BLOG TOUR – Without Trace – Simon Booker

 Product Details

BLURB: A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and Making a Murderer.
‘A cracking debut. A real page-turner with a compelling central character’ – Mark Billingham
For four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon – convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter.
When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa.
But then Lissa goes missing.
With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame – ‘the one that got away’. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust…?
Introducing Morgan Vine, Without Trace is Simon Booker‘s debut thriller.

So here’s another book from Bonnier’s Twenty7 imprint for debut authors, which is turning into a highly successful idea. All the books I’ve read from it have been original and highly enjoyable reads, which bode well for the authors’ future careers. If I see a book with that imprint, I’m more likely to pick it up, assuming it’s crime fiction, or a psychological thriller, of course!

Simon Booker came into writing through screenwriting for TV – The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Holby City, and the Mrs Bradley Mysteries, as well as writing plays for Radio 4, and in journalism. This book is touted as being the first Morgan Vine thriller, and there’s a series planned, where Morgan, a journalist by trade, investigates miscarriages of justice. To me, that sounds like an intriguing, as well as original, idea for a series.

To the story: Morgan is a rather down-on-her-luck journalist. Her daughter Lissie, 18, has opted to live with her father at his mansion in Malibu, instead of Morgan’s converted railway carriage next to Dungeness Power Station, and the (imaginary) prison there. She runs a book group in the prison, mainly so she can be close to her childhood sweetheart, Danny Kilcannon, whose fight to clear his name for murdering his 15-year-old daughter she spearheads. There’s also suspicion that he was behind the disappearance of her mother, and his wife, Rowena, whose never been found. Danny’s second appeal is just about to be heard, and it’s successful – Danny’s free. However, he returns to the area where he grew up and faces abuse, both physical and verbal, from those who refuse to accept the Appeal Court’s findings; mainly, that the only eye-witness placing Danny at the scene of the crime, lied.

At around the same time, Lissie returns from the US to stay with her mother for a bit. Tall, gorgeous, and tanned and blonde from her Californian life, she turns every man’s head. At first she is suspicious of Danny, but he soon wins her over with his easy-going charm. She loves his vintage Mercedes, which he renovates, and knows all about cars, especially vintage prestige cars (yeah, right!)

Throughout the book there are parts taking us back to when Danny and Morgan were children, in order to explain why Morgan has such strong feelings about righting injustices.

Danny’s only been out of prison for a short time when the unthinkable happens, and Lissie disappears. Initially Morgan isn’t too worried, knowing what 18-year-olds are like – she’s probably been to a party and crashed at the house for a couple of days. But as her calls and texts go unanswered, the previously unthinkable has to be considered, and the question as to whether Danny is responsible considered.

I can’t say much more about the storyline as there be spoilers ahead! Despite the fact this book comes in at just over 400 pages, I absolutely whizzed through it, the short chapters giving it the sense of speed and urgency it needs so the momentum doesn’t flag (and causing you to stay up til all hours!) There’s plenty going on, and plenty of characters (without causing any confusion) and Morgan really doesn’t know who she can trust. The police are involved, but can’t do much as Lissie is over 18. Danny does all he can to find Morgan, getting sweatshirts and leaflets printed, “Have you seen this girl?” So he’s playing the part of concerned friend, but is that all he’s doing?

If I was putting as strapline across this book, it would be, “Trust No-One.” Also, no-one in the book, barring Morgan, is particularly likeable – not that it’s peopled by murderers, but they all have very different ideas of morality to Morgan – and, I suspect, you or I. Everyone has an agenda of some sort.

I apologise I can’t say much more other than, if you enjoy a mystery which has you changing your mind as to someone’s guilt or innocence every few pages, then this is a book for you. You’ll also meet a likeable, spunky heroine in Morgan. The book’s available now on eBook, and will be out in paperback in June.

I’d like to thank Bonnier/Twenty7 for my review copy.

Friday Finds


Stacking the shelves


I thought I’d participate in the weekly meme whereby you show the books that have come into your possession in the past week, whether from publishers, bought new, second-hand, library books, borrowed from friends, presents – they all count!

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At the start of the week I was lucky enough to win a competition, sponsored by John Murray Publications, of the first three books by Mick Herron about the inept spies sent to Slough House – Slow Horses, the title of the first in the series, followed by Dead Lions, then, finally (and rather wonderfully) a proof copy of the third in the series, Real Tigers, which comes out February 11th. I’ve had my eye on them for a wee while now, having heard nothing but good things, so I’m looking forward to reading them. And as you may know, I am a fan of a good spy novel…


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I’ve been lucky enough to receive review copies of two new books – Jonathan Kellerman‘s Breakdown which is out February 2nd. I’ve been a fan of Milo and Alex – but mainly Milo – for about 20 years now. This is one series – at number 31, I believe! – I do try to read in order, but I confess since I started blogging I’ve fallen behind a bit. Jonathan Kellerman books were first given to me by my old friend, Rab. He used to come round to mine to eat his lunch sometimes when we lived in Glasgow. My son, who was just a toddler, adored him coming round – as his job was driving a bin lorry, and he would park it outside our house! As my boy is now 22, it shows how long I’ve been reading them. The other new one was David Mark‘s Dead Pretty, the fifth in his DS Aector McAvoy series. I’ve read no. 4, Taking Pity, but will have to find the time to read the first three (I’ve got Dark Winter, his debut, and Sorrow Bound, the 3rd, so I’m on the lookout for no. 2, Original Skin, preferably going cheap for Kindle, or perhaps in a charity shop.

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Speaking of charity shops, in the fabulous Mary’s Meals, fatally located opposite the corner of my street, which sells paperbacks for 50p and hardbacks for £1, I got myself an immaculate copy of Stuart MacBride‘s The Missing And The Dead, and a similarly pristine The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, to give to my lovely GP, who is a big crime fiction fan. I’ve handed three copies of that book out to people I think will love it as much as I do, and recommended it to every crime fan I know. I also got a copy of Peter Hoeg‘s Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, which I had when it came out but never got round to reading, although it’s now being credited as one of the first examples of ScandiNoir. I also bought F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s Tender Is The Night, which I read for English Lit A-level more than 20 years ago, and thought it was due a re-read, as I remember loving reading about Dick and Nicole Diver. I’ve also got a copy of Villa America in my bedroom; the couple who owned the Villa, and “appear” in the novel, are alleged to have been the inspiration for Dick and Nicole – although I’ve also read that Fitzgerald based the characters on himself and Zelda. It’s a nice edition too – the silver Penguin Classic, and in pristine condition (this is the closest to the copy cover I could find online.)

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And in Waterstones, thanks to a recommendation from the lovely Shaun of Book Addict Shaun, I bought a copy of Mark Douglas-Home‘s The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea. I’d already got the first in the series, The Sea Detective, in – you guessed it – Mary’s Meals, for 50p. I’ve heard great things – Shaun certainly enjoyed it! – so I plan to get to it sooner rather than later, and then return it to Mary’s Meals, for someone else to enjoy.

So – quite a handful, or perhaps armful would be more accurate this week. But it’s all good stuff, and I look back to reporting to you on them over the next…er, while! Enjoy your weekends, bookworms! I plan to mostly be…doing housework, and reading.

What do you make of my selection? Read any, or planning to? Thumbs up or down for any? I’d love to hear your opinions!

BLOG TOUR – After You Die – Eva Dolan


BLURB: Dawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit.

The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead – stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

Whilst Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she’s up to the frontline, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects. Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter, and bring their killer to justice?

Back with a bang and her highly-anticipated third crime novel, featuring Zigic and Ferreira of the Hate Crimes Unit in Peterborough, is Eva Dolan. But I don’t have to tell you that, most crime fans will be aware this one’s out on the shelves, if you haven’t bought it already!

Ferreira and Zigic (particularly Ferreira) are still feeling the effects of a nail bomb let off at the end of book two, Tell No Tales. Zigic knows Ferreira well, and, always tough and very volatile, she seems even harder in this book, and he’s not fully convinced she should be signed back on to full duties. Consequently, he’s keeping a close eye on her.

For this book, we’re out of Peterborough and into a seemingly desirable commuter village, Elton. But of course, there’s hate, and so hate crimes, everywhere. A gas leak has pretty much destroyed a cottage, but it’s semi-detached twin’s causing a great deal more concern. In it the fire fighters find the bodies of Dawn Prentice and her daughter Holly, who was paralysed from the neck down after a climbing fall two years previously. Ferreira is already familiar with Dawn – she’d visited her the previous year, when her new people carrier had it’s tyres slashed and “CRIPPLE” painted along the side. They’d also been the victim of anonymous calls, and, unbeknownst to Dawn (and Ferreira, back then) Holly was the victim of some incredibly ugly comments on her blog, which she left up, but ignored, so her large army of supporters could see the sort of thing she had to go through.

Dawn’s been stabbed to death, and Holly, without the help she needs, technically died 48 agonizing hours later of “natural causes”, but it might as well have been murder. The previous harassment case had petered out – despite telling her to keep a diary of incidents, Dawn seemed reluctant to pursue the investigation and had noted little. Her husband Warren, incidentally, had left her not long after Holly’s accident for a neighbour, Sally – after he went off the rails, and lost his business and their bigger house.

In trying to find out information from their neighbours and friends, they get a mixed picture, especially of Dawn. Disturbingly, apparently she’d got into the habit of meeting men online, according to her “best friend” Julia. For a while Julia babysat so she could hook up with these men, but when her judgemental “friend” (who’s also fond of reporting anything she hears back to Sally) withdraws her babysitting services, she invites some of these men to her home. She appears to use them purely for sex – like a release, letting herself know she’s more than just a carer, even though she clearly loves her daughter. Still, it seems a bit dangerous…It leaves the always under-resourced Hate Crimes Unit with a lot of work tracking down all Dawn’s hook-ups, but for once they’re given some extra bodies.

Julia has two foster children, Caitlin and Nathan. Nathan is just eleven and disappeared two days after the murder, but, oddly, isn’t in the social work register of children in care. Julia, who’s unexpectedly become pregnant at the age of 42, and her husband Matthew, a teacher, seem excellent foster carers – Caitlin, 13, a previously troubled child, is settled and happy there, and it was assumed that Nathan would be under the radar there in the back-of-beyond, with a highly experienced fosterer – until he runs away. Zigic hears he was often at Dawn’s, so they need to speak to him, but he’s warned off by Rachel (no surname), a pushy police officer with a gun, and his boss similarly told by her superior that they would find Nathan – which makes the team wonder why the boy’s being kept so well-hidden. Could he be dangerous? Has he just been released from custody?

The team also hear reports from several people of an older man in a red Passat hanging around opposite Dawn’s. Luckily, one of her more regular male friends thought it suspicious – they’re right on the edge of the village and there’s little else to see – and remembers the number plate. He’s known to the police from way back as one of the more zealous animal rights campaigner, but seems to have changed his interests to campaigning zealously against the Right To Die movement. He leaflets them, but swears that’s the closest he’s been. He shows the police a video of Holly, previously unknown to them, flanked by her parents, giving an impassioned speech supporting the right to choose to die by any rational disabled person who has no hope of recovery.

Reading Holly’s blog, Ferreira notices the change in her attitude. Originally a sporty girl, winning trophies in all sorts of sports (they’re all still in her room, which must have been initially encouraging, then as time went on they would seem taunting) she now can do nothing without her mother’s help. Ferreira notices the slide into depression – initially she’s determined she’ll beat the odds; she’ll make a miracle recovery. But as it sinks in that she’ll never walk again, she stops going to physio, which was helping her gain strength in her arms and hands, then stops leaving the house altogether. That’s when she starts investigating the Right To Die legislation, and gains a certain amount of celebrity, as many supporters do.

After all the investigations into Dawn’s exes, and questions about strangers in the village, it eventually becomes clear this crime was committed by a local. As everyone’s secrets come tumbling out the closet – including Nathan’s – who is found by Rachel, and Dushan and Mel eventually get their hands on the murder weapon, there are still several people with motive, means and opportunity. The ending is truly shocking – I was totally wrong with my guess at “whodunit”! And the internet harasser is unveiled too…

This is a more conventional police procedural than Eva’s first two, but it’s just as readable (clear plenty of time for it!) and puts in the spotlight controversial things we might not always consider, like what it’s like caring for a disabled child – especially one who wants to die, the effects of harassment, some of the internet porn available (that truly shocked me), and the Right To Die movement. Zigic and Mel’s respective lives outside work continue to fascinate – they’re getting to be my favourite detectives! I get a strong impression that Eva has spent time with people from all walks of life, as her characters always ring true – I’ve noticed many successful authors have no idea how working class people speak. Not so with Eva, and she reminds me of Denise Mina in that respect.

The only problem? We’ve got ANOTHER YEAR before we get a new Zigic and Ferreira! That’s the only downside to another excellent offering from someone whose star will only continue to rise.

BLOG TOUR – The Invisible Guardian – Dolores Redondo

While I organise my review, because both myself and Mr C have a nasty flu which came on us over the weekend, I will give you a special treat in the form of an excerpt from The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo. (It’s awful both of you being ill at the same time; you should be allowed to take it in turns so one can play the nurse!)

Product Details

BLURB: A killer at large in a remote Basque Country valley , a detective to rival Clarice Starling, myth versus reality, masterful storytelling – the Spanish bestseller that has taken Europe by storm.

The naked body of a teenage girl is found on the banks of the River Baztán. Less than 24 hours after this discovery, a link is made to the murder of another girl the month before. Is this the work of a ritualistic killer or of the Invisible Guardian, the Basajaun, a creature of Basque mythology?
30-year-old Inspector Amaia Salazar heads an investigation which will take her back to Elizondo, the village in the heart of Basque country where she was born, and to which she had hoped never to return. A place of mists, rain and forests. A place of unresolved conflicts, of a dark secret that scarred her childhood and which will come back to torment her.
Torn between the rational, procedural part of her job and local myths and superstitions, Amaia Salazar has to fight off the demons of her past in order to confront the reality of a serial killer at loose in a region steeped in the history of the Spanish Inquisition.

About the Author: Dolores Redondo was born in Donostia-San Sebastián in 1969. She studied Law and Gastronomy. She began writing short stories and children’s stories and in 2009 published her first novel, The Privileges of the Angel. 

The Invisible Guardian, first volume of the Baztán Trilogy, was published in Spain in 2013, with rights sold in thirty languages, and has sold over 100,000 copies. The second novel in the trilogy, The Legacy of the Bones, went straight into the Spanish bestseller lists at number one. 

Dolores currently lives and writes in the Ribera Navarra.


Ainhoa Elizasu was the second victim of the basajaun, although the press were yet to coin that name for him. That came later, when it emerged that animal hairs, scraps of skin and unidentifiable tracks had been found around the bodies, along with evidence of some kind of macabre purification rite. With their torn clothes, their private parts shaved and their upturned hands, the bodies of those girls, almost still children, seemed to have been marked by a malign force, as old as the Earth.

Inspector Amaia Salazar always followed the same routine when she was called to a crime scene in the middle of the night. She would switch off the alarm clock so it wouldn’t disturb James in the morning, pile up her clothes and, with her mobile balanced on top of them, go very slowly downstairs to the kitchen. She would drink a milky coffee while she dressed, leave a note for her husband and get in the car. Then she would drive, her mind blank except for the white noise that always filled her head when she woke up before dawn.

These remnants of an interrupted night of insomnia stayed with her all the way to the crime scene, even though it was over an hour’s drive from Pamplona. She took a curve in the road too sharply and the squealing of the tyres made her realise how distracted she was. After that she made herself pay attention to the motorway as it wound its way upwards, deep into the dense forest surrounding Elizondo. Five minutes later, she pulled over next to a police sign, where she recognised Dr Jorge San Martín’s sports car and Judge Estébanez’s off-roader. Amaia got out, walked round to the back of her car and fished out a pair of wellingtons. She sat on the edge of the boot to pull them on while Deputy Inspector Jonan Etxaide and Inspector Montes joined her.

‘It’s not looking good, chief, the victim’s a young girl,’ Jonan consulted his notes, ‘twelve or thirteen years old. When she didn’t arrive home by eleven last night, her parents contacted the police.’

‘A bit early to report her missing,’ observed Amaia.

‘True. It looks like she rang her older brother on his mobile at about ten past eight to tell him she’d missed the bus from Arizkun.’

‘And her brother waited until eleven before saying anything?’

‘You know how it is, “Aita and Ama will kill me. Please don’t tell them. I’m going to see if any of my friends’ parents will give me a lift.” So he kept quiet and played on his PlayStation. At eleven, when he realised his sister still hadn’t arrived home and his mother was starting to get hysterical, he told them Ainhoa had called. The parents went down to the station in Elizondo and insisted something must have happened to their daughter. She wasn’t answering her mobile and they’d already spoken to all her friends. A patrol found her. The officers spotted her shoes at the side of the road as they were coming round the bend.’ Jonan shone his torch towards the edge of the tarmac where a pair of black patent high heeled shoes glistened, perfectly aligned. Amaia leaned over to look at them.

‘They look like they’ve been arranged like this. Has anyone touched them?’ she asked. Jonan checked his notes again. The young deputy inspector’s efficiency was a god-send in cases as difficult as this one was shaping up to be.

‘No, that’s how they found them, side by side and pointing towards the road.’

‘Tell the crime scene technicians to come and check the lining of the shoes when they’ve finished what they’re doing. Whoever arranged them like that will have had to touch the inside as well as the outside.’

Inspector Montes, who had stood silently staring at the ends of his Italian designer loafers until this point, looked up abruptly as if he had just awoken from a deep sleep.

‘Salazar,’ he acknowledged her in a murmur, then walked off towards the edge of the road without waiting for her.

Amaia frowned in bewilderment and turned back to Jonan.

‘What’s up with him?’

‘I don’t know, chief, but we came in the same car from Pamplona and he didn’t open his mouth once. I think he might have had a drink or two.’

Amaia thought so too. Inspector Montes had slipped into a downward spiral since his divorce, and not just in terms of his recent penchant for Italian shoes and colourful ties. He had been particularly distracted during the last few weeks, cold and inscrutable, absorbed in his own little world, almost reluctant to engage with the people around him.

‘Where’s the girl?’

‘By the river. You have to go down that slope,’ said Jonan, pointing towards it apologetically, as if it were somehow his fault that the body was down there.

As Amaia made her way down the incline, worn out of the rock by the river over the millennia, she could see the floodlights and police tape that marked the area where the officers were working in the distance. Judge Estébanez stood to one side, talking in a low voice with the court clerk and shooting sideways glances to where the body lay. Two photographers from the forensics team were moving around it, raining down flashes from every angle, and a technician from the Navarra Institute of Forensic Medicine was kneeling beside it, apparently taking the temperature of the liver.

Amaia was pleased to see that everyone present was respecting the entry point that the first officers on the scene had established. Even so, as always, it seemed to her that there were just too many people. It was almost absurd, and it may have been something to do with her Catholic upbringing, but whenever she had to deal with a corpse, she always felt a pressing need for that sense of intimacy and devotion she experienced in a cemetery. It seemed as though this was violated by the distant and impersonal professional presence of the people moving around the body. It was the sole subject of a murderer’s work of art, but it lay there mute and silenced, its innate horror disregarded.

I hope this intrigued you enough you’ll return for my review – right now I’m going to dose myself up with Lemsip!

crimeworm – My Favourite Reads Of 2015

Last year I didn’t do a “favourite books” post, the reason being I only started blogging in April 2014, so hadn’t done a full year of reviewing. I was even in two minds about doing one for 2015, as I – embarrassingly – haven’t actually get round to reviewing some of the books included here – I often find it harder to review really excellent books! I will rectify that in the next few weeks – just give me time to quickly re-read them, in between new books – and a few older ones too! I haven’t picked them out by the stars I’ve awarded on GoodReads, either, as I often feel I’m too generous immediately I put a book down…this list is probably best described as the books I still think about, even though it’s months, in many cases, since I’ve read them. I didn’t deliberately intend this, but it’s a Perfect 10 Of Wonderful Books. If I had – on pain of death – to pick a favourite it would be Without The Moon; and best debut author would be Rod Reynolds for The Dark Inside. And my New Year’s Resolution? I think that should be to review books faster, don’t you?!

Without The Moon – Cathi Unsworth

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BLURB: Hush, hush, hush

Here comes the Bogeyman …

London during the long, dark days of the Blitz: a city outwardly in ruins, weakened by exhaustion and rationing. But behind the blackout, the old way of life continues: in the music halls, pubs and cafes, soldiers mix with petty crooks, stage magicians with lonely wives, scandal-hungry reporters with good-time girls – and DCI Edward Greenaway keeps a careful eye on everyone.

Out on the streets, something nastier is stirring: London’s prostitutes are being murdered, their bodies left mutilated to taunt the police. And in the shadows Greenaway’s old adversaries in organised crime are active again, lured in by rich pickings on the black market. As he follows a bloody trail through backstreets and boudoirs, Greenaway must use all his skill – and everything he knows about the city’s underworld – to stop the slaughter.

I’ve got to confess, I was gobsmacked not to see this book on a raft of “Best Of…” lists, but I don’t think I spotted it once. It is also the book with the highest average rating on GoodReads from my choices – 4.4, according to WordPress. It ticks lots of boxes for me personally – murders (natch), a determined policeman who appears to have no other life rather than solving crimes, some wonderful female characters who still work the night streets, even though there’s a blackout, for their own variety of reasons. Then there’s the Blitz-spirit, the slang, the slogans (“Be Like Dad – Keep Mum”), the streets with huge gaps in them from a bomb, like a missing tooth, and the rooms that look like they’ve been cut in half, with curtains and wallpaper still visible. There’s very little to eat, so everyone drinks tea and smokes incessantly to make them feel like their mouths are getting something inside them. While everyone else was putting Crooked Heart on their lists, both this year and last, and while it’s a novel I also adored, Without The Moon won my heart. I have Weirdo; the next Cathi Unsworth on my list to buy is Bad Penny Blues.

I will be reviewing this in the very near future.

The Abrupt Physics Of Dying – Paul E Hardisty

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BLURB: Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay has a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company’s oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die. As the country descends into civil war and village children start dying, Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions. As Clay scrambles to keep his friend alive, he meets Rania, a troubled journalist. Together, they try to uncover the truth about Al Urush. But nothing in this ancient, unforgiving place is as it seems. Accused of a murder he did not commit, put on the CIA’s most-wanted list, Clay must come to terms with his past and confront the powerful forces that want him dead. A stunning debut eco-thriller, The Abrupt Physics of Dying is largely based on true events. Gritty, gripping and shocking, this book will not only open your eyes but keep them glued to the page until the final, stunning denouement is reached.

Another one I haven’t got round to reviewing, mainly because I spent so long reading, and then thinking about, this epic novel, but I will get to it. It’s an intelligent action eco-thriller, written by someone who clearly knows what he’s writing about, having done this job. Incredible prose from a debut novelist; it feels like he must have sweated blood over it. I cannot wait to read the next book in the trilogy, The Evolution Of Fear, which is out (at least in eBook) next week.

I will be reviewing this in the very near future.

The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

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BLURB: ‘Hello there.’
I looked at the pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar seat next to me in the business class lounge of Heathrow airport, then up into the stranger’s face.
‘Do I know you?’

Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?

Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?

A sublimely plotted novel of trust and betrayal, The Kind Worth Killing will keep you gripped and guessing late into the night.

This one appeared on a lot of bloggers’ favourites lists, and it’s no surprise. Take Highsmith’s Strangers On A Train, but update it to an airport in the 21st century, and have a millionaire vent about his wife, who’s cheating on him with the builder, to the gorgeous redhead, Lily, who just happens to have sat next to him at the bar. Her theory is that some people are The Kind Worth Killing, because they don’t deserve to live. She even arranges to meet and thrash out the plan step-by-step. It all seems utterly plausible to Ted after a couple of martinis at the bar – but why would a perfect stranger risk life imprisonment to help someone she doesn’t even know who’s got a cheating wife?

My review can be found at

Gun Street Girl – Adrian McKinty

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BLURB: Book 4 in the Detective Sean Duffy series.

Belfast, 1985. Gunrunners on the borders, riots in the cities, The Power of Love on the radio. And somehow, hanging on, is Detective Inspector Sean Duffy, a Catholic policeman in the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The usual rounds of riot duty and sectarian murders are interrupted when a wealthy couple are shot dead while watching TV. Their son jumps to his death, leaving a note claiming responsibility. But something doesn’t add up, and people keep dying.

Soon Sean Duffy, Belfast’s most roguish detective, is on the trail of a mystery that will pit him against shadowy US national security forces, and take him into the white-hot heart of the biggest political scandal of the decade.

My review can be found at

The Dark Inside – Rod Reynolds

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BLURB: 1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective.

My review can be found at

Joe Cinque’s Consolation – Helen Garner

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BLURB: A TRUE STORY OF DEATH, GRIEF AND THE LAW. In October 1997 a clever young law student at ANU made a bizarre plan to murder her devoted boyfriend after a dinner party at their house. Some of the dinner guests-most of them university students-had heard rumours of the plan. Nobody warned Joe Cinque. He died one Sunday, in his own bed, of a massive dose of rohypnol and heroin. His girlfriend and her best friend were charged with murder.
Helen Garner followed the trials in the ACT Supreme Court. Compassionate but unflinching, this is a book about how and why Joe Cinque died. It probes the gap between ethics and the law; examines the helplessness of the courts in the face of what we think of as ‘evil’; and explores conscience, culpability, and the battered ideal of duty of care.
It is a masterwork from one of Australia’s greatest writers.
Winner of New Kelly Award for Best True Crime 2005
Winner of ABA Book of the Year 2004

I will be reviewing this in the very near future.

Europa Blues – Arne Dahl

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BLURB: A Greek gangster arrives in Stockholm, only to be murdered in a macabre fashion at Skansen zoo, his body consumed by animals.

As the Intercrime Unit – a team dedicated to solving international violent crime – investigate what brought him to Sweden, eight Eastern European women vanish from a refugee centre outside the city while an elderly professor, the tattooed numbers on his arm hinting at his terrible past, is executed at the Jewish cemetery.

Three cases, one team of detectives and an investigation that will take them across Europe and back through history as they desperately search for answers, and the identities of the killers.

This was my first Arne Dahl novel, and it certainly won’t be the last. Witty, complex, with a great cast of characters (even their relationships with each other are complex!), I found myself never wanting it to end. I’ve since got myself two more, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy them just as much.

I’ll be reviewing this in the very near future.

Falling – Emma Kavanagh

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BLURB: A brilliant debut psychological thriller by a former police psychologist. Perfect for fans of Nicci French, Tana French and S. J. Watson.

A plane falls out of the sky. A woman is murdered. Four people all have something to hide.

Jim is a retired police officer, and worried father. His beloved daughter has disappeared and he knows something is wrong.

Tom has woken up to discover that his wife was on the plane and must break the news to their only son.

Cecilia had packed up and left her family. Now she has survived a tragedy, and sees no way out.

Freya is struggling to cope with the loss of her father. But as she delves into his past, she may not like what she finds.

‘Before the plane crash, after the plane crash, such a short amount of time for the world to turn on its head… ‘

My review can be found at

Broken Harbour – Tana French

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BLURB: In Broken Harbour, a ghost estate outside Dublin – half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned – two children and their father are dead. The mother  is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy is given the case because he is the Murder squad’s star detective. At first he and his rookie partner, Richie, think this is a simple one: Pat Spain was a casualty of the recession, so he killed his children, tried to kill his wife Jenny, and finished off with himself. But there are too many inexplicable details and the evidence is pointing in two directions at once.

Scorcher’s personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family, one summer at Broken Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk . . .

My review can be found at

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests

BLURB: It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodge It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

My review can be found at

So, what do you think of my selection? I’d LOVE to hear all your opinions of what should (and shouldn’t) be here!


BLOG TOUR – The American – Nadia Dalbuono

BLURB: The second Leone Scamarcio thriller.

As autumn sets in, the queues outside the soup kitchens of Rome are lengthening, and the people are taking to the piazzas, increasingly frustrated by the deepening economic crisis.

When Detective Leone Scamarcio is called to an apparent suicide on the Ponte Sant’Angelo, a stone’s throw from Vatican City, the dead man’s expensive suit suggests yet another businessman fallen on hard times. But Scamarcio is immediately troubled by similarities with the 1982 murder of Roberto Calvi, dubbed ‘God’s Banker’ because of his work for the Vatican Bank.

When, days later, a cardinal with links to the bank is killed, and the CIA send a couple of heavies to warn him off the case, Scamarcio knows he’s onto something big.

As disturbing connections between 9/11, America’s dirty wars, Vatican corruption, the Mafia, and Italy’s violence against its own people begin to emerge, Scamarcio is forced to deal with responsibilities far above his pay grade – in this tightly plotted mystery full of political intrigue.

The follow-up to The Few, this is another case which sees our lone wolf detective, Leone Scamarcio, take on a case which, this time, leads him even deeper into the political arena, where conspiracies are everywhere, murder is seen as the simplest way to solve an inconvenience (mass murder, in some cases), nearly everyone can be bought (“silver or lead”, as the narcotraficantes put it), you don’t know who you can trust, and nearly everyone has an agenda. Par for the course in Italy, and perfect material for a novel for those who like their crime fiction flavoured with intrigue and politics; lies and skullduggery – a police procedural-cum-spy-cum-mafia novel is the best way I can describe it. The first two are my favourite genres of crime fiction, so you won’t be surprised when I say I absolutely loved it!

Leone works his cases alone, reporting directly and confidentially to his superior, Garramone. His father was a mafioso, and for that reason he is one of the most vetted police officers in Rome. I get the impression choosing the career he did was a “f*** you” to his father and a way of proving you can make an honest living in Italy – although with the economic situation, it’s getting harder and harder for your Average Joe. Also, due to the urgency required to find a missing child alive in the first novel, The Few, which I’ll be reviewing shortly, Leone had to call in help from his father’s old lieutenant, Piocosta – a favour which he was warned would have to be returned.

This novel begins with a man found hanging from the Ponte Sant’Angelo Bridge, which faces the Vatican City. It’s almost a replica of the death of Roberto Calvi, “God’s Banker” – those of you old enough to remember will recall he was found hanging from London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982. A second autopsy ordered by his family showed he couldn’t have killed himself, due to the lack of rust that would’ve been on his shoes had he climbed up, and the fact his fingerprints were not on the building rubble found in his pockets to weigh him down. He’d also just bankrupted the Banco Ambrosiano, which was essentially owned by the Vatican Bank, and lost millions in mafia money he’d been laundering. Shortly after the man is found hanging in Italy, news comes from the Vatican that a Cardinal called Abbiati has been stabbed and is dead. Obviously the Rome police have no powers within the Vatican, and are hearing little about the murder, but it seems unlikely to be a coincidence.

Scamarcio has some contacts from his time studying in the States, and one of them has a source who identifies the Bridge corpse as a Simeon Carter, who worked for the CIA. However, the Americans are already over sniffing around, demanding the corpse be handed over. When the Italian authorities refuse, they somehow take him from the morgue, and send a fake ID and autopsy report, saying he was an internationally wanted criminal for counterfeiting, had a string of aliases, and had committed suicide.

In between updates on Scamarcio’s investigation, Carter’s history is revealed. He worked in countries the Americans saw as being in danger of being taken over by Communist rule. Obviously this is something the Catholic Church do not want, so together with the Americans, they fund bombings and murders which are blamed on Communist factions, thus turning sympathy back towards the middle ground or right wing, and securing the church’s position in these countries, going back as far as helping to drive the Sandinistas out of Nicaragua, and funnelling money to Poland and Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, an attempt to establish a trade union in a Communist country. Italy in the 1980s was in a poor economic state, and many were sympathetic to Communism, so Carter got involved in a series of large scale bombings there, as well as many other countries, with hundreds of innocent victims. However, he ensures that fingers are pointed to organisations with Communist sympathies.

Eventually, with all the pressure from the US, Scamarcio is told by Garramone to drop the case – after all, they don’t even have a corpse, and the US are not enemies you want to make. Being the stubborn man he is, though, he asks for leave and secretly heads to America to see what he can discover about Simeon Carter there, through his wife and his old friend’s source. But of course he gets to a stage where he knows far too much to for him to be left alone, and attempts are made on his girlfriend Aurelia’s life, as well as his own.

Please don’t think this book is all dry, political history – it’s very far from that indeed. It’s incredibly fast moving, with lots of action, double-crossing, and danger. Scamarcio is very attractive, and is very much a man who prefers to work alone, brooding over cases and only confiding in his boss Garramone – and even then, he only tells him so much. Towards the very end of the novel there is one of these really sublime twists you never see coming in crime fiction. And Italy, with its corruption, North/South divide, and the sense that you never really get to see the full picture or hear the full story, is a perfect setting for the Leone Scamarcio series – at least, I hope it’s to be a series. There’s also the problem that by now Leone owes his father’s old lieutenant, Piocosta, several favours – despite being told to stay away from him. Plotted as tight a drum, and with various other smaller threads to the novel, Nadia Dalbuono looks very much like being the name to watch when it comes to political intrigue. I’ll be very surprised if I read a more engrossing or cleverly written book this year.

My thanks to Scribe for my review copy.


Blog Tour – Nightblind – Ragnar Jónasson


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The peace of a close-knit Icelandic community is shattered by the murder of a policeman – shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark Arctic waters closing in, it falls to Ari Thor to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik where someone is being held against their will…

I am delighted to welcome the return of Ragnar Jnasson and host a date in the Blog Tour of Nightblind – yay! – back with the second book in the series they’re calling Dark Iceland (I only discovered that last week. And if you’re wondering who “they” are, I’m referring to pretty much all fans of crime fiction, particularly ScandiNoir, as this is THE hot series for those who like their crime in the cold.) Interestingly, and somewhat unusually, Ragnar has chosen to jump forward five years from the events of Snowblind, and the intervening years will be filled in in the next three books. A couple of big things have changed – Ari Thór has reconciled with Kristín. His girlfriend who didn’t want to leave Reykjavik to come north, has now qualified as a doctor and the couple have a ten-month old son, Stefnir. Kristín has just returned to work part-time after her maternity leave at a hospital in a nearby town, Akureyri. Also, Tómas, who you’ll remember as the inspector when Ari Thór arrived, and who became something of a mentor to Ari Thór, has moved south to Reykjavik in a promotion. Despite applying for the inspector’s post, it is given to a man called Herjólfur, whose father is a long-time and well-respected policeman, hence his appointment – nepotism, basically.

On the night the book opens, Herjólfur is on night duty as Ari Thór is ill with flu. Sent to a call-out at a derelict house on the quiet edge of town, Herjólfur is shot in the chest. He is taken to Akureyri, then on to Reykjavik, in a coma. The whole country is outraged – such a crime is unprecedented in safe Iceland. Tómas, partly at Ari Thór’s request, and as he’s already familiar with the town, is sent back to Siglufjördur to lead the investigation.

Tips from a couple of people they talk to suggest that the house in question was regularly used for drug dealing – perhaps Herjólfur interrupted a transaction? When Ari Thór is told of a missing firearm that hadn’t been kept in a locked cabinet, as is the law, he’s pretty sure he’s dealing with a local killer. The problem is, it seems most of the town knew the gun was there.

Another new and intriguing character is the new mayor, Gunnar, and his assistant, Elín, who is a friend since school, and is a competent and trustworthy colleague. The police discover that Gunnar was the last person Herjólfur spoke to. He tells him the late night call was about roundabouts, a clearly ludicrous answer. And why does Elín use the name Reynar, instead of her family name? When a source points to there being a political connection to the dealing, the more the police look at the new mayoral appointee and his sidekick.

Interspersed with the story are extracts from a diary written by someone who is being kept in a psychiatric ward, seemingly against their will. What connection does this have to the shooting of a policeman 30-odd years on?

This is a far more polished and confident book by Ragnar than Snowblind (not to detract from it’s excellence!) – we know several characters and like (or dislike) them, and as well as the shooting of the policeman, we will learn of the circumstances of two more deaths, unrelated to each other, but not entirely dissimilar, before the end of the book. They make for excellent and credible smaller strands in what is a more complex book altogether. There’s also a great set-piece between one character trying to escape another intent on killing them, showing Ragnar can write action scenes as well as his cerebral crime puzzles, influenced by books from the Golden Age.

I’m giving nothing else away, although there’s plenty more in the book to enjoy. You’ll have to get your own copy to find out what happens – that’s if you haven’t already done so, and read it too. I loved it, and was utterly bereft when I turned the last page. Bravo, Ragnar – even better than Snowblind, and who’d have thought that was possible?

My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy and her general all-round loveliness!

Whisky From Small Glasses – Denzil Meyrick

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BLURB: DCI Jim Daley is sent from the city to investigate a murder after the body of a woman is washed up on an idyllic beach on the West Coast of Scotland. Far away from urban resources, he finds himself a stranger in a close-knit community. Love, betrayal, fear and death stalk the small town, as Daley investigates a case that becomes more deadly than he could possibly imagine, in this compelling Scottish crime novel infused with intrigue and dark humour.

First of all, I should apologise for my extended absence – I’d had it all worked out that I’d  post a good few reviews while at my parents’ over Christmas, but arrived with the wrong laptop charger…! And I hope you won’t mind its lateness, but I do have a summing-up of 2015 that I hope to post in the next few days – late as ever! I’ve over-committed myself with various bookish things, so am reading frantically (a dreadful punishment, I know you’ll all agree!) to get on top of things, and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. So I’d like to wish all crimewormers a belated Happy New Year, and on with the show…

Having seen Denzil Meyrick’s first three books occupy the Top 3 spaces in my local bookshop’s chart for most of last year, it seemed well-overdue for crimeworm to review the first in the series, Whisky From Small Glasses, and see what all the fuss is about. And it’s not calmed down – one of the booksellers told me that as soon as any of Meyrick’s books arrive at the distribution centre, they’re to be sent straight to the Oban, Inverness, or Perth shops. They literally can’t get enough of them to satisfy demand in the shops that are (roughly) in the Highland area. With Oban, there’s also a local(ish) connection – “Kinloch”, the town featured in the book, is a thinly-disguised Campbeltown, a town which is also in Argyll, but 100 miles away, more or less straight down the Kintyre peninsula, and one of the most beautiful drives I know.

Anyway, to the plot – when a young woman’s mutilated body is washed up on a beach near Kinloch, DCI Jim Daley is sent from Glasgow to oversee the investigation, as this is very far from the sort of investigation the police in Kinloch are used to. With him is his close friend and potty-mouthed DS, Brian Scott, who provides plenty of lighter moments (I was at the launch of Denzil’s most recent book, and a rough poll of the audience found that he was the most popular character by far.) To complicate matters, Daley’s wife, Liz, who struggles to stay faithful to her devoted husband (not at all popular with the audience, you won’t be surprised to hear), also announces she’ll be arriving in Kinloch, too, on her thoroughly unlikeable but extremely successful brother-in-law Mark’s helicopter. And there’s little need for the incomers to introduce themselves to the locals – it seems word of their arrival has already spread throughout the town.

Once the murdered woman is identified as a local, Isobel Watson, her mother-in-law is more than happy to fill them in on her philandering ways, while her son is away at his work as a fisherman for weeks at a time. This gives her plenty of time for gallivanting with her friend, Janet Ritchie. There’s also rumours from other locals that Izzy and Janet are keen on their cocaine, and they hang out down at Pulse, the younger drinkers’ bar, which is also believed to be where the locals scored their coke. While looking for Janet to get a fuller, less biased picture of Izzy, they discover that she’s also been missing for a couple of days, last seen with the man who’s become their prime suspect – the owner of Pulse, Peter Mulligan – but who also can’t be located.

Daley and Scott learn there’s a lot more illicit activity going on in Kinloch than originally thought, and we’re talking big-time stuff. It seemed to be an open secret with the locals that dealing was going on in Pulse – so why didn’t the local police attempt to put a stop to it by busting the place? They’re hoping to get answers from Mulligan, but when they eventually locate their suspect, he’s dead – and he’s not the only corpse at the scene. Also, these murders look like professional hits. What have they stumbled upon in Kinloch, a remote struggling fishing port which seems idyllically quiet on the surface? While they attempt to figure out who’s behind it all, Liz plans a relaxing day, taking photographs of local wildlife. Her guide is a retired teacher who supplements his pension by guiding tourists to the best places to see the multitude of wildlife that can be found locally – but it appears he’d rather be looking at Liz, rather than any otters or deer. Just how much does she know about this man she’s with?

Campbeltown (or Kinloch!) is where Denzil spent his school years, so knows it well and it comes off really nicely in this book. Here’s hoping it’ll send plenty of tourists down, as the town, being so far from the central belt, suffers from a lack of employment. The fact that Denzil was a policeman in Glasgow before having to take medical retirement after an accident in the course of duty, means all the procedural boxes are ticked. He’s also very good on character and dialogue, with Daley and Scott making a great team, and this is a book I absolutely flew through. Even the less important characters are well fleshed out, and often very amusing. I may be a tad biased, coming from not too far away, but it is a solid debut that bodes well for the other two in the series out so far (The Last Witness, and Dark Suits And Sad Songs – a title I love!) I suspect fans of police procedurals – especially those set in rural Scotland – will enjoy it too; that is of course if you haven’t beaten me to it and read it already! Slainte!

P.S. crimeworm definitely doesn’t talk like she’s from Kinloch. Honest guv…

This copy was bought by myself.