Hidden Killers – Lynda La Plante (Tennison #2)


Hidden Killers was published on 20 October 2016 by Simon and Schuster and is available to buy here

From BAFTA award-winning creator of Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the blistering follow-up to the bestselling Tennison.  Jane Tennison, a young, inexperienced WPC, learns the hard way never to take anyone, or anything, at face value, whether in her dealings with her police colleagues or when confronted by seemingly innocent suspects.
Hidden Killers sees Jane acting as a ‘decoy’ prostitute, with the hope of capturing a suspect wanted for numerous sexual assaults.  The attacker is drawn in and put under arrest.  Commended for bravery in the case, Jane is given CID status and moves from Hackney to Bow Street Station as Detective.  Her first call-out is to a non-suspicious death.  The victim is a young mother, drowned tragically in her bath, leaving a bereft and doting husband and a young child.
The two storylines interweave as Jane begins to doubt the evidence against her assailant in East London, and becomes certain that the young woman in the bath did not drown in tragic circumstances.  Two entirely different cases but one common thread – the lingering doubt in Jane’s mind around the evidence, and around her colleagues…

Tennison is reviewed here

My thoughts

In the 1990s, I fell in love with Prime Suspect. I loved Jane Tennison, played by the incredible actress Helen Mirren. I was inspired. Seriously who wasn’t a little in awe of Jane then. Lynda La Plante has brought back to life Jane Tennison, filling in the detail about what made her such a strong, gutsy and formidable character! Hidden Killers follows on from Tennison beautifully.

So we met Jane Tennison back in 1973, as a probationer joining the Metropolitan Police Force. In Tennison, we saw her learning the ropes in Hackney, getting involved with her boss and getting in on all of the action. Time has moved on in Hidden Killers. Jane is now at the end of her two year probationary period, with CID in her sights. Jane finds herself acting as a decoy prostitute, to capture a man wanted for sexual assault. Cue Jane in her sister’s borrowed going out clubbing clothes. Once in CID, Jane finds herself working a case, that no one else seems to believe is remotely suspicious. A young mother has been found dead in a bath, apparently drowned. Jane starts to dig, taking her absolute belief in evidence backing up theory and in the truth.

Anyone who was a fan of the original Prime Suspect series should be reading both Tennison and Hidden Killers. This really feels like Jane. It is a credit to Lynda La Plante, that she captures the essence of Jane so perfectly. It is Jane Tennison. We see Jane in a man’s world, surrounded by 1970s era prejudice. Once Jane gets her teeth into a case, she won’t let go. We know this from Prime Suspect and we see it here. She follows her gut instinct on a suspicious death and keeps on pushing. No one can stand in her way.

Bloody fantastic! More Jane Tennison please. Totally recommended!


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Modern Crimes – Chris Nickson


Modern Crimes was published by The History Press on 7 September 2016 and is available to buy here

The first book in a new gritty noir series set in 1920s. England 1924: still reeling from the effect of World War I, life in the city of Leeds is hard: poverty is rife, work is scarce, and crime is becoming more sophisticated. Bravely entering this maelstrom is one of the city’s first policewomen to walk the beat, the resourceful, inquisitive, and practical WPC Lottie Armstrong. Eager to prove herself and determined to succeed, Lottie faces apathy from colleagues and the general public alike until she suddenly finds herself on the trail of a missing girl that leads to the underbelly of the city and to murder. As Lottie uncovers a plot involving high level corruption, CID reluctantly find they need her knowledge and people skills, but as the truth is slowly laid bare Lottie’s bravery is tested to its limit in a breathtaking climax.

My thoughts from the launch night! Modern Crimes by Chris Nickson – Launch at Leeds Waterstones on 22nd September 2016

My thoughts

This is my introduction to a local writer, Chris Nickson. He writes historical novels set in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Modern Crimes tells the fictional tale of Lottie Armstrong, one of the first policewomen.

It is 1924. Lottie Armstrong is in her twenties, married and plucky. She is a woman clearly out of her time. She enlists in the local police force in Leeds, as a WPC. As she is a woman, her main tasks are very restricted. She is on hand to deal with fallen women, school children playing truant and the odd shoplifter. She is paired with WPC Cathy Taylor. The two women are trailblazers, being the first policewomen in Leeds. There are plenty of people ready to offer an opinion on how ‘unbecoming’ it is as a job. Lottie is a pioneer, looking for opportunities and a chance to do the work the male officers take for granted.

We follow Lottie, as she becomes involved in the case of a missing girl and a murder. This is obviously out of her remit. Lottie is keen and capable, with an eye for detail. She has the capacity to get witnesses to talk and a passion for the job. This gets noticed by her superiors. Yet time and time again, she is sidelined or punished for acting to the best of her abilities.

This was masses of fun to read;  with its incisive historical detail, colourful Leeds references and strong female characters. Lottie Armstrong is simply wonderful. I want to be Lottie. She is a force to be reckoned with. She would have made the perfect police officer in 2016. In 1924, she has no chance against the prevailing prejudice. I am so glad that Chris Nickson has decided to give us more Lottie, set in the 1940s. We need to know what happens next to our heroine.


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The Exiled – Kati Hiekkapelto – Finnish Invasion Blog Tour #TheExiled


The Exiled was published by Orenda Books on 15 November 2016 and is available to buy here

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal? Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes? Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland’s most celebrated crime writers.

My thoughts

I’d forgotten how much I really love Finland’s Kati Hiekkapelto series featuring the complex Anna Fekete. The Exiled follows on from The Defenceless, which was my introduction to Anna.

Anna is an enigma. Flawed and fascinating. We got to understand her a little in The Exiled. She’s tough and something of a loner. Anna emigrated as a child from the former Yugoslavia to Finland. Following her father’s footsteps, she joined the police force. In The Defenceless, we saw how her sense of identity was conflicted. Anna is an outsider, both in Finland and in the Serbian/Hungarian village she grew up in. She is torn between two cultures; one full of the history of her family, including the tragic death of her Father, and her new life in Finland.

The Exiled returns Anna to her homeland, visiting family and friends. When her handbag is stolen at a local wine festival, Anna is determined to find the culprits. She can see the local police are not going to look into it thoroughly enough. This leads to her stumbling on a puzzle about how her father died in the 1980s. Anna wants answers and starts digging.

We see the refugee crisis impact on Anna’s home village, with the chaos and uncertainty it brings to the area. This is a Europe wide issue, where the micro impact on a village is huge.  Anna, as an Finnish immigrant, has a great deal of empathy for the migrants and for the other outsiders. This is a time of suspicion, of desperation and of corrupt officials. Kati Hiekkapelto gives us a fresh and somewhat bleak look at life as a refugee.

I loved visiting Anna on her home territory. It revealed another side to her. Slowly the pieces are coming together. One day we will understand Anna. Maybe.

This is an addictive series, unique and hard to step away from. Social commentary with a strong Finnish flavour, with Anna at its heart. Excellent!

Find out more about the author

Twitter https://twitter.com/HiekkapeltoKati

To buy The Exiled click here

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Top 12 Crime Books of 2016


 Top 12 Crime Books of 2016

It is December. Christmas is nearly upon us. It is also the time that every book blogger posts lists of their favourite books. 2016 proved to be a particularly fabulous year for the crime genre. I feel terribly guilty narrowing my favourites down to 12, when I could easily have picked so much more. The standard is that high. Long may this continue.

Thank you to every blogger, author and publicist I chatted to online or at Crimefest or Harrogate. The crime world rocks!

In no particular order, these are 12 books worth checking out/buying/curling up with:

  1. Gallows Drop by Mari Hannah  – Mari Hannah has made it onto my favourites list for the second year running. Last year, I was excited about the standalone thriller The Silent Room. This year, we got a brand new Kate Daniels story Gallows Drop. Gallows Drop confirms Mari Hannah’s status as a top crime writer. This is crime writing at its best, with a series that has matured beautifully over time. There is a real depth and humanity to the series and a lovely lead in Kate Daniels. To discover this series for yourself, check out the Amazon link here.
  2.  Exposure by Ava Marsh – I adored this story, when I buddy read it with Liz of Liz Loves Books.  I’m always thrilled to read something a little bit different or quirky, in the crime genre. This is a story of a girl’s descent into the grim porn world, with a crime twist. No one can come away from this book without feeling empathy for Kitty’s life. To read this for yourself, click here.
  3. Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan – It was no surprise to me, when Alex Caan was nominated as a rising star by Amazon. Cut to the Bone became a firm favourite with me, the instant I read it. I love it when an author brings a very up post modern sub-culture to the forefront. Vlogging is a youth culture, where young people broadcast their inner most thoughts on a variety of topics, via social media. Alex Caan’s Ruby is a top vlogger on You-Tube, who goes missing. What has happened to her? Don’t miss out on this dark highly contemporary tale. To read it for yourself, click here.
  4. All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker – In All is Not Forgotten, we get the story of a girl highly traumatised by rape. Her family has chosen to have her painful memories deleted. What are the consequences of this? This is clever and very unforgettable. Wendy Walker’s novel is one that stays with you. To read it for yourself, here is the link.
  5. The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh –  This is a delightful, strong and fascinating psychological read from Emma Kavanagh. Widow Selena goes missing from a park, whilst her children are playing. Who is Selena? What happened to Selena during those missing hours? This is a kidnapping drama, with a BIG difference. Be prepared to gasp at Emma Kavanagh’s superb unique approach and some brilliant twisty turns! To get your own shiny copy, click here
  6. In Her Wake by Amanda JenningsIn Her Wake is a story of one woman’s search for her identity. Amanda Jennings handles a delicate subject, with compassion and sensitivity. It is a moving read, that had me in tears and filled me with hope. In Her Wake is one book that everyone should be rushing to the shops for and running home to read. Buy your copy here and discover what I mean.
  7. The Constant Soldier by William Ryan – I hardly know where to start, with what I consider to be one of the finest and most uplifting books of the year. This is a story of humanity and goodness triumphing over evil. In 1944, a broken soldier returns from the battlefield and finds the courage to wage a personal war against the SS, to save the woman he loves. Read this book and weep with pleasure. Buy your copy here and read it before everyone else in the world discovers it.
  8. Between You and Me by Lisa Hall – Lisa Hall has taken the world of psychological thrillers by storm this year. Her first book Between You and Me had me phoning my sister telling her she simply had to read it NOW. Her second book Tell Me No Lies had me smiling at the cruelty and sheer ingenuity of the author. Broken and damaged relationships were a hot topic in 2016. Lisa Hall wins the prize for being the most clever in Between You and Me. It challenges your assumptions without you even realising it. Buy your copy here and find out why.
  9. Black Night Falling by Rod Reynolds Last year, the debut novel by the Rod Reynolds The Dark Inside made my favourites list of 2015. Black Night Falling saw the return of Charlie Yates, with more top quality crime noir. I love Charlie’s voice. I adore the claustrophobic and unfamiliar setting of Texas in the 1940s. Rod Reynolds can do no wrong. Pure perfection. Discover for yourself here.
  10. Spare Me The Truth by C. J. Carver – Spooks, partial amnesia and an intelligent plot. What more can you ask for in a thriller? Inhale this little gem of a book. Get to know the heroic Dan Forrester. Buy your own copy here of a fabulous thriller.
  11. Love You Dead by Peter James – Everybody who knows me is aware of my total love for Roy Grace. Love You Dead made it onto my favourites list for the year as a massive thanks to Peter James for giving us all the perfect ending to the Sandy question. Every year, I love returning to Brighton and seeing what Roy and his team are getting up to. Quality crime reads every time, with the perfect setting! Thank you so much, Peter James. To buy and fall in love with Roy Grace for yourself (even though he’s mine) click here.
  12. After You Die by Eva Dolan  – Eva Dolan always has her finger on the pulse, with her beautifully dark Hate Crime Unit/Zigic and Ferreira series. At the beginning of 2016, After You Die won me over with its poignant portrayal of disability hate crime and online trolling. I am currently in the middle of her superb upcoming novel Watch Her Disappear, that features transgender hate crime. Brutal, dark with a wonderful social conscience and an incredibly up to date vibe; this series needs tonnes more readers. Buy your copy here. You won’t regret it!

Special mentions

Marnie Riches and her truly awesome #thegirlwho series, with the latest being The Girl Who Had No Fear, The Kept Woman by Karen Slaughter, which saw the return of my beloved Will Trent and Ragnar Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series (Blackout being the most recent).

Here’s to 2017 and lots more #booklove  …


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The Constant Soldier – William Ryan


The Constant Soldier was published on 25 August 2016 by Mantle and is available to buy here

The pain woke him up. He was grateful for it. The train had stopped and somewhere, up above them, the drone of aircraft engines filled the night sky. He could almost remember her smile . . . It must be the morphine . . . He had managed not to think about her for months now.

1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut – a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who – against all odds – have so far survived the war.

When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes that he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years before, and now he must do all he can to protect her.

But as the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope – for Brandt and the female prisoners – grows tantalizingly close, the danger too is now greater than ever.

And, in a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . . .

My thoughts

The Constant Soldier is an extraordinary and powerful historical drama. All the rumours about it are completely true. It left me speechless. It moved me in the most profound way. It left me with a sense of peace about the world. With taut electrifying poignant prose, we get a complete sense of what it is like to be a soldier during war time.

Paul Brandt returns from the battlefield disfigured and a changed man. It is 1944 and Brandt is a soldier, with disabilities returning to his home village. He spies a familiar face, a woman political prisoner and this changes his life. Brandt surprises his family taking work in a retreat attached to a concentration camp. It is hard to imagine SS soldiers having a social life. However William Ryan based his story on the true account of a retreat at Auschwitz for the SS. This is the story of Brandt wanting to save a girl, of good triumphing over evil and one man’s goodness in the face of inhumanity.

This was a horrific time. William Ryan’s The Constant Soldier reflects how challenging it is to live through the worst times, of the blurring of morality and the degradation of humanity. We see how hard it is to return from the battlefield and to live with differing values. We follow Brandt’s struggle, as he works and lives amongst evil. Brandt is an everyman type of character. A man unfortunate enough to be drafted into the army. He is a man with a conscience and a heart. He is the sort of person we all would want to be, when faced with pure evil and we have to make a choice. He wants to make amends. He is trying to do his best. He is looking for an opportunity to save a women. For the Germans, the end is in sight. The Russians are coming. Tension is mounting. Soon the camp will cease to exist. The prisoners are living through this casual brutality and hardship. Their only hope is to stay invisible enough to survive.

Beautiful. Wonderful. Stirring. Disturbing. William Ryan, thank you for one of the best stories I have read this year. Recommended!

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Zero by Matt Brolly – Guest post – Matt Brolly talks dystopian novels …


It is a pleasure to welcome Matt Brolly to the blog today, as a part of the #Zero blog tour. Matt talks all about his favourite dystopian novels. I’m sure everyone has read at least one of them!

Zero by Matt Brolly is published by Canelo and is available to buy now here on Amazon.

Dystopian Novels by Matt Brolly

My latest novel, Zero, is set in a dystopian near-world future which has a zero tolerance approach to crime. I’ve always been interested in dystopian fiction and below is a list of five of my favourites.

High Rise by J.G.Ballard

I admit that I only came to this novel recently after the release of the film (which I’ve yet to see). I’ve read lots of Ballard’s work, and many of the themes explored in this book are reminiscent of his other dystopian novels. The dystopian world here is the High-Rise of the title, a luxury building whose inhabitants live on floors according to their wealth. The seemingly idyllic life of the high rise gradually descends into claustrophobia and classic Ballardian (I believe it is now officially a word!) violence.

1984 by George Orwell

It’s impossible not to include the classic tale of government surveillance and repression when talking about dystopian fiction. Set in a society governed by The Party, Winston Smith has to fight the constant surveillance of Big Brother as he strives for a different life. Even his thoughts are not safe as the Thought Police investigate every act of betrayal.  I recently watched the stage production of 1984 and it reminded me how powerful, and forward thinking Orwell’s ideas were, especially as I left the theatre and everyone started texted Newspeak to one another as the CCTV cameras watched whirred above us!

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Again, impossible to ignore this seemingly utopian world governed by The World State who control the world’s population. Citizens are classed into castes and have to accept their given role. Would you be an Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta or Epsilon? Maybe be one of the savages! So full of great ideas, I love this novel.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

A very entertaining look at a future world whose inhabitants spend most of their time in a virtual reality world called OASIS. Wade Watts dreams of solving the treasure hunt left in Oasis by its creator James Halliday which could transform his life. When Watts solves the first puzzle, his life, both virtual and real, takes a dramatic turn as he struggles to solve the final clues which will unlock the fortune to be found within OASIS. Full of 1980’s pop culture references, a film adaptation is supposedly in production from Steven Spielberg’s studios.

The Road – Cormack McCarthy

Post-apocalyptic America is explored in this beautiful novel where a father and son struggle to survive in a world without a future. This enthralling novel contains two of the most harrowing scenes I’ve ever read. Full of sparse, beautiful prose this a stunning, must-read, novel.



Zero by Matt Brolly was published on 21st November by Canelo

About the Book

A zero tolerance policy results in the death penalty for all crimes, no matter how minor.

When a judge is kidnapped, and a ransom note demands the release of all prisoners awaiting execution, kleptomaniac Detective Inspector Kate Swanson is put on the case.

But soon her boss also disappears. Under increasing pressure from her superiors, and caught between the security services and the growing social unrest, Swanson must race to find a man whose murdered wife and daughter link the missing men.

Can she find him before it’s too late?

Buy from Amazon UK here.

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The Mine – Antti Tuomainen – Finnish Invasion Blog Tour Review #TheMine


The Mine was published by Orenda on 10th October 2016 and is available to buy here

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life. A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results.

My thoughts

I’m always interested in noir delights from around the world. The Mine by Finnish writer Antti Tuomainen is another new release from the bright Orenda publishing house.

The story itself is easy to lose yourself in. We follow young-ish investigative journalist, Janne, as he is hot on the trail of a big story. He is given an anonymous tip about a mining company, that is not what it appears. Corruption, death and widescale ecological disaster surround this company. Janne is soon immersed in this story, much to the detriment of his little family unit. Janne is married to Paulinne, a woman who he seems to have very little in common with and they have a young child together. Added to this, Janne’s long lost father makes a reappearance in his life. Emil is a man of mystery. We slowly discover some of his secrets. The most important one is that Emil is a killer.

The Mine is certainly worth exploring; for its Finnish edge and its ecological conspiracy theme. I was rather fascinated by the glimpses into the Finn culture and the bleak winter weather. Janne and his dogged determination was a definite winner. I was also entranced by the various relationship dynamics, in particular Janne and his father Emil.

Intelligent, gripping and full of a cold noirish wintery landscape! Personally I would have preferred the novel to focus more on the intriguing father/son dynamics, than corruption associated with big business. Worth a read, especially for the insight into Finland and tangled human relationships.


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