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Reviews

August 2015

Ed. by Martin Edwards - Resorting to Murder

"...a lovely little box of confection to dip in and out while you put your feet up and relax."

Synopsis:
Going on holiday can be as stressful as moving house and having financial worries. As shown in this collection of short stories – going on holiday can literally be murder! Fourteen stories from some of the greatest names in the crime fiction genre, notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and G.K. Chesterton are collected alongside other names from that era who have since fallen out of fashion – and out of print. Destinations range from Switzerland to France to the English seaside. All show that although the resort may look idyllic, murder is never lurking far away.

Review:
I always enjoy reading something crime-orientated from the Golden era. Back then they were written purely for entertainment value. I find the 'oldies' embody a simpler age when life seemed much more relaxed and not fraught with technology. However, some stories do not wear well with time and with all things antique, some have worn better than others. As with any chocolate box, some flavours are more preferable to others. There are some wonderful delights here and Edwards' collection has introduced me to writers I had a) never heard of before and b) will be searching for more of their work. In particular I would point readers to the stories by Leo Bruce (who I had heard of but have never read), Anthony Berkeley (who wrote 'Malice Aforethought', but is less well-known under his own name) and the great find for me was Phyllis Bentley. 'Where is Mr. Manetot?' doesn't sound the most intriguing title, but with an assured hand Bentley delivers a lovely little twist at the end of her tale. The other find is Gerald Findler's, 'The House of Screams' which is a wonderful chilling mystery with a remote house, screams in the night and a proverbial skeleton in the cupboard! Unfortunately, this appears to be all the man published which is a great shame. This is a wicked little collection, a lovely little box of confection to dip in and out while you put your feet up and relax.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Mark Campbell - The Pocket Essential Agatha Christie

"This gorgeous little book makes for fascinating reading..."

Synopsis:
Since her debut in 1920 with 'The Mysterious Affair at Styles', Agatha Christie rapidly became a household name. Over time fans rushed to read her latest novel and for many years she dominated the market with her 'Christie at Christmas' book which was always in the bestseller lists. Even now, forty years after her death in 1976, the enthusiasm for this writer's books has not diminished. In fact, her readership seems to be growing. To celebrate the 125th Anniversary of her birth, this new updated re-issue is a fine catalogue of Christie's huge body of work.

Review:
This is a new updated re-issue of Christie's collection which includes her plays, films and every television episode of Poirot and Marple, each accompanied by a full cast list. I suspect the incomparable Miss Lemon would greatly approve of Campbell's filing system. Each section has been separated by detective (or in the case of her standalone's as thriller/mystery), rather than by year - there is also a list of Christie's books in chronological order at the front. What I do love about it is Campbell gives us a short biography of each detective, (Poirot, Marple and the Beresfords), but he also includes those supporting characters like Hastings, Ariadne Oliver, Sir Henry Clithering and of course, Marple's favoured nephew, Raymond West.

Campbell critiques all of Christie's titles, some of which you will agree and some you won't. Christie said one of her favourite titles was 'The Moving Finger'. I have read it three times now and it still leaves me cold. Marple doesn't even come in to it until sixty pages towards the end! Campbell gives this one a five while giving 'A Murder is Announced' only four, which for me personally is the best of the Marple books. So, you can see everyone will have a difference of opinion, but in the main I agreed with Campbell's scoring. I have been a life-long fan and even I didn't realise just how much Christie had produced. This gorgeous little book makes for fascinating reading and will keep any Christie fan quiet for a good few hours!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Tim Weaver - What Remains

"...Weaver’s plot had more twist and turns than the Amazon River. "

Synopsis:
In 2009 Colm Healy was in charge of a case where a mother and her twin daughters were ruthlessly murdered in their council estate flat. It had been a dark and damp place, the mother a recovered drug addict who had turned her life around for her daughters and had become an exceptional parent despite the odds. So why were they killed in such an aggressive manner? Why were they chosen? Healy kneels between the two beds of the two dead girls and promises them he will find their killer. It is a promise he is not able to keep.

Six years later Healy has been kicked out of the Met, is estranged from his family, homeless and a drunk. Could Healy sink any lower? Although they were never firm friends, David Raker gets a desperate call from Healy one cold January day asking for help. Putting him up in a hotel, Raker gives Healy some money, shelter and the chance to redeem himself. But Healy cannot begin to re-build his life until he finds out who killed that family back in 2009, the case that broke him and began his fall from grace. He asks Raker for his help in finally solving the killings, but when family issues take Raker away from the investigation, Healy is aggrieved and the two fallout and the brief friendship ends. Until the following October when events happen that shine a new light on this cold case.

Review:
Weaver is not known for writing slim books, and this new adventure for Raker comes in at a meaty 500 plus pages. However, the story pulled me in and I was mesmerised as the pages flew past. Although the story could be classed as a bit far-fetched by some, it was intriguing enough to compel me to carry on until the end.

Weaver is an extremely good writer who obviously enjoys giving lots of detail. This didn't bother me but I did feel at times the author repeating himself about certain aspects of the case. There were also a couple of times I felt Weaver had lost his rhythm and was in peril of wandering too far from the main thrust of the plot. This should have been tightened up with a proper edit. Aside from those comments, this was good Weaver fare insofar that nothing is simple, nothing is as it seems and Weaver's plot had more twist and turns than the Amazon River. 'What Remains' has a great puzzle at its heart and one that kept me enthralled for the entire journey.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jason Starr - Hard Feelings

"‘Hard Feelings’ is a dark book with detestable characters – and I loved it!"

Synopsis:
Things aren't going so well for Richie Segal. His prospects at the job are pretty miserable and, what's more humiliating, his wife's prospects at her job are pretty good. Richie knows he's a good salesman, but he just can't seem to land an account. And he's starting to drink again and worry about whether Paula's seeing that old high school flame or maybe someone new. It's a little early at thirty-four to have a mid-life crisis, but that's pretty much what it feels like. And there're those unwelcome memories of the neighbourhood bully, Michael Rudnick and what he did to Richie when he was thirteen. Richie Segal's feeling, well, abused.

Review:
Richie Segal is like many of Starr's characters - deluded, arrogant, full of self-pity and hard to like. But unlike some of the previous novels, Starr gives a reason for Segal's behaviour which gives credence to his actions. Starr always manages to bring out the worst in his characters. I have yet to meet a character that isn't fatally flawed or have some major personality defect. Starr definitely doesn't write books for the reader to empathise with people he is writing about. And for me, that is what makes Starr's books all the more intriguing and enticing.

From the start it is easy to see what is going to happen and where the plot is going to go. Yet it is compulsive reading seeing the consequences of Richie's decisions and how he tries to dig himself out of trouble, knowing full well that things are going to get a whole lot worse. It does feel strange wanting this vile character to get caught but at the same time get away with the crime – and that is the power and magic of Starr's writing. He makes you rout for the bad guy. 'Hard Feelings' is a dark book with detestable characters – and I loved it!

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Karen Perry - Only We Know

"...Karen Perry can produce a novel with cracking prose."

Synopsis:
Kenya 1982: It has been a turbulent time for the group, ending up with their driver and guide coming back to camp the morning of their departure, drunk. Sally stays behind with the children Luke, Nick and Katie while her husband, Ken and friend, Helen head off in search of someone to take their driver's place. The children are happy to go down to the lake one last time before their departure. The day is hot and it has been a highly emotional time for Sally and intent on packing up their belongings, sleep overtakes her. It is the screaming that wakes Sally and as she swiftly races to the lake, the sight that will meet her eyes will have a long-term effect on her and all the family.

Dublin 2013: Some memories simply won't be buried. Luke is an entrepreneur who is currently causing a storm on the television. His brother, Nick is recently married and living in Nairobi and Katie, who was also on that fated holiday in Kenya with her mother, Helen, is now a journalist. After that day in 1982, their once close relationship became fractured. Parcels and letters are received from an unknown source and the past comes rampaging in to the present with terrible consequences. Then Luke goes missing.

Review:
It is always difficult to write a follow-up novel when your debut has been such a resounding critical and commercial success. Having felt 'The Boy That Never Was' refreshing and new, I couldn't shake off the feeling that the scenario in 'Only We Know' felt all too familiar. It may just been me but 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' kept intruding whenever Kenya was mentioned. Maybe it was due to the vast wasteland. Plot wise, I had an inkling early on as to what was going to transpire, and by a majority I was right.

What does carry this novel and made me read to the end is the level of the writing. The narrative is shared between Nick and Katie, although I have to confess I would have preferred more of Katie than Nick who I found irritating and needy. Katie on the other hand was someone with depth, a feisty journalist who also had her moments when lack of confidence would set in. As I said, the denouement did stretch the imagination slightly which did let down the excellent prose. In summary, not as strong as their debut (which if you haven't read yet, then do not delay!), but this book still shows how the team Karen Perry can produce a novel with cracking prose.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Howard Linskey - No Name Lane

"If Howard Linskey isn’t one of your ‘must read’ authors, then you’re missing out."

Synopsis:
The hunt for a serial killer unearths an unsolved cold case from over sixty years ago.

Young girls are being abducted and murdered in the North-East. Out of favour Detective Constable Ian Bradshaw struggles to find any leads and fears that the only thing this investigation will unravel is himself.

Journalist Tom Carney is suspended by his London tabloid and returns to his home village in County Durham. Helen Norton is the reporter who replaced Tom on the local newspaper. Together, they are drawn into a case that will change their lives forever.

When a body is found, it's not the latest victim but a decades-old corpse. Secrets buried for years are waiting to be found, while in the present-day an unstoppable killer continues to evade justice.

Review:
'No Name Lane' is the first in a new series from Linskey and if this novel is anything to go by, it promises to be an absolute winner. Packed with exquisitely drawn characters and a sublime plot, 'No Name Lane' is a wonderful story excellently told.

Although Ian Bradshaw is a fine creation, for me, the standout character was Tom Carney. One scene he had with Helen Norton was depicted so beautifully I groaned aloud when it ended. All the supporting cast were well drawn with my preference here being the victim whose early life was shown as flashbacks from another character. Knowing the author is a former journalist makes it easy to see why he's so good at writing about them.

The plotting is top notch throughout as different plot threads and timelines interweaved. I'll freely admit I didn't manage to work out who the killer was until the author told me. If Howard Linskey isn't one of your 'must read' authors, then you're missing out.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jason Starr - Cold Caller

"He (Starr) is one of my great finds in recent years."

Synopsis:
Bill is unhappy with his job, unhappy with his boss, his girlfriend, unhappy with life. He feels that he deserves better, and will do anything to get what he deserves.

Once a rising VP at a topflight ad agency, Bill Moss now works as a 'cold caller' at a telemarketing firm in the Times Square area. He's got a bad case of the urban blues, and when a pink slip rather than a promotion comes through, Bill snaps… Now he's got a dead supervisor on his hands and problems no career counsellor can help him with.

Review:
'Cold Caller' is Starr's debut novel, and although first appearing in 1997, I have only just read this book. I have been a fan of Starr's recent books and decided to go read his back catalogue which has been brought back with stunning covers by No Exit Press. Starr has kept with his dark, unlikeable characters that for some reason have me rooting for them, but at the same time make me hope they get their comeuppance.

Having killed his boss, Bill's story continues with him having to cover his tracks. But the more tracks he covers, the more things get out of control. Bill's once easy life has now become a nightmare. Like so many of Starr's characters, Bill is lacking in any compassion, empathy or conscience. He is self-absorbed, and someone who leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. Starr's writing is such that you cannot stop reading as Bill digs a deeper and deeper grave for himself. Justice was almost sweet at the end. If you haven't tried Starr yet, I thoroughly recommend him. He is one of my great finds in recent years.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sara Paretsky - Brush Back

"Here is the mistress of the dark crime novel at her searing best."

Synopsis:
V I Warshawski grew up in South Chicago where the vast steel mills dominated the landscape and society. When an old boyfriend from those days appears, asking for help with his mother's claim that she has been wrongly imprisoned for the violent murder of her daughter, V I is reluctant to get involved. Her memories of Stella Guzzo's violent and aggressive character do not incline her to take her on as a client. However, feelings of loyalty and some guilt at having escaped from the run-down areas of her youth persuade her to start looking at the claim.

When Warshawski probes deeper into the murder of Annie Guzzo, various anomalies start to jump out at her and in true Warshawski style, she jumps in where others fear to tread, including the police. Stella's accusations against V I's cousin, Boom- Boom only increase V I's desire to find the truth. Corruption, nepotism, fear all play their part in the historical cover up and Warshawski continues to bounce back from beatings and crashes to track down the bad guys. Lotty and Max ,Mr Contreras and the dogs, live on to provide support and care, even a bit of physical back up on occasion.

Review:
Sara Paretsky's fast paced stories of V I Warshawski excel on many different levels. Her heroine is feisty, principled and on the side of the underdog. She has a built in antagonism to people who have achieved wealth and power by exploiting the poor and underprivileged, but a genuine rapport with those who struggle to make the best of what they have: all this with a dry sardonic wit.

Paretsky's mastery of the feisty backchat and aggressive language of the streets is superb. Admiration for Warshawski's quick riposte is part of her charm for me. The split between Warshawski's disdain for the jumped up ostentatious wealth of the new rich and her genuine appreciation of the finer things of life - Max's old Persian rugs and statues, and Kenji Aroyawa's art -underlines Warshawski's character. Genuine talent and beauty is the thing.

Her descriptions of run down Chicago and the particularly foul places where she is attacked are so vivid they leap off the page. Social commentary on the neglect of both the land and the people of these areas is cutting.

I have recently re-read some of the early V I novels and it is interesting to see how much things have changed in her life. Technology has certainly made things easier for her, as information is a touch of a screen away. But some things remain the same: her character, fights against convention and the support of her admittedly aging friends continue to delight. Here is the mistress of the dark crime novel at her searing best.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Graeme Cameron - Normal

"...a very welcome and frightening addition to the British crime fiction scene."

Synopsis:
He lives in your area, in a nice house with a tidy garden. He shops in your local supermarket, bumping trolleys, apologising with a smile. He drives beside you, waving to let you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don't know is that he has an elaborate cage built in a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he's carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he is holding there against her will - one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it has been for a long time. It is normal - and it works. Perfectly.

But then he meets someone, a nice ordinary girl who he could imagine settled down with. The only problem is, he still has someone trapped in his garage and the police have become unnaturally interested in him.

Review:
'Normal' is the debut novel by Graeme Cameron and if this is anything to go by he is going to be a very welcome and frightening addition to the British crime fiction scene. There is nothing normal about this cleverly created thriller. It's chilling in its simplicity yet with a complicated central character.

What makes 'Normal' a success is the lack of information of the killer. We never even find out his name. This allows the reader to make up their own mind about what he looks like; his height, age, shape, hair colour etc. When watching a film about aliens it is always more frightening and real until you see the unrealistic alien. Cameron has tapped into this concept by simply refusing to identify his killer. He can be the man living next door to you or the one who sells you your morning newspaper. It's more chilling if you don't know the killer.

Written in a first person narrative from the point of view of the killer we witness at first hand his violent deeds which are richly described by Cameron with shocking accuracy.

Having a serial killer as a central character doesn't give you much to warm to, but as the story progresses we see him start to mellow as he meets Rachel and begins to fall in love. The scenes between these two are beautifully written and the dialogue is funny and natural.

As the killer's feelings grow he loses interest in the girl he has locked up in his basement and their relationship takes a dramatic and bizarre turn leading to a wonderfully gripping, fast-paced finale.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

William Shaw - The Book of Scars

"The ending is possibly the rawest piece of writing I have encountered for a long while..."

Synopsis:
In the final pages of the second book, 'A House of Knives', Detective Cathal Breen's collar bone was shattered by a bullet, and now, we find him recuperating in the Devon farm owned by Helen Tozer's parents.

Tozer has retired from the force, and she is haunted still by the unsolved murder of her 16-year-old sister, Alexandra on the family farm five year's previously. Her body had been mutilated in a very precise manner - a manner which had never been made public. Also on the farm is a young hippy called Hibou, who seems to have taken Alexandra's place in the family, much to Helen's dismay. Having time on his hands, Breen takes an interest in the case, and things start happening. The original investigating officer, Milkwood, goes missing, and so does Helen Tozer herself. Then a body turns up, mutilated in almost the same way as Alexandra.

He returns to London to continue his unofficial investigations, and soon discovers a connection to the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in the 1950s. When he returns to Devon, Breen himself finds that he may become another victim of the murderer.

Review:
This is the final book in the Breen and Tozer trilogy, this time set in 1969. As in 'A House of Knives', William Shaw puts paid to the 'peace, love and harmony' reputation of 1960's Britain. According to this book, and previous books, it was a brutal, crime-ridden decade. Shaw doesn't hold back here - the brutality is spelled out, as are the atrocities carried out in Kenya in the name of British colonialism.

The writing is open and emotional, though in places it could have done with some further editing. Breen is a sympathetic character, always trying to do the right thing at a time when police detectives were not averse to bending the rules to get a conviction. Tozer is not so sympathetically drawn, and seems to concentrate on parading her own suffering at the death of her sister at the expense of the hurt others feel.

The ending is possibly the rawest piece of writing I have encountered for a long while, which is not a criticism. It is honest and it is true, and seems to be the inevitable result of what has previously happened in the book.

Reviewed by: J.G.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Arnaldur Indridason - Oblivion

"...‘Oblivion’ is another hugely impressive addition to this great series."

Synopsis:
THE QUICK: a woman swims in a remote, milky-blue lagoon. Steam rises from the water and as it clears, a body is revealed in the ghostly light.

THE DEAD: miles away, a vast aircraft hangar rises behind the perimeter of the US military base. A sickening thud is heard as a man's body falls from a high platform.

THE FORGOTTEN: many years before, a schoolgirl went missing. The world has forgotten her, but Erlendur has not.

THE SEARCHER: Erlendur Sviensson is a newly promoted detective with a battered body, a rogue CIS operative and America's troublesome presence in Iceland to contend with. In his spare time he investigates a cold case. He is only starting out but he is already up to his neck.

Review:
Following on from 'Reykjavik Nights' and Indridason's return to Erlendur's early days on the force, 'Oblivion' (also known as Camp Knox) sees our protagonist recently promoted to detective and trying to solve the mystery of the body in the Blue Lagoon. Capturing once more his obsession with the lost, Erlendur is also searching for the truth behind what happened to Dagbjort, a young girl who disappeared on her way to school one morning, amid rumours of meeting a boy at the local slum, the ex-military base Camp Knox.

The mystery of Dagbjort, is a sad tale as Erlendur uncovers the missing parts of her story, missing simply because the people who held the key believed themselves insignificant, and that their interactions were unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and so not worth telling anyone until they were asked. At the same time his latest case has strong links to the nearby American military base, which creates its own set of problems when it comes to investigating what happened to the man from the lagoon. Set in a time more innocent, but where the acceptance of the American military presence in Iceland was one of quiet intolerance, 'Oblivion' once more showcases Indridason's skills at storytelling and in making Iceland its own character within the story, this time one more fully fledged than in any Erlendur novel before it.

'Oblivion' also demonstrates one of the best things about the Reykjavik Series of books. Each contains a great sense of the ambiguity of real life, not just discreetly within the day to day, but also in the blindingly obvious, from the ending of 'Strange Shores' to the appearance of the mysterious Marion Briem in 'Oblivion'. Marion, whilst a character often mentioned in passing, and occasionally appearing, as an old colleague in the previous novels, Marion is a true enigma, as within the books there is deliberately no reference the his/her gender throughout any of the novels.

Full of untold stories, betrayal, black market deals, and military conspiracies, 'Oblivion' is another hugely impressive addition to this great series.

Reviewed by: J.P.

CrimeSquad Rating:

S.G. MacLean - The Seeker

"...the intricate plotting involving the political and family rivalries is superb..."

Synopsis:
1654, a year in which Oliver Cromwell, as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, sits in London feared and respected by many, yet always alert to the possibility of treason. Damian Seeker, a man with a hidden past, is one of Cromwell's spies and fixers. He appears an incorruptible and unsympathetic man, yet he has his secrets.

The new coffee houses are the places to find all the latest news as well as to hatch plot and counter plot. When one of Cromwell's loyal officers, John Winter, is murdered, suspicion falls on one Elias Ellingworth who is found with the body and holding a knife. Conveniently he is also a thorn in the side of the establishment, as he writes inflammatory pamphlets against the ruling elite.
Seeker is being pressurised by the powers of state to prosecute Ellingworth but true to his character he will not do so until he is convinced of the rightness of the case.

Several other characters had cause not to love Winter not least his wife, and Seeker pursues his investigation with vigour and wily subterfuge. The ending satisfactorily ties up the mystery whilst leaving us with the desire to know more about the slippery Damian Seeker.

Review:
I loved MacLean's series on Alexander Seaton, and this pays homage to that hero as he enters London on a mission to avenge his erstwhile mentor, Montrose.

But it is Damian Seeker who is the subject of this book and his character and history are slowly revealed as the book goes on. A powerful man feared by many for the knowledge he has of what is going on he will I think, become an intriguing hero to follow.

I liked the time frame in this book. There are many books about the Tudors, and also of the Stuarts, but I have not read many about Cromwell and this proved a fount of information about the ruler and his family. I learnt much. I did not know that the family loved Hampton Court although I have visited it many times. Cromwell's journey from Fenland farmer to Lord Protector is fascinating and this gives an insight into the domestic arrangements that would not be in every commentary on the period. Above all, the intricate plotting involving the political and family rivalries is superb and a must-read for all those who love their crime steeped in History.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Robert Thorogood - A Meditation on Murder

"...a classic locked door mystery that reads like an Agatha Christie."

Synopsis:
Aslan Kennedy has an idyllic life: leader of a spiritual retreat for wealthy holidaymakers on one of the Caribbean's most unspoilt islands, Saint-Marie. Until he is murdered, that is.

The case seems open and shut: when Aslan was killed he was inside a locked room with only five other people, one of whom has already confessed to the murder.

Detective Inspector Richard Poole is hot, bothered and fed up with talking to witnesses who'd rather discuss his 'aura' than their whereabouts at the time of the murder. He also knows that the facts of the case don't quite stack up. In fact, he is convinced that the person who has just confessed to the murder is the one person who couldn't have done it. Determined to track down the real killer, DI Poole is soon on the trail and no stone will be left unturned.

Review:
There is a current trend for novelisations of popular crime drama TV series. I have a confession to make. I have not seen 'Death in Paradise' and I did wonder if I was the right person to review this book. However, it doesn't matter if you've never seen the very popular BBC drama as this book is so well-written that previous knowledge of the TV series is not needed. I didn't feel as if I was joining a series mid-way through not knowing what was going on at all.

Written by series creator, Robert Thorogood, this could easily have been a cheap tie-in with a sloppy plot whilst the author assumed we would all know the setting and characters, but Thorogood has respected his audience. The characters are well-rounded and detailed and he has provided a meaty story that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

'A Meditation on Murder' is a classic locked door mystery that reads like an Agatha Christie. I have no doubt Thorogood is heavily influence by the queen of crime and if the TV drama is anything like this first novel I am a convert and will definitely tune in next time it's on. I hope there are more novels to come. Thorogood could be Christie reincarnated.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Chris Carter - I Am Death

"...Carter manages to deliver a strong lead and plot with an unexpected ending."

Synopsis:
Seven days after being abducted, the body of a twenty year old woman is found on a green patch of grass by the Los Angeles International Airport. She has been left with her limbs stretched out and spread apart, placing her in a five point human star.

The autopsy reveals she has been tortured and murdered in a most bizarre way, but the surprises don't end there. This killer likes to play, and he left a note lodged inside his victim's throat.

Detective Robert Hunter who leads LAPD's Special Section, Ultra Violet Unit, is assigned to the case. But almost immediately a second body turns up. Hunter knows he has to be quick. Surrounded by new challenges as every day passes, Detective Hunter finds himself chasing a monster. A predator whose past hides a terrible secret, whose desire to hurt people and thirst for murder can never be quenched - for he is DEATH.

Review:
Hunter is back with his partner, Garcia searching for a serial killer who appears to have no pattern, except that he likes to inflict a great deal of pain; the killings are unimaginably horrific. Yet again, Carter manages to deliver a strong lead and plot with an unexpected ending. Carter continues to build on his characters, whilst keeping the plot the main attraction of the book.

Written from the perspectives of Hunter, the killer, and also an abducted child, 'I Am Death' kept me interested and I wanted to know what happened to each character. Hunter, a child prodigy, and a detective with an unequalled skill of solving violent crimes, is tasked with leading the case of the killer who calls himself Death: killer who shows no mercy or remorse and Squirm, an eleven year old boy who has been abducted by the killer.

'I Am Death' offers no clues for the reader to guess who the killer is, yet once revealed at the end I didn't feel cheated or let down. The plot raced from start to finish and I zoomed through this book once I had started it. It was cleverly written, leading this reader to where the author wanted me to be. 'I Am Death' keeps Carter at his best and will be a hit with all fans of his, new and old. This is one not to be missed, and not one for the faint-hearted. A brilliant read.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Clare Carson - Orkney Twilight

"The plotting is clever and keeps up the suspense to the end."

Synopsis:
Sam is a feisty eighteen year-old on the brink of going up to Oxford. She has decidedly anti-war views and has even frequented Greenham Common peace camp and indulged in some illegal trespass on to the American base there. Her mother is a busy academic but her father is an enigma. He tells the family he is an undercover cop and this means him being away for long periods of time but Sam is not sure.

When he asks her and a friend to accompany on a holiday in Orkney she agrees, but decides to see if her father's secrecy has another woman at its root. True to form Jim does have various secretive and puzzling trips across the island but it is not clear whether a woman is the main focus of them. Underlying the whole book is Jim's interest in Norse mythology- he even holds a longstanding wish to complete an Open University degree on the subject.

Throughout, there is an atmosphere of menace as all is definitely not as it seems on the surface and Sam feels that even she is being watched. On return to London the feeling of doom increases and Sam has to call on her reserves of strength and her memories of her past to tease out the truth.

Review:
This is an unusual book with an unusual heroine. Clare Carson has a rare insight into the world of the undercover cop as her father was one. Not many people can say that and also write convincingly about what that means. Jim is an enigmatic character who seems to be on the side of the good guys but you are never completely sure. The plotting is clever and keeps up the suspense to the end. The pace is fast and the style reflects the character of Sam: slick and funny in places.

I did enjoy 'Orkney Twilight' and suspect that there might be a follow up with Sam in a role not dissimilar to her father's. I hope so as I would like to see where Carson takes this series. Very enjoyable.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Rosamund Lupton - The Quality of Silence

"...a beautifully written tale of determination and strength in the face of adversity..."

Synopsis:
On the 24th November, Yasmin and her deaf daughter, Ruby arrive in Alaska. Yasmin is met not by her husband Matt, but by a young policewoman. She is given her husband's wedding band, and told that he has died in a fire that wiped out the small village of Anaktu, where he was staying, 500 miles to the North.

Within hours they are driving alone across a frozen wilderness, where nothing grows, where no one lives, where tears freeze and night will last for another fifty-four days. They are looking for Ruby's father, travelling deeper into a silent land, they still cannot find him, and someone is watching them within the darkness.

Review:
'The Quality of Silence' is a tightly written, intense and emotion rollercoaster of a read. The characters feel so real you just want to set out in the dark yourself to help them reach their goal. With great skill, Lupton draws you deeply into its pages as the story unfolds through the eyes of both Yasmin and ten year-old Ruby. It is a beautifully written tale of determination and strength in the face of adversity, of a mother finding a new closer connection to her young daughter, and a renewed belief in the strength of her love for her husband. This is as savage a read as the snowbound landscape of Lupton's novel and as dark as the pitch black night she so eloquently describes. I was mesmerised. Stunning.

Reviewed by: J.P.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Charlaine Harris - Day Shift

"The main storyline of the novel is exciting and new..."

Synopsis:
The small town of Midnight, Texas is in need of a makeover. However, when suddenly the old vacant hotel is taken over for precisely that reason, the few residents that already inhabit the place are somewhat reticent in their approval. There are new arrivals because of the hotel and another significant arrival in the form of a young man – Diederik – whose father leaves him in the care of Emilio Sheehan 'The Rev'. As in the earlier part of this trilogy, the remaining members of the town take centre stage, with the spotlight falling this time upon Manfred Bernardo, the resident psychic.

Manfred's work involves him not only in 'on-line' consultations with his clients from around the States, but also one-to-one sessions with his 'special' clients in private. One of these clients, Rachel Goldthorpe arrives for her consultation with Manfred but dies before it can be completed. The subsequent events are the catalyst around which the story proceeds, with Manfred emerging as the prime suspect in what appears to be a murder case coupled with a robbery.

Review:
This is the second novel in the 'Midnight trilogy', and as before follows Harris's traditional themes of supernatural murder.

The newcomers to the town are primarily involved with the re-vamped hotel, but they, the local police and Manfred's legal representatives are drawn in to the story both as friends but also as participants. The arrival of Diederik fleshes out the previous role of the 'Rev' and lays the ground for his continuing presence in the town. This will also allow for the progressive development of Harris' usual supernatural themes.

The main storyline of the novel is exciting and new, with Harris writing, to my mind, in a better format than the first in this trilogy. The themes are carefully and cleverly interwoven and the resulting story is quite unique. Unique that is until the concluding chapters. I enjoyed the storyline until the ending came. This unfortunately left something to be desired in that the conclusion seemed vague and even rushed, which was disappointing having invested so much time in the main body of this novel.

Harris is an articulate writer and this novel is, I believe much better than her earlier introductory one. The 'Americanisms' are fewer than before and her attempt to add substance to the inhabitants of Midnight continues to improve. This hasn't put me off Harris and I look forward to Volume 3 if only to see how she concludes this small series.

Reviewed by: P.D.

CrimeSquad Rating: