Every Monday evening, six people gather in a smart North London house to talk about addiction. There they share their deepest secrets: stories of lies, regret, and above all, shame.
Then one of them is killed – and it’s clear one of the circle was responsible.
Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner quickly finds her investigation hampered by the strict confidentiality that binds these people and their therapist together. So what could be shameful enough to cost someone their life?
And how do you find the truth when denial and deception are second nature to all of your suspects?
From the maker of Tom Thorne comes a standalone, ladies and gentlemen I introduce Mark Billingham’s Die of Shame. The book has a totally different feel from his Tom Thorne series, I’d be interested to know more but for me – as I read the book – I just had a feeling the author has tested himself with this book. I can’t quite put my finger on it!
A complex story centred around a group of addicts – who meet once a week – the book flits between Then and Now. It’s a complex start but once you get your head around the time shifts and numerous characters the story develops incredibly quickly and fluently.
One thing you can always depend on with Mark Billingham is the narrative and his ability to sell a story, Die of shame has both in spades and then some. We have Mark’s one liners, his humour and his talent for weaving a story from seemingly nothing into something incredible. The story is told from two perspectives, a murder investigation with DI Nicola Tanner and the eclectic group of addicts, both very different viewpoints but they morph together well and because of this following the murder investigation in real time is a delight.
As I mentioned above the start is complex and because of it the first few chapters are a little slow but once things start to fall in place there’s no holding this story back! Plotting is strong and the slow release of information from the Monday night group brilliant. The balance between giving away too much or too little has never been a problem for Mark in any of his books and once again he’s hit the nail on the head with this one.
The characters are powerful, their backstories enlightening and for the first time in quite a while no one completely stole the show for me which is quite unusual. You’ll suspect everyone at one stage, it’ll take a while before you know who’s been murdered and even longer for it to all make sense but make sense it does. I’d like to see Nicola Tanner developed at a future date but for Die of Shame she works very well.
A fascinating read with powerful stories of addiction yet at the same time, a yin to the yang I guess, weakness is as an overriding and invisible force throughout and something that everyone in the group has in possesses. Another great read from Mr Billingham.
- Hardcover:448 pages
- Publisher:Little, Brown (5 May 2016)
Jerome Burnel was once a hero. He intervened to prevent multiple killings and in doing so damned himself. His life was torn apart. He was imprisoned, brutalized.
But in his final days, with the hunters circling, he tells his story to private detective Charlie Parker. He speaks of the girl who was marked for death but was saved, of the ones who tormented him, and an entity that hides in a ruined stockade.
Parker is not like other men. He died, and was reborn. He is ready to wage war.
Now he will descend upon a strange, isolated community called the Cut, and face down a force of men who rule by terror, intimidation, and murder.
All in the name of the being they serve.
All in the name of the Dead King.
Magnificent, magisterial and masterful – three words that could easily describe both John Connolly’s writing and his creation Charlie Parker. It’s great to have Charlie Parker back, life certainly wouldn’t be the same without an adventure from the private detective, a private detective who’s baggage increases with each outing. There’s no shortage of depth in this novel either, thanks mainly to Parker. It’s the depth of his character that’s so good, Connolly effortlessly allowing the reader an insight into his feelings and an opportunity to share his immeasurable pain born from past experiences.
There’s very little to say that hasn’t been said in the past but John Connolly improves with each novel, there’s no fear of an author resting on his laurels here, Connolly knows what works and sticks with the format time after time but like a good bottle of wine, with maturity comes excellence.
Charlie Parker is one of those characters you’d want on your side. Imagine the scene in school as a kid, you’re faced with a decision that could affect the rest of your days in school, the dreaded pick your team scenario. With Parker it’s a case of do I pick him first or second, Jack Reacher or Charlie Parker (two very different protagonists), two veritable champions, because there’s never the option of not choosing him! Not having him on your team would be a huge mistake and many a bad person have paid the price in the past and will no doubt suffer in the future!
The narrative is as strong as ever and the plotting is both complex and inspired, how Connolly brings this together in the end is crazy! Amazing writing. The tempo increases towards the end of the book, so much so that you feel as if you’re holding your breath on numerous occasions. There are a few shocks in store, Connolly is never one to shy away from violence and there’s definitely no shortage of that in A Time of Torment, this is in parts quite brutal!
Characterisation is good and we get to have another outing with Angel and Louis, two great characters that were introduced to us in Every Dead Thing in 1999, the year that Charlie Parker himself, a former NYPD detective, was introduced to the world. The sidekicks are great value and the books would certainly be lighter without the duo creating havoc and mayhem. Don’t worry, there’s more than enough bad guys to satisfy all readers here!
Another wonderful read, A Time of Torment stands alone well but as with any long standing series, the more you’ve read the more you take from the books. So get reading the back catalogue, you won’t be sorry! Bravo Mr Connolly!
- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (7 April 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1444751573
- ISBN-13: 978-1444751574
In a single night, Kyle Davidson’s life is derailed. His relationship is over, he is denied access to his young son and everything important to him is at risk.
His thoughts stumble between fear and revenge. Kyle Davidson has a choice to make.
Meanwhile, after the tragic end to a previous case, DC Gary Goodhew finds himself questioning his reasons for returning to work until the badly beaten body of a homeless man is found on Market Hill. Having known the homeless man for several years Goodhew feels compelled to be part of the investigation – but routine lines of enquiry soon take a dark and unexpected turn.
Suddenly the Cambridge back streets hold deadly secrets for Goodhew and the only person who has the answers is planning one final, desperate act.
Alison Bruce is back, or rather I should say Cambridge’s favourite son DC Gary Goodhew is back, finally returning to duty after a prolonged absence.
In The Promise Alison’s writing is as sharp as ever, her storytelling is well developed and plotted magnificently, something you take for granted now in a series that has solidified her reputation in the crime fiction world. Cambridge once again comes to life with her enthusiastic narrative. I always enjoy reading these books for I feel as if I get to know a little more of Cambridge with each novel. I’ve never been to Cambridge but with every Bruce novel I do feel as if I now know it like the back of my hand! Kudos to the writer for allowing us in to her Cambridge.
The book starts off with quite the shock, for me at least, I really hadn’t expected it for the author kills off a character I was very sorry to see go. You know you’re hooked when, with each turn of the page, something or someone is going to say “fooled you” he’s not really dead, I just wanted to read your reaction” but alas the character, and one of my favourites of past stories has been killed off. I won’t spoil it and say who it is, you’ll find out for yourselves but if you’ve read the previous titles in Alison’s back catalogue then you’re in for a big surprise!
Gary Goodhew is back as I mentioned above and although it takes a little to convince himself to return to work he does so despite his lengthy recuperation. The gang are back together, Marks is on the verge of retiring, Sue Gully is poking her nose into an old case that has a direct connection with Gary and Kincaide’s relationship with Gary show no signs of improving any time soon! Let’s face it they are never going to be best mates are they. If this series had been set in the Wild West I’m sure one High Noon scene would have ended it once and for all!
That’s the thing with Alison’s books, without fail they’ve made me angry! I should actually explain myself! It’s Gary’s relationship or lack thereof with Kincaide that always riles me! I’m always on Gary’s side but whenever Kincaide begins to crank up the insults and put downs I get slightly annoyed! I know I shouldn’t but that’s the thing with this series and this writer, you connect with the characters and you feel as if you have a vested interest into their lives.
A serial killer is on the loose in Cambridge and Goodhew is determined to solve the riddle. Only time will tell if he does but let’s face it there’s a very good chance he will! Another cracking read, Bruce continues to go from strength to strength, as does Gary’s character but I’ll sign off this review in the hope that one day soon Gary will get the opportunity to deck Kincaide. We all live in hope!! If you haven’t had the chance to read the back catalogue then I urge you to do so, Cambridge wouldn’t be the same without Goodhew and Bruce!
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Constable (4th Feb. 2016)
A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own
A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.
Hauntingly captivating, In Her Wake is a pure example of a book that is powerful in its simplicity. There’s no escaping its hold, there are no car chases, no unnecessary shoot outs and no over the top action sequences. This is no police procedural and no crime thriller – this is one hell of a psychological thriller and one that once it grabs you, it will never let you go. The overriding emotional pull is quite incredible; it’s as if at any moment you can expect to read the book with one eye closed and a sharp intake of breath necessary to continue, just to turn the page.
I remember reading the initial pages and experiencing a wave of emotion that I really hadn’t anticipated. When Bella arrives at her family home with her husband, her grieving father meeting her at the door, it was something as simple as a jumper not done up correctly, her father lost without his wife, that took me back to losing my own father years ago. When a book and an author who has no connection with the reader can achieve that then you are half way to succeeding. You know you can’t stop reading at that point.
That wasn’t the only example, the book forced me to look back at my past both with fondness and sadness and I remember wincing on more than one occasion. The narrative, so wonderfully written, is beautiful in its desperation. The characters are lost and only time will tell if they ever become found again. Relationships, both past and present, are at the heart of this book and at times it made for uncomfortable reading as it forced a colourful array of emotions for this particular reader.
Bella as a protagonist is as complex as you would expect and as the story matures you are allowed to delve a little deeper into her psyche. She blossoms into an amazing woman, free of captivity, both figuratively and emotionally but that’s not the end of the story. Amanda Jennings gives her a voice, one that has been denied her for years. Her development has been stunted but moving to Cornwall to investigate her secret past allows development to progress in spades.
There’s not much more to say to be honest, In Her Wake is a beautifully written book, one that is both powerful and disturbing in equal measures, a book that you wish you’d written. Exceptional.
- Paperback: 340 pages
- Publisher: Orenda Books (1 April 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1910633291
- ISBN-13: 978-1910633298
Nick Alston, a Los Angeles private investigator, is hired to find the kidnapped son of America’s richest and most hated man.
Hastings, a mob hitman in search of redemption, is also on the trail. But both men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal that spreads from the White House all the way to Dealey Plaza.
Decades later in Dallas, Alston’s son stumbles across evidence from JFK conspiracy buffs that just might link his father to the shot heard round the world.
Hotly tipped to be one of the must reads of 2016, Fever City is one those books you’ll find irresistible to put down. Before you know it you’re immediately immersed in the Mad Men era of the 1960’s where we meet Detective Nick Alston in 1960 and Hastings, a killer who appears in numerous years of that decade. Bringing up the rear and 21st century is Nick Alston’s son, Alston Jr in 2014.
The book moves around a lot and it does get a little confusing at times with numerous time switches but stick with it for you’ll be rewarded with a complex but intelligent storyline with numerous clever sub plots and twists. It certainly won’t leave you wanting that’s for sure.
I’ve never been a fan of the sixties, I can’t watch a drama on television set in that period and I very rarely listen to the 60’s music but despite this mental baggage I wanted to give Fever City a go as I do have an interest in history and as soon as I discovered the connection with JFK I was hooked – before I’d even opened the book. One thing Tim Baker did was make me enjoy the 1960’s and that’s one thing I never expected to take from this book!
It’s not only JFK that Tim Baker references, Rex “Old Man” Bannister’s son has disappeared, a powerful man who not only has connections with the aforementioned Kennedy but FBI supremo J Edgar Hoover and Howard Hughes who to this day remains an enigma and eccentric! Bannister’s relationship with Ronnie is questionable to say the least and I’m certain he couldn’t care less about whether he returns or not. With a bounty of one million dollars placed on his head, who knows how the situation will unfold, you’ll just have to read it!
One of the most intriguing aspects of the book for me is Hasting’s role in it. A killer who becomes embroiled in a plot to assassinate John F Kennedy because the President isn’t playing ball with those who want to control him, JFK is no puppet president. Hastings has no alternative than go along with the plot or face being silenced himself. After years of supposition and conspiracy over JFK’s death it was great to read another take on the president and another author’s viewpoint. I really enjoyed it and Tim Baker has done a cracking job of bringing that era and history alive.
Finally we have the modern era where Alston Jr, a newspaper man in Dallas, talks to conspiracy theorists who claim to know what really happened to JFK. Alston is shocked to discover his father may have played a part in the assassination.
One element I did find interesting – and this will come as no surprise to anyone here – was the lack of technology in the 1960’s narrative compared to the 21st century and it somehow seemed to sit a lot more comfortably with me, despite being a self confessed techno geek! I didn’t miss the world of mobile phones and internet that’s for certain.
A terrific read with a healthy sprinkling of fact, fiction and history, Tim Baker has created a violent and powerful narrative to flow from one page to another effortlessly. This is a must read for 2016.
- Hardcover:432 pages
- Publisher:Faber & Faber; Main edition (21 Jan. 2016)
Hap and Leonard are not your typical private eyes. But what they lack in experience they make up with perseverance.
Hap, a former 60s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough black, gay Vietnam vet, have finally decided to make their detective work official. Their first client: a mean old woman looking for her missing granddaughter.
The girl used to work for a car dealership in town… but it seems like cars weren’t the only things on offer. The mystery thickens to include blackmail, revenge, and an inbred family of hillbilly assassins who eliminate any threats to the operation.
Only Hap and Leonard could turn a simple missing person case into a life-threatening showdown, and only Joe Lansdale could tell this story. Filled with hilarious dialogue, relentless pacing, and unorthodox characters, Honky Tonk Samurai is a rambunctious thrill ride by one hell of a writer.
I can’t remember laughing so much in the first thirty pages of a book for quite some time, if ever, the humorous dialogue and enigmatic characters help move the book along at a formidable rate of chuckle knots! The humour remains throughout the book, the snide comments, the put me downs, the micky taking and the hilarity, even during the awkward and poignant moments it’s there to help lighten the mood for the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed the approach and Hap and Leonard’s personalities shone like a beacon from start to end.
Honky Tonk Samurai isn’t your typical book, good thing I guess that both Hap and Leonard aren’t your typical private eyes as the book blurb – above – informs us.
While on a routine surveillance operation the ageing pair discovers their boss has just become the chief of police and Hap and Leonard are faced with the news that they have to start a new private eye business – Enter Hap’s girlfriend BETH? I guess she’s the glue that helps bind the two characters together and keeps them on the straight and narrow – as far as that is possible!
Although the book reads well from the outset there was a distinct change of gear and emotion for me when the author introduces a new character – Chance. I’m not going to give anything away so the review remains spoiler free but when Chance enters the frame it just gives the story a new dynamic, nothing too drastic but for me it was noticeable and rounded off a very good plot. Hopefully you’ll know what I mean when you read the book, unless it was just my imagination getting the better of me, because it definitely adds a little something extra to an already gripping storyline.
Hap and Leonard are a tour de force and utterly irresistible, you won’t want to miss this one!
- Hardcover:352 pages
- Publisher:Mulholland Books (2 Feb. 2016)
A killer seeking revenge. A community protecting its own. The most explosive case yet for DC Willis and DI Carter.
Cornwall, 2000. Jenna wakes up after a drug-laced party to the realization that she has been raped. And it looks like it involved her new boyfriend, who has come down from London for the summer. But the case is assigned to a corrupt local police sergeant, who knows he can extort money from the boy’s father, prominent London MP Jeremy Forbes-Wright, in return for his silence.
Fifteen years later and Jeremy Forbes-Wright is found dead under highly suspicious circumstances. On the same day, his two-year-old grandson Samuel is kidnapped on a London street and DC Ebony Willis and DI Dan Carter are called in to find the missing boy. They soon realize all roads lead to Cornwall and to find the little boy they must finally get justice for Jenna. But someone is murdering the people they need to speak to and time is running out …
It’s been a while since I was first introduced to Lee Weeks when I read Dead of Winter (Carter/Willis 1), I remember wanting to move into that cottage and live the simple life. It never quite happened and three years later I’ve had the opportunity to read the fourth instalment in the Carter/Willis series. As with her first novel the narrative is sharp and atmospheric and storylines graphic and intelligently crafted, I’d expect nothing less as the first novel left quite a mark on me. Another complex plot, as with Dead of Winter, this time around I followed the ups and downs effortlessly such is the quality of the narrative.
Within a few pages you’re drawn into a storyline and location that never allows you to leave, not for a second, a little close for comfort given the underlying theme in this book. The book has a little of everything, police corruption, murder, rape, a sinister paedophile ring just for starters! I struggled to put the book down for as soon as I’d bought into the characters and village I felt as if I had a vested interest in the outcome.
We all want to see the goodies prevail and the baddies get their comeuppance but it doesn’t always happen. There’s so much going on in this book with characters coming in and out of the story throughout but as with her first book the author ties the book up neatly and you’re not left wondering what will happen. There’s just enough to tease you and leave you looking forward to book number five but there’s nothing quite like finishing things neatly and the ending satisfies on many levels.
Characteristically Weeks is as strong as ever and as the book develops we discover the small seaside village has more than its fair share of villains and nasty people. In fact, when Carter and Willis start to mix things up from the moment they arrive to investigate Samuel’s kidnapping, characters grow and their development is incredibly well paced. Never a case of too much too soon – apart from Raymonds – Weeks teases with a little evil here, a little evil there, until you’re left in no doubt who the ring leaders are and the historic crimes the village and her residents have been hiding for so many years.
I mentioned Raymonds briefly above, I won’t go into too much detail but suffice to say I had a bad feeling about him from the outset and that never left! You never quite know who’s guilty of the kidnapping until the kidnapper is revealed, along with numerous other crimes that surface. It’s all done rather well I must say, a very very satisfying read but one thing is clear, I’ll never think of Cornwall in the same way again!
Very dark, equally sinister and graphically compelling, another excellent read.
- Paperback:480 pages
- Publisher:Simon & Schuster UK; Paperback Original edition (5 Nov. 2015)
Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him. The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman – shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all.
Icelandic Noir has never fallen from the pages of a thriller so eloquently! Dark and chilling, Nightblind has been written with a beautiful prose and a narrative that just begs to be devoured. It’s almost impossible to put down, one page is quickly followed by another, each chapter morphing effortlessly into the next and the characters fall off the page with a gritty enthusiasm.
Set in a small fishing village, once a renowned herring hot spot, an industry long since forgotten that helped shape the town and her personality, Nightblind is a modern take on an Agatha Christie novel. No great surprise given Ragnar Jónasson’s passion for the writer having translated numerous novels into Icelandic.
No matter how good a foreign language story is, a book relies heavily on a strong translation and Nightblind is no exception. Translated by Quentin Bates – who incidentally lived in Iceland for a decade as a teenager and young adult – he does a splendid job in bringing Ragnar’s words to an English speaking community. As I’ve already mentioned, it reads very well and the flow is arguably one of the best this year, for me at least.
Not only is Nightblind chilling it evokes an insular feeling that never leaves for you are never afforded the opportunity to escape this small community. Ari Thór is undoubtedly the star of the show but he’s anything but perfect. Struggling with his relationship with his live in girlfriend and balancing parenthood with a demanding job, especially after the initial shooting, things don’t always go to plan. But then where would be the fun if they did?
The clues are there allowing the reader to guess the final outcome and it all unravels beautifully in the end, a fitting finale to a terrific book. Frábær!!
Published by Orenda Books.
Meet Jessica Blackwood, FBI Agent and ex-illusionist.
Called in because of her past to offer expertise on the mysterious ‘Warlock’ case, Jessica must put all her unique knowledge to the test as the FBI try to catch a ruthless killer.
Needing to solve the unsolvable, and with the clock ticking, they’re banking on her being the only one able to see beyond the Warlock’s illusions.
Angel Killer is an enjoyable and easy read; a summer read if ever there was one either in paperback or kindle, all you have to do is choose your preference!
Knowing that the author had history as a magician made the read a little bit more tantalising every time a magic trick or an illusion was mentioned. I expected the author to give away dark secrets and although he insinuated and teased at how they were done, nothing is given away – I guess that’s the magician’s code for you! Nonetheless that never detracted from the thrilling story and its characters.
The fact that Jessica Blackwood is a former magician gives the book an extra dimension. Although she’s initially sneered at by her new colleagues she does manage to turn things around to a certain degree. Fame comes a calling but for the wrong reasons, it’s a fame she doesn’t want or need at this particular time in her career but she handles it well.
I really enjoyed the magic element and the tie in with the murders is well thought out and apart from a few slow sections the book really moves along at a good pace, a real page turner. It keeps you interested and entertained and I can see a fair bit of mileage with Jessica Blackwood and her problem solving. She’s not your usual feebie agent or detective, she definitely brings something new to the table. She’s driven, enthusiastic and determined to succeed.
Characterisation was good and it will be interesting to see where certain relationships go in the next instalment as the book ends in a rather open ended fashion leaving the door well and truly open for a sequel. If I had any criticism at all I found the end reveal a little rushed, I would have preferred it a little more drawn out but that’s just a personal preference.
This is the first opportunity I’ve had to read Andrew Mayne’s work but with Jessica Blackwood as a protagonist I can see the franchise going from strength to strength. I definitely want to know what happens next and although I don’t expect any rabbits in hats I do expect another thrilling instalment.
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher:Faber & Faber; Main edition (8 Oct. 2015)
With the end of the war, the victorious Germans now occupy a defeated Great Britain. In London, decorated detective John Henry Rossett, now reporting to the Nazi victors, lies in a hospital bed recovering from gunshot wounds. Desperate to avoid blame over the events that led to the shooting, his boss, Ernst Koehler, covers up the incident. But when Koehler’s wife and daughter are kidnapped by American spies, the terrified German turns to the only man he trusts to help him—a shrewd cop who will do whatever is necessary to get the job done: John Rossett.
Surviving his brush with death, Rossett agrees to save his friend’s daughter. But in a chaotic new world ruled by treachery and betrayal, doing the right thing can get a man killed. Caught between the Nazi SS, the violent British resistance, and Americans with very uncertain loyalties, Rossett must secretly make his way out of London and find Ruth Hartz, a Jewish scientist working in Cambridge. Spared from death because of her intellect and expertise, she is forced to work on developing the atom bomb for Germany. Though she knows it could end any hope of freedom in Europe and maybe even the world, Ruth must finish the project—if she, too, wants to survive.
The British Lion is undoubtedly one of THE books of the year, for me at least. It grips you from the very first page and never relinquishes its magical and compelling hold until a gripping finale ends what is a cracking and powerful story. Full of engaging characters, fabulous plotting and a narrative that keeps you turning the pages, Schumacher has followed his first novel with a stunning work of alternate fiction that gives the reader a glimpse into what might have been had Hitler and the Nazi’s won the Second World War. Fortunately for us it never happened and makes reading this fictional work a lot more enjoyable and less frightening!
Even during the quiet and scene building occasions I couldn’t help but want to know what happens next. There was never a dull moment, each character caressing the story along in such a natural way that it made reading effortless. It’s difficult to express how easy this book is to read and it’s one you definitely have to experience for yourself.
Unfortunately I haven’t read Tony’s debut The Darkest Hour and even though I have a fair idea what happened after reading this follow up I’ll definitely make time to visit Schumacher’s introduction of London detective John Rossett.
Talking of Rossett, he’s a terrific protagonist and leads the book well but here’s the thing, he’s not the only protagonist. Running alongside Rossett is Nazi Commander Ernst Koehler and scientist Ruth Hartz who literally has the fate of the world in her hands. The three fill up the pages with great stories, fabulous dialogue and intriguing interaction.
Tony Schumacher isn’t afraid to take risks, no character is safe and this is one book that kept me guessing throughout due to its unpredictable nature. Bodies soon begin to pile up and you never quite know who’s going to survive.
There were a number of scenes that stood out for me but one literally took my breath away. It wasn’t a scene full of bodies or uninterrupted action but a moment of hopeless tenderness and beauty. It was a scene in such raw tenderness and emotion that will remain with me for some time.
So there you have it a story about brotherhood, occupation, control and relationships The British Lion is so much more than a book about one man striving to help a friend in need and in so doing he might just help save the world.
Gripping, entertaining and utterly compelling.
• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (31 Dec. 2015)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0062439197
• ISBN-13: 978-0062439192
• Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
Jon is on the run. He has betrayed Oslo’s biggest crime lord: The Fisherman.
Fleeing to an isolated corner of Norway, to a mountain town so far north that the sun never sets, Jon hopes to find sanctuary amongst a local religious sect.
Hiding out in a shepherd’s cabin in the wilderness, all that stands between him and his fate are Lea, a bereaved mother and her young son, Knut.
But while Lea provides him with a rifle and Knut brings essential supplies, the midnight sun is slowly driving Jon to insanity.
And then he discovers that The Fisherman’s men are getting closer…
Jo Nesbo is back with a new standalone novel called Midnight Sun that will, I’m sure, receive a mixed reaction. There is no Harry Hole, no Snowman but there is violence, drugs and a damaged leading man – Jo Nesbo does this incredibly well!
Of the two standalones, Blood on Snow (reviewed in May this year) remains my clear favourite. There’s something about Olav that kept me turning the pages and despite the fact that he was a hitman there was something rather endearing about him!
Both protagonists have depth but I struggled to like Jon in Midnight Sun, I’m not sure if it was the character or the way Nesbo presented him. My favourite character by far was Lea’s son Knut who is a curious, inquisitive and lovely kid who wants to know everything. He wants to be liked and loved. It was clear to me that Knut was missing a strong male influence in his life and for whatever reason Jon – or Ulf’s – arrival brought him to life. He loves his jokes and he wanted to help Jon, the relationship between the two was incredibly touching. I could have done with many more scenes between the two!
Recovering from the death of his daughter and the guilt of failing to save her, Jon steals money from The Fisherman, a crime boss in Oslo, and runs for his life in Northern Norway where the sun never sets. And so begins a new adventure in his life but one constant, alcohol is never far away.
The majority of the story is set in a hunter’s cabin and it makes for a wonderful and atmospheric setting. You could just imagine walking to the stream and washing, just how nature intended! As I’ve mentioned there is a little violence and a few scenes that made me squirm but this is typical Nesbo!
The book is quite short and finished way too soon for me, I felt as if more of the past and for that matter the present could have been explored to greater depth but it wasn’t. I do think the author missed a trick with this and the ending will be a marmite one. Some will enjoy it, some will hate it and some will be undecided. I’m sitting on the fence, I’m still not sure how I felt about the ending but one thing I am certain of, I wanted it to finish in a different way but without spoilers I can’t go any further with this train of thought! This is very much up to the individual reader! Oh and before I forget, watch out for the twist!
Also reviewed on Raven Crime Reads
- Hardcover:224 pages
- Publisher:Harvill Secker (5 Nov. 2015)
If you seek, they will find…
The travels of Marco Polo are known throughout the world.
But what if his story isn’t complete?
What if his greatest adventure has yet to be discovered?
Guided by a journal believed to have been dictated by Polo himself,
the Hunters set out in search of his final legacy:
the mythical treasure gathered during Polo’s lifetime of exploration.
But as every ancient clue brings them closer to the truth,
each new step puts them in increasing danger….
Damn you Kuzneski, why do you write adventure stories that are impossible to put down? I mean, it would be nice to have a breather every once in a while but with gripping storylines, amazing characters and the obligatory twists and turns, The Prisoner’s Gold is another prime example of superb construction and terrific writing that is frankly impossible to resist!
Incredible stuff, an author who continues to push the boundaries and enhance the action thriller genre, Kuzneski is one of my dependable authors, a man who delivers time and time again and long may it continue.
Characterisation is impressive with Jack Cobb once again leading the merry band of misfits! A motley crew, they act as one, one for all and all for one if you like – now where have I heard that before?! Dependable, highly skilled and determined to find the treasure, very little is allowed to stand in their way but as with all adventures things don’t always go to plan. Forced to think on their feet the crew, now sporting a new member – historian and linguist Maggie – meticulously plan for all eventualities but as this adventures is anything but A to B, things tend to go awry and Cobb shows the leadership skills that are crucial for its success.
With every good guy comes a bad guy, a bit of Ying for your Yang, and in Feng He, the leader of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, a secret organisation, we have a despicable bad guy! He is ruthless and violent. He sports a determination to keep all Chinese treasures in the country and a hatred of all things Western. There’s one particular scene where he enters a room and hands out – you’ll get that pun once you’ve read the book – his own punishment and boy is it severe. Feng and his second in command are great characters and if it is possible to like a bad guy then he’s your man!
Another character I really enjoy is Josh McNutt – sniper – and his attitude, comedy and one lines are a breath of fresh air. He does have a tendency to be rather uncouth at times but I enjoy him more every time he pushes the boundaries and makes people squirm.
The Hunters is a great series and here’s hoping it goes from strength to strength. Great dynamics, superb writing and intriguing storylines I can’t wait to see what Kuzneski comes up with next. If you’re a fan of Scott Mariani’s then you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Do read them in order to get the most out of the series but each one stands alone for those who don’t have the time to explore the back catalogue – but if you do you’ll definitely be rewarded!
- Hardcover:384 pages
- Publisher:Headline (8 Oct. 2015)
Detective Superintendent George Quinn – Mayfair resident and dandy with a razor-sharp brain – has set up a new police unit, dedicated to investigating the super-rich. When he is shot in mysterious circumstances, DI Blake Reynolds is charged with taking over. But Reynolds hadn’t bargained for Quinn’s personal assistant – the flinty Victoria Clifford – who knows more than she’s prepared to reveal…
The trail left by Quinn leads to a jewellery theft, a murderous conspiracy among some of the most glamorous (and richest) Russians in London – and the beautiful Anna, who challenges Reynolds’ professional integrity. Reynolds and Clifford must learn to work together fast – or risk Quinn’s fate.
The Yellow Diamond is a quirky read and although set in the heart of twenty-first-century Mayfair, a world of champagne, Lamborghinis and Savile Row suits, I felt as if it could quite easily have been set in 1970’s London. It doesn’t read as a modern police thriller – to me – it reeks of an old fashioned read with a protagonist who with every page appears to be increasingly out of his depth!
Blake Reynolds is a by the book Detective Inspector whose sole aim in life appears to be to account for every gratuity he receives. Whether that’s a cup of tea, a glass of vintage champagne, a £50 cigar or an expensive suit, he exhorts just about as much effort into balancing the books as he does in finding criminals and escaping life or death situations! I did like his character, he’s quite an unusual protagonist, a protagonist who wrestles with his conscience on an hourly rate! His personality shines throughout the book and gives the story a great deal of depth and colour.
His working relationship with Victoria or Vicky Clifford is intriguing and one I could never quite work out which is always a good thing! There’s no doubt about who wears the trousers in the relationship! With subtle and not so subtle suggestions, Blake Reynolds finds he is guided down a path with consummate ease and manipulation it’s great to read.
The story itself is good, I did find I’d lost my way once or twice, but on the whole it made sense and it all came together nicely at the end with a few unexpected turns. I’m looking forward to another installment of Blake Reynolds and his unique approach to policing, long may he continue investigating the rich and powerful of West London, an area full of embassies, hedge funds and high end living.
- Hardcover:320 pages
- Publisher:Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Nov. 2015)
1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.
But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…
Until five minutes ago, just before I began this review, I had no idea that this book was inspired by real life events in 1946. Dubbed the Texarkana Moonlight Murders by the media – those pesky journalists! – an unknown killer named the Phantom held the small town to ransom in the spring of 1946. The murderer was never caught.
69 years later Rod Reynolds has penned The Dark Inside loosely based on the eight murders and boy is it a page turner. It had me gripped from start to finish and although I had an inkling as to who was responsible for the murders in Rod’s book, I didn’t quite get it right! Twists and turns abound the book keeps you interested right up until the reveal.
The funny thing is with this book I didn’t warm to the main protagonist, disgraced journalist Charlie Yates, a big city hot shot who has been sent to the minor leagues by his boss to report on a non-story is sent to pasture in the remote town. Given a full expense account he checks in to the best hotel in the town and begrudgingly goes to work. He has no interest in the story or the people killed, initially, and it shows. With a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas he’s quickly alienated by the locals, including the local police who definitely has something to hide. I didn’t like him, his attitude or his mannerisms. Slowly but surely you do warm to him as his attitude to the town and people change, but not enough for me to like him at the end! I’m sure his mother loved him!
That said I don’t think he was ever supposed to be a character you love, I could be wrong of course! On the flip side there are characters in the book you truly detest, mainly due to their actions – both past and present – and there are a couple of bit players you warm to and then change your mind! It’s that kind of book but characterisation is very good and well structured.
From the very outset I was transported to 1946 Texas and I never left, the book has no trouble in holding your attention or making you believe that seeing GI’s roaming the streets and bars is the norm. I didn’t miss the internet, my iPhone or online shopping once! Very well done.
A fairly rapid read with a clever outcome I really enjoyed the read and the story has a great blend of fact, fiction and intrigue to make you want to discover the true story behind the murders.
- Paperback:400 pages
- Publisher:Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 Sept. 2015)