Love Me Not – A. J. Arlidge (Helen Grace #7)


Love Me Not was published on 18 May 2017 by Michael Joseph and is available to buy here


She Loves Me
A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a coldblooded killing. But why would anyone target a much-loved wife and mother?

She Loves Me Not
Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?

She Loves Me
Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking.

She Loves Me Not
If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own …

My thoughts

After the thrills of the last two books in the series, Love Me Not should have been gripping and highly emotive. Yes it was fabulous to have Helen Grace back, fighting crime and being her moody self. This is now the seventh book, in what has been a rather excellent UK crime series to date. I could not help feeling that the series has lost a certain special something here.

The story itself is rather mundane, in what should be an action packed chase across a Southern British landscape. Helen is out of prison, with her old job back. She feels out of place. She hasn’t quite adjusted to her new role, as a free person. She is suspicious of everyone. A leader cannot lead, when she is doubting everyone around her. Added to this, she encounters on the road a female shot at close range. Death seems to follow Helen. There are two spree killers on the loose, in the Southampton locality. A young disaffected pair, a modern day Bonnie and Clyde! Will Helen and her team work out what is driving the spree killers? Will Helen find a way to reunite her with her team? Over the space of a day, we follow the action and hope for a fast resolution.

I wanted to enjoy this. I tried to like it. However I felt very let down by the spree killer plot. The strengths came from Helen and her coming to terms with her ordeal behind bars, together with the redemption of Emilia Garanita, the journalist without a conscience. As well as Helen returning from her cosy prison cell, Emilia has been sacked from the posh London papers and has come home to the backwater of Southampton. She is desperate to be top dog again, in crime journalism.

The murderous spree offered very little that was new. Disaffection tick, revenge tick, access to guns tick, anger tick; plus we saw it all being played out as a race against time. I think the author missed a trick in sticking with bland stereotypes, instead of having a touch more pyschological insight to challenge the reader. I have just seen this done so much better; Emma Kavanagh with her excellent Hidden takes spree killing to a whole new level.

Overall I was highly disappointed with the latest instalment in the Helen Grace series. I can only hope that the next book is of a higher quality and gets the series back on track. Love Me Not pretty much describes my feelings.


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Need You Dead – Peter James


Need You Dead was published on 18 May 2017 by Pan Macmillan and is available to buy here

Roy Grace, creation of the CWA Diamond Dagger award winning author Peter James, faces his most mysterious case yet in Need You Dead.

Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.

When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalizingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.

My thoughts

As a long term totally addicted huge fan of the Roy Grace series, let me scream loudly with excitement! Need You Dead is here. This is the thirteenth book in the Brighton based crime series, by the much loved Peter James. We are back in the lives of our most favourite policeman in the whole world! Life couldn’t get any better.

As with any series that has evolved beautifully, we know the main characters; Roy and his wife Cleo, Roy’s sidekick Glenn Branson and his dreadful boss, Cassian Pewe. We have seen Roy Grace through the hard times with his missing ex-wife Sandy and her cruel abandonment of him. We now know what happened to her and the son, Bruno, that Roy never met.

The latest case brings the world of marital deceit and abuse to the forefront. Roy finds himself heading to Germany to collect his ten year old son and bring him back to Sussex. He has a new sidekick, in the form of Temporary DI Guy Batchelor. Branson is away on his holiday with his girlfriend. Lorna Belling, a hairdresser from Hollingbury, is found dead in a rented flat in Hove. What happened to her? She had recently reported her husband Corin to the police for domestic violence. Has he gone one step further and killed her? Why is she not at home, with her pet Labradoodles? Lorna’s life is complicated, with a violent partner and a mystery lover. Solving her murder is not as straight forward, as it should be.

Peter James marvellously lets us see what happened to Lorna, in her final hours. We may not know whodunnit, but we see how events play out with her forensically aware killer. We know a great deal more than the murder investigation team. Then we follow Batchelor, Grace and the team as they try to make sense of the crime scene in the Hove flat. Peter James knows how to send his readers down a few dark alley ways en route to the truth. His attention to detail is just perfect. This is crime at its best!

One new character Bruno, the son of Roy Grace turned out to be quite entertaining. Bruno is not your typical ten year old boy. I cannot see St Christopher’s School in Hove knocking much sense into him. I forsee challenging times ahead for Roy with his brand new son!

Exceptional crime! Gorgeous Brighton. Thank you, Peter James.

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Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney


Sometimes I Lie was published by HQ on 23 March 2017 and is available to buy here

‘A bold and original voice – I loved this book.’ – Clare Mackintosh

‘Intriguing, original and addictive.’ – The Sun

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me any more

3. Sometimes I lie

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.

My thoughts 

This is a tough one for me to review. I really didn’t get on with this. It was a quick psychological drama, that probably should have been entitled ‘The Girl in the Coma’.

It is the mystery of Amber. Amber is lying unconsious, in a hospital bed. We follow her thoughts, as she tries to piece together her life. She is in a world of her own; with a few members of her family visiting her and hospital staff providing care. How did she get there? Was this an attempt on her life? As she is a self confessed liar, how much of what she says can we trust? Amber has memory loss, which is rather handy. There are the usual misdirections en route to the truth. Plenty of secrets to be revealed and much to get your head scrambled.

I seem to be in the minority in finding Sometimes I Lie really rather average. It misses the believability factor. There is just too much thrown together and it gets very silly for Amber. On the plus side, the author does a good job of letting you into Amber’s world. I enjoyed the claustrophobic feeling generated by having the protagonist distanced from the world. Her commentary was interesting, at times.

Sometimes I Lie – a miss from me! I could be wrong. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

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Streets of Darkness – A. A. Dhand

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Streets of Darkness was published on 16 July 2016 by Transworld Digital and is available to buy here

Luther meets The Wire, this is the first Detective Harry Virdee novel

The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body.

Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.

Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect, Lucas Dwight. But as the motivations of the murder threaten to tip an already unstable city into riotous anarchy, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he discovers what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…

My thoughts

As a Bradfordian who left a long time ago, I had very mixed feeling about reading Streets of Darkness. Bradford was my birthplace and where I spent my childhood. Streets of Darkness is a dark, gritty drama capturing some of the reasons why I find Bradford a tough place to be. This is Bradford crime noir!

Dhand cleverly shares the real Bradford with his readers. This is a Bradford that I am familiar with and also unfamilar with. I never lived in any of the areas of mentioned, but I was aware of them. I glimpsed its darker side, from the prostitution at Thornton Road and the infamous Lumb Lane to the no go areas. Bradford is incredibly segregated racially and religiously with areas totally Asian and areas totally White. To anyone living outside of Bradford, it may seem strange that there are areas you do not venture into. It has a rich cultural history of industrialisation with the mills. It was the hunting ground of the Yorkshire Ripper. Bradford has been in decline for as long as I can remember. In spite of some investment into the city, I see little evidence of real change since I left in the 1990s. As someone who grew up in Clayton (Bradford 14) and saw the potential of Bradford, it is rather sad. This all makes Bradford the ideal setting for a crime novel! A Gotham City, in need of a hero to fix it.

Into the rather bleak landscape of Bradford, we get to know Sikh DI Harry Virdee. Virdee is a law unto himself. He has found himself in trouble and in now suspended from the police. He breaks the rules. He has a temper. He is a real joy to get to know. He stands out married to a Muslim, the very pregnant Saima. That is unusual and very frowned upon. It has separated him from his family and his community. We see Virdee on the tail of a man blamed for the death of a Muslim MP from Bradford West. The MP has been found at Bradford Grammar School with a Swastica on his body. It seems that racial tensions in the city are rising again, with the real threat of violence and riots. Virdee is asked by his boss to find the suspect in the killing of the Bradford MP quickly. As he is suspended, this means he can operate outside the law. This suspect is Lucas Dwight, released from prison a few days ago with far right extremist BNP views.

Dhand does an excellent job establishing Harry Virdee, as a kind of lone ranger copper. He sets the scene beautifully, giving readers a chance to get to know the tough, dirty and complex city, with its drugs, cultural conflicts, manipulative individuals behind the scenes and politics. Nothing is what it seems.

Streets of Darkness is highly recommended and totally and utterly original. More please, Mr. Dhand. You will all want to discover Virdee for yourself!

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The Honeymoon – Tina Seskis


Honeymoon is published by Penguin on 1 June 2017 and is available to buy here

From the author of the gripping and haunting One Step Too Far, Tina Seskis brings us a new completely addictive psychological thriller . . .

***Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors and Before I Go to Sleep – with a shock twist you won’t see coming***

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy.

It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes.

After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

My thoughts

Fancy a mystery set on a gorgeous honeymoon island? The Honeymoon could be for you, if your taste in crime mysteries runs more to the chick lit side.

The Honeymoon explores the weird relationships and life of Jemma. Jemma is a thirty something London professional, with an erratic personality and an obsession to get married. Jemma get involved with two brothers, Dan and Jamie. She ends up married to one of them and at a paradise honeymoon island. This is the honeymoon from hell, as Jemma’s starts to realise her mistake in committing to the wrong man long term. It becomes suffocating, spending time with her husband and trying to sort out her feelings. Jemma’s new husband goes missing at their five star resort. What has happened to him? Has Jemma’s quick temper got the better of her? Has he left her and their dreadfully unhappy honeymoon? What did happen to the missing bridegroom?

I must admit to completely loathing Jemma. We get to know her, as the story fluctuates between the past and the present. The present is the posh honeymoon, the past reveals Jemma’s complicated relationship with two brothers and her determination to get herself a wedding ring. She is the kind of woman that I think most readers will find hard to empathise with. She is erratic and rather immature, in her obsession with marriage and settling down. Her emotional intelligence is set at toddler level, unable to cope with the disappearance of a man who in the recent past drove her insane.

I shouldn’t have found the ending as hilarious as I did. I admit to a fit of giggles. The ending is dark, very dark! I doubt very much if anyone will be able to work out what happened to Jemma’s new husband. It is clever.

One to grab a copy of and sit around the pool with, with a cocktail or two. Might put you off honeymoon islands and make you want to go to *Brighton instead! *Other seaside towns in the UK are available.



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The Birdwatcher – William Shaw


The Birdwatcher was published by Riverrun on 19 May 2016 and is available to buy here

Sergeant William South has always avoided investigating murder. A passionate birdwatcher and quiet man, he has few relationships and prefers it that way.

But when his only friend is found brutally beaten, South’s detachment is tested. Not only is he bereft – it seems that there’s a connection between the suspect and himself.

For South has a secret. He knows the kind of rage that killed his friend. He knows the kind of man who could do it. He knows, because Sergeant William South himself is a murderer.

Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.

My thoughts

If you are looking for a crime read that is a little bit different, then The Birdwatcher is for you!

The place is the Kent coast. We meet Sargeant William South, a man who works in community policing. He has a massive secret. He is a killer. The story follows South as his friend and neighbour, Bob, is murdered. They shared a hobby of birdwatching and hung out together sometimes. South unexpectedly gets entangled in the murder investigation. He is asked to work with Alexandra Cupidi, a police officer new to the area. Cupidi has a quirky teenage daughter, Zoe. Will Cupidi and South work out who killed Bob?

South is lovely, the kind of man you would call a gentleman. Quiet and unassuming. A man used to being alone. He is not really an anti-hero, but a victim of circumstances. With flashbacks, we learn all about his early life in Northern Ireland in the late 1970s and how he came to relocate to Kent. We see how the death of his friend has hit him. He forms an unlikely bond with Cupidi and her daughter.

What is pretty powerful is the atmosphere, with a perfectly matched slow burning drama. It reeks of isolation. It is bleak. South lives next to a power station. This is not a place of beauty. Beauty is found in the pursuit of birds, in nature and in the sea. Birds are a passion for Bob and South. We get a real sense of the devotion that birders have.

Meet a birdwatching policeman, you won’t ever forget. Gorgeous and compelling. Recommended!




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City of Drowned Souls – Chris Lloyd


City of Drowned Souls was published on 6 February 2017 by Canelo and is available to buy here

When a child disappears, the clock starts ticking

Detective Elisenda Domènech has had a tough few years. The loss of her daughter and a team member; the constant battles against colleagues and judges; the harrowing murder investigations… But it’s about to get much worse.

When the son of a controversial local politician goes missing at election time, Elisenda is put on the case. They simply must solve it. Only the team also have to deal with a spate of horrifically violent break-ins. People are being brutalised in their own homes and the public demands answers.

Could there be a connection? Why is nobody giving a straight answer? And where is Elisenda’s key informant, apparently vanished off the face of the earth? With the body count threatening to increase and her place in the force on the line, the waters are rising…

Be careful not to drown.

The stunning new instalment of the gripping Elisenda Domènech crime thrillers for readers of Ian Rankin, Henning Mankell and Andrea Camilleri.

Previous books in the series: City of Good Death – Chris Lloyd and City of Buried Ghosts – Chris Lloyd

My thoughts

Hooray for another adventure for Elisenda, my favourite Catalan detective! City of Drowned Souls is the third outing for Elisenda Domenech. It follows on beautifully from City of Good Death and City of Buried Ghosts. I do recommend reading them one after the other.

For those of you new to this series, Catalonia is a mostly independent region of Spain. A good comparison would be Scotland, in the UK, from what I understand. They have their own police force, language and culture, such as the prominence of a local judge in the investigation of a crime. Elisenda Domenech runs the Serious Crime Unit, in Girona.

When we last saw Elisenda, she was struggling to deal with the tragic death of her young daughter. Her daughter was killed in a plane crash, along with her ex-husband a few years ago. She hears and sometimes sees visions of her little Lina. Elisenda finds herself on leave, being forced to go for bereavement counselling by her boss. However the disappearance of the teenager of a local controversial politician leads to Elisenda returning to the fold. There are also some rather violent burglaries happening in the area, that Elisenda is keen to solve.

The local politican is one Susanna Miravent, a woman who is anti-independence/pro Spain in the very independent Catalonia. Unusually, she had another son that went missing a few years ago and is now presumed dead. Miravent and her husband seem more interested in the results of the upcoming election, than worrying too much about the triviality of another missing child. What has happened to young Jaume Comas Miravent? Has he been taken for revenge or is something more sinister going on?

I just LOVE this series! It is one gorgeous bundle of crime filled delight, wrapped up in a sunny climate and sprinkled with Catalan culture. It feels like this series has really taken off, with City of Drowned Souls. This is the best story yet, Chris Lloyd. There is something for everyone; a stonking mystery or two with an ace twist, a cold politican, Elisenda and her counselling, loss and bereavement played out, plus more about politics of the region.

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Elisenda. Over the course of the three books, I feel I know her. I like her! She deserves a little happiness. I am crossing my fingers for her, especially after that ending.

Fabulous! Chris Lloyd, your book rocked! I now have major withdrawal symptoms.



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