Latest Reads: The Red Cobra Rob Sinclair.

Publication Date: Available Now from Bloodhound

Source: Review Copy

Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.

It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idyll is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years – an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.

A cyberattack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter – she isn’t the assassin at all …

So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?

Red Cobra is a fast paced, snappy thriller of the kind that I’ve come to expect from this author – one of those again I read in one sitting (well 2 if you count school run bang in the middle, rock and roll lifestyle) I love a good action thriller and this does exactly what it says on the tin. And then some.

This is a spin off from The Enemy Series and sees the return of Carl Logan, albeit under an assumed name, and features female assassin, the Red Cobra of the title – who is entirely fascinating and who I engaged with hugely, I do love a good kick ass woman in a novel, one who takes no prisoners and boogies to the beat of her own drum. So to speak. Especially when they are villains who you love to hate to love.

The plotting is taut and clever, the past/present vibe works brilliantly and Rob Sinclair walks the line between edge of the seat thrills and considered character development beautifully. Twisting and turning the story all the way through it is utterly gripping and totally immersive.

Best yet I’d say. Reading escapism of the best kind. Don’t think about it. Just do it.

Recommended.

Find out More

Follow the author on Twitter

Purchase The Red Cobra

Happy Reading!

 

Latest Reads: The Cutaway Christina Kovac

Publication Date: 6th April from Serpents Tail

Source: Netgalley

It begins with someone else’s story. The story of a woman who leaves a busy restaurant and disappears completely into the chilly spring night. Evelyn Carney is missing – but where did she go? Who was she meeting? And why did she take a weapon with her when she went? When brilliant TV producer Virginia Knightley finds Evelyn’s missing person report on her desk, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened that night. But her pursuit of the truth draws her deep into the power struggles and lies of Washington DC’s elite – to face old demons and new enemies.

If The Newsroom met Gone Girl then had super intelligent kids….

Early reviews suggest The Cutaway may be about to divide opinion – so my opinion, for what it is worth, is that this is blinking brilliant. I LOVED it. I loved the main protagonist, I loved the Breaking News aspects, got all caught up in the story, didn’t have a clue how the mystery element would pan out – not because it is particularly twisty in that sense but more because I was so caught up in the character dynamics and the investigative reporting side.

Christina Kovac writes with a very sharp edge, a genuinely insightful eye towards subtle characterisation and can put together one hell of a story – a bit like her main character Virginia whose sudden obsession with a missing woman puts her on the trail of all sorts of shenanigans. Meanwhile her workplace is in turmoil as a new boss starts messing with the status quo, the police investigation seems to be full of political motivation and there is Evelyn, gone in a relative puff of smoke, tying it all together as we wait to find out what has happened to her.

The “behind the scenes” aspect of The Cutaway really digs you deep into things, I loved the dynamic of the Newsroom, work politics merging with life politics in a tale of possible corruption and murder – I genuinely did not know what the all heck was going on, the author subtly dropping information into the narrative then throwing it back at you later in different context, the plotting, I thought, was absolutely superb. Virginia is a brilliantly intriguing character, I loved her and the supporting cast are just as well drawn.

Look it was just bloody good. I couldn’t possibly do anything but love it with my reading heart so give it a go.

Tense, clever, addictive and different. That is The Cutaway.

Find out More

Follow the author on Twitter

Purchase The Cutaway.

 

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: The Stolen Child – Sanjida Kay

Publication Date: 6th April from Corvus

Source: Review Copy

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They named her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number: a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum it’s not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts.

The sender claims to be her birth father.

He has been looking for his daughter.

And now he is coming to take her back…

Having loved this author’s first book Bone by Bone I was looking forward to The Stolen Child, in the end I read it in one huge gulp of a sitting – like in her first novel, Sanjida Kay writes here with an emotional level that is utterly engrossing and it is genuinely difficult to stop once you start.

Exploring themes of family and adoption, wrapping it up in a twisty tale of suspense, The Stolen Child follows Zoe and her family. Her husband is mostly absent as she faces the daily toil of parenthood with her adopted daughter Evie and her natural son Ben, when Evie starts getting letters supposedly from her birth Father things take a sinister and highly emotive turn.

I love the layers the author puts into the story, not only creating a compelling and realistic family dynamic but giving us a truly atmospheric and taut mystery. Within the confines of the place they live where those Zoe trusts suddenly seem threatening, the tension is palpable throughout the telling and it is utterly utterly gripping from the very first page. The setting is beautifully described, adding to the sense of atmosphere, the truth is cleverly hidden from view making the ultimate resolution wonderfully unpredictable – basically it is everything you want from a psychological thriller but with added depth and perception.

Loved it. Absolutely highly recommended.

Find Out More

Follow Sanjida on Twitter

Purchase The Stolen Child

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: A Handful of Ashes Rob McCarthy

 

 

Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Netgalley

Susan Bayliss became notorious when she blew the whistle on her boss, a heart surgeon at a renowned children’s hospital. She accused him of negligence, operations were stopped and an inquiry launched. In the end she was the one suspended as a troublemaker.

Now Dr Harry Kent, a medical examiner with the Met Police, has been called out to certify her suicide.

But something about the scene is wrong. Someone held Susan down…

The grieving parents of the children who died demand answers. The hospital is stonewalling. Everyone has secrets – it’s up to Harry and DCI Frankie Noble to find out which were worth killing for.

I was the BIGGEST fan of book one in this series (more details below if you missed it) and with “A Handful of Ashes” I can honestly say this has moved up to favourite series status on my bookish wishlist – one of a handful I’m going to be hotly anticipating every year for as long as they continue. Long may that be…

I’m a sucker for a good medical drama and an even bigger one for a good crime drama – with the Harry Kent series Rob McCarthy brings the two together in a fast, addictive, well considered thriller that just had me blasting through it with little thought to anything else around me. Don’t you love those ones?

In this story we have a suspicious “suicide”, a possible hospital cover up, grieving parents, danger lurking around every corner and our (anti) hero Dr Kent slowly falling apart at the seams whilst trying to help our (anti) heroine Frankie Noble solve the conundrum. She’s not exactly the most grounded police officer ever but both of them are superbly engaging, inevitably flawed but so beautifully described in sheer force of personality that you just get pulled along with them. The plot is  thoroughly twisted, highly charged emotionally and has an ending that had me on the floor. I loved it.

I’d like to give a nod to at least one beautifully written thrilling scene in this involving a fight to save a life – as I came to the end of that chapter I found myself quite literally sitting on the edge of my seat (not that easy in a giant swivel chair) I had to sit and have a nice cup of tea before continuing on. That is not the only genuinely immersive bit of scene setting in A Handful of Ashes but it’s probably the one that will stay with me – What is great about it is that these moments are interspersed with quieter more considered moments and the author digs deep into the multiple layers that make up his characters, insightful writing that means you really feel for everything they go through.

Both the medical and the procedural elements that make up the story feel highly authentic, I am definitely one for the tortured souls in fiction therefore Harry Kent holds my attention (I may be a little in fictional love) and overall this is terrific writing, terrific plotting and well, just plain terrific.

Highly Recommended.

Find out More

Follow Rob on Twitter

Purchase A Handful of Ashes

Also Available: Dr Harry Kent Book One

Dr Harry Kent likes to keep busy: juggling hospital duties with his work as a police surgeon for the Metropolitan Police – anything to ward off the memories of his time as an Army medic.

Usually the police work means minor injuries and mental health assessments. But Solomon Idris’s case is different. Solomon Idris has taken eight people hostage in a chicken takeaway, and is demanding to see a lawyer and a BBC reporter. Harry is sent in to treat the clearly ill teenager…before the siege goes horribly wrong.

When Solomon’s life is put in danger again from the safety of a critical care ward, it becomes clear he knows something people will kill to protect.
Determined to uncover the secret that drove the boy to such desperate action, Harry soon realises that someone in the medical world, someone he may even know, has broken the doctors’ commandment ‘do no harm’ many times over..

Read My Review

Purchase The Hollow Men.

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: Method 15/33 by Shannon Kirk

Publication Date: Available Now from OceanView Publishing

(UK release from Sphere titled “The Method”)

Source: Netgalley

Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who’s just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van. Kidnapped Alone Terrified.

Now forget her

Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn son and to exact merciless revenge.

She is methodical calculating scientific in her plotting. A clinical sociopath? Leaving nothing to chance, secure in her timing and practice, she waits for the perfect moment to strike. Method 15/33 is what happens when the victim is just as cold as the captors.

Thoroughly enjoyed this! Fast and furious read with a truly engaging main protagonist and a healthy dose of ironic brilliance.

She has been kidnapped – pregnant and held against her will, 16 years old, two FBI agents on the case, you’d expect your normal type of “hang on in there possibly show some guts wait to be rescued” type psychological thriller. Nope. this is not your normal teenager, she has a sharp, focused scientific mind and an ability to turn her various emotions on and off at will. Plus an extraordinarily intense maternal instinct and a tendency towards being vengeful.

Poor kidnappers.

Still, the tension is palpable even though, as she is writing this many years later, a story for her now grown child, you know she’s probably going to be ultimately fine. Or her rather different definition of fine anyway. This is no secret from very early on. The beauty of this one is in watching her plan unfold, see her brain working, whilst her hapless yet still somewhat scary captors continue with their plans to steal her child…

It rocks along this book, hearing from our captive and then from the agent who spends his life looking for the missing – both of them have highly intriguing personalities of differing sorts, there was not a single moment of this that I was not practically hugging the narrative. It gets the blood up, a real rollicking page turner, with a fair few surprises along the way, characters to die for, a whole load of fun despite the premise, although there are some sobering moments that give pause for thought too. Plenty of layers here, I loved all of them.

The final parts of this book make for really cool reading as you see exactly what all the little preparations have been for, making you want to fist pump the air (although my advice is don’t do that you drop the book and then have to scrabble around to retrieve your spot) and I don’t think I’m going to get the image of that heavily pregnant, sixteen year old, angel of vengeance out of my head anytime soon. Can we hope that we meet her again in her adult life? Certainly the author allows for this possibility, with a wonderfully poignant and intelligent ending.

Loved it. Sometimes you just boogie right along with the book tune, this one was rock and roll.

Recommended.

Find out More

Follow the author on Twitter

Purchase Method 15/33

Happy Reading!

 

 

Latest Reads: A Thousand Cuts by Thomas Mogford.

Publication Date: Available Now from Bloomsbury

Source: Review Copy

A thousand cuts … We may be few, but together we can change the world

When a routine court case takes a sinister turn, defence lawyer Spike Sanguinetti starts asking dangerous questions that nobody seems to want answered. Soon, it’s not just the truth that’s at stake: it is everything and everyone that Spike holds precious. As the Gibraltarian sun beats relentlessly down, crimes of the past and present collide, relationships are tested and long-buried secrets exposed. Who can Spike trust? And where do his own loyalties lie?

Loved A Thousand Cuts. You know when you find a book that has characters you fall for, a setting that lives around you and a story that is addictive, clever and unpredictable – that.

This is the first book I’ve read in this series (now dammit I have to go back and read the others, you know sometimes you just wish you could hate a book and prevent your tbr pile getting bigger but not in this case. Sigh) but it doesn’t really matter, I don’t feel I missed anything, the story flows beautifully with enough information about the characters to have an idea where we are – always a good thing for those of us who are always behind with stuff.

Score 10/10 for Spike Sanguinetti as a main protagonist, an honourable man trying to keep things equal in the murky world of law, standing up for his client despite said client being a bit of an ass – then finding himself embroiled in a historical mystery that holds dangerous possibilities for those he holds dear. Loyalties are tested, moral and legal decisions challenging him every day and blimey there is a baby on the way too. Nothing like putting your characters through the wringer is there, to make us readers love them.

Gibraltar as a setting is spot on, beautifully described, I now want to go there, I can see it in my minds eye – another strength of this particular story, putting the people firmly in the places makes for a much more immersive read. I enjoyed the historical aspects, could feel Spike’s frustration jumping off the page on occasion it was all really quite terrific. That and the group dynamic, I feel Jessica may become long suffering, I was engaged by Rufus and the father/son relationship and the ending left some personal issues unresolved that means I will inevitably be picking up the next book when it comes out.

Yep. Good. Good crime. We like it. Highly Recommended.

Find out More

Follow the author on Twitter

Purchase A Thousand Cuts

Happy Reading!

Ones to Watch in 2017: The Fact of a Body – Alexandria Marzano-Lesenevich

Publication Date: 18th May 2017 from Macmillan

Source: Review Copy

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.

The Fact of a Body was less a non fiction narrative and more a work of art – I don’t think I have been sucked into a book in the way this one sucked me in for a good long while. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich writes with such a beautiful, haunting quality that gets over so many layers of emotional depth whilst still keeping it factual and real, that you can one moment be feeling like you are watching events unfold in real time and the next sobbing like a baby at one small sentence that says everything.

At the heart of it all is not only this killer, Ricky Langley, but also the author herself as she delves into her own mind and her own history in an attempt to understand that which cannot be understood. She takes you along on a journey of discovery, one of unpalatable realities, poignant self realisation and historical influence, it is at turns heart breaking, utterly riveting and melancholy, get ready to be hooked, unable to look away.

The Fact of a Body often reads like a literary thriller, I found myself remembering with a jolt that these were real people living real lives – the author shows the mundane routine of living, alongside the telling events that informed eventual acts, alongside the things that cannot be explained no matter how much we may wish for a reason. Throughout the whole of the telling there are moments of quiet, occasional times you step away from the read and absorb what you have just learned – the historical detail, the absolute compassion with which the author allows the “characters” in this drama to live and breathe on the page is just stunning in its intensity. And we must not forget she is one of them – and does not hide from her own horrors simply lays them bare before us.

This is a tangled, beautiful, intelligently told true story that will surprise you, an unravelling of human nature, a truly incredible look at the power of memory, the influences of life experience and that which we hide from ourselves – as well as that it is a truly compelling and absolutely gripping crime story and family memoir.

I really cannot recommend this highly enough.

Find out More

Follow the author on Twitter

Purchase The Fact of a Body.

Happy Reading!

 

Latest Reads: Where She Went – B E Jones. Coming Soon.

Publication Date: July 2017 from Little Brown (Constable)

Source: Netgalley

TV journalist Melanie Black wakes up one morning next to a man she doesn’t recognise. It’s not the first time – but he ignores her even though she’s in his bed. Yet when his wife walks in with a cup of tea he greets her with a smile and to her horror, Melanie comes to realise that no one can see or her hear her – because she is dead.

But has she woken up next to her murderer? And where is her body? Why is she an invisible and uninvited guest in a house she can’t leave; is she tied to this man forever? Is Melanie being punished in some way, or being given a chance to make amends?

As she begins to piece together the last days of her life and circumstances leading up to her own death it becomes clear she has to make a choice: bring her killer to justice, or wreak her own punishment out to the man who murdered her.

Read this pretty much in one sitting this afternoon – clever, addictive tale, a crime thriller with a ghostly element – well actually a literal ghost trying to muddle her way through the afterlife and eek out some kind of revenge at the same time.

Where She Went is told entirely by Melanie, who has woken up dead, stuck by the side of the man who probably killed her and his long suffering wife. Everybody pretty much is horrible in this novel – even poor Eve, said wife, who puts up with a controlling and abusive environment. Melanie herself is not particularly sympathetic either, dead as she is, but still you kind of root for her as she discovers what she can and can’t achieve.

The writing flows beautifully, I liked the way the back story revealed itself, and it is relatively creepy – Melanie whispering her thoughts into the heads of others – it actually gives you pause for thought on those random things you sometimes see out of the corner of your eye. The mystery elements are well thought out and clever but the excellent thing about this book is the character voice. Melanie is sharp and ironic, keeping you on side even as she shows her less than kind nature, I was especially fond of the little twist ending and the ability the author leaves you with to imagine what might happen next.

Overall this was beautifully different, something less usual within the crime genre, it worked on many levels and as such I have no problem recommending it.

One to watch this year.

Find out More

Follow the Author on Twitter

Purchase Where She Went

Happy Reading!

 

Publication Day Review: From the Shadows Neil White.

Publication Date: Available Now from Bonnier

Source: Review Copy.

The Lawyer

When defence lawyer Dan Grant inherits a murder case just weeks away from trial, he’s just expected to babysit it and take his fee. But Dan’s not that kind of lawyer. If he takes on a case then he investigates it his way – wherever the evidence takes him.

The Investigator

Jayne Brett is Dan’s investigator and a woman with a terrible secret in her past – one that still haunts her today. Needing the money, she takes on the task of investigating the case that Dan’s inherited. But has she taken on more than she can handle?

The Case

Mary Kendricks was a pretty, smart, twenty-four-year-old teacher. Now Mary Kendricks is dead and Robert Carter is in the dock, accused of her brutal murder.

But as Dan and Jayne investigate, they discover that perhaps there is more to this case than meets the eye – but in order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger . .

Well it feels like its been a long time coming, a new Neil White book, which makes me grumpy but you know, you can’t have everything, like a book a week from the authors you love reading, From the Shadows was worth hanging around for because it is, as usual, damn good crime fiction.

The start of a new series here, a kind of mish mash of courtroom drama and crime thriller that is often edge of the seat clinging by the fingernails good all that interspersed with tense and authentic courtroom scenes. Plus great characters. Easily a one sitting read, the plot is dynamic and multi-layered, the relationship between Dan and Jayne is edgy and fascinating and the mystery elements are cleverly woven and definitely twisted. I do love the unpredictable stuff.

Bit creepy too. I mean genuinely look over your shoulder wonder who’s behind you creepy. Possibly don’t read this last thing at night if you are in the house all alone. Reminder to self for the next book.

I’ve long been a fan of Mr White which will come as no surprise to anybody, From The Shadows just confirms everything I’ve always said and then some. With the start of the Dan Grant series he truly is playing to his strengths, the fact that he is a Criminal Prosecutor in his other life shows here with the realistic legal layer.  If you thought UK law was rather dry and dull in comparison to the more shout out US stuff then think again. As Dan takes on the system it is ever compelling and truly absorbing, never unbelievable and just added so much to storytelling, highly readable drama.

With an ending that will have you holding your breath and a twisted, often surprising path to get you there From The Shadows is utterly gripping and highly inventive – top notch crime fiction at its appealing, page turning, captivating best. Loved it. More please. Dan and Jayne are characters to watch.

Highly Recommended.

Find out More

Follow Neil on Twitter

Purchase From the Shadows

Happy Reading!

Latest Reads: Summary Justice by John Fairfax

Publication Date: Available Now from Little Brown.

Source: Netgalley

The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He’d said he was innocent. She’d believed him.

Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger’s in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson’s life. The price of his rehabilitation – and access to the Bar – is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He’s an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he’s subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It’s a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson’s first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she’s innocent.

Thoroughly enjoyed this legal thriller from John Fairfax (AKA William Broderick) it was full of bang on addictive quality, clever plotting and intriguing fascinating characters.

Our main two, Will and Tess have an emotional start to their interaction when Will is convicted of murder. Years later, having served his time and taken on the law as a career (not that easy with a murder conviction) Tess comes across him again – and again decides to help him. The levels of both characters are explored slowly but surely within the plot for this and that was one of my favourite things about it. I was drawn to these two for very different reasons.

Then there was the trial elements which were highly engaging and very twisty – as was the whole story surrounding Sarah Collingstone, in the dock accused of murdering her employer. John Fairfax throws a lot of curve balls at his protagonists, keeping the plot unpredictable and fast flowing, whilst also managing to keep a firm eye on developing the background plot of whether or not William Benson is in fact a murderer himself.

Key to this being so much fun to read were the little legal explanations of why things can or can’t happen (I can’t speak to the authenticity in reality of course but the authors background would suggest he knows what he is doing and it certainly FELT authentic) that kept your understanding of the legal maneuvers easy but without taking you out of the story or feeling lectured (believe me that is a huge plus) you felt like you were there on the ground so to speak, excellent stuff.

As a start to the series it was spot on – you learn so much about Will, about Tess, about those around them but there is a lot still to know – I’m genuinely looking forward to another instalment and hopefully finding out more. Both the main characters are brilliantly drawn, both have fascinating paths to where we find them here, both have a lot more to say.

As a legal mystery Summary Justice works very well indeed. As a character drama it is perhaps even better, put the two together and you have a genuinely absorbing and captivating read that I will happily recommend.

Lets have more!

You can purchase Summary Justice HERE

Happy Reading!