#BlogTour | #BookReview: Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie @TheCrimeVault

51xwtl1oqxl-_sx312_bo1204203200_“A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

The charred body of a policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out-shell of his car on the Southend seafront.

To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague’s murder, dark secrets begin to emerge.

Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?”

I am delighted to be today’s stop on the Burned and Broken blog tour.  Burned and Broken is author Mark Hardie’s debut novel and introduces us to the formidable crime fighting team of DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell.  The second book in the series titled Truly Evil will be published later this year.

A burnt out car containing the body of DI Sean Carragher is found on the Southend seafront.  His burns are so bad his colleagues can’t even recognise him.  What’s more, DI Carragher was the subject of an ongoing internal affairs investigation, which leads the team to many more questions than it answers.  DS Pearson and DI Carragher’s ex-partner, DC Catherine (Cat) Russell are tasked with leading the investigation.  But the more they dig, the more they realise that they didn’t really know their colleague at all.  And what about young Donna?  In a care home until it was forced to close, now living in her on flat and spending her days obsessing over the death of her friend.  Donna knows who killed Alicia, now all she has to do is prove it to the right people.  She knows it wasn’t an accident, no matter what the police reports said.  It’s down to DS Pearson and DC Russell to discover who murdered their colleague before the body count rises…

I loved DC Cat Russell.  I felt incredibly sorry for her as the realisation dawned that she didn’t really know Sean Carragher at all.  This person who she felt was a friend (and someone to look up to) had let her down repeatedly.  Her regular interviews with internal affairs and DS Pearson’s discovery that Sean and Cat couldn’t have been together when Cat claimed they were, made for uncomfortable reading.  I wanted to love Frank Pearson but there was something….missing for me.  He’s the type of character that I normally, immediately like but it just didn’t happen this time.  Donna made me feel incredibly sad. This is obviously a character with deep psychological issues and I really wanted to warm to her but I’m afraid all I could feel was sadness.  I wanted someone to spot that she was on the edge of a precipice and help the poor girl.

I struggled with the author’s style, having to re-read many sentences several times over to try and understand what was going on.  As I neared the conclusion I found myself enjoying the story more than I had previously.  So much so that when I came to one of those ‘read on for a sneak peek at the author’s next book’ sections that I did actually read on.  Mainly to check that the next book also featured DC Cat Russell (and DS Pearson).

Would I recommend this book?  This is a difficult one.  I did enjoy it and I know that others will absolutely love this book and see things which I have missed.  But on the whole, I’m not sure.  It’s a good police procedural but there are so many GREAT police procedurals out there that it’s a hard one to call.

Three stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Burned and Broken.  Many thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown for providing me with a copy. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie is published by Sphere | Little, Brown on the UK and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback being published in May 2017) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

B&B4.jpg

copy-of-copy-of-smith-sons-1

vcq9gqmt_400x400Mark Hardie began writing full time after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

#BookReview: The Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill (@markhillwriter) @TheCrimeVault

51pljceuoul-_sy346_“One night changed their lives

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.”

When I first heard about this book, I knew that I had to read it.  Not only is the author, Mark Hill, a brilliant book blogger (well, once upon a time before he wrote a cracking novel!) but oh my gosh, THAT blurb!  That blurb feels like it was written for me.  There was also a fabulous .gif doing the rounds, which caught my eye too (I do love a .gif).  I felt this book was destined for my TBR.

DI Ray Drake’s past is coming back to haunt him.  People he knew as a child are being horrifically killed along with their partners and children.  It can’t be something to do with Ray though, can it?  Whilst investigating the murder of ex-associate, Kenny, it comes to light that he was in the process of writing his memoirs, an exposé of his time at the ill fated Longacre children’s home.  DI Drake is only supervising the case though, newly promoted DS Flick Crowley is in charge and Ray is determined that his secret will never see the light of day.  And he’s prepared to do whatever it takes…

From the opening chapters you feel that there is something….amiss about DI Ray Drake.  There is no reason to dislike this man but you can feel he has deeply buried secrets and boy, you want to know what they are!  He gets under your skin.  Then he starts to behave inappropriately for a DI and your brain goes into overdrive; ‘what is going on with this fella?’ you find yourself asking.  He is a brilliantly written character and I take my hat off to Mark Hill.  I became quite obsessed with trying to work out what was going on with Ray, what his thing was and maybe even a little obsessed with Ray, himself!

DS Flick Crowley didn’t have the same draw as DI Drake did for me.  I liked her, and I can see her being a favourite of many other readers, but I think I was so totally smitten with DI Drake that Flick wasn’t really on my radar.  I hope there is a second book as she may be one of those characters that, for me, needs time to grow and develop.  There were two other characters in The Two O’Clock Boy who won my heart; Elliot and Connor.  Connor is a complete enigma, the cool kid at the home who beats up the bullies but stands up and says I was wrong, when the moment requires.  And the bully turned family man, Elliot.  How I absolutely loved Elliot.

The plot is very clever.  This book felt fresh to me; something different that I haven’t encountered before.  There’s not a lot else I can say about the plot without giving away spoilers but just let me say that it’s quite an intricate storyline.  I’m afraid I managed to work out who the killer was but it’s a habit of mine now to look for the killer (I really need to stop doing this and just enjoy the book!).  It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the book and to be honest, there are much bigger twists than the reveal of the killer for the reader to concentrate on.

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would.  In fact, this is a book that all crime fiction fans should read as it’s quite different to other detective novels.  Not only do you have a cracking whodunit story but you also have a cast of brilliantly written characters that make reading this book a joy.  I was so captivated with what Ray’s secret could be and oh my, it’s a corker!  And to think this a debut – I can’t wait to see what else Mark Hill has in store for us.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Two O’Clock Boy.

The Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill was published in the UK by Sphere on 22nd September 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Sphere Books |

Smith & Sons (11)

mark-hill

Mark Hill is a London-based full-time writer of novels and scripts. Formerly he was a journalist and a producer at BBC Radio 2 across a range of major daytime shows and projects. He has won two Sony Gold Awards.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |