It’s no secret that I love crime thrillers. There’s something about the story of a murder investigation – trying to pie...moreReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
It’s no secret that I love crime thrillers. There’s something about the story of a murder investigation – trying to piece together the clues as the police hunt for a killer; gasping at the horrors of a murder scene – that draws me in every time. And as this book was only 98p in the Kindle bestsellers, it was inevitable that I’d give it a go.
Locked In is Kerry Wilkinson’s debut novel, and the first in his series starring Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel. The book begins as the body of a woman is found, strangled with a wire as she slept. There is no sign of forced entry, the house was locked, and all keys were inside. How did the killer get in – or back out?
It’s Jessica’s first big case since being promoted, and soon more bodies begin to turn up in similar circumstances. The story follows her chase to catch the murderer while battling leaks to the media, irritating journalists and smug defence lawyers.
I really liked Jessica. She swears, gets a bit stressed and has a talent for blunt comebacks. There’s a sense that she feels a little out of her depth since being promoted, particularly as it only came after her mentor had to leave work following a stabbing, and she now has to work alone without his advice. I liked this detail as it made me root for her as a character; I wanted her to solve the case and prove to herself (and everyone else) that she could do it.
The case itself is an interesting one, and the story is pacy enough to keep me turning the pages - I read the majority of the book in just one day. It is perhaps more basic than other books in the genre: there can often be a lot of specialist language in novels like this, but Locked In is an easy read without the forensics jargon. But that’s not to say that the plot itself is too simple. The murderer’s motive is clever and I would never have guessed the link between the victims or the identity of the killer. I did, however, guess some aspects of the mystery quite early on – I wasn’t sure if I was right, but there were definitely details of the crime scene that I would have investigated much earlier than the characters did. Perhaps I missed my calling in life.
This is not the most complex novel but I really enjoyed it, and my highest praise is that I was only halfway through before purchasing the next two in the Jessica Daniel series. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.(less)
Cold Kill is Neil White’s fifth book starring Jack Garret and Laura McGanity – a couple that, despite their very differ...moreReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
Cold Kill is Neil White’s fifth book starring Jack Garret and Laura McGanity – a couple that, despite their very different careers (Jack is a journalist, Laura a policewoman) both find themselves investigating grisly crimes on a regular basis. I hadn’t read any of White’s previous offerings, but this works brilliantly as a standalone novel.
The story is set in Lancashire, England, and begins with the gruesome murder of a young woman. This is the second crime of its type in a few weeks, and the plot follows the chase to catch the killer before he strikes again.
This might sound like the formula for a typical crime novel, but Cold Kill is unique in the way that there are two ‘sides’ to the investigation. Not only do Laura and the police team work tirelessly to solve the case, but Jack is also digging for information – so he can write about it for the local newspaper. There were times when it seemed like Jack was finding out more than the police (slightly odd, perhaps) but I loved seeing another dimension to the case, outside of the official police investigation. There are obviously people that feel happier talking to a journalist than a cop, and Jack’s involvement brought another level to the twisty plotline.
The relationship between Laura and Jack didn’t strike me as being particularly loving – there seemed to be a distance between them – but reading the previous novels might give a better understanding of their history. That said, Laura’s slightly cold personality seemed justified when her partner’s career can put her in a difficult position, and White handled this well.
It’s difficult to convey the brilliance of the plot without giving away spoilers, but I was hooked. Cold Kill is fast-paced and exciting from start to finish, with a killer’s motive so deeply entangled in the storyline that every time you think you understand everything, another vital detail is revealed. It’s an extremely clever and detailed book, and I will definitely be reading more from Neil White.(less)
In a rare moment of luck, I won a copy of Lasting Damage in a competition run by Hodder Books. I’ve never read anything...moreReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
In a rare moment of luck, I won a copy of Lasting Damage in a competition run by Hodder Books. I’ve never read anything by Sophie Hannah before, but the synopsis sounded intriguing, so I was really excited to receive my prize.
The story begins in the middle of the night, where Connie Bowskill is sneaking out of bed to view a property website. She is looking for one particular house – 11 Bentley Grove – and it’s clear that this isn’t about buying a new home. She’s looking for something inside the house. Taking the ‘Virtual Tour’, Connie searches each room in great detail… until she reaches the living room, and is horrified to see a dead woman, face down on the carpet, surrounded by blood. She panics (who wouldn’t?) and wakes up her husband, Kit. But when he gets to the computer, the picture has changed. It’s just an ordinary room, in an ordinary house. And Connie’s the only person that believes in what she saw.
From the very start of the book, I was desperate to understand Connie’s obsession with 11 Bentley Grove, and exactly what she was searching for that night. Hannah uses first person narrative to expertly convey Connie’s paranoia and confusion, and I was racing through the pages trying to understand whether or not she was actually crazy. In some ways, she was difficult to sympathise with – but her mental state is all part of the mystery.
However, the story is not all told from Connie’s viewpoint. Between chapters, the narrative regularly switches to the third person, in order to explore the actions of the detectives investigating her claims (a vital aspect for any lover of crime novels).
Despite the exciting start, it took me a little while to get into the story. I felt like Hannah was going into unnecessary detail about the lives of the police officers, while I was just interested in the mysterious dead woman and the secrets of 11 Bentley Grove. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the Culver Valley detectives actually feature in all of Hannah’s books – so I imagine fans of the author would be more interested in the way things have developed for the characters since her last novel. That said, I didn’t feel at all disadvantaged for not having read any of her previous books, and the characters soon grew on me (even if I still wasn’t totally invested in their subplots).
Regardless of whether you’ve read Hannah’s previous releases, I would still recommend Lasting Damage. It has everything you want from a good thriller – loads of unanswered questions, exciting plot twists, and answers you’d never expect. There’s so much that I can’t mention in this review without spoiling the plot, but a dead body on the Internet is only the beginning. You’ll just have to read it to find out the secrets!(less)
I recently treated myself to a Kindle, and the basement (with its annoying lowercase title) was the first ‘ebook’ I dec...moreReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
I recently treated myself to a Kindle, and the basement (with its annoying lowercase title) was the first ‘ebook’ I decided to read with it. I chose this book for two reasons: it was at the top of the bestsellers list with great reviews, and it was a bargain at just 71p.
the basement (that just looks wrong – why must we avoid capital letters?) is a fast-paced thriller about a serial killer who has a woman trapped in a soundproof basement, and the race to find the victim before she is killed.
The story is told from two perspectives, almost as though there are two completely separate stories running alongside each other – a clever detail that works in Stephen Leather’s favour.
There is the first-person narrative of Marvin Waller, a screenplay writer that is so desperate to have his work noticed, he regularly lurks outside the homes of producers and directors. He has been in trouble with the police for this mild stalking, but his dark ideas for scripts, his inflated ego and generally creepy personality have suddenly made him a prime suspect for the murders.
We also see the thoughts of the serial killer, and experience the torture being forced upon the latest victim. The killer kidnaps women, uses them for pleasure, and then kills them in a rather grotesque way – but the bodies are never found. The sexual violence is graphic, almost too disturbing at times, and it did make me feel a bit uncomfortable.
At only 150 pages long, this is a very short book, and can be easily read in just a few hours. It is pacy, alternating between Marvin’s eccentric mind and the grisly scenes of the serial killer, and I was desperate to find out what was really going on.
Unfortunately, the end is disappointing. There is a huge twist, one that I certainly didn’t see coming – but it also seemed to make absolutely no sense. It’s the sort of twist that means everything you believed about the story feels untrue, and that bothered me. I had been really enjoying the story – it was heading towards five star status – but it was all ruined at the final page.
I may have coped better with the twist if the ending hadn’t felt so rushed. With such a confusing moment in the plot, I needed more explanation, more detail – something to justify the huge shock. But Leather chose this moment to bring his story to a very abrupt end. If this was a strategy to leave us thinking, he succeeded. It’s been 12 hours since I finished the basement, and I’m still trying to make sense of it.(less)