I’d completely misunderstood the blurb for The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean. I assumed it to be one of those kidnap victim sagas about someone abducted and held for many years (like Room and many books since). And it kinda is. But’s also about the far weightier and fraught topic of human trafficking, or at least its aftermath and its repercussions.
Tell Me Lies is JP Pomare’s third novel and there’s always a level of uncertainty and suspicion about the unfolding plot. In the first of his books, Call Me Evie, readers were presented with characters offering different perspectives and unsure who to believe and trust. In the second, In The Clearing Pomare does someone quite clever with the timing and here… well, we know someone dies at the hands of someone else but Pomare cleverly includes snippets from media clippings and court testimony that could come from anyone at any time at all.
When I read the blurb for Kill A Stranger by Simon Kernick I was slightly worried it would be similar to The Chain by Adrian McKinty, which required a series of people to kidnap a child, so they can get their own child returned – a pay-it-forward concept if you like. However… that wasn’t the case which was a relief.
It reminded me a little of Louise Candlish’s popular The Other Passenger because parts of the novel are told in second person – which we discover – are actually our characters sharing their experiences with the police. So the events of the book are predominantly unfolding via police interviews.
Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza, released a year ago, introduced Kate Marshall. I was a little wary in my review as it opens with Kate, a police officer, on the verge of breaking a major case involving a serial killer. But then it’s quickly over – she catches the baddie… who happens to be her boss and lover.
The book then flicked forward fifteen years and we again meet Kate, now lecturing in Criminology at a University. We get some backstory and learn she didn’t become a hero: rather her affair became public; she left the police force in disgrace; became an alcoholic; lost custody of her son (to the aforementioned serial killer); before regaining control over her life. In Nine Elms she gets pulled into investigating a copycat case however along with her assistant Tristan.
And here, Kate’s again playing detective after discovering the body of a college student.
Playing Nice is the fourth book by Anthony Capella, writing as JP Delaney. I’ve enjoyed them all, two of them garnering very rare 4.5 stars from me.
I initially approached this a little nervously. Babies swapped accidentally at birth, felt a little ‘done’, but Delaney lulls us into a bit of a false sense of security before throwing in a few surprises.
Shadows In Death is the 51st in the futuristic cop series by JD Robb. So, author Nora Roberts (writing as Robb) is obviously doing something right. The series kicked off in 1995 but—as I’ve mentioned before—our characters traverse time slowly so, Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire hubby really only exist when we’re there to see them. Just like Santa Claus. Except the opposite.
Here, Robb offers us something a little different. The ‘crime’ in question happens early, which isn’t uncommon. But usually we would spend the rest of the novel trying to work out whodunnit. Here Eve and her offsider, the delightful Detective Delia Peabody solve this pretty quickly. It’s murder for hire but things get complicated when Roarke’s (kinda sordid and unlawful) past comes back to haunt him (and those he cares about).
Hermit by SR White is not at all what I expected. Someone else told me the same thing and I didn’t understand what they meant. Weirdly I was intrigued rather than particularly engaged for much of the book. But then things are revealed towards the end that are shocking. Like… beyond-imaginable shocking.
Some of the revelations come from left field and ultimately help us understand the quiet hermit-like man accused of the crime central to this book. There is, however, also a sense of frustration and injustice that the ending brings. And that’s complicated a little by the fact that White ultimately whets our appetite and leaves us wanting more.
It’s great to see DCI Karen Pirie and her cold case underling DC Jason Murray back again in Still Life, the sixth in the series by Val McDermid.
Here Pirie’s Historic Case Unit team (of two) is paired with an inexperienced crime squad in Fife when a new murder has ties to a past crime.
I particularly enjoyed the introduction of DS Daisy Mortimer from the crime squad. She’s keen to learn and I appreciated the honest ‘we’re-in-over-our-heads-and-happy-for-help’ approach with which McDermid portrays her and her boss Charlie. Rather than any petty rivalry cos that bastard-ry and competitiveness between cops can get a bit old.
I’m a fan of Mark Billingham and Detective Tom Thorne. I read the sixteenth in the series (Their Little Secret) last year and assumed this would pick up where it left off. In fact, I didn’t read the backcover blurb at all before I started the book and found it a little strange that the series was set in the past and I didn’t remember that being the case.
I knew I disliked his partner or girlfriend and was relieved she seemed to be moving on; and here Tom’s separated from his wife. So it made sense but it didn’t. And, as it happens, there’s nothing in the book until the very end that references that this is a flashback of sorts*. It meant that I read the book amidst some puzzlement worrying that my memory was even worse than it is and that I’d just not remembered the books were set in the 1990s.