Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Book Review: Bad Blood by Casey Kelleher


My Rating: 5/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Audio (All released 16.12.14)

Synopsis: In the underbelly of Soho’s organised crime ring, everyone knows that retired boxer Harry Woods is not one to mess with. And that goes double for his family.
Harry has it all: the big house, the flashy cars, and an abundance of wealth. As much as money talks in his world, Harry knows deep down the only thing that really counts is family. Haunted by the sudden death of his wife, he’ll do anything to protect his children, but truth is a heavy burden and hidden secrets can unravel even the strongest of bonds...
Without loyalty, family are bound together only by blood. Bad blood.

My Review: Well, well Ms Kelleher, it seems somebody is well and truly stepping up to the plate so to speak:-) Casey Kelleher started off by self-publishing her first three books which if you haven’t read I would highly recommend. I was chuffed when I heard she had signed a book deal with Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer Imprint. I was even more chuffed when the lady herself let me get my hands on an early edition. I have to be honest though, I was nervous. What if her new publishers had suggested changes in writing style or something and I didn’t like it? As a lot of authors know, getting an early edition doesn’t sway my opinion. If I don’t like it, I don’t like it and will say so. However, Casey has stuck two fingers up at me by writing a blinding book that I couldn’t put down. Clearly now she is a published author she feels she has to up her game, and up her game she did.

I have to admit when I started the book I wasn’t that engaged and it took 3 or 4 chapters to get into it. However, once past that point it just got better and better. Harry Woods is a bit of a face along with his right hand man Raymond. Harry’s children are his life and as adults now they all feature heavily in this book. Sadly, this review is very hard to write as if I put too much content in, it will spoil the storyline. Part of the attraction of this book was that there were characters I wasn’t sure about. Why were they in the book, and what part did they play. Thankfully all is revealed as the story progresses. Each time I thought I’d heard it all, another secret is revealed. One particular character Casey managed to write about got right under my skin and that was Christopher. Without revealing too much, she managed to create a one man monster and the writing conveyed that pretty well. I also liked that in addition to the main storyline, there was a less obvious thread that’s revealed even more toward the end. 

I’ve read all of Casey’s books and always thought they were brilliant, albeit one has never grabbed me enough to give it full marks. This one certainly did that and it seems Casey is firmly embedding herself in the list of ‘must read’ female British Crime Authors. Many of her readers follow her on Facebook, and Twitter and in a weird way we are all rooting for the likes of Casey to get herself on the platform of recognised authors. It’s great to see British female authors finally get the book deals they deserve, and (without sounding ridiculous) I feel very proud of you Ms Kelleher! CAN’T WAIT for the next book! Your fans will be very pleased

P.S Thomas and Mercer, you would be VERY silly to let this lady go! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Book Review: Vendetta by Dreda Say Mitchell


My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, (06.11.14)

Synopsis: Two murders. Two different crime scenes. One killer?

Mac wakes in a smashed-up hotel room with no recollection of what has happened. With his lover's corpse in the bathroom and the evidence suggesting that he killed her, Mac is on a mission to uncover the truth and find the real killer.

But he's in a race against time with less than a day to unravel the mystery. Still reeling from a personal tragedy Mac isn't afraid of pain. Hot on his heels is tenacious Detective Inspector Rio Wray. Double-crossed and in the line of fire, Mac has to swim through a sea of lies to get to the truth.

But only Mac knows he's been living a double life. Can he be sure he doesn't have the blood of a dead woman on his hands?

My Review: For those that have read Dreda’s previous book such as Gangster Girl, don’t expect more of the same. It seems that Dreda has taken a bit of a turn away from that type of story and has instead immersed herself in a somewhat twisted but gripping type of book. The synopsis kind of speaks for itself in the first line alone. Mac wakes in a hotel room covered in blood and his girlfriend dead in the bath. I liked Mac, although from the very beginning wasn’t too sure what to make of his situation. There are more twists that a French plait and I spent my whole time from start to finish suspecting every person featured in the book.

The pace is ratcheted up to maximum level and from the first page right to the very last one I had that breathless feeling where things are just happening way too quickly…and somebody was always close behind! D.I Rio Wray makes her appearance as a very ballsy character and I would actually love to see her in future books as she made such an impact. Mac although enjoyable to read, took me longer to actually like (but when you read it you will see why).

This style of writing is a cross between a really fast paced Kernick and a real ‘who-dunnit’. There was something refreshing reading something from an author who has slightly changed tack. In addition to Mac being well and truly up the creek and without a paddle, the story is layered back slowly and his history becomes more apparent. Now normally this would help the reader come to a conclusion about things. Oh no, not in this book…it just added more suspicion to every character. My husband actually commented that he had never know me read a book where I had boldly stated “I know who it is” so many times!!!!

At first I was unsure how I felt about the change in direction for Dreda Say-Mitchel, but having read Vendetta I can honestly say I think she has once again done an amazing job. Now if I’m being brutally honest (when am I anything but?), some of her fans may not be quite so keen on this change. Maybe people will think she should have carried on her books from previously? Each to their own is what I say, but I am an avid crime reader (right across the board) and sometimes a change is as good as a rest. I only had minor criticisms (and they really were minor) such as one or two occasions I remember thinking “no way could that have happened” but that aside I really enjoyed this latest outing and cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

New Release: Dreda Say Mitchell new release due 6th November 2014


VENDETTA
DREDA SAY MITCHELL
Publication date: 6th November 2014 
Hodder Paperback Original, £6.99 
Also available as an eBook 

‘Breathless from the first word and thrilling to the last’ LEE CHILD
‘Wonderful, vivid writing and a truly original voice’ PETER JAMES
The blistering new novel from award-winning crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell, 
and the first in a new series of thrillers set in the murky world of undercover police officers 

Two murders. Two different crime scenes. One killer? Mac wakes in a smashed up hotel room with no recollection of what has happened. With his lover’s corpse in the bathroom and the evidence suggesting that he killed her, Mac is on a mission to uncover the truth and find the real killer. 

But he’s in a race against time with less than a day to unravel the mystery. Still reeling from a personal tragedy Mac isn’t afraid of pain. Hot on his heels is tenacious Detective Inspector Rio Wray. Double-crossed and in the line of fire, Mac has to swim through a 
sea of lies to get to the truth. 

But only Mac knows he’s been living a double life. Can he be sure he doesn’t have the blood of a dead woman on his hands? 

Vendetta is the exhilarating new novel from award-winning crime novelist Dreda Say Mitchell, and marks a new direction in her writing as she tackles a race-against-time thriller. Yet the acclaimed trademarks of Dreda’s writing remain – pacey plotting, gritty urban settings and utterly engrossing characters. 

Dreda Say Mitchell on Vendetta 
The world of the undercover cop, the informer or the double agent is very similar to that of the cheating spouse. A web of deceit is spun, boundaries are blurred and there’s so much lying and faking going on that in the end, the role-player may not even know what the truth is themselves anymore. This may have terrible consequences for those who have to play this role in real life as recent news stories have shown. But for the thriller writer, it’s the ideal scenario to place a hero in. Whose side are they really on? Where do they draw the line? How far are they willing to go and what’s left of their own character and integrity when they’re finished? But for John ‘Mac’ MacDonagh, the ill-starred hero of my new novel Vendetta, these issues are among the least of his problems… 

Praise for Dreda Say Mitchell’s previous novels: 
 ‘A sharply observed, incisive and moving story’ Guardian
 ‘Brilliant – a gripping rollercoaster for the reader’ Independent
‘The narrative throbs with energy and has a refreshing directness’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Awesome tale from a talented writer’ Sun 

Book Review: Race to Death by Leigh Russell (Ian Peterson Series)


My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Kobo and Nook

Synopsis: When a man plummets to his death from a balcony at York races, his wife and brother become suspects in a murder enquiry. Meanwhile Richard is being stalked by a killer issuing death threats. Richard is reluctant to go to the police, for fear his own dark secret will be exposed. Newly promoted Detective Inspector Ian Peterson is investigating the death at the races when a woman's body is discovered. Shortly after that, Richard is killed. With three murders and no suspect, the investigation seems to be going backwards. Ian is determined to discover who is responsible. Afraid the detective is on his track, the killer abducts Ian's wife. Ian must solve the case to find her, before she becomes the next victim of a serial killer.

My Review: I was unsure about the rating of this and felt it was only fair to give it a 4 (although I considered a 3 as there were things I disliked immensely). The Geraldine Steel series that Russell writes took its time to really come into its own and now as the 7th book approaches (next year I guess) it’s a brilliant series.  I feel like it’s the same with this new Ian Peterson series. It’s a slow burner but have a feeling once we are 3 or 4 books in it will come into its own. It always difficult to split a series but Leigh Russell has managed to do that and Ian Peterson (who used to work for Geraldine Steel) now has his own series. This second book in the series starts off re-introducing the readers to Ian and his wife Bev. They have relocated to York due to Peterson getting promoted to D.I. 

I’m going to start with the negatives, and yes I know I gave it 4 out of 5 but there were still things I didn’t like. First off, what is with Ian’s wife? I have never liked her, but for some reason she became even more irritating in this book. There is absolutely nothing to like about the woman and she grated on me from start to finish. Secondly, the book was a little bit slow in places and took some time to get going. I also feel like Ian is almost a novice at policing, which is odd because when he was working for Geraldine he was an amazing copper. Maybe this is him showing his lack of confidence, who knows.

Aside from those niggles the story kept me entertained as soon as it picked up its pace. The murders are plentiful starting with a guy at the races, and then it all seems to go downhill from there. I was a bit bewildered at the relationship with the widow of the first murder victim and the brother. There seemed so much potential and then it seemed to just disappear. We also see a man named Richard on the receiving end of some nasty threats from a stalker.  

I certainly didn’t see the ending coming and was surprised at the turn of events. The second half of the book was much better and it seemed Leigh Russell got into her stride very quickly after that. Overall an enjoyable book but I’m looking forward to the next one much more.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Book Review: The Good Life by Martina Cole

My Rating: 4/5

 Availability: Hardcover (09.10.14), Paperback (07.05.15), Kindle (09.10.14), Kobo (09.10.14)

Synopsis: THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE NEVER FREE.

Cain Moran wanted Jenny Riley more than he had ever wanted anyone or anything before in his life. But loving Jenny Riley was the easy part; it was telling his wife he wanted a divorce that was going to be the killer...

Jenny is not just any girl. She cares nothing for Cain's hard-man reputation - she just wants to be with him.

But Cain is not a free man. And he's about to find out that when his wife Caroline said 'til death us do part, she meant it.

When Cain is sentenced to life in prison it seems that Caroline might have got her wish. All Cain and Jenny know is that if their love can survive such separation, then one day they will have a chance at the Good Life together again.

But there are greater trials ahead than either can foresee. They're about to learn the hardest lesson of all:

LIVE THE GOOD LIFE. PAY THE PRICE.

My Review: I have to start off by saying that although I may have been critical of Martina’s more recent books, the woman is a legend! She has been writing in this genre since the early 90’s, and has therefore cemented her place in this genre. Maybe the reason I am so critical is because she set the bar so high especially with her earlier books. However the last couple of books I have read of hers haven’t blown me away. I think because she has written some amazing books, you just expect more and more every single time. If I am being 100% honest I was expecting something mediocre this time around, and thankfully it seems Martina Cole is making her way back to the top of the pile again.

Her latest book is still a far cry from her books such as Ladykiller, but it was a book that I started and finished in one day (which always tells me it’s a winner). Cain Moran is a face who seems to have it all. However, when he meets Jenny Riley his life is set to change forever and it changes in a huge way. I liked Cain from the outset, although Jenny seemed a little bit far removed. The story is set over decades, which totally works for me and I love the fact that we see a snippet of the future right at the very beginning of the book. We then see Cain’s life progress over the years and it’s a story that certainly held my interest.

The writing was great, the storyline filled with drama and tragedy from the outset. But…yes there is a but…I just felt there were things missing with one of the main characters Jenny. Things didn’t resonate well and there were a few instances that I felt she was side-lined and therefore a lot less believable. I think the timeline of the story was good, but when we move forward a few years, it felt like her personality changed with no reasoning. If I put that issue to one side the book was pretty gripping and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, although I’ve given this book 4 stars I struggled over that rating. It sounds like I am being harsh but I just feel that as an author that has been in this genre for over 20 years, there is still something missing from her books that used to be there. I certainly think this will please her long standing fans, and some people who may have been disheartened lately may feel there is now hope for the future MC books. All in all a great read, just not quite as explosive as they used to be!

Book Review: Watch me by James Carol (Book 2 in the Jefferson Winter Series)


My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Kindle and Kobo

Synopsis: Ex-FBI profiler Jefferson Winter has taken a new case in sunny Louisiana, where the only thing more intense than the heat is a killer on the loose in the small town of Eagle Creek. But in a town where secrets are rife and history has a way of repeating itself, can Winter solve the case before someone else dies?

My Review:   I read the first Jefferson Winter Book (Broken Dolls) and absolutely LOVED It. I was looking forward to once again meeting the white haired, Whisky loving profiler Jefferson Winter. Jefferson has a unique angle from his job as his father was once a serial killer. This makes Jefferson a somewhat more complex character than most. However, when it comes down to it, he seems reasonably sound considering his circumstances. He does however have a habit of drinking too much coffee, smoking too many cigarettes and partaking in great whiskey (in other words a very readable and likeable bloke). 

He is essentially freelance so when the latest case comes to his attention he jumps on a place bound for Louisiana. He’s met by man-mountain named Taylor who just clicked with Winter from the second they meet. Jefferson has his work cut out trying to figure out the latest case and the murder he has witnessed on screen seems to be only the beginning.

The actual story itself was told well and there was enough threads and intrigue to keep me very interested. However, although the story didn’t have quite the same pull that the first book did, the characters definitely held my attention. For some reason Jefferson, Taylor and Hannah (the owner of the place Jefferson is staying) just worked. The dynamic between them was good and I really hope this book isn’t the last we see of them!

I think this outing was definitely a page turner, however didn’t quite live up to the first book. Having said that I think this series has huge potential and most definitely has me hooked already. I can’t wait to see where Winter goes next and will really look forward to reading the next book.

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