a kind of love. Harry is cast in the role of rich playboy banker, who has little in the way of a conscience and loves splashing the cash. Julie is a teacher from a large Irish family. She seems to have some common sense about her. We see Harry’s influence on Julie, over time. It is sad to see her slow slide into a shadow of herself, as the novel progresses.

What was more of a let down was J. P.’s back-story. It seemed mostly irrelevant. We did not need to know that much about him or his dreadful parents. It could have done with a massive edit and delete. The author was obviously trying to make us feel an ounce of empathy towards him, as his background was full of neglect and abuse. That didn’t work either. This is not the sort of story where you actually feel you like any of the characters or even mind that you don’t.

I felt let down by the ending. I was waiting for an explosive finish. I was promised something special on the last page, which never happened. This is quite an easy tale to predict unfortunately.

This is not a bad story. It is a pretty average psychological read, that takes no time at all to speed through. It kept me reading to the end, to see if the author had any tricks to pull out of the bag. Sadly, she didn’t. Overall, The Confession feels very much like a first novel. It is flawed. It lacks pace and energy. Most readers will be able to guess where it is going. We do get a very real sense of the global economic crisis from an Irish perspective. If you are interested in the history of Ireland from the 1980s to the present day, it will definitely appeal.

 

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Nine Crime Books to get very excited about in 2018 / #mustread #amreading #crime #favouriteauthors

Welcome to a few of my most anticipated reads of 2018. These are nine of my favourite authors, whose new books are listed on Amazon. I cannot wait to get my hands on these lovelies. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!

They are: Alex Caan, Peter James, David Young, Ragnar Jonasson, Marnie Riches, Ashley Dyer (aka Margaret Murphy), Mari Hannah, Nicci French and Steve Cavanagh

Zain Harris and Kate Riley return in another nail-biting thriller

Bonfire Night and St James’s Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Zain Harris and Kate Riley are called in to investigate. The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus, resulting in enforced quarantine for anyone who came into contact with the body. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. There is no obvious reason why anyone would want him dead.

As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus narrow down the possibilities, first one, then another pharmacist go missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members, and one of his favoured charities is rumoured to be involved in human trafficking. He must have had enemies after all…

The mystery is becoming increasingly complicated and with thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?

First to Die by Alex Caan will be published on 14 June 2018 by Zaffre

A Darker State is published on 8 February 2018 by Zaffre

For the Stasi, it’s not just the truth that gets buried . . . 

The body of a teenage boy is found weighted down in a lake. Karin Müller, newly appointed Major of the People’s Police, is called to investigate. But her power will only stretch so far, when every move she makes is under the watchful eye of the Stasi.

Then, when the son of Müller’s team member goes missing, it quickly becomes clear that there is a terrifying conspiracy at the heart of this case, one that could fast lead Müller and her young family into real danger.
Can she navigate this complex political web and find the missing boy, before it’s too late?

Before Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavik Police is forced into early retirement she is told to investigate a cold case of her choice, and she knows just the one.

A young woman found dead on remote seaweed-covered rocks. A woman who was looking for asylum and found only a watery grave. Her death ruled a suicide after a cursory investigation.

But Hulda soon realizes that there was something far darker to this case. This was not the only young woman to disappear around that time. And no one is telling the whole story.

When her own force tries to put the brakes on the investigation Hulda has just days to discover the truth. Even if it means risking her own life . . .

Spanning the icy streets of Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is an atmospheric thriller fromone of the most exciting names in Nordic Noir.

The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson is published by Penguin on 22 March 2018

The fifth gripping thriller in the Georgina McKenzie series.

The Girl Who Got Revenge is published on 19 April 2018 by Avon

Sergeant Ruth Lake and DCI Greg Carver are on the hunt for a serial killer who carefully poses his victims and covers every inch of their bodies in intricate, cryptic tattoos. Dubbed the ‘Thorn Killer’, by the media, the killer uses a primitive and excruciatingly painful thorn method to etch his victims. After many months, a breakthrough feels imminent. Then the killer gets personal: the latest victim – a student found only a week earlier – is staged to look like Carver’s wife.

Pushed over the edge, Carver spirals into a self-destructive cycle of booze and risky sex. Now he lies near death, and the unreadable Lake stands over him with a gun. Did she shoot her boss? If not, why is she removing evidence from his apartment, faking the scene?

Ruth, too, is convinced that Carver is holding back; that he remembers more than he admits. Why is he lying? Does he know what she did? How can she hope to unravel the half-truths, hidden meanings, secrets and lies at the centre of this investigation when she herself has lied and lied?

Intrigued, the Thorn Killer watches their every move – all the while plotting the next. Can Carver and Lake pull together to catch him before he strikes again? Or will they be held captive by their own web of lies?

Utterly gripping, with a twisting plot that keeps you guessing until the end, SPLINTER IN THE BLOOD is an unforgettable read that will get under your skin.

Splinter in the Blood will be published on 1 March 2018 by Corsair

The gripping first novel in the exciting new Stone and Oliver series by award-winning author, Mari Hannah.

‘He was her child. The only one she’d ever have. It would kill her to learn that he was missing.’

Alex arrives home from holiday to find that her ten-year-old son Daniel has disappeared.

It’s the first case together for Northumbria CID officers David Stone and Frankie Oliver.

Stone has returned to his roots with fifteen years’ experience in the Met, whereas Oliver is local, a third generation copper with a lot to prove, and a secret that’s holding her back.

But as the investigation unfolds, they realise the family’s betrayal goes deeper than anyone suspected. This isn’t just a missing persons case. Stone and Oliver are hunting a killer.

The Lost is published on 22 March 2018 by Orion

A PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE IS GRACE’S DEADLIEST CASE . . .

Roy Grace, creation of the CWA Diamond Dagger award winning author Peter James, faces his most complex case yet in Dead If You Don’t.

Shortly after Kipp Brown and his teenage son, Mungo, arrive at the Amex stadium for their team’s biggest-ever football game, Mungo disappears. A short while later Kipp receives a text with a ransom demand and a warning not to go to the police if he and his wife want to see their son alive again. But as a massive, covert manhunt for the boy and his kidnappers begins, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace starts to realize that not all is what it seems . . .

Dead If You Don’t is published on 17 May 2018 by Macmillan

At long last, a final reckoning is coming for Frieda Klein…

On a north London high street, a runaway vehicle crashes to a halt. The man in the driving seat was murdered a week earlier.

On Hampstead Heath, a bonfire blazes: in the flames lies the next victim.

As autumn leaves fall, a serial killer runs amok in the capital, playing games with the police. The death toll is rising fast, and the investigation is floundering.

But this is no ordinary killer, and every new victim is intended as a message to just one woman.

Because psychologist Frieda Klein is in hiding. And someone is coming to find her . . .

After seven stunning novels, Frieda Klein’s duel with her dark nemesis finally comes to a climax – and only one can make it out alive.

Day of the Dead is published on 12 July 2018 by Penguin

‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

Thirteen is published by Orion on 25 January 2018

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The #Chalkman Blog Tour – Chalk Man by C J Tudor #review

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Hello everyone and welcome to the super duper #Chalkman Blog Tour. I am a massive fan of this book, after reading it this summer. It is finally being published across the globe this month. Hooray!!!! You will soon be able to see for yourself how brilliant it is. I just know #Chalkman fever will take over. I am SO excited. I am re-publishing my review of what will be one of the hottest books of 2018.

Chalk Man is published by Penguin on 11 January 2018 and is available here on Amazon UK

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What is Chalk Man all about? (in case you were wondering)

Looking back it all started on the day of the fair and the terrible accident.

When twelve-year-old Eddie first meets the Chalk Man.

It was the Chalk Man who gave Eddie the idea for the drawings; a way to leave secret messages for his group of friends.

And it was fun, to start with, until the figures lead them to a body of a young girl.

That was thirty years ago and Ed thought the past was behind him.

Then he receives a letter containing just two things: a piece of chalk, and a drawing of a stick figure.

As history begins to repeat itself, Ed realises the game was never over…

Everyone has secrets.

Everyone is guilty of something.

And children are not always so innocent.

*****My five star review*****

The Chalk Man. Remember the name. This is one hell of a terrific read. It is 1980s retro magic, with a belter of a mystery, spooky chalk drawings and a bunch of funny kids. The Chalk Man is going to be one of the books for 2018. I predict a best-seller!

We start our thrilling journey in 1986, a time I remember well. The cultural references are spot on. Who doesn’t remember penny sweets at Woolies and watching Peter Davison as Doctor Who? I loved Peter Davison. We meet Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, Nicky and of course Eddie. Ace names for cool kids! These twelve year olds are growing up. For now, they are in a gang exploring the world and making sense of the adult things around them. Eddie is the one we follow, as a boy and then as a scruffy English teacher in 2016. He is a sweet nerd or girlie swot as we would have called them back in the day, who collects things. In the present day, he lives in his own little world of school and his old mates. Yes, still a nerd!

One day, twelve year old Eddie sees a gorgeous teenage girl badly injured at a fair ground. This leaves a lasting impact on him. He has a massive crush on her. This marks a turning point. Things begin to get weird for the gang. They mess around with chalk on pavements, leaving cryptic messages for each other. The world gets darker. Someone is murdered. Someone else is left for dead. In the present day, Eddie finds the ghosts of the past returning to haunt him and his friends. He receives a mysterious letter, with a drawing of a chalk man.

