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 – Nightblind – Ragnar Jónasson


Product Details

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

Product Details

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.