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Reviews

October 2012

D. E. Meredith - Devoured

"...Meredith vividly brought to life the atmosphere of Victorian London..."

Synopsis:
Victorian London can be a dangerous place and bodies turn up with alarming frequency. This is a time when the interests of science and religion are in conflict. Charles Darwin is the most well known of those acknowledging the importance of nature shaping the development of species but he is by no means alone. Alfred Russell Wallace is another significant contributor to the knowledge of the origin of species.

The discovery of the body of Lady Bessingham, an eccentric supporter of the search for scientific truth, brings together two new forces in the investigation of crime: Hatton and Roumande, London's first forensic investigators and Inspector Adams of Scotland Yard, one of the new modernisers of criminal investigation.

At the heart of the mystery is a packet of letters addressed to Lady Bessingham from one of her protégés as he travels in Borneo. In them he reveals secrets that he prefers not to be revealed in public. The letters have disappeared and there are several interested parties trying to find them. Other bodies, this time of young girls, start appearing and no-one seems to be concerned, apart from Albert Roumande of the forensic team.

Review:
The Victorian age is a fascinating one, in some ways very like our own. This makes it all the more surprising when you realise the huge difference in attitude to women, to religion and in particular to the development of science. Nowadays everyone accepts and expects the forensic service to provide detailed information essential to the solving of the crime. Here, Meredith clearly shows people's distrust and disgust, their main reactions to the innovative work of Hatton and Roumande.

They are an attractive pair. I particularly like Roumande and look forward to a more detailed and rounded look at his life and history. The field of forensic pathology in the nineteenth century is a ripe one for research. I enjoyed what I learnt and I am sure there is more to come. There are several strands of the plot intertwining and they are brought together in the final denouement. It was a logical conclusion and although it seemed a little contrived I found myself enjoying this debut novel enormously. I thought Meredith vividly brought to life the atmosphere of Victorian London and I will certainly be looking forward to the next instalment.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

John Connolly - The Wrath of Angels

"...what never ceases to amaze and delight me is Connolly's ability to maintain his unfeasibly high standards."

Synopsis:
In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of an aeroplane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time. What the wreckage conceals is more important than money: it is power. Hidden in the plane is a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the Devil. Now a battle is about to commence between those who want the list to remain secret and those who believe that it represents a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness.

The race to secure the prize draws in private detective Charlie Parker, a man who knows more than most about the nature of the terrible evil that seeks to impose itself on the world, and who fears that his own name may be on the list. It lures others too: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and the serial killer known as the Collector, who sees in the list new lambs for his slaughter.

But as the rival forces descend upon this northern state, the woods prepare to meet them, for the forest depths hide other secrets. Something has survived the crash. And it is waiting . . .

Review:
I've been a fan of this author since his very first Charlie Parker outing and what never ceases to amaze and delight me is Connolly's ability to maintain his unfeasibly high standards.

Charlie and the gang are back and what a delicious slice of gothic noir they have to offer. Much of the story takes place in the Northern Forest in Maine. Just like in all good fairy tales, this is a forest which is dense, dark and mysterious and waiting to trap the unwary traveller. It becomes a character in its own right and is beautifully realised with a crash site that feels wrong, an abandoned fort and a wandering, lonely ghost-child.

What Connolly affects supremely well is a sense of menace and dread. His bad-guys are as full of colour as they are of malice and his word choice in evoking this atmosphere is a continual delight. Open the first page and you quickly and effortlessly suspend your view of 'real' life and slip into Connolly's alternative universe, where good and evil are on a continuous collision.

Just like pretty much all of this man's work, 'The Wrath of Angels' is a book you want to rush through, but you find that you force yourself to slow down - to savour the language and the experience because you know once you finish this book, you have too long to wait until the next one!

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sheila Radley - Death and the Maiden

"...this book is currently only seventy-four pence on Kindle you would be mad to miss a great opportunity to read this addictive, well-written detective novel."

Synopsis:
It is the first day of May and after a heavy rainfall the night before, the day is bright and beautiful. In the river Dunnock just outside Ashthorpe that beauty is about to be marred with the discovery of a female floating face down in the shallow river. The young woman wears a long flowing white dress and no shoes, her blonde hair fanning out on the water, her body surrounded by flowers and petals. But there is no evidence of foul play. It could easily have been a tragic accident, but newly arrived Sergeant Martin Tait wants to find out more about the girl before returning his official verdict.

Chief Inspector Douglas Quantrill is floundering. Crime is on the rise and he has the bare minimum of policemen to tackle it. And now he has the new Sergeant Tait fresh from the city and on a 'fast track' career, Quantrill has to make sure his new arrival doesn't get bored by dealing with stolen pigs or drunken fights. It is not every day people are found dead in the local river. Quantrill feels his Sergeant is making a meal out of what appears to be a terrible accident, but as the two officers begin to dig around, they come up with more than a few people who are likely candidates to wish Mary Gedge harm. And then they get the results of the post-mortem… and someone mentions Shakespeare's Ophelia.

Review:
Written in 1978, I read this book first time around in 1992! I enjoyed this introduction to Chief Inspector Quantrill and his enthusiastic if somewhat aggressive Sergeant and read others in the series which runs to only nine books. Having investigated Radley's background, you can see that she enjoyed the country life and had been raised in that environment allowing her to bring Ashthorpe and Breckham Market to life in her book. Radley has a way with dialogue and with subtlety draws her characters for her reader.

The pleasure I derived from this book is Radley's sharp prose. There are beautifully written sections in the book, potent and emotional pieces. She conveys perfectly the sadness of Quantrill whilst also understanding the intensity and frustration of Sergeant Tait. She brilliantly shows Quantrill's emotional impotence with Mrs. Bloomfield who he once thought of with such passion many years before and yet still feels like a schoolboy upon their re-acquaintance during this enquiry. There are no car chases here - except for a little one at the end which lasts all of one paragraph! 'Death and the Maiden' encompasses people's beliefs about youth and death and dying when living life at its zenith. Radley puts all this across with succinct prose without rambling. For me the writing style of 'Death and the Maiden' harks back to early P.D. James and if you hanker for something similar to the early Wexford's then this is a strong contender. Quantrill has the charm and self doubts of a younger Wexford. This is a forgotten crime novel I feel deserves to be re-discovered. And as this book is currently only seventy-four pence on Kindle you would be mad to miss a great opportunity to read this addictive, well-written detective novel.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Linwood Barclay - Trust Your Eyes

"This new novel finds Linwood Barclay in top form."

Synopsis:
Thomas Kilbride is a map-obsessed schizophrenic so affected that he rarely leaves the self-imposed bastion of his bedroom. But with a computer program called Whirl360.com, he travels the world while never so much as stepping out the door. He pores over and memorizes the streets of the world. He examines every address, as well as the people who are frozen in time on his computer screen.

Then he sees something that anyone else might have stumbled upon—but has not—in a street view of downtown New York City: an image in a window: an image that looks like a woman being murdered.

Thomas's brother, Ray, takes care of him, cooking for him, dealing with the outside world on his behalf, and listening to his intricate and increasingly paranoid theories. When Thomas tells Ray what he has seen, Ray humours him with a half-hearted investigation. But Ray soon realizes he and his brother have stumbled onto a deadly conspiracy: and now they are in the crosshairs.

Review:
There is more to this book than just the brothers, Ray and Thomas, looking into the image found on the internet. Other stories that run parallel to the main one are Ray's concern regarding his dad's accident as he is not convinced it was an accident as is his suspicion about an incident that occurred when Thomas was just thirteen. Each of these instances carries themselves and then seamlessly joins at the right point within the book.

'Trust Your Eyes' is an unusual novel which leads to a very interesting and fast moving story. However, Barclay still manages to develop the main characters around both the plot itself and their personal lives, giving them depth and dimension. Throughout I was kept guessing about the two incidents and like many stories, all was revealed but as generally happens, few events are simple and things can spiral out of control.

On top of a great plot and interesting, believable characters, Barclay also manages to inject some humour into the book. 'Trust Your Eyes' was a superb read that had me riveted and not able to rest until I had reached the end. This new novel finds Linwood Barclay in top form.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Neil White - Beyond Evil

"I’ve discovered a new “must read” author in Neil White..."

Synopsis:
DI Sheldon Brown has never got over the shock of finding Alice Kenyon's body after she was brutally murdered. Doggedly pursuing his main suspect - Lottery winner Billy Privett he is shocked when Privett's mutilated body turns up in a hotel room.

Jaded lawyer Charlie Barker is trying to pick up the pieces of his own shattered life and is drawn into the case from another angle as Sheldon uncovers a world of drugs, buried secrets and a cult with a deadly purpose to their cause.

Review:
This latest offering from Neil White is the first book of his I have read but it certainly will not be the last. For me 'Beyond Evil' is a masterpiece of characterisation as both Sheldon Brown and Charlie Barker compete for the reader's attention. Each is carefully constructed and depicted in such a way as to engage with your sensibilities as the pages fly by. Close on their heels are John, Gemma and Ted Kenyon, any of these three would carry a novel on their own yet they are relegated to the second string such is the strength of the joint leads.

The plot winds and wends its way around a central thread and it is only by the final pages that all is revealed. The prose is neat and tidy, allowing the characters to drive the pace as the plot unfolds. I've discovered a new “must read” author in Neil White, and I urge readers to give him a try as he is sadly lacking the huge recognition he deserves.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Denise Mina - Gods and Beasts

"...Mina is a shining light in the darkness of crime fiction."

Synopsis:
An armed robber hits a Glasgow Post Office the week before Christmas. Martin Pavel is in the Post Office sending Christmas gifts to his parents. When an older man suddenly thrusts his young grandchild into Pavel's arms and proceeds to help the thief, Martin becomes embroiled in a curious and violent tale. Pavel himself has a mysterious past as is indicated when he is first interviewed by the police. How does he know so many facts about guns and accents when he appears to be a first year geology student at Glasgow University?

DS Alex Morrow has just returned from maternity leave and is immediately in the middle of the action. As well as this murder she has two rogue members of her squad who succumb to temptation and acquire a huge amount of drug money. And, finally, the local MP, a hero to many, is discovered to have had several affairs with young girls. In some way Alex's new found half brother is connected to these stories and this provides Morrow with some difficult decisions.

Review:
Glasgow is gritty and so is this story: police corruption, drug connections and extreme violence are all here. What I particularly liked about this book is the fact that all the characters are life-like, made up of the good and bad and those living their lives according to the various hands Lady Luck has dealt them. Their reactions felt genuine, were sometimes flawed, sometimes heroic, but above all, human. As well as the usual police and criminal characters found in every crime novel, there are the oddities such as Pavel who turns out to have a very unusual and distinctive back story, and Rosie who works so hard for her child.

As with all Mina's books, 'Gods and Beasts' is a well thought out plot with an extremely exciting story but is above all peopled with a cast of stellar characters. A gripping read from start to finish and shows Mina is a shining light in the darkness of crime fiction. Sublime.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Niall Leonard - Crusher

"‘Crusher’ was a surprising, yet great read from a promising new author. "

Synopsis:
The day Finn Maguire discovers his father bludgeoned to death in a pool of blood, his dreary life is turned upside down. Prime suspect in the murder, Finn must race against time to clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him.

Trawling the sordid, brutal London underworld for answers, Finn exposes dark family secrets and faces danger at every turn. But he's about to learn that it's the people you trust who can hit you hardest.

Review:
'Crusher' is the debut novel from Leonard, and from reading the synopsis I was unsure what to expect. I was half expecting the typical novel based around the London underworld, but Crusher is a hard hitting thriller throwing plenty of punches, despite having a title which I did find misleading and off putting.

Just from reading the opening pages, it feels as though the main character, Finn, is known to the reader. He is lacking ambition, motivation and prospects, but this alone gives rise for plenty of opportunity for humour. Some parts of the story do tend to fall between unlikely and the far-fetched, however Finn is such a great character that the majority of these can easily be overlooked. There are quite a few coincidences that also make the plot a little far fetched, but I still found this book totally impossible to put down.

Whether and how Finn will feature in future novels remains to be seen, but he is certainly a great protagonist. 'Crusher' was a surprising, yet great read from a promising new author.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Ferdinand Von Schirach - The Collini Case

"‘The Collini Case’ is an excellent read that left a long lasting impression on this reader."

Synopsis:
When factory worker Fabrizo Collini kills wealthy industrialist Hans Meyer in a hotel room, it seems an open and shut case, despite the lack of motive. However, Caspar Leinen, a newly qualified lawyer takes on his defence. If he can achieve a not-guilty verdict, it would make his career, but Collini is refusing to provide him with any justification for the killing.

When, Leinen realises that the victim was the grandfather of a childhood friend, he attempts to withdraw from the case. But his professional instincts overrule any personal emotions and he ploughs on regardless. Finally he comes to understand what drove a mild mannered factory worker to take such a terrible act of revenge.

Review:
'The Collini Case' is a short book, but it provides a heartfelt read that left a lasting impression on me. The author cleverly shows how a young lawyer tries to combine his professional ambition with nostalgia he feels for the dead man. It is fairly easy to work out early on in the book what the crime is likely to be, but this doesn't spoil the novel at all.

The characterisation is well developed in a short amount of space and the book has an ethereal rather than bleak approach to the mechanics of death. Only in the courtroom is the language and tone very precise as Leiden relentlessly reveals the old man's motives. 'The Collini Case' is an excellent read that left a long lasting impression on this reader.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Peter James - Not Dead Yet

"If you are looking for a top class police procedural then you would be foolish not to read ‘Not Dead Yet’."

Synopsis:
L.A. producer Larry Brooker believes that this is the movie that can bring him the fortune he has long pursued. Rock superstar Gaia believes that her role will see her taken seriously as an actor and could even land her an Oscar nomination.

For the city of Brighton and Hove, the publicity value of a major Hollywood movie of the city's greatest love story – between King George IV and Maria Fitzherbert – being filmed on location is inestimable.

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace has a nightmare forming before his eyes. He is in charge of the police security for Gaia who is the subject of death threats and narrowly escaped an attempt on her life before leaving her Bel Air home. Grace has been warned of obsessed stalkers and has another murder to contend with while trying to protect Gaia.

Review:
James' latest outing for Roy Grace sees him weave a series of unconnected threads in a tapestry of intrigue and misdirection. In a typically well researched novel James lays down a beguiling plot which grabs the reader and holds them tight until the final page is turned. The plotting is so skilfully done I only guessed the killers identity one whole page before the reveal.

The sub plot of Sandy's disappearance which runs through the series is building up to a climax but once again James has left the reader guessing as to what will happen. Grace is his usual robust and daring self, although Glenn Branson is being moved more to the forefront. Gaia is a strong support character along with the odious Brooker.

As ever the prose is pitch perfect and while James' research shines out of the novel it never detracts from the story. (Some authors show off their research but James never falls into this trap). If you are looking for a top class police procedural then you would be foolish not to read 'Not Dead Yet'.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Zoe Sharp - Across The Broken Line

"...Fox is cooler than a walk in the Arctic with Samuel L. Jackson."

Synopsis:
Close protection agent Charlotte 'Charlie' Fox is hired independently by a husband and wife who each believe the other is trying to kill them. Over a period of three weeks Charlie has to protect both parties while trying to uncover the truth.

Review:
Sharp's heroine, Charlie Fox is one of my favourite characters as Fox is cooler than a walk in the Arctic with Samuel L. Jackson. She is one hell of a character that entertains, educates and exhilarates with every passing word.

'Across the Broken Line' is a short story which is told via a fractured timeline. To get the full benefit of Sharp's expertise in storytelling, set aside half an hour and devour this offering in one bite.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Alex Marwood - The Wicked Girls

"...this is one I would heartily recommend giving a try."

Synopsis:
One summer morning, three little girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, two will be charged with murder.

Journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young female tourists in a run-down seaside town. With a serial killer on the loose, she is determined to be first with the latest scoop and her investigation leads her to funfair cleaner Amber Gordon.

For Kirsty and Amber, it is the first time they have seen each other since that dark day when they were children. Fully aware of the danger they are in and with new identities - and families - to protect, they will do anything it takes to keep their wicked secret hidden.

Review:
'The Wicked Girls' is not a light-hearted book and nor is it one that will be easily digested. Child murderers are always an emotive subject and when the characters are written with sympathy, it is perhaps hard to reconcile. This book does not make light of it and is sensitive to its theme, telling a serial killer tale in the present whilst explaining the past.

Based around Kirsty and Amber as they are now, part of the plot is pulling out who they were and what actually happened, which does give you some sympathy to their plight as it comes across misguided and unintentional as opposed to evil or even deliberate. Their lives were clearly changed, as they should have been, with one fairing better than the other in a myriad of ways. The murder plot entwines seamlessly with the back story that comes racing to the forefront towards the end and also gives a view of mob mentality, general perception and the art of judgement that is both thought provoking and frightening.

Due to the underlying subject matter, it is hard to be neutral about the book and that is emphasised by the excellent writing style that tugs unashamedly at your views and turns them around – or not. It is not only a good story, albeit I had picked out the serial killer and some of the reasoning, but a sensitively told tale of two girls who murdered a child and live everyday with the consequences. Sub plots are interwoven easily and I found myself rapidly turning pages.

'The Wicked Girls' will probably not appeal to everyone, but this is one I would heartily recommend giving a try.

Reviewed by: K.L.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Tania Carver - Choked

"...a very good read with an unexpected twist that brought the book to an exciting conclusion."

Synopsis:
Detective Inspector Phil Brennan and criminal psychologist Marina Esposito have just returned from their honeymoon and are spending the Easter weekend in Suffolk with their baby daughter Josephina and Phil's adoptive parents.

But their rural idyll is cruelly destroyed. After a devastating arson attack on the cottage, Josephina goes missing. With Phil in a coma, Marina is alone when she receives the first phone call. The kidnappers say that if Marina ever wants to see her daughter alive again, she has to do exactly what they say.

Review:
'Choked' sees the return of Detective Inspector Phil Brennan and his partner, Marina Esposito who works as a psychologist for the police force. However, this time they are the victims rather than the investigators of a crime. The plot is based around Marina and a crime that occurred some years ago. I felt that a couple of the characters central to this story were a little too colourful, rendering them less believable than some other characters and I struggled to take them seriously.

I would have liked to have seen Phil Brennan feature more in the story but it did give the opportunity for other characters that are usually on the periphery, to come forward and have their moment in the spotlight. This gave the reader the chance to learn more about them, to see their characters develop and how their relationships work. Although it doesn't always work when members of the supporting cast take centre stage, in 'Choked' it seemed to work and was quite intriguing.

Over all, 'Choked' was a very good read with an unexpected twist that brought the book to an exciting conclusion. 'Choked' is well worth picking up as you won't want to put it down!

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jessie Keane - Nameless

"...a perfect book to enjoy and which will keep you entirely engrossed."

Synopsis:
In 1941, mixed race Ruby Darke is born into a family that seem to hate her, but why? While her two brothers dive into a life of gangland violence, Ruby has to work in their family store. As she blossoms into a beautiful young woman she crosses paths with aristocrat Cornelius Bray, a chance meeting that will change her life forever. When she finds herself pregnant, and then has twins, she is forced to give her children away. At that point she vows never to trust another man again. As the years pass, Ruby never forgets her babies, and as the family store turns into a retail empire, Ruby wants her children back. But secrets were whispered and bargains made, and if Ruby wants to stay alive she needs to forget the past, or the past will come back and kill her.

Review:
'Nameless' is almost Taylor Bradford's classic 'A Woman of Substance' meets Martina Cole. Ruby makes her way in life from her humble beginnings to the owner of a large chain of successful department stores. During her life she has to cope with the adoption of her children, and later on in life, trying to find and be accepted by her children. 'Nameless' is part underworld crime novel, part love story. Whilst having a mostly predictable plot, 'Nameless' is very easy to read and extremely engrossing. The outcome was for the most part to be expected, but I still enjoyed the journey Keane took me on. Keane makes the story interesting and colourful, with a good, strong mix of characters. One of the gang bosses is less stereotypical than normal, although there are some others who are particularly unpleasant.

Personally, I would have preferred the story to have stayed in chronological order as I did not feel that it worked going from past to present. I wouldn't class 'Nameless' as a literary classic, but still a perfect book to enjoy and which will keep you entirely engrossed.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Andrew Williams - The Poison Tide

"...an engrossing and thought - provoking read that I thoroughly enjoyed."

Synopsis:
Sebastian Wolff is an Englishman brought up in England with a Dutch mother. He is a spy with the Intelligence Service and has just returned from an unpleasant spell in Turkey. He is enjoying a dalliance with the wife of a friend fighting the Germans. All this conspires to make him feel guilty. Sebastian is called in to see his boss, Commander Mansfield Cumming to be given his new assignment. He is sent to spy on Sir Roger Casement, the former government official now trying to gain support from Germany for his plans for a free Ireland. Wolff goes to Germany by way of Norway where he meets up with Casement's valet and lover, Adler Christenson who is himself playing a double game.

Once in Germany Wolff meets up with Casement and goes with him as he tries to recruit Irish prisoners of war into an Irish Brigade fighting for freedom. Casement appears patriotic and basically an honest man fighting for love of his own country, Ireland. Wolff comes to respect him.

Dr. Anton Dilger is a doctor who is recruited by the German authorities because he has the necessary scientific skills and a prized dual German/American nationality. He is sent to America to develop and grow Anthrax cultures to be used against the British. Soon, Wolff and Dilger will come together and the balance of power could easily bring the war to a swift and deadly conclusion.

Review:
'The Poison Tide' is set during the First World War and follows the fortunes of Sebastian Wolff. This is a detailed and tightly constructed story with a complicated plot. Williams manages to fit the two stories together with tempting clues as to how they will converge. It is an honest account of the morality of war and the overriding influence of the need to win on the behaviour and morals of the characters. Very few of the people in the story are wholly admirable. Wolff himself is hardly likeable - indeed he doesn't seem to like himself much. On the German side Dr. Dilger starts off as an honourable character and is slowly sucked in to something horrific as the story goes on. It certainly makes you think about how decisions are made nowadays by those in positions of power. Machiavelli's maxim that the means justifies the end comes to mind.

Descriptions of New York during the war are detailed and atmospheric and I felt Williams was very adept at transporting this reader to any destination and making me feel as though I was in the early nineteenth century. 'The Poison Tide' is not a feel good novel but it is certainly an engrossing and thought - provoking read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Tess Gerritsen - Last To Die

"...this latest from Gerritsen is definitely firing on all cylinders."

Synopsis:
For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family's mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer's merciless mission.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong's mysterious benefactors aren't the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on and when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy's, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children's fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer's twisted quest.

Review:
Not being a fan of Maura Isles, I was not overly enthused when I started to read 'Last to Die' even though Rizolli is great and my favourite character from the Gerritsen canon. However, since this book focused less on personal relationships and more on the crimes, I found Isles to be less of an intrusion in this book, as I still find her to be a very cold and aloof character.

The story hits the ground running and continues in this vein until the end. The plot is complex and some people are not who they first seem to be. Although there is little chance of the reader being able to work out the motives for the murders until very close to the end, it was still an exciting read. Personally, I still struggle to see the relevance of the Mephisto Club and really do hope that they play less of a part in future Gerritsen novels.

'Last to Die' is, in my opinion, the best novel Gerritsen has produced for a while and you can see from this latest from Gerritsen is definitely firing on all cylinders.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Mark Gimenez - The Governor's Wife

"...despite the slow start, this is another enjoyable read from this particular author."

Synopsis:
Bode Bonner is the Republican governor of Texas. He has everything he ever wanted: money, power, influence. But something isn't right in his life - everything feels too settled and easy. He longs for one more moment of excitement, one more challenge.

Lindsay Bonner is Bode's wife, and she's bored too. Bored of Bode's womanising, bored of the endless cocktail parties and receptions. She is desperate to break free of her bland, wealthy Texan lifestyle. And that moment comes when she saves a poor Hispanic boy's life. From that moment on, nothing will be the same for Bode and Lindsay Bonner. Their lives are about to change in ways they could never have predicted.

Review:
Unlike previous novels by this author, 'The Governor's Wife' took some time to really get going. Only by persevering nearly a third of the way through did the book start to get going. Up until this point, characters were being built, and in my view, too many superfluous conversations and situations were written. At one point I nearly gave up as I thought that this would be the tone throughout the book.

However, once past a certain point, the book suddenly started moving much more quickly and it was easy to forget the previous two hundred pages that seemed to drag. Some of the characters were not particularly easy to like or associate with, but I do feel that although Bode Bonner was one of these characters, there was some irony in his creation. I truly enjoyed the latter part of the book and found myself racing through it once the story got started and I (surprisingly) found myself unable to put the book down. On the whole, despite the slow start, this is another enjoyable read from this particular author.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating: