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

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

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

Murder in the Garden by Faith Martin

23rd August2021.

In the ninth outing for Hillary Greene, she’s got two investigations on the go. After two months compassionate leave following the murder of her boss and friend, she returns to find there’s no progress with the investigation. There’s worse to come as his pregnant widow seeks revenge and threatens to destroy the career she’s built.

But there’s no rest for Hillary when Edward Philpott is found murdered in his garden. She throws herself into this enquiry even though she’s not at her best. From here on in, things get complicated as she tries to juggle two investigations, putting her own career on the line.

It’s another enjoyable and thrilling mix of everything that’s good about this series. The murders are complex and intriguing, but it’s the characters and the backstory that demand attention in this novel. There’s a new boss with an axe to grind and a new DS with her eyes on more than Hillary’s job.

Then there’s the murder of her old boss. The killer seems to have got away with it, but Hillary can’t accept that, even though she’s not allowed to get involved in the investigation. As she treads a difficult tightrope, the killer threatens to strike again with another police officer in his sights.

The tension is expertly maintained as the investigations develop with more than a few surprises and heart stopping moments, making this one of the best books so far in the series.

I love this series.

Description

Edward Philpott is found bludgeoned to death with his own spade in his beautiful garden. He lived with his daughter Rachel and his two grandchildren.

Hillary’s only lead is a rival from the village flower show who used to argue with the victim about the size of their vegetables. But what dark secrets from the past and present does this village hold?

Hillary has returned to work after the slaying of her boss and is desperate to track down his murderer. His pregnant widow is even more determined to get revenge, but will she go too far?

Can Hillary cope with two complex investigations full of extreme emotions, one of which is very close to home?

Murder in the Garden by Faith Martin

Killing Christmas by Bill Kitson

3rd August 2021.

Wow. This is another heart stopping ride in the thrilling DI Mike Nash series, which gets better with every book.

It’s winter in Helmdale and a young family are struggling to stay warm in their army accommodation. The mother leaves the gas fire on, unaware of the carbon monoxide leaking into the room. Her husband, a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict returns home devastated, vowing revenge on those responsible for the death of his family.

Nearby a house fire kills a woman and her lover. Her drug dependent son is already dead from an overdose. When her daughter is kidnapped with military precision, suspicion falls on the devastated soldier.

Only Mike Nash isn’t convinced. The daughter’s father is a prominent scientist, working at Helmdale Pharmaceuticals. Nash is refused entry by security guards working for the military. Pressure from the Ministry of Defence to drop his investigation, convinces Nash to keep digging.

Only the truth is even more complicated and bizarre than he ever imagined, especially when all hell breaks loose at the pharmaceutical company.

It’s a complex, multi-layered thriller that has several strands, all skilfully woven into a pulsating narrative that grips you and won’t let go. The excitement never lets up as Nash bends the rules, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the military at every turn as the story hurtles to an explosive climax.

Even after I’d finished the book, it took me several minutes to get my breath back. What a superb ride that took me through the whole range of emotions as the story twisted one way then another. Superlative writing and storytelling throughout make this one of my favourite books of 2021.

Can’t wait to read the fifth in the series.

Description

DETECTIVE MIKE NASH IS GOING TO HAVE A VERY UNMERRY CHRISTMAS.

In an ordinary terraced house, a family die. Poisoned by carbon monoxide.

Then comes a suspicious house fire, with more bodies at the charred scene.

A drug addict is murdered in the most bizarre medieval manner.

And a scientist’s daughter disappears.

THERE’S A KILLER ON THE LOOSE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON.

DI Mike Nash follows the leads of these disparate crimes. One very dangerous person seems intent on revenge.

CAN HE STOP A SERIAL KILLER BEFORE ANYONE ELSE PAYS THE ULTIMATE PRICE?

Killing Christmas by Bill Kitson

Murder in the Mansion by Faith Martin

2nd August 2021.

What joy to be back in Kidlington and in the company of DI Hillary Greene and her team. Okay, there’s a sniper shooting police officers in the county, making everyone wary, but otherwise it’s business as usual.

In this case it’s the brutal stabbing of Mattie Jones in the hall of her upmarket home. Investigations soon reveal she upset or antagonised most of the people she met, including a bitter sister with a grudge. It also means plenty of suspects for the team to interview.

There are also the usual conflicts and issues within the team. Fast track Gemma has her eye on a fortune salted away by Hillary’s former husband. Keith Barrington’s worried his lifestyle choices will become public knowledge. Then there’s Hillary’s friend and superintendent, Mellow Mel, who’s watching a court case fall to pieces on a technicality.

It’s this backstory, with its twists, turns and humour, which adds an entertaining dimension to the novels. The investigation has all the twists you’d expect but is overshadowed by the failing court case. Even the capture of the sniper fails to provide more than a brief respite.

It all adds up to an exciting climax with a jaw dropping ending.

What more could you wish for?

Description

Mattie Jones is found brutally stabbed to death in her palatial home. Hillary Greene is called in to investigate the murder of this wealthy woman. Who wanted her dead and why?

Hillary discovers that Mattie’s snobby attitude had made her many enemies. Mattie was also going through a messy divorce and had a secret lover.

Meanwhile, in a terrifying turn of events, police officers are being gunned down outside their stations. A sniper is on the loose. Who will come under attack next?

Can Hillary cope with the enemies within, a complex case, and the whole force under attack?

Murder in the Mansion by Faith Martin

Silent Crimes by Michael Hambling

1st August 2021.

The death of a homeless person in remote woodland proves difficult to investigate for DCI Sophie Allen and her team. It’s a bit of a slog until documents surface which reveal a connection to a community that once lived in the Quantock Hills of Somerset a decade earlier. The investigation comes to life as the main characters and relationships within that community become suspects.

Like all the previous books in the series, Sophie Allen and her team are engaging characters. The relationships, banter and humour lift the stories, providing a strong, positive counterpoint to the murders investigated.

While not as dramatic as some of the previous novels, it’s still an intriguing plot that shines a light on what can happen when people closet themselves away from mainstream society in pursuit of ideals.

While the novel can be read on its own, to get the full benefit of the characters and backstory, it’s worth starting with the first in the series.

Description

Detective Sophie Allen’s daughter discovers the body of a reclusive tramp in remote woodland in Dorset. He’s been dead for a week.

Sophie and her team try to piece together something about his life, but progress is slow.

NO ONE IS QUITE WHAT THEY SEEM.

Then a hidden package is discovered near his rudimentary shelter. The police also find out that someone has been in the area asking about the tramp recently. A picture begins to emerge.

He was an important member of a commune that had a three-year existence on a farm on the Quantock Hills in Somerset more than decade earlier.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE COMMUNE AND WHY ARE PEOPLE STILL DYING BECAUSE OF IT?

Silent Crimes by Michael Hambling

Left You Dead by Peter James

20th July 2021.

It’s been a year since I read the last book in the Roy Grace series, but it’s been worth the wait. Once again Peter James has delivered another clever and twisting story that grabs you from the first chapter and never lets go.

Eden Paternoster nips into the local supermarket and disappears. It’s not the first time she’s played games with her husband Niall. Only it’s no game when he’s arrested on suspicion of her murder. As Roy Grace begins the investigation, he has his own problems to deal with when his son Bruno is hit by a car outside his school gates.

As both threads of the story unfold, it soon becomes clear that something is awry with Eden’s disappearance. Struggling to maintain his focus, yet needing to work to distract himself from his personal problems, Roy Grace slowly pieces together a tangled web of deceit that leads to another breath taking climax on the cliffs of the Sussex coast.

Everything I’ve come to expect from Peter James is here – the direct, easy to read style, characters I’ve come to know and love, the procedural detail that gives his writing that authentic ring, and plots that always intrigue and throw up the unexpected.

It all adds up to pure reading pleasure.

Description

Niall and Eden Paternoster start their Sunday the same way they always do – with a long drive, a visit to a country house and a quick stop at the local supermarket on the way home.

But this Sunday ends differently – because while Niall waits and waits in the car park for Eden to pick up supplies, Eden never returns. She’s not waiting for him at home, and none of their family or friends have heard from her.

Gone without a trace, Niall is arrested on suspicion of her murder. When DS Roy Grace is called in to investigate, it doesn’t take long to realize that nothing is quite as it seems – and this might be his most mysterious case yet . . .

Left You Dead by Peter James

The Shrine by LJ Ross

16th July 2021.

In an explosive start, DCI Ryan’s pregnant wife Anna is injured in an incident at Durham Cathedral. As the dust settles, it becomes clear that the explosion was no more than a smoke screen to hide a robbery of an important artefact. Why would someone steal something so easily recognisable and well known?

While trying to work out that mystery, a local police officer is murdered and the investigation takes a sinister twist. With Ryan concerned for his wife and his colleague and friend Phillips dealing with family issues, there’s plenty to distract the police from their twin investigations.

Thankfully, DC Melanie Yates steps up to deftly solve the crime, leaving only one mystery outstanding – who stole the artefact and why? The answer to that question will have to wait until a future story.

Like all the Ryan novels, this is well-written with plenty of time given to the characters and their respective backstories.

Description

After a long and eventful winter, DCI Ryan and his team are looking forward to the joys of spring. But, when one of their colleagues is shot dead on her own doorstep and the brass think it’s an inside job, Ryan finds himself drafted in to investigate.

He’s barely scratched the surface when reports flood in of a terror explosion at Durham Cathedral. Chaos descends on the sleepy, historic city and, when the smoke clears, they find a priceless artefact that once belonged to Saint Cuthbert is missing.

With tensions running at an all-time high, unable to trust the local police, can Ryan and his team bring a killer to justice — and restore Cuthbert’s cross to its natural resting place?

The Shrine by LJ Ross