The Killing Code by JD Kirk

7th June 2022.

In the third Jack Logan novel, he’s once again in pursuit of a serial killer on a mission. With links to a previous crime several years before, it soon becomes apparent the detectives are dealing with an unusual killer.

As in the previous novels, the banter and interplay between the main detectives is at the core of the story, producing many humorous moments and one-liners to lighten the dark murders. In many ways, I found the characters and their lives more interesting than the murders and the killer. It didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the plot, which featured another exciting climax as Logan and the team closed in on their quarry.

Description

How do you catch a killer who doesn’t exist?

After twenty years on the force, Detective Chief Inspector Jack Logan thinks he has seen it all.

He is wrong.

When a nurse is murdered on her way home from nightshift, Jack and his team go on the hunt for her killer.

As more victims are uncovered, Jack finds himself tracking a murderer afflicted by a unique psychosis – one that leaves him free to maim and kill without a shred of guilt or remorse.

Facing a new type of killer in an unfamiliar city, DCI Jack Logan is about to be pushed to his limits by an enemy he cannot hope to understand

The Killing Code by JD Kirk

The House in the Woods by Matt Dawson

7th June 2022.

This is a well-written and cleverly plotted crime thriller. It’s part courtroom drama, part police procedural, and features a private investigator, Atticus Priest, who the defence employ to find the real killer.

But if the accused didn’t do it, who did?

Priest is a former detective inspector, who once worked with DCI McKenzie, and unsurprisingly in modern crime stories had a relationship with her before she chose to remain with her husband and children. However, this past relationship is never allowed to side track the reader from the main investigation.

While the main characters never really gripped me, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment as the complex plot snaked towards an exciting climax, with a couple of twists to wrong foot readers.

Overall, an accomplished crime thriller with a twisting plot that kept me guessing.

Description

Four murders. Two detectives. One mystifying crime.

It’s Christmas Eve and DCI Mackenzie Jones is called to a murder at a remote farmhouse. Ralph Mallender believes his father lies dead inside. When three more bodies are discovered, it’s clear a festive family gathering has turned into a gruesome crime.

At first it seems like an open and shut case: a murder suicide committed by Ralph’s volatile brother Cameron. Then new evidence makes Mack suspect the man who reported the crime is in fact the perpetrator.

But Mack isn’t the only one with a stake in the case. Private investigator Atticus Priest has been hired to get Ralph acquitted. That means unearthing any weaknesses in Mack’s evidence.

Irascible, impatient, and unpredictable, Atticus has weaknesses of his own. Mack knows all about them because they share a past – both professionally and personally. This time round, however, they aren’t on the same side. And as Atticus picks at the loose ends of the case, everything starts to unravel in a way neither of them could ever have predicted…

The House in the Woods by Matt Dawson

Murder Now and Then by Faith Martin

27th May 2022.

In another absorbing murder mystery, Hillary Greene has yet more problems in the background as one of her team looks like he’s heading for trouble. As well as investigating a ten year old murder, there are three other murders that could be linked in some way.

It all adds up to another entertaining and exciting outing in what is a terrific series that consistently delivers intriguing investigations and plenty going on with the various cast members.

I hope there are more novels to come.

Description

Former Detective Hillary Greene and her cold case team are taking a fresh look at the unsolved murder of Michael Beck, found bludgeoned over the head and dead in a river near his home in 2012.

Just twenty-two at the time, he’d recently finished a history degree and had his whole life ahead of him. Everyone said he was a pleasant sort of lad with a passion for the past, quietly living with his parents until he could afford a place of his own. But it quickly turned out that there were at least two people who might have wanted him dead.

The first, his recently-jilted girlfriend Mia de Salle, hadn’t taken the break-up well. The second, his former tutor Dr Timothy Durning, had been accused of sexual harassment by Michael. But the original team could find no forensic evidence linking either of their prime suspects to the crime, nor witnesses placing them in the area when Michael was killed.

Hillary, however, is determined to find fresh leads. But while she and her team get to work, in the city of Oxford two men from the city’s criminal underbelly have been viciously murdered in the last six months.

Are the recent murders and her own cold case linked? More than a decade later, has the same killer struck again? And if so, what’s the connection between the mild-mannered young man and the underworld criminals?

It’s up to Hillary to stop a killer getting away with murder — both now and then.

Murder Now and Then by Faith Martin

Bit Player by Janet Dawson

25th May 2022.

The Jeri Howard series keeps getting better as the private investigator delves into an investigation that’s both close to home and further back in time than she’s gone before. The murder of actor, Ralph Tarrant, in Hollywood in 1942 takes centre stage when Jeri’s grandmother is implicated by an elderly film buff in a memorabilia store. While Jeri doesn’t believe her grandmother even knew the actor concerned, she has to investigate.

It’s a difficult investigation as many of the players and witnesses have died. But a few remain, along with letters that begin to paint an intriguing picture of a house occupied by four bit players, all determined to become actresses in the movie industry.

As piece by piece, Jeri’s persistence begins to uncover what really happened in 1942, more murders occur in the present as memorabilia collectors start dying. Is there a connection with the murder in the past? Is Jeri in danger as she closes in on the truth?

It’s a vivid and fascinating investigation that kept me turning the pages from start to finish in one of my favourite novels in the series.

If you haven’t tried this series, you should go back to the first book and enjoy the absorbing and often unique investigations that make Jeri Howard such a compelling read.

Description

MURDER MAKES A COMEBACK – READY FOR ITS CLOSEUP!

Was Jeri Howard’s grandmother a murder suspect?

That’s a mind-boggling prospect.

The Oakland private investigator has a chance encounter in a movie memorabilia shop, where the odd little man behind the counter drops that bombshell. Now Jeri is on a quest to find out the truth.

Back in 1941, Jerusha Layne was an actress in Hollywood. Her dreams of movie stardom never came true. Instead, she works as a bit player, an actress who speaks a few lines in the background while the big stars emote in front of the cameras. She ekes out a living and shares a tiny cottage with three other aspiring stars, talking about parts as they eat meals in the MGM commissary. The changing cast of roommates is not always a good fit, though, and this leads to friction – and grudges.

British expatriate actor Ralph Tarrant has the reputation of a ladies’ man. He puts the moves on Jerusha, but she rebuffs his unwanted advances. Then the actor is found dead, shot in his Hollywood bungalow. The cops have few suspects. But rumor and innuendo lead the police to question Jerusha and her housemates.

Jeri’s determination leads her to Los Angeles, where she reads the file on the cold case. Tarrant’s murder was never solved, she discovers when she delves into the seamy side of Golden Age Hollywood. Is the killer still out there? What really happened?

This case is personal. Oakland’s most persistent private eye is determined to learn the truth, even if it means tracking down her grandmother’s long-ago housemates and reading all those letters Jerusha wrote to her younger sister, Aunt Dulcie, who is still alive.

Murder never goes out of style. A man who collects Hitchcock movie memorabilia dies at his home. Are old movie posters so valuable that someone would kill for them?

Does this present-day crime have links to the past?

Bit Player by Janet Dawson

Cut Throat by Bill Kitson

24th May 2022.

This is another terrific, twisting and compelling entry into the DI Mike Nash series, which shows no signs of flagging or running out of exciting and complex murder investigations. If anything, the author seems to be enjoying himself.

Is Craig French a brutal killer who robs his victims and then slits their throats? Cumbrian police believe so, having found evidence to support their arrest and conviction. But Craig had a serious fall trying to escape arrest and spent weeks in a coma. Lucky to survive, he struggled with amnesia and was unable to put up any defence.

Now his memory’s back and he’s escaped from prison, determined to prove he’s not a killer. Using his local knowledge to avoid detection, he survives, unaware that more killings have been committed.

Mike Nash, charged with finding French, isn’t convinced that the original investigation and conviction was sound, but there’s no easy way to confirm this. As he digs deeper and the pieces are slotted into place, the investigation becomes more complicated than he could have imagined.

It all builds to another thrilling investigation. The teamwork and camaraderie, dark humour and imaginative story threads gave me so much to savour in what has become one of my favourite crime series.

Description

A violent murderer has escaped from Felling Prison.

Craig French slit the throats of a husband and wife and stole the luxury watches from their safe. But not before slicing the letter F into their foreheads.

Now he’s on the loose.

But French’s mother says that he wasn’t fit to stand trial — he had amnesia and couldn’t even recognize his own mum.

Mike Nash is not convinced either. But he is certain of one thing: there’s a dangerous killer out there somewhere. And whoever it is must be stopped.

Cut Throat by Bill Kitson

The Corfe Castle Murders by Rachel McLean

15th May 2022.

An archaeology assistant is murdered at a dig at Corfe Castle, Dorset. The three people she shared a house with become suspects in Lesley Clarke’s first investigation since leaving Birmingham. Immediately, she clashes with the traditional, DS Dennis Frampton. Then there’s the bomb attack which haunts Lesley and led to her transfer, problems back at home, and a second murder that follows the first.

All the ingredients are there for a classic police procedural, pitting savvy city cop against a more conservative, less experienced local team. The investigation follows a familiar path, raising questions about the main suspects as secrets are uncovered and alibis dispelled. There’s good support from Gail, an outspoken crime scene investigator and the pace picks up nicely as the detectives begin to piece together motives and means.

Description

After being injured in a bomb attack, Lesley is presented with a choice – early retirement, or a period of respite in a calmer location.

But things don’t stay calm for long.

Before she’s even started her new job, Lesley is dragged into investigating a murder at one of England’s most iconic landmarks, the imposing Corfe Castle.

Lesley must hit the ground running. Can she get along with her new partner DS Dennis Frampton, a traditionalist who doesn’t appreciate her style? How will she navigate the politics of a smaller force where she’s a bigger, and less welcome, fish? And most importantly, can she solve the murder before the killer strikes again?

The Corfe Castle Murders is a compelling, character-driven mystery perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves, LJ Ross and Elly Griffiths.

The Corfe Castle Murders by Rachel Mclean

Hillary’s Back by Faith Martin

4th May 2022.

In the 18th book of a consistently entertaining and enjoyable crime series, Hillary’s life has changed. She’s mourning the death of her partner and trying to break in a new recruit to the cold case team. When she’s presented with the unsolved murder of a universally disliked man, she knows she’s up against it.

But Hillary’s made of stern stuff and soon sets about solving the case in her usual, inimitable way.

Without the characters and fascinating backstories of old, it takes a little time to get into the new characters as they settle into their roles. But these are minor niggles in an otherwise entertaining murder investigation.

Description

Eighteen months after Hillary suffered a personal tragedy, she is throwing herself into her work to try to get over it.

Former soldier Gareth Proctor joins her team and finds himself quickly growing to enjoy his new environment.

The first cold case he works on is the murder of Andrew Feeley.

In 2012, this twenty-one-year-old was found dead in the woods near his home, killed by a single stab wound to the chest from his own knife.

Andrew was extremely unpopular. He was a drug dealer, pimp and bully. His stepdad was one of the main suspects, as they hated each other and often came to blows. Other suspects include Toby Truman and his mother Debbie. Andrew was responsible for getting Toby hooked on drugs.

Given Andrew’s criminal background, his murder is thought to be drug-related.

But Hillary’s not buying it — she knows it’s personal. And a search of the Feeleys’ garden turns up some chilling evidence.

Hillary's Back by Faith martin

Perilous Trust by Barbara Freethy

18th April 2022.

From the opening paragraph, this story drew me in, promising an intriguing thriller which didn’t disappoint. It starts with FBI Agent Alan Parker, leaving a heartfelt apology and message for his daughter, Sophie. Moments later, his car goes off the road and plunges into a ravine.

Was it an accident or murder?

For Sophie, left with a mysterious message that tells her to vanish and trust no one, especially anyone working for the FBI. Naturally, the person who comes to her rescue works for the FBI and is the one she had a passionate one night fling with four years ago.

Can she afford to trust Damon? With the bad guys trying to kill her, she doesn’t have much choice.

They go on the run, trying to work out if Sophie’s father was corrupt or a victim. From here, it’s a journey of discovery and inventive escapes as they outwit the bad guys and learn more about Alan Parker and one of his investigations. The final showdown approaches at pace, leading to an exciting conclusion, where everything is revealed.

The author has a great style that draws you in with sharply drawn characters you care about. Once on board, you’re treated to an exciting mystery and a romance. It’s well-written, engaging and briskly paced, revealing the author’s mastery of her genre.

Looking forward to reading the second book in the series, which will focus on a different character in the FBI unit.

Description

It was one dark night that brought Damon Wolfe and Sophie Parker together. They were two tortured souls, looking for escape, and they weren’t supposed to see each other ever again…

Four years later, Sophie’s FBI father, who is also Damon’s mentor, is killed in a suspicious car crash after leaving Sophie a cryptic message to trust no one from the agency. When Damon shows up looking for her, she isn’t sure if he’s friend or enemy, but she knows he could easily rip apart what is left of her heart.

The last thing Damon wants is to get involved with Sophie again. It was hard enough to walk away the first time. But she’s in trouble, her father’s reputation is under attack, and the lives of his fellow agents are at stake if there’s a traitor in their midst.

When someone starts shooting at them, they have no choice but to go on the run and off the grid. Everyone in their world becomes a suspect. They want to uncover the truth, but will it turn out to be the last thing they expect? Proving her father’s innocence might just cost them their hearts…and their lives…

Perilous Trust by Barbara Freethy

Hillary’s Final Case by Faith Martin

18th April 2022.

The story continues where the last one finished. Jake, who works for Hillary, is prepared to risk his life to find out what happened to his missing sister. As he could bring down a major criminal in the process, the police decide to use him and the progress he’s made to their advantage.

The Crime Review Team announces it’s revisiting a number of disappearances among local women, many of whom were drawn into prostitution to fund drug addiction. Was Jake’s sister one of these women?

Throw in a change of leadership for the team with a new boss and a change in Hillary’s life, and all the ingredients are there for another riveting story that doesn’t disappoint. While Jake’s story and actions take centre stage, there’s still a murder to be solved and some unpleasant surprises to come.

As with previous stories, the characters and relationships are first rate, the investigations intriguing and twisting, and at the centre, Hillary Greene commands centre stage, taking everything in her stride.

The standard and quality of the writing and storytelling have remained consistently high throughout the series, making the books compelling and always entertaining.

Description

Can Hillary finally close the case of the missing young women?

Can she take down one of Oxfordshire’s most wanted criminals?

Can she handle her new boss?

Can she help one of her team get answers on his long lost sister?

And will she really get married and leave her beloved boat?

Hillary Greene has returned to Thames Valley Police HQ, acting as a cold-case consultant for the Crime Review Team, looking into murders which the police have never been able to solve.

Hillary's Final Case by Faith Martin

The Dirty Dozen by Lynda la Plante

17th April 2022.

Jane Tennison joins the Flying Squad, or the Sweeney as they’re better known, to become their first female detective. Not that the all-male squad, used to roughing it out with the villains, welcome her.

It’s the late 1970s, when women in the police force were supposed to concentrate on filing and admin, not solving crimes. But Tennison’s made of stern stuff and soon settles into her new job when a security van robbery doesn’t quite go to plan, leading to a shooting. With few witnesses able to identify the masked men, it’s not going to be easy. And despite being put in charge of house to house enquiries, Tennison soon gets a lead.

At times impulsive and confrontational, she doesn’t endear herself to her boss, who’s looking to replace her with a male detective at the first available opportunity. But she’s good at her job, dogged and clever.

Like the previous books in the series, the author gently draws you into the story and then let’s Tennison loose. The characters are sharply drawn, the attitudes spot on for the period and the narrative never lets you drift. There’s always danger with every step Tennison takes, whether it’s from the villains, her boss and colleagues, or her family.

There’s grit, realism, drama and humour in this novel, which keeps you turning the pages as the tension and stakes rise to an exciting climax.

Description

Jane Tennison has worked hard to become the first female detective ever post to the infamous Flying Squad, or ‘the Sweeney’. But the Dirty Dozen is a notorious boys’ club, and Jane’s new colleagues make it clear that they don’t think a woman is up to the dangers of the job.

Dealing with some of London’s most ruthless armed criminals, who think the only good cop is a dead cop, is no joke. Determined to prove she’s as good as the men, Jane discovers from a reliable witness that a gang is going to carry out a massive robbery.

But she doesn’t know who they are, or where and when they will strike . . .

The Dirty Dozen by Lynda la Plante