Review of No Remorse

My thanks to Chelle at Curled Up with a Good Book for another lovely review. So pleased you enjoyed the story.

‘The plot is brilliant – I hadn’t foreseen what was going to come at the end! Robert takes us on a complex and intriguing journey with the wicked twists and turns that I have come to expect, and love, from Roberts writing.  No Remorse takes you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster – my feelings towards some of the characters changed numerous times!’

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

2nd June 2020.   4 stars.

One of the joys of crime fiction is the number of series available, whether by established or new authors. While many police procedurals are similar or different versions of the same formula, some are more distinctive.

The Mermaids Singing, written in the 1990s, introduces psychological profiler Tony Hill. He’s a damaged character with a lot to prove, especially to police forces used to solving crimes by the book. After three murders the police refuse to connect, he’s brought in secretly to help identify and capture a serial killer. He’s teamed with Carol Jordan, an ambitious fast-track detective inspector, who’s also got a lot to prove to her male colleagues.

The killer, who’s obsessed with torture, is a meticulous planner, well ahead of the police. The trouble is, they won’t acknowledge him and give him the credit and publicity he feels he deserves. When Tony Hill enters the arena, you know there’s going to be a battle of intellects and wills. After all, this is a thriller at heart.

While the chapters relating to the killer were disturbing, they were restrained and essential to the thriller element of the story, increasing the tension as the story headed for an inevitable confrontation.

The characters of Jordan and Hill were well drawn and realistic. The pace was steady, building to an exciting climax with a neat, if predictable twist. It posed a few unanswered questions, but didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.

I would certainly recommend the book as the writing is first rate, the story well told, and the atmosphere deadly but electric.

Description

You always remember the first time. Isn’t that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder…

Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one’s different – this one’s on the loose.

Four men have been found mutilated and tortured. As fear grips the city, the police turn to clinical psychologist Tony Hill for a profile of the killer. But soon Tony becomes the unsuspecting target in a battle of wits and wills where he has to use every ounce of his professional nerve to survive.

A tense, beautifully written psychological thriller, The Mermaids Singing explores the tormented mind of a serial killer unlike any the world of fiction has ever seen.

The Mermaids Singing

 

No Bodies Review

Another terrific review for No Bodies from Chelle at Curled up with a Book

‘You can’t help but be sucked in and enjoy the ride with Kent. The novel will make you laugh in places – Kent does get himself into some sticky situations – and I really enjoy the humour throughout the book. The plot is fantastic, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you completely gripped; and if that’s not enough – just wanting to know what will happen to Kent’s animal sanctuary will keep you turning the pages!’

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

27th May 2020.  3 stars.

One of my missions this year is to read the works of well-known crime writers, both old and current. As I have a preference for stories about private eyes and amateur sleuths, I chose Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe. I immediately liked the  writing and style. The characters were pin sharp and well-drawn, and like many of the settings, described with an irreverent and cynical humour.

Marlowe’s the archetypal hard-boiled PI with a strong sense of  justice and honour. He’s brave, confrontational and smart, with a clever turn of phrase and an answer for everything.

When Marlowe gives drunk, Terry Lennox a lift one evening, a convoluted and twisted tale of murder and deceit begins in Los Angeles. After the savage murder of Terry’s wife, he disappears, confesses to murder and kills himself.

But Marlowe’s not convinced. He digs around, upsetting various people, rich and influential, landing himself in trouble with the local police and generally making a nuisance of himself. His progress is slow and generally antagonist, sometimes with little happening for weeks, until he makes sense of everything at the end.

While the writing is high-quality, with some memorable descriptions and one-liners, the style became a little distracting and unrelenting as the story progressed. Marlowe’s behaviour became tiresome and repetitive as the pace dropped. It made the story feel long and drawn out, lessening the impact of the well-disguised final twist.

Description

Down-and-out drunk Terry Lennox has a problem: his millionaire wife is dead and he needs to get out of LA fast. So he turns to his only friend in the world: Philip Marlowe, Private Investigator. He’s willing to help a man down on his luck, but later, Lennox commits suicide in Mexico and things start to turn nasty. Marlowe finds himself drawn into a sordid crowd of adulterers and alcoholics in LA’s Idle Valley, where the rich are suffering one big suntanned hangover. Marlowe is sure Lennox didn’t kill his wife, but how many more stiffs will turn up before he gets to the truth?

The Long Goodbye

No Simple Death by Valerie Keogh

21st May 2020.   4 Stars

I was drawn to this police procedural, set mainly in Dublin, by the quality of the writing when I read a sample. It wasn’t long before the plight of Edel Johnson, whose husband had mysteriously disappeared, pulled me into an intricate and intriguing plot that had me as baffled and confused as the two main detectives, West and Andrews.

They’re a capable and likeable duo, who made small, painstaking discoveries in their efforts to solve the original murder, which then led to a second killing. Both put Edel at the heart of the enquiry, but was she really responsible? Detective West, who’d taken a shine to the abandoned wife, struggled to keep his emotions at bay as he tried to unravel the mystery.

The characters and the plot carried the story at a steady, somewhat meticulous pace. It was like peeling back the layers of an onion until suddenly it all started to make sense. Then the hunt for the killer gathered momentum.

But I was hooked long before that by the cocktail of suspense, mystery and the possibility of one man’s emotions destroying a careful, painstaking investigation.

This was a police procedural with a fresh voice and a satisfying plot. There was no effort to impress, use traumatised detectives or make the story stark and gritty. It was good honest storytelling that left me feeling satisfied, entertained and happy to read more books by this author.

For once, the publisher’s blurb was accurate – it was a gripping crime mystery.

Description

When Detective Garda Sergeant Mike West is called to investigate a murder in a Dublin graveyard, suspicion immediately falls on a local woman, Edel Johnson, whose husband disappeared some months before. But then she disappears.

Evidence leads West to a small village in Cornwall, but when he checks in to an Inn, he finds Edel has arrived before him. Her explanation seems to make sense but as West begins to think his suspicions of her are unfounded, she disappears again.

Is she guilty? West, fighting an unsuitable attraction, doesn’t want to believe it. But the case against her is growing. Back in Dublin, his team uncover evidence of blackmail and illegal drugs involving Edel’s missing husband. When another man is murdered, she, once again, comes under suspicion.

Finally, the case is untangled, but is it the outcome West really wants?

No Simple Death

Future Riches by BL Faulkner

15th May 2020.   5 stars.

If you haven’t discovered the Serial Murder Squad series you’re in for a treat. I discovered the series last year and immediately took to DCS Palmer and his team. As I was reading the later books in the series, it felt only right and natural to go back to the beginning.

Future Riches begins with a couple of murders in the world of TV production. As soon as the Serial Murder Squad takes charge, Justin Palmer and his colleague, Gheeta Singh, immerse themselves in the theatrical world of TV drama, actors and their agents. With Palmer’s nose for anything off key and Gheeta’s formidable IT skills, they’re soon on the trail of the killer.

The story may be short, but it’s crammed with action, a generous measure of humour and witty one-liners, internal work conflicts, and a pace that leads you breathless through a few twists and turns to the exciting climax. At the story’s core is the relationship between Palmer and Singh. Their differences complement each other and they have an understanding and respect that needs no explanation, thanks to the skill of the author. (Looking at his bio, I suspect he’s drawn heavily on his time in TV for this adventure.)

If you like honest, exciting crime fiction, delivered without frills or distractions, this is the perfect introduction to an addictive series.

You can read my interview with BL Faulkner here.

Description

Justin Palmer started off on the beat as a London policeman in the 1964 and is now Detective Chief Superintendent Palmer running his own serial murder squad from New Scotland Yard.

Not one to pull punches, or give a hoot for political correctness if it hinders his inquiries, Palmer has gone as far as he will go in the Met. And he knows it. Master of the one line put down and slave to his sciatica he can be as nasty or as nice as he likes.

The mid 1990’s was a time of re-awakening for Palmer as the Information technology revolution turned forensic science, communication and information gathering skills upside down. Realising the value of this revolution to crime solving, Palmer co-opted Detective Sergeant Gheeta Singh, a British Asian onto his team. DS Singh has a degree in IT and was given the go ahead to update Palmer’s department with all the computer hard and software she wanted. Most of which she wrote herself, and some of which is, shall we say, of a grey area when it comes to privacy laws and accessing certain databases!

Together with their small team of officers and one civilian computer clerk they take on the serial killers of the UK.

On the personal front Palmer has been married to his ‘princess’ , or Mrs P. as she is known to everybody, for nearly thirty years . The romance blossomed after the young DC Palmer arrested most of her family who were a bunch of South London petty villains in the 60’s. They have three children and eight grandchildren, a nice house in Dulwich and a faithful dog called Daisy.

Gheeta Singh lives alone in a fourth floor Barbican apartment having arrived on these shores as part of a refugee family fleeing from Idi Amin’s Uganda . Her father and brothers have built up a good computer parts supply company in which it was assumed Gheeta would take an active role on graduating from University. She had other ideas on this, and also on the arranged marriage her mother and aunts still try to coerce her into. Gheeta has two loves, police work and technology, and thanks to Palmer she has her dream job.

Combining the old ‘coppers nose’ and ‘gut feelings’ of Palmer with the modern IT skills of DS Singh the two make an unlikely, but successful team. All their cases involve multiple killings and twist and turn through red herrings and hidden clues alike keeping the reader in suspense until the very end.

As the Crow Flies by Damien Boyd

14th May 2020.  4 stars.

It’s always interesting to try a new series and meet new characters and settings. I was drawn to this story by the volume of positive reviews and the opening with a mountaineering accident, which was something different and fresh.

I hadn’t read anything by Damien Boyd before, but his easy going, direct style moved the story along at a brisk pace. The central character, DI Nick Dixon, hit the ground running as he returned to his old stomping ground to discover his friend and former mountaineering partner, Jake, had fallen to his death on a climb.

It’s fairly obvious that Dixon won’t accept the fall was an accident and the story follows a fairly predictable route as he discovers his old friend had a few dark secrets and enemies who might want to harm him. But it’s well written, the characters are believable and engaging, and there’s neat twist at the end.

As the Crow Flies is a solid and exciting introduction to DI Nick Dixon and offers plenty of potential for future books. As a regular visitor to Somerset and Cheddar Gorge, I particularly enjoyed the settings, and viewing them through the author’s eyes.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book and look forward to reading more of the series.

Description

Rock climbers can’t afford to make careless mistakes. But Detective Inspector Nick Dixon’s former climbing partner, Jake Fayter, died doing just that. Or so it seems. Dixon suspects foul play, but his only leads are unreliable accounts of something odd happening in Cheddar Gorge seconds before Jake fell.

The more Dixon learns about Jake’s life, the more he realises that Jake hadn’t been quite the man he remembered…and a lot of people could have wanted him dead. Once Dixon gets too close to the truth, those people will emerge from the shadows and kill to protect their secrets.

As the body count rises, Dixon bends the rules to breaking point to lure out a killer and unravel a conspiracy of silence that will rock the sleepy town of Burnham-on-Sea to its core.

As the Crow Flies

Murder on the Oxford Canal by Faith Martin

13th May 2020.  3 stars.

After finishing a novel, I like to wait a few days before writing a review. It can be a couple of days, or a couple of weeks if I’m not sure what to say about the book. This in one of the latter.

Overall, I enjoyed Murder on the Oxford Canal. It had some interesting characters and the story had enough suspense and pace to keep me reading to the end. Essentially, it’s a routine police procedural that starts with what could be an accident in the canal, but turns out to be murder. The victim works for a drugs baron who always remains one step ahead of the law.

Time to call in Hillary Greene, who has a few problems of her own. Her dead husband, also a police officer, was on the make and died, leaving a fortune tucked away somewhere. Internal affairs are investigating her, the rumour mill is at work, and she’s been kept off major cases as a result. Mixed in with this are the usual petty battles between officers looking for promotion and the need to work and share resources with Vice to solve the crime.

With all the ingredients and conflicts established, I looked forward to an interesting and twisting story. Unfortunately, the suspense and tension were diluted by too many petty jealousies and hostilities, too much detail about the love lives of officers and Hillary’s tendency to bend the rules to score points. She was also vain and sexually obsessed, thinking several of her colleagues were attracted to her. None of these qualities endeared her to me or explained why men found her attractive or such a good detective.

The climax was also a little pedestrian, but the final twist was terrific and easily the best bit of the story.

As it can take time for characters to develop, I’m going to read the second book in the series, which I have on my Kindle. I know plenty of readers enjoy the series from the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, so I’m happy to give the author another try.

Description

Not only has she lost her husband, but his actions have put her under investigation for corruption.

Then a bashed and broken body is found floating in the Oxford Canal. It looks like the victim fell off a boat, but Hillary is not so sure. Her investigation exposes a dark background to the death.

Can Hillary clear her name and get to the bottom of a fiendish conspiracy on the water?

Murder on the Oxford Canal