June 2015

Alan Judd - Inside Enemy

"...‘Inside Enemy’ carries you along at a cracking pace."

This latest in the series about Charles Thoroughgood, ex MI6 and officer of the short lived intelligence agency combining MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, begins with Charles' appointment as the Head of the reconstituted MI6. One of his first jobs is to investigate and stop the increasing number of annoying and frustrating failures in the infrastructure that are threatening the smooth running of government.

At the same time, one of Charles' ex-colleagues who had been imprisoned for betraying his country's secrets, escapes and appears to have Charles on his list of problems to be dealt with. This leads to the kidnap of Charles' new wife, Sarah which develops into a chilling series of events.

In the style of Le Carre, and with the authenticity of Rimington, 'Inside Enemy' carries you along at a cracking pace. It synchs with the feelings of those of us fairly uncomfortable with the pace of change in the cyber world, that it might be all too easy for someone to take over our comfortable world of information and technical sophistication for their own nefarious ends.

Add to that the indubitable knowledge and background information of Alan Judd, and you have the perfect book for holiday reading - as long as you are not somewhere too far away from the safety of home. Though come to think of it, home might not be that much safer, either!

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Peter James - You Are Dead

"James hits the bulls-eye every time..."

The last words Jamie Ball hears from his fiancée, Logan Somerville, are in a terrified mobile phone call. She has just driven into the underground car park beneath the block of flats where they live in Brighton. Then she screams and the phone goes dead. The police are on the scene within minutes, but Logan has vanished, leaving behind her neatly parked car and mobile phone.

That same afternoon, workmen digging up a park in another part of the city, unearth the remains of a woman in her early twenties, who has been dead for thirty years.

At first, to Roy Grace and his team, these two events seem totally unconnected. But then another young woman in Brighton goes missing - and yet another body from the past surfaces.

Meanwhile, an eminent London psychiatrist meets with a man who claims to know information about Logan. And Roy Grace has the chilling realization that this information holds the key to both the past and present crimes. Does Brighton have its first serial killer in over eighty years?

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is one of my favourite coppers and I'm always delighted when I can reacquaint myself with him. As ever his ridiculously talented creator, Peter James, puts him through the wringer, both in the line of duty and in his private life.

There are few authors who can create series arcs such as the disappearance of Sandy and keep it going for so long without losing their readers' interest. James's skill is such that he now has me as interested in the Sandy plotline as the main story. A hangover from the previous novel also has a very moving impact amid the main story.

Grace's calmness under fire is admirable, as is the way secondary characters such as Cleo, Sandy, Norman Potting and a certain odious villain are all portrayed.

With an author of this calibre, certain things are expected of the plotting, dialogue, prose and characterisation. James hits the bulls-eye every time as the Roy Grace brand goes from strength to strength.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Elizabeth Edmundson - A Man of Some Repute

"Perfect for a summer’s afternoon read in the garden."

It is 1953, not too long since the war ended, and intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth has been sent to sleepy Selchester for an apparently quiet and boring assignment. He is billeted in Selchester Castle which was the site of the mysterious disappearance of the Earl seven years previously. The castle is being looked after by the earl's niece, Freya Wryton with the help of one or two long serving servants.

When a skeleton is discovered under the flagstones of the Old Chapel, old suspicions and new are rife. Hugo's old profession definitely has a finger in the pie and it takes some spirited investigation from Hugo and Freya to discover the truth.

This is a delightfully old fashioned and satisfying tale. Set in a small country town in the era when class is still a significant player, the lives of the characters are a definite throwback to the Golden Age of crime fiction. The plot is well constructed and manages to come to an agreeable ending, whilst leaving us with a curiosity about what will happen to the characters, which is perfect if this is to be the first of a series. The main leads are engaging and I was reminded of Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, again a reflection of older times.

I did enjoy this book and I know that out there is an audience who love this more gentle approach to the violence of the crime genre. Perfect for a summer's afternoon read in the garden.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Susan Wilkins - The Mourner

"...Wilkins is a potential Martina Cole in the making. "

A murder dressed up as suicide and corruption that goes to the heart of government. Ex-con and ex-cop unite in a dangerous quest to discover the truth. What they expose proves what they have always known: villainy is rife on both sides of the law.

Living anonymously under the witness protection scheme to escape her brother and her criminal past, Kaz Phelps is striving to achieve the freedom she craves. He ex-lover and ex-lawyer, Helen Warner is now a rising star in parliament, but it seems she's made enemies on her way up that have no regard for the law.

Banged up and brooding, Joey Phelps faces thirty years behind bars. He's got cash and connections on the outside, and he's plotting revenge. He wants to find the person he's closest to - and the one who betrayed him.

Ousted by the police and paralysed by a tragic and personal loss, Nicci Armstrong is in danger of going under. But maybe a job with an ex-colleague will help her to put her life back on track?

Susan Wilkins follows up her high-octane debut, 'The Informant', with this richly epic thriller full of intrigue and crackling with danger.

Kaz Phelps is a wonderfully flawed character. She's immensely likeable and her willingness for a normal life away from her crime family is refreshing and full of challenges which Wilkins deftly includes in the make-up of her character.

However, for me, my favourite character of this book is ex-cop, Nicci Armstrong. When we first meet her she's standing up for a defenceless old lady and takes on an armed teenage gang and wins. She's feisty, capable, and brilliant. Her past is dark and upsetting yet she's pulling herself through each day and growing stronger and stronger. Wilkins has created two powerful female characters that work well together, yet are able to carry on the story in chapters alone.

The return of Joey, Kaz's brother languishing in prison for killing two police officers, doesn't quite work for me. The central story is strong enough to stand on its own. I think Joey would have been better rested for this second novel and returned in the third.

The plot has it all; political corruption, historical sexual abuse, murder, revenge, and sexual tension. The ending, while ambiguous, will lead us nicely into a third outing for Kaz and (hopefully) Nicci.

Only two books in to her career yet Susan Wilkins is a potential Martina Cole in the making.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Priscilla Masters - The Devil's Chair

"I do enjoy Masters’ books..."

In the early hours of an April night, near the fabled Devil's Chair which is steeped in folklore of witchcraft and unexplained disappearances, Tracey Walsh drives her car off a remote road and into the valley below. A mysterious call from a nearby house at six that morning alerts the police to find the car with Tracey inside, but the main mystery is the disappearance of her four year old daughter, Daisy. Despite an extensive search of the area, the girl is not found. They know Daisy was put in the car but was she still in the vehicle when it went off the road? Then a bouquet of herbs is found near the crash site with a cryptic note. Soon items of Daisy's clothing are located in different areas, including the search area at a spot where it couldn't have been missed less than twenty-four hours before. And what is the connection between the child's disappearance and an incident involving Martha Gunn over ten years before? D.I. Alex Randall and his team, with no leads at all, must continue to dig for clues in the hope of finding Daisy alive.

This title comes under the Martha Gunn series although to be honest she doesn't really appear here much and her connection to the case is tenuous at best. The main of the novel is driven by D.I. Randall and his team. Randall is much more interesting than Martha. In fact, I will admit to speed-reading the parts about Martha's life just so I could quickly get back to the case. Masters has given Randall a back story with a wife who is mentally fragile, and I would like to find out more about this pained policeman. Even some of his team, whose backgrounds are alluded to but never explained, have potential so maybe Masters would like to shine her attention on them rather than Martha Gunn. This case concentrates more on the disappearance of a child and does not involve a murder, although again Masters alludes to something underhand happening before this current case. I do enjoy Masters' books and although I didn't feel this was her strongest, it was still very enjoyable. Once again Masters infuses her nursing knowledge in to her story and I came away having learnt a few things about medicines and compounded fractures. Masters' facts always lend kudos to her investigation. However, I believe that if Masters re-focuses this series on Randall and his team, it would re-boot this series. But who am I to tell a writer what to do? 'The Devil's Chair' was a good read that whiled away a wet afternoon.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Ragnar Jónasson - Snow Blind

"Ragnar Jónasson had my attention from the very first line."

Siglufjördur: an idyllically quiet fishing village in northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors - accessibly only via a small mountain tunnel.

Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik - with a past that's he's unable to leave behind.

When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in a local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.

An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge. As curtains begin to twitch, his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal.

Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust even deeper into his own darkness - blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose.

The first chapter of a novel has to be engaging and gripping enough to encourage the reader to commit to the whole novel. Ragnar Jónasson had my attention from the very first line. So lyrical and poetic is his prose that this debut novel is difficult to put down and makes Jónasson a writer to watch.

'Snow Blind' is a chilling and claustrophobic thriller with a strong central character in Ari Thór Arason, and a stunning backdrop of a small former fishing community in Northern Iceland.

