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Piercing, wonderfully real and so very readable, this is another cracking novel from Doug Johnstone. Set in and around a funeral home in Edinburgh, three generations of Skelf women arrange funerals and handle a little private investigation on the side. I love Doug Johnstone’s writing, it feels so authentic, yet he has the ability to get under the skin and nudge new thoughts and feelings into being. Dorothy, Jenny, and Hannah are simply wonderful, and Edinburgh itself sits brooding in the background. It’s the small detail that really matters here, encouraging the most vivid and intense picture to form. As I came to the end I realised I wanted to hear more about these women, and later learned there is to be a series, so, so pleased! A Dark Matter, sitting as it does in death, crime, and wrong-doing, still felt like a breath of fresh air, it really is a fabulous read and I loved it!
Different, provocative and a very special read indeed, The Poison Garden has taken root in my thoughts and will stay with me for some time. Romy grew up in a cult in Wales, having lost all the people who meant so much to her, she now has to learn to survive. Alex Marwood is an award winning author and former journalist, and she succeeded in bringing an almost unimaginable scenario to vivid, incredibly intense life. Romy is one of the most intruiging characters I’ve met, and I say met, as I feel as though I know her intimately. As I read, Romy became me, or I became her, she touched my heart, and still sits in my thoughts. The Poison Garden is completely fascinating, the more I read, the more involved and consumed I became. I read this fabulous novel in one sitting with my senses on full alert, once finished I sat in a booky stupor. Highly recommended and chosen as one of our LoveReading Star Books, and a book of the month, this is a book that we really want to shout about.
A booky health warning should be stamped on this cover… once you start you won’t want to stop! I read right through to 03:30am, until I had devoured every single and absolutely wonderful last drop. Hayley Chill, ex-military and champion boxer, is a new West Wing intern in the White House. When she finds the body of the Chief of Staff, she also finds a clue that it wasn’t the reported heart attack, and everything now points to an assassination plot on the president. The first few pages really sum up Hayley Chill, she is courageous, honourable, and can kick some serious ass. In other words, she is someone you would most definitely want on your side. Chris Hauty has the ability to highlight a life in just a few sentences, adding to the vivid overall picture in my mind. Deep State is a fast-moving, full-on adrenaline hit. Please, please tell me that this is the start of a new series, because I want more! Chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month and LoveReading Star Book, because Deep State really is that addictive. Find out more in our Q&A with Chris Hauty!
If you were to ask me to recommend a crime fiction series, this is it, this is the one. Sarah Hilary has the ability to write with such beautiful, quiet clarity even when the words scream and pound at your thoughts. ‘Never Be Broken’ is the sixth in the D.I. Marnie Rome series, do go back and start at the beginning if you come to this recommendation for the first time, the books have to be read in order, just simply to make the most of every thought, every word. Sarah Hilary’s debut ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ won the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year, and I have hunted down every one in the series since. The pain and torment at the centre of London society, the stabbings, the gangs, sit at the centre of ‘Never Be Broken’. The first few pages focus on ‘now’, fiercely kicking me right in the centre of my feelings, vividly bruising me before chapter one then returns to 48 hours earlier. This is intense, startling storytelling, it feels… it feels real, as though this is happening right now. ‘Never Be Broken’ may be fiction, you could think it is fact, it hurts, it shocks, it reads so beautifully it just has to be one of my picks of the month.
She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . . Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter, and wife, are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible. Three years later and Gabe cannot give up hope. Even though he has given up everything else. His home, his job, his old life. He spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter. Katie spends a lot of her life in service stations, working as a waitress. She often sees Gabriel, or 'the thin man' as she has nicknamed him. She knows his story. She feels for him, because Katie understands what it's like to lose a loved one. Nine years ago, her father was murdered. It broke her family apart. She hasn't seen her oldest sister since the day of the funeral; the day she did something terrible. Fran and her daughter, Alice, put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people that want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe's daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows that if they ever find them, they're dead.
Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son Nathan and ageing Labrador Dido, both at the discretion of his former partner Julia. It's a picturesque setting, but there's something darker lurking behind the scenes. Jackson's current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, seems straightforward, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network-and back into the path of someone from his past. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking new literary crime novel, both sharply funny and achingly sad, by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.
A pretty fabulous first book in what I truly hope is a continuing crime series. Bestselling authors Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst have teamed up to create not only some really interesting lead characters, but they also breathe fresh air into the fabulous tradition of Nordic Noir. A famous athlete fails to show at her autobiography book launch, when news blogger Emma Ramm finds signs of a struggle, police officer Alexander Blix begins a missing person enquiry that quickly turns more serious. As is usual with translated Orenda books, I just stepped straight in and read without a thought for the fabulous translation by Anne Bruce. Horst and Enger have set this novel firmly in the here and now, apart from the prologue which sets the scene for Blix. Death Deserved is a fast-moving, punchy, serial killer investigative novel with a whammy of an ending. If this is the first in the Blix and Ramm series, then here’s to many more!
What if eternal life was an option? What would this look like? And what if you have done some really bad stuff could you transfer to another body? This is the exciting premise of Transference. The main character, Barrabas claims that this is exactly what happened while facing execution. He states someone else was responsible for the crimes thought to be committed by him! Is this man telling the truth, has he undergone transference? Is he who the authorities think he is? Thus begins a rollercoaster ride, leaving you questioning everything. The journey that Transference takes makes this a compelling story. The use of science fiction to explore ideas around identity is a brilliant concept. With a faint hint of Total Recall, it's both interesting and worrying to imagine a world where technology can lead to your body and mind no longer being a safe haven. I think that the author writes in an imaginative way and I really enjoyed this book. It's a great recommendation for sci-fi fans. LoveReading Ambassador
A vividly disturbing, eloquent and enthralling tale set in a home for children who have been taken into care. Three girls, their childhoods irreparably altered and broken, live in a remote home. When the body of one is discovered in a nearby churchyard on the edge of a lake, the investigation begins to focus on their pasts. Sarah Stovell ushers us into a world that most know little to nothing about. The prologue and first chapter made me sit up, my thoughts snapped open, ready to receive what was coming. Three different and emotionally provocative tales move together in an inevitable collision course. The author doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects, and with the majority of the story coming from the girls themselves, the matter-of-fact telling lands with a hammer-blow intensity. The striking, thought-provoking, compulsive storytelling within The Home twisted my mind and broke my heart, and yet I feel that this is an incredibly worthwhile and meaningful read.
This intelligent, beautifully eloquent and powerful crime novel thoroughly provoked my feelings, and still remains in my thoughts. Mickey Fitzpatrick is a police officer patrolling the area she grew up in. Kensington in Philadelphia is known for drugs and sex workers, when a killer arrives on the streets, Mickey prays that her little sister doesn’t become a victim. The author Liz Moore has an intimate knowledge of the real Kensington, she has interviewed the people drawn there by drugs, written non fiction, and completed community work, she obviously cares a great deal for this neighbourhood and its people. Her novel set in Kensington has been a long time in the coming, she wanted to: “do this world justice”, to: “fairly represent”. As I started to read, the ‘list’ stopped me in my tracks, I read it again, pondered, and then moved on to the first two pages which hit my mind with a wallop and gave it a good shake. Mickey narrates her story, she is so clear, sharp, on point, and I could see, feel, taste her words. Kensington, Mickey and her family flooded my mind in short, fierce, expressive chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’. I felt a connection to emotions, to this story, it truly spoke to me. I feel this novel will be one that I regularly return to, and I’ll take away something a little different each time. Long Bright River is a stunning read, it aches with poignant, vivid intensity and I absolutely loved it. There is no other option for me, than to choose it as a LoveReading Star Book, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.
An incredibly dramatic, graphic and gripping start to a new series. This isn’t just an introduction though, it’s a fabulous full serving in its own, very distinctive right. 15 years ago Kate Marshall solved a high profile murder case and very nearly became a victim herself, now, a copycat killer is on the loose, determined to finish the job. The beginning takes us back to 1995, within a few pages there is a real sense of Kate, and the case. Chapter two is incredibly stark, making me flinch before things seriously kicked off. I was glued to the pages, and read the whole book in one sitting. If you are a little squeamish, then be warned, there are some darker than dark, vivid and violent incidents ahead of you. Personally, I didn’t feel it was overly sensational though, as it felt all too real! Robert Bryndza really has set the scene for a fabulous new series. Fierce, startling and incredibly readable, Nine Elms comes as highly recommended from me.
With a fascinating premise this tight, gripping crime novel is a seriously worthwhile read. Continuing the Tom Thorne series (now 16 books in), I would suggest if you haven’t yet joined you could step straight into this, but I think it’s best to start at the beginning. Always great to find a fabulous series isn’t it! Sarah wants more than normality, she wants thrills, meanwhile DI Tom Thorne has a niggle of doubt over a woman’s apparent suicide and starts to investigate the reasons behind it. My attention was snared from the get-go. The policing side feels authentic, I didn’t hesitate, didn’t doubt, just read and completely trusted the storyline. Mark Billingham allows us access to the opposite side of the policing tale, to thoughts and feelings that sent conflicting thoughts scudding through me. Compassion warred with flinching, biting emotions as the truth started to reveal itself. I savoured the feeling of being slightly ahead of the game, of having access to more information as I watched Tom and Nicola struggling to stitch everything together. Their Little Secret is a captivating and compelling read, prepare yourself for some eye-popping moments!
From the suave to the sleazy, the saint to the sinner; from the sensitive to the sanguine, the sexy to the squalid, we just can’t resist a good sleuth. Here you’ll find immersive crime stories to feed your fascination for conspiracy, your love for psychological sorcery, to make your hairs stand up on the back of your neck, to make your blood run cold and adrenaline fill your nervous system. Whether you’re after a classic like; Poirot (Agatha Christie), Rebus (Rankin) or Morse (Colin Dexter); or a more contemporary crime confrontation from the likes of, Michael Connelly, Gillian Flynn or J.A Lance, there’s something here to float the most demanding of boats. Have a look at our Books of the Month from this and previous months for a head start to a great next read.