Open Your Eyes – Paula Daly

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Open Your Eyes is published on 26 July 2018 by Transworld Digital and is available to purchase here

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

My thoughts

Paula Daly returns with a brand new domestic noir thriller Open Your Eyes. With Daly, you always know you are about to get something a cut above the rest.

We meet crime writer, Leon Campbell and his wife, Jane, a creative writing teacher. Leon is assaulted and left with a brain injury. He becomes a different person. Jane is left to pick up the pieces of their fragmented life. She has to grow up and take charge. We see how emotional and challenging it is for her to cope with a new Leon. Leon had a few secrets. Jane starts to uncover the truth.

This time, Daly turns her critical eye to the world of writers and publishing. In some ways, this feels like an expose on the chronic insecurity of writers. We see what writers will do to get to the exposure and to get that book out there. We see the bitchiness. We see the furtive underhand side. Not what you would expect, maybe. At the same time, we glimpse the determination and grit of the wannabe author. All very enlightening.

Open Your Eyes was massively entertaining, as expected. Daly’s books always ooze intelligence and insight. I really loved the rather unique and unexpected ending. This is a twisted mystery, well worth checking out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in domestic, noir | Tagged

A Killing Mind – Luke Delaney (DI Sean Corrigan #5)

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A Killing Mind was published on 17 May 2018 by Harper Collins and is available to buy here

The fifth novel in the DI Sean Corrigan series – authentic and terrifying crime fiction with a psychological edge, by an ex-Met detective. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

A serial killer stalks the streets…
In the darkest corners of London, a killer is on the hunt. His murders are brutal. Teeth pulled out. Nails pulled out. Bodies abandoned.

A detective follows his every move… 
DI Sean Corrigan of the Special Investigations Unit desperately tries to use his ability to understand the minds of killers before another victim is ruthlessly murdered.

A clash of dangerous minds… 
Corrigan is all too willing to take deadly risks to track down his quarry, but this time the killer has set a trap, just for him. Will Corrigan stop the murderer in time, or is he about to become a victim himself?

My thoughts

Corrigan is back! Hooray! I have been dying to get back into the dark and brutal world of DI Sean Corrigan. A Killing Mind takes us to the fifth instalment, in this rather brilliant series.

A Killing Mind can be read as a standalone. Some of the action does rely on prior knowledge. The author does a great job in making it all very accessible to new readers.

For those of you who have not met DI Sean Corrigan, here is a little re-cap. Corrigan is special. He was abused as a child. As a result of this terrible past, Corrigan can empathize with psychopaths and killers. More than that, he instinctively knows their motivations and their evil minds. He can read crime scenes, from the perspective of the killer. This gives him an edge, in solving crimes. He reminds me of a British Will Graham, from the Hannibal TV series. Corrigan keeps this little secret to himself.

A Killing Mind pits Corrigan against a new psychopath. We meet him, at the start of the book. We hear his disturbing thought processes. This killer wants to make a name for himself. He wants the world to fear him. It all starts with the death of a vulnerable homeless man. Corrigan and his Special Investigations team are given this case. Dr Anna Ravenni-Ceron is brought back as a profiling consultant. This killer takes pleasure in the ritual of  murder and in extracting souvenirs. He removes teeth and fingernails from his victims. At the same time, a journalist is visiting Broadmoor to interview the infamous killer, Sebastian Gibran.

I absolutely adore Corrigan. He is one of those characters, that has masses of potential. I would like Luke Delaney to unsettle him further. To take away the comfort and support of his family. To make him really suffer. As we see in A Killing Mind, Corrigan is prepared to take crazy risks to hunt his prey. I can see this being his downfall. As soon as he meets our psychopath, he knows it is him.

A Killing Mind was gripping and tense. It shines with authenticity and maturity. We really understand our killer and what makes him tick. This series just goes from strength to strength.

Recommended.

 

 

 

Posted in police, psychological, serial killer | Tagged

The Old Religion – Martyn Waites

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The Old Religion was published on 14 June 2018 by Zaffre and is available to buy here

He was running from his past.
She was running from her future.
Sometimes helping a stranger is the last thing you should do . . .

The Cornish village of St Petroc is the sort of place where people come to hide. Tom Killgannon is one such person. An ex-undercover cop, Tom is in the Witness Protection Programme hiding from some very violent people and St Petroc’s offers him a chance to live a safe and quiet life.

Until he meets Lila. 

Lila is a seventeen-year-old runaway. When she breaks into Tom’s house she takes more than just his money. His wallet holds everything about his new identity. He also knows that Lila is in danger from the travellers’ commune she’s been living at. Something sinister has been going on there and Lila knows more than she realises.

But to find her he risks not only giving away his location to the gangs he’s in hiding from, but also becoming a target for whoever is hunting Lila.

Also by the same author (as Tania Carver)

Heartbreaker – Tania Carver

The Lost Girl – Tania Carver

My thoughts

When Martyn Waites was writing as Tania Carver, he was easily one of my favourite authors. I dived into The Old Religion with high expectations and trust in the author.

The story introduces a newcomer to St Petroc in the West Country. It is a place that is slowly dying, with shops closing and zero investment. Typical rural England on its last legs. Tom Killgannon is now based there, under witness protection. Poor bloke. He has a job in the local pub. He is the typical outsider, in a community of eccentrics set in their ways and drowning in village tradition. Two major events occur. A student disappears from the locality. Then Tom finds a desperate runaway teenage girl Lila, in his home. She steals his coat, which had all of his new ID information in the pocket. Silly place for him to keep important stuff. He is soon trying to track Lila down, looking for clues in the cult like commune, she lives in. He draws attention to himself. Not good. He mentions Noah, Kai and something called ‘the Morrigan’. This leads to Tom being very much ostracized from the local community. Things gets weird and weirder still, in a sort of Wicker Man (1973) kind of way.

Martyn Waites can write crime to perfection. It is really strange. The Old Religion felt like an old grainy horror movie, with an odd present day Brexit setting. Imagine a retelling of The Wicker Man (1973), with a touch of The Daemons (Doctor Who 1971) and a sprinkle of Nigel Farage. Yep, see what I mean. I was shaking my head. I was struggling with the believability factor. It was a mass of horror cliches. Same old story that has been told a million times before, with a modern day setting. The whole village is under a malevolent entity, like in a 1973 Doctor Who episode. Cue ominous music. Cue villagers waving pitchforks. The Morrigan was the baddie of the piece. He lacked something. The villagers were your typical ‘living in a horror movie’ villagers. Amusing though. I laughed.

Shame Martyn Waites doesn’t quite pull it all off. It seemed like a pastiche, lacking originality. The premise has been done to death. We have seen it all before, in popular culture. Paganism. Outsiders versus insiders. Odd suspicious villagers. Cults. Occult symbolism. I suppose it works as a kind of Little Britain/horror movie tribute. It just has low impact as a thriller.

Posted in mystery | Tagged ,

In Bloom – C. J. Skuse (Sweetpea #2)

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In Bloom is published on 9 August 2018 by HQ and is available to buy here

Darkly comic crime sequel to Sweetpea, following girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon as she’s now caught between the urge to kill and her unborn baby stopping her.

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fiancé Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?

My glowing review of Sweetpea

Sweetpea – book 1

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My thoughts

In Bloom should be available on the NHS. Laughter medicine. It is dark and comic. Wildly wicked and clever. It will make you scream with laughter.

C J Skuse gave us the best ever adventure of a female serial killer in Sweetpea. We were introduced to Rhiannon an unforgettable young woman, with a few dark secrets up her sleeve. We are so lucky to have a sequel, that unexpectedly is even better than the original. Sweetpea was wonderful and perfect. In Bloom is that little bit more wonderful.

Rhiannon is a serial killer. She aces murder, like she has a GCSE in it. She only kills people who deserve it. She has morals, of a sort. The really evil ones in society are her prey. She has managed to get away with it so far. The story follows directly on from Sweetpea. Now life has become complicated for our anti-hero. Rhiannon is expecting her ex’s baby. She has a fresh dead body to dispose of. One police officer is progressively very interested in her. She is facing up horrible hormone explosions, the awful mummy brigade, getting fatter and a baby foetus with attitude. Can Rhiannon continue to escape justice? Can she still kill, with a gobby baby inside her? Can she stop writing lists of people she wants to murder? Mm mmm, you really want to find out.

