Murder on Sea by Jane Adams

8th June 2022.

This is one of the best novels I’ve read for some time. I loved its caring, sympathetic characters brought to life by the author’s deft writing. While it’s essentially a police procedural, led by DI McGregor, Rina Martin, a former actress who played a TV sleuth, had quite a role to play. She runs a quiet guest house on the coast of Dorset, where nothing much happens.

Then an elderly lady is bludgeoned to death in her home. From here, the story opens out, drawing in George and Paul, two boys with very different reasons to be frightened. Having broken into the lady’s house the previous evening, one of them witnesses her murder. The other has more personal reasons to be scared when he believes he’s spotted the abusive father who his family ran away from.

From here the story moves away from the traditional murder mystery, but still packs a poignant punch at its climax. I really felt for McGregor, who has to wrestle with his principles as he tries to deal with the aftermath.

The story’s intriguing, engaging and beautifully crafted. It’s driven by realistic characters caught up in the unreal world of murder. There’s humour within the darkness and hope for a brighter future. All this means this is one of the best cosy mysteries I’ve read for a long time.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Description

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

She retires to the sleepy town of Frantham-on-Sea. Here on the Dorset coast, she runs her own immaculate guest house and life is blissfully quiet.

Until . . .

A few doors down, harmless old Mrs Freer is bludgeoned to death, and Rina can’t help but be drawn into the mystery.

Mrs Freer’s home was ransacked, but this was no ordinary burglary.

Who knew the old lady kept a gun stashed under her pillow?
And who wanted it badly enough to kill?

Detective Sebastian McGregor is called in to solve this baffling case.

But with her neighbours’ safety at stake, Rina knows she needs to give him a helping hand.

Murder on Sea by Jane Adams

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

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

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

Chain Reaction by Bill Kitson

12th April 2022.

Another intriguing novel in the Mike Nash series begins with the discovery of two severed fingers in a hotel. As the team start their investigation, a spate of muggings demands their attention. Then the team is put under further pressure when several local women are declared missing.

Then two youngsters, using a holiday cottage to get to know each other better, make a gruesome discovery and the pressure ratchets up a few more notches. A brutal serial killer is operating in the area and time may be running out for a fifth missing woman.

Nash also has some personal troubles to contend with, leaving him feeling lonely and depressed. Until he makes a breakthrough in the investigation and it’s all go for a dramatic climax.

While previous novels have been more focused on a single criminal, this one highlights how CID often deal with several investigations at once. The backstory issues also take greater prominence and provide more interest, thanks to the author’s skill in making me care for the characters he’s created.

It all adds up to another memorable novel in this excellent series.

Description

Two severed fingers are discovered by workmen at the Boar’s Head hotel. It looks like they’ve been there some time . . .

Detective Mike Nash must find out what grisly goings-on took place at the ivy-clad, upmarket hotel on the Harland Estate.

ARE THEY CONNECTED TO A SPATE OF BRUTAL MUGGINGS IN HELMSDALE?

Then local women start going missing, and the heat is on for Nash and his team.

Who is terrorizing this quiet market town?

Chain Reaction by Bill Kitson