The villagers with their secrets, lies, and hidden pasts; the isolated setting, deadly snowstorm and pitch-perfect writing with classic misdirection reads like a modern day Agatha Christie. It's no surprise to learn Jónasson has translated Christie novels into Icelandic. He has learned his craft by the undisputed Queen of Crime and added his own unique style of atmospheric prose. I almost had to put on an extra jumper when reading the chilling avalanche scenes!

As the snow deepens and the tension mounts the finale is subtle and fitting. 'Snow Blind' is a novel that packs a terrific punch with its use of descriptive narrative and genuinely interesting characters.

There are five more novels in the Dark Iceland series, the second, 'Nightblind', will be published in England next year. I hope we get Ragnar's entire body of work. The man is a welcome addition Icelandic Noir and his debut can stand proudly alongside such established Icelandic authors as Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Mike Craven - Born in a Burial Gown

"...a tightly-written debut from an author who is going places"

D.I. Avison Fluke of the Cumbrian Force Major Investigation Team is sent to investigate a body found on a building site. He soon realises he's on the trail of a professional killer.

Fighting to recover from a life-threatening illness he strives to juggle the case amid hospital visits and conflict with his superiors. As the investigation progresses, the few leads he finds, all lead to dead-ends. With pressure mounting, he has to battle his own ill-health as he strives to identify and catch the killer.

This is a tightly-written debut from an author who is going places. Packed with procedural detail, believable characters and rich dialogue it will keep you turning those pages long after bedtime.

Avison Fluke is a fine creation who has more than a hint of the noir about him. He's ably supported by his team, especially the sublime Matt Towler. The other characters are all finely drawn especially Nathaniel Diamond.

The plot kept me guessing the killer's identity right to the end and even then I was miles off hitting the target. The prose is faultless for a debut author, but for me the best part of the novel was the characterisation of the major characters.

Mike Craven is one to watch out for as 'Born in a Burial Gown' is an accomplished debut. I look forward to reading more Avison Fluke novels in the future.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sarah Hilary - No Other Darkness

"...Sarah Hilary's novels will be my most anticipated every year. "

Two young brothers are trapped in an underground bunker unable to understand why they are there and hoping to be rescued very soon. As time goes by their desperation increases until they slowly realise no-one is coming for them.

Five years later, the boys' bodies are found and the most difficult case of Detective Inspector Marnie Rome's career begins.

Her focus is on the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.

For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this...

Sarah Hilary arrived on the crime scene in 2014 (and was Crimesquad's 'Fresh Blood') with her sensational debut 'Someone Else's Skin'. This second novel is my most anticipated book of the year and I am pleased to say Sarah Hilary has topped her first with a grippingly twisted story that is genuinely terrifying.

The discovery of two young boys left to die in an underground bunker is a subject so dark and shocking it could easily have been gratuitous, but Hilary's depth of characterisation and psychological research gives this book heart and emotion.

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is a brilliant creation. Her dark family history explored in the first novel is developed further and her current case shows she hasn't yet come to terms with her past. Rome is incredibly strong yet extremely sensitive. If Hilary continues with such powerful stories Marnie Rome could become a classic crime fiction protagonist. We also get to know more of Rome's sidekick, Noah Jake, and his life outside of crime. I love this double act so much; they dovetail perfectly.

'No Other Darkness' is a truly engrossing read from its chilling opening chapter to the final heart-wrenching pages. The frenetic pace never lets up and Sarah Hilary knows how to tease you with cliffhangers. You'll be reading this well into the small hours.

With a third book currently in the works I feel Sarah Hilary's novels will be my most anticipated every year.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Denzil Meyrick - Whisky From Small Glasses

"...a thoroughly entertaining book, full of dark humour and sharp observation."

The body of a young woman is washed up on a beach at Machrie Bay, near the Scottish town of Kinloch on Scotland's west coast. Inspector Jim Dailey and his sidekick, Sgt Brian Scott are despatched from police HQ in Paisley by his superior, Superintendent John Donald, to investigate. Beforehand Dailey attends the post-mortem is held in Glasgow. The woman has been strangled by a ligature; then her body almost cut in half.

Dailey leaves behind a troubled marriage to Liz, who has been unfaithful to him. What he finds when he reaches Kinloch is an incompetent sub-divisional chief and a tight-knit town almost cut off from the rest of Scotland, full of eccentric, suspicious people and mired in petty corruption.

The investigation is going nowhere to begin with, and to complicate matters, Liz turns up by helicopter. There are more murders, one of them of a policeman and before the case is finally cracked, Dailey finds himself personally involved in the denouement in a way he could never have envisaged.

Kinloch is a thinly disguised Campbeltown, on the Mull of Kintyre. Though isolated, its people bear no resemblance to Kinloch, as Meyrick himself would no doubt tell you, as he was brought up there. Meyrick has taken some liberties with the geography of the area (but not many), and Machrie Bay, where the body was discovered, is real enough - only it's across the water on the island of Arran.

This is a reissue of a book first published in 2012, and it introduces us to Inspector James Dailey and the loyal, intelligent, hard-working, but foul-mouthed Sgt Brian Scott, his sidekick. In 2014 the second in the series was published – 'The Last Witness' - (reviewed here in February 2015) and this had the same combination of taut thriller and classic whodunit.

This is a thoroughly entertaining book, full of dark humour and sharp observation. It is not as densely plotted as 'The Last Witness', but that is no bad thing, as it allows character to drive the narrative. Meyrick himself was, among other things, a policeman at one time, so he knows police procedures inside out, and also knows when to bend them for the sake of tension.

Reviewed by: J.G.

CrimeSquad Rating:

T.R. Richmond - What She Left

"I can pretty much guarantee that once you start you won't want to put it down."


February 2012: 25-year-old Alice Salmon returns to her university town for a night out with friends. Seven years ago in this same spot she was on the brink of adulthood - wide-eyed, curious, insatiable. Seven years on and Alice is about to unravel a secret that pulls that past into dangerously sharp focus – but it's too late. The next morning her body is found washed up by the river and it's someone else who is intent on picking up the pieces.

Professor Jeremy Cooke's career is over and the prospect of long, empty days terrifies him. Alone in his office he embarks on a research project that will bring him back into contact with his students and focus his dwindling mind. Jeremy is documenting Alice's life. He pores over the Internet, diaries, letters; he talks to friends, family, boyfriends and bit by bit he unravels a deeply disturbing version of a girl he actually knows better than anyone.

We all wonder about the legacy we will leave behind, but do we really ever consider our digital footprint? In 'What She Left', university professor Jeremy Cooke explores just that. Through a careful, bordering on obsessive work ethic, he takes tweets, Facebook status', blog posts and e-mails to and from Alice, and investigates her relationships with friends and family, to find out who Alice really was.

'What She Left' is billed as a modern day epistolary novel (a story consisting of letters), but it's much more than that. It's a cleverly constructed, fractured timeline novel that deconstructs Alice's life, piece by piece, slowly giving up her secrets before finally revealing the astounding and unexpected truth of what happened on the fateful night her life ended.

Each character's voice is excellently written, truly bringing them to life, and with one of its main characters being a 64 year-old university professor, there is some absolutely beautiful language in 'What She Left', that I personally loved even if I did have to head to the dictionary a couple of times!

It's a twist of a tale that lends itself to being dipped in and out of easily so it can be read by even the busiest of people.I can pretty much guarantee that once you start you won't want to put it down.

Reviewed by: J.P.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Greg Iles - The Bone Tree

"...this is a real feat of storytelling and one that will hold your attention..."

Former prosecutor Penn Cage faces the crisis of a lifetime. His family has been torn apart and his father made a fugitive after being accused of murdering an African-American nurse.

Now, Penn has unwittingly started a war with the Double Eagles, a violent faction of the KKK who know more about Dr. Tom Cage than Penn ever did.

Tracking his father through Natchez and beyond, Penn is targeted by criminals and corrupt police whose power reaches the top levels of state government – people who will stop at nothing to prevent the truth from coming out.

To clear Tom's name, Penn must either make a deal with the devil or destroy him. But there are others pursuing a different mission – one which will lead them to the 'Bone Tree', a legendary killing site that conceals far more than the remains of the dead.

The first book in this series – 'Natchez Burning' – was one of my favourite books of 2014, (reviewed on Crimesquad in May 2014 by little 'ole me), so I was on tenterhooks waiting for 'The Bone Tree'. Was I disappointed? No, but it comes with caveats. More of that later.

What you have is a continuation of the story as set up spellbindingly in the first book. You have the same set of fascinating characters, a sense of place that has you dripping with Louisiana sweat and a feeling of genuine concern for the people in the book as Iles skilfully weaves his tale.

'The Bone Tree' is a meaty read – from all perspectives - detailing civil rights issues that still strike at the heart of what it means to live in the US today and testing his characters until the deeds of the 'good' and the 'bad' guys are all but interchangeable. Iles' thoughts here are never more clear than when he describes the actions of Dr. Tom Cage and how his son, Penn reacts to them. Motivation towards the greater good being the thing that differentiates them.

My one area of unease is the part of the book that links the KKK members, through the mafia to the assassination of JFK. If that period of history is your bag, then you'll lap it all up. For me, it felt unnecessary.

Make no mistake this is a real feat of storytelling and one that will hold your attention and despite my concern as noted above, one that I wholeheartedly recommend to you.

Reviewed by: M.M.

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Stephen King - Finders Keepers

"Stephen King is one of the greatest American authors writing today..."

Morris Bellamy is a reader so obsessed by reclusive novelist John Rothstein that he kills him and steals notebooks containing at least one more novel.

Pete Saubers, a boy whose father was brutally injured by a stolen Mercedes, discovers a buried stash of notebooks that he recognises belong to a famous writer.

Morris is out of prison and hell-bent on recovering his treasure. Retired detective Bill Hodges - now running a company called 'Finders Keepers' - is asked to investigate and, in a race against time, he must rescue Pete from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris.

'Finders Keepers' is the second in the Bill Hodges trilogy. The first, 'Mr Mercedes', was wonderfully written with beautifully created characters, and a plot as taut as guitar strings that Stephen King had a task and a half on his hands to top it. However, if there is one writer capable of surpassing his own great work it's Stephen King.

This is the story of a reader who is obsessed with a trilogy of novels. However, he isn't happy with the final book and sets out to find and punish the author. This may sound like King's more famous novel, 'Misery', but this is a story of obsession for the twenty-first century.

Stephen King knows how important books, and their characters, are to readers. He knows where the fine line is between the simple enjoyment of a book and an obsession. As a child, I was obsessed with 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens and today it remains one of my favourite novels. King has perfectly executed the angst, the burning desire, the sense of loss and emptiness when a character's journey is over.

Stephen King is possibly one of the greatest American authors writing today, and with more than 50 books to his name, he is still at the height of his writing powers. He can invoke powerful emotions for his characters in one paragraph where lesser writers would need a whole page.

'Finders Keepers' starts at breakneck speed and continues throughout building to a shocking and terrifying conclusion that I'll be thinking about for many months ahead.

With 'Mr Mercedes' and 'Finders Keepers' being two of King's finest novels (in my opinion), I'm awaiting the conclusion to this wonderful trilogy with baited breath. I just hope King doesn't let Bill Hodges down in the finale. Who knows what an obsessive reader might do...

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Andreas Norman - Into a Raging Blaze

"...this is a cracking spy story... "

Carina Dymek is a high flier at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is happy with her boyfriend, also a highly thought-of civil servant. He happens to be of Egyptian extraction and have family in Egypt with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Speaking in Brussels on Mediterranean security, Carina oversteps the mark on the official Swedish position and passionately defends the underdog. Afterwards she is approached by another diplomat in the Swedish team and given a USB stick with information and asked to circulate it to her department. It turns out to have such sensitive and unwelcome information on it that she immediately becomes a dangerous and suspicious employee. This information implicates the British and American Security Services in activity that undermines the independence of the Swedish state.

Dymek becomes a wanted person as she tries to escape the authorities and at the same time find out the truth. Jamal is also threatened by the assumption that he is a plant for the Muslim brotherhood.

The scary thing about this book is that it is written by somebody in a position to know the truth about the security services and that much of what happens in fiction is not a million miles from the revelations of whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

On the face of it this is a cracking spy story with sympathetic characters, lots of action and an intricate and intriguing plot. Carina Dymek and Jamal, Bente Jensen and the British and American spies are all people who draw you into their worlds and the action moves across the Continent and over to Egypt with speed. The slow revealing of what is really going on is beautifully handled.

Beneath the story, however, is the realisation that this could all be true, and if it is, what do we make of the morality of it all? This was definitely a book to make you think. 'Into a Raging Blaze' is definitely worth investigating.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Richard Godwin - Meaningful Conversations

"...a bold story which troubles and entertains in equal measure."

'Meaningful Conversations' is a hybrid Noir novel that tackles the modern world and its most tabooed addictions and mythologies. Its protagonist, cellist Bertrand Mavers, is the best adjusted serial killer you will ever meet. His therapist, Otto Wall, calls him the sanest man he knows. What he actually is will surprise and astonish you.

This is a novella for readers with strong stomachs and vivid imaginations. Fantasy and reality are mixed as the layers of Bertrand Mavers's psyche are peeled away.

Mavers is twisted like an 'S' link, and his quest to populate his farm with humans gives the reader an exhilarating if uncomfortable ride. Godwin is a writer who tackles subjects others shy away from and with 'Meaningful Conversations' he has penned a bold story which troubles and entertains in equal measure.

Reviewed by: G.S.

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Tess Gerritsen - Die Again

"...very well-written and enjoyable..."

Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are summoned to a crime scene and find a killing worthy of the most ferocious beast - right down to the claw marks on the corpse. But only the most sinister human hands could have left renowned big-game hunter and taxidermist, Leon Gott gruesomely displayed like the once-proud animals whose heads adorn his walls. Did Gott awaken a predator more dangerous than any he's ever hunted?

After linking the crime to a series of unsolved homicides in wilderness areas across the country, Maura wonders if the answers might actually be found in a remote corner of Africa. Six years earlier, a group of tourists on safari fell prey to a killer in their midst. Marooned deep in the bush of Botswana, with no means of communication and nothing but a rifle-toting guide for protection, the terrified tourists desperately hoped for rescue before their worst instincts or the wild animals could tear them apart. But the deadliest predator was already among them, and within a week, he walked away with the blood of all but one of them on his hands.

Now this killer has chosen Boston as his new hunting ground, and Rizzoli and Isles must find a way to lure him out of the shadows and into a cage. Even if it means dangling the bait no hunter can resist: the one victim who got away.

Rizzoli and Isles are looking for the killer of a killer. Leon Gott was a hunter of animals and has been killed the same way as the animals he hunted. Running alongside this plot is a storyline set six years ago from the perspective of Millie who was the only survivor of a vicious killer. Since then she has lived in fear and in hiding, terrified the killer will come after her to finish off the job.

Parts of the story had me hooked, yet at times I found myself hoping it wasn't going in the direction I thought it was going to head in. Fortunately, it didn't and I was pleased it continued in the vein of a mystery thriller, but I did feel that this wasn't as good as Gerritsen's previous books. Rizzoli was once quite feisty, with Isles aloof and cold. I now find Rizzoli to be rather more nondescript, having lost much of her edge. I do wonder if the characters have been watered down due to the TV show and hope that Gerritsen will give Rizzoli her 'chops' back in the next book.

That said, 'Die Again' is very well-written and enjoyable if not a remarkable read – but Gerritsen has such a big fan base that I am sure they will lap this new case up.

Reviewed by: H.A.

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Richard Magraff Turley - The Cunning House

"...I certainly learned a lot about early nineteenth century London..."

London 1810. In the underworld of London exists a club that caters for those men with a taste for homosexual adventure (the Mollies) and for those with some extreme sexual proclivities. There is even an ordained minister prepared to carry out weddings for those clients who want some recognition for their same sex union. The difference is that there is an extreme popular hatred for those who indulge and some are suspicious that their sympathies lie with the French who are threatening England's safety.

At this time, the Duke of Cumberland, brother to the King, and soldier with an impressive record in leading his troops, has the misfortune to lose his valued valet to a violent death. It may be suicide - convenient for the investigating authorities, or something more. Wyre, a lawyer investigating the activities of the Mollies, finds himself enquiring into the raid on The White Swan tavern and the mysterious death of the valet.

This book is not for everyone, as it deals in detail with the sordid underworld of the London of the time. It graphically uses the language of the time to define the atmosphere of desire and danger that permeates this area of the capital's life.

The incidents that it portrays are fascinating and it is intriguing to hear of the murky world of illicit sex and the conspiracies that abound to hide the truth from the powers that be.

My overwhelming feeling is that the author delights in the use of language to such an extent that the exciting plot and amazing characters are obscured by the detail and learned research of the vernacular of the time. This is particularly true in the first half of the book, but by the time the action takes over he might well have lost some of his readers.

I'm glad that I have read it, and I certainly learned a lot about early nineteenth century London, but I did not find this an easy read.

Reviewed by:

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