runner

runner

I live in Bristol UK horror dark fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

Review
3 Stars
Enjoyable until the midway point
Sunblind - Michael McBride

Officer Rivera discovers a body in the vast Sonoran Desert somewhere in the Southern United States. Meanwhile across the Mexican Border 25 desperate souls are trying to escape the hell and poverty of their homeland by the promise and attraction of a new start in the US. I was reading this book late at night in a darkened room with the wind and rain beating against the windows and this greatly added to the chill factor and the atmosphere. The story is narrated in two time lines with a matter of days separating both accounts. As Border Patrol Officer Rivera tries to decipher a message carved into the body of an unaccounted alien further south Mayra Visari and a band of desperados attempt to make their way north under the leadership of a young guide known as Il Bufon..."The Joker" The story is mainly about the journey and encounter with an alien force invisible to the eye but deadly when confronted. In this respect I was reminded of scenes from Predator when our muscled up hero Arnold  Schwarzenegger, whilst attempting to rescue some politicians in Guatemala, is pursued by a brutal creature with superhuman strength that has the ability to disappear into its surroundings.

 

Unfortunately when we reach the midway point the story falls into a continuous game of attack and escape as the aliens attempt to destroy/consume the desperate band of illegal immigrants seeing them only as part of the food chain. This type of action soon becomes tedious and a story that started with great promise soon begins to lose my interest. There were of course some enjoyable moments and in particular a snappy narration and quirky  observations..."Altar, Sonora, was a town of evil, a place where dreams came to die and were buried in unmarked graves in the desert"..... "It was only a matter of time before we started dying"....."Our shadows stretched away from us as though seeking release from the fate to which we had been consigned"......."We were the walking dead, an entire procession of weakness and despair".....

Review
5 Stars
A book that still retains the magic
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey

Can it really be 50 years since the publication of this book, I remember my first reading in the mid 70's and it has been a great pleasure, and a walk down memory lane, to once again make the acquaintance of the residents of an Oregon Psychiatric Hospital and in particular one Randle P McMurphy. Most people will remember the 1976 movie and the electric  performance of Jack Nicholson as the audacious and colourful "Mack", in a movie that won many awards. The book has lost none of its magic even now reading the it so many years later, and the emotions that it can produce are still very real.

 

McMurphy is moved  to the mental institution from a prison farm where he was serving a sentence for the rape of a 15 year old girl. Although he is not mentally ill, he is hoping to avoid hard labour and serve the rest of his sentence in a relaxed environment. The life of the rest of the inmates is now turned on its head as McMurphy proceeds to wreck havoc in an attempt to control and alter the mundane existence of lethargic and inactive inmates...."We are lunatics from the hospital up the highway, psychoceramics, the cracked pots of mankind."....The only obstacle standing between Mack and his dreams is the formidable figure of the steely strict Nurse Ratched....."Her face is still calm, as though she had a cast made and painted to just the look she wants. Confident, patient, and unruffled."...

 

The story is told in the first person through the eyes of one long term resident Chief Bromden a tall native American believed to be deaf and mute. Through a series of minor misdemeanours and coercion McMurphy is hoping to breakdown the stranglehold of power that Nurse Rached holds over the inmates, who  are dulled and kept under control by the constant and daily consumption of medication. It would therefore appear that the prime function of the institution is to manage, by this use of drugs, the minds and temperaments of the residents,  rather than try to rehabilitate them and reintroducing them back into society where they might once again make a useful contribution. If the use of drugs and stimulants fails to pacify the disturbed mind the institution is willing to apply electroshock therapy and in the most severe cases a lobotomy is performed.

 

This is a book fully entrenched in the methods and institutions of its time. It is also a story of power and authority, those who wheel it and those who would attempt to question it by any means possible. It is a wonderful and colourful narration, strong and memorable characters, essentially funny yet ultimately sad. To me Randle P McMurphy is more than a comic figure, he chooses to question the reality and sense of his surroundings and by doing so set himself on the road to confrontation with the soulless Nurse Ratched and ultimately there can only be one winner, and an ending that is both shocking and captivating. Highly Recommended.

 

Review
5 Stars
Harry Bosch sheer brilliance!
Two Kinds of Truth - Michael Connelly

There are very few events in my reading history that beat the thrill of delving into a new Michael Connelly/Harry Bosch novel. Harry may well be into his mid 60's now but he still has that hunger, that old coyote weariness about him, that first made him a grade one detective some 30 years ago. He's now older, definitely wiser his skills very much in demand by an undermanned LAPD.

 

At the start of "Two Kinds of Truth" Harry is doing what he does best, searching through cold case files in a "drunk tank" somewhere in San Fernando. His suspicions are aroused when detectives arrive to confront him about an investigation many years old. With the advance in forensic medicine the investigation that led to the conviction of Preston Borders, in the trial of Danielle Skyler, is now in danger of collapse. This follows the discovery of semen, belonging to a rapist Lucas John Olmer, since deseased, on some of the victims clothing. So the reality is that Borders could be freed and a wrongful arrest case brought against Harry, the ramifications of this are immense as Bosch's 30 year workload could now be open to scrutiny.  Our hero is furious but has little time to dwell on his feelings and the rights or wrongs of an old case, as the Los Angeles County once again needs his skill when a double murder occurs at a downtown pharmacy "La Farmacia Familia". In spectacular fashion he arrives, he is a happy man once again as he is now one of the lead detectives on a "live" case. The author so vividly portrays the innermost thoughts and workings of this great detective, and has me the reader cheering when once again Harry is back!! I realize that not only will Bosch solve this case but he will be accompanied by you and me dear reader riding as shotgun, and that is something we cannot miss!

 

In the background the historic cold case proceeds and meanwhile Bosch's present assignment sees him becoming involved in the processing and handling of illegal prescriptions involving large quantities of drugs. In the course of this operation we once again meet Harry's old partner Jerry Edgar and it is wonderful to witness the "sparring" that still exists between them. Edgar never felt that Bosch truly trusted him and he now feels a little exhilarated that he is supplying vital information to his ex partner..."Bosch asked the question, jumping at the opportunity to show some expertise to the man who had always doubted him"... Connelly has always painted Bosch as a loner and even though he got results and solved cases he was always viewed as a maverick playing by his own set of rules.

 

The drug scam is quite simple; enlist the poor and desperate in society with a deep and entrenched drug habit. Then with the help of a bogus doctor authorize illegal  prescriptions which are "cashed" in at the Farmacia. Bosch estimates that this is an industry worth more than thirteen million per year. To infiltrate this operation our hero has elected to go undercover, something new in a Connelly novel and adding an extra lair of anticipation and excitement! By going undercover Bosch puts himself in grave danger and all his colleagues and friends begin calling and leaving messages on his cell phone. I have a gripe with Bosch and his two sided standards. He loves dearly his daughter Maddie who is now a student and he implores her to be careful especially at night when she collects her car from a dismal concrete car park adjacent to her college. Yet here he is a 68 year old man about to board a small plane in the company of two Russian thugs...and he notices on takeoff that the back door is wedged open.....and they are about to fly over the sea! He is in mortal danger, what will I the reader do if the unthinkable happens? and more importantly what will young Maddie feel that the one stable person in her life her father who she loves dearly...is no more??..."His life and his world had once again clobbered his daughter. If he vowed to make those who did this pay, didn't that include himself?"....."There was no one in the world Bosch trusted more than his daughter. He told her everything, more detail than he had even told the collective in the mobile command post. He felt the details would mean more to her, and at the same time, he knew he was telling her about the dark side of the world. It was a place she had to know about, he believed no matter where she went with her life.".....

 

I love Michael Connelly. I love the way he has brought the life of H Bosch into my home over many years. His stories are to me about life, love, relationships, the good and bad that happens, and the evil that is prevalent all around us, the choices that we make, the decisions we take and the consequences we must reap. I love the frailties on display through Harry and the bond that exists between him and his daughter the wonderful Maddie and I fear for Harry, I worry what will happen to her if ever the unthinkable were to occur to her father...."People lie, the president lies, corporations lie and cheat.....The world is ugly and not many people are willing to stand up to it anymore"...

 

So the two story threads are brought to a very fitting conclusion amidst  a highly charged courtroom drama involving Bosch's colourful half brother, Los Angeles based attorney Mickey Haller. Yet amongst all this elation Harry is a restless soul, a man who never seems at ease with himself, a nonconformist with a really big heart. I admire the guy, I applaud the way he unearthed $10,000 from his "end of the world emergency fund" to save the drug soul of Elizabeth Clayton, a dope addict he whose life went out of control when her daughter Daisy was killed. Connelly's stories about a Los Angeles detective are as fresh today as when the first book was published some 25 years ago. Harry Bosch may well be in the autumn of his life but he but he still retains magnetism and human qualities that we all recognise. I look forward to his next outing with great anticipation and would like to thank Orion and the good people of netgalley for a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

 

Review
2 Stars
A few aimless hours?
To Kill the President: The Most Explosive Thriller of the Year - Sam Bourne

An average thriller certainly not worth my time in a detailed review! Sam Costello discovers a plot to assassinate the president (who sounds very like a heavy set man with wavy blonde hair and a model wife!) what should she do? (have him shot I hear you say :) The only character worthy of a mention is the presidents chief strategist Crawford "Mac" McNamara. I only read this book as it was heavily promoted/reduced on "mobi" so passed a few aimless hours acquainting myself with this nonsense. 

Review
5 Stars
Return of a master storyteller
Smile: A Novel - Roddy Doyle

A powerful voice in Irish writing returns  with an evocative novel illustrating once again the misery, pain and ruined lives caused by the sexual abuse scandal prevalent within the Catholic Church from the 1950's. Victor Forde is now a lone single man who spends part of each day in Donnelly's public house. He makes the acquaintance of Fitzpatrick, who he instantly takes a dislike to. There is something strange and unwarranted about this individual, that wakes some very painful memories in the mind of Forde, and in particular the time he spent as a child within the care of the Christian Brothers.

 

What is astounding and memorable about "Smile" is the author's direct, compelling brutal and unforgivable  method of storytelling. This makes me want to revisit classics I read many years ago and in particular The Van and the wonderfully titled Paddy Clarke ha ha. It is so refreshing to read his simple style of prose that forms an instant connection with the reader, and makes him loathe and pity Forde in equal measures. ..." a man of my age going back to some wrinkled version of his childhood. Looking for the girls he'd fancied forty years before"...."I was so bored, so heavy with the physical weight of it, I could have cried"......"Do you want it? No, thanks, I said. It was nice talking to you she said. She died five months later."..."It was the last time I slept in my mother's house and it was the last time I went for pints with the lads. Two of them are dead. I miss them like I miss my father.".....

 

The conclusion of this story was never going to make pleasant reading, it was  unforeseen, sudden and yet an apt and fitting ending to a novel that will remain with my for many weeks and months. A monumental achievement and a welcome return to one of Ireland's most talented of writers. Many thanks to Random House uk and netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
5 Stars
A work of originality and brilliance
he - Simon Slater, Hodder & Stoughton UK, John Connolly

When I first heard that John Connolly had written a fictional account of the life of Stan Laurel, based on the latter's  correspondence, I was very intrigued to acquire and read the book. I have the greatest admiration for JC but am more familiar with his creation the anti hero and very troubled detective Charlie Parker the series now having reached book No. 15, each one written with a flair and brilliance that has seen Connolly acclaimed both in Europe and the US, and rightly so. "He" a book giving the reader a glimpse into the amazing and often troubled life of a man who achieved fame and adulation in the early days of the "talkies" ...Stan Laurel. The he in the book is of course "him", the author never uses his stage name simply because Stan Laurel did not really exist and the true essence of the man is somewhere between Arthur Jefferson, his birth name, and his stage name. In order to construct and present Stan Laurel's story Connolly has utilized the massive correspondence that Laurel wrote in his lifetime, a correspondence that although give little if any insight into the true mind and workings of this comic genius, nevertheless presented the author with a blueprint for him to construct, mould and shape the life of Laurel and his undoubted love and respect for his comic partner Oliver "babe" Hardy.

 

This is a wonderful story a warm and affectionate analysis of a man whose existence was never dull, often sad (his son Stan Robert Laurel died at only 9 days old) his liberal attitude to alcohol and his many affairs including in total 4 wives. His only daughter Lois, a product of his first marriage, was born in 1927 and who recently died in July 2017. Reading "He" was akin to a walk through the old Hollywood from the popular birth of silent movies to the often painful upheaval that became the world of the talkies. Laurel and Hardy not only accepted this change but so much of their success happened after the talkie transition including such memorable classics as Way out West, and A chump at Oxford all under the guidance of renowned American Film Producer Hal Roach. "He" is centred around the Oceana apts  in Santa Monica California where Laurel lived until his death, with his fourth wife Ida, and from this base SL reminisces on the events good and bad that shaped his life.

 

From reading the press release before the actual book launch John Connolly states that the idea behind this novel was born in 1999.( In the meantime we the reader have been enthralled by the adventures of former policeman Charlie Parker seeking some form of redemption following the murder of his wife and daughter). It is to the author's credit that "he" has been nurtured, developed, researched and planned as the final product is a work of such originality and imagination. It made me feel that I was eavesdropping into a time and place no longer with us and a world where I became privy to the conversations, the genius, the intellect, and the brilliance of the great Stan Laurel. Many thanks to the publisher Hodder and Stoughton for a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
4 Stars
Karin Slaughter brilliant as always
The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter

Yet another wonderful, well crafted, and presented story from Karin Slaughter which sees her departing from her regular Atlanta duo Well Trent (Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent) and Dr Sarah Linton. In this one off novel we are introduced to the Quinns; Rusty, Gamma, and their two daughters Sam and Charlotte (Charlie) The story is told over two timelines, one set 28 years before the other. One afternoon Zack Culpepper and an accomplish invade the Quinn home where a violent and outrageous event occurs, an event that will have long lasting and damaging repercussions. Moving forward in time to the present somewhat unbelievably another brutal killing occurs, at the local school where Charlie Quinn has attended visiting her lover Mason Huckabee a regrettable one night stand.

 

What the author excels at his her deep understanding and betrayal of a family in crisis and their attempt to survive. Sam, although badly damaged from the Culpepper attack has managed to map out a career as a patent lawyer in New York but immediately comes to the aid of her younger sister following the school shootings. Dad Rusty is adored by them both even though his chosen occupation as a defence attorney often sees him defending the most abhorrent members of society and indeed the historical Culpeper incident was a direct result of his chosen career.

 

This is a novel full of mystery, ambition and emotion. It is not so much the storyline that is of importance but rather the depiction of deeply flawed and traumatized characters. At its heart is the love and need of friendship and family and how against all the evil that is present today it is possible not only to survive but to accept the unfolding of life's events however good or bad they may be. Many thanks to the publisher HarperCollins for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
4 Stars
Sad and difficult to read
Goodbye, Dearest Holly: Ten Years On - Kevin Wells

This is an extremely sad and difficult book to read and even though some 15 years have passed since the brutal and callous murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman the events still remain fresh in my mind. Who can ever forget that last picture of the two little girls wearing their Manchester United tops the clock behind them showing the time at 17.04. How could loving parents ever guess that within a matter of hours their two beautiful daughters would have their lives taken from them by the evil monster Ian Huntley. Kevin and Nicola were exemplary parents and had instilled in Holly the need to be always vigilant and aware when out on her own. No one could have anticipated that someone employed as a school caretaker and who together with his girlfriend, and teaching assistant, Maxine Carr, could oh so callously murder two such innocents. The sad fact is that it took such an evil event to happen before the laws concerning the vetting of individuals (especially those employed in the company of children) would be drastically overhauled. If the background of Huntley had been known and in particular his history of sexual relationships with minors he would never have found himself in the trusted position of school caretaker and so it follows that the lives of Holly and Jessica would have been spared and their date with destiny avoided on that warm summer evening in 2002.

 

The safeguarding vulnerable groups act 2004 was introduced following the Bichard inquiry into the Soham murders The Act introduced a ‘Vetting and Barring” scheme for people working with children, whereby a new independent safeguarding authority (‘ISA’) must maintain lists of people who are barred from certain kinds of work with children and adults. That list includes those who are convicted of, or admit to, certain specified criminal offences, including various sexual offences, and those involving violence or the mistreatment of children. Once barred, the restrictions on work last from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 10 years.  One of the greatest failings of the police was their inability to retain, store and pass information to neighbouring forces and colleagues throughout the UK. If only the residents of Soham had been aware that Huntley had in the past been accused of rape and sexual assault ( a charge that was later dropped due to lack of evidence) then the events that unfolded in Soham need never have occurred and the families of Jessica and Holly would not have had their lives altered in such a sad and callous way.

 

Review
2 Stars
Keystone cops meets Twin Peaks!
Broken Promise: A Thriller - Linwood Barclay

This is an enjoyable, light, frivolous summer read, somewhere between the Keystone Cops and Twin Peaks. David Harwood is back in Promise Falls, a quirky little small town on the east coast of America somewhere south of Boston. There are some very odd inhabitants in PF as David encounters when he visits his cousin Marla. She is overjoyed to see him and takes great pleasure in introducing him to her new baby, little Mathew. Is Mathew really the child of a somewhat disturbed Marla? Is there a connection between her baby and the murder of Rosemary Gaynor together with the disappearance of Rosemary's  newborn child? This is all the reader really needs to know as the absurd story develops he will be introduced to a bizarre and motley crew of local residents each with their own hidden agenda.

 

Linwood Barclay writes books of great enjoyment and he is loved and read worldwide. Most of his output is idle entertainment and instantly forgettable and having said that I expected no more or less from "Broken Promise" and I was certainly not disappointed. The chapters in the book are short (thankfully!) very easy to read the 484 page count easily consumed in two sittings. There is the odd quirky throw away phrase...."Sturgess looked at the high-tech chair in its elevated position. On the small table next to it, a remote, a book of crossword puzzles, an open box of chocolates, a Denielle Steel novel. That was her whole world there, a command center, sitting in front of the television."... There are two further books in the Promise Falls trilogy and followers of this internationally renowned author will devour with elation, I shall not be amongst them as one visit to this odd little township is possibly one visit too many.

Review
2 Stars
Disappointing
The Forgotten Dead - Tove Alsterdal

Ally Cornwall sits at home in New York wondering why her husband Patrick has failed to keep in contact with her. He is an investigative journalist and his passion for his work, in particular those who are exploited, sees him travelling to distant and far places. A worried Ally decides to board a transatlantic flight, heading for Paris where she hopes to find answers as to the plight of her beloved Patrick.

 

Tove Alsterdal, is a Swedish author, who in The Forgotten Dead has written a novel preferring to rely on American lead characters. This does not work for me and I found the whole experience somewhat disappointing with a plot more akin to a B movie or a made for television series. I find it difficult to comprehend that within a very short time of arriving in Paris, she was able to establish the work that her husband was involved in before he disappeared. Equally preposterous was the speed at which she easily identified and interviewed those bad men involved in the notorious imprisonment and exploitation of illegal immigrants. It's not a badly written story and to its credit it tackles and confronts some very unsettling social issues that affect us all. Of course you the reader really want to know what befell Patrick and I certainly will not disclose that to you, suffice to say this was neatly accomplished making me feel that the reading of this novel had not been a waste of my valuable reading time. I received a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written

Review
4 Stars
Beautiful and brutal in equal measures
My Absolute Darling: A Novel - Gabriel Tallent

A profoundly disturbing story of young Turtle (Julia) who dwells in Mendocino an America's west coast an area of outstanding natural beauty with dense forests and a rugged coastline. In deep contrast to this utopian scene Turtle lives alone with her father Martin who, although he expresses his undying love for her, feels the need to rape her in a never ending cycle of loathsome self pity. This is her guardian, the one entrusted to care for her, and because of these despicable acts Turtle cannot comprehend her feelings towards him, she both loves and loathes him in equal measures. The controlling influence of the father creates some frightening and upsetting scenes to read: The child is forced to complete a number of pull-ups from a rafter and when she lowers her body Martin holds a knife beneath her..."Then he raised the knife and lays the blade up between her legs."....."The knife bites into the blue denim of her jeans and Turtle feels the cold steel through her panties."

 

Turtle meets and befriends a boy called Jacob and she begins to understand that kindness and friendship can exist even in a world where despicable acts are performed on a daily basis. As she returns home one evening she notices that her home has a new lodger a young child Cayenne and realizes now as she is almost a teenager, Martin has acquired a new defenceless child, to fulfil his sickening sexual desires. Can Turtle escape the claws of this evil monster? Can she rescue Cayenne before it is too late? This is at times a very difficult story to read as the author paints a picture of an unsettling family life against a picturesque and idyllic backdrop. I was captivated by both the innocence and evil and found myself reading this story in a very short time. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
4 Stars
Vibrant exciting psychological thriller
The Girl Who Came Back: A totally gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming - Kerry Wilkinson

If you accept the fact that "The girl who came Back" has no real literary content and if you acknowledge that the plot and conclusion is not quite believable and indeed a little bizarre, then you will really enjoy this read! This is the second book I have read by Kerry Wilkinson (the first being Nothing but Trouble, Jessica Daniel 11) and I am beginning to warm to his young, vibrant and exciting style. I do not always read to be educated or to marvel at an authors descriptive prose or deep character analysis, sometimes I read for the shear hell of enjoyment, for the love of the printed word and the way I can be transported to another dimension. If what I have just said makes you the reader think that I am a confused reviewer/blogger then understand this I read indeed I consumed The girl who came Back in one day and was thoroughly entertained.

 

Some 13 years ago a young Olivia Adams vanished, presumed taken, from her back garden, in the picturesque village of Stoneridge. The trauma of this event was soon followed by the collapse of the marriage of Sarah and Dan, the parents of Olivia. Now all these years later a child, who most people feared was dead, reappears and confronts her mum in the local village cafe. Sarah has a new husband Max, a childhood sweetheart, and upon meeting the newly reinstated Olivia, Max together with his brother Ashley display resentment and hatred towards the young girl. There are questions to be asked and answers  to be sought. Is Olivia Adams the person she purports to be? Why is Max so full of hatred? Where is Olivia's real father? Who is the mysterious Lily and what is her connection to the events as they unfold?

 

I often wonder how bad reviews affect the mindset of an author. There will always be readers who love and readers who hate a particular writing style. Kerry Wilkinson has voiced his opinion on negative reviews on a well know video sharing site and I found his attitude and acceptance so refreshing and entertaining. He acknowledges everyone has a right to voice an opinion whether that be positive or negative. This young man certainly has a future in writing and I look forward to discovering his back catalogue as well as reading future publications and observe him developing as an author. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
4 Stars
Assured post-apocalyptic debut novel
Defender: The Voices Book 1 - G X Todd

The authors comments at the end of Defender add some interesting footnotes to what was a very enjoyable post-apocalyptic story. She explains that "bicameral" man is essentially a human who has two chambers. To you and me that simply means an inner voice within your head and in the context of this novel it is this inner voice that has caused the societal disruption by imploring you to kill. Although to add to the intrigue an "inner voice" can also work for the good as Pilgrim aka scout boy, Lacey, and Alex discover as the story progresses. This inner voice is not as strange a concept as might first appear and most of us would surely admit to having conversations with our conscience. (or maybe it's just me going mad!) "The voices are whispers, murmurings, whatever you want to call them. They were inside us. They're what talked so many people into hurting themselves and others."

 

The best post-apocalyptic  stories (The Road by Cormac McCarthy being a great example) follow certain set patterns. As society has been destroyed then the human race, or what remains, take on the mantle of nomadic travellers and restlessly move from place to place in the hope of finding sustenance and companionship. Within this world devoid of all leadership and direction the evil that man is capable of is soon unveiled...."Fairness and justice had lost their place in the world. If they'd ever had a place in it to begin with."..... Pilgrim has agreed to transport his new companion Lacey to her family home in Vicksburg in search of her niece Addison. They are soon to be joined in their quest by a young lady called Alex. "Defender" is the story of this journey the hardships of the trip and their encounter with Charles Dumont the personification of everything evil. This is a novel that is filled with wonderful colourful characters that come alive under the penmanship of the author GX Todd. The pace is relentless with some excellent descriptive prose.."This time it held no beauty, there was not buttery sun to soften its rough, crumbling edges, no warm, orange brush-strokes to paint it in a kinder light...."He had seen his fair share of half-eaten corpses and was familiar with most of the organs of the human body, in all their states of putridity." A great debut novel and I look forward to reading "Hunted" the second in the series due for release in early 2018.

Review
2 Stars
Superficial gothic ghost story
The Binding Song - Elodie Harper

Dr Janet Palmer has commenced a new career as a psychologist based at HMP Halvergate in the sparsely populated and bleak Norfolk countryside. This is an institution where inmates are incarcerated due to criminal or sexual crimes and it is hoped that their period of internment will allow the authorities, and in particular the staff, time to address, and hopefully in some way cure this deviant behaviour.

 

Apart from the prison chaplain Steven Finch the staff at Halvergate are not very welcoming towards Dr Palmer and she begins to feels somewhat isolated not helped by the news that her boyfriend Arun is soon to depart on a work placement in America. As the good doctor begins to acquaint herself with the residents she soon shares their concerns of an apparition stalking the walls and corridors; a sinister white presence, a lady with dark eyes. One patient in particular, Michael Donovan,  greatly disturbs Janet, she will soon discover a connection between this evil man and her sister Izzy who died tragically many years ago.......

 

There is no doubt that using a Gothic institution such as HMP Halvergate adds a sinister tone to the story telling. The reader can certainly sense and feel the great uneasiness that permeates each chapter of this short ghostly tale. However, the telling of the story and the shallow characters involved, from a self centred boyfriend to a confused gay vicar, did little to endear me to the outcome, no matter how shocking the author intended that to be. Many thanks to the publisher Mulholland for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
5 Stars
True crime that reads like a thriller
Catching a Serial Killer: My hunt for murderer Christopher Halliwell - Stephen Fulcher

This story reads like a thriller as it recounts the investigation into and ultimate incarceration of Chris Halliwell, taxi driver from Swindon, who was found responsible for the murder of Sian O'Callaghan and Becky Godden-Edwards. As an employee of Her Majesty's Courts Service I was fascinated to follow the chase to find the killer in the hands of SIO Stephen Fulcher. The narrative and events that occur lead to the prosecution of Fulcher as a senior police officer who in his search for justice disregarded procedures under Pace (Police and Criminal Evidence act) and by not issuing Halliwell with the customary warning (before Halliwell confessed to the murder of Becky) was found to be in neglect of his duties. The story therefore raises and debates some fascinating legal issues and in the final outcome justice is seen to be served but at what price to a dedicated and serving police officer. For anyone interested in crime whether true or fiction this is a work of some brilliance and needs to be read.

Review
2 Stars
Not for me
For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska, Steve Upham, Charles Black, Reggie Oliver, Reggie Oliver

I am not the greatest fan of short horror stories and even though the writing and imagery is very good the content and stories themselves were not to my liking. There were a few enjoyable moments and descriptions the best of which was the following....."like a moth that believes itself soaring towards the moon, only to find itself trapped in a house full of dusty light bulbs."....

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