Rough and Deadly by Paula Williams

23rd September 2021.

In the second Much Winchmoor novel, Kat’s thrown into another murder investigation when Margot Duckett-Trimble is killed and left in a vat of cider. As she was standing for election to the parish council and full of self-importance, there’s going to be a long list of suspects.

But Kat already has enough troubles of her own to contend with. Without a permanent job and no money, she’s forced to live with her parents. Her dreams of escaping the sleepy village lie in tatters. And she’s not sure about her feelings for Will, or what he feels for her.

Somehow, she stumbles along, doing odd jobs here and there, freelancing for a local free newspaper, picking up village gossip along the way, especially where it concerns the murder. When her Aunt Tanya arrives in the village, keen to divorce her husband and start a new venture, events take a sinister turn and Kat’s problems multiply.

I enjoyed this engaging cosy mystery thanks to the likable characters, along with the humour and social comment that underpins the writing and story. All the typical characters you find in a village are here, with Prescott the dog stealing every scene as he wreaks havoc wherever he goes.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Description

Everyone knows Abe Compton’s Headbender cider is as rough as a cider can get. But is it deadly?

When self-styled ‘lady of the manor’, Margot Duckett-Trimble, announces she wouldn’t be seen dead drinking the stuff, who could have foreseen that, only a few days later, she’d be found, face down, in a vat of it?

Kat Latcham’s no stranger to murder. Indeed, the once ‘sleepy’ Somerset village of Much Winchmoor is fast gaining a reputation as the murder capital of the West Country and is ‘as sleepy as a kid on Christmas Eve’ when it’s discovered there’s a murderer running loose in the community again.

Kat has known Abe all her life, and she is sure that, although he had motive, he didn’t kill Margot. But as she investigates, the murderer strikes again. And the closer Kat gets to finding out who the real killer is, the closer to danger she becomes.

Rough and Deadly by Paula Williams

The Hour of her Death by Rebecca Rane

21st September 2021.

I enjoy discovering new authors and books, especially those that offer something original.

Kendra Dillon is only as good as her next podcast. And after a successful first cold case investigation, she’s told about a nun who was brutally murdered 30 years ago. Yet as she makes enquiries, there’s little evidence of a proper investigation at the time. Calling on her skills as an investigative journalist, and a few family connections, Kendra starts to make some headway.

A second murder threatens to derail her investigation and put her right in the path of a serial killer. That’s if a stalker who has hurt her in the past doesn’t get to her first.

From the first page to the last, this was a gripping story, full of pace, drama and tension. Kendra’s a likable lead character with a point to prove. She’s well connected, feisty and good at what she does. Unfortunately, a previous investigation touched nerves and she lost her job. Now working for public radio, she has to earn her keep by attracting sponsors to her podcast.

It’s a great premise that offers an original spin on the cold case investigation. In every other respect, it’s a traditional murder mystery, which means clues, red herrings, and suspects. Kendra holds it all together despite personal demons, bureaucracy and those who want the past to remain in the past. Her determination to reveal a killer who has escaped justice for too long drives the story along.

Then there’s the stalker, watching from the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike.

This is a great start to a series.

Description

Only a monster could murder a nun on Christmas Eve. But the horrific crime has gone unsolved for thirty years when a mysterious stranger begs a true crime podcaster to investigate.

Kendra Dillon hosts The Cold Trail Podcast. She’s made it her mission to uncover new clues in old mysteries. She’s shocked that this brutal display of evil against an innocent nun has gone unchecked for decades. No suspects. No arrests. No justice.

With police and church officials refusing to reopen the investigation, Kendra believes someone’s hiding a vile conspiracy. But right as Kendra gets close to the disturbing truth, another shocking crime derails her investigation. The Cold Trail may be leading Kendra straight into the path of a serial killer. With every podcast episode, Kendra gets closer to waking an evil that’s been lying in wait.

And Kendra isn’t alone. A stalker is following her every move, ready to ensnare her in his own twisted fantasy.

Can Kendra catch the culprit and serve up justice before she’s silenced forever?

The Hour of her Death by Rebecca Rane

Laptops Can Kill by BL Faulkner

18th September 2021.

If you’re going to steal a laptop, make sure it doesn’t belong to a deadly and ruthless criminal. Unfortunately, for two thieves, it’s too late. For Detective Chief Superintendent Palmer, it’s the beginning of another fast-paced investigation for the Serial Murder Squad. In addition to his trusty IT guru, Gheeta, Palmer calls on the Organised Crime Team for support as he tries to make sense of the killings and the missing Sammy.

Palmer’s soon on the trail, but he’s lagging behind Sammy, who has a similar agenda. With his usual humour, directness and Gheeta’s skills, he soon solves the mystery and catches the killers. Only it’s not that simple as a final twist reveals.

Once again, BL Faulkner has delivered an entertaining and enjoyable police thriller that’s original and populated by memorable characters – plus that extra twist, which lifts the story to another level. I’ve enjoyed every book in the series, and while they are all excellent, this has to be one of my favourites.

While it can be read as a standalone, like all the books in the series, to get the most of the characters and the humorous backstory that features his wife and their neighbour, Benji, it’s wise to start at the beginning.

Description

Case 13 in the DCS Palmer and the Met’s Serial Murder Squad files. When petty thieves are murdered by a team of professional hitmen whose MO matched other unsolved killings Palmer wants to know why? What could bring a professional hit on a bunch of petty thieves? What had they done to upset somebody so much that the hit was called? There’s a big search going on in the underworld for a certain laptop, why? What’s on it and where is it and is it connected to the case? Who is ‘Sammy’ the person being sought so aggressively by the hitmen and what does ‘Sammy’ know? Palmer brings in help from Organised Crime and starts to unravel the tangled threads of the case whilst suffering the usual attempts of Mrs P at home to improve his health with a vegetarian diet that he resists and his nemesis neighbour Benji unwittingly causing him pain.

Laptops Can Kill by BL Faulkner

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

16th September 2021.

This beautifully written and crafted murder mystery has a ghost story at its heart and a killer in the shadows. It’s narrated by three characters: Clare’s an English teacher and colleague of murder victim, Ellie. But were they best friends? Georgie, Clare’s daughter, has a few secrets of her own. DI Kaur, who investigates the murder, uncovers the secrets others want to hide

When Clare’s fellow teacher and best friend, Ellie is murdered, there’s a striking similarity to a crime in a story she knows well – The Stranger. As the investigation progresses, Ellie’s life comes under scrutiny, exposing affairs and conflicts in her work and private life. Then, a second murder, which again has echoes of The Stranger, has Clare wondering if her own life is in danger. Then she discovers someone has left sinister notes for her in her diary…

I enjoyed the gentle way the suspense built as the story progressed. Seeing the details from three different viewpoints helped to increase the suspense and tension and cast doubt on the views and actions of other main characters. It also helped to develop a healthy cast of suspects.

As the tension mounted, the atmosphere became almost claustrophobic until the killer was revealed. I’m not often surprised, but this one caught me out in the best possible way. Masterful plotting and storytelling by an author at the top of her game.

If you like a tense, atmospheric murder mystery with great characters and twisting plot, look no further.

Description

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

This is what the police know: English teacher Clare Cassidy’s friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the story.

This is what Clare knows: No one else was aware of her fight with Ella. Few others have even read The Stranger. Someone has wormed their way into her life and her work. They know her darkest secrets. And they don’t mean well.

This is what the killer knows: Who will be next to die.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

Belle Manor Haunting by Cheryl Bradshaw

14th September 2021.

In the fourth book in the series, Addison finds herself at the heart of another mystery from the past. This time it’s the death of a young girl in a hit and run. The heart of the mystery is Belle Manor, which hides plenty of secrets, including the identity of the killer.

This investigation holds more surprises as Addison discovers the history of her own family, especially the psychic powers that pass down the female line. She has to choose whether to embrace what history has ordained or walk away as her mother did. Her decision could have a profound effect on her husband and family.

The personal dilemma lifts the story to make it the most intriguing and satisfying book of the series so far. With conflict and pressure on all sides, Addison has to decide her future while solving a complex murder mystery.

It’s a fascinating story that begs a fifth book.

Description

Addison’s eyes open to find she’s been transported several decades into the past. She’s sitting in the back seat of a car. Sara is beside her. The car stops at an intersection. Moments later another vehicle in the opposite direction barrels through the stop sign, slamming into the car before jerking the vehicle into reverse and fleeing the scene. Who is the driver of the other car? And what secrets within the walls of Belle Manor provide the answer to little Sara’s untimely demise?

Belle Manor Haunting by Cheryl Bradshaw

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

12th September 2021.

This is an intense and complex story where the past forces its way into the present with devastating effects. At its heart is DI Frank Farrell, a priest with a past that links with the brutal murder of Father Boyd. Then, with hardly the blink of an eye, the investigation takes on a sinister twist and new urgency when twins are abducted.

From here, the investigation becomes complicated as Frank Farrell’s involvement in the crimes becomes suspicious.

I enjoyed the complexity of the novel, though I think the police, namely Frank Farrell were rather slow at reading the signs. He was meant to be a loner and something of a misfit, but I struggled to warm to his character, perhaps because his behaviour seemed to be at the mercy of the plot. But this still remains a well crafted and written story. The atmosphere, though dark and intense, created plenty of tension and built towards an exciting race-against-time climax.

Description

 Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

Dead Man's Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

All Lies by Andrew Cunningham

This hugely enjoyable adventure of discovery begins with the murder of Del Honeycutt’s date. Before he has time to catch his breath, he’s plunged into a race to discover ‘hidden treasure’ from a crime committed by his great grandfather 85 years ago. Only Del’s not the only one after the treasure. A vicious group of killers are taking no prisoners in the search for the only clue to the location of the loot – a painting, stolen many years before.

To complicate matters, Sabrina, turns up, wanting to find out who murdered her sister. Is she a grieving relative or is she also after the treasure?

From office worker to investigator in a couple of days, Del falls into an exciting adventure that takes him and Sabrina across America and into Brazil’s Amazonian rainforest to locate the treasure. Along the way, they learn more about each other and their respective pasts. As danger pushes them closer together, the inevitable romance is not far behind.

While it’s pure escapism, the characters are delightfully engaging. The pace never lets up and the twists and turns make for exciting reading. This is adventure in the style of ‘Romancing the Stone’, filled with humour, unlikely heroes and a gripping narrative that kept me turning the pages.

Fabulous entertainment.

Description

A seemingly innocent date gone tragically wrong plunges Del Honeycutt into a web of murder, lies, greed, and a hidden fortune dating back to a crime committed 85 years earlier by his great-grandfather.

Accompanied by Sabrina, the sister of Del’s brutally murdered date, a violent journey of discovery and fear begins. Pursued by vicious killers intent on eliminating anyone with knowledge of the 85-year-old crime, their only hope of survival is to find the reason behind the original crime and why, decades later, someone is still willing to kill to keep it hidden.

But Sabrina is concealing a monstrous lie of her own. Is she who she says she is?

All Lies by Andrew Cunningham

The Man in a Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

3rd September 2021.

This is an interesting early book by Agatha Christie, featuring Anne, a young woman seeking adventure in her mundane life. She gets it when she witnesses someone fall and die on London’s underground. It leads to her finding a cryptic note and a trip on a cruise liner to South Africa where more adventures and danger await her.

Though highly improbable, this is an entertaining and fun read with a likeable and feisty Anne driving the story along. The story is filled with Christie’s wry humour and observation, memorable characters, clever plotting and her direct writing style that’s so easy to read.

This is more of a thriller than a mystery with plenty of suspense, tension, romance and excitement. More than once, I wondered if she was spoofing the adventure/thriller novel, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of a highly entertaining novel.

Description

A young woman investigates an accidental death at a London tube station, and finds herself of a ship bound for South Africa…

Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her – and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails.

The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied.

After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: ‘17-122 Kilmorden Castle’?

The Man in a Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Slash Killer by Bill Kitson

30th August 2021.

Once again, Bill Kitson delivers another fast paced and exciting thriller in the sleepy Yorkshire countryside of Helmdale. Original, offbeat, imaginative and intricately plotted, I couldn’t put this book down. It may not be an orthodox police procedural, but it was gripping.

The plot is too complex to describe without spoilers, but it involves Andrew Myers, who was convicted of murdering his wife on shaky evidence. Once freed, he takes up work as a forester, keeping himself to himself.

But someone isn’t finished with him yet.

An assassin is on the loose, slashing the throats of people linked to Myers and his wife. Was there a conspiracy to convict Myers? Who’s paying the assassin? Can Myers stay alive long enough to find the answers?

His best hope is DI Mike Nash and his colleague DS Andrews. But with flu decimating the police ranks, and some influential people in and outside the police involved, it’s going to require an unorthodox approach.

Nash takes something of a back seat in this novel, which in no way diminishes the story. It’s a straight thriller, full of suspense and tension, with some lovely touches as the story hurtles to a resounding climax. There’s even a touch of romance among the thrills.

It’s first rate escapism from an author who’s now one of my favourites. I have the next three novels in the series waiting on my kindle.

Description

Andrew Myers was wrongly convicted of killing his wife by slashing her throat. Finally freed, but not exonerated, he just wants a quiet life far from where the tragedy happened. He goes to work as a forester on an isolated estate in Yorkshire.

BUT THEN A KILLER WITH THE SAME TRADEMARK STARTS CLAIMING NEW VICTIMS, AND IN THE SAME AREA WHERE ANDREW HAS MOVED.

Andrew has a terrible chainsaw accident while cutting trees. He manages to staunch the bleeding while he drives himself to hospital.

His erratic control of his car attracts a policewoman, Lisa Andrews, to stop and help him. But she soon finds out there is more to him than just a hermit-like forester living in the woods.

Is he a callous murderer? Is he now taking a terrible revenge on those who wronged him? Or, does the truth lie elsewhere?

Slash Killer by Bill Kitson

Ruthless Crimes by Michael Hambling

27th August 2021.

I’ve loved the previous eight books in the series. The characters in the team and their relationships are the backbone of the stories as they investigate some pretty horrific crimes. Sometimes there’s a personal element to the crimes, which only raises the stakes and tension.

In this ninth outing, it takes the team a while to piece together some apparently random killings. First a man stabbed on a train. No past, no information, plenty to interest Detective Superintendent Sophie Allen. Another body with no history is found in a refuge. Then a group of refugees wash up on a beach. With an overcrowded boat and a wicked tide, some end up dead.

And suddenly the team get some traction with their investigations. Rae in particular shines in this story, while Sophie goes across country to London and Oxford as the investigation gathers momentum.

The people trafficking aspect is well portrayed. It’s shown through the eyes of a young refugee and shows the predicament, dangers and difficult choices people on the run face. There’s also the criminal side, where criminals make a fortune from misery.

However, the investigation seems to be scattered all over the place, and I found it difficult to keep track of events and people at times. The climax when it came was a little lacking in tension and action, which meant the story didn’t quite give me the buzz and excitement of previous novels.

Description

A man is found stabbed to death on the Southampton morning commuter train.

But why can’t Detective Sophie Allen’s team find out anything about his history? And why was he staying in a house that seems to be owned by a government security unit?

Then there is another stabbing, this time in a refuge for abused women. And again, Sophie can find very little about the victim’s life.

HOW DOES ALL THIS CONNECT TO DESPERATE MIGRANTS ARRIVING ON THE BEACHES?

The Dorset-based detective team discovers duplicity that reaches to the top echelons of government in this twisting tale of treachery, tragedy and hope.

Ruthless Crimes by Michael Hambling