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Reviews

April 2012

Richard Godwin - Mr. Glamour

"Godwin is definitely a new writer to keep your eye on."

Synopsis:
Members of London's glamour set are falling victim to a sadistic killer. One by one they are being picked off. The world of designer labels and expensive restaurants is invaded by a killer who not only mutilates his victims but takes trophies.

DCI Jackson Flare and Inspector Mandy Steele are tasked with investigating the bizarre killings of the rich and glamourous. As the case progresses Flare and Steele are drawn into a world of sexual deviances and seduction. They must race to catch the killer whose body count keeps rising.

Review:
From the very first page of 'Mr. Glamour' I was hooked by Godwin's terse prose, vivid descriptions and engaging plot. Reading further I was drawn so far into the author's world I became fearful for my own life until I remembered that I'm not rich or glamourous!

The damaged leads of Steele and Flare fit perfectly into the storyline and the way that Steele's personal circumstances and sexual proclivities are depicted, enhance the story by showing the balance with the law abiding and the deviant glamour set. The so called glamour set are wonderfully drawn and you are given just enough of a glimpse into their exalted existence to let your imagination run riot.

The plot is very cleverly laid out and right until the end the reader is kept guessing as to the identity of the killer. Twists and turns muddy the waters for us amateur detectives and as the novel progresses red herrings are laid to further confuse matters. As the reveals come, the pace is ramped up steadily yet imperceptibly until the final denouement which left me shocked.

To sum up, 'Mr Glamour' is the second novel from Richard Godwin and I'm now off to buy the first as this one was a brilliant novel filled with sharp insights, strong characters and a wonderfully unique premise. Godwin is definitely a new writer to keep your eye on.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Camilla Lackberg - The Drowning

"I am sure that Lackberg fans will love this book..."

Synopsis:
When Magnus Kjellner, goes missing in the Swedish town of Fjallbacka, the absence of a body perplexes the police. His friend, Christian Thydell, is about to publish his first book entitled 'The Mermaid' but he is reluctant to undertake any publicity nor talk in depth about the book. When Magnus's body is discovered three months later, drowned in a lake, detective Patrick Hedstrom has to unravel the man's life to find the murderer.

Patrick's wife, Erica, is heavily pregnant with twins while her sister Anna is also expecting a baby. Erica, concerned about Christian's inner torments, starts her own investigation into the series of mysterious letters he has been receiving. But Christian refuses to reveal anything about his past and soon it becomes clear that the killing will not stop with Magnus.

Review:
Lackberg is an excellent writer who cleverly infuses her crime stories with interesting domestic detail. Once more, Erica plays a significant part in the narrative, undertaking a parallel investigation alongside her husband's and she has a significant role in bringing the case to its conclusion. The background to the crime is a sad tale and hints at the underbelly of seemingly polite Swedish society. As a crime story it perhaps isn't Lackberg's best but it was certainly interesting, although I'm not sure I was convinced by the explanation of the killings.

The relationship between Erica, her sister and their husbands worked well in this book and develops the dynamics from previous novels. The ending hints at some changes in this family network and leaves the reader feeling unsettled. I am sure that Lackberg fans will love this book and it will also be enjoyed by those new to her work. I'm already looking forward to the next book.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jo Nesbo - Phantom

"As always Nesbo has given us another superb novel to devour!"

Synopsis:
Ex-policeman Harry Hole has returned to Oslo from Hong Kong after several years. He has built a life for himself in Hong Kong and is managing to exist free from alcohol. There is only one thing that will bring him back to Oslo and that is the connection he has with his ex-girlfriend Rachel and her son Oleg. A young addict is found murdered and the police have arrested his companion found at the scene. Harry needs to find out what has really happened.

Not convinced that they have found the true killer, Harry sets out to discover the truth. The police will not officially encourage his search. In fact they discourage him but Harry still has his contacts within and without the police service and he uses every last resort to establish the truth.

What he finds is that there are power struggles within the drug community, less than honest policeman and some very vicious criminals fighting for control. Apparently separate events are linked in a mysterious network in which Oleg is involved.

Review:
Harry Hole has a touch of the James Bond about him as he is all seeing and seemingly indestructible. He survives impossible situations by knowing the probable actions of his enemies. He is a hero to Oleg and has added to the boy's troubled life when he disappears from Norway for several years. In the time since Harry left, Oleg has grown up and found himself some very seedy friends. Harry is more interesting than Bond, however, in that he has one passion in his life and is willing to sacrifice his own happiness for it. He knows himself and his weaknesses; that is his strength.

This book is the stuff of which tragedy is made. There is grand passion, high drama and doomed characters. The tensions and twists in 'Phantom' are as good as the previous novels. The descriptions of extreme violence have been tempered in this book and it is the better for it. The drug scene in Oslo is vividly depicted and the images of the young dealers wearing their Arsenal shirts as they hang around the streets peddling their wares is very chilling, indeed. The ending is, in hindsight, the inevitable result of the build up of events but succeeds at the same time to be surprising and shocking. As always Nesbo has given us another superb novel to devour!

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Donna Leon - Beastly Things

"‘Beastly Things’ is a perfect accompaniment to a hot day and a cool glass of white wine. Superb."

Synopsis:
Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to investigate a dead body found in one of Venice's canals. The body is strangely disfigured and has suffered multiple stab wounds. No-one comes forward to claim the body and there are no identifying details on the body but Brunetti has a feeling that he recognises him from somewhere. When a glimmer of recollection points him in the direction of a demonstration he observed, Brunetti calls in his computer guru, Signorina Ellettra, and she comes up with the identification of vet, Andrea Nava.

Nava had a part time job working for a slaughterhouse, checking the quality of the animals arriving for slaughter. This is the clue that Brunetti needs and he is drawn in to a world of corruption, blackmail and horrific cruelty. At the heart of it all is greed and that is what drives the murderer to commit the crime.

Review:
The latest Brunetti novel from Donna Leon is always a welcome sight. Good storytelling is the basis of the attraction; an attractive cast of characters and an insight into the close knit world of Venetian life are the icing on the cake. In this case Brunetti's family is growing up, but still remains a loving and happy group. His colleagues at work are a mixed bunch, but the star for me is Signorina Elettra - a mysterious paragon who seems to exist only for work and who performs minor miracles of information gathering, about which Brunetti dare not enquire too deeply.

Comments on youth unemployment, the ubiquitous role of family influence and corruption within the political system are woven into the story. The description of the slaughter house itself is enough to make you vegetarian at a stroke! Donna Leon is an excellent and sublime writer. It is no wonder she has such an enormous following of readers (myself included). 'Beastly Things' is a perfect accompaniment to a hot day and a cool glass of white wine. Superb.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Mark Terry - The Valley of Shadows

"...anyone looking for a quick action fix would do well to choose this e-book."

Synopsis:
When a Pakistan based Al Qaeda cell is raided a laptop reveals plans to stage attacks on five of America's major cities. The attacks are to involve biological weapons, dirty bombs and possibly even a nuclear weapon. To make matters worse the attacks are scheduled for Election Day!

Derek Stillwater, the trouble shooter for the Department of Homeland Security, is designated a role in one of the multiagency teams, who only have two days to prevent the attacks. As they close in on their targets, Derek starts to believe that they have been tricked and the attacks are really a smokescreen for another terrorist plot.

Review:
This is the second novel of Mark Terry's I have read and just like it's predecessor, 'The Valley of Shadows' is a balls out high stakes action thriller. The plot is a nice interpretation of a common theme and the fresh perspective elevates the whole story.

Stillwater is a decent lead who carries the story well without breaking any new ground. His insights and disregard for rules are what makes the tale come alive on the page. O'Reilly and Connolly are able partners but it is the evil Kalakar who is the stand out character.

The pace of the novel oscillates between frantic and manic which means the unwitting reader will devour 'The Valley of Shadows' before they know it. The directness of Terry's prose drives the pace of the novel beautifully and anyone looking for a quick action fix would do well to choose this e-book.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Damien Seaman - The Killing of Emma Gross

"From the arresting and blood-chilling beginning to the exciting conclusion, ‘The Killing of Emma Gross’ is an excellent read."

Synopsis:
Düsseldorf, 1 March 1929, the dying days of the Weimar Republic. A prostitute is found dead in a cheap hotel room, brutally murdered. But her death is soon forgotten as the city's police hunt a maniac attacking innocent women and children. A killer the press has dubbed the Düsseldorf Ripper.

Detective Thomas Klein's career is going nowhere until he gets a tip off leading to the Ripper's arrest. But the killer's confession to the hooker's murder is full of holes, and Klein soon comes to believe this is one murder the killer didn't commit. Motivated by spite, ambition, or maybe even a long-buried sense of justice, finding out the real perpetrator: who really killed Emma Gross becomes Klein's obsession. Particularly when the evidence begins to point closer to home…

This novel is based on the true story of notorious serial killer Peter Kürten and the unsolved murder of Düsseldorf prostitute Emma Gross…

Review:
Blasted Heath is a new publisher of crime fiction who plan to release their books in digital format only. Damien Seaman is one of the first authors on their publication schedule and if 'The Killing of Emma Gross' is anything to go by, this is definitely a publisher to watch out for.

This is a book with quality written all over it – and what makes that statement more impressive is that this is Damien Seaman's debut novel. All the elements we look for in a police procedural are there – a fascinating puzzle, a plotline that zips along and prose where not a word is wasted. To add flavour to all of that is an historical setting that is drawn with care. It is clear that Seaman carried out an impressive amount of research and he cleverly avoids the trap of loading the novel with too much detail, meaning the pace is never allowed to slow.

The people we meet in the book are fleshed out and credible, and Klein is a particularly engaging character who carries the story well. His methods are harsh, but what else would you expect in an era when Nazism was rife? The author stitches fiction seamlessly into fact, creating a convincing atmosphere of the era. The style of the book gives a tip of the hat to the noir writings of Chandler et al, but without ever feeling derivative or falling into cliché.

From the arresting and blood-chilling beginning to the exciting conclusion, 'The Killing of Emma Gross' is an excellent read. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Julia Crouch - Every Vow You Break

"‘Every Vow You Break’ is a real page turner..."

Synopsis:
The Wayland family - Lara and Marcus and their three children - leave England to spend a long, hot summer in Trout Island, Upstate New York. Lara, still reeling from an abortion that Marcus insisted on, hopes the summer away from home will give her time to learn to love her husband again. A chance meeting at a party reacquaints the family with Marcus's old actor friend, Stephen, with whom Lara once had an affair. Lara feels herself drawn towards Stephen and they pick up their secret relationship where they left off. Lara knows she's playing a dangerous game; what she doesn't know is that it's also a deadly one.

Review:
'Every Vow You Break' is an enjoyable thriller from Crouch although, as with her previous novel, 'Cuckoo', the main female characters were again lacking in spirit and independence, with the male characters lacking any warmth and charm leaving this reader feeling rather distanced from the whole cast. There was a particularly strange relationship between the twins, Olly and Bella that was never really fully explored or finalised which I found disappointing and almost superfluous to the main plot.

However, these are a few criticisms of the book as on the whole I did enjoy 'Every Vow You Break'. I feel I would find Crouch's books more palatable if the female lead characters were not so gullible and weak, which seems to be a common characteristic for the women in this author's books. Despite my little niggles, what Crouch does well is in creating despicable people who feel they can do whatever they please. 'Every Vow You Break' is a real page turner and will keep you interested, if only to see if the (mainly) vile characters get their comeuppance.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Erica Spindler - Watch Me Die

"...it was worth the wait. "

Synopsis:
After years of pain and turmoil, stained glass restoration expert Mira Gallier is on the verge of having it all - again. But her perfect life, like the magnificent windows blown to bits by Hurricane Katrina, is about to be shattered. Mira wakes in the night to the scent of her dead husband's aftershave; catches a glimpse of him in a crowd; senses his presence; hears his voice. Could Jeffery, swept away by Katrina's flood waters, still be alive? Then people start to be brutally murdered, with connections to the Mary Magdalene window she is working on. As evidence mounts against her, Mira must prove she's neither a murderer nor losing her grip on sanity and escape from a psychopath who will stop at nothing until he possesses her, body and soul.

Review:
Erica Spindler always comes up with a twisted plot that keeps you hooked to the end whilst trying to figure out the murderer within a cast of characters and 'Watch Me Die' will not disappoint. Based around Mira, a Hurricane Katrina survivor dealing with her guilt at continuing to live and her grief for the loss of her husband, the plot twists around the fact that people she's involved with are dying in a way that relates to the window she is restoring of Mary Magdalene.

'Watch Me Die' has a fairly convoluted plot, filled with red herrings and with more than one conspiracy happening the waters are very muddied throughout. Add in a dose of romance and you have a suspenseful thriller that kept me turning the pages. Some of the characters are part of previous books, but you don't have to read these as 'Watch Me Die' stands all on its own. A psychological read that took you through whether the fairytale marriage really was, the mind of a killer and the motivation of people around Mira, I won't spoil the end, but it was worth the wait.

Reviewed by: K.L.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Nick Quantrill - The Late Greats

"The litmus test of any book and its readability is its characters and ‘The Late Greats’ has a strong selection of them."

Synopsis:
Having been convinced by their manager, Kane Major, to put their acrimonious break-up behind them and launch a comeback, New Holland, Hull's most successful band of the 1990s, is reforming, allowing one privileged journalist to document the process.

Joe Geraghty is employed to act as a liaison between the journalist and the band. What appears to be a straightforward assignment sees him neck deep in trouble when singer, Greg Tasker, disappears leaving behind a trail of people who wanted him out of their lives.

Geraghty has to choose sides and the investigation penetrates deeper into the city. As the rich and famous rub shoulders with the poor and vulnerable, the stakes increase. Forced to keep his friends close but his enemies' closer still, the case could see Joe Geraghty lose everything.

Review:
It's not often that the streets of Hull get a mention in fiction, so here to remedy that fact is Nick Quantrill. Not content with getting Hull on the UK noir map, he is also having a go at writing a P.I. novel, which with a few notable exceptions, is a sub-genre that has struggled to make the same impact when situated in the UK as compared to the US - but Quantrill takes a great stride forward in making it credible.

These are not “big” crimes that he highlights in this hugely entertaining novel, but ones that are more of a local variety; crimes that people like George Pelecanos examine – and to be fair, this author, although not quite yet at those lofty heights, by no means pales in comparison. Indeed, it is these crimes happening around us that gives Quantrill's writing such credibility. When they are wrapped in social commentary – without lecturing – and have the feel of happening just out of ear-shot, this lends plausibility and stops the writer from venturing anywhere close to pastiche.

The litmus test of any book and its readability is its characters and 'The Late Greats' has a strong selection of them. Joe Geraghty brings you onside from the get-go and is well supported by an eclectic cast. More than a few male noir writers are accused of writing weak females into their novels, but this is a pitfall that Hull's favourite writer avoids. His females are no ciphers, indeed they have an important part to play in the story and add depth and weight.

Here at Crimesquad.com we try to bring you something different and in 'The Late Greats' we are highlighting a new publisher of noir fiction, Caffeine Nights. This house has a strong stable of writers and is surely benefitting from the vagaries of a market place that means the big publishing houses are missing out on some cracking talent.

'The Late Greats' is a book about friendship and loyalty. It's a book about celebrity and the dangers of the limelight. It's a book that crams lots of things into just a few pages, but more than all of that, it is a damn good read.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Gregg Hurwitz - The Survivor

"Believe me, 'Survivor' is well worth reading."

Synopsis:
Nate Overbay is looking down over the ledge of the eleventh floor of an LA building, readying himself to drop, when he hears gunshots. Pulling himself back to life, he peers through the window and sees a terrifying scene unfolding. Ruthless masked robbers are not taking hostages – they're shooting anyone in their path. As Nate holds the gaze of a dying woman, he makes a decision. Letting his military training kick in, he kills all the gunmen except their leader. But before this man escapes, he tells Nate, 'he will be greatly angered by you.' He is right. Soon Nate is desperately trying to protect his estranged wife and teenage daughter from an enemy who is utterly without remorse and completely determined to destroy anyone who gets in his way.

Review:
Gregg Hurwitz's new book, 'The Survivor' is exactly what you would expect from this author - intelligent writing, characters that immediately grab your attention, complimented by a plot that holds you in a bear hug from the first page. 'The Survivor' deviates slightly from previous Hurwitz novels with past characters reappearing later in the book, but without having too much of a supernatural feel to it.

Nate is the unexpected one here who finds himself in trouble, but with his own medical and personal issues to contend with, the 'will he/wont he' outcome is not so straight forward as with other books and makes for interesting reading. There is also a great deal of emotional depth to this character, and indeed for many of the lead characters, which is unusual for this genre, but it gives a greater understanding for the actions and behaviours behind the characters themselves. The plot sees Nate take on some of the most dangerous men in the criminal world. But whether he or they will succeed - you will have to read the book. Believe me, 'Survivor' is well worth reading.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jeff Lindsay - Double Dexter

"The pace of the novel is frantic from the off..."

Synopsis:
Serial killer Dexter Morgan is for once terrified. The upstanding blood spatter analyst has always managed to hide his darker side from his colleagues in the Miami Police. He is an expert at tracking down truly evil people so he can dispense his own brutal justice. So far he has never encountered that one thing a killer fears above all else – a witness.

To make matters worse a sadistic cop killer is on the prowl and is leaving bodies which are almost unrecognisable. As the police become more fearful of having a psychotic killer targeting them, Dexter realises that his witness has begun to stalk him and is closing in either to expose his dark side or worse, for the kill.

Review:
Once again the macabre minded are in for a real treat from Lindsay. 'Double Dexter' is a delight for the senses as Dexter falls under the threat of a killer inspired by his own actions. The usual suspects are all in place for these novels with ready wit, drama and stunning originality abounding from every page.

It's great to follow the evolution of Dexter and his surrogate family as both Astor and Cody are now displaying dark tendencies. The lead and all his mental foibles are very well drawn in the first person perspective. Surrounding characters such as Doakes and Deborah are expertly penned but Dexter will always reign supreme. The Double is a very cleverly constructed opponent and is suitably twisted as he tries to out-Dexter Dexter.

The pace of the novel is frantic from the off with a few necessary lulls for exposition and the prose is a thing of wonder. Whether voicing Dexter's dark thoughts, or laying down a scene the author is always in control of the reader's attention.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Maureen Jennings - Except the Dying

"...a strong debut for William Murdoch..."

Synopsis:
Toronto, 1895. A harsh February night and the body of a young woman is found naked and frozen in a quiet lane. Stripped of all that she owned it is up to Acting Detective William Murdoch to find out who the poor girl was and how she came to be found in such a state. Soon he discovers that she was asphyxiated and dumped and that the girl was with child. Through the papers Murdoch is approached by Dr. Cyril Rhodes who claims the girl, Therese Laporte, was a servant in his house and had disappeared the same night she was found. So who has her clothes and what was she doing running away from a supposedly reputable house late at night? What was Therese frightened of so much that she had to leave in such a hurry on such a cold and vicious night?

As Murdoch goes about his slow and time consuming investigation he has to dodge the many lies from a couple of prostitutes who are out for what they can get and a household that harbours too many lies that it can only be a matter of time before the truth starts oozing out.

Review:
I am about to make a confession – despite this series being on the TV and now on its fifth season – I have never seen any of the TV show. I am imagining that is a good thing as it means I came to the books without any preconceptions. To give Jennings her due – I was very quickly transported to 1895 as the author was very adept at setting the time and place rapidly and with authority. I think it has been a very long time since I have felt so cold whilst reading a book. Jennings brought the piercing cold of Toronto when residences didn't have our now beloved central heating and not everyone could stoke a huge fire in their room night after night. The poverty of some of the characters is cringing and Jennings brings home how folk down on their luck have to suffer such harsh winters.

For me the characters that Jennings draws and their daily efforts to survive were of far more interest to me than the actual investigation. The doxies, Alice and Ettie were sublime and the Foy's were excruciatingly bewitching. The conclusion to this investigation seemed a little hurried to me and one thing that really did rankle was the change of the girl's name which was Therese, then half-way became Theresa, then back to Therese, then Theresa and finally back to Therese. I thought this had something to do with the plot, but it didn't. A little proof reading I am sure would have ironed that out. Besides that one little niggle I thought it was a strong debut for William Murdoch and one that has piqued my interest in this series. So I will be reading Jennings' other novels whilst righting a wrong and investigating a little matter of buying some box sets of Murdoch Mysteries. Toronto, 1895 – here I come!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Charles Cumming - A Foreign Country

"...it focuses on the day to day events that could and do happen..."

Synopsis:
Six months before she is due to take up her position as the first female head of MI6, Amelia Levene vanishes without a trace. Former MI6 officer Thomas Kell is called out of retirement and ordered to find her. With only days before the story leaks to the press, Kell must make his way to France and begin to piece together Levene's final movements. Was she kidnapped? Or could Britain's most senior spy have defected?

Kell's investigation takes him to North Africa where he discovers an extraordinary secret buried deep in Levene's past. It is a secret which will come back to haunt her – and one which could make Kell pay with his life.

Review:
I will admit to not having previously read any of Charles Cumming's books and it has been a while since a spy novel came my way. However, I always like some current politics and learning about the way our security services work, and this book won't disappoint in that regard.

Whilst I enjoyed it, I felt it did not build up to a true climax and the pace stayed steady throughout, telling the story and leading you through the sequence of events. There were no surprises or moments of baited breath, but it was definitely well written and led me through how different security services work, with an insight into the resources available and the people involved.

'A Foreign Country' is not a fast paced, action packed novel, but slithers along insidiously, like a Cobra - quietly waiting to strike. 'A Foreign Country' is enjoyable as it focuses on the day to day events that could and do happen rather than the extreme scenarios that lead to dramatic endings.

Reviewed by: K.L.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Alex Connor - A Legacy of Blood

"Connor doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to different methods of murder..."

Synopsis:
For the seven passengers on board, the flight back to London was supposed to be a shortcut. However their return from an art auction turns into one of the most dangerous journeys they will ever make.

A slip of the tongue reveals the existence of a priceless painting and exposes a conspiracy dating back to the sixteenth century. All of the passengers on the plane are caught up in a race to locate the painting themselves. However within a day of their return, three people have been silenced. Someone knows the devastating consequences of the painting coming to light and is trying to capture the painting for their own agenda.

Review:
This is a barn-stormer of a book from page one. There are art experts, high class hookers, amateur detectives and a malevolent madam all vying for supremacy along with mysterious underworld figures. The pace is nicely judged between dramatic set pieces and necessary explanations. Alex Connor is a connoisseur and her exacting prose is a delight to the appreciative eye. She can say so much about emotions and interplay between characters with a few well chosen words.

The lead characters are all beautifully created although I thought Sir Oliver was the best as his battle was the hardest to fight. Charlene Fleet and Liza were other standouts although the lead character of Victor had an air of 'drawn by numbers' in comparison to the other main characters. Connor doesn't pull any punches when it comes to different methods of murder and some were worthy of a late night lynch mob such was their brutality. Yet they fitted the story and ramped up the tension far better than any traditional kills ever could.

All in all I found Legacy of Blood to be an intriguing crime thriller with enough blood, gore and detection to satisfy any fan of this genre.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Col Bury - Manchester 6

"The first story was my favourite of the collection although there is little between any of the tales in this magnificently strong debut."

Synopsis:
Manchester 6 focuses on the best and worst of human nature, personified in the gritty urban setting of Manchester, UK. Whether it's the paranoid, spliff-sucking writer who has an online spat, or an ex-soldier hunting a notorious gang, there's conflict galore. Meanwhile, hell hath no fury, like a window cleaner ripped-off of his Christmas tips, and a heroic family man faces Al Qaeda and the decision of his life. When you add to the mix the luckiest gambler in town having a ball, coked up in a lap-dancing club, and an eccentric ice cream van owner who pushes 'friendship' beyond the limit, you know something's got to give, and, boy, does it!

Review:
Col Bury is a name to watch for the future. Not only is he the crime editor of a very well respected ezine he has had stories included in such august publications as 'The Mammoth Book of British Crime'. If this was a print book then he'd have been rightly championed for the prestigious Fresh Blood position.

Manchester 6 is a slice of life seen through the eyes of generally decent people who have come up against the lower echelons of society. The first story was my favourite of the collection although there is little between any of the tales in this magnificently strong debut. Bury shows boldness by tackling different styles of writing which encompass humour, paranoia, action thrillers and urban discontent.

Throughout 'Manchester 6' Bury puts a gritty voice to each situation which had me thinking of Louis Armstrong after he'd had a dozen cigars and some particularly cheap hooch. The prose is exacting in its neatness and nary a word is wasted. Remember you heard his name first on Crimesquad.com because Col Bury is going places.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Conor Fitzgerald - The Fatal Touch

"Conor Fitzgerald is an author who I’ll be reading more of in the future."

Synopsis:
When a body is discovered in Piazza De' Renzi in the early hours of a Saturday morning, Commissioner Alec Blume is immediately suspicious as to why a senior Carabiniere officer is taking an interest in the case.

When the dead man's notebook style diaries are uncovered, they tell of a life forging paintings and deceiving people as to their provenance. This prompts Blume to dig deeper and he is blocked from all sides as he tries to get to the truth of the matter.

Review:
After less than a page of reading I was hooked by the marvellously descriptive prose which drew me in and offered me a Frappacino by the Trevi fountain. There is a sense of place about this novel and such was the feel for Rome, I was constantly thinking of comparisons with David Hewson's books. Let me say for the record though, that all comparisons were favourable.

Blume is a good old fashioned kind of copper who is teamed up with Caterina and a number of others who are generally incompetent fools. He is the kind of man who is always aware of what is right and wrong. This means he knows when he is crossing a line. The Colonel is a fantastic addition and in turn he reminded me of many of the characters who featured in Alistair MacLean novels so perhaps I've spotted the author paying a little homage to such a literary icon.

The plot is layered with multiple facets and is drawn out with a steady stream of reveals which draw in the reader and gently accelerate the pace like a luxurious car on cruise control. Dialogue is a particular strength of Fitzgerald's and one line in particular impressed me greatly. Conor Fitzgerald is an author who I'll be reading more of in the future. If you like your crimes solved in sunnier climes then you should read him too.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jo Nesbo - Headhunters

"Roger is reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith’s wonderfully smooth and sinister creation, Tom Ripley..."

Synopsis:
Roger Brown is a headhunter: he finds just the right candidate for the top jobs and has an impressive track record of success. He has a beautiful wife who apparently panders to his every whim, although desperate to have a child. This is not a convenient time for Roger, so he stalls on this front. He is very wealthy and prepared to increase his assets by some very dubious means.
At this point in his life he meets up with another successful business man who is the ideal candidate for his latest client's job. He is also an art lover with a painting which catches Roger's eye.

The plot proceeds with Roger aiming to increase his wealth by a prodigious amount and his prey proving to be not such a simple victim as Roger first imagined.

Review:
This is not a Harry Hole investigation. The hero of this book has very few qualities to redeem himself and is completely selfish and amoral. Roger is reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith's wonderfully smooth and sinister creation, Tom Ripley in that you admire the cleverness and resilience of the man whilst despising him as a person.

Whilst hating Roger and his apparent success, and slightly recoiling from the violence and rawness of the writing, I must admit there were passages which made me laugh out loud, albeit in a slightly embarrassed way. I enjoyed his chagrin when the loves of his life bite back. As with Ripley, he bounces back at the end. To be perfectly honest I am not sure about this book. I felt the writing was not as mature as the Harry Hole novels and suspect that 'Headhunters' came before his best-selling series, but if you have become a fan of Nesbo then I would certainly recommend it.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating: