#BookReview: Written in Bones by James Oswald @PenguinUKBooks #WritteninBones #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

written in bonesInspector McLean returns in the seventh instalment of James Oswald’s gritty, compelling crime series, for his most mysterious murder investigation yet . . .

The roots of murder run deep . . .

When a body is found in a tree in The Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic parkland, the forensics suggest the corpse has fallen from a great height.

Detective Inspector Tony McLean wonders whether it was an accident, or a murder designed to send a chilling message?

The dead man had led quite a life: a disgraced ex-cop turned criminal kingpin who reinvented himself as a celebrated philanthropist.

As McLean traces the victim’s journey, it takes him back to Edinburgh’s past, and through its underworld – crossing paths with some of its most dangerous and most vulnerable people.

And waiting at the end of it all, is the truth behind a crime that cuts to the very heart of the city…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my third 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Written in Bones by James Oswald. Written in Bones was published by Penguin Books on 29th June 2017 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of Written in Bones but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh the perils of NetGalley. Imagine the scene. Wherever you look, crime fiction readers are raving about an author and your FOMO seriously kicks in. Everywhere I looked on social media, the name James Oswald was being mentioned. The need to read a book by Oswald went from being ‘vaguely intrigued’ to ‘epically strong’, so I toddled off to NG and requested Written in Bones. Only to discover that it’s the seventh book in the DI Tony McLean series 🤦. Book seven. Now, I don’t mind going into a series partway through, but knowing I had missed out on six earlier books had me worried. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with DI McLean and team, but I did feel a little lost at times. If you’re coming to this series for the first time, then I would strongly suggest that you start at the beginning as I felt I struggled a little not knowing the history of these characters.

McLean is called to a crime scene in The Meadows and what he finds is like nothing he’s seen before. An ex-police officer with a notorious past is found dead in a tree. By the looks of things, Bill Chalmers was dropped from a great height. The 10-year-old boy who discovered the body tells of hearing a dragon whilst out walking his dog. But surely that can’t be the case, can it…? McLean is at a loss. Taking a microscope to Chalmers’ colourful life, they struggle to find why anyone would want him dead and in such an elaborate fashion to boot! Staff shortages, the sudden retreat of many of the senior officers and an eye witness account of a mythical beast, all muddy the waters. How far does McLean have to dig into the past to discover what really happened to Bill Chalmers and more importantly, why…?

I really liked DI Tony McLean. I read a lot of crime fiction, particularly police procedurals, and I enjoy it when an author gives their lead detective a different spin. McLean’s wealth and his determination to get the job done at any cost made him a memorable character. He doesn’t need to keep the bosses onside, and does whatever it takes and upsets whoever he needs to, to get the job done. I can see why this is such a popular series and why Oswald is a much-admired writer. I absolutely loved the cold, snowy setting of Edinburgh and could easily picture the scene as McLean drove through the streets in his vintage Alfa. I liked the way the treacherous weather hampered the investigation. It was almost a character in itself!

I found the plot a little confusing but I think that’s because there are quite a few key characters at play and I was meeting them for the first time. Had I had some experience or knowledge of the cast, then perhaps I would have been able to get to grips with the plot a little quicker. Rather than having to refer to my notes a lot of the time to remind myself who was who and what I knew about them up until that point.

Would I recommend this book? Sort of. I would recommend that you start at the beginning of the series with Natural Causes and work your way up to Written in Bones. There’s a lot of pressure on authors to make sure each of their books ‘stand alone’ but I feel there’s been too much water under the bridge for that to be the case with this book. I came into Written in Bones expecting to not fully understand all of the references to previous cases and to not be familiar with the characters. That’s what you get when you start a series partway through. But I felt I had been left out of the cool group at school, a little on the periphery and watching the action from afar. Not really understanding exactly what was going on. I loved Oswald’s writing, his characters and his bitterly cold Edinburgh, and would happily (gladly!) read more. Just in the right order this time.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Written in Bones. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Written in Bones by James Oswald was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 29th June 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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James OswaldJames Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. Set in an Edinburgh not so different to the one we all know, Detective Inspector Tony McLean is the unlucky policeman who can see beneath the surface of ordinary criminal life to the dark, menacing evil that lurks beneath.

He has also introduced the world to Detective Constable Constance ‘Con’ Fairchild, whose first outing was in the acclaimed No Time To Cry.

As J D Oswald, James has also written a classic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, it follows the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. The whole series is now available in print, ebook and audio formats.

James has pursued a varied career – from Wine Merchant to International Carriage Driving Course Builder via Call Centre Operative and professional Sheep Shit Sampler (true). He moved out of the caravan when Storm Gertrude blew the Dutch barn down on top of it, and now lives in a proper house with three dogs, two cats and a long-suffering partner. He farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten @0neMoreChapter_ @BOTBSPublicity #DeadWrong #damppebbles

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“The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…

They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…

But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.

Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…”

Hello bookish friends and welcome to a brand new week on damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the blog tour to celebrate the paperback release of the second book in Noelle Holten’s DC Maggie Jamieson series, Dead Wrong. Dead Wrong was published by One More Chapter in paperback format on Thursday 14th May 2020 (it’s also available in digital format and audiobook, if that’s more your thing). I received a free digital copy of the book via NetGalley which has in no way influenced my review.

I read Holten’s debut – Dead Inside – last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was excited to get my mitts on the second book in the series and catch up with the tenacious DC Jamieson once again. This time she’s back on home soil and reunited with her Major and Organised Crime Department colleagues at Stafford Police Station. Leaving behind the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Team she was seconded to in Dead Inside, Maggie is thrown straight in the deep end when the severed remains of a woman are discovered. But these remains instantly throw the biggest case and arrest in Maggie’s career into question. For these are the remains of Lorraine Rugman, one of the three victims notorious serial killer, Bill Raven, confessed to killing several years ago. Forensics confirm that Lorraine’s murder was recent — so why did Raven confess to the killings in the first place when it’s clear he wasn’t responsible? Who killed Lorraine, and can they be stopped before they kill again…?

Dead Wrong is a twisty cat and mouse police procedural and I was hooked from start to finish. The story revolves around whether convicted serial killer, Bill Raven, is actually a serial killer and whether he should have been convicted (by our dogged and determined detective constable, of course!) of the crimes he confessed to. Maggie knows the truth and there’s no way she’s going to let Raven walk free. But the rest of the team are looking at things from a different angle and analysing the little evidence they have, which frustrates Maggie no end. The plot is so well thought out and once again Holten totally flummoxed me as I didn’t have a clue where the story was going.

The team spend a large proportion of time chasing their tails, pondering the very little evidence they have and telling Maggie to stop being so obsessed with Raven and his mind games. I loved this as it allowed more of the characters’ personalities to shine through. We get to see a lot more of Maggie in this second book but one character does not a police procedural make. The other characters are just as important and they all add something to the story, no matter how fleeting their appearance. I really warmed to DI Abigail Rutherford and found her a strong and formidable personality (if a little tetchy at times, but I love tetchy!). I hope we see a lot more of her in future.

I think the standout character for me in the novel though is Bill Raven who likes nothing more than playing clever mind games and tormenting poor Maggie at every given opportunity. Winding her up and watching her burn whilst her colleagues shake their heads in dismay at her ever-so-slightly obsessive behaviour. As a reader you know he’s bad news, but you can’t help but doubt whether he’s part of the killings. After all, he’s been locked up in prison for a couple of years now. It doesn’t make any sense!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a well-written, tense and gritty crime novel. I’m particularly looking forward to reading the third book in the series following the brilliantly shocking twist at the end of Dead Wrong. I certainly didn’t see that one coming!! If you haven’t read the first book in the series then fret not, Dead Wrong can easily be read as a standalone. Holten is definitely one to watch. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Dead Wrong. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 14th May 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.

Dead Inside is her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Instagram |

#BookReview: The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore @orionbooks #TheDarkRoom #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (5/15)

the dark room.jpgThey thought they’d buried their secrets 
Homicide inspector Gavin Cain is standing by a grave when he gets the call. Cain knows there’s something terrible in the coffin they’re about to exhume. He and his team have received a dying man’s confession and it has led them here.

But death doesn’t guarantee silence
Cain is summoned by Mayor Castelli, who has been sent sinister photographs of a woman that he claims he doesn’t know and a note threatening that worse are on their way.

And now light will be shone on a very dark place…
As Cain tries to identify the woman in the pictures, and looks into the mayor’s past, he finds himself being drawn towards a situation as horrifying and as full of secrets as the grave itself.”

Welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted today to be sharing my review of The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore which I have selected as one of my #15BooksofSummer challenge reads.  The Dark Room was published by Orion Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats. I received an eARC of The Dark Room but this has in no way influenced my review.

I read Jonathan Moore’s The Poison Artist back in 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was whilst sharing that review that a fellow book blogger, someone whose opinion I really respect, suggested I give The Dark Room a go.  Unfortunately, due to being the slowest of readers and having a burgeoning NetGalley TBR, I have only recently gotten around to it.  The Dark Room felt a little different to The Poison Artist in tone but is still a very enjoyable read.

Inspector Gavin Cain of the San Francisco Police Department is about to get some answers as he stands by the recently exhumed grave of a thirty-year-old corpse.  That is until his Lieutenant calls and orders him to the Mayor’s Office – she’s sending a chopper and there’s no time to waste.  Cain arrives, is introduced to Mayor Castelli and takes what seems like an instant dislike to the man.  The Mayor confides that he has received a number of potentially incriminating photographs in the post along with a threatening note.  These are the first four snaps.  There are another eight to come.  The note suggests that maybe the Mayor would like to commit suicide before the photographs fall into the wrong hands and he is exposed.  Castelli claims to not know who the woman is and wants Cain to discover her identity.  But the Mayor is hiding something and the further back into the Mayor’s past Cain digs, the more secrets he uncovers…

This is a slow burn, noirish thriller set in San Francisco.  The slow drip of information as you watch the case unfold and as Cain joins the dots makes it an enjoyable read.  Helped along by the wonderful setting and the fascinating characters.  And, having read this author before, I can safely say he likes to throw the odd shock twist into the story to give his readers a bit of a start.  Cain is an interesting chap and one I would happily read more of if this were a series (it’s not, it’s a standalone).  He’s a very experienced SFPD Inspector and takes no bull (not even from the Mayor or his Lieutenant).  I don’t feel the reader really gets to know him though.  You learn so much more about his partner, piano teacher Lucy, than you do about him.  Maybe he’s meant to be more of an enigma – after all, there’s only so far you can go with a character when they feature in only one book.  Other characters in the book are well drawn, particularly the Mayor’s daughter, Alexa, who drove me crazy.

The ending absolutely fitted the story and it was the right way for the author to go but I was left feeling a little disappointed.  I think that says more about me than the writing though.  I wanted something a little more showy, more of a BANG than what we’re given.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  It’s an absorbing police procedural which pulls you in from start to finish – you just HAVE to know how this one is going to end.  If you’re a fan of a slower paced crime read with a cast of intriguing characters then absolutely, you will enjoy this book.  Recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Dark Room.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore was published in the UK by Orion Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepository | Goodreads |

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jonathan-moore.jpgJonathan Moore is a Bram Stoker Award nominated author of five novels. His third novel, THE POISON ARTIST, was a selection of the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. His novels have been translated into seven languages.

Before graduating from law school in New Orleans, he lived in Taiwan for three years, guided whitewater raft trips on the Rio Grande, and worked as an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. He has also been an English teacher, a bar owner, a counsellor at a wilderness camp for juvenile delinquents, and a textbook writer.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

 

 

#BookReview: Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear @ZaffreBooks #StoneColdHeart #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (3/15)

stone cold heart.jpg“A fractured marriage. A silent family. A secret worth killing for.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel, and Joseph is arrested for the murder.

Joseph says his wife is setting him up.
His wife says he didn’t do it.
The trail of evidence leads to even more questions . . .

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim. Who would you believe?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear – my third #15BooksofSummer review.  Stone Cold Heart is the second book in the Detective Cat Kinsella series (the first being the brilliant Sweet Little Lies) and it’s published in paperback today! Wishing the author and Zaffre, the publisher, the happiest of publication days.  I received a free eARC of Stone Cold Heart but this has in no way influenced my review.

I loved Sweet Little Lies so I have been eagerly waiting for this follow up novel to appear on my bookshelf. And oh boy, it did not disappoint! Caz Frear’s characters are utterly brilliant.  I fell a little bit in love with Cat Kinsella after reading the first book in the series but now, after book two, I’m totally smitten.  The way Frear writes her characters is so charming and with shedloads of warmth and humour that you can’t help but fall in love.

The team are called in to investigate the murder of 22-year-old, Naomi Lockhart.  Naomi hasn’t been seen since attending a fireworks party held by her boss at her home on Saturday night.  The team struggle to come up with any concrete links.  That is until Cat recognises a familiar face.  Joseph Madden, coffee shop owner and all-round creep.  Madden had cornered Cat earlier in the Summer and after his failed attempts at flirting with her, he confided that his wife was out to get him.  Cat, feeling it was no more than a lover’s tiff, advised Madden to report the incident to his local police station before making her excuses and NEVER volunteering to do the coffee run again!  But now Madden is their only suspect in the murder of Naomi Lockhart despite his repeated claims of innocence.  Will Cat be able to tie together all of the loose ends and make sure a killer is brought to justice…?

I love Cat Kinsella, I think I’ve already made that clear.  But I also love her supporting cast – particularly her DS, Luigi Parnell and her DCI, Kate Steele.  They are a brilliant team and one I want to return to again and again.  Parnell and Steele have a lot of history between them and it shows.  The way they both keep an eye out for newcomer, Cat, is just wonderful to witness.  Frear’s books have so far had brilliant plots to keep the reader gripped but oh boy, her characters are a delight.  It’s not just these three though.  Joseph Madden and his sliminess ooze from the page.  Cat’s father and her ‘uncle’ Frank both play a pivotal role in the book and you’re never really sure how much to trust either of them (definitely don’t trust Frank!).  And Cat’s gorgeous yet exasperated boyfriend, Aiden Doyle, who shows us Cat’s softer, more vulnerable side.  What a superb cast of characters!

This book can be read as a standalone.  However, there are several mentions made of Maryanne Doyle and the focus of the first book in the series, Sweet Little Lies.  The reader isn’t really given any details about this case but those involved are highlighted.  It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story and if anything it will make you want to read Sweet Little Lies if you haven’t already done so!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Stone Cold Heart and Sweet Little Lies are both strongly recommended by me.  Frear has a way of writing believable characters, people you would want to hang out with at the pub after work (well, some of them anyway!).  I had a great time playing amateur detective with this one and, in the end, got it completely wrong…sort of.  I thoroughly enjoyed this compelling, character-driven police procedural and, if you’re a fan of crime fiction, I suggest you get yourself a copy and meet the brilliant DC Cat Kinsella for yourself.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Stone Cold Heart.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 27th June 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

15 books of summer

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caz frear.jpgCaz Frear grew up in Coventry, England, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the second finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, and when she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

 

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith (@GrahamSmith1972) @caffeinenights @rararesources #WhenTheWatersRecede

When Waters Recede Cover.jpg“When a car is pulled from raging floodwaters with a dead man in the front and the decapitated body of an evil woman in the boot, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the investigation.

The woman is soon recognised, but the man cannot be identified and this leads the team and their former leader, Harry Evans, into areas none of them want to visit.

Before they know it, they’re dealing with protection scams and looking for answers to questions they didn’t know needed to be asked.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the When the Waters Recede blog blitz.  When the Waters Recede is the latest release from Graham Smith featuring the Cumbria Major Crimes Team and their dogged ex-guv, DI Harry Evans.  Except he’s Mr Harry Evans now after being retired off some time ago and replaced with the unlikable, self-absorbed DI John Campbell.

This is the second full-length novel featuring Harry Evans which I have read, the first being I Know Your Secret.  And I’ve had the pleasure of reading two of The Major Crimes Team (MCT) novellas; Matching the Evidence and No Comment.  But I came to this series part way through so there are two further books which I haven’t read as yet, Lines of Inquiry (novella) and Snatched From Home (not to mention Smith’s EPIC Jake Boulder series published by Bloodhound Books).

Having read No Comment, the latest MCT novella a couple of months ago my appetite was well and truly whetted and I was looking forward to making a start on When the Waters Recede.  The book opens with a tragic accident due to the unseasonal rains and flooding.  A car is dramatically pulled from the flood water, the driver of the car unfortunately deceased.  DC Lauren Phillips is there to formalise proceedings but, when looking for clues as to the driver’s identity, she makes a horrifying discovery in the boot of the car.  A woman’s naked body minus a head.  Thankfully the victim’s head is stashed with the body which leads to a quick identification and turns out to be a notorious, hated local criminal.  What Lauren and the team don’t realise is that in searching for the identity of the driver and potential murderer, they will end up in the middle of an investigation they never foresaw.

There’s something about Smith’s characters which make the reader feel invested in them.  I, for one, am not particularly fond of DC Lauren Phillips (something I may have mentioned before) and she does play a significant part in this book.  But despite not necessarily liking her, I felt I had to find out what she was up to, what was going to happen to her and to the team.  My favourite characters have always been Harry Evans, DS Neil Chisolm and DC Amir Bhaki.  But without Phillips and DI Campbell, I just don’t think the team dynamics would work as well.

The plot is interesting and keeps you on your toes as it tends to flit from the initial investigation of a decapitated body to a bigger, unexpected case.  A case that leads to one of the team coming face to face with a remorseless killer!  Harry was as gruff as ever and I loved seeing how he was adjusting to life as a police consultant rather than ‘the Guv’ and leading the pack.  I have to say, and this is probably just me, that the reoccurring references to a middle-aged, balding man’s building libido was a little….well, off-putting really.  I can see how this was a major part of the story, why the author has made such a plot point of it but UGH.  Characters may have ‘needs’ but I’d rather that they keep them to themselves, lol!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It can be read as a standalone but the characters have so much history behind them that you may feel you’ve missed something if you don’t start at the beginning.  A great series and one I will return to again and again.  Personally, I cannot wait for the next book as I think Harry’s going to be in for a bit of a rough ride if the final chapter of When the Waters Recedes is anything to go by.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of When the Waters Recede.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights on 31st May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Giveaway:
To celebrate the release of When the Waters Recede, Graham Smith is offering one lucky reader the chance to win all six books in the Harry Evans series.

To enter, simply sign up for his newsletter via the link provided before the 5th of June 2018 and you’ll be entered into not just this competition, but all competitions that he runs. International entrants are welcome.
http://blogspot.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?

When Waters Recede - 6 Book Giveaway

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Graham Smith Author Pic (1)Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: Fighting Monsters by Rebecca Bradley (@RebeccaJBradley) #DIHannahRobbins #FightingMonsters

fighting monsters cover.jpg“Twenty-four hours after he walked away from court a free man, cop killer and gang leader Simon Talbot is found murdered. In his possession; the name of a protected witness from his trial. 



For DI Hannah Robbins, it’s a race against time to find Talbot’s killer, and locate the bystander before it’s too late.



But as Hannah delves deeper into the past, she begins to question the integrity of the whole operation. 



Where do you turn when you can’t trust the police?”

Fighting Monsters is the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series written by former police detective, Rebecca Bradley.  I have a confession to make, this is the first full novel from Bradley which I have read.  I thoroughly enjoyed her prequel novella published in 2016, Three Weeks Dead but haven’t managed to fit Shallow Waters (book 1) or Made to be Broken (book 2) into my reading schedule as yet.  Having recently finished Fighting Monsters I can assure you that that will indeed change in the near future, so look out for a review or two coming soon.

Change is afoot as the reader is introduced to new girl, Pasha, as she tries to desperately fit into a well-oiled and cohesive unit.  Not easy when the shoes she has to fill are those of a recently deceased colleague and well-valued member of the team.  Not helped by the arrival of a new DCI who doesn’t have the same work ethic as his predecessor.  When Hannah and her team are instructed to investigate the murder of gang boss and suspected cop killer, Simon Talbot, all personal issues are put to one side (or so they should be anyway).  With Simon’s grief-stricken brother at her heels, and with many of her colleagues firmly believing that whoever killed Simon Talbot did them all a favour, Robbins finds herself under a great deal of pressure.  Not wanting to face the fact that the investigation may take them to places they don’t want to go and, ultimately, the possibility of arresting a fellow police officer…

Bradley’s characters really stood out for me.  I enjoyed the working relationship between DI Robbins and her DS, Aaron.  I got the feeling there is a lot of history between these two characters and I particularly enjoyed the scenes they shared.  I was also interested in the relationship between Hannah and the new girl, Pasha, but this was a whole different dynamic.  I felt quite sorry for Pasha.  Trying to fit into a well-established team and despite trying your best, every time you open your mouth, reminding those around you exactly what they had lost.  I will be interested to see how (and if) Pasha makes her mark in future books.

There were a number of unexpected emotional moments during the story.  I really felt for Lee, one of the young PC’s seconded to the team, as we discover he looks after his elderly Nan who suffers from Alzheimer’s and, as a result, leads no life of his own.  The reader gets to know Lee and his story, but more importantly, I found Lee fast becoming one of my favourite characters in the book.  Other heartbreaking moments involve Simon Talbot’s neighbour and her young son.  There is one particular scene where I was perched precariously on the very edge of my seat!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I read it as a standalone and I think it works perfectly well without having read the first two books in the series (I am planning on reading and reviewing both soon, though!).  What you get from a Rebecca Bradley novel that you might not find elsewhere is realism.  Bradley previously worked as a detective so she knows what she’s talking about and as a fan of the police procedural, I love that.  Well worth checking out.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Fighting Monsters.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Fighting Monsters by Rebecca Bradley was published in the UK on Monday 19th February 2018 and is available in eBook format (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

rebecca bradley.jpgI live in Nottinghamshire with my family and two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep me company while I write. I need to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if I could, I would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, I was recently medically retired from the police service where I finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

My first crime novel, Shallow Waters is set in Nottingham. The lead protagonist is DI Hannah Robbins. Because the novel is written in first-person narrative you get a pretty good feel for who she is.

 

I blog about my writing, policing, social media, occasionally the above disorders and anything else that springs to mind. It’s a loosely connected place inside my head and it’s possible anything could come out. I would genuinely love to see you around and to hear your thoughts.

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Author Links:Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio © http://www.rebeccabradleycrime.com/about/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

 

#BookReview: The Intrusions by Stav Sherez (@stavsherez) @FaberBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheIntrusions

the intrusions cover.jpg

“When a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?”

I recently finished reading The Intrusions by Stav Sherez and can confirm that I am now totally freaked out. This is normally the point where I say, ‘but in a good way’. However, I’m not all that sure that being *this* freaked out and a tad too nervous to log on to the internet is, in any way, a good thing or how it could be seen ‘in a good way’. I am of course jesting (a little) and I’m not really worried (well, maybe a smidge). Flipping heck!

The Intrusions is the third book in the Carrigan and Miller series and the first book I have read by author Stav Sherez. Going into a series part way through doesn’t really worry me too much these days. If the author in question is worth their salt then they should be able to plug any cavernous holes in the story for a new reader and, if anything, tempt you into wanting to read all previous instalments. Which is exactly what Sherez has done.

Within a few pages, I had fallen a little bit in love with gutsy, plucky DS Geneva Miller. Shortly after I was introduced to DI Jack Carrigan and knew that this book, this particular partnership, was something I was going to very much enjoy. I didn’t have the same instant affection for Carrigan, that built throughout the course of the book but I did like him – thanks to his somewhat reckless methods of getting an arrest during his last big case.

DS Miller is in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe it’s the right time). Making her way through the station’s reception area a young, distraught woman catches her attention. Madison claims that her friend, Anna, has been drugged and taken by a man in a van. Madison herself acts as though she under the influence of something and makes little to no sense during the interview. But DS Miller believes what she’s been told and wants to investigate. Before long, the team are thrown into a world they have very little knowledge of. A world where you’re watched from the moment you wake. A world where your life isn’t really your own.

The themes in The Intrusions chilled me to my very core. An incredibly compulsive read and one that will stay with me for time to come. I loved how the author leads you down one path, where you’re as flummoxed as his detectives and then totally turns the tables on you. I had a wild stab in the dark at one point, pinning my suspicions on one character. Only for those suspicions to be confirmed later on in the story. That certainly didn’t take any enjoyment away from the story for me. And even if you do take a lucky punt like me, there are still plenty of shocks and surprises to come.

Before I conclude this review, a word of advice for you. Find a post-it note, or find some blu-tack and stick it over the camera on your device. Really, this is something you WANT to do.

Would I recommend this book? Oh yes, I would. It’s a thrilling, frightening read which will make you think about the time you spend online, and who you are spending it with. The final chapter blew me away with its nail-biting intensity. And that epilogue…WOAH! I am thrilled to have discovered Stav Sherez’s writing. I think this is the start of a long and happy relationship.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of The Intrusions. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Stav Sherez will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 5th March 2018. Stav will be appearing alongside Elly Griffiths, Sarah Vaughan, Matthew Blakstad and moderator Jake Kerridge, crime fiction critic for the Telegraph. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 5th March at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

The Intrusions by Stav Sherez was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 1st February 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

stav sherez.jpg

Stav Sherez’s first novel, The Devil’s Playground, was published in 2004 by Penguin Books and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger.

Sherez’s second novel, The Black Monastery, was published by Faber & Faber in April 2009.

His third novel, A Dark Redemption, the first in a London-based police procedural series, was published by Faber and Faber in February 2012.
It deals with Joseph Kony and the legacy of LRA child soldiers now living in London.
A Dark Redemption was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2013.

The second in the Carrigan and Miller series, Eleven Days, was published by Faber in May 2013.

From 1999 to 2004 Sherez was a main contributor to the music magazine Comes with a Smile. He has also written for various other publications including The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, Zembla and the Catholic Herald.

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon |