This is the first crime novel in what is now a series featuring young, promising detective Gary Goodhew, and set in Cambridge and the surrounding area...moreThis is the first crime novel in what is now a series featuring young, promising detective Gary Goodhew, and set in Cambridge and the surrounding area. It's always interesting to read fiction set in or near to the place where you live, and to be able to recognise some of the sites and streets that are mentioned. I've wanted to make a start on this series for ages now, so I'm glad to have finally got the opening book under my belt. I liked it, overall, in particular the main character Gary, and his closest confidant, his Grandmother, and I've bought the next in the series, curious to discover how the character of this eager, intelligent and at times unconventional detective will develop and interested in how the author's writing and future storylines will evolve. (less)
Needless to say, a new book from a favourite author is always something to get very excited about, and as a big fan of this author, having read and en...moreNeedless to say, a new book from a favourite author is always something to get very excited about, and as a big fan of this author, having read and enjoyed all three of her gripping novels thus far, (Into the Darkest Corner, Revenge of the Tide, and Human Remains), I was therefore thrilled to hear about Under a Silent Moon. I grew more excited as I read that the story would comprise of a police investigation, the timespan would run over only six days, and that there would be ‘source material and evidence’ included within it, so that the reader could themselves be party to the clues that the investigation team have to hand, and thus feel involved in the story at a somewhat deeper level.
Elizabeth Haynes introduces us to DCI Louisa Smith, newly-promoted and challenged with leading her team in investigating the murder of an attractive young woman, Polly Leuchars, in the cottage she lived in, part of a local farm. It soon becomes evident that a suspected suicide of another local woman in her car at a nearby quarry may well be linked to Polly’s murder, and it’s up to the team to discover the truth behind the lies, unearth the facts and piece together the clues as to a possible connection between the two deaths. This author hasn’t shied away from darker, sordid or unscrupulous aspects of humanity and relationships in her previous novels, and neither does she here; as well as murder, there are affairs, sexual encounters, there is jealousy, desire and greed.
The novel follows the investigation as it progresses, through witness statements, interviews with witnesses and suspects, chasing up leads. What I found interesting and innovative here is that, as well as the narrative being divided up into the six days of the investigation, and within that the down to the hours and minutes of the day, witness statements, emails, telephone calls and text messages, reports and other items are also presented here within the text using different layouts/fonts and using accurate terminology, so that as I read, it felt like the information before me was very immediate and real, and that I was thoroughly involved in this story as it unfolded.
The author presents an authentic depiction of a murder investigation room, and in particular, through the character of Jason Mercer, she highlights the role of the police intelligence analyst – a role that she herself has held in her working life – in compiling reports and charts and presenting information that can be key to finding the answers in a case like this.
As well as the police procedural elements of the tale, the story also moves between the activities of the main characters within the village who were connected to or involved with those deceased, so gradually building up a fuller picture for the reader of how everything fits together. Nothing is revealed too quickly, the intrigue is sustained so that I wanted to know just a little more about each of them in order to make my mind up as to whose loss and grief was genuine, and who was hiding something. There is development of main character DCI Louisa Smith beyond her workplace, too, though her relationships do tend to involve work colleagues. I believe that this is the start of a series, so it will be interesting to see how she develops over future novels.
Under a Silent Moon is an intricate, intelligent, well-paced crime story that kept me guessing; it was great to see Elizabeth Haynes’ take on a police procedural style novel. The author was successful in making me suspicious of a fair few of the characters from the way her story is weaved, though there are clues and pointers towards what is in fact the right track (easy for me to say looking back having finished the book and discovered the outcome though I suppose!)
An engrossing page-turner that captures human strengths, desires and weaknesses vividly; if you’re like me, you’ll want to sit back, jump in, and not leave your seat until the end! 4.5 stars(less)
Although the fourth book in the series (as I understand it) of crime novels by Nele Neuhaus, featuring Detective Superintendent Oliver von Bodenstein...moreAlthough the fourth book in the series (as I understand it) of crime novels by Nele Neuhaus, featuring Detective Superintendent Oliver von Bodenstein and Detective Inspector Pia Kirchhoff of the Division of Violent Crimes at the Regional Criminal Unit in Hofheim, this is in fact the first book in that series to be translated into English.
The story is set in the small village of Altenhain, near Frankfurt in Germany, and features an intriguing scenario. We meet Tobias Sartorius as he is released from prison, having served over ten years for the murder of his girlfriend Stefanie – the Snow White of the book’s title – and his friend Laura. His conviction, when he was just twenty-years-old, was brought about due to circumstantial evidence – the two girls’ bodies have never been found. Needless to say, when Tobias returns to his hometown, he doesn't meet with a very warm welcome, plus he finds his parents have separated, his father is a broken man, and Tobias can see little future for himself now.
His return causes a strong reaction and reminds many people in the village of a past that many of them would rather not think about, and brings things to the surface that they would have preferred to keep concealed. As tensions rise, and violent attacks are made on Tobias and his family, detectives Kirchhoff and von Bodenstein are called in to look into the events and keep watch over this unsettled village that has had its equilibrium severely rattled. The more the detectives, in particular Kirchhoff, learn about the place and the past, the more they start to realise that there is a lot about the murders eleven years ago of Snow White and Laura that is still unknown. But the villagers quickly close ranks and it’s clear they won’t give up their dark secrets without a fight, and things go from bad to worse when another young woman goes missing.
I really enjoyed escaping into this mystery story. I could sense the suspicion and intrigue brewing within the small village and I was gripped as the secrets were uncovered and the surprising and shocking revelations came out throughout the tale. There is an intriguing and varied cast of characters, including Amelie, a newcomer to the village from Berlin, and I grew to care about some of them and feel for the innocent victims of the wrongs that had been and were still being perpetrated. Nele Neuhaus conveys the sadness and pain still suffered by those affected by the deaths years ago. As I read, I began to question what had happened in the past, and I had my suspicions as to who was hiding something; I think there are clues along the way that can be picked up on, though I’d be surprised if anyone could figure it all out. For me this wasn’t one of those crime novels that I absolutely raced through very fast, it was a little slower, but I don’t mean that in a particularly negative way, only that there was more to think about and contemplate with the many characters and strands to the well-plotted tale, and it kept me engrossed and guessing throughout.
We have some short sections that delve into the background and home lives of both of the two lead detectives, too, with a headache for Kirchoff regarding her house, and with a serious shock for von Bodenstein with regards to his personal life. In a way I wanted to stay with the main storyline, but the diversions were never too long and they add colour and insight into the way the pair behave professionally. In respect of the personal lives of the detectives, it’s a bit of a shame that we have the fourth book in the series translated first, but this is what seems to happen from time to time with translated fiction.
Nele Neuhaus initially self-published her novels, and now is traditionally published. I enjoy reading fiction in translation, and in particular that set in Germany. I’ve read several reviews of this novel and noted that many UK reviewers have commented on the US English of this translated version. I can see their point; at times I was a little unsure about some of the ways things had been rendered, but if it were a choice of a US English translation or none at all, I’ll still take this one. After reading and enjoying this one, I would definitely read more and I certainly hope others in the series will be translated; otherwise I might have to follow my husband’s suggestion and try reading another of the books in the original German. It’s nice to see this translated novel on the Richard and Judy 2013 book club list.(less)
'For the first time since he joined the Force, Roy Grace had recently begun wondering whether he should ever have become a policeman. From earliest ch...more'For the first time since he joined the Force, Roy Grace had recently begun wondering whether he should ever have become a policeman. From earliest childhood it was all he had wanted to be,...'
A group of friends are out on a stag night, and they have something unusual planned for the groom. Not long after they've carried out their plan, four of the friends out that night are found dead and no one seems to know where on earth Michael Harrison, the groom, is. Ashley Harper, Michael's fiancee, is distraught and frantic and, with only three days to go before her big day, she contacts the police.
Enter DS Roy Grace. Grace has his own loss that he carries with him each day; his own wife Sandy disappeared one day nine years ago and he has never seen or heard from her since. He's an interesting character in many ways, one of which is his propensity to use somewhat unconventional methods such as the supernatural in aiding him with solving crimes. Grace is coming up to his fourtieth birthday as we meet him in this book, and there's plenty of other details to flesh out his character, including that 'he had a memory that bordered on photographic, he loved puzzles, and he was physically strong.'
This is the first novel in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series by Peter James and set around Brighton, with Grace part of the Sussex Police Force. I’ve been wanting to try this series for quite a while now, having heard so many good things about the books from other readers, and I wanted to ideally start at the beginning and give myself the chance to then follow the books through in order if I enjoyed it.
And I did! I found it a very quick, engrossing, page-turning crime read with the well-structured short chapters that suit this kind of tale and make it hard to put down as it makes the reader want to see how each strand of the story will move on, and how the strands will ultimately be brought together. It had plenty of mystery, some intriguing twists and some genuinely nervy moments.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to reading more of this series and seeing both how the stories progress and how this interesting and likeable main character develops. I've already bought the second book, Looking Good Dead. 4.5 stars(less)
'I want to take this case, turn out its pockets, hold it by the ankles and shake it upside down.'
Detective Inspector Beatrice Stubbs is working on her...more'I want to take this case, turn out its pockets, hold it by the ankles and shake it upside down.'
Detective Inspector Beatrice Stubbs is working on her first case since a very serious incident in her personal life. She's been enlisted by her boss in London to head over to Zurich to work on what is termed a 'non-case' initially. There we follow her as she leads a small, multi-skilled international team looking into the deaths in recent years of several wealthy business men, so-called 'fat cats', all of whom seemingly died by suicide, and all of whom had questionable business practices. Did they all suddenly develop a conscience about the wrongs they had done, or was something else happening? The team starts to revisit the cases and discovers not only that they may not have actually been suicides at all, but that they may also all be linked.
It made an interesting and pleasant change to read about an international team, and to have the main setting as Zurich. Several other European settings also feature, as chapters interspersed throughout the main story take us back and allow us to discover the different circumstances in which each of these wealthy men met their deaths. This slow revelation keeps us interested in where and how the different deaths occurred and what might link them.
Beatrice has her own personal demons to battle. I'd like to know more about this side of her. The author introduces us to some aspects of Beatrice's personal past but leaves a lot unsaid too, and concentrates for the most part on the crimes and the detective work. There are more books featuring her - this is the first - so I'll be interested to see how JJ Marsh develops her main character in the next and subsequent stories. This isn't a criticism; I thought there was just enough to make you want to know more about Beatrice, but not so much that her personal life dominated the story; a good balance. I like Beatrice; she is flawed and insecure, but also self-aware, determined and tenacious; she keeps a hold on her team despite their deciding to sometimes deviate from the jobs she has tasked them with, and slowly develops a successful working relationship with them, and in particular with the initially rather terse Herr Kälin, this is no mean feat. She has a way of using everyday sayings or idioms but altering them slightly, which is quirky and amusing.
I enjoyed this story and thought it was a very well written, assured debut, with a distinctive main character in Beatrice, other interesting characters in the team, plus an intricate plot and an intriguing set of deaths that had me wondering, not just about who had done this, but how and precisely why. I enjoyed the interactions between the international team, and the choice of locations for the story; I visited Zurich many years ago and this novel had me wanting to return.
I also felt it was a lovely physical edition, with a gorgeous cover both in terms of appearance and the soft, smooth feel; it was a pleasure to hold whilst reading. (less)
'What's a woman got to do to get some attention around here?'
What an opening to this crime story! Jean Henderson has no sooner arrived on her first vi...more'What's a woman got to do to get some attention around here?'
What an opening to this crime story! Jean Henderson has no sooner arrived on her first visit to New York City from London, suitcase still in hand, than she is witness to a fatality at a grocery store robbery, and what's more, she catches sight of the face of one of the two criminals as they remove their mask when they are about to speed away on their motorbike. Jean tries to inform the police of what she has just witnessed moments before, but those on the scene pay little heed to her; she feels like she is invisible to them all, so she ventures to the nearest police station, where she meets a fellow senior, Stanley Rozello, who is on the cusp of retirement from the force.
'Less than four hours in New York and it seemed she had become transparent, dissolving into the background wherever she went. Could it be her age? Surely sixty-five was no age at all. Ever since her last birthday she'd told everyone who'd listen it was the new fifty.'
Jean is there in NYC to visit her son and his partner who is due to give birth. But when she reaches their home, she finds neither of them there and a strange message left for her from her son. It becomes clear that he is in deep financial trouble.
This is a compelling read by Eva Hudson, an enjoyable and entertaining crime story that turns accepted notions about ageing on their head and has something to say about the financial crisis to boot. She has created a strong, determined and unconventional heroine in Jean; a mature, older lady who certainly won't stand for being ignored and being made to feel like she is invisible because others may consider her as less significant in society now, somehow, just because of her age.
'Getting older had never bothered her, she actually quite enjoyed the licence it gave her to behave badly and get more of her own way, but this new invisibility thing was becoming tiresome.'
She embarks upon a plan with others who feel the same to make their voices heard, using the very thing that has irked her - the way she has been treated as if she is invisible and unimportant - to her advantage, whilst at the same time aiming to help her son out of the deep trouble he has found himself in.
The story skips along at a good pace throughout, with drama, tension and humour, and the lead characters are engaging; as well as Jean, I particularly liked the dogged Detective Luisa Rodriguez and her former partner in the NYPD, the aforementioned Rozello. Both find themselves involved in Jean's activities as she sets about righting the wrongs she encounters in NYC. There's a point made here about alienating a section of society at our peril - if they were to rally around like Jean, who knows what might happen. I haven't read the first novel by Eva Hudson yet but it is on my kindle and after reading this one I am looking forward to it. (less)
‘How had this become her life? It wasn’t even a life. She felt like a ghost.’
Abby Henshaw is on her way to visit a friend after a doctor’s appointment...more‘How had this become her life? It wasn’t even a life. She felt like a ghost.’
Abby Henshaw is on her way to visit a friend after a doctor’s appointment with her eight-month-old baby daughter, Beth. The journey she makes will change her life forever. Suffering a horrendous assault and abandoned at the roadside in a remote spot in the country, Abby faces not only the after effects of the brutal attack, but also comes to a terrifying realisation about Beth – she is gone, stolen. DI Michael Gardner investigates the case and as he looks into Abby’s life and those closest to her, he starts to uncover huge secrets amongst them, and he also finds himself forming a bond with Abby and unable to let the case go even when any leads seem to have gone cold.
Rebecca Muddiman successfully portrays how Abby’s life is utterly destroyed by Beth’s disappearance, and how she is tormented by the secrets she kept and the decisions she made. She is reduced to scouring public places in the vain hope of ever seeing Beth again, and when there is new hope she depicts the struggle Abby has to convince those around her to believe her and not let this lead slip away.
This powerful debut is a compelling, page-turner of a crime novel from a talented new author. The story slowly builds in tension, I was a bit keen for it move slightly quicker at times in the middle, but when the revelations come towards the end, I felt they were powerful and shocking. The chapters are very short and keep the story ticking along at a good pace. The plot is always central to this novel – the reader questions what the outcome will be throughout – but the novel is also very much character driven, as we get a strong insight into Abby’s drastically altered life and into DI Gardner’s rather empty life and his mindset as he continues to doggedly pursue this case for Abby, despite it having been shelved and seemingly without any hopes of resolution, whilst under pressure to solve his other cases.
I was really keen to discover the ending to this story and learn if what I had suspected was true; there are clues for us but the whole truth when it comes is more shocking than I had thought. I look forward to reading more from this author. (less)
I was impressed by Rachel Abbott's addictive debut novel, Only the Innocent; I found it a genuine page-turner, hard to put down, and I wrote at the ti...moreI was impressed by Rachel Abbott's addictive debut novel, Only the Innocent; I found it a genuine page-turner, hard to put down, and I wrote at the time that I was excited to see what she would create next. Having heard that she had completed her second novel, The Back Road, I was therefore very keen to get between the pages and discover the secrets contained within.
The Back Road introduces us to half-sisters Ellie Saunders and Leo Harris. Ellie is living with her family in what was the sisters’ childhood home, now fully converted from the place it once was. We learn that there were dark times in the sisters’ pasts, and returning to the village of Little Melham is a major step for life coach Leo considering the deep unhappiness she recalls from her time there when she was younger; the girls share starkly conflicting feelings as to the role their father played in their lives.
Then the author introduces us to a wider cast of characters who come together for a dinner party at Ellie’s home. Prior to this though, there is an intriguing opening to the novel and we learn of a desperate flight be a fourteen-year-old local girl Abbie and know that someone is in pursuit. She is knocked down and left for dead in a hit and run incident, which happens on the significant back road in the town. Ellie is a nurse and was called to tend to the girl when she arrived in hospital.
The scene is very nicely set-up for us to observe and get to know the dinner guests as they interact with each other, and various aspects of their behaviour and personalities began to arouse my suspicions. Several of their stories don’t necessarily seem to ring true and I started to question who amongst them I could trust; what secrets are hidden behind the beautiful façade of this home and village?
‘The mood around the table was strange. To Leo it seemed as if everyone was acting a part that was different from any version of themselves she had ever seen. As an observer of this intriguing phenomenon she had the best seat in the house…’
There is a welcome return for the character of Tom Douglas who featured in Only the Innocent as a police detective. This time he appears in a civilian capacity as one of the neighbours who attends the dinner party. We catch up with him having moved to be nearer to his daughter, and it’s interesting to see him in this different role.
Rachel Abbott has created a clever scenario and written an intriguing crime story here, incorporating twists as the tale progresses, and created some highly suspicious characters; she does a good job of making them open to question by the reader, with the secrets and rumours that abound. She is skilled at showing insight into the motives and psychology behind her chracters’ behaviour, and had me thinking about each of them as I read; what were their motives, their secrets, their relationships, who was concealing what here, I wondered, as I tried to decipher whodunit from amongst the lies, looking for the hints and gradual revelations. A clever psychological crime and mystery novel. (less)
Lisa Kallisto receives a phone call from her friend Kate Riverty, and replies to one of her questions without thinking about it very much. After all s...moreLisa Kallisto receives a phone call from her friend Kate Riverty, and replies to one of her questions without thinking about it very much. After all she’s tired and stressed, busy with her children, her husband, carrying out her job, worrying about money, and her ageing mother; so many things to juggle every single day. Then it is revealed that Kate’s daughter, thirteen-year-old Lucinda has gone missing. And the way things have worked out, it seems Lisa is implicated in this; Lucinda was supposed to have been staying over at Lisa’s with her friend Sally, Lisa’s daughter. So begins a nightmare few days in Lisa’s life, during which friendships are tested, her marriage comes under strain, dark and uncomfortable secrets are brought out into the open, and the community is shocked and scared. When another girl who had been missing is found, the search for Lucinda intensifies and fears grow when there is no news.
This is a wonderful, compelling modern day tale, with some good twists and revelations. The author tackles the modern day plight of women who are trying to cope simultaneously with caring for their children, looking after their home, doing well at work and maintaining their relationships as well as competing with the standards that other seemingly 'perfect' mothers appear to set and which are realistically impossible to maintain. The novel deftly highlights the importance of the real, loving relationships in our lives as opposed to the somewhat fake friendships that can be formed when really there is actually little in common.
This novel appealed to me on many levels; I loved the Lake District setting around Troutbeck and Windermere because that whole area is one of my favourite places in the world, so it was exciting for me to be reading a story based there. I also was very pleased about the inclusion of Lisa’s work caring for and rehoming abandoned dogs and cats. It was great to see an incredibly important cause like this highlighted in this story and incorporated well within the progression of the main plot too at one stage.
First and foremost though it’s a cracking thriller, the author has done a great job for her debut work in keeping the reader’s attention and produced a very good story; it’s pacey and passionate and I was turning the pages very quickly to find out what had happened. I found the narrative really engaging; we have chapters from Lisa’s point of view, an emotional observer on the investigation and close to all involved, then the main detective on the case, DC Joanne Aspinall, and also some short, haunting and teasing passages that allow us an insight into the criminal’s thoughts.
Lisa is a likeable, flawed main character who has a good heart but has made mistakes and is aware of them; in other words she is rounded, human and believable, and she goes through so many emotions over the course of the story. Likewise Joanne’s character is developed beyond her role in the investigation to incorporate aspects of her home life and make her a rounded personality.
As with the best crime stories, there is plenty of intrigue to make you wonder as you read and to make you think about if how things look on the outside really reflects what is hidden within. Importantly, the tension doesn't let up from start to finish. To say anymore about the plot would spoil it, so just give this one a read! I think it could be very popular, in particular at book clubs as it does provoke interesting discussion points. Definitely one to pick up this summer.(less)
We first met talented virologist Dr Kate Maddox in 'Catch Your Death', and two years on from her narrow escape in that book, we meet her again here, n...moreWe first met talented virologist Dr Kate Maddox in 'Catch Your Death', and two years on from her narrow escape in that book, we meet her again here, now living with her partner Paul and her son Jack in the UK, and hoping for a normal life. However her peace is about to he shattered, as a man connected to that terrible episode from her past appears and informs her of the horrifying news that a suspected new strain of the killer virus that Kate's parents died from is now on the loose in Los Angeles. Then there is worse news as a bomb goes off in a hotel in America killing the top scientists that were meeting there and thereby reducing significantly the chances of a cure to the outbreak being found.
As one of the leading expert’s in the world on the Watoto virus, Kate is called upon to travel to the USA immediately to a top secret laboratory in California to assist a special team in desperately trying to find a cure for the virus and help to stop it spreading any further. Reluctantly she takes Paul and Jack with her to the US, sending Jack off to stay with his father Vernon, whilst Paul embarks on his own determined if ill-advised pursuit of an enemy from the past, still intent on revenge for the death of his twin-brother.
This is another exciting, scary page-turner from the able pens of crime writers Voss and Edwards; it is packed with action, adventure, intrigue and terror. I was intrigued as to the outcome and liked the way the story moved between the different strands in alternate, short chapters, so that the tension in what was happening to Kate was maintained as we were taken to find out where Paul was, and then on to what was happening with the killers, keeping all parts of the story in play and ratcheting up the interest for the reader.
The threat of the deadly virus escaping into the wider world is ever-present and drives the urgency for Kate to discover a cure, and the authors keep the pace of the story and the action pounding along to reflect this. The truly frightening killers behind this release of the virus are certainly unusual and different to your average crime villain and they have their own strong cult-like beliefs driving their actions, aiming to start the world anew. There were parts of the story where I felt I had to suspend my disbelief a little, or found myself wondering if something would really have happened that way, and I was also a little apprehensive about the violence at times. These are minor quibbles overall though. I think if you’ve enjoyed the previous two novels by this author team then you should definitely read this one too. Although this isn’t my personal favourite novel by them – that would be Killing Cupid – I would still recommend it as a fast and furious thriller with some very unusual killers and a tense, exciting plot throughout. You don’t need to read Catch Your Death before reading All Fall Down, although I would recommend reading CYD simply because it’s a very good read!