Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley.   Read May 2018.

A fast-paced police procedural with the most original main character I’ve come across in years.

“How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror?
Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.
As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder.
But it’s a killer he will never remember.
The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant, he feels progressively isolated.
Can he escape with his career and his life intact?”

For a long time I’ve been fascinated by a team of people employed by the Metropolitan Police as “Super Recognisers”. They have the ability to recognise any face they have seen before even from the smallest detail or feature. Ray Patrick’s accident has left him right at the other end of the spectrum, suffering from prosopagnosia or face blindness. His struggles with the condition that makes doing his job virtually impossible form the background to an exciting crime thriller that kept my attention throughout.

In creating the character of Ray the author has shown the skills previously exhibited in the excellent DI Hannah Robbins series – showing the human side of the various police officers involved in the story. As a veteran crime fiction fan my favourite authors are the ones who know how to do this and how to make me care at least as much about the characters as the plot and the outcome of the story. 

Another thing that shone through in Dead Blind was how much effort the author has put into research. Always a reliable expert regarding police procedures, ex-police officer Rebecca Bradley has tapped into other sources this time, adding to the authenticity for the reader.

I highly recommend Dead Blind to all crime fiction fans. Thank you to the author for the early reader copy.

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Fighting Monsters by Rebecca Bradley. Read February 2018.

A fast paced police procedural that will keep you guessing.

“24 hours after he walked away from court a free man, cop killer and gang leader Simon Talbot is found murdered…For DI Hannah Robbins, it’s a race against time to find Talbot’s killer…But as Hannah delves deeper into the past, she begins to question the integrity of the whole operation.
Where do you turn when you can’t trust the police?”

I’m a big crime fiction series fan, much preferring to follow a group of characters through many stories rather than investing in them only to say goodbye after one book. I remember when I read the first Hannah Robbins book, Shallow Waters, I hoped this would be a long running series character. I’m happy to say that with this third instalment the author has brilliantly developed not only the main character but the supporting cast too. It was good to meet some familiar members of the team again as well as a couple of new characters to spice up the mix.

As usual Rebecca Bradley’s insider knowledge of police procedures adds authenticity to the plot and descriptions. Instead of being distracted from the story by thoughts of “they wouldn’t do that!”, I knew I could pick up this book and enjoy a clever, detailed and realistic plot. Things got very twisty, which is just how I like my crime fiction. No details for fear of spoilers.

Highly recommended for fans of police procedurals but I urge you to read the earlier books in the series first.

Turn A Blind Eye by Vicky Newham. Read January 2018.

To be published April 2018:

This debut novel drew me into a world I’ve never been part of and made me feel as if I’d lived there for years.

“A dead girl. A wall of silence. DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:

I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.

Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim.”

On the face of it this book is a London based police procedural and it certainly ranks among the best of those I’ve read. But what sets Turn A Blind Eye apart is the diverse and rich cast of characters, led by Maya Rahman. In the aftermath of her own family tragedy Maya has to head up a murder investigation team up against a clever and elusive killer. In her partnership with DS Maguire I see potential for a long running series.

The author has managed one of my favourite things – creating characters who seem so real that I ended up caring more about them than the actual crimes they were investigating. Having said that a balance between character and plot was skilfully achieved and even minor characters in the story felt real and believable. I did guess the killer early on but it was only a guess and by no means obvious. By the time of the reveal I had enjoyed a satisfying read, wallowing in the author’s addictive style of writing.

I recommend this book to all crime fiction fans and if you don’t usually like procedurals give this one a go – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance copy to review.

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes. Read August 2017.

The third instalment in a series that keeps getting better and better.

“Ella Williams is ten years old…She’s just been abducted by a killer – someone who kidnaps young girls, holds them for a few weeks then returns their bodies…The crimes are clearly linked to notorious child murderer Louis Kinsella, locked away in a high-security hospital…To save Ella’s life, psychologist Alice Quentin must form a relationship with Kinsella. But he is slow to give up his secrets, and all the while, time is running out…”

This book has been on my to-be-read pile for a long time and now I’ve read it I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. It was a treat to be reunited with psychologist Alice Quentin and the other recurring characters in the series. As for the new cast of characters introduced for this story, well there were some truly fascinating individuals.

The crimes at the centre of the main plot – the abduction and murder of young girls – are the stuff of nightmares and yet the author manages to alternate the horror of their predicament with moments that develop Alice’s personality more than in the first two books.

The pace of the action is spot on and the cleverly plotted mystery surrounding the identity of the killer kept me guessing until the end.

Highly recommended and could be read as a standalone, though as always I strongly suggest starting the series at the beginning and reading in order . In this case: Crossbones Yard and A Killing of Angels.

One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley. Read July 2017.

The third in the Claire Boyle series and the best yet.

“How could your good friend become your worst enemy?

Being held hostage at gunpoint by her childhood friend is not Dr Heather Gilmore’s idea of a good day at work. It only gets worse when she hears that her nineteen-year-old daughter Leah has been kidnapped.

Sergeant Claire Boyle wasn’t expecting to get caught up in a hostage situation during a doctor’s appointment. When it becomes apparent that the kidnapping is somehow linked to the hostage-taker, a woman called Eileen Delaney, she is put in charge of finding the missing girl.

What happened between Eileen and Heather to make Eileen so determined to ruin her old friend? Claire Boyle must dig up the secrets from their pasts to find out – and quickly, because Leah is still missing, and time is running out to save her.”

This story gripped me right from the start. I was looking forward to catching up with Claire Boyle and the other recurring characters in this series, but I didn’t expect to be dropped into the middle of such a nail-biting, life threatening situation. Alongside this the author skilfully weaves the back story of Heather and Eileen until a sense of foreboding builds up and leads to a shocking conclusion.

The character development, especially Claire’s family situation, is as enthralling as the main plot – this is not your average police procedural. I would recommend reading the previous two books in the series, Can Anybody Help Me? and Are You Watching Me?, before this book, though it could definitely be read as a standalone.

Highly recommended for crime thriller fans looking for a fast-paced read.

My copy was a competition prize from @ShazsBookBlog – thanks, Sharon.

Death’s Silent Judgment by Anne Coates. Read June 2017.

The exciting sequel to Dancers In The Wind.

“Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed…With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder…But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger…”

I was looking forward to catching up with Hannah Weybridge and this story didn’t disappoint. The pace of the plot left me breathless at times and there was danger lurking at every turn of the page.

Hannah’s circle is a small cast of characters but this gives the author the chance to develop them all, hopefully into several more books in this series.

This book could be read as a standalone as there are several references to past events to explain the back story, but personally I would suggest reading Dancers In The Wind first – if you read them the other way round, the references in Death’s Silent Judgment will be spoilers. I hope that makes sense!

Highly recommended, especially for crime thriller fans who like their protagonist to be someone other than a police officer.

My copy was bought from Amazon Kindle Store.

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry. Read May 2017.

To be published 29 June.

A thought provoking story that left me with a couple of unanswered questions – but so beautifully written I really didn’t mind.

“Three girls. One good. One bad. One dead.”

The main message I’ll take away from this book is a reminder of how easily lives can be wrecked in the blink of an eye. The accident that overshadows the whole story was horrific and its repercussions changed the course of everyone’s lives.

The cast of characters the author has created is remarkable. Families coping with impossible situations, described with sensitivity, stoicism and even some dark humour. Kitty, in particular, is a character I will remember for a very long time. 

This isn’t a comfortable read but it is compelling and fascinating. I recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers who enjoy a twisty plot and believable characters.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the proof copy to review.

 

 An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth. Read May 2017.

To be published 29 June 2017.

A cleverly plotted tale with disturbing themes that reflect stories of historical abuse that have hit the headlines in recent years.

“Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?”

Prepare to be immersed in a story full of secrets and lies, scandal and cover-up. And be warned that things are most definitely not what they seem.

The characters are so real l felt, after finishing the book, that I wanted to keep in touch with some of them. The author drew me into their world – an uncomfortable place – but also made it impossible to turn away from the horrifying story that was unfolding. My sympathies jumped from one person to another, an effect achieved by switching narrator and timeframe.

This third novel is the author’s best yet and I recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers who enjoy having to think about what’s going on rather than having the action served up on a plate.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the proof copy to review.