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Reviews

September 2015

Lee Child - Make Me

"Prepare to be nailed to your seat by another hair-raising, heart-pounding adventure from the kick-ass master of the thriller genre!"

Synopsis:
Jack Reacher has no place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, so a remote railroad stop on the prairie with the curious name of Mother's Rest seems perfect for an aimless one-day stopover.

He expects to find a lonely pioneer tombstone in a sea of nearly-ripe wheat ... but instead there is a woman waiting for a missing colleague, a cryptic note about two hundred deaths, and a small town full of silent, watchful people.

Reacher's one-day stopover becomes an open-ended quest into the heart of darkness.

Review:
Reacher's back as Lee Child serves his readers another helping of logic and brawn with a side order of morality. Fans of Jack Reacher are in for a treat as the burger-munching, coffee-swilling loner returns with one of his most intriguing cases yet.

There's not much I can say about Reacher without repeating previous reviews so all I'll say is that he's as good as ever with a little extra characterisation added to make him even better. Chang is a worthy sidekick but its Reacher's show as always.

Like the big man himself, the pace of the novel moves with precision and care, yet you know that at any moment it can explode into violent action. As expected the prose is sublime and Reacher makes wonderful logical sense.

The standout moment for me was a discussion where my sense of morality was break-tested by Reacher's logic and Chang's common-sense. Prepare to be nailed to your seat by another hair-raising, heart-pounding adventure from the kick-ass master of the thriller genre!

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sinéad Crowley - Are You Watching Me?

"...edgy and pacey and will keep you reading long into the night."

Synopsis:
Liz Cafferky is on the up. Rescued from her dark past by the owner of a drop-in centre for older men, Liz soon finds herself as the charity's face - and the unwilling darling of the Dublin media.

Amidst her claustrophobic fame, Liz barely noticed a letter from a new fan. Then one of the centre's clients is brutally murdered, and Elizabeth receives another, more sinister note.

Running from her own ghosts, Liz is too scared to go to the police. With no leads, there is very little Sergeant Claire Boyle can do to protect her.

Review:
'Are You Watching Me?' is the second novel to feature Sergeant Claire Boyle and on the basis of these two books alone, I feel this is going to be a very successful series. Boyle is an accurately created detective with all the hallmarks of a classic in the making.

Stalking, addiction and obsession are the main themes of the novel. To write about such deep and disturbing topics requires a writer to get under the skin of their perpetrator and victim, to make them accurate and believable. Crawley pulls this off to a shockingly creepy degree. This is a truly chilling psychological drama.

The premise is a simple one: a woman appears on TV in connection with her work and a man finds her attractive. What follows is frightening as you know, deep down, that this could genuinely happen to anyone.

Crawley has a firm grasp on characterisation and her dialogue crackles with realism. 'Are You Watching Me?' is edgy and pacey and will keep you reading long into the night.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Priscilla Masters - Recalled to Death

"...Masters on full-throttle and I hope she continues in this same vein."

Synopsis:
A vagrant is found dead, his throat slashed on the site of a local ruin. Alex Randall and his team are called to the gruesome discovery. The man is suspected of being mid-forties, slim and wearing an overcoat that is too big for him, but the over-reaching fact the team come back to time and again is the man never gave any passing acquaintance his name. His only explanation being that 'he was already dead'. Randall and co slowly piece together a picture of this man without a name, but as the weeks pass by, the body is buried in an unmarked grave. Randall wonders if they will ever find out their victim's name. And then they make a discovery which unlocks their mystery man's past.

Review:
You can see from my synopsis that I haven't mentioned Martha Gunn. The reason for that is she doesn't appear much during this new offering from Masters – and to be honest, it makes the book better. For a while I have felt Martha has had her day, but there is much more mileage in Randall and his team who are going through their own trials. From what I can see, there is a wealth of material just in this small group of police officers to keep any reader enthralled for many books to come. Masters appears to be intertwining Gunn and Randall in ways that will be revealed in future books, which is intriguing as long as Martha stays in the background.

'Recalled to Death' is all about identity and how it can be taken from us or discarded by its owner. In a day and age where the Internet defines our identity than ever before, with companies knowing our personal tastes through our card transactions and with the grumblings about the security services watching our every move on social media, it is intriguing for anyone to shed this particular skin, to walk amongst us without being monitored. Masters perfectly conveys the lost where her victim is concerned, giving him credence as a human being rather than as another statistic. In all, 'Recalled to Death' is Masters on full-throttle and I hope she continues in this same vein. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Dreda Say Mitchell - Snatched

"It was good to see a resolution to Mac’s troubles..."

Synopsis:
'Mac' is part of an operation to bring in Garcia, a man who is wanted in the U.S. for a series of crimes. During the raid a nanny is found with an infant in her arms. DNA testing shows the boy is in fact Mac's child from his killer ex, Elena. Why is his son in the clutches of Garcia when his mother is evidently in L.A.? Mac's overwhelming instinct is to protect his son, but when Mac steps in to a pool of big sharks, he soon has to protect himself as well as his child. And then there is the unfinished business with Elena. Will it be kisses and cocoa before bedtime? Very doubtful…

Review:
This is Say Mitchell's e-novella that picks up directly from the end of her previous novel, the brilliant, 'Vendetta'. If you haven't read 'Vendetta', then I strongly suggest you do before setting off on this short. Having loved 'Vendetta', I was looking forward to the next phase of the 'pas de deux' between Mac and Elena. I know that Say Mitchell is an excellent writer, but I did feel this e-story was slightly rushed, especially the finale. In my mind it would have been better as a sub-plot of a novel and allowed to develop over three hundred pages. On a positive note, anything that Say Mitchell writes, even on a so-so day, is better than a lot of stuff being e-published these days. It was good to see a resolution to Mac's troubles and he definitely needs to find a better girlfriend than the deadly Elena. However, I have the distinct feeling that we still haven't heard the last of Elena. Bad penny and all that…

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Peter Robinson - No Cure For Love

"...shows that Robinson was writing great fiction back then as he does these days."

Synopsis:
Hollywood stars are liable to get fan letters, sometimes even threatening letters, but Sarah Broughton starts to get worried when a series of strange letters are followed up by the discovery of a dismembered body on the beach near her isolated home in Malibu.

Arvo Hughes is a detective working in LAPD's Threat Management Unit. He works with all the weirdos who threaten individuals and has experience of the strangest, but he is not sure what is happening with Sarah's stalker. He investigates Sarah's colourful past and is sure that is where the answer lies.

Review:
This is a story from Peter Robinson's past and simply shows that Robinson was writing great fiction back then as he does these days. Written twenty years ago and never published in the UK, it is a stand-alone mystery written about Hollywood. For a writer brought up in the UK and living in Canada it was an ambitious project to write about a completely different environment. As a reviewer living in Britain I certainly am convinced by it, but an introduction by Michael Connelly confirms that it works for him as a real 'Angeleno'.

I admire Peter Robinson's skill in giving us believable and attractive characters. Sarah and her British family ring true, as do Arvo and the cast of people in Hollywood. Robinson has a fine ear for dialogue that helps establish place and background. The tension and tautness of the plot make this book an exciting read. Beware assuming you know who the perpetrator is too soon. You will be wrong.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

M.J. Arlidge - Liar Liar

"...the last page was left on a slight cliff hanger - things are looking to get even more interesting!"

Synopsis:
In the dead of night, three raging fires light up the city skies. It's more than a tragic coincidence. For DI Helen Grace the flames announce the arrival of an evil she has never encountered before.

This is no fire-starter seeking sick thrills, but something more chilling: a series of careful, calculating acts of murder. But why were the victims chosen? What's driving the killer? And who will be next?

A powder keg of fear, suspicion and dread has been laid. Now all it needs is a spark to set it off.

Review:
'Liar Liar' sees Southampton's finest, DI Helen Grace, return in the hunt for a killer. I wasn't sure what to expect as the killer wasn't 'hands on'. I did wonder if this would mean the book would lose its edge, but as soon as I started reading, any worries I had soon dissipated and I lost myself in the story.

Arlidge manages to finely balance a gripping story line whilst also involving the characters' personal lives. However, this does not encroach too much and adds to the plot, giving depth and reasoning to their personalities.

Arlidge always manages to find a new twist and 'Liar Liar' is no exception. The killing isn't one on one, but it is still quite brutal. By the time the killer is revealed at the end, Arlidge had managed to elicit some sympathy for them, making me feel they were as much a victim. All loose ends were tied up making me feel totally satisfied with this story.

And DI Grace will be back very soon in her next book as the last page was left on a slight cliff hanger - things are looking to get even more interesting!

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Helen Cadbury - Bones in the Nest

"Cadbury writes with her finger on the pulse..."

Synopsis:
The notorious 'Chasebridge Killer' is released from prison; a woman is desperately trying to claw back from a past that her tormentor won't let her forget and the mutilated body of a young Muslim man lies in the stairwell of a Doncaster tower block. It soon becomes clear to PC Sean Denton that these events have a deadly link.

As Denton is drawn into the case of the dead man, his family life and his police job become dangerously entwined - can he confront the demons that encircle his own life before it is too late?

Review:
Sean Denton is back in the follow-up to the wonderful debut 'To Catch A Rabbit'. Denton is no longer a Police Community Support Officer but now a Police Constable. Starting at the bottom and working his way up.

'Bones in the Nest' is a very topical novel about racial tensions and sink estates but it is never preachy. Helen Cadbury knows her story and her characters and never allows the morals of society to breakthrough. Sean Denton is a brilliant protagonist. He is full of doubt and lacks confidence as he finds his way within the police force and the familial tensions are genuine and subtle. His ailing father is a worthy adversary and his Nan a delightful matriarch.

There is a will-they-won't-they element between Sean and Crime Scene Manager Lizzie Morrison but there isn't the usual threat of Sean getting ideas above his station. Yes, he doesn't think she would go out with someone like him, but there are vulnerabilities on both side which is refreshing and I think Cadbury is going to have plenty of fun with their relationship in future books.

Cadbury writes with her finger on the pulse and the gripping story races by. This is a genuine page turner of a novel and the tension on the estates as emotions run high are felt on every page. A lesser writer wouldn't have tackled such a sensitive subject for their second novel but Cadbury isn't a lesser writer. She has the talent and ability to challenge any seasoned professional on the crime writing scene. That is what makes this a standout novel and a series of originality. I look forward to more Sean Denton novels.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Douglas Skelton - Devil's Knock

"This is a cracking book..."

Synopsis:
Club Corvus, a Glasgow night club, is owned by the Jarvis family, headed by its matriarch, Maw Jarvis. So, when Dickie Hymes tried to do a few deals in temazepam in the club, Scrapper Jarvis, one of Ma's sons, didn't like it. For Dickie was one of Big Rab McClymont's boys, and the McClymont clan were sworn enemies of the Jarvises, though there was a truce of sorts in operation. The upshot was that Scrapper knifed Dickie to death in a lane behind the club, and what the police always dreaded happened - gang warfare erupted in Glasgow. Davie McCall, one of Big Rab's men, was a vicious thug with his own code of honour. He thought nothing of shattering noses, breaking bones and bouncing skulls off brick walls, all at Big Rab's behest. He is brought in to sort things out.

Along the way there's an American film star who wants to make a movie in Glasgow, Davie's own particular ghosts, his nameless dog, nasty Jimmy Knight, a detective inspector who gets results, even though he has a finger in a few unlawful pies himself. Then there's Scratchy, a dosser who may have seen the knifing. He has disappeared, and everyone wants to find him, either to testify or shut him up.

Review:
This is a cracking book set in the 1990s and shows Glasgow in the raw. Douglas Skelton knows much about this subject having written non-fiction books about Glasgow crime. He has decided not to hide or explain away urban violence. Some may find the violence uncomfortable, but here he has described it in clinical detail without glorifying or condemning it.

Of much more importance is Davie McCall himself, the main character in the book, a man who knows no other life than one of violence. Yet he is, in his own way, an honourable man, and Douglas has achieved the remarkable feat of combining the taciturn nature of someone who is basically a thug, with someone who questions his own actions and has a constant conversation with himself about his past, his motives and his relationships. Davie, basically, is lonely and weary of violence. In Glasgow, according to Douglas, a life of violent crime is simply called 'The Life', and almost every hard man, thug and gangland hoodlum wants out. So too does Davie, but he knows of no other way of leading his life. Will he ever escape? Maybe in a future book we'll find out. The plot unfolds at breakneck speed, with a denouement that is as exciting as it is bloody - and at last Davie gives his dog a name.

Reviewed by: J.G.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Samantha Priestley - Reliability of Rope

"...a dramatic writer of immense talent..."

Synopsis:
When a hand-delivered invitation to a funeral is dropped through Kate's door by mistake, she immediately knows she needs to attend. During the service she whispers 'Please forgive me' to the dead man, Peter and afterwards meets his son Anthony for the first time.

Why does Anthony feel responsible for his dad's death when Kate knows she was entirely to blame? And why does the previous tenant of Kate's flat feel so culpable that she cannot sleep until she has returned from Portugal to apologise to Peter's wife?

As more and more strands of the events leading up to Peter's death are gradually unravelled, Kate and her two new friends tell each other they should not blame themselves, but it turns out that they themselves have proved Peter's own words to be true: 'rope is more reliable than people'.

Review:
Mystery surrounds the death of Peter in a drama told through the eyes of three very different people. This is a story of grief and guilt with very human characterisation and tightly written prose by an author who understands raw emotions and the complexities of relationships.

The essence of the story is the suicide of Peter and the events leading up to it. The people closest to Peter all had final conversations with him and it is the scrutiny we inflict upon ourselves at a time of tragedy that is explored here. Meaningless conversations, throwaway words, suddenly take on a more haunting significance.

As the story moves backwards and forwards from before the suicide to the aftermath the pace quickens to an unexpected finale as ghosts from the past resurface.

'Reliability of Rope' is an intelligent and original story told with the believability of a real voice. Samantha Priestley is a dramatic writer of immense talent; a fine addition to literary fiction.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Hakan Nesser - The Living and The Dead in Winford

"...the mystery slowly and carefully unfurls itself, like a morning mist rolling across the landscape."

Synopsis:
A woman arrives in the village of Winsford on Exmoor. She has travelled a long way and chosen her secluded cottage carefully. Her sole intention is to outlive her beloved dog Castor. And to survive the torrent of memories that threaten to overwhelm her.

Weeks before, Maria and her husband Martin fled Stockholm under a cloud. The couple were bound for Morocco, where Martin planned to write an explosive novel; one that would reveal the truth behind dark events within his commune of writers decades before. But the couple never made it to their destination.

As Maria settles into her lonely new life, walking the wild, desolate moors, it becomes clear that Winsford isn't quite the sanctuary she thought it would be. While the long, dark evenings close in and the weather worsens, strange things begin to happen around her. But what terrible secrets is Maria guarding? And who now is trying to find her?

Review:
'The Living and The Dead In Winsford', is one of those books that owes much of its greatness to the dedication to research of its author. Hakan Nesser spent six months with his dog in a cottage on Exmoor through one winter, and this experience shines through, ensuring that the moor itself is one of the stars of this novel as its history, beauty and atmosphere envelope the whole story. As its pace firmly dictates, it is not a novel to be rushed, but one to be savoured, as the mystery slowly and carefully unfurls itself, like a morning mist rolling across the landscape.

We begin the story with Maria's arrival in Winsford, and her efforts to quietly settle herself into a life of obscurity in the small cottage she has rented for the winter. A well-recognised TV presenter in her native Sweden, she is now desperate to fade into the background. Through her own testimony the story flits, back and forth not just between the mystery of the book her husband planned to write, but also her past life, how it brought her to Winsford, and finally the way she passes her days walking the moors.

Whilst more of a mystery story, with a hint of the supernatural than a crime novel, there is a serious crime at its heart and 'The Living and the Dead in Winsford', is a fascinating tale that is both dark in its content and at times dark in its humour too. It delivers unexpected twists, and some genuinely scary moments as you put yourself in Maria's isolated shoes amongst the bleak landscape.

With an ending that's guaranteed to cause much debate, 'The Living and The Dead in Winsford' is a great introduction to the writings of this exceptional author.

Reviewed by: J.P.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Vaseem Khan - The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

"...I was constantly lured in by the smells and sounds of Mumbai."

Synopsis:
Inspector Chopra is having an interesting day: he is retiring from the Mumbai police on medical grounds and he has inherited from his much loved and eccentric uncle a very special baby elephant to be known as Ganesh. Neither of these occurrences did he particularly welcome. Practically as his last act in the police he starts to investigate the death of a young man apparently by drowning when drunk. This solution fits in with his successor's view of the poor but Inspector Chopra is not sure and promises the boy's parents that he will discover the truth. Against his wife's advice Ashwin trawls around the amazing city of Mumbai from rich suburbs to the famous teeming slums, on occasion followed by one baby elephant! Chopra discovers corruption and cover-ups everywhere and his own innocent deception leads him into a spot of bother with his long suffering wife.

