Category Archives: Books

That Night. The Calls. The Guilt

“If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside – the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her… “

The latest book that I’ve read is titled “The Breakdown”. This is the second novel from France-based author B.A. Paris.

I was intrigued by the synopsis, as above, but it didn’t really prepare me for just how gripping the book was to become. The story’s narrator is the character of Cass Anderson – a teacher just starting her six-week summer break. She passes a seemingly broken-down car on a dark lane on her way home on late at night on the last day of term and sees a woman sitting inside it. The weather is awful and although she stops to see if the woman needs help when said woman gives no indication of needing any assistance Cass decides to drive on home to her husband, and puts it out of her mind.

When she hears the next day that a woman has been found dead in her car on that exact stretch of road she feels guilty for not stopping. As more details of the circumstances of the death and the identity of the dead woman – Jane Walters – emerge, Cass’s guilt only increases and it becomes an ever-present stress on her mind. However, that’s not the only breakdown that will trouble Cass as she notices that she appears to be becoming more and more forgetful, leading her to worry that she is suffering from early onset dementia – which her mother was diagnosed with in her mid-40s.

Husband Matthew does his best to reassure Cass but as her behaviour grows more erratic she naturally worries that she will eventually push him away. Luckily she can also rely on best friend Rachel for support and has the whole summer break to try to get her head straight again. But, of course, things aren’t what they seem at all…

B.A. Paris

Some reviews that I have seen complain that the answers in this particular puzzle were too obvious and too easy to figure out. I don’t agree although it’s certainly true that you know the who and why by about the 80% mark – but that’s because Paris has told us by then and she spends the final fifth of the novel filling in the blanks etc. as the tale reaches its conclusion (which I didn’t expect anymore than our narrator did).

I’ve not read the author’s debut novel “Behind Closed Doors”, which I believe is scheduled for the big screen treatment but I would definitely recommend “The Breakdown” for anyone that enjoys psychological crime thrillers and can see that it, too, would make for a good movie…

What Makes A Killer?

“Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.

When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalisingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined…”

“Need You Dead”, the thirteenth entry in Peter James‘ police procedural series centred around Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his team based in Brighton, finds the main man busy with case files for trials relating to Jodie Bentley and Dr. Edward Crisp – characters involved in the previous book “Love You Dead”.

On top of that Grace is having to arrange for his late first wife Sandy’s funeral (she committed suicide in Germany) and preparing for the ten-year old German son that he didn’t know existed, Bruno, to come and live with current wife Cleo, baby Noah and him in their quiet Sussex home.

Grace’s usual sidekick is away on holiday with his girlfriend so when a suspicious death – that of home-based hairdresser Lorna Belling – is referred to his team Grace decides to use acting DI Guy Batchelor to lead the investigation under his supervision.

The case is one that constantly shifts focus as the number of suspects increases – did Lorna kill herself? It’s possible but then her husband has a history of abusive behaviour. So does a man who wanted to buy Lorna’s car, and then there’s the man (or men?!) that she was having an affair with in an attempt to escape her marriage. So many possibilities and precious little clarity mean that the team struggle to make meaningful progress.

Peter James

I thought I’d figured it out soon after the half-way point, only to realise about three pages before James made the revelation that I’d fallen for one of his red herrings!…

Some reviewers have complained that the book is rather dry, with too much detail in the police procedures. Personally I find that this makes the whole story feel more authentic. I have previously written about my reservations over the Sandy storyline. Well, with her death that could have come to a conclusion, but the introduction of Bruno as a new part of Grace’s family means that effectively the remnants of Grace’s first marriage will stay with us as the series progresses. Whether that will be a positive or not remains to be seen.

In terms of this book I would say that although I enjoyed it immensely I can see that readers new to James and this series might have issues due to the number of references to past events. If you haven’t followed the series then you might find yourself rather puzzled over some of these.

For the future, there is presumably something to come from Grace’s nemesis ACC Cassian Pewe’s conversations in German with young Bruno, as well as from the suggestions that the boy may have mental health issues. No doubt James will expand on these as Grace’s adventures continue but, again, would mean little to anyone reading “Need You Dead” in isolation from previous stories.

I was slightly perplexed at the end of the book with – SPOILER ALERT – the  deadly spider crawling up Noah’s cot, as that plot element seemed to come from nowhere and just got left unresolved. Overall however I must say that this is yet another excellent novel from the very reliable Peter James. Most definitely recommended reading for lovers of great crime thriller fiction…

The Perfect Husband. The Perfect Stepson. The Perfect Lie?

“It took only six words to shatter her dreams.

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatised than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

‘You will be dead by Christmas.’…”

My most recent reading material was the psychological thriller “The Fire Child” by British author Sean Thomas. Thomas is a writer and journalist who writes religious / archaeological thrillers under the name Tom Knox, and “The Fire Child” is the second psychological novel that he has penned as S.K. Tremayne, the first being 2015’s “The Ice Twins”.

This book is set primarily in the western part of Cornwall, with a few scenes in London where the character of David Kerthen works as an expensive lawyer during the week. At weekends and in holidays he returns to his ancestral home of Carnhallow House, part of a large estate that includes a number of long since disused tin mines remaining from when the family owned and ran a very profitable mining business.

At home is David’s new wife Rachel, and his eight year old son Jamie. David’s first wife Nina died as a result of an accident in one of the mine shafts about a year and a half before the beginning of the story. Nina had been working on restoring the ancient house and former professional photographer Rachel finds herself taking on the task as well as doing her utmost to be the best stepmum to Jamie that she can be. Nonetheless this is a challenge as the child seems to be withdrawing into himself.

S.K. Tremayne

When one day Jamie tells Rachel that he believes that she’ll be dead by Christmas, which is just a few months away, this is just one of a number of strange conversations that she has had with him – and he seems to be convinced that Nina isn’t really dead too.

It’s clear that David knows more than he’s letting on and he is oddly adverse to getting any help for Jamie’s troubled state of mind. Meanwhile Rachel is harbouring secrets of her own and as the days tick by it becomes less clear just what is going on and who – if anyone – is the “bad guy”…

I did enjoy this novel, though with all the action centred in a small geographic area and around a very small cast of main players it did seem to perhaps be dragging things out a bit at times. That said, the sense of mental instability and impending madness was nicely handled and did keep the reader (this one, at least) guessing as to quite what was going on and where we would end up.

As the tale progressed I did feel that neither Rachel nor David were particularly nice individuals under the surface and that was borne out by various revelations, and it was unclear for a long time if this would turn out to be a kind of paranormal ghost story or what. I have to admit that some of the plot turns just seemed a bit too implausible for me in all honesty. All that said, however, “The Fire Child” was a decent enough read and one could do far worse than pick this one up…

You Will Always Belong To Him…

“Seb Logan is being watched. He just doesn’t know by whom.

When the sudden appearance of a dark figure shatters his idyllic coastal life, he soon realises that the murky past he thought he’d left behind has far from forgotten him. What’s more unsettling is the strange atmosphere that engulfs him at every sighting, plunging his mind into a terrifying paranoia.

To be a victim without knowing the tormentor. To be despised without knowing the offence caused. To be seen by what nobody else can see. These are the thoughts which plague his every waking moment.

Imprisoned by despair, Seb fears his stalker is not working alone, but rather is involved in a wider conspiracy that threatens everything he has worked for. For there are doors in this world that open into unknown places. Places used by the worst kind of people to achieve their own ends. And once his investigation leads him to stray across the line and into mortal danger, he risks becoming another fatality in a long line of victims…”

“Under A Watchful Eye” is the eighth novel from Devon-based author Adam Nevill. I have read nearly all of his previous books, including the previous two “No One Gets Out Alive” and 2015’s “Lost Girl”.

Whereas the latter was based more in a sci-fi future world with “Under A Watchful Eye” Nevill is back onto more familiar ground, falling squarely into supernatural horror territory, in this case with a narrative penned from the perspective of horror author Seb Logan who encounters problems when an old roommate from student days, Ewan Alexander, reappears in his life. Before he knows it Seb finds himself immersed in a nightmare scenario involving a long-dead author, M.L. Hazzard, who it transpires was involved with some kind of cult.

The character of Hazzard was apparently inspired, at least in part, by the strange tale of Dr. Charlotte Bach although the activities here are centred around astral projection and out-of-body experiences rather than evolutionary gender theories.

Adam Nevill

The book is based in the Devon area, where the author resides, and the use of a dilapidated manor house in a secluded part of Dartmoor helps to add to the atmosphere as the story progresses. It also felt like a bit of a throwback to “Ritual”, Nevill’s debut novel that was set in rural Norway. A further reference to the author’s previous work comes within the text with a couple of references to the Temple Of The Last Days cult featured in his “Last Days” book, as well as the film-maker at the heart of that tale, Kyle Freeman. There are also some nods to a few metal bands included.

This certainly shouldn’t suggest a lack of ideas however. I think it’s true to say that stories of this kind can take a little longer to get into, as the imagery can demand more visual imagination than in, for example, your average crime thriller and I did find that to be the case here. That said, the horrors are so well described that it soon becomes all too easy to picture them in your head and imagine what Seb is experiencing!

I really enjoyed this story, going along for the ride as Seb’s organised and comfortable life is steadily eroded by events and characters in the tale and you wonder if there is any way he can make it through relatively unscathed. Another highly recommended novel from the excellent Mr. Nevill…

Sticks And Stones May Break Your Bones

“Corinne Woodrow was fifteen when she was convicted of the ritualistic murder of her classmate in a quaint seaside town. It was 1984, a year when teenagers ran wild, dressed in black, stayed out all night, and listened to music that terrified their parents. Rumours of Satanism surrounded Corinne and she was locked up indefinitely, a chilling reminder to the parents of Ernemouth to keep a watchful eye on their children.

Twenty years later, private investigator Sean Ward — whose promising career as a detective with the Metropolitan Police was cut short by a teenager with a gun — reopens the case after new forensic evidence suggests that Corinne didn’t act alone. His investigation uncovers a town full of secrets, and a community that has always looked after its own…”Just recently finished reading “Weirdo”, a novel by London-based author Cathi Unsworth. Unsworth began her career with music weekly Sounds and has subsequently worked on other music magazines including Uncut, Mojo and Melody Maker.

The reason that her music journalism background is relevant is that each chapter of the book is titled after a song from the early eighties, when the original action in the story takes place. It is 1984 and in Great Yarmouth (which has been re-christened as Ernemouth for the purposes of the book) where Corrine Woodrow, a fifteen year old schoolgirl from a very troubled background, finds herself caught up in a series of events that will lead to witchcraft and murder.

Cathi Unsworth

Interspersed with the original action is the 2003 re-investigation by ex-police officer Sean Ward into the crime and the various characters involved.

I don’t know Great Yarmouth, so really cannot comment on how accurate a picture the author paints of the less salubrious side of the town thirty-odd years ago but having been at secondary school in the early 80s I could certainly identify with the music and fashions, not to mention friendship issues, described for the then-teenagers in the novel.

As Ward digs deeper into the events of the past in Ernemouth we come across all manner of odd, dysfunctional and just plain nasty individuals that are somehow connected to the web of secrets that he needs to uncover to get to the truth.

This is a crime thriller that doesn’t have a great deal of lightness, and there is an awful lot going on within the community under the spotlight. Corruption, magic, politics, prostitution, music, art, fashion, relationships, family dynamics and pornography – not to mention murder and conspiracy! It is, however, very evocative of a time and place and makes for a great read…

A House Full Of Secrets. A Life Full Of Lies

“When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade?

As a body fails to materialise, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realise that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance…”

The latest book that I’ve read is “Let The Dead Speak”, by Irish author Jane Casey. It turns out that this is the seventh novel in a series centred around DC Maeve Kerrigan, a London-based police officer, now promoted to DS.

Not having read the previous six books I was oblivious to Kerrigan’s back-story, but although that meant that the reasons for her complicated work relationships were unclear it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the tale.

Jane Casey

I tried to outline the story to my wife after finishing the book, and found it rather tricky. This is a book with multiple strands to the plot, with connections all over the place and I found myself having to keep going back to add in things that I’d missed because they didn’t become clear until the latter stages of the novel.

The story is told almost exclusively from the perspective of Kerrigan as she interviews various characters and gets stuck into the police investigation surrounding the disappearance of Kate Emery. There is plenty for her to get to grips with. There is a ready-made suspect living on the same road, in the shape of William Turner, a young man previously accused but not charged with a near-fatal stabbing. Across the road from Kate’s house lives Oliver Norris and his devoutly Christian family – wife Eleanor and daughter Bethany – who take 18-year-old Chloe in when her home becomes a crime scene, and Oliver’s sleazy brother Morgan. Then there’s Chloe’s dad and his new wife and her two teenage sons, not forgetting the head of their Modern Apostle Movement, Gareth Selhurst.

All of these characters have something for Maeve to uncover and it takes some unravelling I can tell you. The ending was a nice surprise twist, too, just when you think the final secret’s been let out!

Highly recommended for all lovers of crime fiction and police procedurals…

One Body. Six Victims. And A Detective Coming Apart At The Seams…

“A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed the ‘Ragdoll’ by the media.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?…”

“Ragdoll” is the first book in what I believe the author Daniel Cole intends to be a series featuring the character of police detective William Fawkes. According to a story in the Guardian last year, Bournemouth-based Cole was signed for a three book publishing and TV deal for the fledgling series – at which time the detective’s name appears to have been Nathan Wolfe. Now that the first book is out the Wolfe has become “Wolf” and is the nickname for the Fawkes character.

Wolf is a detective with a lot of baggage – more than your average crime fiction detective in fact. Said baggage includes his spell in a psychiatric hospital following a brutal attack, in court, on accused killer Naguib Khaled when a case falls apart. As well as this there is a complicated relationship with fellow police officer DS Emily Baxter and the existence of his TV journalist ex-wife Andrea.

When a stitched-together “Ragdoll” is discovered in a flat opposite the one in which Wolf now resides he finds himself on the case along with Baxter. When Andrea receives a list detailing the killer’s intended targets – as well as the dates on which they are to die – the investigation becomes increasingly personal.

Daniel Cole

Unfortunately Wolf doesn’t work well with the investigating team, preferring to work alone and keeping Baxter and her trainee partner Edmunds at arm’s length as much as possible.

Somehow, despite the police taking elaborate precautions, the killer manages to find his victims and dispatch them in a variety of ingenious ways. Who is this mysterious killer and where does he get his inside information from?

Although I found Wolf to be perhaps a little too larger than life I did enjoy the way the story and relationships between the main characters were portrayed. Cole has obviously got a great imagination when it comes to clever killings and did a very good job in plotting the whole tale so that you never really get a handle on what’s going on until the end.

The climax of the book does make me wonder quite how Cole will take the series forward with Wolf and Baxter in tandem but I look forward to finding out when the second book hits the shelves…

Best Friends For Life, And For Death…

“A killer that the police are calling ‘Billy Dead Mates’ is murdering pairs of best friends, one by one.

Before they die, each victim is given a small white book…

For months, detectives have failed to catch Billy, or work out what the white books mean. And then a woman, scared by what she’s seen on the news, comes forward.

Stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck has one of Billy’s peculiar little books. A stranger gave it to her at a gig she did a year ago. Was he Billy, and does he want to kill her? Kim has no friends and trusts no one, so how – and why – could she possibly be Billy Dead Mates’ next target?…”

OK, where to start with this one? This is the tenth full novel in Sophie Hannah‘s “Culver Valley” series featuring police detectives Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse and follows on from 2014’s ninth entry to the series, the excellent “The Telling Error”.

In the meantime, Zailer and Waterhouse appeared in Hannah’s Quick Reads novella “Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen” during 2015.

Published back in 2016, “The Narrow Bed” finds us back in full novel-length territory as we catch up with the two police officers, their colleagues and their caseload.

Sophie Hannah

This particular tale is told from a variety of angles. There are those of both Zailer and Waterhouse and they make their investigations – in Charlie’s case it’s largely to do with finding out what’s going on with her sister Liv and her supposed ex Gibbs, whilst Simon is involved with the “Billy Dead Mates” case. In addition, there are chapters told from the perspective of Kim Tribbeck who may be a target for the killer, extracts from Kim’s to-be-published autobiography which looks back at the case, and various blog posts, emails and letters from other characters. Whilst this may seem, on the surface, to be confusing the author has done a very good job of making the tale easy to keep up with, without giving away any more clues than she wants to.

There is a quote from one of the book’s characters where they say “books are everywhere in this investigation” and that is very true. Whether it be the small white books given to the murder victims, Waterhouse’s dog-eared but beloved copy of “Moby Dick” or Tribbeck’s own book there are indeed plenty of books littered throughout the story, and they play a part in the motivation of the mysterious killer too. And that latter point is perhaps where I felt this book fell down slightly, as the rationale for the baddie to be killing the pairs of friends etc. just didn’t come across as convincing or likely – even allowing for some mental instability. That said, however, there is certainly some food for thought in terms of the advantages / disadvantages that come with the never-ending march of technological progress.

Not her strongest novel, then, but as always Hannah’s writing is clever, witty and insightful and her characters get plenty of room to develop. Whilst Waterhouse is always one step – at least – ahead of his wife and colleagues in determining what’s going on, most readers don’t have his unnatural abilities and so the secrets are kept back until the author wants us to uncover them, making this a jolly good read…

Everything That’s Yours Was Once Hers

“Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before…”

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Finished reading the psychological thriller “The Girl Before” this week. The book was written by JP Delaney, which seems to be a pseudonym for Ugandan-born author and advertising man Tony Strong. Whether more books will see the light under this nom de plume remains to be seen, but this one has reportedly been picked up for filming with Ron Howard in the director’s chair…

Tony Strong

The story is told from two separate perspectives – from that of Emma Matthews in chapters subtitled “Then” and from the point of view of Jane Cavendish, whose chapters are subtitled “Now”. Thus we have a story that unfolds through a mixture of past and present narrative from the two women.

What ties them together is that, at the time of each’s testimony, they are tenants of architect Edward Monkford’s austere and hi-tech property at One Folgate Street in London. Despite being in an expensive part of the capital city the rent is more affordable than many properties nearby due to the highly restrictive nature of the tenancy agreement. Not simply a case of you can’t put nails in the wall or similar, there are over two hundred specific restrictions for the home!

Despite this for their individual reasons both women chose to live in the house and abide my all the rules that come with it. As details of each come to light it becomes clear to the reader, and to Jane, that the two women have lots of similarities in their experience with both the house and Edward Monkford. In addition to these three main players there are a number of other significant characters including Emma’s ex-boyfriend Simon, police officers, a psychologist and various work colleagues of both women.

It’s not clear what happened to Emma, the girl before, however and Jane becomes determined to find out. Will she regret that taking that route?…

One of the main themes, for me, in this book was about control. Whether that be the tenants of the house being controlled by their contract and environment, characters controlling each other by overt or subtle means, or simply characters seeking to control their own lives and destinies. This is where I think the novel really works as it makes the reader think about things and perhaps even question their own behaviours in relation to others.

The plot itself is not overly complicated but has enough smoke and mirrors to keep you engrossed. Whether or not the actions of some of the characters at any given time are necessarily plausible is open to debate and the final chapters did feel like a slight let down to me. These seem to be common points for some reviewers, whilst others found the book to be uniformly excellent.

All that said, some of the detail was clearly inspired by the author’s own experiences and overall the book makes for a really good read, despite the above remarks, so I would say it’s definitely worth picking up…maxresdefault

Trespasser

“Being on the murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blonde, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?…”

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“The Trespasser” was my first exposure to the writing of Irish author Tana French. It is the sixth in a series based on the work of the detectives in a police murder squad in Dublin, and was very impressive..

Tana French

Unusually, from what I gather, French has written each novel from the point of view of a different investigating officer rather than having the same main character each time. Although I haven’t read any of the others – which doesn’t detract from the standalone tale told here – I would imagine that this gives the series a distinctive freshness and difference in perspective whilst still retaining enough of the familiarity you normally encounter in, for example, Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne novels.

So this story is told through the eyes of detective Antionette Conway. Working with her partner Stephen Moran (star of the previous novel “The Secret Place”), Conway is put onto a murder investigation to try to track down the person responsible for the death of Aislinn Murray.

At first this seems like an easy case when an obvious suspect comes almost immediately to their attention. It all seems a bit too easy though and Conway – convinced that the rest of the murder squad are out to get her off the team – begins to see connections and have suspicions everywhere, whilst constantly doubting her own thought processes. Who is telling the truth? Who can she trust?

Meanwhile, Moran is coming up with gangster theories and other officers seem very eager for her to put the case to bed as quickly as possible. The truth of both Aislinn and her killer takes some digging for and when the detective duo eventually get there it’s very far from what they anticipated…

I really enjoyed this book. The dialogue was written such that I felt the Irishness coming through(!) and there was some fabulous wit on display too throughout. The characters are all brilliantly described as well, so that we can really imagine them in lifelike terms.

Ultimately this was a cracking tale with enough twists and turns to keep the reader involved without giving too much away so that we (or at least I) definitely aren’t expecting the guilty party that is eventually unmasked. Great stuff – I shall certainly be looking out for future entries to the series…9781444755626