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
4 Stars
Welcome back Harry
The Thirst: A Harry Hole Novel - Jo Nesbo

A top class thriller from Jo Nesbo and his antihero Harry Hole. Harry is now lecturing but is requested by the police in Oslo to head up a small team and help trace a killer who is using "vampire" techniques to attack and kill his victims. At a 538 page count this is a long and at sometimes complex book but for those who have followed Harry through his drunken alcoholic binges and failed relationships the book does not disappoint and once again we can see just why Jo Nesbo is revered as a writer of superior nordic crime fiction. Harry's relationship with Rakel and her son Oleg is severely tested when an incident occurs that nearly destroys his now settled domestic life....."He walked quickly past Rakel without looking at her, without a word of farewell. She was already sidelined, pushed from his consciousness by one of his two lover. Alcohol and murder." Returning to the pressure of fronting a murder investigation opens the way for the "demon" drink to once again present as a problem to our nonconformist cop..."He needed a drink. Harry didn't know where the thought came from, but there it was, as if someone had shouted it, spelling it out, straight into his ear. The thought needed to be drowned out quickly." So a good read with a central character haunted by the actions and events that had happened to him in the past.."Harry stared at the ceiling. The ghosts hadn't come. Maybe they wouldn't be coming tonight. You never knew....."

Review
4 Stars
Great second book in the series
Scared to Death - Kate Medina

Two young men, Danny Lawson, Stephen Foster are dead and a third Ryan Jones is seeking help and counselling from psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn. Are there connections? and can Jessie discover and uncover the closed mind of young soldier Ryan, a deeply troubled and disturbed individual....."He started to fidget, fingers picking at a thread that had come loose from the stitching of his navy blue beret. His nails had been bitten to the quick, the cuticles raw."

 

This is the second book in the Jessie Flynn crime series and just as enjoyable as the first. It is not so much the story that is at the heart of Kate Medina's writing (although a well structured thriller is always vital) but rather the characters that adorn those pages with all their weaknesses, self doubts, and insecurities, and at this the author excels. Jessie is the central figure a fine and dedicated psychologist and yet possibly one of the most flawed, sensitive and self doubting individuals I have ever encountered. She has borne courageously a troubled childhood with her father departing the marital home, making her feel responsible for her younger, and sick, brother Jamie...."My father dumped me when I was twelve, dumped Jamie when he was only five, sick, dying. He dumped all of us for that...Bi**h" This has tragic consequences when Jamie commits suicide and is discovered by Jessie on her return home, something she will never recover from feeling responsible for his death as she was not present when it happened. She suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder indicated by her extreme sense of order...."She put the kettle back on its stand, straightened the handle flush with the wall"......"the bread and butter lined side by side on the top shelf, an identical space between each item."

 

Captain Ben Callan is employed as an officer in the Special Investigation Branch. He previously served courageously in Afghanistan and as a young soldier...."he had already taken two bullets whilst on duty. The first a gift from the Taliban eighteen months ago in Afghanistan, still lodged in his brain; the fallout permanent seizures, manageable at the moment with drugs..." Captain Callan has not disclosed his tenuous and fragile health prognosis to his employers for to do so, in his opinion, would surely mean his instant dismissal. As a result of this injury the unfortunate Callan now suffers seizures and blackouts manifesting in the form of epileptic fits. There would appear to be an attraction between Ben and Jessie possibly two wounded souls seeking comfort in the arms of the other. This is something that the reader really hopes will happen, will they or wont they is an occurring theme throughout the story. DI Bobby "Marilyn" Simmons contributes a little light relief if only for the fact that his nickname..." which he had acquired on his first day with Surrey and Sussex Major Crimes thanks to an uncanny resemblance to the ageing American rocker Marilyn Manson.

 

So with some great leading players and an enjoyable story that results in the exposure of a well hidden killer this the second book in the series draws to a dramatic close. The author has created a wonderful heroine and there must certainly be many more secrets to discover in the further adventures of Jessie and Ben in book 3 of the series. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for supplying me with a gratis copy for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
2 Stars
Disappointing
I was Jack The Ripper (Part One): A Serialised novel based on the Whitechapel Murders - Michael Bray

A bit of a disappointment for me as I previously read and really enjoyed  Dark Corners and Something in the Dark. In "I was Jack The Ripper" (part 1 of a series) the author has contrived to create what he thinks is a clever plot...Charles Hapgood, author, receives a visit one night from a man claiming to be Jack the Ripper and is eager to tell his story and explain his actions. So we follow a testimony of debauchery  where our supposed notorious ripper killer attempts to explain how he was transformed from an ordinary child to a monster of historical significance. Michael Bray is a writer of extreme horror and dark fiction,  not something I am particularly fond off as the reading is often comparable to watching slasher horror movies such as Scream, A nightmare on Elm Street or Childs Play (with that cute little Chucky doll) There is little in the way of story just gratuitous violence which will undoubtedly be continued as further episodes of this serialized narrative are released.

A great evening with Stuart MacBride

I was thrilled last night to meet the fantastic Stuart MacBride when he captivated a small and selective audience at Topping & Company Booksellers Bath, following the publication of his latest book A Dark so Deadly. His wit and charm together with the gentle softness of his Scottish dialect easily won over his enthralled fans as he proceeded to tell some great events and stories that had occurred throughout this writing career. Of particular note and enjoyment was the thinking behind "Blind Eye" (fifth in the Logan McRae series) In this book someone is preying on Aberdeen's Polish population and part of Stuart's research for this book concerned him not only understanding Polish but attempting to learn some of the phrases. He was eager to pass this knowledge onto his fans and soon we were all repeating "Dzien dobry" (good morning) and "Nie rozumien" (I don't understand) much to the amusement of our charismatic teacher. An audience with an author is so much better than a book signing as it is your opportunity to really know and understand the writer behind the books. During question and answers I was able to ask Stuart about his hopes and dreams of introducing DI Logan McRae to an American audience. There is so much Celtic humour and irony built into his novels that it may take a little time for the US to appreciate what a star he is. Topping & Company are delightful hosts and we were all invited to partake of a glass of wine as we eagerly awaited the arrival of the maestro. It was a wonderful evening with a charming and elegant speaker, a true gentleman who really appreciates and values his readers.

Review
4 Stars
Lots of thrills on the Isle of Orkney
Crash Land - Doug Johnstone

A rollicking tale of high adventure in the beautiful windswept isle of Orkney. Finn Sullivan is heading for the mainland of Scotland on a somewhat foggy and miserable day ( something Orcadians are probably rather used to!) Sitting in the departure lounge his eyes set upon the beautiful and mysterious Maddie who is being annoyed by a group of departing oil workers. She seeks the company of our lone hero and soon the drinks are flowing, Finn's libido is in overdrive, and thoughts of his girlfriend Amy long forgotten. As the flight departs, amidst increasing bad weather, the small Loganair twin engined turbo-prop, struggles to maintain height. A fight ensues in the cabin between Finn and one of the oil workers, Maddie becomes hysterical when it is apparent that the plane is returning to Kirkwall airport, she enters the flight deck and soon after the plane is forced to crash land. Finn and Maddie are amongst the few survivors, the police have many questions they  need answered, and it would appear that the beautiful, femme fatale, has disappeared.

 

There are two great elements that I really enjoyed in this book. I loved the way that Finn was immediately spellbound by the beautiful and openly suggestive Maddie, to the point that he was prepared to become her partner in crime, if that is what was needed to retain her interest. Would any full blooded male not have done the same? Would you not be tempted?....of course you would! The second and possibly the most important element was the ruggedness and beauty of the Isle of Orkney itself and the way the author uses this to great effect to showcase his story....."High on this southern headland, they could see for miles over the Pentland Firth to Muckle Skerry, its lighthouse a thin needle against the horizon, then west to Stroma and the Scottish mainland...."....."It felt like the roof of the world up here, the air thinner and purer, the land stronger, the elements more brutal. Like you were connected to the land in a way you couldn't be further south, as if the stuff of your bones was one with the earth, only separated by a fragile layer of skin...."

 

Not wishing to disclose secrets it is suffice to say that Maddie Pierce is not quite the innocent she would have Finn believe, and has her reasons for wanting to leave Orkney as fast as possible. With the body count rising and the whereabouts of a large sum of money unknown time is fast running out for a perplexed Finn as he seeks to find the "love of his libido" and perhaps the answers to some burning questions. Yes this story is more "boys own" than real life events and there are those reviewers who declare the whole experience is somewhat unbelievable. However I think good story telling sometimes needs a fun element, it need not always be believable to be enjoyable. I liked the author's style, this stripped down thriller full of action and thrills against a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Many thanks to the good people at edelweiss for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Enjoyable Nordic crime
The Crow Girl - Erik Axl Sund

I am a big fan of Nordic/Scandi Noir, both in movies (The Killing, The Bridge) and in the written word. There is a certain style in the crime writing; very descriptive very character driven with a plot line always developed in an articulate and thoughtful way. I was therefore very excited when "The Crow Girl" recently reduced to £5 (kindle) became available to UK readers. I expected the same attention to detail and exciting storytelling that I have become used to in the writings of Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, and more recently  Yrsa Sigurdardottir

 

It is always a good thing when the first few pages immediately hold and retain the reader's attention.....a room is being prepared, insulated and sound proofed to create what we can only presume is a prison, and very soon a young boy is held captive, doped and incarcerated. A body is discovered in the centre of Stockholm and DS Janette Kihlberg is tasked with finding the perpetrator of some gruesomely mummified remains. To help understand the mind of a killer she seeks out and requests help from psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund. Jeanette is feeling the growing pressure, male prejudice at work and in addition trying to cope with a disintegrating home life with her partner Ake and son Johan. As the body count rises a conspiracy is discovered stretching back many years, involving sexual abuse and paedophilia, and implicating respected pillars of the community.

 

At 786 pages long this is a story that needs perseverance. At first I became engrossed with the stylish writing depicting acts of depravity and with characters that had multiple personalities and deep rooted personal problems. There are some big issues to think about here most prominent the idea of dissociative identity disorder where a person is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct or split identities or personality states that continually have power over the person's behaviour. I found myself having a lot of sympathy for DS Kihlberg balancing an increasing complicated workload and an equally confusing personal life. Decisions that she takes and a personal discovery that she makes will have far reaching consequences for the present and into the future.

 

The real problem with The Crow Girl is the page count. I really enjoyed the story at first but the depressing subject matter became overwhelming in the later stages. My understanding is that this was originally 3 separate books on first release in Sweden, and would have benefited greatly from some tight proof reading/editing, before UK release, leading to a single combined volume of around 500 pages. Having made clear my reservations I still believe this is essential reading for lovers of Nordic crime but be prepared to be shocked and possibly repulsed at the sensitive storyline unfolding before you.

 

Review
5 Stars
First class techno thriller
Want You Gone - Chris Brookmyre

I read and review a lot of traditional UK and USA based crime and it is always a pleasure to read something that is just that little bit different. Chris Brookmyre brings a real freshness and punch to this highly entertaining cybercrime novel "Want You Gone"

 

Samantha Morpeth  is the heroine of the moment. She has inherited the responsibility of caring for her younger sister Lilly (who suffers from down's syndrome), as her mother is unfortunately serving a prison sentence. Life is tough, she works in a lowly paid job, worries that the local social services will soon visit, and socializes on the web as alter ego "Buzzkill". Jack Parlabane is an out of work reporter hoping to scoop the big job opportunity with an innovative company called Broadwave. What appears to be a simple data breach at an electronics giant Synergis results in Sam and Jack forming an uneasy alliance and investigating the controversy surrounding a new product  soon to be launched to global acclaim.

 

This is an edge of the seat thriller that I consumed in two sittings. I enjoyed the dialogue between Sam and Jack and the downright audacity that so called hackers use to introduce themselves, gain trust and ultimately infiltrate and destroy a business. It is a story that is frightening in both its possibilities and scope and demands the reader to keep pace with the breathtaking action. I particularly loved the character of Sam, the struggle and obstacles that she encountered on a daily basis, and hoped that the author would seem fit to grant her some reprieve and reward in the closing chapters.

 

Many thanks to the good people of netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of this first rate thriller in exchange for an honest review.

Review
5 Stars
First class techno thriller
Want You Gone - Chris Brookmyre

I read and review a lot of traditional UK and USA based crime and it is always a pleasure to read something that is just that little bit different. Chris Brookmyre brings a real freshness and punch to this highly entertaining cybercrime novel "Want You Gone"

Samantha Morpeth is the heroine of the moment. She has inherited the responsibility of caring for her younger sister Lilly (who suffers from down's syndrome), as her mother is unfortunately serving a prison sentence. Life is tough, she works in a lowly paid job, worries that the local social services will soon visit, and socializes on the web as alter ego "Buzzkill". Jack Parlabane is an out of work reporter hoping to scoop the big job opportunity with an innovative company called Broadwave. What appears to be a simple data breach at an electronics giant Synergis results in Sam and Jack forming an uneasy alliance and investigating the controversy surrounding a new product soon to be launched to global acclaim.

This is an edge of the seat thriller that I consumed in two sittings. I enjoyed the dialogue between Sam and Jack and the downright audacity that so called hackers use to introduce themselves, gain trust and ultimately infiltrate and destroy a business. It is a story that is frightening in both its possibilities and scope and demands the reader to keep pace with the breathtaking action. I particularly loved the character of Sam, the struggle and obstacles that she encountered on a daily basis, and hoped that the author would seem fit to grant her some reprieve and reward in the closing chapters.

Many thanks to the good people of netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of this first rate thriller in exchange for an honest review.

Review
1 Stars
Complete and utter dross!
The Bird Tribunal - Rosie Hedger, Agnes Ravatn

Woa...a book that some say is as good as The Collector by John Fowles, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier or even dare I breath it Jane Eyre with echoes of Rochester and the fair Jane! Winner of The English Pen Award (promoting new and exciting literature from around the world) and quoted on its front cover as being "chillingly atmosphere and hauntingly beautiful!  The Bird Tribunal has won two awards in Norway: the NRK P2 Listener's Novel Prize and the Youth Critic's Award..."  a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo" Well this is one reader that thought it was an overpriced piece of balderdash!

 

It is an effrontery in any way to compare such mediocre prose to such classic authors as Fowles, Bronte and du Maurier. Allis Hagtorn, presenter on Norwegian TV, and it would appear gaining promotion by sleeping her way to the top has decided on a change of direction/career (I can hear her colleagues breathing a sigh of relief) She takes a job as housekeeper to the surly, abrupt moody but hauntingly dashing Sigurd Bagge. It would appear that his wife is not in residence at the moment and even Allis, after a very short time in service can understand why she would want to be free from him..."a neurosis-inducing, hostile husband. It was hardly surprising his wife had made herself scarce." So Allis spends her time preparing meals, tending the garden and acting as a type of agony aunt to the deeply morose, "dark and stocky" with those cute little curls....Mr Bagge (very well named as he seems to come with a lot of access impassioned baggage) Now the beautiful Allis is not without her own emotional impairment and the scene is now set for these two beautiful lost, neglected, misunderstood souls to console each other and maybe (if only for the reader) find within themselves some inner contentment ....(ah reminds me of a demented Catherine running across the moors in search of her one true love Heathcliff...yes lets include Wuthering Heights in the mix)

 

So after some 250 pages of "will they or wont they" "did they or could they" the dramatic final scene is set for some sensational disclosure. What is the truth behind Allis's sudden departure? Where is the much referred to Mrs Bagge? Did something criminal befall the fair Nor Bagge? All will be revealed dear reader in the final exciting (yawn....zzzzz) paragraphs.  This book could have been easily concluded in a paragraph....scarlet woman meets contemplative man, they talk, the truth is revealed...end of story. What an over hyped piece of nonsensical dross still all those 5 stars reviews can't be wrong? you read you decide.....................

Review
5 Stars
A masterclass in storytelling
Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden

Do you remember a long time ago when the movie Alien was first released and the impact it had on you, as the horror unfolded, and how gradually Ripley and her crew were destroyed by a creeping evil. The tension and fear was created by the not knowing...not knowing who or what had entered the good ship Nostromo or where it would strike next...and when it did strike (which it surely would) there was nowhere to go...Ararat has had a similar impact on me, having absorbed the 300+ pages in two sittings resulting in a very restless night of sleep where I to encountered my own demon (I kid you not!)

 

Meryam Karga and Adam Holzer are two high risk documentary makers and with the support of the Turkish government, have agreed to investigate a strange large cave newly revealed following a  recent avalanche at Mount Ararat in Turkey. So setting off with a diverse crew of adventurers and guides "who knew the secrets of the mountain better than the curves of their wives' flesh" they make swift progress and soon enter the exposed cave where a discovery is made....a  strange inverted wooden ship. This ancient relic is believed by many to be the last hiding place for Noah and his motley bunch of travellers when God decided enough was enough and he destroyed the world by flood...."He'd only been in the ark for hours and already felt the tension of the place. It wasn't just the mountain or the creaking of the timber as the weather shifted." A bitumen covered casket is exposed containing a cadaver..."The fingers were inhumanly long, curved into hooks, by the millennia it had spent dead in the box. The skin stretched tight over its chest had a purplish-gray hue. It had withered and there were spots in which the flesh had caved in. Bone showed through in various places on its skull and one cheek had crumbled to dust. The eyes had sunken to dried berries in its head. The horns were pale, dusty white, like ivory elephant tusks...."

 

"The thing's got horns. It's not human"..In the story of Noah a demon or beast found residence in the hull of the ship and killed two of Noah's sons and a granddaughter. Is the same fate now destined to befall this expedition? If a demon has been released how will it manifest itself? So with bad weather closing trapping the explorers, and seemingly blocking any chance of escape the Karga/Holzer expedition has little choice but to withstand the unpleasantness that the beast will surely unleash....To say much more about the course of the action would spoil a rattling good story. There are shades of "The Exorcist" here and just like the adventurers the reader is frightened and alarmed as no one can tell what the demon will do next or how he plans to spread his evil once released. As the weather improves those "remaining" realize the only hope for survival is to escape the torture that is Mount Ararat and so a bid for freedom must be made. Will they survive? will they destroy the demon? The last part of this adventure is unsurpassed in its excitement and the final revelation is truly brilliant...possibly leaving the way open for a sequel? This story has greatly disturbed me and has truly made me understand and appreciate the value of the written word. I do not often have sleepless nights following my reading adventures but this book has been an inspiration and it is a joy to know that there are some damn good horror/supernatural thriller writers out there! Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for supplying me with this gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
1 Stars
Predictable unimaginative and dull
Never Somewhere Else (DCI Lorimer) - Alex Gray

On the front of the paperback edition to this book it boldly states that "Brings Glasgow to life in the same way Ian Rankin evokes Edinburgh"  This is a disgraceful statement to be pointed at the good name of Rankin and the god amongst crime detectives John Rebus. Reading "Never Someone Else" can only be compared to viewing a rather poor episode of Murder She Wrote starring the ever youthful Angela Lansbury. The crime market is awash with wannabe Rankinists and yet seemingly the author of this story is a well respected and revered past winner of Scottish Association of Writers' Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing....whatever that is....

 

DCI Lorimer has been tasked with the unenviable job of unmasking a vicious killer who has mutilated and scalped three women leaving their bodies to be discovered in St Mungo's park. To help him understand the mind of the perpetrator he requests the services of psychologist Sol Brightman. Lorimer is probably the most characterless detective I have ever encountered there is nothing enthusiastic or appealing about him...and surely a DCI should be bold and charismatic in order to instil enthusiasm in the officers under his command. Even his English teacher wife Maggie finds him unpredictable and boring, they rarely communicate and she never knows what time to expect his presence at home...if at all. We learn little about the inner Lorimer, his interests: does he like music? does he have a weakness for alcohol? does he prefer the company of other women? He is uninteresting and dull and it is surely only a short time before his long suffering Maggie departs in tears closely accompanied by a disillusioned reader! For crying out loud, dear author, this is the first in a supposedly exciting crime series and yet nothing is done to expose the mind of the lead player...leaving him as a dull soulless pathetic individual......you get the picture I didn't like him!

 

 Any reader of crime will know that the villain will always make an appearance in the story before he is unmasked and it is always fun to try to second-guess this individual. It was a relatively simple process to successfully select the killer in such a poorly written novel. Undoubtedly the later books in the series will gradually expose the inner thoughts of" Mr very very dull and boring DCI" but I will certainly not be reading and will be planning my escape with the lovely perplexed Maggie...........

 

Review
3 Stars
Enjoyable environmental adventure
The Ice - Laline Paull, HarperCollins Publishers Limited

An interesting story and possibly a warning to us all as to what could happen if we choose to ignore global warming and turn a blind eye to the continuous erosion of the polar ice caps. Two childhood friends Sean Cawson and Tom Harding have the opportunity and it would now seem the means to dictate future trends by the successful acquisition of a strategic land mass within the northern polar region: The Artic....."super-objective of Midgard: an inspiring venue in which to promote the reconciliation of business and environmental ethics." At the start of this story ( and 3 years since his disappearance), a body is discovered in the ice, soon identified as Tom Harding....What happened between the two Oxford graduate friends? How could a business venture so carefully construed turn into disaster under the auspices of two intelligent and far-sighted men; one who wanted to save the world and one who really wanted his name in lights and the benefits and comfort of untold wealth?

 

A large part to "The Ice" is given over to an inquest by The Coroner into the manner and cause of Paul's death. To establish the facts, and ensure that the death was an accident and not in any way contributed to by other members of the Midgard consortium. The outcome will have lasting repercussions and lead Sean to question the ethics of his venture and to finally realize the hidden agenda of those who supported him both financially and emotionally. A big thanks to the good people at netgalley for supplying me with a gratis copy of this enjoyable read, in exchange for an honest review, and that is what I have written.

Review
4 Stars
Dark and gritty
A Dark So Deadly - Stuart MacBride

I have come to expect from Stuart MacBride a certain use of language, a certain Celtic/Scottish razor-sharp banter and a brutal realism in the unfolding of the story...with that in mind A Dark So Deadly does not disappoint. The setting is the fictional town of Oldcastle (used previously by the author and in particular the Ash Anderson books, Birthdays for the Dead and A Song for the Dying) as seen through the eyes of DC Callum MacGregor...."Squat grey council houses scrolled past on either side of the street, lichen -flecked pantiles and harled walls. Front gardens awash with weeds. More abandoned sofas and washing machines than gnomes and bird tables...." Macgregor has been accused of accepting a bribe and tampering a crime scene in order to allow Big Johnny Simpson escape a murder charge and because of this has been assigned to the "Divisional Investigative Support Team" Officers assigned to DIST are asked to work on boring impossible to solve cases, one step away from dismissal. When what appears to be a ancient mummy is discovered Macgregor and his colleagues from the Misfit Mob are sent to investigate. A post mortem examination reveals recent dental work and Macgregor now finds himself part of a murder investigation. As the  body count mounts the race is on to reveal the identity to a killer who enjoys "smoking" his victims granting  them a type of God like status.

 

This is one big story, stretching to some 600 pages with the action and crisp dialogue full on from the opening. There are some wonderful characters, and that fine turn of wit and black humour that is the signature of MacBride's writing. We encounter DCI "Poncy Powell" and Macgregor's immediate superior DI Malcolmson affectionately  referred to as "mother" (not quite as gregarious and crude as DI Steele in the Logan McRae novels) And of course not forgetting that great witticism..."A sad excuse for a beard that looked as if he'd made it himself out of ginger pubic hair"... "Watt stiffened. Thank you, Constable, but I'm dealing with this.."Please forgive him. He's been in a bad mood ever since he got back from the doctor. They can't do anything about his frighteningly small penis, and it's upset him a bit."....."He wasn't a dick when I met him."Yeah  well you know the old saying: some men are born dicks, some have dickishness thrust upon them, and some achieve dickosity all on their own."

 

This is a story full of murderers and paedophiles, of people living at the edge of society in squalor and depravity, a story where even the police survive by adopting a type of gallows humour. Where else but in Stuart MacBrides writing would you encounter a character like police officer Andy McAdams, dying of bowel cancer, still on active service, and able to create humour out of his terminal condition.."There he was standing at the bar, knocking back a sneaky whisky while the barman pulled the pints. "They've got him on another round of chemotherapy, Being colourful is how he copes. Great. Callum puffed out a breath. "I'm sorry he's dying. But now and then, it might be nice if he was colourful at someone else for a while...."

 

My only small criticism is the page count and I personally felt it would have been better condensed into 450 pages. As I reached the surprising conclusion and the perpetrator was finally revealed I felt, similar to many of the police officers, mentally battered and bruised and somewhat glad that the action was at an end. This however is a small and personal observation which did not detract from the telling of an exciting story from an author I greatly admire. I do hope Police Officer Callum MacGregor will return in the near future for another breathtaking roller coaster outing. Many thanks to the good people at Harper Collins for supplying me with a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written...

 

Review
3 Stars
Life and love in small town America
The Rules of Half: A Novel - Jenna Patrick

Young Regan Whitmer has set off on a journey to find her birth father Will Fletcher now living in the quaint small town of Half Moon Hollow. Here she will encounter a close-knit and suspicious community having to tolerate a somewhat schizophrenic Will who appears to have lost his mind following the death of his first daughter Emma.

 

This is a book which looks at relationships within a small town and in particular their approach to mental health and how they adopt and change (if at all) to accommodate it. I did enjoy this story but found the telling of it, in particular the conclusion, somewhat akin to an episode of Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons. Those are only my observations, and I can appreciate those 5 star reviews, it was certainly easy to assimilate and read albeit at times a little too homespun and cosy.

Review
4 Stars
A welcome return for an old friend
Love Like Blood: A Novel (Tom Thorne) - Mark Billingham

It's a great big welcome back to that Merle Haggard, country lovin' detective, Tom Thorne. In one particular chapter there is a great and memorable moment when D I Tom Thorne is driving down the road singing at the top of his voice..."The late great Merle Haggard provided the accompaniment on the drive to a retail park in Wembley and Thorne sang along to Silver Wings with rather more gusto than he managed in the school hall the day before....." After the rather poor "Die of Shame" where we were first introduced to DI Nicola Tanner, and Thorne had a very minor cameo role in the final chapter, (the only good part of that book) it's a day of rejoicing to have TT back to his investigating best...we forgive him that he enjoys the company of country music and reluctantly accepts the approach of middle age...here he is back doing what he does best solving crime and crime does not come more topical that Mark Billingham's  Love like Blood.

 

DI Nicola Tanner has been investigating a series of what appear to be honour killings when her partner Susan is murdered. Turning to her good friend Tom Thorne she persuades him to help her uncover the truth behind the killings within the Muslim community, contracted out to hired assassins. Reading this book it is a pleasure to catch up on the old familiar faces especially the heavily tattooed  Phil Hendricks, police pathologist,  who is arguably Thorne's only real friend and together they enjoy good beer and watching football. He is in a relationship with social worker Helen and her young son Alfie but I can't help feeling that there is little future between them. The sex they share is passable...."Neither of them, had they been inclined to talk honestly about it, would have claimed it was the best sex they ever had.." and Helen still misses Paul, her previous partner, who was tragically killed and in one poignant moment she reveals her true feelings towards Thorne....."I'm happy really. You need to know that. But I want to be honest with you, and if I could go back and stop him being killed, I would. I'd do anything to have Paul alive again"....

 

So for fans of Mark Billingham, "Love Like Blood" will not disappoint, it's like putting on a well worn pair of comfy shoes! The subject matter is very well chosen and of the moment, the police investigation of the finest, the characterization and familiarity of the "cast" most welcome, and the perpetrators Muldoon and Riaz evil and well suited to the task of hired assassins. I only hope that when we next encounter DI Thorne that he has resolved his differences with the lovely Helen, but sadly I fear this relationship is doomed! Many thanks to the publishers Little Brown for supply me with a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
4 Stars
An engaging and warm family thriller
Blood Sisters - Jane Corry

Alison works as a lecturer teaching stained glass creation. To help her income Alison applies for a post at a local open prison where she hopes her skills can benefit those due for early release. Kitty, following a road accident, has suffered acute brain damage now requiring 24 hospital care. The connection between these young ladies soon becomes apparent and as the story unfolds we learn the secrets that bind them together both in the past and the present. On first introduction the reader has naturally great sympathy for Kitty, her almost vegetable state and inability to communicate, but Alison has also been affected by events from her childhood now manifesting in her need to self harm....."It doesn't hurt enough. Never does. For it's the cuts we hide inside that really do the damage."

 

This story for me is stepping out of my reading comfort zone and surprisingly enjoying a style of writing where the reader becomes a bystander as events unfold through the voices of Alison and Kitty. What is  particularly poignant is the fact that Kitty cannot communicate by speech and her thoughts can only remain as thoughts not shared with the other players in the book but only with the (privileged) reader. This is a very powerful story telling tool as the more you read the more you can  appreciate and understand how difficult life is for someone so incapacitated . The author effectively displays the structures and need that exists within the family unit and how, even in our darkest moments, that warm felling of love and tenderness can overcome the greatest adversity. Now please do not suffer under the illusion that this is a banal and trite story, I am a reader and reviewer more comfortable with crime and horror and yet I managed to read this 400 page thriller in a day.....it is good! Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for supplying me with a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review, and that is what I have written.

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