More Equal than Others by Robin Roughley

9th April 2019 – 5 stars.

You’re guaranteed an imaginative plot that will twist and turn and twist again when you join DS Lasser on another investigation. In this case, it’s a twisted vigilante, wreaking havoc on the Wigan’s sex offenders.

The pace and tension are relentless, the dark, dark humour that runs through the stories is delicious. The banter and double act with DCI Bannister are the highlight of yet another great story from Robin Roughley.

It’s intense, gritty and shocking, but filled with humanity, which shines through in Lasser’s determination to bring the killer to justice, no matter what. His romance and relationship with Medea adds another welcome dimension to his character and the story.

Highly recommended.

 

Description

Lasser is on cloud nine but murder soon brings him down to earth.

A sunny afternoon in the park. Children at play, families picnicking on the grass and a man pushing an old pram, a pram that contains horrors beyond reckoning.

DS Lasser is happy, engaged to the woman of his dreams, just back from a two-week vacation. Life is sweet.

But it only takes one phone call, telling him that a local sex offender has been mutilated and murdered and all thoughts of harmonious bliss are quickly annihilated.

Someone is stalking the streets of this down-at-heel northern town, someone with a burning hatred and a long list containing the names of the guilty.

As if things weren’t bad enough, a local reporter is leading a witch-hunt, determined to lay the blame for the killings at Lasser’s feet.

As the nights draw in and the body count rises, Lasser must hunt the maniac who is spiralling out of control. Though he soon comes to realises that the killer, even in his madness, is working to an agenda.

And he isn’t working alone.

More Equal than Others

Panic Room by Robert Goddard

22nd March 2019 – 4 stars.

This is my kind of book. Ordinary people, drawn into a dense, intriguing mystery that keeps you guessing till the final moments when all is revealed in a breathtaking climax. No gratuitous bad language or violence needed – just beautifully drawn characters and settings, wrapped around a small detail that mushroomed into a mystery that could not be ignored.

This was the first Robert Goddard book I’d read, and I doubt if it will be the last.

Ironically, Panic Room has a leisurely, but assured pace as estate agent, Don, makes what appears to be a routine visit to prepare a luxury house on the coast of Cornwall for sale. Once there, he encounters Blake, a free spirit, who may or may not have been running from something. Those elements of doubt and suspicion continued to drive the plot along as these two characters sense something is not quite right.

Central to this doubt and suspicion is the panic room, locked from within.

When a couple of malevolent characters arrive, demanding to know what is inside the room and how to gain access, Don and Blake are out of their depth. But they can’t walk away because they too want to know what’s going on and begin their own investigation.

The author cleverly weaves a number of disparate elements together into a satisfying thriller that picks up pace as the climax approaches. While Don and Blake are no detectives, they’re resolute, determined and resourceful, negotiating every obstacle to get to the shocking truth behind the panic room.

I loved the intrigue that drove the characters on, the unease that ran like a shiver through the whole story and the dramatic conclusion that still managed to throw in a few exciting surprises.

Panic Room’s a highly entertaining and original novel, cleverly plotted and executed with style. Definitely worth reading.

Description

WHAT REALLY LIES WITHIN?

High on a Cornish cliff sits a vast uninhabited mansion. Uninhabited except for Blake, a young woman of mysterious background, currently acting as housesitter.

The house has a panic room. Cunningly concealed, steel lined, impregnable – and apparently closed from within. Even Blake doesn’t know it’s there. She’s too busy being on the run from life, from a story she thinks she’s escaped.

But her remote existence is going to be threatened when people come looking for the house’s owner, rogue pharma entrepreneur, Jack Harkness. Soon people with questionable motives will be asking Blake the sort of questions she can’t – or won’t – want to answer.

WILL THE PANIC ROOM EVER GIVE UP ITS SECRETS?

Panic Room

Want You Dead by Peter James

18th March 2019 – 4 stars.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the previous Roy Grace novels, getting to know the characters, loving the inventive plots and twists and attention to detail.

I enjoyed Want You Dead, but it took me a while to get into the story, perhaps because I knew the identity of the bad guy and his goal from the start. It took away some of the mystery and suspense.

Bryce Laurent was certainly a cruel and dangerous character, obsessed with a former girlfriend, and prepared to go to any lengths to punish her. He certainly had a remarkable range of skills with which to pursue her and make life hell.

By its very nature, obsession is relentless and focused, leading to repetition and a restricted plot. However, the running stories concerning Grace’s former wife and some of the key characters in the Major Crime Team provided extra layers of interest, humour and a touch of sadness.

The story builds to an explosive and exciting climax, rounded off with a customary final twist when it looked like there were no surprises left.

A cracking read from a highly recommended series.

Description

If he can’t have her, then nobody can. . .

Virtual romance becomes a terrifying obsession in Want You Dead. . .

Single girl, 29, smouldering redhead, love life that’s crashed and burned. Seeks new flame to rekindle her fire. Fun, friendship and – who knows – maybe more?

When Red Westwood meets handsome, charming and rich Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction. But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past, and his dark side, begins to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be a tissue of lies, and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror.

Within a year, and under police protection, she evicts him from her flat and her life. But Red’s nightmare is only just beginning. For Bryce is obsessed with her, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known and loved – and then her too . . .

From number one bestselling crime and thriller writer Peter James comes Want You Dead, the tenth book in his multi-million-copy selling crime series featuring the definitive Brighton detective, Roy Grace.

Want You Dead by Peter James

Hard Fall by Phil Reade

28th February 2019 – 3 stars.

The author’s narrated style attracted me to try the book and kept me turning the pages as the story slowly unfolded among the dark, rain swept streets of London.

Blume’s another ex-cop, this time from New Yerk, with a recent tragedy, in this case the death of his wife and son in London. This has led to him drinking excessively and feeling sorry for himself, which doesn’t endear him to readers who like a strong lead character. Blume eventually gets his act together, but the damage is done by then.

He didn’t seem to do a great deal of detective work either, relying on someone’s computer skills to get the information he needed.

What started out full of promise became a rather pedestrian story that kept me interested, but didn’t lift the spirits.

Description

An ex-cop with a past. A case police couldn’t solve. One chance at redemption…

Ex-New York detective Thomas Blume hunts the streets of London for the killers that tore his family apart. For justice, for closure, for revenge.

But when Blume stumbles across a case that baffled local police, he unwittingly joins a world of criminals, corruption, and cops that will do anything to stop him.

Now, in a country he doesn’t understand and a city stacked against him, Blume must fight to expose the truth… before it’s too late.

Hard Fall

Dead Man’s Time by Peter James

25th February 2019 – 5 stars.

I love the Roy Grace series because you can rely on Peter James to deliver a classy crime thriller with an intriguing, well-researched plot, interesting characters and plenty of tension and thrills. Every novel is different, but with the familiar threads of the backstory developing and changing with each entry in the series.

This novel has revenge and greed at its heart as the theft of valuable of antiques leads to a brutal murder that kicks off a chase to recover the most valuable and personal possession of all. The resultant mayhem and murders of those involved in the theft leads to New York for the exciting climax.

Meanwhile, back home in Brighton, a far more sinister threat lurks as a hardened villain seeks revenge on Roy Grace, his girlfriend Cleo and their baby. The tension is relentless and kept me on edge throughout the story.

This is one of many fine threads in another complex, beautifully constructed crime thriller from an author who delivers on every level.

While you can read this as a standalone, to get the maximum benefit of the characters and relationships, you should start with Dead Simple, the first in the series.

Description

Some will wait a lifetime to take their revenge. . .

A vicious robbery at a secluded Brighton mansion leaves its elderly occupant dying. Millions of pounds’ worth of valuables have been stolen.

But as Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, heading the enquiry, rapidly learns, there is one priceless item of sentimental value that her powerful family cherish above all else. And they are fully prepared to take the law into their own hands, and will do anything – absolutely anything – to get it back.

Within days, Grace is racing against the clock, following a murderous trail that leads him from the shady antiques world of Brighton, across Europe, and all the way back to the New York waterfront gang struggles of 1922, chasing a killer driven by the force of one man’s greed and another man’s fury.

Dead Man’s Time is the ninth novel in the multi-million copy bestselling Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, from the number one chart topper, Peter James.

Dead Mans Time

An Accidental Death by Peter Grainger

18th February 2019 – 4 stars.

If you like your crime character driven with an absorbing plot, then you should enjoy the first in the DC Smith series, set in Norfolk. The DC are Smith’s initials, by the way, not his rank in the police.

It all starts with what looks like an accidental death in the river. Only it’s not that simple. Enter DC Smith, like a dog with a bone, nibbling away at the evidence, casting more and more doubt on the cause of death until his unorthodox approach lands him in sinister waters.

The gentle pace and attention to detail allow the characters of DC Smith and his new recruit, Waters, to develop and drive the story along with purpose and humour. With Smith almost at the end of his career, and Waters just beginning his, they make a great team, complementing each other and teaching the other new tricks.

I never felt the story lagging and didn’t need any fireworks or thrilling chase scenes. Each time I switched on my Kindle, I enjoyed reading the story and look forward to reading more of the series.

Description

The story opens with the apparently accidental drowning of a British sixth form student in the Norfolk countryside. As a matter of routine, or so it seems, the case passes across the desk of Detective Sergeant Smith, recently returned to work after an internal investigation into another case that has led to tensions between officers at Kings Lake police headquarters.

As an ex-Detective Chief Inspector, Smith could have retired by now, and it is clear that some of his superiors wish that he would do so. The latest trainee detective to work with him is the son of a member of his former team, and together they begin to unravel the truth about what happened to Wayne Fletcher.

As the investigation proceeds, it becomes clear that others are involved – some seem determined to prevent it, some seem to be taking too much interest. In the end Smith operates alone, having stepped too far outside standard procedures to ask for support. He knows that his own life might be at risk but he has not calculated on the life of his young assistant also being put in danger.

An Accidental Death

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood

14th February 2019 – 4 stars.

I loved the first two books in the series. Outside Looking In was outstanding and my favourite read of 2018, making it a tough act to follow.

A Room Full of Killers is essentially a locked room murder mystery set in a detention centre for teenage killers. It has the added twist of having too many suspects as both inmates and staff come under suspicion when the latest inmate is murdered within 24 hours of his arrival.

The story moves along slowly as DCI Matidla Darke’s investigation is hampered by a lack of evidence, resistance from the governor of the site, and too many suspects. Each of the inmates is given a chapter to reveal their crimes and the reasons for them, but this doesn’t seem to add anything to the investigation and made the story seem longer and slower.

But then a second murder adds urgency to the investigation, which threatens to spiral out of control as Matilda pursues a separate line of enquiry, defying her boss. It all leads to an action-packed climax and resolution to the investigation.

While I enjoyed the story, I found the repeated references to Matilda’s problems, concerning a failed investigation and the death of her husband, rather distracting. While it is necessary backstory for anyone who hasn’t read the first two books in the series, it felt overdone and repetitive and didn’t do Matilda any favours as she doesn’t seem to be moving on.

That said, the story’s well-written and executed, with a neat twist at the end. I have the next book in the series on my Kindle and I’d recommend the books to anyone who enjoys police procedural crime fiction.

Description

‘DCI Matilda Darke is the perfect heroine’ Elly Griffiths

The third book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Peter James, Lee Child and Karin Slaughter.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Starling House is home to some of the nation’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison.

When the latest arrival is found brutally murdered, DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, and discover a prison manager falling apart and a sabotaged security system. Neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

The only person Matilda believes is innocent is facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate, and find a murderer in a house full of killers…

A Room Full of Killers

CXVI by Angie Smith

28th January 2019 – 4 stars.

Suspend disbelief and prepare to be taken on a ride filled with twists and turns, humour and escapism. If like me, you enjoy conspiracy theories and wonder what the secret services might get up to, you should appreciate this novel.

At its heart, this is a convoluted story of murder, revenge and conspiracy with the police against the secret services, especially when they’re working together to apprehend the killer, who’s executing people on a list and leaving coded messages in the form of Roman numerals.

At the heart of the story is the brilliant DS Barnes, a larger than life detective who dominates the tale and propels it along with fun, surprises galore, and a fair amount of intrigue. Her male colleagues in the police and the secret services are no match for her.

The story has pace, intrigue, several plot layers and plenty of action and twists to satisfy anyone who likes thrillers. Even though it seems implausible in places, I was enjoying the story so much I didn’t care.

But, as the blurb tells you, this is the first in a trilogy. It didn’t tell me the novel would end mid-scene, after a stunning final twist. It left me hanging in the air and frustrated as I think the author could have rounded the scene off with a few more paragraphs to conclude the book.

 

Description

Dead men don’t kill – do they?

A colleague in the police force murdered. A new female sergeant acting strange.

When the murder of a police officer is linked to a series of suspicious deaths the formidable DS Greg Woods is on the case. However, all eyes are on his new colleague Maria Barnes. She’s quirky, but talented and shows skills beyond expectation. Is there more to her than meets the eye? It’s a race against time when it becomes obvious that the killer is on a mission which is far from over. Who will be his next victim? Then, a chance discovery: initials left at the crime scene. But what do they mean?

When the secret services show interest in Barnes and the case, the pair risk all by going undercover to find out who, or what CXVI really is. Their lives hang in the balance when they discover the shocking truth.

CXVI

The Hermitage by LJ Ross

27th January 2019 – 4 stars.

I always enjoy the DCI Ryan stories because I love the main characters, the way they work together and the complex, usually original crimes they have to solve. The stories also seem to work better when there is a personal element to the investigation, such as Ryan’s confrontation with The Hacker in earlier novels.

In The Hermitage, Ryan and his wife, Anna, leave the familiar surroundings of Northumberland to bring a serial killer to justice. There’s a personal element to spice up the conflict, as Ryan previously arrested Nathan Armstrong only for a superior to release the suspect.

The action takes place in Florence, making good use of its history, art and culture to give the story a different edge. Ryan is his usual determined self, unable to let go or accept anything less than total commitment from his Italian colleagues.

The story is well-written, fast paced, and intriguing, though I had to suspend disbelief on several occasions. While this sometimes spoils a story for me, the author’s writing and skill as a storyteller ensured I continued to read this fast-paced novel to the end, enjoying the many twists and turns.

4/5 stars

Description

He thought he was invincible, but he was wrong…

When an old man is found dead inside the ancient hermitage at Warkworth Castle, Northumbria CID are called in to investigate. With no apparent motive, it’s their job to unravel why he was murdered – and this time they’re forced to do it without their star detective…

DCI Ryan is thousands of miles away. He’s tracked a killer across Europe and has sworn not to return until he has his man in custody. Nathan Armstrong is a dangerous psychopath but there’s just one problem – he’s also an international celebrity; a world-famous thriller writer with money and connections.

Ryan is a stranger in a foreign land, but he knows one thing – he’ll never give up.

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular landscapes of Northumberland and Tuscany.

The Hermitage

The Lie by CL Taylor

8th January 2019 – 5 stars.

I haven’t enjoyed a psychological thriller this much since I read Joy Fielding’s, See Jane Run, over 20 years ago.

The breakdown of friendship and the revenge that followed are at the heart of this thrilling story. From the intriguing opening to the gripping climax, I was hooked by Jane Hughes’ journey to hell and back.

Alternating between the past and the present, The Lie tells the story of four friends who embark on a holiday at a retreat in Nepal. Jane has put the horrors of that holiday behind her to rebuild her life with a new name, a job she loves and a caring boyfriend. But the spectre of that holiday threatens to destroy her happiness by revealing what really happened and Jane’s part in it.

The author builds the suspense and tension slowly and gently as little by little the events of the holiday turn into a nightmare. The changes in the characters and their relationships are vividly portrayed as their friendship crumbles and new allegiances are formed.

Back in the present, Jane’s new world slowly disintegrates until she trusts no one.

The pace, characterisation and unveiling of the past were accomplished and brilliantly handled, keeping me hooked and entertained throughout.

If you love good, character-driven psychological thrillers, then I’d recommend The Lie without hesitation.

Description

I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .

The Lie by CL Taylor