C J Skuse is a genius. Sweetpea and In Bloom are two of the funniest books I have ever read. Skuse hits the right comic notes, with dark disturbing accuracy time and time again. Rhiannon is a dream of a character. The plot was incredible. A serial killer who tries to reform, with some success. I love Rhiannon so much. Probably wouldn’t want to meet her on a dark night. Or befriend her on one of her Christian road trips. Nope I would stay well clear of our lovely serial killer.

My advice (in the style of Rhiannon’s kill lists)

  1. Read In Bloom. If you haven’t read Sweetpea, get hold of a copy as soon as you can. You don’t want to miss this series. Hint to the author – more Rhiannon please.
  2. Forget walking the dog, eating, working or all the other boring stuff you do.  Reading is more important. Start it now. No excuses.
  3. Laugh. Laugh some more. Try not to make too many people stare at you, by snorting with laughter.
  4. Start making your own kill list (or maybe not…)

Highly recommended

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in comedy, serial killer | Tagged

Ruin Beach – Kate Rhodes (Ben Kitto #2)

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Ruin Beach was published on 14 June 2018 by Simon and Schuster and is available to buy here

*** FROM THE ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF HELL BAY ***
DI Ben Kitto is missing the excitement of his old job in the Murder Squad, as the lazy Scilly Island summer begins. But when the body of professional diver Jude Trellon is found in Piper’s Hole, a sea cave on the island of Tresco, his investigative skills are needed again.

At first it seems that the young mother’s death was a tragic accident, but it soon emerges that Jude was choked to death. Her mysterious Swedish boyfriend Ivar Larsen seems terrified for her daughter’s safety, but refuses to talk. The islanders are guarded too – it seems plenty of people on the island had reason to harm her.

The island of Tresco, and the deep and murky waters that surround it, hold a dark secret. One that someone seems prepared to murder to keep hidden.

Also by Kate Rhodes

Hell Bay

My thoughts

Author and poet, Kate Rhodes is one of my favourite writers. I always know that I am going to be in for a spectacular and beautiful journey. I loved her Alice Quentin series. I now am absolutely hooked on Ben Kitto and his life on a British small island. I had to read Ruin Beach, as soon as I could get my hands on it. Ruin Beach is the sequel to the marvellous Hell Bay. Great titles.

We first met Ben Kitto in Hell Bay. Ben was returning to the Scilly Isles, for a break. He was shaken by the death of his partner. He was burnt out. He embraced island life and hunted a killer. Ben returns in Ruin Beach. He has settled on Bryer with his pet dog and is a vital part of the community. He is the Deputy Commander of the Isles of Scilly Police. A body is found by Piper’s Hole. A feisty female professional diver has been murdered. Everyone on the island is a suspect. Why would anyone want to kill Jude Trellon? What secrets did Jude take to her grave?

Kate Rhodes strength is her characterisation and sense of place. We all feel like we understand Ben Kitto or at least are making more sense of him. Like Ann Cleeves has done with the Shetland series and Jimmy Perez, Kate Rhodes has brought the Isles of Scilly to life. I still would not be able to point to them on a map. Life can be rather complicated living life on an island. It isn’t idyllic. Islanders have to live with each other. They have to live with their resentments. They have to cope with no privacy. They cannot escape, easily.

Kate Rhodes’ lead man, Ben Kitto, is a dedicated police officer. We see his growing attraction to long term pal Zoe, the singer. We see his cute love for his dog. We see how he interacts with the islanders. He understands them. He is one of them. We know he is healing from the past. We know Kitto will find the killer, from amongst his friends and neighbours. Island life means the killer is somewhere hiding, in plain sight. We suspect everyone. Soon things are getting tougher for Kitto. Someone close to the murder victim goes missing. All it takes is one person on the island to reveal something important. Kitto is on alert.

Ruin Beach was really excellent. Murder. Small town life. Suspicion. Lovely Ben Kitto. Read all of Kate Rhodes’ books. You seriously cannot go wrong.

Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in contemporary fiction, mystery, police | Tagged | 1 Comment

Find You In The Dark – Nathan Ripley

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Find You In The Dark was published in paperback on 19 June 2018 by Atria Books and is available to purchase here

In this chilling and disquieting debut thriller perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’s Hidden Bodies and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series, a family man with a habit of digging up the past catches the attention of a serial killer who wants anything but his secrets uncovered.

For years, unbeknownst to his wife and teenage daughter, Martin Reese has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and obsessively studying them, using them as guides to find the missing bodies of victims. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees the situation differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case-closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious source she calls the Finder, especially since he keeps leading the police right to the bodies. Even if he isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, how can she be sure he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his wife’s sister. But when he arrives at the site, he finds more than just bones. There’s a freshly killed body–a young and missing Seattle woman–lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn left the corpses of his victims…and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work. And when a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder.

Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape, he may have to go deeper into the killer’s dark world than he ever thought…
My thoughts

I read Find You In The Dark this week. It was massively entertaining, with a lovely dollop of weirdness. It is the debut novel from Canadian author, Nathan Ripley.

We meet a rich middle aged man, with quite a unique hobby. Martin Reese made a fortune from his IT company and retired young. He now hunts for the victims of serial killers. He taunts the police at their failure to link the clues together. Martin does not endear himself to the police, taking this approach. Detective Sandra Whittle is on his case. She wants to trace the mysterious individual taunting the police. She believes there is something sinister about him. Unfortunately Martin makes errors. He draws the wrong kind of attention. A serial killer has his eye on him.

Ripley does a fine job with Martin Reese. Reese is the kind of character, who is alarming. He appears normal and everyday. He functions with a family. His behaviour is bizarre. He is secretive. I could not understand why Reese was not working with the police, in his informal investigations. He could easily be a private investigator, out in the open. I could see why Sandra was concerned about someone who was working in a vigilante way, to track down missing victims. Sandra is very much the voice of reason, in the drama. Martin’s approach is dark and morbid, with undertones of something unhealthy. Reece is taking the wrong path, to do the right thing. It does raise alarm bells. I do not think the comparisons with TV’s Dexter fully work. Ripley does not exploit this darkness enough or even use dark humour. I was very drawn to Reece though, which shows how the characterisation was strong.

In some ways, this felt like the beginning. It was clever, in the way we see what a man like Martin Reece will do under pressure. It was fascinating. It led up to some rather fun dark moments at the end. We only just start to see Martin and understand his motivations. I don’t think that Martin Reece fully understands his dark side. He rationalises everything so well. He thinks his obsessions are normal. This episode feels like it is the start of Martin crossing a few boundaries. See I could waffle on endlessly about this. It captured my imagination. I love Martin and his perspective on the world.

Hopefully the author will bring back the creepy Martin Reece. This was highly addictive. It gave me food for thought. This is a story about a potential killer in the making. It is delicious.

Recommended.

Posted in psychological, serial killer | Tagged

After He’s Gone – Jane Isaac (DC Beth Chamberlain #1)

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After He’s Gone was published in June 2018 and is available to purchase here

You think you know him. Until he’s dead.

When Cameron Swift is gunned down outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer: a dual role that requires her to support the family, and also investigate them.

As the case unfolds and the body count climbs, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets.

Even the dead…

My thoughts

I’m a great admirer of Jane Isaac and her writing. I adore her Will Jackman series and have been crossing my fingers for a new instalment. I think we need one. Hint hint. Instead Isaac has gone forward with a brand new series, for us to devour. After He’s Gone introduces Detective Constable Beth Chamberlain.

After He’s Gone focuses on Beth, a family liaison officer. In the UK, a family liaison officer will work with the victims of crime and offer them support. They will stay in the victim’s home and gather information. They are police officers, who have been specially trained for the role. They are a key part of the investigation.

A middle aged business man is shot dead, outside of his home. His fiancee and two children are left bewildered, by the event. Beth is given the task of providing family liaison support to the family. Everything is not quite as it seems. There are secrets about to be revealed. We find out that the man’s personal life is complicated. A chilling final image of the victim is uploaded onto social media. Can Beth and her police colleagues get to the truth of the killing?

This is a solid start to the series, which establishes Beth in role beautifully. We see Beth finding her feet as a family liaison officer. We see she cares about the victims. She is dedicated and focused. She is grounded and down to earth. She has a refreshing air of normality about her. Isaac resists the temptation to load her with personal problems and irritating issues. I was less interested in Beth’s sister and niece. Beth is a young police officer, who has masses of potential to grow and progress. I look forward to seeing this.

Confident. Strong. With an engaging new lead, in DC Beth Chamberlain. Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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