C. J. Sansom - Winter In Madrid
‘…I found this book difficult to put down.’
This book is set in Spain in 1940, after the end of the Civil
War. It is a country still dominated by the aftermath of that
struggle, and by the implications of the neutrality of Spain
in the World War raging around them. Into this delicate and
disturbing situation comes Harry Brett. He is an ex-public
schoolboy who has been shell-shocked and injured in the retreat
Harry has been reluctantly persuaded to contribute to the
war effort by spying on an old school friend, now turned businessman,
with an eye to the main chance in Madrid. He becomes involved
with the Spanish. Struggling with the rigours of life, as
well as meeting up with old acquaintances. The various strands
finally come together in an exciting finale.
This is a very different book to the previous two books by
this author, which were set in Tudor times. However C.J.Sansom
has again got under the skin of the times and portrays the
attitudes and values of the characters realistically and convincingly.
I particularly liked the way that the ethos of the pre war
English public school was conveyed as essentially good hearted
but doomed to change.
The characters are believable and the plot moves along at
a cracking pace. The details of Madrid both physical and politically
at that time contributed to the interest of the story and
the descriptions are vivid.
All in all, I found this book difficult to put down.
Reviewed By S. D.
Jan Costin Wagner - Ice Moon
‘…a well-plotted and interesting thriller.’
Kimmo Joentaa, a young detective in the Finnish town of Turku
has lost his wife, Sanna. Convulsed with grief, he returns
to work to investigate the murder of a woman in her own home.
She appears to have known her attacker, but clues are difficult
to find until the murderer strikes again. This time killing
a young Swedish tourist. As Joentaa struggles to convince
his superiors that there is a serial killer at large, he finds
himself having to question whether he is becoming too involved
in the case.
There is a wealth of Scandinavian detective fiction being
published at the
moment and most of it is of a consistent high quality. This
book is no
exception. It is a well-plotted and interesting thriller.
detective is well written and his portrayal of a man at turns
and angry at his young wife’s death is very convincing.
The plot is well crafted, which is particularly important
as the reader is
always aware of the identity of the murderer. However, the
primarily about the hunt for a killer and it maintains suspense
the reader into the mind of the murderer until Joentaa is
as much his
redeemer as his hunter.
Reviewed by: S.W.
Lisa Gardner - Gone
‘Gardner is onto another winner.’
When someone you love vanishes without a trace, how far would
you go to get him or her back? For ex-FBI profiler Pierce
Quincy, it's the beginning of his worst nightmare. A car abandoned
on a desolate stretch of Oregon highway, engine running, purse
on the driver's seat. And his estranged wife, Rainie Conner,
gone, leaving no clue to her fate.
Did one of the ghosts from her troubled past finally catch
up with Rainie? Or could her disappearance be the result of
one of the cases they'd been working—a particularly
vicious double homicide or the possible abuse of a deeply
disturbed child Rainie took too close to heart? Together with
his daughter, FBI agent Kimberly Quincy, Pierce is battling
the local authorities, racing against time and frantically
searching for answers to all the questions he's been afraid
to ask. One man knows what happened that night. Adopting the
moniker from an eighty-year old murder, he has already contacted
the press. His terms are clear: he wants money, he wants power,
and he wants celebrity. And if he doesn't get what he wants,
Rainie will be gone for good.
As the clock winds down on a terrifying deadline, Pierce
plunges headlong into the most desperate hunt of his life,
into the shattering search for a killer, a lethal truth, and
for the love of his life who may forever be…gone.
Gardner’s latest novel continues with the main characters,
Rainie Connor, Pierce Quincy and his daughter Kimberly. This
time, instead of solving a crime they are in the centre of
References are made to a particular murder that had been
investigated by Connor and Pierce but no mention has been
made of this in previous books, which I found made the connections
to the current investigation and the previous one somewhat
Although slower in parts than usual, this book loses none
of the twists and turns the reader has come to expect from
Garner and you will not be disappointed.
Gardner is onto another winner with the continually developing
characters who remain both imperfect yet likeable.
Reviewed by: H. A.
Barbara Nadel - Dance With Death
‘The plot was gripping and not easy to second guess.’
Cetin Ikmen, a middle aged Istanbul Police Inspector, becomes
embroiled in an investigation of a twenty year old corpse
discovered in the remote and strangely picturesque district
of Cappadocia. He knows the area because of family connections
and a long remembered romance with an English girl who subsequently
disappeared. He is persuaded to help with the enquiries because
he fears this corpse might be the same girl. Nothing, however,
is that simple, and there are many twists and turns in the
plot which occur before everything becomes clear.
Meanwhile, back in Istanbul, Ikmen’s protégé,
Inspector Mehmet Suleyman, has his own difficulties with a
series of disturbing attacks, culminating in the murder of
young men connected in some way with the gay community. The
blocking of his investigations causes him to question who
exactly is controlling the situation…
I enjoyed this book. More than the previous Inspector Ikmen
novels. The plot was gripping and not easy to second guess.
The atmosphere of present day Turkey with modern cosmopolitan
Istanbul contrasted with the old country ways of Cappadocia
is vividly realised. I liked the description of the tensions
between the religious and non-religious. The reality and immediacy
was made greater by the inclusion of attitudes to Turkey joining
the European Union, and also the terrible bombings of the
The characters are well described and I appreciated the developments
in Mehmet’s private life!
Reviewed by: S. D.
Linda Fairstein - Death Dance
‘Another major hit for Linda Fairstein.’
Once again Linda Fairstein uses her experience as a leading
DA to create a tantalising web of intrigue, betrayal and murder.
Teaming up with long time friends and colleagues, Mike Chapman
and Mercer Wallace, Alex Cooper investigates the disappearance
of a world-famous dancer, who has vanished from the Metropolitan
Drawn behind the scenes of New York's theatrical community,
the team is haunted by ghosts of the dramatic old theatres
- and from their own pasts. At the same time, Alex and Mercer
are trying to collar a doctor who's been using his extensive
knowledge of and access to drugs to overpower women before
assaulting them. A spell-binding thriller combining the unique
history of New York with fresh insight into the latest forensic
The main story, that of the murder of ballerina Galinova,
offers a plethora of suspects and motives, together with the
usual climatic ending found in Fairstein’s other books.
Mike Chapman is back in the thick of the investigation following
the untimely death of his fiancée, and I eagerly await
further instalments from Fairstein of the relationship between
him and Alex Cooper.
Fairstein is a very knowledgeable author, on both legal and
forensic matters, and explains all procedures to the layman
reader without the use of excessive detail.
Another major hit for Linda Fairstein.
Reviewed by: H. A.
Tony Hillerman - Skeleton Man
‘This is a classic Hillerman novel…’
The daughter of a rich diamond dealer looks for the bones
of her missing father, killed in a plane crash in the Grand
Canyon, to prove that she is entitled to the family inheritance.
Meanwhile, one of the diamonds that disappeared at the time
of his death appears following a robbery. Retired Navajo Tribal
Police chief, Lieutenant Joe Lephorn and Sergeant Jim Chee
find themselves embroiled in the case to help prove the innocence
of a colleague’s relative.
For fans of Tony Hillerman this is a welcome return of his
Leaphorn/Chee detective duo. The retired Leaphorn is his usual
self, drawn into a fifty-year-old case because of its relevance
to recent events on the reservation. However, Jim Chee has
more immediate concerns. Particularly his forthcoming marriage
to former policewoman, Bernie Manuelito.
This is a classic Hillerman novel and his descriptions of
Navajo country are wonderful, as usual. However, I wonder
how the character of Jim Chee is going to develop further,
when so many of the previous novels have revolved around his
failed relationships. Firstly with teacher Mary Landon and
then with attorney Janet Pete. A blissfully happy Jim Chee
is going to be hard to get used to, despite the excellence
of the plot. I am keen to see how the series develops!
Reviewed by: S. W.
David Hosp - Dark Harbour
‘The story had a mix of legal, political and forensic
Scott Finn, rising star at a Boston law firm, has worked hard
to pull himself out of the Charlestown projects. When the
body of his co-worker and old flame, Natalie Caldwell, floats
to the surface of Boston Harbour, Finn is grief stricken.
Almost immediately, the firm instructs Finn to replace Natalie
to defend a high-profile client. As he retraces Natalie's
footsteps, Finn begins to unravel the awful mystery of her
murder. But police lieutenant Linda Flaherty is also hot on
the trail. What neither Finn nor Flaherty realise is what's
at stake. If the truth is uncovered: billions of dollars,
the careers of the Massachusetts elite, and their own survival
are all endangered.
As with many untried authors, I started the book with no expectations
but found this story gripping from the start. The story had
a mix of legal, political and forensic intrigue, together
with an almost predictable attraction between the two lead
characters. However, this relationship ran parallel to the
main story, which left the reader guessing until the last
page. The characters were well defined, as was the plot, which
in turn engendered an explosive thriller.
Dark Harbour is the debut novel from David Hosp, and I will
be closely following this author and look forward to reading
his next book.
Reviewed by H. A.
Peter James - Dead Simple
‘…starts off at a cracking pace and simply
doesn’t let go.’
It was all supposed to be a bit of harmless fun. The four
friends were just paying Michael back for all the previous
pranks he had played on them at one time or another. Michael’s
stag night was a fitting event to place Michael in a coffin
and bury him. They were only going to leave him there for
a couple of hours, then rescue him and continue their night
of drinking. However, as they drove away, the van was involved
in a horrific accident. Hours later, all four of Michael’s
mates are dead. Who is going to rescue him now?
Roy Grace is introduced to the case through a close colleague.
The best man, Mark Warren who wasn’t at the party is
denying all knowledge of what has happened to Michael. Does
he really not know anything about the prank that was set up
on the stag night? Surely, being the best ma, he would know?
As Grace scrapes deeper below the surface, he finds out that
some attached to the wedding party are not all they say they
are. It is a race against time to find Michael, before, like
the lid of the coffin, his fate is sealed.
This is a brilliant book. It starts off at a cracking pace
and simply doesn’t let go. Mr. James is a well-known
screen writer and you can see this book clearly on TV or the
big screen. It has all the ingredients you would expect from
a fast paced film. Suspense, a plot that twists and turns,
a motley crew of characters and that marvellous sense of time
rapidly running out…
There are 90 chapters and you race through them wanting to
know who is going to do what and who is going to show their
hand or turn out not to be who they claimed they were! This
is definitely a book you pick up and can’t stop reading
until it is finished. It sounds like a cliché, but
this is a book you must take with you on holiday, reserve
a few free hours on the beach and read about the dirty, low-down
goings on in downtown Brighton!
Reviewed by: C. S.
Paul Doherty - The Cup of Ghosts
‘The end of this book leaves you waiting eagerly
for the next instalment.’
This is the beginning of a series about Mathilde of Westminster,
a lady in waiting to Princess Isabella of France, and an accomplished
physician trained by her uncle, a member of the persecuted
Order of the Templars. At the beginning of the story Mathilde
is looking back at her life. She begins in safety with her
uncle but as Phillipe of France starts to search and destroy
all lands and property of the Templars she is forced to seek
sanctuary in a very unlikely place. The household of Princess
Isabella of France, soon to become Queen of England.
This first book details the move to France and the power
struggle in the English court of King Edward II. Various mysterious
deaths, both in France and in England, display the violence
of the times and Mathilde is not an innocent in all of the
happenings. The end of this book leaves you waiting eagerly
for the next instalment. Indeed the last words are, “To
This is a well-researched book that throws new light on the
story of Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston. The
violence and disregard for life are clearly described, interposed
with fascinating details of everyday life. I did not know
the importance of women as physicians in those days. Mathilde
and Isabella are, on the whole, sympathetic characters, although
chillingly supplied with a degree of ruthlessness when required.
I enjoyed the pace of the book and found it difficult to
put down. My only caveat is that the ending left me slightly
unsatisfied. I wanted to know what happens next!
Reviewed by: S. D.
Dean Koontz - Velocity
‘Velocity is Koontz at his best – and comes
Billy Wiles is an easygoing, hardworking guy who leads a quiet,
ordinary life. That is about to change. One evening, after
his usual eight-hour bartending shift, he finds a typewritten
note under the windshield wiper of his car: If you don’t
take this note to the police and get them involved, I will
kill a lovely blond schoolteacher somewhere in Napa County.
If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill
an elderly woman active in charity work. You have six hours
to decide. The choice is yours.
It seems like a sick joke and Billy’s friend on the
police force, Lanny Olsen thinks so too. His advice to Billy
is to go home and forget about it. Less than twenty-four hours
later, a young blond schoolteacher is found murdered, and
it’s all Billy’s fault… He didn’t
convince the police to get involved. Now he’s got another
note, another deadline, another ultimatum… and another
two lives hang in the balance.
Suddenly Billy’s average, seemingly innocuous life
takes on the dimensions and speed of an accelerating nightmare.
The notes are coming faster, deadlines are growing tighter
and the killer is becoming bolder and more vicious with every
communication – until Billy is isolated with the terrifying
knowledge that he alone has the power of life and death over
a psychopath’s innocent victims. The struggle between
good and evil is intensely personal. The most chilling words
are: The choice is yours.
Dean Koontz has an inimitable style and brings his characters
to life within the first few lines. Velocity has all the perfect
ingredients of an exciting thriller. It has a fast pace, a
number of suspects with the added twist of an innocent person
being involved in the killings, regardless of his actions.
I was hooked from the first page and was unable to leave
this book alone. Psychological thrillers are definitely my
first choice, and Koontz crosses over from the supernatural
to the psychological with ease.
Velocity is Koontz at his best – and comes highly recommended.
Reviewed by H. A.