And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

23rd October 2021.

The author’s own note says she wrote this because it was difficult to do and keep it credible. And while the idea does seem far-fetched, it’s so well written and plotted, you happily go along with the story, watching the visitors to Soldier Island die one by one.

It helps that each one of the visitors hides a guilty secret. These are revealed as the deaths continue and those remaining begin to fear for their safety. The suspense and tension is palpable and almost claustrophobic as the visitors fall apart, knowing there is no escape other than self-preservation.

There’s a clever twist, which ultimately explains why the ten were chosen and gathered together for what is an original and ingenuous murder mystery. I’m not sure how or why Agatha Christie had the idea, but she delivered it in style in her usual straightforward and entertaining way.

A classic of the genre.

Description

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by a mysterious host.

They sit down for dinner and a record begins to play. The voice of their host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. By the end of the night one of them will be dead.

Stranded by a violent storm, they begin to die – one by one.
Each of them is guilty. But who is the killer?

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Fatal Lies by Andrew Cunningham

20th October 2021.

The second book in the series is another fast moving, thoroughly entertaining and exciting investigation. Del and Sabrina travel the length and breadth of the USA when they become embroiled in another complex murder mystery.

The brutal murder of Daisy Leduc sparks off another investigation when her estranged daughter is asked to contact Sabrina. The only link is the time they spent together in gaol. It soon becomes clear Del and Sabrina are not the only ones interested in what Daisy has left behind, especially when they discover she didn’t die at the hands of a serial killer when she was 17.

Who exactly is trying to kill them and preserve Daisy’s secrets? As Del and Sabrina uncover the clues, the list of suspects grows, leading to a thrilling climax.

I love the self-deprecating humour, the light touch that propels this entertaining caper, and the spirit of adventure that’s on every page. Del and Sabrina are great creations, ably supported by some quirky and likeable characters. The story is also lifted by some sly comments about being a murder mystery writer, which had me chuckling as I read.

Terrific stuff!

Description

Daisy Leduc was forgotten and alone. That was just how she wanted it. But when she is discovered stabbed to death in a dusty little Texas town, it plunges Del Honeycutt and bestselling mystery author Sabrina Spencer into a 30-year-old mystery involving murder, hidden identities, dangerous family secrets, political intrigue, and a long-forgotten serial killer.

When they discover that Daisy, under a different name, supposedly died 30 years earlier, they find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of killers whose deadly secrets lie in Daisy’s mysterious past.

Fatal Lies by Andrew Cunningham

Brutal Crimes by Michael Hambling

14th October 2021.

In the tenth outing for Sophie Allen of the Violent Crimes Unit in Dorset, she has to investigate the brutal murder of a fellow detective, dumped in a disused clay pit at night. Only the killers are unaware that a young girl, Amy, is in the woods watching them.

A second body in the clay pit suggests links to major crimes, involving slavery, luxury cars stolen to order and gun running. The investigation soon focuses on Middle Eastern residents, living in ‘millionaire’s row in Poole. The key is Mia, a university student, working during the summer to earn some much needed cash. What she learns puts her in danger as the police begin to unravel the mystery.

Once again, the author has written another riveting book in this memorable series. The characters and their relationships form the backbone to the story, which is a thriller rather than a whodunit. Piece by piece, the detectives pull the various strands together to solve the murders.

Perhaps best of all, is the lack of detectives trying to deal with traumas as they go about their jobs. The detectives also get on with their superiors, working together rather than the maverick style which seems to populate so many crime novels. In other words, this is a series where the characters are likeable as well as effective, providing a breath of fresh air among the formulaic crime novels publishers seem to produce these days.

Description

Twelve-year-old Amy Birkbeck is checking her bat boxes late one cold January evening in the woods by her house.

She witnesses something no child should ever see — a group of men rolling a body into the deep pool of the disused old clay pit.

Meanwhile, DCI Sophie Allen’s team is falling apart.

One of the members of the unit goes missing. Surely he couldn’t be the body in the pool? Or is something much darker going on?

Then a second body is found in the disused clay pit. And it seems the dead man is connected to a suspected arms dealer . . .

There are dangerous goings-on in Detective Allen’s quiet patch of Dorset, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

Brutal Crimes by Michael Hambling

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

13th October 2021.

First published in January 1922, this is another fast moving adventure, giving Tommy and Tuppence their first outing. Naturally, the language and attitudes are of the time, but in all other respects this is a dramatic ripping yarn that’s fun to read, easy to follow and filled with all the twists, turns and surprises I’ve come to expect from the Queen of Crime. Indeed, at the beginning there’s some clever plotting that brought a smile to my face.

The writing and story-telling is confident and bold, driven by the two main characters, who have a lust for excitement and an almost fearless approach to any danger they face. Can they find Jane Finn, who seems to be at the centre of a political plot that threatens the government?

While Tuppence is the main driving force in the duo, Tommy has his moments and it’s beautifully delivered as the pace and action hots up for a memorable climax. The usual explanations follow to show the reader how the mystery was solved and why.

In many respects, it’s light, frothy and easy to read, but this is a result of great writing and plotting, effortlessly delivered to satisfy the reader. If you’re interested in historical crime, this is a great introduction.

Description

Tommy Beresford and Prudence ‘Tuppence’ Cowley are young, in love… and flat broke. Just after Great War, there are few jobs available and the couple are desperately short of money. Restless for excitement, they decide to embark on a daring business scheme: Young Adventurers Ltd.—”willing to do anything, go anywhere.” Hiring themselves out proves to be a smart move for the couple. In their first assignment for the mysterious Mr. Whittingtont, all Tuppence has to do in their first job is take an all-expense paid trip to Paris and pose as an American named Jane Finn. But with the assignment comes a bribe to keep quiet, a threat to her life, and the disappearance of her new employer. Now their newest job are playing detective.

Where is the real Jane Finn? The mere mention of her name produces a very strange reaction all over London. So strange, in fact, that they decided to find this mysterious missing lady. She has been missing for five years. And neither her body nor the secret documents she was carrying have ever been found. Now post-war England’s economic recovery depends on finding her and getting the papers back. But he two young working undercover for the British ministry know only that her name and the only photo of her is in the hands of her rich American cousin. It isn’t long before they find themselves plunged into more danger than they ever could have imagined—a danger that could put an abrupt end to their business… and their lives.

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Alone with a Killer by Bill Kitson

29th September 2021.

The sixth book in this excellent series, featuring DI Mike Nash and his team, is another twisting, action-packed cracker.

A woman goes missing while her husband is playing golf in Spain. It appears she’s been abducted by a vicious serial killer, dubbed the Cremator by the press. Nash isn’t convinced, but he’s got his own distractions to deal with. With the thin blue line stretched to breaking, a security van is held up.

Is it coincidence or is there a connection? When more violence and mayhem follow, it’s clear there’s a lot to unravel.

It takes some time to piece together what’s happening in this story, but that’s the beauty of an intriguing mystery. And the more complicated it gets, the more you turn the pages, eager to make sense of what’s happening. That’s the power of the storytelling that drives this police procedural thriller.

I enjoyed catching up with the characters, the humour that lightens the dark tone of the storylines, and the surprises that emerge as Nash begins to piece everything together. Like all the previous books, the climax is exciting and action-packed.

While this can be read on its own, the books are so good you should start at the beginning for maximum pleasure. Click here to check out my reviews of the previous books in the series.

Description

Alone in an isolated Yorkshire cottage, Vanda Dawson waits for her sister Jo to come keep her company. Her husband Brian is away on holiday. Outside, as storms lash the country, Jo struggles to reach the house. But she finds it deserted and in darkness.

WHERE HAS VANDA GONE?

With Mike Nash on leave, Detective Sergeant Clara Mironova leads the investigation.

The missing woman’s husband is also unaccounted for. Is he responsible, or has she been abducted by the sadistic serial killer nicknamed The Cremator?

A SERIAL KILLER WHO TORTURES AND BURNS HIS VICTIMS ALIVE.

Before Nash’s return, a security van disappears along with its two-man crew. Further violent crimes are reported and it becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems and no one is quite what they appear to be.

Alone with a Killer by Bill Kitson

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

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

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

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

Playing with Fire by Bill Kitson

16th July 2021.

Once again, detective Mike Nash has to deal with a big scale drama in a quiet part of rural Yorkshire. This time it’s double trouble. A convicted killer is about to be released and seems determined to return to his home despite death threats. Meanwhile, as local politicians increase racial tensions in the local community, an arsonist takes more direct action.

As both situations intensify, the call for more resources is rejected, leaving Mike and his small team to manage as best they can. Somehow they maintain their sanity and sense of humour as the body count rises. Mike even has time for a spot of romance as a local reporter comes to his aid.

As with the previous two novels in the series, the author piles on the suspicions, cranking up the tension and excitement, testing and stretching his characters to deliver complex crime fiction that lives on in the memory after the story finishes.

There’s so much happening on so many levels, that like Mike Nash you don’t have time to catch your breath

While you can read this novel on its own, it’s best to start with the first book in the series to get the full benefit. You’ll be itching to read the next in the series long before you finish the first.

Description

Gary Vickers killed his lover’s daughter. There was overwhelming evidence of his guilt. He is now due for release from prison. Against all advice, he insists on returning to Helmsdale, where Detective Mike Nash must protect him.

But Nash has other, more pressing worries . . . With extremist politicians fanning racial hatred and provoking attacks on migrant workers, Nash has to prevent an explosive situation from boiling over into civil unrest.

SHOULD YOU PROTECT SOMEONE CONVICTED OF AN UNSPEAKABLE CRIME?

Nash’s small team of detectives has little time to spare for convicted murderer Vickers. But as Nash becomes acquainted with the facts, doubts start to grow about Vickers’ conviction.

Proving him innocent will be difficult enough . . . but keeping him alive until they find the truth may well be impossible.

Playing with Fire by Bill Kitson