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Reviews

September 2010

Matt Hilton - Cut and Run

"Action is paramount yet the plot and twists which are thrown up are worthy of any seasoned crime writer."

Synopsis:
Joe Hunter is sometimes called a vigilante. Now another man has stolen his identity and committed a vicious double murder. Driven by revenge, Luke Rickard is killing Hunter's old colleagues and starts to target those that Hunter holds dearest.

In a duel that sees Hunter and Rickard lock horns in Miami, the squalid barrios of Columbia and a drug lord's mountain hideaway. Hunter is forced to face his past to survive the present.

Review:
From start to finish Cut and Run gripped me like a vice on steroids.

The action is of the usual frantic pace that is commonplace in all of Hilton's books. Never are you allowed time to draw your next breath before you are hurtled into the next action passage. Each set piece scene is carefully crafted and utterly believable due to the precise prose of an author who is growing in stature with every paragraph.

Cut and Run is Hilton's fourth and best novel to date. While he has only been on bookshelves since May 2009 he is fast becoming a staple of the crime thriller action genre.

Hunter is his usual oxymoron self – filled with murderous intent towards Rickard – yet kind and noble to innocent victims and those affected by his and Rickard's actions. Jared “Rink” Rington and Harvey Lucas make a formidable team to back Hunter and Rickard is a marvellously malignant killer.

Reading the Joe Hunter novels always takes me away to the world inhabited by such characters as Jack Reacher, Ben Hope and Shane “Scarecrow” Schofield. Action is paramount yet the plot and twists which are thrown up are worthy of any seasoned crime writer.

20 years ago messers Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis would have been fighting each other to star in a Joe Hunter film and it is surely only a matter of time before Hollywood producers are knocking at Matt Hilton's door armed with a forked tongue and a fat cheque.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Tana French - Faithful Place

"Action, interaction and reaction are all so finely tuned and nuanced that you can’t help but be fascinated by the drama of these flawed peoples’ lives."

Synopsis:
The course of Frank Mackey's life was set by one defining moment when he was nineteen. The moment his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, failed to turn up for their rendezvous in Faithful Place and failed to run away with him to London as they had planned. Frank never heard from her again.

Twenty years on, Frank is still in Dublin, working as an undercover cop. He's cut all ties with his dysfunctional family. Until his sister calls to say that Rosie's suitcase has been found. Frank embarks on a journey into his past that demands he re-evaluate everything he believes to be true.

Review:
Fans of Tana French will know that Frank Mackey is a character who featured in both of her previous novels, albeit in a minor role. Here, in Faithful Place, he takes centre stage. I was delighted to see this because in The Likeness and In The Woods he was a wonderfully enigmatic figure that I felt demanded an outing of his own.

Also, by using the viewpoints of different characters each time she is cleverly sticking with the serial while allowing herself a fresh approach each time. Frank is a more straight forward kind of narrator and Tana gets to display her versatility by changing her prose style to suit.

And what a narrator. The reader can't help but be gripped by Frank and his journey. As the blurb tells you, Frank Mackey disappeared from his family and we quickly learn why. Frank is actually not the most sympathetic of characters. His family are beautifully drawn, they put the sin into dysfunctional and a chill in your heart.

This is a book about family; about that feeling of belonging despite your overwhelming sense of disappointment; about belonging no matter how troubled your time with the people who surround you is. Many authors would have struggled with this but Tana French is a master of characterisation. Action, interaction and reaction are all so finely tuned and nuanced that you can't help but be fascinated by the drama of these flawed peoples' lives.

From sentence one Faithful Place is a pleasure to read; it is atmospheric, insightful and poignant and fully deserving of any plaudits surely about to come its way.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Chris Carter - The Executioner

"...don’t pick this up unless you have a whole day to read it as you will not be able to stop until you have finished it!"

Synopsis:
Inside a Los Angeles church, on the altar steps, lies the blood-soaked, decapitated body of a priest. Carefully positioned, legs stretched out, arms crossed over the chest, the most horrifying thing of all is that the priest's head has been replaced by that of a dog. Later, the forensic team discover that, on the victim's chest, the figure 3 has been scrawled in blood.

At first, Detective Robert Hunter believes that this is a ritualistic killing. But as more bodies surface, he is forced to reassess. All the victims died in the way they feared the most. Their worst nightmares have literally come true. But how could the killer have known? And what links these apparently random victims?

Hunter finds himself on the trail of an elusive and sadistic killer, somone who apparently has the power to read his victims' minds. Someone who can sense what scares his victims the most. Someone who will stop at nothing to achieve his twisted aim.

Review:
Carter follows on from The Crucifix Killer with The Executioner, and this book is every bit as gruesome and gripping as his debut novel. As with his first book, the story opens in the midst of a horrific crime, which will ensnare the reader from page one. And the tension builds right up until the final page.

Hunter and Garcia are still working together and building their partnership, and slowly we learn more about these two main characters. Each of the characters that are introduced throughout the book have a purpose for being there and every action is fully explained with no questions left unanswered by the end.

I was a little unsure about the 'psychic' element Carter used, but somehow it seemed to work. I am unsure as to where the ideas for the murders and plots come from as they really are horrific beyond belief but do make a fantastic read.

My only word of caution is don't pick this up unless you have a whole day to read it as you will not be able to stop until you have finished it!

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Karin Slaughter - Broken

"Broken was a good read..."

Synopsis:
When the body of a young woman is discovered deep by the icy waters of Lake Grant a note left under a rock by the shore points to suicide. But within minutes, it becomes clear that this is no suicide. It is a brutal, cold blooded murder.

All too soon former Grant County medical examiner Sara Linton, home for Thanksgiving after a long absence, finds herself unwittingly drawn into the case. The chief suspect is desperate to see her but when she arrives at the local police station she is met with a horrifying sight - he lies dead in his cell, the words 'not me' scrawled across the walls.

Something about his confession doesn't add up and, deeply suspicious of Lena Adams, the detective in charge, Sara immediately calls in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Shortly afterwards Special Agent Will Trent is brought in from his vacation to investigate. But he is confronted with a wall of silence. Grant County is a close-knit community with loyalties and ties that run deep. And the only person that can tell the truth about what happened is dead.

Review:
I find Slaughter to be a brilliant author who can deliver thrilling plots and create great characters. So I am completely baffled why she continues to bring back Sara Linton who serves, in my eyes, little purpose and brings no value to any of the books. Will Trent is a much more interesting and complex character with more depth and scope and I feel would be better served to concentrate more on him and leave Sara in the past.

I did find it rather ironic, and in fact the only line in the book that made me smile (although I do not think it was meant to be humourous), was Sara's comment on another character describing her a 'a little whiney'.

Broken focuses on the fued between Sara and Lena and I found it hard to find any empathy for Sara, regardless of whether she was in the right, as I find her character so annoying. Lena Adams is a cop who carries out her duties close to the line and again not the easiest of people to like, but in comparison with Sara Linton gunning for her, regardless of what she has done, you cannot help but hope that she will get away with everything - which ends up somewhat detracting from the story.

Broken was a good read but with a slightly disappointing motive, and I think could have managed without the presence of Sara and her patronising manner. There were a few surprising twists and this book shows how far people will go to try and protect their family and those they love.

I am hoping that Slaughter's next book will be based more around Will Trent as this is where she truly excels.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Mark Billingham - From The Dead

"Billingham delivers in spades..."

Synopsis:
Alan Langford was murdered 10 years previously. His wife Donna was jailed for conspiracy to murder for her part in organising his death. Langford's remains had been found in a burnt out car in the heart of the woods.

Days before she is released a photograph is sent anonymously to her. The picture shows her supposedly dead husband, alive and well. The private investigator she hired upon her release from prison is out of her depth and knows it, so she takes the case to Tom Thorne - the original investigating officer of Langford's murder. To make matters even worse her daughter Ellie has gone missing from her adoptive parents home.

Thorne has demons of his own to battle, and is soon drawn into a case where everything is different than first appearances would have you believe. His investigation has him travelling away from his usual London beat and into the bleak heart of darkness.

Review:
Whenever you pick up a book by an author as accomplished and lauded as Mark Billingham you expect a cracking good read and yet again Billingham delivers in spades. The aftermath of Thorne's loss in Bloodline is hanging over his relationship with Louise, his Chief Super Trevor Jesmond is as odious as ever and he is starting to doubt whether he should remain on the force when he is presented with a case which if he solves it will only prove he made mistakes 10 years ago.

The prose is typically 'Billinghamesque', there are wonderfully descriptive passages, tight plot explanations, irreverent thoughts portrayed and some laugh-out-loud moments to lift the gloom. As the plot unfurls you are drawn ever deeper into Thorne's world and the style of Billingham's writing perfectly matches the pace of the novel. He controls emotions in a way that is akin almost to an orchestral conductor. When he wants you to like someone, you do. When he wants you to dislike or suspect someone – you do; and you have little choice in the matter, such is his ingenious skill of subtly influencing the reader.

The plot is carefully planned and you have to pay attention as none of the characters are ever what they seem. As the novel progresses the body count rises and From the Dead ends in a final stand-off easily as good, if not better than any of the other set pieces we have been treated to by Billingham in previous novels.

Thorne is even more troubled than usual as he seeks to overcome the events in Bloodline, causing his despair to make him doubt himself even more than usual. Hendricks, however, is on hand to help him, yet he cannot help a problem that Thorne himself does not give face to. All of the other characters are drawn in the expert way that we have come to know and love and Thorne makes new friends and re-discovers faces from the past.

Once I had read the first couple of pages of From the Dead, Tom Thorne and Mark Billingham conspired to kidnap me and I was only released when I turned the last page.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Linwood Barclay - Never Look Away

"...a masterful plot..."

Synopsis:
A warm summer Saturday. An amusement park. David Harwood is glad to be spending some quality time with his wife, Jan, and their four-year-old son. But what begins as a pleasant family outing turns into a nightmare after an inexplicable disappearance. A frantic search only leads to an even more shocking and harrowing turn of events.

Until this terrifying moment, David Harwood is just a small-town reporter in need of a break. His paper, the Promise Falls Standard, is struggling to survive. Then he gets a lead that just might be the answer to his prayers: a potential scandal involving a controversial development project for the outskirts of this picturesque upstate New York town. It's a hot-button issue that will surely sell papers and help reverse the Standard's fortunes, but strangely, David's editors keep shooting it down.

Why?

That's a question no longer at the top of David's list. Now the only thing he cares about is restoring his family. Desperate for any clue, David dives into his own investigation - and into a web of lies and deceit. For with every new piece of evidence he uncovers, David finds more questions and moves ever closer to a shattering truth.

Review:
Lindwood Barlcay's Never Look Away had a mix of Harlan Coben ingenuity and Scott Smith's futility of a Simple Plan about it.

Harwood's life is turned upside down when his wife goes missing and he becomes the prime suspect. He soon finds out that his wife is not the person he first thought she was and to prove his innocence he needs to not only find her, but find out who she really is - and find out if she is still alive. But Harwood is not the only person looking for his wife. And as the book progesses although there is less and less to like about Jan Harwood, the wife, you cannot help but feel an element of sympathy towards her whilst also hoping she will still get her comeuppance.

I found this latest novel of Barclay's to be far superior and more of the standard I had come to expect from this author than that of his previous book. Never Look Away has a masterful plot and is very cleverly written. A good mix of characters that have avoided being type cast which has made it even more enjoyable. Barclay at his best.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Tony Black - Long Time Dead

"...a dark, personal journey with convincingly raw emotions and a protagonist who is digging beyond rock bottom. "

Synopsis:
Gus Dury is back on the drink. Big time. While in hospital after a hit-and-run accident, his best friend, Hod, asks him to investigate the ritual, on-campus hanging of an Edinburgh University student. The official verdict is death by erotic asphyxiation but the victim's mother, a high-profile actress is not buying it and she has promised a large reward.

Gus is desperate for money so he goes undercover at the university, taking a janitor's job, and soon uncovers a similar ritualistic hanging which took place in the 70s. Few of the students are prepared to talk about it - until another one of their group turns up dead by the same method. But Gus now moves into very dangerous waters as he begins to discover what and who is really behind it all - and he becomes the next target for the executioner.

Review:
This is the fourth outing for Gus Dury and you'd think after the events that rolled out in outing 3 (Loss) that Gus would be getting a break. Let me disabuse you of that notion because in Long Time Dead, Gus gets an even harder time.

Alcohol abuse is a standard in crime fiction for a number of reasons, but Tony Black gives it a depth and a veracity that makes it rise above cliché. This time Gus is not just troubled by his drinking, he is on a rapid decline to the morgue. All of which, of course, hampers him in his investigations.
Dury is his usual highly focused, determined self and displaying a delicious cynicism at 21st century life that had me cheering, the plot rips along at a fair lick and the secondary characters are a delightfully hard bunch of individuals.

Be warned though, if you are looking for some light reading Long Time Dead is not it. What it is though is a dark, personal journey with convincingly raw emotions and a protagonist who is digging beyond rock bottom.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Simon Lelic - Rupture

"...a searing read that you cannot and should not miss."

Synopsis:
One morning a school assembly is taking place - a normal everyday occurrence. What isn't normal is when one of the teachers walks into the school hall with a gun and starts to shoot at some of the occupants, lastly turning the gun on himself. What made a nervous teacher who found it difficult to blend in with his colleagues and students do something like this? It is up to Lucia May to decipher what was going through the mind of Samuel Szajkowski to make him kill - apparently at random. Where there certain people he was targeting? Did he kill all the people he blamed or were some spared?

As Lucia May delves deeper and scratches away the surface she finds a regime of old school politics and systematic bullying that leaves the police officer angry and ultimately powerless.

Review:
Rupture is a highly emotive and devastating novel told through eye witness accounts and statements of the different people involved. Through the words of the people who were close to Szajkowski and those who held him with distain, their differing views unveil to the reader the incidents that lead up to Samuel's breakdown and ultimate act of vengeance.

I literally could not put Rupture down – it held me in its thrall. Reading the accounts of Samuel's colleagues and pupils and the parents of the dead, Lelic takes us down a dark path. Despite the opposite views of some of the interviewees, Lelic shows us a man who is socially inept and who reacts like a trapped animal - lashing out. Lelic peels back the tortures of bullying like the layers of an onion, showing an underbelly that is heinous and uncomfortable. Rupture is a searing read that you cannot and should not miss.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Maureen Duffy - The Orpheus Trail

"The relationship between Alex Kish and Inspector Hildreth is well developed..."

Synopsis:
When a treasure trove of Saxon gold is found in Essex, Alex Kish the curator of the local museum persuades the authorities to allow him to display some of the key finds. However, when an amulet disappears from the collection, Alex's is threatened with dismissal.

Meanwhile, a child has been found dead amongst the ruins of a pier that has been set alight. The scattered toys surrounding the body strikes a chord with an expert in ancient Greece who suggests a possible link with the Greek god Dionysus. As other young boys begin to turn up dead in the area, the officer in charge of the case, Detective Inspector Hildreth, calls on Alex to unravel the symbolism and motive behind the killings. Are the killings the work of a local crank or is there a link to an ancient cult?

However, as the murders begin to encroach on Alex's professional and personal life he finds himself under suspicion by the authorities and his life under threat.

Review:
The plot of this book couldn't have been written at a more opportune moment. The discovery of the Saxon hoard at the opening of the narrative is strongly reminiscent of the recent findings of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver in the West Midlands. Fortunately in real life the discovery was not followed by a series of child killings. In this novel by writer and poet Maureen Duffy the child killings are a disturbing aspect of the plot, principally because there are so many of them. However, Duffy interweaves the macabre killings with the progress of Alex Kish's personal life as he starts a new relationship following his wife's death. This allows the narrative to move from darkness to domesticity and provides a good structure to the plot.

The relationship between Alex Kish and Inspector Hildreth is well developed and is particularly well written around the trip they take across the channel. The interplay between them has plenty of potential and I look forward to it being explored in future novels.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Tania Carver - The Creeper

"...similar to Mo Hayder"

Synopsis:
Suzanne Perry is having a vivid nightmare. Someone is in her bedroom, touching her, and she can't move a muscle. She wakes, relieved to put the nightmare behind her, but when she opens the curtains, she sees a polaroid stuck to the window. A photo of herself sleeping, taken during the night. And underneath the words: 'I'm watching over you'. Her nightmare isn't over. In fact, it's just beginning.

Detective Inspector Phil Brennan of the Major Incident Squad has a killer to hunt. A killer who stalks young women, insinuates himself into their lives and ultimately tortures and murders them in the most shocking way possible. But the more Phil investigates, the more he delves into the twisted psychology of his quarry, Phil realises that it isn't just a serial killer he's hunting but something - or someone - infinitely more calculating and horrific. And much closer to home than he realised.

Review:
The Creeper is Carver's second novel, although it is the first one I have read and I found her writing style and plot build very similar to Mo Hayder.

Whilst I did enjoy this book, there was an element I found slightly flawed and I think this was down to one of the characters being a little over the top and too unbelievable which is a pity as it did spoil which was otherwise an excellent novel.

There are quite a few references to situations and characters from the first novel and I felt that I would have better understood the characters and their actions had I have read the books in order so would recommend perhaps any reader doing this. That said, Carver does explain, albeit briefly, about the previous cases and characters.

DI Brennan is an easy character to like, despite his obvious flaws and even though he has a turbulent private life I did not find that this distracted me from the main thread of the book.

A good introduction to Carver and definitely an author I will return to.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Andrew Grant - Die Twice

"Trevellyan is a man you would definitely want on your side..."

Synopsis:
Obliged to leave New York City in the aftermath of his previous mission, David Trevellyan is summoned to the British Consulate in Chicago. To the same office where, just a week before, his new handler was attacked and shot by a Royal Navy Intelligence operative gone bad.

Assigned the task of finding the rogue agent, and putting an end to his treacherous scheme, Trevellyan soon finds that once again his only hope of saving countless innocence lives lies not within the system, but in his instinctive believe - you're bound to do what's right, whatever the personal cost may be.

Review:
Never being a great fan of the spy/espionage genre, I am unsure as to why I find these books by Grant so appealing. I am assuming it is down to his man character, David Trevellayan. Trevellyan is a man you would definitely want on your side, a person who, whatever the situation, can always find a solution that works for him and can always get himself out of trouble, be it by words or just brute force.

With most books and characters I like to have background, know what makes people tick and why they do what they do. For Trevellyan, the air of mystery surrounding him and the odd reference to his life enhances his character. For him to be fully explained and broken down I think would spoil him.

I thoroughly enjoy the odd reference to previous exercises or jobs that he uses when trying to make a point, some of which are humourous but all of which are relevant.

The only negative I found in Die Twice was that I thought the plot was a little transparent and predictable.

But I am only too pleased that Trevellayan is undefeatable and invincible as I am already looking forward to his next assignment.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Scott G. Mariani - Uprising

"Alex Bishop is a vampire agent with attitude..."

Synopsis:
DI Joel Solomon and Vampire Intelligence Agency operative, Alex Bishop unite to thwart the uprising led by ancient vampire Gabriel Stone. Solomon has a family history with vampires which is the reason behind his union with Agent Alex Bishop.

The World Vampire Federations was formed in the late 20th Century to control and oversee the activities of the vampire community. They developed chemicals to allow vampires to act as humans and walk freely in sunlight, feed on victims leaving them “unturned” and to kill each other. Bishop is one of the enforcers of these laws and is drawn into battle against traditionalists who want to return to the old vampire ways and forsake the Vampire Federation and its rules.

Review:
Mariani joins the ranks of the vampire writers in what is to be the first of a series and what a start he gives us. From the off there is murder and mayhem, blood spilled, blood drunk and a nice neat decapitation to end the killing spree. The book moves quickly around Britain and then Europe with a suitably bloody conclusion.

Not having read any of the other vampire novels cramming bookshelves at the moment I was unsure as to what this book would be like. I needn't have feared as Mariani has served up a tale as unique as black pudding. The vampires are amoral, unfeeling and yet totally bewitching. The technologies are simple yet effective and just right for the plot.

Alex Bishop is a vampire agent with attitude and she fills the role of go it alone and to hell with the rule book renegade magnificently. Solomon is her human equivalent and he fights hard from his corner before teaming up with Alex to take on Gabriel Stone. Each are perfectly drawn and a particular high note of the authors tight text is the way he makes the Vampire Federation characters like Alex seem likeable.

Vampire books are not exactly my cup of tea but in Mariani's hands this book is a damn good read. A fast paced do-or-die novel from the same stable as his Ben Hope thrillers.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Alex Kava - Black Friday

"...a great read..."

Synopsis:
On the busiest shopping day of the year a number of idealistic students are about to carry out an eleborate media stunt which they believe will cause chaos at the checkouts. But the plan has gone terribly awry and instead, their backpacks are stuffed with explosives and poeple lie dead in the country's biggest mall.

A white collar group called Citizens of American Pride is accused of the massacre but insist it was the work of rogue members. Caught up in a political nightmare, battling a new interim director and mourning the death of her boss, A D Cunningham, FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell must put her troubles aside to find out who is behind the attack.

Along with security expert Nick Morelli, Maggie follows the trail for answers until an anonymous tip revelas one of the students is her own brother, Patrick. Afraid and on the run, Patrick has to decide whether he can trust Maggie enough to help her unravel this horrifying nightmare.

Review:
After reading the synopsis of Black Friday I was a little concerned that Kava had jumped on the bandwagon of authors writing about terrorists. However, despite this book being about a terrorist attack, it did not have any religious or real political connotations to it which to me made it more enjoyable.

With some facts thrown into the novel and with history being unable to be rewritten, I did feel that Black Friday was left slightly open ended and I still had some questions that I would have like answered. I personally would have preferre no reference to previous events as Kava was then unable to fully explain motives etc.

That said, it was still a great read that I was unable to put down.
The lead character who - like the rest of us - has her faults and problems which is why it is so easy to empathise with her.

A well-written book which I am hoping will be followed up so some of the loose ends can be tied up.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Juan Gomez-Jurado - Contract with God

"A powerful novel..."

Synopsis:
This is the second book to feature Father Anthony Fowler who is a CIA operative and a member of the Holy Alliance which is the Vatican's own secret service.

Fowler recovers a secret scroll from a war criminal known as the 'Butcher of Speigelgrund'. The scroll contains part of a treasure map and was hidden inside a candle which was plated with gold filigree and originally the candle was stolen by the 'Butcher' from one of his victims...

Reclusive billionaire, Raymond Kayn, funds a treasure hunt in the Jordanian desert looking for a religious artefact which holds immense power. Father Fowler is joined on the expedition by journalist Andrea Otero, the mysterious Doc Harel, a team of biblical archaeologists, a team of mercenary bodyguards and - of course - the billionaire and his right-hand-man, Jacob Russell.

Before long the expedition is thrown into disarray with attacks from an unknown group as well as sabotage and murder from within the team.

Review:
A powerful novel that depicts the tale of various forces battling each other, both figuratively as well as metaphorically. There are twists throughout the book as new factions emerge or allegiances change - as well as some character traits and ideals that surprise the reader.

The action is based across 3 continents and 2 timelines which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read which transports you back and forth (and back again) as you travel with the story. At no time does the novel become obsessed with its own cleverness and is well researched and shows signs of a lot of careful planning.

It is excellently paced with strong central characters and well written set pieces. The characters and their individual traits are portrayed beautifully using sincerity, brevity or humour as the situation dictates. Father Fowler and Angel Otero as the lead characters are marvellous, but others such as Kayn, Dekker, Harel and Torres are utterly believable.

I have not read the first book featuring Father Fowler (God's Spy) but I shall be looking out for it along with any others that may follow, such was my enjoyment of this novel.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Kathryn Fox - Blood Born

"Clever stuff."

Synopsis:
Two sisters were attacked in their own home.

Only one of them survived. And now she must revisit hell if justice is to be served.

Forensic pathologist, Dr. Anya Crichton, is incensed over the brutal crime and she will do everything in her power to see that the three men responsible are punished severely. But the suspects, the Harbourn brothers, are part of a fanatically devoted family of criminals who are expert at sidestepping the law. And suddenly, people connected with the investigation and prosecution are turning up dead.

In the face of an impending legal travesty Anya cannot let fear distract her. But it may be harder to remain calm in light of the nightmare the Harbourns' attorney unearths beneath the floorboards of his own house.

Review:
Dr Anya Crichton, forensic pathologist, is trying to stop a brutal family raping and killing any more girls. The Harbourds are a family who have no fear of the law - and their crimes prove this.

I found the emotions of the victims to be very realistic and the majority of the characters to be both interesting and believable with the exception of one stereotypical lawyer. And it is Crichton that I struggle to connect with. She seems to be too 'nice' and lacking in any spirit. Sadly, she leaves me cold. I would much prefer this character if she was a little more maverick.

The plot in Blood Born is well though out and what I enjoyed is the fact that all sub-plots running through the book were in some way linked to the main story. Clever stuff.

I do feel this book has lost some of the impetus of former novels but it is nonetheless an easy and enjoyable read.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Patrick Woodhead - The Forbidden Temple

"...takes the reader up a great height and dares them to look down... "

Synopsis:
While climbing in the Himalayas, Luca Matthews and Bill Taylor glimpse a mysterious pyramid-shaped mountain. Upon their return to the UK Matthews persuades his worn out friend to return to the Himalayas so that they can be the first to scale the hidden peak.

As they set out on their quest to locate the Pyramid Mountain, their course unknowingly leads them into the heart of a conflict between Chinese Secret Police and Tibetan monks who are striving to protect the last great secret Tibetan monastery.

Matthews and Taylor encounter crooked border officials, plagued villages, devout monks and murderous soldiers as they battle everything that man and nature can throw at them in their ascent of the Pyramid Mountain.

Review:
Woodhead takes the reader up a great height and dares them to look down...

The action comes along at a steady pace and never gives you a chance to rest. The atmosphere is perfectly emoted with a fine eye for detail, yet Woodhead's best descriptions seem to be saved for the landscapes, vistas and climbers emotions that he himself has experienced as an explorer. His greatest skill is in placing the reader in the situation so that, at times, you almost shiver, as his script tells of chill winds blowing down a mountainside.

The characters are all well drawn with the mysterious Shara playing an excellent part in the proceedings. The lead character of Luca Matthews and Bill Taylor are the strongest elements of the cast list. Having read the short biography on the author at the start of the book you can see a lot of elements in these two men that are possibly autobiographical. There is, of course, a sadistic villain for the protagonists to face and he is suitably evil, even though he is a caricature of many other villains in a similar role. The monks of the monastery all add to story although in many different ways.

The only negative I would have about The Forbidden Temple is that the prose seems a little forced at times and conditions appear to change in minutes as one moment it is warm and then the next, there is deep snow to wade through.

To sum up The Forbidden Temple I would have to say that it is a great read if you want something light and easy going to give you a few thrills. If you like Dan Brown, Clive Cussler and their contemparies, then you will thoroughly enjoy The Forbidden Temple.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating: