Tag Archives: crime thriller

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

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Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.

Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention and finds herself on an empty road in Arizona, far from home. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.

As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining…

Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller.

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Wow. I loved this book. I was there – right from the first page of Here and Gone. You feel the hot, dry Arizona heat, the dust, Audra’s exhaustion, her aching muscles.

She is travelling through Arizona on her way to California, trying to keep to country roads, with her two children aged 11 and 6 in the back of the station wagon, hoping to make a fresh start, having fled New York and an abusive husband. She’s looking out for a safe place for them to stay for the night.

When a police cruiser appears behind her and gets her to pull over in an isolated area a few miles from where there is a place to stay, she’s fearful that the authorities have found her and will have her charged with parental abduction. The officer tells her the car is overloaded and that it’s not safe to drive and offers to move some of her stuff from the back of her car into his cruiser and to take Audra and the children to the guesthouse in town and arrange for her car to be towed there later. However while moving some of her stuff, the officer finds a bag of marijuana. Audra swears the drugs are not hers but she is arrested, handcuffed and searched, despite no female officer being present. You quickly realise Officer Whiteside is not a nice character. He radios for his deputy to come and get the children and take them to a safe place.

As she sees her children being taken from her in a police car, her thoughts turn to the past 18 months and we get some insight as to why she left her husband and also the fact that in the past she had a history of substance abuse.

I don’t want to give too much away here but when Audra is taken to town the Deputy’s car isn’t there. Aura keeps asking for them but after she is processed and taken to a cell on asking again where her children are, the officer’s reply is “What children?”

Now the real nightmare begins. Audra is totally alone. When she is allowed to phone, she phones the ‘friend’ in California she is told not to contact her again. It gets worse, the authorities suspect she has harmed the children and hidden their bodies. The investigation gets very serious. The FBI’s Child Abduction response deployment team arrive. Someone leaks details of her medical history. The press get hold of the story and it’s all over the television. However someone called Danny sees the news reports and realises he has a similar story to tell: missing child, wife blamed, wife committed. No one had really listened to his thoughts on what had happened. He becomes part of the story too.

The story switches between what is happening to Audra and what is happening to the children. There is also a conversation happening in an internet private members forum and you just know something very bad is being planned. The pace is very good. There is a good balance of the different threads, a race against time, some twists. We get enough back story to make sense of the present. There are some strong characters, both good and bad. Audra’s past has made her stronger and a survivor, but there are a few moments when you feel it would be so easy for her to give in. There is also a wonderful sense of location. Heat and dust, a dying town, closed mine, dry riverbed, empty properties. You get the picture. It’s a well written story.

The story really grabbed me. It’s tense and the pace doesn’t really let up. I read it mostly in one sitting. I didn’t want to put it down. I managed to finish it around 1.30 am. The best kind of book  

I had intended to hold back this post until nearer publication date however Here and Gone is available now in ebook format. The hardcover version will be available later this summer.

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Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre

#BlogTour : I’m so excited to be reviewing this book on publication day and would like to thank Grace Vincent of Little, Brown UK for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.  It’s two firsts for me –  it’s the first time I’ve been part of a blog tour and I’m the first stop. 

#WantYouGone @cbrookmyre @LittleBrownUK

 

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What if all your secrets were put online? Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive. Who would you turn to? Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything. What would you be capable of? Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

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Want You Gone is another wonderfully entertaining thriller from Chris Brookmyre, in the Jack Parlabane series.  Chris is a brilliant writer and this time we are led into the world of hackers, cyber crime, fraud and corporate espionage.

The book starts with what looks like two separate stories (or three if you count the cyber attack on the bank), one told by Sam Morpeth, a teenage girl who is becoming overwhelmed with the responsibility of looking after her younger sister with learning difficulties. Things get worse when she’s told she can’t claim benefits because she is in full time education. No one seems to be listening. In the evenings when her sister is asleep she spends her time in online chat rooms to escape her harsh reality.

In the ‘second’ story, investigative reporter Jack Parlabane is in London having been invited there for an interview with Broadwave, an online news site. Could this be an opportunity to get his career back on track? While he’s there, there is a major cyber attack on RSGN Bank. Parlabane recognises the trademark of a group of hackers called Uninvited and contacts a hacker who goes by the name Buzzkill with whom he has had dealings in the past, in the hope of getting some inside information on the hack for a story. Jack has no idea who Buzzkill is, he’s never discovered his real identity nor actually spoken to him and he doesn’t particularly want to owe him any favour but he gets some quotes and writes a piece for Broadwave.

Sam’s situation then suddenly deteriorates further when she is hacked by a blackmailer who seems to know everything about her and is threatening to reveal things from her past that could lead to her going to jail. The blackmailer is demanding that she steal a prototype device from company. Having read Jack Parlabane’s story about the attack on the Bank she attempts to contact him to seek his help.

The two soon find themselves involved in the dark world of cyber-crime: hacking, breaching security systems, corporate espionage, all the while trying to identify the blackmailer who calls himself Zodiac. They also find themselves having to ‘disappear’ after a body is found on premises where Jack had gained entry having previously hacked the software that controlled access.

Despite some of the things Sam has done, she comes across as a good character and I had a lot of sympathy for her. I also like Jack Parlabane despite his, at times, rather dubious past when his actions in pursuit of the truth of a story sometimes led to him stepping over the line. The two characters worked well together. I also got the feeling there was another connection between Jack and Sam waiting to be revealed.

The first part of the book moves along at steady pace but is never boring. It’s not long before the action really starts and then the pace really ramps up until the conclusion. Sam tells her story in first person voice. Jack’s story is narrated in the third person. The dialogue is good and there is an exciting immediacy. As I read I could see the story playing out in my head and I got very engrossed.  There are a few surprising twists. For me, it quickly became a real page turner.   Wonderful stuff!

Publication date:  20 April 2017

Author’s website:  www.brookmyre.co.uk

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[My thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown UK for an ARC and to Grace Vincent of Little Brown UK for inviting me to take part in the blog tour]

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Blue Light Yokohama – Nicolás Obregón

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Setagaya ward, Tokyo
Inspector Kosuke Iwata, newly transferred to Tokyo’s homicide department, is assigned a new partner and a secondhand case.

Blunt, hard as nails and shunned by her colleagues, Assistant Inspector Noriko Sakai is a partner Iwata decides it would be unwise to cross.

A case that’s complicated – a family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who then ate ice cream, surfed the web and painted a hideous black sun on the bedroom ceiling before he left in broad daylight. A case that so haunted the original investigator that he threw himself off the city’s famous Rainbow Bridge.

Carrying his own secret torment, Iwata is no stranger to pain. He senses the trauma behind the killer’s brutal actions. Yet his progress is thwarted in the unlikeliest of places.

Fearing corruption among his fellow officers, tracking a killer he’s sure is only just beginning and trying to put his own shattered life back together, Iwata knows time is running out before he’s taken off the case or there are more killings . . .

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I’m not sure if it is coincidence or whether I am subconsciously travelling the world via new titles but recently I have read novels set in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and now Japan (and the next one on my reading list is set in India!)

I heard about Blue Light Yokohama via an email and the description intrigued me, especially since the book was inspired by true events.

Inspector Kosuke Iwata had been signed off work for a while and on his return is transferred to Tokyo’s Homicide Department. He is allocated a new partner, Noriko Sakai, and given a secondhand case where a Korean family of four had been murdered in their own home, complicated by the fact that the original investigator had committed suicide a few days earlier.

It soon becomes clear that both Iwata and Sakai have their own issues. Snippets of Iwata’s troubled, painful, past are slowly revealed. Sakai comes across as hard but efficient. She doesn’t mix with her colleagues and some of them try to give her a hard time.

When they start investigating the brutal murders it looks like there could have been a ritualistic element to them but no real clues.

When more cases turn up, Iwata thinks they may have a serial killer, but they get little support from the bosses. Apart from the Korean family, there just doesn’t seem to be anything linking the victims. As they investigate further Iwata deals with bullying, corruption, incompetence and his own demons. It also appears that someone is out to destroy his career.

Nicolás Obregón sets a wonderful scene and although I have never been to Tokyo, I felt a sense of being there, even the bleak places.

It’s quite a complex story because of the references to Iwata’s recent past, and also his childhood/adolescence, as well as the present, but I found I was able to follow it. Initially I had some trouble with the unfamiliar Japanese names and places but you get used to that. I liked the ending and for me it was a real page-turner.

Is it different to any other police procedural/crime thriller set somewhere else? Yes, I believe it is. I felt I got a glimpse of some aspect of Japanese life. Whether it is an accurate portrayal, I don’t know, but it makes for a good debut novel.

Author’s webpage is here.

My thanks to NetGalley and the UK publishers Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for an advance copy.

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The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni

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When a woman’s body is discovered submerged in a crab pot in the chilly waters of Puget Sound, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself with a tough case to untangle. Before they can identify the killer, Tracy and her colleagues on the Seattle PD’s Violent Crimes Section must figure out who the victim is. Her autopsy, however, reveals she may have gone to great lengths to conceal her identity. So who was she running from?

After evidence surfaces that their Jane Doe may be a woman who suspiciously disappeared months earlier, Tracy is once again haunted by the memory of her sister’s unsolved murder. Dredging up details from the woman’s past leads to conflicting clues that only seem to muddy the investigation. As Tracy begins to uncover a twisted tale of brutal betrayal and desperate greed, she’ll find herself risking everything to confront a killer who won’t go down without a deadly fight.

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I’m a fan of Robert Dugoni’s books, having discovered him through NetGalley.

I like his writing style. His books seem to have a bit of substance – a good balance of scene setting, characters, dialogue and importantly, as far as I am concerned, a well-written, entertaining story. This one is no exception.

The Trapped Girl is the fourth book in the Tracy Crosswhite series. Tracy is a strong character, a homicide detective in the Seattle Police Department and she leads a good team. In the previous books, she’s had problems with her boss, Captain Johnny Nolasco. They really don’t like each other and in the past he has made life difficult for Tracy but this time round, we see a slightly softer, more mature side to Tracy and while she is still disagreeing with her boss, she’s trying a different approach. Her personal life also seems more settled.

Tracy and her colleague Kins are called out to a body found near Cormorant Cove, not far from Tracy’s home. A high school student who is out crabbing illegally in Puget Sound caught more than he bargained for when he pulled up a crab pot with a young woman’s body in it. It turned out the victim had facial implants of the kind to change her appearance and by tracing the serial numbers to the manufacturer, eventually got a name from the plastic surgeon who had carried out the procedure – but little else. Lynn Hoff had paid in cash, and had requested that she be given all the photographs taken.

Further investigation leads them to believe Lynn Hoff did not want to be found and had never been reported as missing. No history, a fake social security number, no employment, no phone, nothing.

But then the story takes another twist. Tracy obtains Lynn Hoff’s drivers licence and the photo is passed around. She is contacted by a ranger based in Mount Rainier National Park. He believes the woman is someone who went missing, presumed dead, in unusual circumstances on the mountain, except he says her name is Andrea Strickland.

Just as Tracy’s team are starting to get somewhere, they are ordered to hand the case over to Pierce County who had investigated Andrea Strickland’s disappearance from Mount Rainier. Tracy wasn’t happy about this particularly since she considered their detective, Stan Fields, had carried out a pretty sloppy investigation into the circumstances surrounding Andrea Strickland’s disappearance. So of course Tracy being Tracy, she carries on investigating (just a little) after complying with the order to hand over the case.

Some of the chapters in the book are in the voice of Andrea Strickland (in journal form) so you get a lot of background as to what was happening with her work, her marriage, her husband, her friends, a few months earlier, all adding to the mystery and throwing up possible suspects.

It’s a complex plot but written so well that it is not difficult to follow. There are great twists and turns. I thought I had sussed it out, but I didn’t get it quite right. For a while it looked like I was going to be close, but then there was another twist. Wonderful stuff. Definitely a page-turner.

Although The Trapped Girl is fourth in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

My thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing an ARC.

Author’s website:  www.robertdugoni.com.

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Blood Lines (D.I. Kim Stone Book Five) by Angela Marsons

 

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How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

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Blood Lines is book five in the D I Kim Stone series.

I have to confess I hadn’t read any of Angela Marsons’ books and this would have been the first but a friend advised me to read her earlier books in the series, or at least book 2, Evil Games.  So I took her advice and read Evil Games first – another cracking thriller.

Dr Alexandra Thorne (who appeared in Evil Games) is now in prison, put there mainly by the persistence of D I Stone and her team. Alex Thorne is beautiful, enigmatic, charming, but she is also manipulative, controlling and taunting. She is an evil sociopath. She blames Kim Stone for the way her life has turned out and is obsessed with destroying her.

There are several threads in Blood Lines: the arrest of a serial rapist; the deaths of two females, one a middle-aged, well dressed professional woman with a responsible job, found in a car with a single stab wound, the other a 22 year old drug addict and a known shoplifter, found in the woods with a single stab wound…. and more.

Meanwhile the evil Alex Thorne is in prison, manipulating other prisoners and plotting to mess with Kim Stone’s mind. She knows of Kim Stone’s traumatic past and knows all the right buttons to press to push Kim over the edge. Kim has to carry out her duties as a detective as well as deal with terrifying personal issues.

It’s a real thriller of a book. Angela Marsons is a good storyteller. The plot is fairly complex and there are several sub-plots but it isn’t too difficult to follow them as the writing is good. The book is quite fast paced with the right amount of dialogue. I like how some of the threads come together leading to a thrilling and terrifying climax.

I think Blood Lines could stand alone but I’m glad I was advised to read Evil Games as that explains a lot of Dr Alex Thorne’s obsession with destroying Kim Stone. It also helps when you know some of Kim’s background and her personal issues.  I suspect I’ll catch up with the rest of the books in the series soon.

There is so much more to this book. I found it a thrilling, entertaining read and one of those books where chores are set aside and you also keep on reading into the wee small hours (the best kind).

[My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing a digital review copy].

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The 7th Canon – Robert Dugoni

 

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In San Francisco’s seamy Tenderloin district, a teenage street hustler has been murdered in a shelter for boys. And the dedicated priest who runs the struggling home stands accused. But despite damning evidence that he’s a killer—and worse—Father Thomas Martin stands by his innocence. And attorney Peter Donley stands with him.

For three years Donley has cut his legal teeth in his uncle’s tiny, no-frills firm, where people come before profits. Just as Donley is poised to move on to a lucrative dream job, the shocking case lands in his lap, and he must put his future on hold while putting his courtroom skills to the test. But a ruthless DA seeking headlines and a brutal homicide cop bent on vengeance have their own agendas. Now, as he unearths the dirty secrets surrounding the case, Donley must risk his neck to save his client’s life…and expose the face of true evil.

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I’ve been a fan of Robert Dugoni since I read the first Tracy Crosswhite novel (well actually I read the second one first but have since read the other two) I love his style of writing, his characters and the good storytelling.

The 7th Cannon is a little bit different. It is set in 1980s San Francisco.

Peter Donley is a young lawyer who has been working for his uncle’s firm for three years. The office is situated in the Tenderloin district of the city not far from the Court. It’s a very run down area and his uncle often doesn’t charge his poorer clients. Peter, who has a wife and child, is on the brink of leaving to start a more lucrative job. However his uncle is also the lawyer for the Archdiocese so when a teenage male prostitute is found dead in a Shelter for boys, Father Thomas Martin who runs the shelter, is charged with murder and the Archbishop brings the case to Peter’s Uncle Lou.

Peter is very much thrown in at the deep end when his uncle suffers a heart attack and is hospitalised. In these circumstances (defending someone accused of murder) it would probably be expected that Peter would pass the case on to a more experienced lawyer. However after a court appearance, he is officially becomes the priest’s lawyer. Of course the priest says he didn’t commit the crime despite the evidence obtained at the crime scene.

There seems to be something not quite right with the case from the start It’s as if someone is trying to rush the case through the Court before the defence can make their own enquiries. Is someone from high up pulling strings? Has evidence been planted or tampered with? Any potential witnesses (the boys within the shelter that night) had slipped back out onto the streets before they could be questioned by the Police. It is clear from the start that the detective who arrested Father Martin is violent and threatening but he is an interesting character with a back story.

The fact that the book is set in 1980s San Francisco in the seedy, run down Tenderloin District adds to the atmosphere.

I like the Peter character. He’s had a difficult upbringing and he’s had to look out for himself and grab his chances. His past still affects him. He has issues. He’s quite stubborn and tenacious. He doesn’t always make the right decisions but he’s a good character. There is a bit of depth to him and we do get to know a bit about his past.

This is a juicy crime/legal thriller which opens with quite a humorous court scene involving a parrot which gives us a glimpse of Peter Donley’s character and style then switches to the Boys Shelter where Father Thomas Martin is getting ready to lock up for the night. From then on it’s a rollercoaster of a tale that kept me entertained (and engrossed) right to the end….. and yes, it was one of those books that kept me reading until the early hours of the morning. Excellent storytelling!

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy.

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The 7th Canon was published on 27 September 2016.  For reasons I won’t bore you with, I missed the fact I hadn’t published this post.  The good news is, if you are already a fan of Robert’s  the fourth book in the Tracey Crosswhite series, The Trapped Girl  is due out on 24 January 2017 – so not too long to wait!

 

 

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Local Girl Missing – Claire Douglas

 

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Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.  She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier – and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.

Now
A body’s been found.  And Francesca’s drawn back to the seaside town she’s tried to forget. Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out. Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn’t returned.

Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.  The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.  But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now’s the time to find out – isn’t it?

Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear – your family, your sanity and even your life . . .

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I enjoyed reading Local Girl Missing, Claire Douglas’ second book.  It’s a psychological/mystery full of twists and turns and a very good read.

Francesca is 39 years old, living in London and a successful businesswoman involved in the running of her father’s hotel business.

Out of the blue she receives a call from the brother of her best friend Sophie who, years earlier, had disappeared late one night from a club in the seaside town where they had grown up.  It was assumed she had fallen off the town’s deserted pier and had been swept away by the tide but no body had ever been recovered.

Daniel tells her that remains have been washed up, that it might be Sophie and he persuades Francesca to return to the town to await the official identification and help him find out what had happened to his sister.

Francesca takes a few days off and reluctantly returns to Oldcliffe-on-Sea, despite having sworn never to go back. We learn that there was an incident in the past, when the the friends were 16, involving a young boy, Jason. It appears Francesca and Sophie knew what really happened but swore never to tell anyone.

Daniel arranges for Francesca to stay in a friend’s holiday apartment in a Victorian apartment block, high on a cliff top and overlooking the old pier. As it is out of season most of the flats are unoccupied. There is a sense of foreboding and uneasiness.  It was easy to imagine the bleakness of a seaside town in winter.

Memories soon start flooding back, not always welcome memories. In fact it soon appears that Francesca is not welcome either and someone is sending her poison pen messages. There are various incidents that can’t be explained. She’s terrified someone else knows what happened to Jason. There are people from the past still living in the town. She doesn’t know who’s telling the truth, who she can trust.

The author tells the story from both Francesca’s and Sophie’s point of view. Frankie’s story is set in 2016, Sophie’s story is in the form of her journal from 1997. Because of the two time frames you get to know the characters both as teenagers and as adults. There is one character from the past who is really despicable. Who has access to these diary entries? Are they sending the poison pen messages?

I liked this book – it was a well written, satisfying read – quite chilling in parts and full of twists and turns and secrets. The ending was good and not quite what I expected.

Read an extract from Local Girl Missing here.

[My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for providing a review copy of this book]

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