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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!
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.
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.
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!
Well, this is one seriously addictive and fabulous read. Now that I have finished I feel bereft, exhilarated, and have one humdinger of a book hangover. Set in London, it is 1863 and private detective Bridie Devine is on the case of a stolen child. The prologue hooked me as surely as a fish on a line, I gaped, wondered, and leaned in for more. Descriptions opened with vivid intensity in my mind, creating the most glorious views. There is something about Jess Kidd’s writing that speaks directly to my soul, she knows how to lull, tickle, burn. She created a stinging tension, on a number of occasions leaving me hanging while popping into the past. I have to say that Bridie Devine is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve come across. She has taken up a somewhat boisterous lodging in my mind and she’s more than welcome! Information swirled around, making my thoughts whirl, adding to the torrent that I knew was surely coming. And oh, that ending! Things in Jars is a Victorian detective story with a difference, it crosses genres and set light to my imagination. It has been added to my list of favourite books. Bridie Devine to my list of favourite detectives. Jess Kidd has been confirmed on my list of favourite authors. Things in Jars is LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and Liz Robinson Pick of the Month… Need I say more?
Just to let you know that I get excitement overload when I read a crime novel that allows me to simply exist in the pages without an ounce of doubt… and Gallowstree Lane, the third ‘Collins and Griffiths Detective Novel’ is a truly fabulous example (so yes I am wanting to shout about this from the rooftops). Author Kate London ended her Metropolitan Police Service career in 2014 working as a detective on a Major Investigation Team. Her knowledge and experience undoubtedly shines through, you are quite simply, in very safe hands. This story about shocking gang violence is not only extraordinarily relevant, it also entirely captivating, meaningful, and memorable. Sarah Collins and Lizzie Griffiths are beautifully written detectives, both completely fascinating, for me though, the real jewel in this particular crown is Ryan, a young gang member who is left reeling and demanding vengeance after the murder of his best friend. Kate London encourages reality, fact and fiction to blend together, and adds so much depth to the characters I felt as though I knew them. I was so in tune with Ryan that my heart truly ached for him. Gallowstree Lane has left a vividly brilliant bruise on my soul, it is wonderfully raw, exquisitely written.
A different, emotionally beautiful and rewarding debut about love, hope, and all the strange little things that come together to make up a family. Augusta and Parfait, born on different continents into different worlds, both want to leave everything behind but does that ever solve anything? What a first sentence! Those few words stayed with me throughout the entire book, sitting, waiting, every now and then tapping me on the shoulder to say hello. I so love how this story unfolds, two separate tales, are they on a collision course or destined to remain forever apart? Joanna Glen has set intricate strands from the past coiling and twisting together through to the present to create a feeling of tension and mystery. While undeniably and wonderfully quirky, there is a real sense of warmth here, even when your heart may feel as though it is about to crack in two. As I read I found myself filling up with love for The Other Half of Augusta Hope. It has been chosen as a Debut of the Month and a LoveReading Star Book too, as it really is that gorgeous!
This highly original, dark (v v dark) and sinister thriller breaks all the rules; such as switching from 1st, 2nd and 3rd person and having a highly fragmented timeline, but it delivers something thrillingly different. Four friends set up an agency to say ‘sorry’ and allow company executives to be absolved of guilt - but does that mean anyone can be absolved of anything with a simple transfer of cash?
April 2015 Book of the Month. In Iceland grandparents and a young child go to the port to meet a yacht with the girl’s family on board (parents and twin sister). The yacht smashes into the quay empty. So begins this terrific thriller. In alternating chapters of the yacht with seven people on board coming across from Lisbon and arriving empty and the police investigation in Iceland we, the reader, are drip-fed the mystery with our hearts in our mouths. The crew and passengers have simply disappeared. It’s creepy, chilling, compulsive and very, very good. I so dreaded being fobbed off at the end but no, the outcome was completely feasible and very satisfying. Do read it. In Iceland, Sigurdardottir is crime royalty, alongside Arnuldur Indridason and her series featuring local lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir has always been a personal delight. Offsetting the sometimes grim northern landscape with meticulous sleuthing, she brings a new, unique dimension to the genre. When a luxury yacht arrives in Reyjkavik harbour with no passengers left onboard, Marie Celeste-like, Thora is recruited by a relative to solve the mysterious case. As usual this is just the beginning and an inevitable trail of bodies soon has Thora dashing in all directions. Chilling, spooky and at times gruesome, Sigurdardottir's books (she also writes the occasional horror tome) are compulsive page-turners and prove fascinating eye-openers into the complexities of Icelandic life and its bleak exoticism.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. In Iceland, Sigurdardottir is crime royalty, alongside Arnuldur Indridason and her series featuring local lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir has always been a personal delight. Offsetting the sometimes grim northern landscape with meticulous sleuthing, she brings a new, unique dimension to the genre. When a luxury yacht arrives in Reyjkavik harbour with no passengers left onboard, Marie Celeste-like, Thora is recruited by a relative to solve the mysterious case. As usual this is just the beginning and an inevitable trail of bodies soon has Thora dashing in all directions. Chilling, spooky and at times gruesome, Sigurdardottir's books (she also writes the occasional horror tome) are compulsive page-turners and prove fascinating eye-openers into the complexities of Icelandic life and its bleak exoticism. Sarah Broadhurst's view... In Iceland grandparents and a young child go to the port to meet a yacht with the girl’s family on board (parents and twin sister). The yacht smashes into the quay empty. So begins this terrific thriller. In alternating chapters of the yacht with seven people on board coming across from Lisbon and arriving empty and the police investigation in Iceland we, the reader, are drip-fed the mystery with our hearts in our mouths. The crew and passengers have simply disappeared. It’s creepy, chilling, compulsive and very, very good. I so dreaded being fobbed off at the end but no, the outcome was completely feasible and very satisfying. Do read it.
A rare example of contemporary Chinese crime and thriller fiction. Based in Shanghai in 1931 it provides us with an invaluable historical perspective and sense of period on both Chinese politics of the time and an exotic landscape teeming with intrigue. An important Nationalist politician is shot on his return from Hong Kong, and Leng, his beautiful wife disappears. Hseuh, a Franco-Chinese photographer is entranced by Leng's beauty and is drawn to the affair, only to uncover the treachery of his own mistress, White Russian Helene, an arms dealer linked to a terrorists with a strong connection to the assassination. Xiao Bai brings a whole world to life in colourful ways as well as evoking the complex networks of politics, passion and war. Literary noir well worth a look. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. A rare example of contemporary Chinese crime and thriller fiction. Based in Shanghai in 1931 it provides us with an invaluable historical perspective and sense of period on both Chinese politics of the time and an exotic landscape teeming with intrigue. An important Nationalist politician is shot on his return from Hong Kong, and Leng, his beautiful wife disappears. Hseuh, a Franco-Chinese photographer is entranced by Leng's beauty and is drawn to the affair, only to uncover the treachery of his own mistress, White Russian Helene, an arms dealer linked to a terrorists with a strong connection to the assassination. Xiao Bai brings a whole world to life in colourful ways as well as evoking the complex networks of politics, passion and war. Literary noir well worth a look. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
SHE ALWAYS WENT TOO FAR DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing - resentful teenager in tow - from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Murder is different here, among the fens and stark beaches. SHE WAS THE ONE WHO FOUND THE KILLERS The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask - but these people are suspicious of questions. AND NOW IT WAS KILLING HER It will take an understanding of this strange place - its old ways and new crimes - to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt. Salt Lane is the first in the new DS Alexandra Cupidi series. With his trademark characterisation and flair for social commentary, William Shaw has crafted a crime novel for our time that grips you, mind and heart.
***The bestselling William Shaw returns with a thrilling investigation in the unmissable new series*** 'One of the great rising talents of UK crime fiction' PETER JAMES 'If you're not a fan yet, why not?' VAL MCDERMID A superb storyteller' PETER MAY YOU CAN RUN The two boys never fitted in. Seventeen, the worst age, nothing to do but smoke weed; at least they have each other. The day they speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, they're ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim comes looking for what's his - and ready to kill for it. YOU CAN HIDE On the other side of Kent's wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate's Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously - not even the artwork's owners, celebrity dealers who act like they're above the law. YOU CAN DIE But as Cupidi's case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can't help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they're pawns in someone else's game. Two worlds are about to collide. Kent and its social divisions are brilliantly captured in Deadland, a crime thriller that's as ingeniously unguessable as it is moving and powerful.
Ashmole Foxe is a bookseller in 18th century Norwich. He also does a bit of amateur sleuthing as a side hustle, and if he has any spare time left after those two pursuits, he is also something of a womaniser. When Foxe finds himself trying to solve three murders at once, one of them apparently linked to a book he has been asked to source for a client, there is little time for his other interests, and he is led through a tangled web of privilege, poverty, deceit and crime. A very readable and enjoyable book which successfully highlighted the vast differences in living standards, expectations, rights and morals of the different classes in 1760s society. Foxe himself comes across as a charming and likeable man who does his best to straddle the “uncrossable” class boundaries making him popular with men and women, rich and poor. The book ends with his love life about to enter a very unconventional (for the era) phase, which already threatens to have added complications, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see how he handles it. Jane Willis, A LoveReading Ambassador
One of our Debuts of the Year 2011. March 2011 Debut of the Month. The Holy Thief brilliantly evokes a society that has broken down and rules of human behaviour that are hard for us to imagine. We are in Stalinist Russia between the wars. Everyone has to be careful of what they say and who they say it to .Young people have to learn when not to say what is on their minds. 'Even the innocent (are) jumping at shadows these days'. Rank is important. 'The colonel placed a slight emphasis on Korolev's rank, just enough to remind Korolev of the thinness of the ice under his feet'. In this world, Korolev is ordered to solve a gruesome murder but does the culprit exist inside or outside the system? Who can he trust? Where can he turn? Whatever he does, he has to tread carefully. This beautifully written, finely judged novel is up there with the likes of Le Carre, thoughtful and thought-provoking: intelligently written and thoroughly readable.
CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Finalist 2010. CWA Judges’ comments: 'This book gives the reader a powerful evocation of Stalin’s Russia where the need for unequivocal compliance with the new regime contrast with the optimism based on Stalin’s promises of change. Interwoven with this background is a tense, well-realised crime narrative of torture and violence that enmeshes an uneasy star of the Russian police, Alexei Korolev.'
Meet Jack Laidlaw, the original damaged detective. When a young woman is found brutally murdered on Glasgow Green, only Laidlaw stands a chance of finding her murderer from among the hard men, gangland villains and self-made moneymen who lurk in the city's shadows. It is winner of the CWA Silver Dagger.
This stunning, sophisticated, legal thriller has been lauded with praise by some heavyweight crime authors [see the review section] and we can only agree. A community is shocked when a school boy is found brutally stabbed to death but it takes a shockingly personal turn when the son of the Assistant district attorney is implicated in the killing. How far will he go to protect his son? With twists, turns and some jaw dropping revelations it really is one that no crime fan should miss. Click here to view videos of William Landay answering readers' questions about this book. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Defending Jacob a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'I am still thinking about the story five days later...You have to read Defending Jacob – it is quite simply a brilliant story!' Scroll down to read more reviews.
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.