National Treasure by Barry Faulkner

8th May 2021.

It begins as a simple missing person enquiry. Actress and national treasure, Marcia Johnson, is worried about her daughter, who is missing. From the moment Ben Nevis takes the case, it’s anything but simple. He quickly uncovers a murky background, including drug debts and a Romanian crime family that wants its missing money.

Can Ben and partner Gold recover the missing woman before it turns nasty?

It’s an explosive story, delivered at great pace with barely a pause to catch your breath. Fast, furious and always exciting, Ben and Gold wreak havoc and mayhem as they use the most direct route to get what they want. However, it’s not all one way, and tables can easily turn.

The action is complemented by sharp dialogue, cutting humour and a healthy dose of irreverence as the story races to a climax with an unexpected twist among the drama. Ben and Gold are formidable characters with great rapport and understanding. The pace sweeps you along into a dark world where only the strongest survive.

If you’ve read the first book in the series, you’ll love this. If you haven’t you can read this as a standalone, but why miss out on the first?

Description

Book 2 in the Ben Nevis and the Gold Digger thriller series. Marcia Johnson is a respected actress, Marcia is, according to her agent, a National Treasure. Marcia’s daughter, Janie, is missing without any clue or reason as to why? London Private Eye Ben Nevis thinks it will be a simple search to find her but when Janie’s dead father’s background comes to light things take on a more sinister angle involving an unpaid drug debt owed to a Romanian crime family who wants it paid. Have they got Janie? Ben takes on the London end of the family and the body count grows. When he and Gold fly to Romania it escalates further in a series of exciting skirmishes in Bucharest as they attempt a hostage rescue and escape. Hovering in the background is DCS Clancy, Ben’s old boss at the Met’s Organised Crime Squad who has eyes on finishing the UK end of the Romanian family, but all doesn’t go well and Ben changes from being the pursuer to being pursued right to the final big twist. As usual with a Ben Nevis book, it’s fast and furious with no prisoners taken.

National Treasure by Barry Faulkner

What Lies Beneath by Bill Kitson

7th May 2021.

This is the first Mike Nash novel I’ve read and it won’t be the last. Due to the nature of the crimes, it wasn’t as easy book to read at times, but it’s certainly thrilling and Nash is a flawed, but terrific lead detective.

It starts with the horrific discovery of two skeletons at the bottom of a remote tarn or lake. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning as the lake yields yet more bodies, turning a simple investigation into suspicious deaths into a complex multiagency, international affair as people trafficking leaves it mark on rural Yorkshire.

Alongside the difficulties of bringing down a criminal organisation that spans Europe, Nash has to work with the national Major Crimes Unit, an external body that seems answerable to no one. Then there’s the Russian police and Clara, a detective with more than a passing interest in Nash.

Driven by a desire for justice, but hampered by rivalries and the scale of the operation, the story twists and turns, the tension building to an exhilarating and dramatic climax.

Considering the nature of the crimes, the author handles the issues with sensitivity, never straying into graphic detail. The general absence of swearing and graphic violence is also welcome, showing you can deliver a tense and dramatic thriller without either.

This is an impressive start to what I hope will be an engaging new series for me to read.

Description

Detective Mike Nash thought that moving back to Yorkshire from London would give him a quieter life. Little did he know . . .

Two skeletons are discovered in Lamentation Tarn, a mountain lake.

Talented detective Mike Nash and his team have little evidence with which to work, until a surprising discovery prompts them to contact law enforcement agencies in Eastern Europe.

A joint task force is formed to uncover a criminal network involved in prostitution, drugs, and human trafficking, but Nash’s preoccupation with internal politics, as well as with an attractive Russian detective, proves to be a distraction.

Finally, a young victim escapes the gang’s clutches, providing Nash with much needed evidence. A search of the neighbouring tarn yields evidence of even more heinous crimes.

Who else will die before the criminals are brought to bitter justice?

What Lies Beneath by Bill Kitson

Murder on the Levels by David Hodges

6th May 2021.

Having previously started this book twice before, I decided to persevere on the third reading and was rewarded with an enjoyable story with some good twists and dark humour. Like the story, Kate Hamblin grew on me as a character till I was rooting for her by the end.

It begins when she leaves a police surveillance van in the middle of the night. Moments later, it’s blown up, killing her two colleagues. The killer then hunts her down , but she escapes, only to be accused of abandoning her colleagues, perhaps knowing they were about to be killed.

Kate not only has to clear her name, she has to uncover a resourceful killer, who still wants her dead. The story becomes a cat and mouse affair, which is cleverly plotted and executed as the killer tries to complete the job before he’s identified and arrested.

With some deft dark humour and plenty of twists and narrow escapes, the story rattles along to the climax. While a couple of the characters seemed wooden and stereotyped, it remains an enjoyable and different police procedural story.

I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Kate in her next adventure.

Description

Detective Kate Hamblin is doing surveillance on the Somerset Levels, trying to catch a crazed arsonist. She leaves the van for a moment. Then it goes up in flames, killing her two colleagues.

Kate is accused of abandoning them and is excluded from the murder hunt and effectively suspended from duty.

She is desperate to nail the killer herself and clear her name. She risks all by entering into an unholy alliance with the murder team’s chief suspect.

Kate finds herself not only targeted in a personal vendetta by her own DCI, but stalked by the very killer she is pursuing .

A VICIOUS CRIMINAL NAMED TWISTER WITH AN AGENDA OF SLAUGHTER

Can Kate catch the killer before he takes out the only witness? And will her career go up in flames before it’s even really started?

Murder on the Levels by David Hodges

A Killer is Calling by BL Faulkner

5th May 2021.

You’re always guaranteed an exciting, fast-paced investigation from DCS Justin Palmer and the Serial Crime Squad. This time, it’s a series of strange deaths. People are dying for no apparent cause. The only signs are a trickle of blood from one ear and brain damage.

While the team try to make sense of the deaths, the killer contacts the mayor of London with a massive ransom demand. Unless paid, a lot more of the capital’s citizens will meet the same grizzly end. With the stakes going through the roof, it’s a race against time to identify the killer and stop him carrying out his threat.

More is definitely less with these stories, which get straight to the heart of the action and don’t let up. Best of all, the crimes and investigations are always imaginative and a little different, while retaining the dark humour and interplay between the central characters.

Description

A redundant Naval Weapons Scientist seeks revenge by aiming to turn the latest Weapon of Mass Destruction on London’s population and proves he can do it by killing several innocent people. Palmer and the team must find him and stop him before he unleashes his weapon via the phone lines on millions of people. Palmer takes help from his old contact in the Ministry of Defence and is surprised by what lies deep beneath the UK airports ready to repel any military attacks. The death of several million people could be on his conscience but Detective Sergeant Gheeta Singh has a plan. Will it work?

A Killer is Calling by BL Faulkner

Turkish Delight by Barry Faulkner

6th March 2021.

This was a great first book in what promises to be an exciting new series of action thrillers, featuring Ben Nevis and the Gold Digger. Slick, fast paced and shot through with dark humour, the story whisks you off on a roller coaster of an adventure from the start.

Private eye Ben Nevis is approached by a wife who wants her husband killed. Then her husband turns up and wants her killed. And when M16 become involved, you know this is no ordinary job for a private eye. Then again, Ben Nevis is no ordinary private eye.

He’s a likeable, wise cracking hero who is more than capable of looking after himself, especially when his partner, the Gold Digger has his back covered. Their backgrounds and skills ensure they’re up to any challenge, even when they’re not given the full picture, leading to some interesting twists as they investigate some illegal international arms dealing.

If you enjoy international thrillers filled with action, jeopardy and high stakes, this is a story for you. The pace, humour and threat levels never ease up, providing an exciting ride that will leave you breathless and wanting more.

Description

London private eye Ben Nevis, ex SAS/OCS/N14 gets a peculiar request from a new lady client, ‘kill my husband’. A few days later the husband appears in Ben’s London office with the request ‘kill my wife’. Ben has his partner the Gold Digger take a good look into the pair and some illegal international arms dealing is exposed with missiles going from the UK through Cyprus and Turkey to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and on to terrorist cells in the Middle East. After a surprise visit from Ben’s old boss at MI6 Ben finds himself enrolled in a mission to stop the trade with help of the British SBS based in Cyprus who are to get him into Turkey to blow up the arms and then get him out again. But things don’t go to plan. It is a full action novel set in the present day with twists and turns bringing it to the final explosive conclusion.

Turkish Delight by Barry Faulkner

Poetic Justice by BL Faulkner

5th March 2021.

Returning to a favourite series is like catching up with an old friend, enjoying the company, reflecting on past times, recalling what brought you together. In this third outing of the Serial Murder Squad, DSC Palmer and the team are brought in to investigate three murders. The victims are left with a note that links to a traditional poem.

Not that this helps the team as they struggle to find the connection between the three victims and a motive. But it isn’t long before their enquiries yield leads that help to speed them along to a dramatic conclusion.

And if Palmer doesn’t have enough challenges at work, his neighbour and nemesis, the somewhat flamboyant Benji, has introduced Mrs Palmer to Skype. Only Palmer has neither the enthusiasm nor understanding needed to make sense of Skype. Along with the team banter, these encounters add a delicious layer of humour to the stories.

Palmer’s old school cynical know how contrasts beautifully with Gheeta’s technological prowess to form the backbone of the team. The direct, fast paced writing propels you along, resulting in an entertaining and exciting story that’s over too soon.

Looking forward to the next in the series.

Description

A series of murders of minor celebrities leads Palmer and the team to a Drama School and an incident that happened many years ago. The killer’s clue left at each scene is a line from a poem. Can Palmer piece the clues together before the next murder? The trail leads him into the world of publishing and children’s drama colleges with all its bullying and shattered egos until a twist at the end ties it all neatly together.

Poetic Justice by BL Faulkner

Secret Crimes by Michael Hambling

11th January 2021.

This is fast becoming one of my favourite crime series. DCI Sophie Allen is a terrific character. Smart, gutsy and charismatic, she’s a world away from the trauma-ridden cops that seem to be everywhere in crime fiction. She’s had her fair share of troubles and she has her vulnerabilities, but she’s also a breath of fresh air.

The story starts with the death of a woman at a local jazz festival in Swanage. A few days later, a man is found on the rocks by the sea. He was also at the festival. While the motive for the murders is unclear, the team find a connection between the two deaths and the investigation gathers momentum. But as it spreads wider, the investigation becomes a long, slow slog that tests the members of the team. But you get to know the characters and the relationships better, revealing yet another strong point of the novels.

There are a few challenges along the way, but solid detection eventually yields a suspect and the pieces start to fit together as the story picks up pace to an exciting climax.

While the crimes and investigations are always intriguing, it’s the balance between the plot, the main characters and their relationships that lifts this series to a different level.

If you haven’t read the Sophie Allen series yet, start with the first novel and enjoy!

Please check out my reviews for Dark Crimes and Deadly Crimes.

Description

The body of an attractive festival-goer is discovered on the rocky shoreline at Peveril Point
But the young woman’s injuries arouse suspicion. Who was the man she met? Is there a history of suspicious deaths at other music festivals across the area?

DCI Sophie Allen is back in charge after the emotional upheavals she suffered in ‘Deadly Crimes’, but is she really in control? And a new detective constable, Rae Gregson, joins the team and immediately faces challenges that put her life in peril.

Secret Crimes by Michael Hambling

Deadly Crimes by Michael Hambling

7th December 2020.

In the second book in the series, detective Sophie Allen investigates two crimes, separated by a gap of 40 years. The first concerns a man, brutally murdered and left at a local landmark. Is it an example to warn others? The links to human trafficking seem to suggest it is and Sophie’s soon on the trail of the gang.

The second murder is more personal, solving a 40 year old mystery. Or does it?

The two murders, and the impact on Sophie, make for a complex and draining investigation that twists and turns with every discovery she makes. There’s joy mixed in with the pain, but her search for the truth is relentless, leading to anxiety among those who know her best.

It’s an intricate plot that’s pulls you along, dragging you deeper into the personal lives of Sophie and those close to her, as you’re propelled towards a surprising but deftly handled climax that provides a solution but leaves a question or two unanswered.

Full marks to the author for weaving an enjoyable and entertaining web that delivers on every level. Sophie Allen has become one of my favourite detectives in the space of two books and I’m looking forward to reading the next novel in the series.

Description

A young man’s mutilated body is found on top of the Agglestone, a well-known local landmark on Studland Heath.

It seems that he was involved in a human trafficking and prostitution gang. But why is DCI Sophie Allen keeping something back from her team? Is it linked to the extraordinary discovery of her own father’s body at the bottom of a disused mineshaft, more than forty years after he disappeared?

Discover an intricately crafted mystery that will have you gripped from start to finish.

Deadly Crimes by Michael Hambling

If Fear Wins by Tony J Forder

13th November 2020.

This is the third book in the DI Bliss series which begins with the particularly sadistic killing of an RAF officer. The racial overtones of the murder lead to local tensions and the involvement of the security services, MI5 and MI6, which bring more complications.

Then a woman from Bliss’s past seeks his help with the suspicious death of her husband. Despite reservations, Bliss agrees to take a closer look at the case.

The story covers a lot of ground, including some past cases and emotional issues, creating a complex narrative that drags Bliss and his team down a few dead ends before he begins to make sense of what’s going on.

While I enjoyed following the twists, turns and different strands, at times I wasn’t always sure who some of the many characters were, especially if any of them dipped out of the story for a few chapters. I also felt a little less of the emotional complications and backstory would have helped my focus.

But these are minor quibbles in what is a skilfully crafted, intense and fascinating police procedural with some dark moments, lightened with humorous touches. It covers a broad canvas without losing the detailed character relationships that underpin all good story telling. Original and well-executed, this is a novel for anyone who likes a big, meaty plot, populated by believable and interesting characters to provide several layers of interest.

While you can read it as a standalone, I’d recommend starting at the beginning of the series to get the maximum pleasure. I’m already looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series.

Description

When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.

The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.

Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?

Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…

If Fear Wins by Tony J Forder

The Black Rose by BL Faulkner

28th October 2020.

You might think that the world of horticulture is genteel, but a killer lurks among the greenhouses and plant displays in the latest case for the Serial Murder Squad. There’s a fortune to be made for the breeder who can produce the black rose of the title. DCS Palmer and DS Singh are soon on the trail, uncovering more murders and financial irregularities along the way.

It’s a fairly straightforward investigation, but the author still manages to squeeze in a few surprises along the way with an interesting twist at the end.

All the elements that I’ve enjoyed in the previous stories are here. The direct, no nonsense story-telling that produces a slick and fast-paced read with another original and intriguing plot. There’s humour from Palmer and his next door neighbour, Benji, who also does some digging around. They all combine to produce an absorbing story that was over all too soon.

If you like original and entertaining crime fiction that dares to be a little different from the usual police procedurals, you should read this series.

Description

DCS Palmer and DS Gheeta Singh get called to the morgue where two bodies listed as suicides have raised the pathologist’s suspicions that they might not be as a rare plant based poison has been found in their stomachs. The fact that the deceased were Garden Centre owners and Rose breeders who were on the brink of marketing the first Black Rose and reaping the huge financial rewards that would bring alerts Palmer to the fact that things aren’t as serene as they appear to be and he gets involved in an investigation that takes him back into the past concerning cold cases that might not be totally cold and of failed liaisons and unexplained deaths in the Rose Breeding and Garden Centre community. At the centre of it all sits the Black Rose, who will have it to display and launch at the Chelsea Flower Show on the Royal Party and Press day? The case twists and turns right up to the wire as liaisons crack and fracture until an ending that…well let’s say it’s very different to what you might expect.

The Black Rose by BL Faulkner