There is so much to adore about the Chalk Man. I was in love with the powerful writing, that chips away at your memories and reminds you of things long forgotten. It is perfection in a book. A murder mystery, with a bunch of quirky kids in southern England and a blast of subtle humour. There is a dark edge to the drama, that resonates and stays with you. It is so addictive. Murder touches the lives of this community. We see serious issues of bullying, rape and abortion played out. This is a time of hidden secrets and a million questions. The mid 1980s era is brought to life lovingly and evocatively. If you lived then, you will totally appreciate how C. J. Tudor captures the time, the camaraderie of childhood and the mysteries of growing up. Of course, the children are wonderfully portrayed, warts and all. Their dialogue is amazing and funny. They felt so real to me. I was a part of their gang.

The Chalk Man is out in early 2018. It is exceptional. Be prepared to be in awe. I predict you will fall in love with it, as much as I did. I guarantee it. This will be a massive hit for C. J. Tudor. Retro gold, wrapped up in a delicious creepy mystery! You won’t forget the chalk man, scrawled on pavements. Haunting you!

Totally recommended.

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The Bone Keeper – Luca Veste (@LucaVeste)

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The Bone Keeper is published on 8 March 2018 by Simon and Schuster UK and can be bought here

What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?

He’ll slice your flesh. 
Your bones he’ll keep.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper.  Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood.  But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone.

The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.

My thoughts

Luca Veste is a crime writer to watch. The Bone Keeper is his first standalone book and a departure from his Murphy and Rossi series. Fantastic, I say. The Bone Keeper is where he truly makes his mark. This proves he is one of the best, with an ability to create a best selling horror-tastic page-turner. He scores full marks from me.

The Bone Keeper is a myth. A horror story children tell each other to scare themselves. Something lurking on the edge of our subconscious. A nightmare. The myth becomes a reality. A child goes missing from a tunnel. A woman is found on the street having been tortured by a monster. She is convinced it was the Bone Keeper. DC Louise Henderson and her colleague DS Paul Shipley are thrown headlong into the chilling case. Can they find the truth hidden beneath the urban legend?

The story follows Louise Henderson, a police detective with a few personal demons. A loner with no family. A woman whose only friend is her work partner, Shipley. A tough woman on a mission. We get to know and love her over the course of the book. Louise is one very memorable character, who rises to the challenge of the worst case in her career.

This book grips you with both horror and delight from the very first page. It is a must read for crime fans in 2018. Luca Veste has produced the most stunning devilishly dark book, mixing eerie legend with a haunting and creepy atmosphere. I love what Veste has done. If you like your crime laced with underlying horror, you need to read this. It is truly excellent. Embrace the fear of The Bone Keeper.

Highly recommended.

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The Memory Chamber – Holly Cave

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The Memory Chamber is published by Quercus on 22 February 2018 and is available to buy here

YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOR EVER. 
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

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True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…

The Memory Chamber is a thrilling and original story which vaults the reader into a world that is terrifyingly close to our own, where we can avoid everything we fear – even death itself. But can we ever escape the truth?

My thoughts

The Memory Chamber can be described succinctly in three words: strange, predictable and sci-fi.

It is the everyday story of a romance. A woman gets involved with a man. Isobel meets Jarek. This man is dying. He is her client. She is employed to help him create the perfect after-life memories to go in his heaven. It all goes slightly pear-shaped, with murder and infidelity. There is a distinctive sci-fi wrapper to the romantic entanglements. The setting is a distant future, a place where religion is no more. A parallel universe, maybe. The dying, who are sufficiently well off, seek help from heaven architects. This is big business. Solving the death anxiety of atheists. The rest just have to die, without an artificial heaven to entertain them. Heaven architects can take a bundle of cells, do their magic and create re-plays of past events and images. This they can replay to the dead, as an after-life, for eternity. I did not understand the science one bit. It was all a bit above GCSE Science. That is the oddness of this kind of science fiction/thriller cross over. If you understand the gobbledygook, you probably will get more from it. It is an interesting perspective though.

I am not really sure where I stand with this book. I didn’t think it was particularly clever or brilliant crime. It was weird. At the same time nothing happened that I hadn’t anticipated. Without the sci-fi wrapper on it, it is very predictable. I was disappointed with the ending. I would have appreciated a little twist at the ending, as it is trying very hard to be a thriller. Like Yesterday by Felicia Yap, it had the potential to be so much more.

One to go for if you like your mysteries with a dash of science fiction. Just don’t expect anything special. In the crime stakes, it is very mundane.

 

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