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february 2018 - crime and thrillers

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Clio Gray: The Scottish Mysteries 3 - Hidden Pasts

Published by Urbane 18th January 2018


Hestan Island, marooned in the Solway Firth, tethered to the mainland at low tide by a causeway called The Rack; Hestan home to two men quietly living out their lives, until a boy is almost crushed to death in their tiny copper mine, when their shared past begins to unravel. Over at Balcary House, Brogar Finn and Sholto McKay arrive, and soon become involved in the affairs on Hestan, which in turn leads them back through the bloody wars of Crimea and the lands of the Tartars. The third in the Scottish Mystery Series, Hidden Pasts is host to a complex plot that explores the history of a little known part of Scotland, and links it with the wider arena of warfare in the east and how small events can echo down the years, with deadly consequence.

Highly original and totally absorbing - combines historical and crime fiction in a way that really sets you thinking. I don't recall ever seeing the previous books in the series. though...






A J Finn: The Woman In The Window

Published by Harper Collins 25th January 2018

What did she see? It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside. Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers. But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?


This is a book that has been endorsed by so many celebrity writers, including Stephen King, it was difficult for me to ignore it. A great many readers will be familiar with Hitchcock's movie Rear Window, and the later remake starring the remarkable Christopher Reeve, and there are parallels, it's true. But Rear Window was not on my ind as I read this amazing thriller, in fact having got out of the way the similarities, I simply settled down to read it, and Stephen King is right: it is "unputdownable". One's sympathies obviously lie with Anna, but all the way through you're questioning her sanity and wondering if the author is going to come up with a neat twist that will turn the story on its head. Amazing dialogue, adrenalin-pumping tension and a superb plot sequence make this one of the finest thrillers I have read in a long, long time. Deserves to sell in its millions!


Bill Kitson: Picture of Innocence

Published by Create Space 14th November 2017

While visiting Madrid on a stag weekend, DI Mike Nash foils an attack on a young Spanish landscape painter. He returns home, puzzled by the fact there seems to be no motive behind the assault – unless it is connected to the recent murder of the girl’s father. After surviving two further attempts on her life the artist flees to England where she seeks shelter with Nash. As he attempts to uncover the truth behind the attacks and her mysterious past, Nash confronts a web of evil that is more potent now than in previous years – and as he unravels the mystery he is faced with a crime more sinister and horrible than he has ever encountered before.


It was only when author Bill asked if I would care to review the latest Mike Nash thriller that I discovered that publisher Robert Hale had ceased to exist. Bill's series has kept me royally entertained for several years, and Mike Nash, for me, is the one published detective that should have been serialised for the television, something I believe I have mentioned before. Bill's familiarity with police procedures is legendary and the story fairly rockets along. Bill's characters and locations are all believable and he creates a very real series of locations as the story progresses. Five stars from me!


David Mark: Scorched Earth

Published by Mulholland Books 25th January 2018

The police think Crystal Heathers isn't missing. The trainee detective assigned to the case isn't so sure. McAvoy thinks someone was being held at the derelict building where they just found a body pinned to the wall...and that all the signs point to it being a little girl. But why would anyone not report a kidnapping? And how far would someone go to get revenge? The case will test McAvoy to breaking point - as the crimes of the present lead him to a final violent confrontation with an enemy from his own past.


This is the latest in David Mark's superb series following the adventures of DI McAvoy, and for me, the stories just get better and better. It seems to me that our crime authors are getting better at turning in stories that defy solutions and whilst it used to be fun trying to work out who was the culprit, nowadays with books like this, it's simply impossible to work it out! Absolutely fantastic, great entertainent.




Jeffery Deaver: The Burial Hour

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 23rd March 2018

A businessman snatched from an Upper East Side street in broad daylight. A miniature hangman's noose left at the scene. A nine-year-old girl, the only witness to the crime. With a crime scene this puzzling, forensic expertise of the highest order is absolutely essential. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are called in to investigate. Soon the case takes a stranger turn: a recording surfaces of the victim being slowly hanged, his desperate gasps the backdrop to an eerie piece of music. The video is marked as the work of The Composer... Despite their best efforts, the suspect gets away. So when a similar kidnapping occurs on a dusty road outside Naples, Italy, Rhyme and Sachs don't hesitate to rejoin the hunt. But the search is now a complex case of international cooperation--and not all those involved may be who they seem. Sachs and Rhyme find themselves playing a dangerous game, with lives all across the globe hanging in the balance.


Deaver is one of those authors that seem to turn out three or four books a year, and the problem for me is that, as with the Jack Reacher series, they're all very similar to each other. In other words, if you've read one, you've more or less read them all. Some people like it like that; I would prefer it if the author went off in a different direction once in a while...


E R Fallon: The Trouble Boys

Published by Urbane Publications March 2018


The Godfather meets Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, but with Gaelic complications, in E.R.Fallon's thrilling new novel. Trouble Boys is an historical crime novel about the Irish mob in New York City from the 1930s to the 1950s. The story opens in pre-WWII Europe when young Irish immigrant Colin O'Brien settles with his family in New York City. There Colin befriends a Cuban-American boy named Johnny Garcia. Life in America isn't what Colin's family expects and he experiences a shocking tragedy that alters his life. As Johnny and Colin grow into men, their friendship changes. They begin working for different crime syndicates, with Colin joining the ranks of charismatic Tom McPhalen's Irish mob and Johnny becoming a member of debonair Tito Bernal's Cuban gang. As Colin's rise in the ranks of organized crime becomes increasingly more brutal and demeaning and his friendship with Johnny deteriorates, he begins to question his place in the seductive yet violent world he's found himself in.


Captures the atmosphere and the feel of the period to absolute perfection. I can just see this being made into a film. Superb.



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twenty-first year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.