September 2014


Welcome to my monthly round-up for September 2014.

These posts showcase the books I’ve bought, borrowed or won, as well as those received from publishers for review prior to release date. I’ll try to mention everyone that appears in the blog, in a tweet when I publish the post, but I apologise in advance to anyone I’ve forgotten.
So here we go:

Books I’ve Bought
During September I bought on Kindle:
Accidents Happen
by Louise Millar
Dust by Patricia Cornwell
The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

Inferno by Dan Brown

Books I’ve Borrowed
None this month.

Books I’ve Won
The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar via
Scott & Bailey prequel series by Cath Staincliffe via Transworld

Received from Publishers for Review
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins via Transworld
Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen via Netgalley
The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney via Pan Macmillan

Review Round-up
During September I read and reviewed:
Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards
Binary Witness & Code Runner by Rosie Claverton
The Betrayal Of Trust & A Question Of Identity by Susan Hill
The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid
No Safe House by Linwood Barclay

My Book of the Month for September was The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid Review here


None this month.


Code Runner by Rosie Claverton. Read September 2014.

The second in the Amy Lane Mysteries series and even more action packed than the first.
“Amy is distraught when Jason’s pursuit gets him framed for murder. He’s thrown back in prison where he’s vulnerable to people who want him dead. He needs Amy to prove his innocence. Fast.”
This is the first book for a while to pass my ‘guilt’ test – I felt guilty if put the book aside when one of the main characters was in peril, and with Code Runner that was 90% of the time.
Lots of unanswered questions from Binary Witness are explained in this second instalment but Amy remains an enigmatic character (I’m a little concerned about how much I like and identify with Amy and I look forward to comparing notes with other readers on this). The other recurring characters are developed into a strong cast and I hope to encounter them in many more adventures. My one criticism is that the explanation of the relationships between the bad guys was vague and left me confused as to who had done what.
I recommend this series to anyone who likes a fast paced thriller but one that also makes you think.
Thank you to the author and publisher, via Netgalley, for the advance copy e-book


Making his way down St. Mary’s Street in Cardiff’s piss-poor excuse for a city centre, Rich checked his watch, rubbing at the rain that splattered it. Twenty minutes—he could stroll it. He passed McDonald’s and the chavs propping up the windows, disaffected youth in fake designer gear and gold-looking chains. He clocked three of them who he’d seen on the unsolved boards in the office. Petty theft, possession of a negligible amount of cocaine, school arson. What a gallon of twats.

Speaking of twats… Rich became aware of a skinhead coming up behind him on the street, and automatically pulled his jacket closer. He subtly checked him out in the reflection of the shop window: a tall, broad twenty-something with a light coating of stubble on his cheeks. He wore a nice leather jacket—looked vintage, but you could buy that crap from the indoor market for a pittance. Cheap Chinese crap that kids thought made them look cool.

This boy didn’t look like the usual breed of neo-Nazi scum, but DI Hesketh had been wittering on about an increased presence of English Defence League—or was that Welsh Defence League?—hooligans on their streets. They were supposed to be on the lookout for racially motivated crimes, but Rich had never been keen to police what was going on in someone’s head. And if the Welsh bastards wanted to keep Wales for themselves, they were welcome to it.

Yet this kid made him antsy precisely because he didn’t fit the bill. He had his shoulders hunched down and was walking at a pace that his long legs could easily have exceeded. Why was he walking so damn slowly?

Rich suddenly felt a deep sense of unease, the hairs on the back of his neck rising up. Had he done something to piss off the boys down in grubby Splott? Had they sent a friend to take care of him? He regretted leaving his badge at home.

It wasn’t yet nine o’clock but the streets were dark and quiet, falling into the lull between the day’s shoppers heading home and the nightlife coming out to play. There were barely twenty people the entire length of the street and no one close to them. The skinhead could easily come up behind him, slide a knife between his ribs, and that would be him done. Nobody would even know until Rich spilled his lifeblood on the ground, spreading pink in the rainwater gutters of the street.



No Safe House by Linwood Barclay. Read September 2014.

The sequel to ‘No Time For Goodbye’.
“Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible.”
I thoroughly enjoyed No Time For Goodbye so when I heard Linwood Barclay had written a sequel I was keen to read it as soon as possible. Unfortunately the new book was a bit of a disappointment, in my opinion. To be fair it was always going to be difficult – No Time For Goodbye was such a hard act to follow. Having joined the characters in a breathtaking adventure and cared so much about what happened to them, in the new book I found myself getting frustrated with them. The time it took me to read the book, far longer than usual, shows me that I wasn’t engaging with the characters or the plot. Having said that, I read the second half quite quickly because the action sped up somewhat.
I still have a number of standalone Barclay novels on my TBR and this book hasn’t put me off reading them. I’m sure they’ll be the well plotted, action packed stories I’m used to, but for me No Safe House was a sequel too far.
Thank you to the publisher, via Netgalley, for the advance copy e-book.


A Question of Identity by Susan Hill. Read September 2014.

“How do you catch a killer who doesn’t seem to exist?”
This is the seventh in the Serrailler series and it reminded me why I like this series so much. The recurring characters develop but we also catch up with some others who featured in the previous book. This continuity reinforces reader loyalty and keeps us coming back for more. It might seem an odd thing to say in a crime book review but the crimes, and the investigation of them, appeared more prominent than in other books in the series. This allowed for some very significant events in the recurring characters’ lives to be introduced quite subtly which I enjoyed.
This book is a must for Serrailler fans and will be enjoyed by lovers of well written crime fiction. However as usual I recommend you read the series in order, or the relationships between the characters will be more mysterious than the plot.


The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid. Read September 2014.

A stonking story interwoven with a lesson in modern European history that pulls no punches.
“When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen’s investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a world of intrigue and betrayal, spanning the dark days of the Balkan Wars.”
My overriding feeling on finishing was guilt. The events described took place in Croatia well into my adulthood but at that time I chose not to be aware of the scale of the horror. This novel explains the human suffering in a moving and deeply affecting way with descriptions that will stay with me for a long time.
There’s a lot going on in this book. As well as the flashbacks to the 90s there are investigations into the murder in Edinburgh as well as some civil service types chasing up connections between a series of assassinations internationally. As if that weren’t enough there are some fascinatingly entwined relationships between characters and some almost farcical journeys between Scotland, England and Eastern Europe.
All in all this was an interesting, though occasionally harrowing, read and I’d be happy to recommend it to all crime fiction lovers.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance review copy e-book via Netgalley.


The Betrayal Of Trust by Susan Hill. Read September 2014.

I don’t expect a crime book to make me cry, but cry I did.
“Heavy rain falls on Lafferton, flooding the cathedral town and causing a land slip out on the moors. As the rain water slowly drains away, a shallow grave – and a skeleton – are revealed.”
This is the sixth book in the Serrailler series and as usual the crime takes a back seat while we concentrate on the interaction between characters and the exploration of themes, in this case euthanasia, dementia care and funding cuts.
The cliche ‘I couldn’t put it down’ definitely applies to this book. There are some very moving scenes and the tone is quite depressing throughout but it kept my attention and the author made me care what happened to even the minor characters.
Highly recommended but I think you need to have read the previous books in the series in order to understand the recurring characters and the relationships between them.


Binary Witness by Rosie Claverton. Read September 2014.

This first book in the Amy Lane series kept my attention and kept me guessing throughout.
“Police detectives rely on Amy Lane to track the digital debris of their most elusive criminals—when she’s not in the throes of a panic attack…From the safety of her computer, she looks through the city’s digital eyes to trace the steps of a killer.”
I thoroughly enjoyed Binary Witness and felt as though I’d known the characters for ages because they were so well described. I particularly appreciated that the police officers weren’t portrayed as bungling idiots – they simply acknowledged and made use of Amy’s skills, while getting on with the job.
Amy’s way of working is reminiscent of the investigatory methods of Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme, but whereas we know Rhyme’s back story, Amy’s past is shrouded in secrecy. The author gives us a few pieces of a tantalising jigsaw that will hopefully be revealed in future instalments.
I have just one small complaint (due to my pedantry). There were a few inconsistencies of time/place that spoilt my enjoyment slightly. However that doesn’t stop me recommending Binary Witness as a breath of fresh air in the sometimes predictable world of crime fiction. I’m lucky enough to have an advance copy of the follow up, Code Runner, and look forward to reading it in a few books’ time.


Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards. Read September 2014.

Another gripping psychological thriller from the author of ‘The Magpies’, one of my favourite books of last year.
“When Andrew Sumner meets beautiful, edgy Charlie, he is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end. But as the two of them embark on an intense affair, Andrew wonders if his grasp on reality is slipping…Is Charlie really the girl of his dreams – or the woman of his nightmares?”
I raced through this book in about three sittings, always a sure sign that I’m enjoying my reading.
The story is told by Andrew so we see things entirely from his perspective, but the level of detail is such that I thought I knew what was going on with all the other characters too – ha! Think again!
The author’s skill is in making the mundane menacing. That’s where the psychological effect comes in. If such awful things can happen in the life of this ordinary bloke what about me? I don’t want to touch on any of the plot twists or specific events for fear of spoilers but I recommend this book to psychological thriller fans and anyone who fancies a dark, gripping read.
Thank you to the author for the advance copy e-book to review.