Review:
This is a delightful whimsical tale that manages to reveal much about life in the teeming city of Mumbai, whilst following the career of the delightful Inspector Chopra. Written with a gentle humour, this is a book to read when a non-threatening, amusing tale is required. The characters are warm and intriguing: a very special insight into the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Indians. Whilst reading I was constantly lured in by the smells and sounds of Mumbai. Comparisons to McCall Smith are inevitable, but Khan's book stands on its own merit. Wonderfully light-hearted, this frothy investigation is highly entertaining. I look forward to Khan's next Chopra instalment.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sasha Arango - The Truth and Other Lies

"...an excellent piece of writing that is imaginative, very dark yet funny at the same time."

Synopsis:
Henry Hayden appears to be the ultimate success. He has fame as an outstanding popular author, an understanding and loving wife and good friends to whom he is extremely generous. But there is a fatal flaw at the heart of his life: he is an extremely successful liar who can convince anyone of any truth that happens to suit him. Occasionally things do go wrong and this is the story of how Henry Hayden manufactures a convincing web of lies to ensure his reputation.

Review:
This is a very original book, albeit with subtle reminders of some very good novels. The hero, Henry Hayden, has a very similar outlook on life to Patricia Highsmith's, Mr Ripley and Hayden's outrageous behaviour delights and appals at the same time. He is a completely amoral character on one level, in that he will do anything to survive, but on another level he can be a very caring, generous and thoughtful friend; definitely an enigma.

The descriptions of the people of the little town where Hayden has ended up made me laugh and reminded me of the villagers of Clochemerle in their pragmatism and isolation from the rest of the country. It is deliberately set in an anonymous place but it could easily be somewhere near you.

This is an excellent piece of writing that is imaginative, very dark yet funny at the same time. The original is in German but the translation flows smoothly and never intrudes. I have not read many German thrillers but perhaps this will be the first of many.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jason Starr - Fake ID

"You will be overjoyed when you discover Starr’s books for the first time."

Synopsis:
New York bar bouncer, Tommy Russo dreams of being an actor… and being so much more… Then, Tommy Russo is given the chance to join a horse-owning syndicate. But to do so he'll have to pony up $10,000 - and that's money he hasn't got. So what's an ambitious young man to do? Anything he has to...

Review:
Russo is self-deluded enough to keep waiting and believing his time will come. Like many (if not all) of Starr's characters, there is very little to like about Russo. He is arrogant, deceitful, has no self-awareness, and doesn't see his own faults - although is quick to see these in others.

Russo is a compulsive gambler, spending most of his wages on this habit. So to become part of an industry he has such a great interest in by owning a share of a racehorse is impossible to resist. And Russo sees this ownership as a way of making him rich - something he deserves - because working as a bouncer is beneath him. The small matter of not having the money to buy his share of the race horse won't stop him, even if it means stabbing those in the back that have helped him.

The story starts with a simple enough plan of Russo getting hold of the money. But as with most plans, there is always a spanner in the works to complicate matters. Things go from bad to worse for Russo, but he can still never accept the consequences from his actions - that it is always someone else's fault. Russo is the character with the most flaws, but all of Starr's characters are deeply flawed; either weak, greedy, dishonest, although in Russo's case he is all of these.

Again I am torn between wanting to see the protagonist get away with his crime and seeing him strung up for them. This is what makes Starr so addictive. He can make you rout for the darkest of characters. 'Fake ID' has echoes of Highsmith's 'The Talented Mr. Ripley'. Starr is an incredible dark talent and I can only direct you to this talented writer. You will be overjoyed when you discover Starr's books for the first time.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Priscilla Royal - Satan's Lullaby

"Royal has created a worthy successor to Ellis Peters’ marvelous, iconic series..."

Synopsis:
It is 1278. Prioress Eleanor has been told that the head of her order, Abbess Isabeau, has sent her brother, Father Etienne Davoir, to inspect Tyndal Priory in all aspects. Previously highly favoured by the Abbess, Eleanor is seriously worried. When a member of the investigating group dies after being treated by Sister Anne, the situation becomes more dangerous.

When Father Etienne is threatened, it is essential to solve the mystery before too much damage is created. The Crowner Ralf, charged with the investigation, is in no position to be impartial and he is also concerned about the welfare of his wife who is expecting their first baby imminently.

Review:
This is a well-established series involving Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas of the Order of Fontevraud. This book is the eleventh in the series but it is the first one I have read. As a fan of Cadfael and other medieval mysteries, I am delighted to discover a new source of delightful tales of 900 years ago. Royal has created a worthy successor to Ellis Peters' marvelous, iconic series which has become a benchmark for any writer who ventures into this particular time frame. The characters are interesting and well-drawn, the plot is intriguing and the historical detail means the atmosphere of the time is beautifully evoked. And the good thing is I have a back catalogue to now explore which is even better. Definitely worth a read for any lover of Historical Crime.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Julia Heaberlin - Black-Eyed Susans

"...an intelligent read..."

Synopsis:
As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving 'Black-Eyed Susan', the nickname given to the murder victims due to the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa's testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, Tessa is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of Black-eyed Susans, a summertime bloom, just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications that she sent the wrong man to prison, Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve her lost memories.

What they don't know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.

Review:
Flitting from past to present sees Tessa struggle with the aftermath of her abduction immediately after her being found, but also the emotional toll it still has on her years later.

I struggled to get started with 'Black Eyed Susans' and was hoping that eventually it would just 'click'. But this just didn't happen for me. I found the reading quite hard going and a struggle. I was also left with a lot of unanswered questions around the motives of some of the characters. Much was made as to why Tessa could not remember what happened to her during the hours she was abducted, yet this was never revealed. To me, it felt as though the book was half finished as I was left with more questions than when I started.

Compared to Heaberlin's previous books which I absolutely loved, I felt this lacked the insight and intrigue. It was still an intelligent read, but was let down from lack of explanations.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Margaret Moore - Broken Chord

"...a great book for those who love their Mediterranean crime. "

Synopsis:
Introducing State Prosecutor Jacobo Dragonetti, this book is an investigation into the death of a wealthy woman and the workings of the dysfunctional family with whom she lives. Jacobo, commonly known as Drago, is well known as a man who has thrown over the shadow of his Mafia father, and also as an independent thinker who pursues the case till the end.

Everyone who is related to Ursula con Bachmann has reason to want her dead, as she rules the family with a rod of iron and uses her money to control them, but which one is it? Or is it someone from outside the family? There are close neighbours with reason to want her out of the way.

The heat of Florence and its surrounds in mid-summer is making life uncomfortable for everyone. Ursula's three children by different fathers, their families and the man she was about to marry all have reason to murder her, but the mutual suspicion and family resentments make it difficult for Drago to tease out the solution. Add to this local anger at Vanessa's autocratic behavior and the scene is set for a difficult case.

Review:
Jacobo Dragonetti is an interesting and attractive addition to the ranks of European detectives. He is handsome, charming strong willed and with a life style of good food (sometimes) and inspiring music that appeals to those who want to get away to romantic Italy. The intricate plot is intriguing and requires attention to work out the possibilities, as it seems that everyone had a motive to kill off Ursula. The final denouement has a satisfying conclusion and I really felt that while reading Chord's book, I had been basking under the Florence sun. This is a great book for those who love their Mediterranean crime. I look forward to the next in the series.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sabine Durrant - Remember Me This Way

"...an enjoyable psychological thriller, with a deliciously wicked sting in the tale."

Synopsis:
A year after her husband Zach's death Lizzie goes to lay flowers where his fatal accident took place. As she makes her way along the motorway, she thinks about their life together. She wonders whether she has changes since Zach died. She wonders if she will ever feel whole again.

At last she reaches the spot, and there tied to a tree is a bunch of lilies, the flowers are addressed to her husband. Someone has been here before her.

Lizzie loved Zach. She really did. But she's starting to realise she didn't really know him. Or what he was capable of…

Review:
'Remember Me This Way', is an enjoyable psychological thriller, with a deliciously wicked sting in the tale.

The story begins with a difficult opening scene as a year after the crash that killed her artist husband, Zach. Already fearing she didn't know Zach as well as she thought, Lizzie travels to his country cottage where he would retreat to paint only to discover more signs that things may not be as they seem.

With alternating narratives between Lizzie and Zach, 'Remember Me This Way' starts slowly, but finds its way under your skin as it carefully reveals their history, showing the awful truths behind seemingly innocent events. The more you learn of Zach, the more creepy, controlling and genuinely awful he becomes, contrasting brilliantly with the discoveries of Lizzie who becomes increasingly concerned, confused and paranoid.

Constantly twisting and turning so that you, like Lizzie, don't know the truth until all is revealed at the end. This is a well told tale that is excellently put together and had me gripped throughout.

Reviewed by: J.P.

CrimeSquad Rating: