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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!
An excellently twisting thriller where cop tracks killer through a turbulent city. Prejudice is rife and violence is in the air. In Sam Wilson's world it is not religion or skin tone that separates people but star signs. The obsessive Virgos are shunned by the down-to-earth Taurus; the wealthy, driven Capricorns look down on the hippie Pisces; Librans want to get on with everybody but no one likes the stubborn, violent Aries. It is a rigid and highly insular society. Now the chief of police is dead in a 'signist' killing and the city is ready to explode. By using star signs to define one’s place in society, Sam Wilson has invented a system of hatred and prejudice unrelated to any of the usual divides seen in our society. The downtrodden, the dispossessed, the money grabbing privileged classes, the peacemakers and the peacekeepers can all be examined through a different lens. It is a very clever way of taking extremely pertinent issues and looking at them without the usual hang-ups of race, politics, religion and so forth. Not South Africa, not Northern Ireland, but somewhere just as divided, San Celeste is a world totally different from ours yet frighteningly familiar. I look forward to hearing more from the creator. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
John Puller is a loner with few possessions by preference, but he has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable determination for finding the truth. His father was the most decorated U.S. Marine in history, but now resides in a nursing home far from his battlefield glory. Puller's older brother, also a military vet, is serving a life sentence in Leavenworth Penitentiary. Puller is called out to a remote, rural area far from any military outpost to investigate into the brutal murder of a family in their home. The dead husband was in the army and the wife worked for a Pentagon contractor. The local homicide detective, a woman with personal demons of her own, clashes with Puller over the investigation. What neither of them knows is what is waiting for them across the street from the murdered family's home. It is something that will turn an already complicated case on its head.
Barry Forshaw on Ian Rankin and Bill James... Ian Rankin is one of the UK’s bestselling British crime writers. Aficionados admire the gritty, socially committed toughness of his books, along with their vividly realised sense of place. And these are exactly the qualities that may be found in the work of the veteran Bill James, whose astonishing consistency over many years is a continuing cause for admiration. And, like Rankin, James has few equals when it comes to memorable, highly individual dialogue. Fans of Rankin’s Rebus novels – including Resurrection Men – will relish Bill James’ Harpur and Iles novels: start with You'd Better Believe It.
YOU WILL NEVER FIND ME. When Charlie Boxer reads this note from his daughter in her empty room, the words only reinforce what he already knows: he's always got his priorities wrong. His ex-wife, DCI Mercy Danquah, and their daughter, Amy, have learned to live without him. Boxer's work in high stakes kidnap and recovery has taken him to places from which no man returns unscathed. And Amy has been around enough police business to plan the perfect disappearing act. But what Amy doesn't realise - and Boxer knows only too well - is how quickly a life can fall apart when living under the radar. Charlie follows Amy's tracks from London to Madrid - but will the trail last long enough for him to face up to the true meaning of the sins of the fathers?
THE SINISTER & CHILLING NEW THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR I buried you. I mourned you . . . But now you're back. A woman walks into a police station. She has no phone and no ID, just a piece of paper that reads 'David Raker'. She says she's his wife. She looks just like her. She knows everything about him. But David buried his wife eight years ago. Is this really the woman he loved? Did he really say goodbye? Or is he losing his mind? Raker needs to find out the truth before it's too late, because he is now the prime suspect in her disappearance . . .
September 2015 Debut of the Month. A short, easy to read Choc-Lit romantic mystery with a healthy serving of suspense. The first chapter is intriguing, an attractive mystery man enters Anna’s life, should she follow her heart or her head? Anna’s emotions are at war with her thinking and refusing to listen to reason. Anna is likeable and tells her own tale, however her dilemma means she needs a helping hand in the advice department and of course it’s easy to dispense it from the sidelines. Clare Chase teases the reader with the enigmatic male characters, spinning facts and the background to their stories along the way. Agreeably entertaining, You Think You Know Me builds to a rather alarming and dangerous climax and Anna discovers whether her heart or head has finally won the day. ~ Liz Robinson
A wonderfully shiver-inducing wormhole of a read, the possibilities opened up before me while the story snapped at my heels. Elle returns home after letting her house out to slight but notable differences, the house no longer feels welcoming, small shifts have occurred, has she inadvertently allowed danger in? The prologue is quietly unsettling and sets the tone beautifully. Lucy Clarke writes with an exquisite subtlety, each layer thin as a slice of paper painstakingly constructed into a looming brooding tower. Taunting ‘Previously’ chapters lie in wait, prepared to catch you unawares, and then there are the chapters from the past, allowing knowledge freedom to hint, prod, stir. The characters felt so very real, they slid into my mind, taking up residence, making mistakes, regretting, living their lives. The ending felt real, felt right, felt perfect. You Let Me In is a razor-sharp, smartly provocative tale, and I loved every single second of it - highly recommended.
A wonderfully shiver-inducing wormhole. The possibilities opened up before me while the story snapped at my heels. Elle returns home after letting her house out to slight but notable differences, the house no longer feels welcoming, small shifts have occurred, has she inadvertently allowed danger in? The prologue is quietly unsettling and sets the tone beautifully. Lucy Clarke utilises an exquisite subtlety, each layer thin as a slice of paper painstakingly constructed into a looming brooding tower. Taunting ‘Previously’ moments lie in wait, prepared to catch you unawares, and then there are the flashes from the past, allowing knowledge freedom to hint, prod, stir. The characters felt so very real, they slid into my mind, taking up residence, making mistakes, regretting, living their lives. The ending felt real, felt right, felt perfect. You Let Me In is a razor-sharp, smartly provocative tale, and I loved every single second of it - highly recommended.
May 2017 eBook of the Month. At once a captivating courtroom drama, and a poignant personal story that explores social disadvantage and London gang culture from the unique perspective of an unforgettable narrator. An unnamed 21-year-old man is on trial for murder. He’s sacked his lawyer and is in the dock giving his own closing speech to the jury. “Bruv, I need to start telling it like it is,” he asserts, which is exactly what he does. The defendant’s speech is direct, gritty and heartfelt, and takes many “bus diversions” in order to give the jury the full contextual background he believes they need to come to the right verdict. His voice is charismatic and compelling, especially as he describes his tough childhood, and his love for girlfriend Kira, for whom he would do anything. “I don't remember choosing any of it,” the defendant remarks as he nears the end of his speech, and a lack of choice, and the spiraling, entrapping nature of the gangland world are at the heart of this incisively hard-hitting novel. We hear how kids as young as ten come to carry guns and drugs for gang leaders, how teenage girls are sold into a life of addiction and prostitution. And, through the narrator’s decision to tell it exactly as it is, we’re asked to consider the repercussions of a system in which the accused are often tried by juries who are nothing like themselves, and know nothing of their worlds. Indeed, the narrator concludes by asking the jury to “try and be me” when they deliver their verdict. This is crime fiction with conscience, and an utterly un-put-down-able debut that had me hooked from start to finish. ~ Joanne Owen
A pacy thriller covering only a few days and divided into time slots. I defy you to guess the murderer until just before it is spelt out for you, and all the way through you will suspect people just before the author explains to you why it can’t be them – very clever. There are three or four stories working throughout the book, a lot of personal tensions and some very rounded characters. All in all a fascinating read. It is very good. Comparison: Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Maxim Jakubowski July 2017 Highly Recommended. It's been too long since Harrison, very much a writer's writer whose sinuous and hypnotic, obsessive plots always leave their indelible mark on the reader, had published a new novel. You Belong to Me doesn't disappoint. As ever set in a New York city where the night holds a thousand secrets, this witnesses the life of a straight immigration lawyer with a passion for collecting rare maps intersect with an intense couple whose husband is particularly jealous and possessive and a man who returns out of the blue from the wife's past and takes all three into a dizzying waltz into darkness that will leave the reader giddy. Harrison has a particular talent for making places and things we know take on an area of shadow until they are no longer recognizable and this rollercoaster of a novel with its twists, turns, bare emotions and muted but craftily engineered thrills is par for the course and so eminently satisfying. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
Karen’s first book was published in 2007 and her style of mixing hard edged police procedural with romance is a highly readable and enjoyable cocktail. This is her 12th book and as pathologist Lucy Trask decodes the forensic evidence from a serial killing it becomes clear she is more and more part of the case.
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.