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Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge

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Bad Blood by Casey Kelleher

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Hope to Die by James Patterson

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 recalled-to-death-by-priscilla-masters

Thriller is a Little Slow-Moving

Review of Recalled to Death by Priscilla Masters

This murder mystery opens with the discovery of a vagabond in the grounds of a local medieval castle in Shrewsbury. The fact that the victim has no identification certainly proves to be a challenge for DI Alex Randall and Martha Gunn, the local Coroner.

First and foremost, DI Randall and his homicide team have to determine the identity of the nameless victim, plus why he was found in the castle grounds and why was he away from where the other homeless people gathered for the night?

The plot begins to steadily unravel as the most minute clues are pieced together so that the murderer is discovered. I particularly enjoyed the way that Martha and Alex work professionally and wonder if they will become any closer?

I felt that at times the plot could have moved a little faster so I award it four stars

– Galadriel

 

Star Rating: Four Stars

4-Star Rating

 i-am-death-by-chris-carter

Gripping Thriller Packed With Surprises

Review of I Am Death by Chris Carter

The title would not, in normal circumstances, have persuaded me to read this book, but having started, it proved to be a real page turner.

Chris Carter writes in the style of James Patterson and for much of this book I could have been reading anything in the Alex Cross series. Chris Carter writes well and introduces each character sympathetically although he then often pulls the rug from under your feet just as you begin to like or empathise with them. There is an element of predictability about this and I found myself holding back my thoughts about somebody because I guessed they would shortly become another victim of the killer.

The plot follows the pursuit of a serial killer by Detective Robert Hunter and his partner. Hunter, predictably, is a very bright, very able policeman who has turned down offers to join the FBI in favour of remaining with the LAPD. The plot moves quickly with some clever twists surprising even an avid reader of crime fiction. It kept me hooked until the very last chapters where Carter finesses an interesting climax.

I only gave this book four stars because although well written it lacks pure originality. Chris Carter has fallen into the trap of trying to produce “a better serial killer, a more deadly and cunning serial killer” than other writers, which gives the story a touch of predictability. That said, the book contained enough twists and turns to keep me reading. It would in fact make a good television thriller as each chapter leaves you hanging and wanting to know what happens next. Anyone who enjoys this genre should pick this up today.

-- 8848

 

Star Rating: Four Stars

4-Star Rating

 

 did-you-ever-have-a-family-by-bill-clegg

Profoundly Moving Tale of a Family Tragedy

Review of Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

June falls asleep outside waiting for her lover, Luke to return after an argument they'd had just after celebrating a meal with Lolly (June's daughter) and her fiance Will, his parents, June's ex-husband Adam and Lydia Luke's mother. She's finally come to realise how much she loves him, but she never gets the chance to tell him, because as he walks back into the house to look for her there is an explosion and everyone in the house is killed.

The author, Bill Clegg has used the voices of those left behind to tell the story. June has lost her voice, direction and will because the devastation and loss are so great that all she can do is flee from Wells and eventually find her way to a bed and breakfast called the Moonstone in Monclips.

But there are others who help us unravel what happened on that fateful night. They are: Young Silas, usually doped up, who worked for Luke as part of his landscaping team; Lydia, Luke's mother who must come to terms not only with losing her son but her past, which had catastrophic repercussions on Luke; Kelly and Rebecca, a couple who allow June to stay at the Moonstone without asking questions and Cissy of native American origins who makes it her business to ensure that June is fed, kept in clean clothes and encouraged to take some exercise.

This is truly one of the most extraordinary, deep, soul searching stories I've ever read and I just desperately hope that I've managed to write a review that will make you go out to purchase it, because there are only certain occasions that we are able to find a book that makes you wake up and realise just how precious life is and how quickly it can disappear, leaving you unable to right those wrongs that you may end up regretting for the rest of your life.

Bill Clegg, I salute you for having the gift to be able to tell this story

– Treebeard

 

Star Rating: Five Stars

5-Star Rating

 thrown-down-by-david-menon

Gripping, Dramatic Evocation of Belfast ‘Troubles’

Review of Thrown Down by David Menon

David Menon has written an edgy thriller which harks back to the Northern Ireland troubles in the 1970s. It is the sixth book in his successful DSI Jeff Barton series, and will have resonance for anyone who remembers the war between the British establishment and the IRA in a very troubled Belfast.

Over the years there have been many books covering this period of history, but not so many recently and I think enough time has passed for this to avoid being a rehash and to be a truly compelling read, especially to those for whom the period is just a subject in history.

The book is set in Manchester and Melbourne and begins with the murder of Padraig O’Connell, an ex-IRA killer who has recently been released from prison and has settled in Manchester. DSI Jeff Barton and his team are called in, and it would seem from the scene that O’Connell may have known and been expecting his killer.

The plot thickens when Barry Murphy, the son of one of O’Connell’s victims is similarly murdered by someone he is expecting.

The third main character, Patricia Knight, Padraig’s sister, has been settled in Australia for 40 years and the events in Manchester threaten to tear her world apart.

What follows is a fast paced story with the action switching between characters and locations by the device of giving the reader no clue in advance. You move from a conversation in Manchester to another in Melbourne without so much as a page break to settle your motion sickness. I found this disconcerting at first, but once used to it, the story became more punchy with every page.

Menon’s characters are complex and convincing although none are telling the whole of their story. The reader is not expected to like them, which is just as well really as things turn out: they are mostly horrible. The only minor niggle for me was the seeming political correctness of Jeff Barton’s police team which struck me as a little contrived; the female senior officer, the black, gay officer and the white bisexual one, together with Barton grieving for his dead wife.

There is the usual lack of communication between the police and Special Branch which makes one wonder if Special Branch really want the murders solved. For them it would be much more convenient to let sleeping dogs lie.

I really enjoyed this book, turning pages like an automaton until I reached the shocking and totally unexpected climax. Oh, yes, and there is even a fledgling romance to restore one’s faith in humanity!

I recommend it unequivocally.

– Pashtpaws

 

Star Rating: Four Stars

4-Star Rating

 the-child-garden-by-catriona-mcpherson

Convincing Scottish Mystery a Jolly Good Read

Review of The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

This is one of those novels where the title gives you no clue as to the plot, but it is none the worse for that. The title is in fact a reference to Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child Garden of Verses, which Gloria Harkness, the main character, reads to her invalid son each evening.

Despite the obvious hardships of her life, Gloria is content with the regularity of her days. She works as a Council Registrar, and in the evenings visits her landlady, Miss Drumm, and also her fifteen-year-old son, Nicky, both of whom reside in the same nursing home. Nicky has a life-limiting illness and is now fully sedated, but he remains the axis around which Gloria’s world revolves. Gloria then returns to her home, Rough House, which she cares for in exchange for being able to live there, and also cares for Miss Drumm’s elderly dog. She also is responsible for making sure that The Devil does not escape from the ‘Rocking Stone!’

Gloria has no visitors and so is upset and disturbed when she is followed home by a man in a car, a man who then arrives, soaking wet, at her front door. He is somehow familiar, but Gloria is unable to place him until he calls her ‘Knickerbocker Gloria’ and she realises that he is ‘Stig of the Dump,’ aka Stephen Tarrant, who sat next to her at primary school. They lost contact when Stephen went to ‘Eden’ a new and progressive school which was situated in the same building as is the current nursing home.

Gloria is propelled into assisting Steve in a ‘big adventure’ which hinges on a death at the school in 1985, which has come back to haunt the pupils from that time.

This is a well-crafted tale, brim full of surprises, where the pace is fast enough to keep the reader turning the pages at an impressive rate. It is also satisfyingly convincing as a Scottish novel, and having lived there previously, I found the way of life and the phrasing very familiar.

The central character of Gloria is totally convincing as a woman who through circumstances has fallen into a very restrictive and isolated lifestyle, and Stephen is similarly convincing as a seemingly nice and comforting reminder of the past, but who Gloria is not entirely sure she can trust.

There is mystery, intrigue, unexplained deaths which mount up, superstition and hatred in what turns out to be a jolly good read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as will, I think, many more fans of the genre.

– Pashtpaws

 

Star Rating: Five Stars

5-Star Rating

LeeChildNightSchool

AngelaMarsons

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