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Reviews

June 2009

Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Angel's Game

"This is a captivating, wonderful, timeless piece of writing..."

Synopsis:
David Martin takes up residence in an abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona. Born into poverty and rescued by the man who becomes his mentor, Pedro Vidal he becomes a crime reporter and then a writer of popular pulp novels. This world of books and his strange house becomes his refuge when it becomes clear that the woman he loves is unattainable.

The house has a difficult history and the longer David stays under its roof the more its poison seeps into his soul. Despairing of ever finding happiness and discovering that he is terminally ill he accepts the offer of a lifetime from a French publisher, Andreas Corelli. He is to write a book that will sweep its readers towards a new religion and in return he will receive a huge sum of money and even, good health.

First, he writes two novels: one in his own name that sinks without trace and another in the name of his mentor Pedro, which becomes lauded by the city's literati. To make matters worse, Pedro marries the love of his life.

Bitter at this turn of events he launches into the book for Corelli and is swept up in a world more terrifying than anything he could have imagined. He becomes aware that there is a connection between the book that he is writing and the shadows that surround his home. As he struggles to find out what happened to the previous owners and just who exactly his mysterious publisher is he becomes the only suspect in a string of murders.

Review:
Zafon is back! The media are amassing ranks up to heap superlatives on Carlos Ruiz Zafon for The Angel's Game and I'm about to join the queue. This is a captivating, wonderful, timeless piece of writing set in 1920's Barcelona and worthy of every piece of praise it earns.

As with Shadow of the Wind, Zafon mixes genre with careful abandon. We have tragedy, romance, gothic horror, a mystery and touches of comedy vying for our attention through the streets of a Barcelona that manages to be both beautiful and threatening all at the same time. And just as before, in Shadow of the Wind we have a delightful cast of quirky, passionate characters whose lives criss-cross in the Sempere and Son bookshop.

Zafon is one of those writers who keep you on the edge of your seat, while stimulating your intellect. He writes with zest, charm and wit and uses his story to demonstrate his love of books, literature and storytelling. You can't help but feel that if Charles Dickens was alive and well and he emigrated from London to Catalan that this is the kind of book he would come up with.

Do you enjoy novels that are thrilling, scary, moving and tragic? Then you've really got to buy this book. If you haven't read Shadow of the Wind, give yourself a shake and then buy that as well. I only wish I could give it more than five out of five!

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Arturo Pérez-Reverte - The Man in the Yellow Doublet

"a swash-bucking affair"

Synopsis:
It is 1626 and all is not well with Captain Alatriste. His affair with Maria de Castro the famous actress may be going well from his point of view but the other people involved are certainly not happy. His long-term mistress and the King of Spain are in fact furious. To make things worse his companion Iñigo is also being distracted by the lovely but deadly Angelica de Alquézar. Alatriste himself soon gets sidetracked by a succession of scuffles that take place outside the home of his lover. He also finds himself waylaid by his enemy Malatesta which results in the alleged death of the King who is de Castro's other lover.
There is however much more going on and it soon becomes clear that both Alatriste and his loyal companion Iñigo have been deviously inveigled into the position that they both now find themselves in. The dead man is not in fact the king but an imposter. Alatriste comes up against the one person he would rather avoid, the President of the Court of the Inquisition Emilio Bocanegra who has joined forces with Malatesta. With a pawn eagerly waiting on the sidelines Alatriste realizes that he must use all the shrewdness and craftiness that he has amassed over the years to ensure that the real king is not murdered and that he does not become mixed up in a murder for which he has already been set up for.

Review:
The Man in the Yellow Doublet is the fifth book in the series to feature the dashing Captain Alatriste. This time around he is back in Madrid after spending time in Seville and Flanders. The Man in the Yellow Doublet is much more than a tale about Captain Alatriste. It is also a tale of sexual jealousy, back-stabbing, politics and manipulation. Whilst the adventures took place during the youth of his loyal companion/servant Iñigo they are in fact narrated by him as an old man. This is not a problem; in fact it brings a slight melancholy to the proceedings which make one wish that they were around during the period. Alatriste himself is an interesting and somewhat dark character who is known to keep some of his thoughts to himself sometimes much to his detriment. The author has created two very different characters in Alatriste and Iñigo but they complement one another and their loyalty to each other is evident to all concerned. It is a testament to the excellent writing skills of the author that the series has not become bogged down in the historical incidents that took place but covers them in broad brushstrokes which are just enough to maintain the reader's interest but not too much to put them off. Furthermore, I consider this book to be one of the best in the series so far. There is far more emotion on show here than in the earlier books. Not only has the author managed to maintain our interest in the life and tribulations of Captain Alatriste but he has also done the same with Iñigo and his turbulent relationship with the angelic but destructive Angelica de Alquézar.
The Man in the Yellow Doublet is a swash-bucking affair that will please lovers of books such as The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and CC Humphrey's Jack Absolute series.

Reviewed by: A.O.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Harlan Coben - Long Lost

"'Myron Bolitar is back and he’s better than ever.'"

Synopsis:
Myron Bolitar hasn't heard from Terese Collins since their brief, yet torrid affair ended ten years ago, so her phone call from Paris catches him completely unawares. In a shocking confession, Terese reveals the truth behind her disappearance—her struggles to get pregnant, her happiness when her baby was born…and the terrible accident that robbed her of it all: her marriage, her happiness and her only daughter.

Now a suspect in the murder of her ex-husband in Paris, Terese has no-one and nowhere else to turn for help. Myron does what he does and heeds the call. But then a staggering piece of evidence turns the entire case upside down, laying bare Terese's long-buried family secrets…and the very real possibility that her daughter may actually still be alive.

In danger of their lives from unknown attackers in a country where nothing is as it seems, Myron and Terese race to stay a step ahead of the French Police, Interpol, and Mossad. Soon they are working at breakneck pace, not only to learn what really happened to Terese's long-lost little girl— but to uncover a sinister plot with shocking global implications.

Review:
Myron Bolitar is back and he's better than ever. There are successful authors who suffer from the book a year expectation set on them by their publisher, but Harlan Coben isn't one of them. Perhaps it's because he is “allowed” to alternate between his one-off novels and the Bolitar books. Whatever the reason let's be grateful because with this book he continues to meets all the quality hallmarks we have come to expect.

For anyone out there who hasn't tried the Bolitar series, you have a wise-cracking, ass-kicking investigator (that's Myron) and his billionaire sociopath sidekick (that would be Windsor Horne Lockwood III, or Win to his friends). Helping them out in the office you have Big Cyndi and Esperanza, a former championship winning tag team. Yup, that's “tag team” as in wrestling. Only in a Harlan Coben book.

One commentator recently opined that Coben was the introducer of a new genre, the “soft-boiled” crime novel. My take on that is he has taken the elements of so-called hard-boiled crime novels and added some heart. Coben is a master at getting you to care about his characters then putting them in mortal danger, all the while maintaining a cracking pace and keeping you guessing right up to the last page.

In Long Lost, the team we have come to know and love are faced with a global situation. One that could put us all at risk. When I first realised that radical fundamentalist Muslims were the enemy, my first thought was, oh here we go again, but being Harlan Coben, he manages to inject his own thought-provoking and imaginative twist. This is one writer who deserves all of the hype he receives and in Long Lost he is at the height of his powers. Loved it.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Mari Jungstedt - Unknown

"...his is another to add to the likes of Henning Mankel and Jo Nesbo. "

Synopsis:
This is set in the Swedish island of Gotland, close to the Swedish mainland and in the middle of the Gulf of Finland. Full of history, both Viking and medieval, the island is a centre for holidaymakers in the summer and very quiet in the cold winter months. It is summer and a group of international students are investigating an ancient Viking site when Martina, a Dutch student, disappears. The body of a pony with its head missing is discovered. Inspector Knutas and his team are called in to investigate. At the same time the local press are looking for a story to justify their independence from Stockholm. Details relating to Martina's body convince Knutas that ritualistic practices linked to the island's Viking past are involved. As more bloody discoveries are made, Knutas is drawn into the mindset of the killer. What is the purpose of these deaths and how can modern practical men and women become involved?

Review:
The Northern lands are developing a reputation for outstanding detective fiction and this is another to add to the likes of Henning Mankel and Jo Nesbo. This one is deeply rooted in the history of the Viking people and nostalgia for the old days. The contrast between modern Sweden and its up to date practical people and the dark revengeful gods of the past is strikingly portrayed. The psychological roots of the behaviour are well developed and the characters are extremely believable. Knutas is a sympathetic and thoughtful Inspector who, unlike Wallender and Hole, manages to have a happy life outside of the police (although largely due to the understanding of his wife!). The flavour of Swedish life comes through very strongly and adds to the enjoyment. A good holiday read, particularly if you are heading to Scandinavia.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Bateman - Mystery Man

"...should come with a 'Do Not Read on Public Transport' warning."

Synopsis:
The Mystery Man is the owner of a bookshop in Belfast called No Alibis that specialises in selling crime/ thriller novels. Right next door is a detective agency that goes bust and whose only detective has gone A.W.O.L. The agency's clients then start calling into the bookshop to ask the owner to solve their cases. He surprises himself by being happy to do so mostly because it helps to pass the time. There is also an occasional bonus when one of these people actually buys the odd book.

Thankfully there is no danger involved and The Case of the Fruit on the Flyover, The Case of Mrs Geary's Leather Trousers and my particular favourite The Case of the Missing F.A. Cup are all solved in jig time leading to more referrals to other potential clients and giving him a chance to impress Alison, the beautiful girl who works in the jewellers shop just across the road.

The problem is she's more difficult to impress than all of his gullible clients put together and when he is asked to find a publisher's missing wife in The Case of the Dancing Jews, Alison convinces him to break into the shop next door to look through the missing private detective's files – only to find the dead body of the missing private detective covered with hundreds of those little Pine Fresh air freshener trees. Cue more corpses and almost everyone linked to The Case of the Dancing Jews winds up in the morgue, leaving our Mystery Man with a real case to solve before he joins the growing list of dead bodies.

Review:
Do you like a laugh with your fictional dead bodies? Then look no further than this welcome return to form by Colin Bateman. Mystery Man carries a chuckle in almost every paragraph and should come with a 'Do Not Read on Public Transport' warning. If you do, be prepared for stares from the couple sitting facing you on the train and the guy on your left trying to read over your shoulder. 'Cos that's what happened to me.

The Mystery Man in question (we never do find out his name) is not your typical hero. He's just the right side of dysfunctional, won't shake hands with other people in case he catches the plague and is painfully aware that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome should not attend Salsa dancing classes.

This is an absolute treat and quite possibly the most fun you'll have this spring with your clothes on.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

John Baker - Winged With Death

"John Baker writes books that...have depth and substance. "

Synopsis:
Winged with Death spans three and a half decades, beginning in Uruguay in 1972, a country suffering under the oppression of military rule, and ending in York and a new millennium. Frederick Boyle arrives in Montevideo as an eighteen-year-old with nothing but his youth and arrogance to protect him, he is quickly renamed Ramon Bolio, and is welcomed into the local community. As Montevideo simmers in the dust and heat, teetering on the brink of dictatorship, its people cowed, thousands 'disappeared' by the state, Bolio discovers the tango, and begins the long process of becoming a Molinguero – a master of dance. The tango, with its passion and colour acts as a metaphor for the suppressed defiance, individualism and self expression of a nation.

Review:
From Baker's capable pen, the movements of the dance are transliterated into a language which describes and even transcends the emotions it symbolizes.
Scenes which alternate between Montevideo and York simulate the elegance and the teasing nature of the tango. Baker in this, as in all his work, investigates the mysteries of life and how to live it – if not well, then fully, and with heart. And at its heart, Winged With Death is a mystery; one that will keep you guessing until the final terrible moments of the denouement.

John Baker writes books that do more than just fill a few pleasant hours: they have depth and substance. His novels are about what it means to be human, the mistakes we make, the nature of good and evil, and the often blurred line between the two.

Reviewed by: M. Murphy

CrimeSquad Rating:

Rory Clements - Martyr

"'will commend this book to devotees of the period and in particular those who admire C.J.Sansom.'"

Synopsis:
This story is set in the turbulent and exciting times of Elizabeth I, when she is balancing power and defending her realm against the threats from Spain and within as focused on her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. Within the country are passionate devotees of the new religion and stalwart defenders of the old. Many simply want to carry on their lives without too much trouble. Sir Francis Walsingham is one of the Queen's chief advisors, and he masterminds a secret service which keeps the Queen aware of any plots and undercurrents within the kingdom.

Chief intelligencer to Sir Francis is one John Shakespeare. He is charged with investigating a plot to assassinate Francis Drake, who will defend England against the navy of Spain. It is not straightforward, however, as not all the Queen's servants trust him, and he has to deal with them as well as search out the truth. The murder of a well connected young woman, priests hidden in priests' holes, exotic and mysterious women and exciting rescues involving a troupe of players all intertwine with the search for the one sent to plot against Drake.

Review:
Tudor England, and especially the reign of Elizabeth, is a most exciting backdrop to any story. Rory Clements presents the time and the characters in vivid and convincing detail. The tension between the reformers who are convinced that the corruption of the Catholic church has to be replaced, and the loyal devotees of the old religion is beautifully described. Shakespeare himself is convinced of the rights of the reformers, but is torn by his loyalty to his father who remains staunchly catholic.

London as it was then is clearly described and the living conditions of rich and poor evocatively portrayed. The descriptions are so detailed that they bring the atmosphere of the times to life. John Shakespeare is a sympathetic hero, and his relation to the famous William comes in handy late on in the story. He has to deal with intrigue and political machinations, but remains an honest and trustworthy man. His private life impinges on his public work and he has a dilemma in deciding which will triumph.

The joy of this book is the way it interweaves commonly known history with the story. I am intrigued to know how much of the rest is fact and how much fiction. The atmosphere and attention to detail will commend this book to devotees of the period and in particular those who admire C.J.Sansom.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Michael Morley - Viper

"a first class murder mystery"

Synopsis:
Viper is set in the Bay of Naples - the home of pizza, Vesuvius, Pompeii, and the world's most brutal crime mob, the Camorra. Human bones have been found broken, burned and buried in a serial killer's secret graveyard. The killer is a cold, sadistic sociopath who somehow manages to stay one step ahead of the law.

The suspects are a gang boss's son-in-law, a renegade psychologist, and a violent twenty four year old infected with a fatal disease. Sylvia Tomms is the Carabinieri's leading female capitano, just divorced and heading for her first serial murder case. And for Jack King, the only guy you would trust if you were hunting a serial killer in city where the mob rules and murder? Well, for him it is just a way of life.

Review:
Michael Morley returns with his latest Jack King novel, again centred in Italy.

If, like this reader, you are not a fan of 'mob' type novels featuring the mafia and other organisations, don't be put off as Viper is a first class murder mystery which just happens to have some of the main characters belonging to the camorra - the crime organisation that rule the Naples area of Italy.

With the book being set in Italy, Morley often uses Italian phrases and words which are then translated into English which I found both unnecessary and a little annoying. Jack King is an easy enough lead character, although perhaps without any real depth. He has no vices but also is not perfect. And despite him featuring in a couple of novels now, I still don't feel as though I 'know' this character.

However, these minor criticisms aside, Viper is not to be missed and comes recommended.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Michael Marshall - Bad Things

"...contains moments of genuine suspense and drama."

Synopsis:
John Henderson's idyllic world came to a devastating end one summer's afternoon when Scott, his four year old son, fell off a jetty and died. But this was no ordinary death. As the coroner was later to record, it was not the fall into the water, nor the deck that caused the death. The boy just died.

Three years later, John's world has disintegrated. Living apart from his wife and youngest son he makes ends meet by working in a restaurant. One day, however he receives an e-mail from someone who claims to know what happened to his son. Reluctantly, and against his better judgement, John decides to return to Black Ridge, the scene of his son's death and try to piece together what happened. But Black Ridge is not all what it seems. John's return has resurrected deeper forces present in the town that centre around the enigmatic Robertson family.

Review:
Michael Marshall has a deservedly high reputation for writing thrillers with a supernatural theme. His novels plot the evil present both in the real and visible world and also the undercurrents in the shadowy world that we cannot see. Marshall is particularly good at plotting and as usual this latest book contains moments of genuine suspense and drama. Marshall also excels at depicting small town America and his description of life in the sinisterly named Black Ridge imprints itself on the reader's mind. The characterisation as usual is excellent, particularly in relation to the main protagonist, and my only criticism would be that I didn't particularly feel any emotions towards the central Robertson family. Although undoubtedly sinister, the character of Brooke Robertson in particular, did not seem to emerge until the last pages.

But the book is a very enjoyable read and like other Michael Marshall books sets itself apart from more mainstream thrillers.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Shamini Flint - Inspector Singh Investigates

"...multi-cultural, exciting and haphazard Kuala Lumpur is vividly portrayed in this story."

Synopsis:
Inspector Singh is a rotund, untidy and dedicated detective in Singapore. He is sent to Kuala Lumpur to support a Singapore national, Chelsea Liew, who has been accused of murdering her husband of twenty years. Political considerations mean that Chelsea, a high profile model, must be seen to be treated fairly and that is why the powers that be in Singapore have dispatched Inspector Singh to ensure that all is done to protect a citizen, albeit one who was married to a successful Malaysian businessman. It is not a popular assignment and that is why Singh has been assigned to it. He is not liked by the hierarchy for his awkward ways and disregard for rules. He is focused on finding the criminal, not playing a political game.

On arrival in Kuala Lumpur, he makes contact with the Malaysian police and they establish a working relationship that, at least with some members, comes to involve mutual respect.

Chelsea Liew had been married to Alan Lee for twenty years and had three sons. She had sued her husband for divorce, citing abuse and adultery. In a last minute bombshell Alan had revealed his conversion to Islam. This meant that in Malaysian law any children would have to be brought up by a practising Muslim, and this would make it impossible for Chelsea to keep the children without herself converting. Chelsea was furiously angry and vowed to kill |him for this. When Alan is murdered, she is the obvious suspect. But Inspector Singh's stubborn investigation discovers many undercurrents and family power struggles. He doggedly continues to support Chelsea, and discovers the truth and indulges in a bit of unconventional behaviour to ensure that justice is done.

Review:
The atmosphere of multi-cultural, exciting and haphazard Kuala Lumpur is vividly portrayed in this story. The strong descriptions of the life and people, contrasted by Singh to the regulated and too perfect life in Singapore is the aspect of this story which makes it stand out from the rest. Obviously written by an insider who knows both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore very well, there is the feeling that we too can experience life in this exotic part of the world. Inspector Singh is an interesting hero, and we are able to follow his thought processes and his overall common sense. The subject matter is very up to date, involving the development and destruction of the rain forests of Borneo. I enjoyed this book and look forward to hearing more exploits of Inspector Singh.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Malla Nunn - A Beautiful Place To Die

"a beautifully crafted book"

Synopsis:
Set in 1950s South Africa, this story centres around Detective Emmanuel Cooper who is sent to the small town of Jacob's Rest to investigate the murder of local police chief, William Pretorius. A family man and apparent pillar of the community, Pretorius turns out to have hidden secrets. The rise to power of the Boer Afrikaaners and their policies of separation of the races influence the investigation, and the English detective is sidelined by the police security branch who are determined that black political activists are blamed for the murder.

When Cooper continues to make his own investigations he comes into conflict with Pretorius' wife and sons who are strongly traditional Boers and resent Cooper's investigations. Violence is ever present under the surface and erupts easily as a way of influencing the outcome. Cooper has his own past and secrets that slowly emerge and there is a twist at the end which could only happen in Apartheid South Africa.

Review:
This is a beautifully crafted book that describes knowledgeably and sensitively the atmosphere and racial relationships of the era. From a modern perspective, the behaviour and accepted truths of life are difficult to comprehend but the writing brings everything to life very clearly. The beautiful and dramatic countryside of South Africa and its effect on those who live there are evocatively described and contribute to the impact of the story.

The story is exciting and moves along quickly, with many unexpected twists and turns. Detective Emmanuel Cooper is a strong and sympathetic character, working in a very antagonistic environment and his struggles emphasise the frustrations and anger felt at that time. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I look forward to more adventures of Detective Cooper - if he manages to survive!

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jason Pinter - The Stolen

"I was immediately hooked from the first page. "

Synopsis:
Five years after he disappeared, young Daniel Linwood returned to his suburban home for dinner as though he'd never left. It's a blessing for both his family and their community.

But it turns out Daniel is just one of a string of abducted children who have mysteriously returned to their families with no memory of their lost years. Some people want to leave it be. Some want me to simply let the healing process begin. But these wounds are deeper than anyone realizes.

To get the story on these bizarre kidnappings, Henry needs the help of the one woman who owes him nothing. He's got to find answers before another life is snatched away from sight and time and memory. But doing so means they could be the next ones to go…

Review:
When starting this book I was immediately hooked from the first page.
Pinter introduced new characters, but built them all very well allowing the reader to make an opinion on each person, although sometimes their relevance to the story was held back to keep you guessing. This was especially so when the character had more sinister motives.

Henry, the main character of the book, whilst seeming like quite an amiable and likeable person, for some reason I also found him irritating at times although this did not negate my enjoyment of the book or lose any of the empathy I felt for this person.

There was quite a few references to the previous exploits of Henry and his friends, and I think that it would have been beneficial and enabled me to enjoy this book a little more had I read these as it would have answered some of the questions I had regarding Henry's past.

Whilst this novel had in my opinion a slightly transparent motive and predictable ending, I did still enjoy the book and would recommend this to others.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Arnaldur Indridason - Arctic Chill

"This juxtaposition of past and present loss works very well and produces an outstanding novel."

Synopsis:
On a cold January day, Erlunder and his team of Icelandic detectives are called to a block of flats where a young boy, Elias, has been found dead. The stab wound indicates to the detectives that this is murder, but does the fact that the victim is half-Thai mean that the murder is racially motivated? The investigation takes them into the heart of one of Iceland's poorest communities where immigrants find it difficult to assimilate into the educational and social life of the country. Despite the boy's school assuring the detectives of its anti-immigration policy for example, it is clear that bullying and fights were endemic. But is Elias' murder simply a schoolboy prank gone wrong or is it the work of a local paedophile seen lurking in the area. As he investigates the case, Erlunder has to confront some of the demons from his past and present to help him solve the case.

Review:
The possible racially motivated murder of a young boy does not, at first glance, seem an appealing topic for a book. But in Indridason's hands what could be a mundane plot is transformed into something else. The author takes us into the heart of a community that is not normally revealed in other Icelandic literature. The problems of multi-cultural housing estates are depressingly familiar to many UK readers and it should come as no surprise that Iceland too has its problems.

The plot revisits some common themes to those familiar with Indridason's work, most notably the horrendous loss of Erlunder's brother when he was a young boy. This juxtaposition of past and present loss works very well and produces an outstanding novel.

Reviewed by: S. W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

David Ellis - Line of Vision

"like a great mix of Harlan Coben and John Grisham"

Synopsis:
Marty Kalish is a young man suffocating in the heat of an affair with a married woman named Rachel. When Rachel's husband disappears one night, Marty is one of the first to be questioned. With few likely suspects, the police arrest him for murder. We know Marty was outside their home that night. We know he has a motive. You know he's guilty of something. But is it murder? Everything we learn—about Marty as a man, his affair with Rachel, and the night in question—comes from Marty himself. You want him to be innocent, but the more he tells us, the more you fear he is guilty. And as the twists and turns of the plot unfold, you can't be completely sure.

Review:
The story unfolds with Marty Kalish being caught in a nightmare and trying to help himself and the woman he is having an affair with.

Throughout the book, you are aware of something going on which has not been fully explained, and characters entering the story which need to be placed and explained, which they are at the end, but they certainly give the book some suspense.

Marty isn't the easiest character to empathise with as he appeared to me to be very weak willed and easily led. That being said, books are often written in a way that the reader still wants someone to get away with a crime, be them innocent or guilty, and other you just wait to receive their comeuppance.

This book to me was like a great mix of Harlan Coben and John Grisham and was a great read and certainly another author to look out for.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

J A Kerley - Blood Brother

"'Blood Brother, is a thoroughly enjoyable read with a rapid pace from start to finish.'"

Synopsis:
Homicide detective Carson Ryder catches killers. Jeremy Ridgecliffe is one of America's most notorious murderers. But these two men with death in their veins share a dark secret - they are brothers. And now Jeremy has escaped and is at large in New York.

A mysterious video at the scene of a shocking mutilation-murder demands Ryder be brought in on the case. With Jeremy as the chief suspect a manhint begins - and the body count rises. Ryder, trying to keep his secret from the NYPD and his brother alive, is trapped in a dame of life, death and deceit - with an unknown number of players and no clear way of winning.

Review:
Kerley's latest book, Blood Brother, is a thoroughly enjoyable read with a rapid pace from start to finish. The plot was something quite different from a usual murder mystery as there is a feeling of not being quite sure as to whether the suspect is actually guilty and whether you want him to be caught.

There was a definite flavour of Silence of the Lambs to this book, with Jeremy Ridgecliffe having similar traits to that of Hannibal Lecter. The characters are on the whole likeable, with the only distasteful ones being those that are meant to be invidious.

Although there is one main storyline, there are other sub-plots running concurrently some of which appear to be connected to the main theme which keep the reader immersed. This is definitely a book well worth the read.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Julian Evans - A Good and Happy Child

"'the book holds the reader in suspense until the final page'"

Synopsis:
George Davies, a new father, has a problem. He can't bring himself to hold his newborn son. In a desperate attempt to save both his marriage and relationship with his child he visits a psychiatrist in New York. During therapy it emerges that George previously underwent counselling when he was eleven, following the death of his father. Encouraged by his psychiatrist to record these events of his childhood, George's diary reveals his frightening encounters with his childhood imaginary 'friend'. But others at the time were convinced that George's problems were not the result of psychotic episodes but of demonic possession. Is George suffering from a reoccurring mental illness or did his inner demon never leave him?

Review:
This is very unusual book from a new author. Part crime, part thriller and part horror story it combines all of the elements from these genres to produce a very readable novel. The narrative flits between George's modern day counselling and the events that took place when he was eleven. More of the narrative is given over to the childhood events, which on balance makes sense. I personally would have liked more of George's modern day traumas and his family remained to me only background figures. However, the book holds the reader in suspense until the final page when the 'truth' of George's hauntings are revealed.

Reviewed by: S. W.

CrimeSquad Rating: