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Reviews

September 2008

P.D. James - The Private Patient

"... a rare treat."

Synopsis:
Rhoda Gradwyn, a successful investigative journalist, books herself into the exclusive Cheverell Manor for an operation to improve her disfiguring scar because she 'no longer has any need of it'. Despite a troubled past, Rhoda has established herself in life and by booking the eminent plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, she has every belief that the operation will be a success. But Rhoda is never to leave Cheverell Manor. Recuperating after the operation, Rhoda is strangled in the middle of the night.

The presence of another wealthy patient at the clinic results in intervention from Downing Street, which, in turn, leads to Adam Dalgliesh and his team being assigned to the murder. He quickly focuses his investigation on the occupants of Cheverell Manor, who include a range of suspects – all of whom have been the victims of Rhoda's journalism. This could well be a last case for Dalgliesh's team in their existing form before they move on to different jobs. Can Dalgliesh finish his career with a flourish or is this a case destined to remain unsolved? Leaving behind his fiancé Emma Lavenham, Dalgliesh is also forced to face the reality of his future as a married man.

Review:
Speculation has it that this could be the last outing for PD James' eminent detective. The book does have an 'end of an era' feel to it, both in terms of Dalgliesh's approach to the investigation and the progress of his personal life.

The book is, of course, extremely well written – exactly as we would expect from such a distinguished writer. There are also a number of the prevailing themes that the reader has come to love and look for in James' books; including a strong sense of place, both when in the countryside and in the city, and a range of suspects that include both the mundane and the exotic. The plot moves along well but my only slight criticism might be that by tying up so many loose ends, including the respective love lives of Dalgliesh and Inspector Kate Mishkin, I occasionally lost sight of the murder case.

But this is a minor isue. Any new PD James will always be looked forward to and enjoyed as a rare treat. I truly hope that this will not be his last outing as there is plenty of life left in the complex character of Commander Adam Dalgliesh.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Rebecca Jenkins - The Dukes Agent

"... a very good read."

Synopsis:
Set in 1811, in the countryside of Teesdale, this is the story of Raif Jarrett, agent to the Duke of Penrith and veteran soldier looking for a quieter life.

The Duke's previous agent has died suddenly, leaving affairs in a mess. When Jarrett starts to take over the reins he finds some very dubious business practices and some shady dealings that need to be investigated. In doing this he alienates the local magistrate, Mr Justice Raistrick.

As the story progresses, it emerges that Raif Jarrett has powerful connections about which he is keeping very quiet. He finds himself in some very awkward situations before finally reaching an understanding of what has happened in the past. He still has Mr Justice Raistrick to deal with ,however, and this conflict will no doubt continue into the next of the series.

Review:
The background to this tale contributes greatly to the atmosphere and the understanding of the characters. The old country ways set amongst the beautiful countryside of Teeside contrast with the growing industrialisation of England as shown in the description of the docks, and the hard and struggling life of some of the inhabitants.

Raif is something of an enigma. As the story progresses we learn more about his adventurous life on campaigns, and there are hints of why he chose that particular life. Now, however, he is exploring a (hopefully) more peaceful and settled life, but he chooses not to use the influence in high places, which he undoubtedly has, to smooth his path. Raif is an intriguing character and I look forward to hearing more about him in the next book.

For those who enjoy tales of the Regency period, for those who enjoy a good story with a few deaths to investigate and for those who love the North-East of England this is a very good read.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Barbara Nadel - Ashes to Ashes

"...told by an expert storyteller."

Synopsis:
Set in a very compact time frame and location, this is an interesting account of Francis Hancock's experiences as he shelters from the worst of the Blitz in St Paul's Cathedral on the night of December 29th 1940.

Francis is an undertaker and has his own demons to face from the First World War. Against this background Francis stumbles across a plot involving the disappearance of a young girl and various members of secret cults, including the Freemasons. Francis struggles with both his own terrors and the machinations of an evil and deluded man to find the secrets behind the deaths occurring on that eventful night...

Review:
The tight constraints of both the setting and the time frame have greatly influenced the impact of the story here. On the positive side, the intensity of Hancock's fears is brilliantly portrayed. The details of the firefighting and defence of St Paul's are carefully and lovingly described, together with the geography of St Paul's. The passion for the building and its significance in withstanding the onslaught of the Luftwaffe are clearly brought to life. The detailed and vivid descriptions help you to live that particularly violent night.

On the other hand, I miss the details of the other characters associated with Hancock - his family and girlfriend and the other local characters. We are introduced to many new characters, and the element of the supernatural, or individuals' belief in it, does provide a taste of excitement.

This is an interesting story, well told by an expert storyteller.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Janet Evanovich - Fearless Fourteen

"If you’re a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not yet, you soon will be!"

Synopsis:
Armed robbery to the tune of nine million dollars. Dom Rizzi robbed a bank, stashed the money and did the time. His family couldn't be more proud. He always was the smart one.

Joe Morelli, Dom Rizzi and Dom's sister Loretta are cousins. Morelli is a cop, Rizzi robs banks, and Loretta is a single mother waiting tables at the firehouse. The all American family.

Less than a week after Dom's release from prison, Joe Morelli has shadowy figures breaking into his house and dying in his basement. He's getting threatening messages, Loretta is kidnapped, and Dom is missing.

Morelli hires Walter "Mooner" Dunphy, stoner and "inventor" turned crime-fighter to protect his house. Morelli can't afford a lot on a cop's salary, and Mooner will work for potatoes.

Stephanie and Morelli have a long-standing relationship that involves sex, affection and driving each other nuts. She's a bond enforcement agent with more luck than talent, and she's involved in this bank-robbery-gone-bad disaster from day one.

Security expert Carlos Manoso - street name Ranger - has a job for Stephanie that will involve night-work. Morelli has his own ideas regarding Stephanie's evening activities.

Review:
This is yet another stunning hit featuring Evanovich's 'heroine', Stephanie Plum. I guarantee you'll finish before you even realise it - the books are so easy to read and simply impossible to put down.

Stephanie has got herself into another situation, which, in Trenton, seems to be commonplace. Nobody raises an eyebrow when anything peculiar happens, which makes the story even more amusing. All the characters react to the events as if they are quite normal - the police don't expect anything else - except for Plum to discover yet another body. All the larger-than-life characters still appear with the addition of a few new ones in each novel.

Rex is, surprisingly, still there. And Grandma Mazur is still causing havoc, though unfortunately she is not featured much in Fearless Fourteen. Though you can guarantee when she does it is always a comic moment.

If you're a fan, you'll love it. If you're not yet, you soon will be! Roll of book fifteen!

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Patrick Quinlan - The Drop-Off

"It’s pretty manic stuff!"

Synopsis:
Bomb-maker, Smoke Duggan, is on the run with $2.5 million of Big Vito's money. With his accomplices - hitman Danny Cruz, and their girlfriends Lola Bell and Pamela Gray - Duggan is forced to make a rapid exit from Fort Lauderdale on his yacht and heads for the impoverished island of Saint Mark's.

But Big Vito does not give up so easily and sends a member of his gang to recover the money. However, some of the islanders have already spotted the money-making potential of the new visitors. Butch Stone, a former soldier fresh from Iraq, and Macho, the island's young pimp, both get drawn into Duggan's entourage with disastrous results...

Review:
This book picks up where Smoked left off. Interestingly, while Smoked focused on the character of Smoke Duggan, this latest book explores further the character of Danny Cruz. It's pretty manic stuff!

The tension between Duggan and Cruz is entirely believable and adds an extra dimension to a story where everyone is out to either kill them or steal the money - or both. The characters of the women, in particular ex-librarian Pamela Gray, are slightly less rounded and believable but are still very enjoyable. The scene where the gun-toting girls chase after the kidnapped Cruz is very funny indeed.

The book works very well all round and is a highly enjoyable read. I can't help wondering how much more mileage the four have together without disaster befalling them. Quinlan looks like he has realised this as the ending hints at a parting of ways. I look forward to the next instalment...

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Dick Francis and Felix Francis - Silks

"... runs at a galloping pace right from the starting post."

Synopsis:
Geoffrey Mason is a barrister who has just lost the case brought against his client, Julian Trent. Even more upsetting is the fact that the jury took so long to come back with a 'guilty' verdict that he missed his chance of riding his horse in the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham. But winning and losing is part of a barrister's lot. Back in the saddle, Mason notes different rivalries between the jockeys, especially the rivalry of Steve Mitchell and Scot Barlow that teeters on pure anger. After a day at the races, Mason finds Barlow in the showers, beaten and bruised. The man blames Steve Mitchell but his attitude towards Mason as an amateur jockey does not endear him to the wounded man.

Soon, Scot is found dead with a pitchfork sticking out of his chest. Betting slips belonging to Mitchell are attached to the prongs. All the evidence seems to point to Mitchell killing the man after their hatred of each other bubbled up and burst out of control. The condemned man calls for Mason to be his defence but Mason is getting whispered calls to take the case and lose it. Also, there are the threatening letters containing photographs of his father and the inside of his house. These people are everywhere in his life and it seems they will do anything to get the 'guilty' verdict they are so desperate to acquire.

Review:
This latest novel from the Dick Francis stable continues the flavour of the previous books from this great writer. Both Dick Francis and his son, Felix, work closely on these new novels. With Silks, Messrs Francis have given us an energetic novel that runs at a galloping pace right from the starting post.

During his long reign as the monarch of racing crime, Dick Francis gave us many characters who used violence as their way of dealing with unpleasant situations. In Silks we meet the vile Julian Trent who our hero failed to get off on a charge of GBH. After an appeal the man is out of prison within months, instead of years. Soon, the odious Mr. Trent is wielding his baseball bat and making his threatening personality felt throughout proceedings.

Messrs Francis have breathed new life into a franchise that had sadly been missing from our Christmas lists for a few years. Now it is back - and with the help of Felix, the Francis name is yet again resplendently positioned back on our bookshelves. Like many books of the genre, Silks isn't going to give you any answers to the meaning of life or the universe, but it is certainly a rollicking good, escapist read. And, as always, the solution to all the shenanigans is based within the horseracing world. Silks should easily gallop King Dick and Prince Felix back into the best-sellers list!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Meg Gardiner - The Dirty Secrets Club

"This book has ‘breakthrough’ written all over it. "

Synopsis:
Jo Beckett is a forensic psychiatrist. She profiles victim's lives to solve their deaths. Was it accident, suicide or murder? That is why Jo is brought into the case where high profile prosecutor, Callie Harding has just driven her BMW off a bridge and down on to the busy road below, taking innocent people with her? Why did she have the word 'dirty' written in lipstick on her thigh? Soon Jo realises that Callie's 'murder suicide' is not the only one. Two other high profile celebrities have taken their own life along with a loved one. Or have they?

As Jo begins to dig deeper she finds that there is a dark force operating among the shadows against these people who have formed this bizarre club. Jo needs to find out exactly what is 'The Dirty Secrets Club' and how you become a member. As Jo's forty-eight hours begin to expire she will have looked at more bodies caught up in this conundrum, been chased through the streets by a killer called Skunk who is controlled by his malevolent and mysterious master and had her own past dragged into the investigation. It is going to take all her strength to make it out alive.

Review:
Having previously always enjoyed Meg Gardiner's books I have seen a steady increase in the quality of the storytelling and sheer readability with each successive novel. However, with The Dirty Secrets Club Gardiner has changed her main protagonist, changed the scene to San Francisco and with this new novel she seems to be settling comfortably into being a writer intent on being taken seriously. She succeeds completely. This book has 'breakthrough' written all over it.

The story opens with a high-speed chase from the first page and from there on in the pace is relentless. All the action takes place within forty-eight hours and there is a lot going on for the reader to digest. However, the author leads us safely by the hand and sets everything out so well that nothing is confusing and you'll never feel overloaded with information.

I do hope this book brings Gardiner to the attention of the masses. It really should. Not bad for only her sixth book - but, still, about time too. Meg Gardiner has notched up a gear or three with 'The Dirty Secrets Club' and now we look set to see her rip up some smoking tarmac and roar away to huge, and well-deserved, success. Roll on the sequel...

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jeffery Deaver - The Broken Window

"Deaver certainly is the master of deception..."

Synopsis:
Data mining is the industry of the 21st century. Commercial companies collect information about us from thousands of sources - credit cards, loyalty programs, hidden radio tags in products, medical histories, employment and banking records, government filings, and many more - then analyze and sell the data to anyone willing to pay the going rate. Some people approve, citing economic benefits; others worry about the erosion of privacy.

But no one has been prepared for a new twist: A psychotic killer with access to the country's biggest data miner - Strategic Systems Datacorp - is using detailed information to work his way into the lives of victims, rape, rob and kill them and then blame unsuspecting innocents for the crimes. The killer's in-depth knowledge of the victims and his ability to plant damning evidence mean that even the most vocal protests of innocence go ignored by the police and juries.

The perpetrator has, in short, found a perfect means to literally get away with murder - until one of his fall guys turns out to be Lincoln Rhyme's cousin, Arthur, who is facing certain conviction for first-degree murder. Though the two Rhymes haven't had any contact for years, Lincoln agrees to look into the case. In the process he unravels a spider's web of crime that the killer, known only as Unknown Subject 522, has woven.

Rhyme, Amelia Sachs and the cast of the previous Rhyme books find themselves up against their most insidious villain yet, a man obsessed with collecting - from junk on the street to intimate details about our lives and the ultimate trophy: human lives themselves. Something he sees as mere streams of data. This is a man proficient with razors and guns, but whose most dangerous weapon is the information that he wields with ruthless precision against those he targets on a whim... and against those who try to stop him.

"How," Rhyme says, "can you defend yourself against the man who knows everything?" As the invisible 522 attacks his pursuers through identity theft and outright torture and murder, the struggling police have to turn to the likely source of the data the killer uses - the eerie and monolithic Strategic Systems Datacorp, headed by the legendary data mining pioneer, Andrew Sterling. His "mission" is the creation of a global empire based not on politics or money but on information. "Knowledge is power," Sterling continually reminds.

And for Lincoln Rhyme, the case has an added dimension. Arthur's re-emergence draws him back to his childhood and teen years and forces him to grapple with a tragedy from his past that he has avoided for decades.

Review:
First, for all you technophobes, don't be put off that Broken Window is based quite a lot around computers. It makes fascinating reading that any organisation could at some point hold so much information about any one individual and makes you think twice about using a computer, a credit card of even a car ever again.

You certainly wont be disappointed as Rhyme is still in his element with his forensic investigations. Here again it is amazing that so much infomation can be gleaned from such little evidence. Rhyme is still his usual acerbic self, although as each book develops this reader can slowly see a softer side to him. And, despite being so gruff at times, he still has a very loyal and close cirlcle of friends who are willing to do anything for him - even when it means bending the rules.

I thought I found it quite easy to work out who the killer was, but - in the usual Deaver style - I was proven quite wrong. Deaver certainly is the master of deception, He eats, sleeps and breathes red herrings and is a master of the art of keeping the reader guessing to the last page; the last line.

This is another sure-fire Deaver winner.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Andrew Pyper - The Killing Circle

"This is seriously spine-chilling stuff!"

Synopsis:
It's a commonly held belief that if you scratch a journalist you'll find a would-be novelist underneath and Patrick Rush is no different from his peers. He joins a writers' circle in his hometown of Toronto hoping this will give him the impetus to start his novel. A fellow member's reading haunts him. Angela tells the tale of The Sandman and Patrick can't help but feel there is a connection with this story and the serial killer who is turning Toronto into a city paralysed by fear.

When he finds out that Angela has died in a car crash he decides to write the novel she would have if she were still alive and achieves success beyond anything he could have hoped for. At first, guilty conscience at his plagiarism keeps him from contacting any other members of his writers circle - until he discovers that one by one they are being murdered. The lines between fantasy and reality blur. Is he being followed? Is he next on the killer's list? It is only when his eight year-old son disappears that he determines that he must uncover the terrifying truth behind The Sandman.

Review:
Although the premise of killing off members of a writers' circle is not a new one, Andrew Pyper's treatment of it had me reading bolt upright in my bed, listening to every creak in the house; imagining footsteps on the path at my front door. This is seriously spine-chilling stuff!

Pyper cleverly plays with his reader making them as paranoid and fearful as the inhabitants of his virtual Toronto. There are times when you wonder if you are reading a horror novel, so atmospheric is the writing here.

This is a book that haunts you as you read it. The sense of it follows you between sittings like a saccharine aftertaste, pulling you back demanding that you put everything else on hold until you finish it. A word of caution though... Make sure you close all you windows and lock your doors before picking this book up.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Robert Crais - Chasing Darkness

"...contains all the classic crime elements that have made Crais' series so admired and well loved."

Synopsis:
The hills of Los Angeles are ablaze and as the Fire Department hurry to move the residents out a corpse - that of a middle aged loner - is found.

No one is sure whether his death was murder or suicide. Clasped in his lap is found a photographic album containing pictures of 7 young women. These young women were murdered with the photographs being taken not long after their deaths. A murder took place every year for seven years with their bodies being found all over the city. At the time the LAPD were unable to see the link between the murders. But now, with the discovery of the album, they realise that the murders are linked. This does not bode well for Elvis Cole. Why? Because only one person was ever charged with the murder and he got off as a result of information provided by Cole. It is his body that has been found in the fire.

Did the information supplied by Cole allow him to perpetrate three more killings with the result that three young women lost their lives? With the LAPD blaming Cole for the resulting deaths it is up to him to delve into what happened and confirm whether or not his original findings were right.

Review:
Chasing Darkness is a novel of lean prose where not one word is wasted. Snappy and succinct are also words that come to mind when describing this novel. There is no clutter to distract you. Even Cole's girlfriend is relegated to a single phone call and is therefore not a distraction. There is a little bit of his sidekick, Joe Pike, but for the most part he is very much in the background.

In Chasing Darkness we see Cole looking for answers that he finds hard to find. Mysterious things are happening. Papers are missing and, despite the fact that the killer is now dead, the police are still hunting for something and are reluctant to include everyone within the Department. Even through the murders he is looking into are torturous (if they had been written by someone else they could have seemed really gloomy), in Crais' capable hands they do not.

Chasing Darkness is written from the first person point of view and this works especially well because of Cole's self-deprecating humour and the subtle and accomplished characterisation. The novel contains all the classic crime elements that have made Crais' series so admired and well loved. Furthermore, the addition of Carol Starkey and her witticisms also reminds us why this is such an excellent series. Chasing Darkness is one of those evocative novels that does not pull any punches, but is still fun and deadly serious in equal measure. This is certainly a book not to be missed and will be on any discerning crime fiction reader's list.

Reviewed by: A.O.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Val McDermid - A Darker Domain

"...vintage McDermid..."

Synopsis:
It seemed like an unsolvable mystery at the time. A wealthy heiress and her son kidnapped in Fife, then a botched payoff, leaving her dead - and no trace of the child.

So, when, over twenty five years later, a possible clue is discovered by a journalist in Tuscany, cold case expert DI Karen Pirie doesn't hold out much hope of unravelling this infamous enigma.

She's already investigating a case from the same year. At the height of the miners' strike, Mick Prentice broke ranks to join 'scab' strike-breakers down south. But new evidence suggests Mick's disappearance may not be as straightforward as that - and Karen's investiagations take her into a dark domain of secrets, betrayal and the ultimate violence.

Review:
This is the first McDermid book I have read for a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. DI Karen Pirie is an interesting character who doesn't lead the 'perfect life' of many lead roles. The relationship she has with her superior reminds me strangely of the one that TV's Frost has with his, including many comic moments.

The book maintains a steady pace from the outset and although the reader senses the two seemingly unrelated plots must be connected, you're kept guessing until the end to find out really what happened. Needless to say there are a few surprises along the way when you just assume the plot is going to take a predictable turn, and McDermid certainly keeps the suspense going.

The stories are set in both past and present, but it is easy to distinguish timings. The book doesn't actually contain a complete ending to one particular issue, but it is possible that this will crop up in a future novel. Let us hope so. There are relationships building here - and feel sure these will be developed in the next book.

A Darker Domain was a really good read. It's vintage McDermid – excellent writing, characterisation and plotting - and not to be missed.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Christopher Reichs - Rules of Deception

"...fast-paced and excellently written..."

Synopsis:
Dr. Jonathan Ransom, world-class mountaineer and surgeon for Doctors Without Borders, is climbing in the Swiss Alps with his beautiful wife, Emma, when a blizzard sets in. In their bid to escape the storm Emma is killed when she falls into a hidden crevasse.

Twenty-four hours later, Jonathan receives an envelope addressed to his wife containing two baggage-claim tickets. Puzzled, he journeys to a remote railway station only to find himself in a life-and-death struggle for his wife's possessions. In the aftermath of the assault, he discovers that his attackers - one dead, the other mortally wounded - were, in fact, Swiss police officers. More frightening still is evidence of an extraordinary act of betrayal that leaves Jonathan stunned.

Suddenly the subject of an international manhunt and the target of a master assassin, Jonathan is forced on the run. His only chance at survival lies in uncovering the devastating truth behind the secrets his wife kept from him - and in stopping the terrifying conspiracy that threatens to bring the world to the brink of annihilation. Step by step, he is drawn deeper into a world of spies, high-tech weaponry, and global terrorism - a world where no one is who they appear to be and where the end always justifies the means...

Review:
I first opened the book after reading the synopsis and was disappointed for find it started with a military theme which threw me slightly. However, the plot soon gets going in the direction that I expected. With almost every chapter there are the introductions of new characters and places, sometimes making the book hard to follow.

Yet again, the plot involves an average man having to save the world as he becomes embroiled in a race against time. He soon finds out that the last ten years of his life have been a complete lie, and this becomes another storyline the reader wants to learn more about. The book is fast-paced and excellently written - also impossible to put down - but this reader did find the chapters set around Jonathon Ransom to be more interesting than those based on political or military issues.

I also found at the end of the book there were still a few questions that had been left unanswered which is always disappointing. All told, this is a really enjoyable thriller read - as you would expect from a writer of Reich's calibre.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Penny Rudolph - Listen to the Mockingbird

"The atmosphere of the American frontier lands ... is clearly portrayed."

Synopsis:
The American Civil War is about to begin, and Matty Summerhayes is in New Mexico Territory, an area that is fought over by both sides. Matty is an unconventional girl who is running a horse-breeding establishment in order to make enough money to return to Philadelphia. She is helped by a Mexican family and her friend, and ex-slave, Winona.

Matty breaks all the rules in society and so is distrusted by many of the locals. A young Mexican boy is found murdered on her ranch, and he is carrying a map of the land with certain areas marked. This map proves to be the cause of much of the trouble that ensues, and Matty endures some unpleasant experiences, that test her initiative and quick thinking to the limit. Her past is slowly revealed as the story continues...

Review:
This story truly reveals how much society has changed since the middle of the nineteenth century. The general acceptance of the position of women, of ex-slaves and of black people is amazing to today's mind.

Throughout the story I was angry at the unfairness of society, but Matty herself just gets on with life and works around the difficulties. The historical perspective is very well portrayed and the details make the people and the time come alive. The atmosphere of the American frontier lands - where life is definitely hard and where some of the misfits of society end up - is clearly portrayed. This is a fast moving story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Lance Elliot - Murder Plot

"Murder Plot is a joyous piece..."

Synopsis:
The year is 1975. Doctor Lance Elliot is doing his rounds and during a home visit with Wilhelmina Wylie she announces that the good doctor must go to the allotments and tend to her gardener, Charlie Daniels who has collapsed and is possibly dead. Knowing of Wilhelmina's reputation for being a witch, Lance drives to the allotments despite feeling he is on a wild goose chase. However, when he arrives he finds five people around Charlie, who is indeed prostrate on the ground and turns out to be dead.

Soon after, one of the people there when Charlie died suddenly dies of poisoning. Then another is killed - and soon another. Is there some sort of conspiracy with the local Horticultural Society who is in charge of the allotments? When Lance's father - who also owns a plot on the allotments - gets involved with the investigation, Lance has no option but to help if only to keep him out of trouble. Add to this a difficult budding romantic relationship and someone unwanted from Lance's past... It all makes for a very difficult time for the good doctor.

Review:
Murder Plot is part of the newly released Black Star imprint which promotes easy but thrilling reads at a very reasonable price. Reading Murder Plot was like being transported back to the time when plot ruled and authors and readers were not interested in the feelings of the characters in the book or any specific social commentary. Although nowadays people still get a bit dismissive about authors from the Golden and Silver age of crime fiction like Christie and Elizabeth Ferrers who concentrated mainly on the sinister plotline, it was good to read a short novel that got simply down to brass tacks for a change.

It is clever to have the author the same as the detective (Ellery Queen, comes to mind), but this is England and it isn't with pistols that the folks of Thornton Heath are being dispatched - but poison. Murder Plot is a joyous piece that does what it says on the cover. It is a perfectly readable and entertaining little murder mystery that will please readers who are feeling a bit drained after reading all those 600-page plus epic tomes that crime fiction is producing today.

I did thoroughly enjoy this title and it will inspire me to be looking again at some of those authors who wrote very good crime fiction for many years and are now out of print. So, here's to Black Star Crime! I look forward to kicking off my shoes and settling back to more very easy-on-the-eye reads of passion, vengeance and of course, murder!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating: