Friday, 30 January 2015

Book Review: Dead Man’s Gift by Simon Kernick

Availability: Sold as 3 parts on Kindle (short story, approx 50 pages per part)

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: MP Tim Horton arrives home to find his seven year old son has been abducted by a ruthless gang of kidnappers. All they have left behind is the brutally murdered body of the Horton's nanny. The gang's demands are simple: Tim must sacrifice his own life in order to save his son's. It's the ultimate dead man's gift .

My Review: I really love Simon Kernick’s books, but if I’m being 100% honest when I saw this was part of a ’short story’ series of books my heart sunk a little bit. I’m not a fan of short stories at the best of times and to buy a book in parts is actually one of my pet hates! Putting that to one side, when I realised this featured Scope (the fabulous character from The Siege) I wanted to read it anyway! The story wastes no time in getting started (well it can’t afford to really!), and we meet Tim Horton as he arrives home and is told by his wife that his child Max has been kidnapped.

Tim Horton is frankly a despicable man but his character was written well and then before long Scope appears (YAY). Scope is one of my favourite Kernick characters so I was glad to see him back. As usual he has been called upon for his unique way he manages to get things done. All in all, although this was a short story it was paced fabulously and had the right amount of drama going on. Although the three parts collectively are just about 150 pages I thoroughly enjoyed the book, except that I just wanted to keep reading!

For a short story this was a great read, for a Kernick book it was also his usual pacey thriller that you need to finish before you put down. This would be a great read for somebody who hasn’t maybe read Simon Kernick and wants to know whether to buy his other novels. I will wait for the next ‘proper’ length novel which I can no doubt sink my teeth in to.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Book Review: Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

Availability: Kindle & Paperback (Released 20.02.15) 

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood … 

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country. 

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades. 

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late? 

My Review: Another new author bringing us another copper, and yep this one is a woman. Angela Marsons brings us her debut novel featuring DI Kim Stone. Kim is A Typical for a female lead, she has a chequered past and a somewhat limited ear to authority. However, although there is nothing new to the mix I liked her from the off. Her colleague Bryant is also a great character and to be honest having finished the book, it’s like chalk and cheese…they just work together. In addition to Kim and Bryant their team is finished off with the additions of Stace and Dawson, all who played their part.

They have a tough case to crack and in one respect they are working against the clock as they try to distinguish the suspects from the potential victims. The case surrounds the discovery of human remains at the site of an old children’s home. Kim is forceful in her manner to the point of being rude, but it made me like her even more and we see her bulldoze her way through the case to catch the people responsible.

There were plenty of things going on and people to accuse in your own mind and the story kept me interested right through to the end. I was debating the rating of this as there were a couple of things that grated on me, such as the way the author uses literal words to show an accent, but that’s just a personal opinion and figured that shouldn’t make a difference. Because of that decision this is a solid 4 star read and for a debut is a great read. It could certainly be a cracking series with the author whetting your appetite and I am genuinely looking forward to the next one (hopefully with a lack of literal ‘accent’ wordings). 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Book Review: Follow the Leader by Mel Sherratt (DS Allie Shenton Series)

Availability: Paperback, Audio, Kindle, Nook and Kobo (Released 10.02.15) 

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a magnetic letter in the shape of an E. Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing. As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert. The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next. The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must follow the leader.

My Review: Allie Shenton is back in the follow up from ‘Taunting the Dead’. I have to say I was rather pleased that I could get stuck in as the last book ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger. A man’s body is found on a canal path and in his pocket is a magnetic letter. Allie Shenton and her colleagues start the investigation and before long the body count rises. The killer is front and centre and immediately gave me the creeps. 

Allie and her team quickly spot a pattern and it seems to be a bit of a race against time to get to the victims before the killer does. Allie seems a little bit more in control of her life in this second outing, and for that I was glad. It was also nice to see the references to Terry Ryder (from book 1) pop up again, albeit in a subtle way.

Because we get to see the killer in action we also get to see his reasoning behind the murders. This makes it more intriguing because you wonder how long it will take for the police to catch up. In addition we see flashbacks in time which features both the killers and victims and the layers begin to unpeel.

I once again thoroughly enjoyed this book and think that it has a slight edge over the Estate Books (although that maybe isn’t fair as I have only read one!). I like Allie, and am dying to see what happens to her, and her family in the next book. I think my only disappointment was that once again, a certain element of the story was carried over. In one sense it’s great because the reader then wants to go on and read the next book, but for me…well I’m just an impatient one! I certainly should have started catching up with Mel Sherratt’s books sooner as they are a pleasure to read.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Book Review: Taunting The Dead by Mel Sherratt (DS Allie Shenton Series)

Availability: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, Kindle, Nook and Kobo

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Nine out of ten murders are committed by someone the victim knows. So when Steph Ryder has her head bashed in within earshot of her family and friends, D.S. Allie Shenton begins her investigation close to home.

Soon the lies, backtracking, and secrets multiply as each of the suspects tries to cover up their actions on that fateful night. Before long, Allie homes in on Steph’s ambitious and powerful husband, Terry. Convinced he’s hiding something, she interviews him again and again—only to find that she is falling, despite herself, for his smooth charms.

As the trail grows hotter, along with Allie’s feelings, the web of deceit pulls tighter and more bodies begin to pile up. Allie must race against time to uncover the shocking truth before she becomes the killer’s next victim.

My Review: I have read one of Mel’s Estate Series books as well as Watching Over You. With her imminent release of book 2 featuring DS Allie Shenton I figured I should read book 1 to familiarise myself. I am pretty glad that I did now as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I also find it’s an added bonus that I have the next book as the ending was brilliant, albeit a cliffhanger! Allie Shenton is a good character and easily likeable. She’s a copper who is working in Stoke, the place she was born and bred. The story itself was a bit of a slow burner, but by the second third I was well and truly gripped and read it right through to the end.

Steph Ryder and her dodgy husband Terry are the main focus of this book. Steph was frankly a rather despicable character. A virtual alcoholic we get to know exactly what are whop are relevant in her life. Terry Ryder, although an obvious gangster with a legit front, had a rather endearing character! We also meet additional characters that are all added to the mix such as Phil Kennedy who works for Terry, Steph’s friend Carole and her husband Shaun as well as Terry and Steph’s daughter.

The layers of the story are put there, and at times I thought they were maybe too much but I realised by the end that there is a method to Mel’s madness, namely the next book. As well as all the colourful characters, we get to know a bit about Allie, we meet her husband, her boss and her sister. All of this becomes a lot more relevant as the story continues. When Steph is murdered, nobody (including me) could work out what on earth was going on. It certainly added another layer of intrigue as each time I thought both they and I had figured it out, I was wrong!

This book certainly had me well and truly gripped, especially the last quarter of the book, and frankly the last chapter had me screaming in frustration. Luckily, the new book is already on my Kindle (due for release 10th Feb 2015) so I could get stuck straight back in. I think Mel Sherratt is definitely an underated author and I for one am starting straight on book 2. I think if you haven’t read Mel Sherratt before this book (or one of the Estate Books) is a fantastic place to start. Now if you don’t mind…I have another Allie Shenton book to read!

Friday, 9 January 2015

My Top Ten Books from 2014.....

As with last year I wanted to pick my top ten reads from all of last year. This doesn't mean they were published in 2014 (just that I read them in that year). There is no way I can put them in any kind of order (that's just TOO difficult) but these are definitely the best of the bunch last year for me.

One Kick by Chelsea Cain


Payback by Kimberley Chambers


Bad Blood by Casey Kelleher


An Evil Mind by Chris Carter


Broken Dolls by James Carol


Betrayed by Anna Smith


Stalkers by Paul Finch


Flare by Paul Grzegorzek


Post by Sean Black


Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton

Book Review: Burn by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Availability: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Nook and Kobo

My Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Detective Michael Bennett finally returns to New York City – and to the most unsettling, horrific case of his career.

At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good.

Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. But when a charred body is found in that very same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously – and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.

My Review: Mmmmm, I’m feeling a bit weird about this one. On the one hand the return of Michael Bennett and his clan was brilliant and fast-paced and all the usual descriptions. However, on the other hand there is a part of me that is a little bit disappointed in this latest release. Michael Bennett is fast becoming my favoured Patterson lead, and when he and his 10 kids and the nanny return to New York it seems like life is finally returning to normal. However as is always the case (especially in a Patterson book), normal is when you are managing a murder case or multiple killers!!! What threw me initially was Bennett’s re-assignment to a chaotic ‘outreach squad’ in Harlem. 

The outreach squad consists of coppers that aren’t wanted anywhere else. What happened though was the story and the characters were heating up nicely and I really started getting into the book. The initial storyline consisted of a bizarre complaint they had received from a man claiming to have seen a very bizarre party involving some well-dressed men. What at first seems like a complete waste of time, turns into the closest thing to a nightmare you could imagine. Now so far, so good right? Er, yes…but that is where it ends.

To my surprise, Patterson and Ledwidge then decide to throw in another case back on the Major Organised Crime desk involving some robberies that are rapidly getting bigger by the day. Add in some lovely romance between Bennett and Mary Catherine and finally a sick grandfather, and Bob’s your Uncle…your book is too crowded! Well, at least that how it seemed which is why I only rated it middle of the road. Lose the robberies, and the sick and ageing grandparent and the book would have been another belter? Instead it seemed like they had to cram in as much as humanly possible and then wrap it all up neatly with a bow on top.

Unfortunately this latest Bennett just didn’t hit the spot. This is too busy, but with essentially a fantastic main storyline (Such a shame). I will as always look forward to the next one and just hope it’s not as disjointed as this one.

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