The KEPT WOMAN – Karin Slaughter

Will Trent’s wife is dead! Well, she must be…

kept-woman-media-mailerKarin Slaughter’s police thrillers usually centre on the pathologist, Dr Sara Linton, but this pins her boyfriend and his wife to the board under the microscope. Will Trent would like to say “ex-wife” but this companion from a tortured and abused childhood is as much part of him as a gallbladder. Something it would take major surgery to remove, and that she won’t allow. She stalks Sara, laughing at the paranoia that she engenders and the strain it puts on both Will and Sara.

Basically, this is Angie’s story. She is both ruthless and competent, usually on the wrong side of the law, leaking gall wherever she goes. We follow an involved heart-pounding week prior to her blood-letting showdown.

What is it that Will feels when a dead man crime-scene is covered with too much of Angie’s rare blood type for her to have survived? Logically, she is dead. Gut-feel, she is not.

This is another humdinger from the pen of a master-of-the-art of tense crime fiction. There is no let-up and the twists put a corkscrew to shame.

Looking for any discernable flaws, I thought: too much unnecessary detail – so what if the car’s damned gearbox needed topping up? But, ah-ha, even that little chicken came home to roost.


Karin Slaughter

Thanks to Dominique Le Grange [] for this review copy from Penguin Random House, South Africa.


Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, thriller, Whodunnit | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

DEAD in the WATER -Irna van Zyl

Another worthwhile South African thriller.

dead-in-the-water-irna-van-zylThe translation from Afrikaans is fluid, but foreign readers may balk at all the South Africanisms, despite the flavour that they bring.

Detective Storm van der Merwe is a great character; feisty, stocky and sharp. Her determination to pursue her target is so driven that she battles with her conscience over ignoring personal emergencies, like her mother’s illness. I am glad that we’ll be hearing more from her.

Set mostly in a small town on the shark-diving coast of South Africa, this thriller centres on the illegal abalone trade and is further complicated by flashes on seemingly unconnected incidents in Cape Town and surrounds involving the suspiciously speedy arrival of tow trucks at the scene of road accidents. Then a Springbok rugby player is fatally injured when a tow truck ploughs into his vehicle. Investigating the incident is Storm’s former partner, Andreas Moerdyk, a man who skates very close to destroying his career with alcohol. Irna van Zyl keeps him in play with his infatuation with Storm, tempering him just enough by his shame at what his partner will think of him if he does not shape up.


Irna van Zyl

When Storm is banished to the coastal town of Hermanus for her inappropriate protest at the shooting of beached whales, her chief orders her to keep her head down by working cold cases. Finding the body of an investigative journalist on the beach, with an arm missing, while walking her dogs, is not an investigation that she finds it possible to leave to others.

There are twists and surprises enough to keep one guessing, and the suspense is tightly wound to keep the pages turning.

Thanks to Dominique Le Grange [] of Penguin Random House South Africa for this review copy.



Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, Raw Africa, thriller, Whodunnit | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The GIRL BEFORE – Rena Olsen

This a novel of extraordinary originality, where reality is warped to a new dimension wrapped in a cloak of plausible psychology.


Consider: You are married to a strong man you love, have a home filled with children you care for and lovingly guide to their full potential, when armed men raid. You are torn from this home and confined, accused of crimes beyond your understanding. The world of order and stability that you knew is ripped apart. “Say nothing!” are the last words you hear from you husband as the strangers haul him away. There is nothing to say that is not the truth as you know it, but you say nothing. Nothing for days, as they work on you both with anger and kindness…

The action flip-flops between the present and the past; at first totally confusing for the reader; so much so that I was tempted to give up. Don’t do it. Bear with it, and the murk will slowly clear, as it does for the fearful and confused Clara Lawson who may have once been… Diana.

Clara grows up with her sisters under the stern parentage of Mama and Papa G. The boundaries are tight and the punishment severe for those who stray, but Clara is not unhappy if she stays within the confines. Moreover, she and the natural son of her adoptive parents fall in love, and against many odds, they marry.

So, how can that make her the monster her captors accuse her of being?


Rena Olsen

Her world tilts and skews, cracks and ultimately shatters until the only question is whether Clara will survive among the pieces…

This is a novel of great power and remarkable empathy. The characters are all too real, covering the spectrum of humanity’s complexity. I can unreservedly recommend it, and look forward to investigating Rena Olsen’s future crime scenes.



Received with thanks via Netgalley from Carolyn Darr [] of Penguin Random House, USA.


Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, thriller | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

JAKE NEEDHAM, an interview

BPM: BOOK POSTMORTEM is delighted and intrigued to interview the successful crime novelist, JAKE NEEDHAM, author of nine stories based in Asia. And published there, I might add.



As an ex-pat American embedded in Asia for some twenty-five years – Bangkok, Thailand and, I believe now Singapore, what is it that continues to draw you to the region? I gather that you wound up in Asia more or less accidentally for corporate reasons as a lawyer, but, excluding family anchors, what keeps you there? The people, sights, smell, atmosphere?

JAKE: Nothing really. Like most of life, my presence in Asia is just an accident.

I was one of the producers on a film I had written for HBO that was shooting in Thailand back in the early 1990’s and I met my wife there. She had been born in Bangkok, but had grown up in the UK. After graduating from Oxford, she was with some difficulty persuaded to go back to Thailand to become the editor of the Thai edition of the popular UK magazine ‘Tatler.’ We met when she was on the set one day with one of her writers who was doing a piece about us for the magazine.

After we were married, it seemed natural to stay in Bangkok since she had a magazine to run and I could continue to do the screenplay work I was doing from almost anywhere. Over time, however, life changed as it generally does for everyone. She gave up the magazine business and I gave up the screenplay business and we had a son. When Charles started boarding school in Connecticut, we began dividing our time pretty evenly between Thailand and the United States. Our son has graduated from college now, but we’re still doing pretty much the same thing. However, following the last coup staged by the Thai army, we spend a lot more time in the US than we do in Thailand. I suppose the simple truth is that both of us, for entirely different reasons, find Thailand far less congenial now that it was twenty-five years ago.

BPM: In my view, your Sam Tay has an innocence embedded in his character, an ingenuous quality that is both endearing and puzzling, given his career as a policeman. You have, in another interview, rightly pointed out that a writer’s characters, from heroes to villains, are all parts of the writer. As a worldly wise, widely travelled ex-lawyer, would you admit to such an aspect to your own makeup?

JAKE: I’ve never heard the word ‘innocence’ applied to Sam Tay before, but I suppose it’s not a completely off-the-wall characterization. Sam certainly isn’t naïve or morally innocent, he just laments the loss of the more straightforward world in which he grew up. Or perhaps he only imagined he grew up in a more straightforward world. Sometimes he’s not absolutely sure.

I think of Sam as a man continually disappointed by his discoveries of how muddled the world really is now. In middle age he has developed a keen sense of time having passed too quickly and for far too small a purpose. His values are clear and straightforward, and the older he becomes the clearer it is to him that straightforward values are out of style. I think that makes him a bit old fashioned rather than innocent.

BPM: Yes, I get that.

Caught in between your two series, both not only successful, but gaining momentum steadily, you profess a desire to do something different. As a writer myself, I have several plots vying for attention besides my own series which has several tales to run. Can you give us some idea of what shape your own possible somethings might take?

JAKE: Ever since I made that comment in an interview, people have been asking me what this other thing I want to do might be, and I have no idea what to tell them. None at all.

When I said that, I was simply lamenting the difficulty of keeping up with both series. In an era in which readers are able to consume books at a voracious rate because of their easy availability and relatively low cost, an expectation has developed that writers ought to produce books at the same rate their readers consume them. When people are fond of a series, they want a new titles as soon as they have finished the last one. Not very long ago a writer who produced one book a year was considered quite prolific. These days, you need to produce at least two books a year or readers start thinking of you as lazy.

I would like to add one book to each of my two series every year, but I’ve found that’s simply impossible for me to do. And it’s out of the question for me to write anything else without letting one or both series slide altogether. But I’m not about to do that. I’m terrified of my readers. If I stopped producing book in their favorite series, some of them would almost certainly show up at my front door and kick the crap out of me.

BPM: I applaud your thoughts on the dinosaur of mainstream publishing and the excitement you express regarding the new frontier of ePub and self-pub. Besides writing a gripping and captivating story, the writer has to learn a lot more about the basics of editing, cover design, marketing, distribution and sales. This would not leave much time for writing, of course. How do you get around that, if not by once more putting yourself in the hands of, well, a publisher of sorts?

JAKE: I don’t think you do get around that. Not having a publishing company coping with all of the non-writing stuff and hustling constantly to keep your name and your titles in front of readers is a tremendous burden. You get something back for assuming that burden, of course – your independence and your self-respect for starters – but that doesn’t decrease the weight of it.

Writing is an individual endeavor, but publishing is a team sport. When I decided to terminate all my publishing contracts and go it alone instead, I simply accepted that I would fall far behind my brothers and sisters who had other people helping to push them along. I confess that now I feel like an individual playing a sport against a team of several dozen on the other side of the field.

How do you do that? Simple. You understand and accept that you are going to lose.

BPM: In what way has a screen-writing background helped, or hindered, your novelist career?

JAKE: You know, that’s a question that no one is ever asked me before. And now that you have, I’m not sure what the right answer is.

My first novel was THE BIG MANGO, and I wrote it strictly on a whim. I had absolutely no idea how to write a novel. I’d never tried to write a novel before, never even thought about it or met anyone who had, so I think what I ended up with was a screenplay in prose format.

The best proof of that is probably that the film rights to MANGO have been under option more or less constantly since it was first published more than twenty years ago, but I’ve never had even a tickle of interest from film or television with respect to any of my other books. Of course, no one ever actually made MANGO into a film either, but those option fees have been a nice little earner for the last twenty years.

BPM: By strange coincidence, the only excerpt from any book read to me/our class at high school that I can name, because it made a lasting impression, was Richard Halliburton’s daring adventures. He took on challenges that these days would only be attempted with a huge back up team and the newest technology. His setting off into what was quite likely to be a one-way trip to disaster was, it seems, inspiring to us both! Has your own life been in any similar way physically challenging?

JAKE: Not in any way. Oh, I’ve had the odd scrape in a dark alley where I shouldn’t have been or some other encounter with an unpleasant reality here or there – you couldn’t live in Asia for twenty-five years without stuff like that happening to you – but they were all things that were entirely accidental. I have never in my life set out intentionally to have an adventure. I simply have never felt the need.

BPM: Thank you for all your insights, Jake. It is all invaluable to any writer, established or not. BOOK POSTMORTEM has enjoyed keeping up with the life of Sam Tay, but has yet to meet Jack Shepard. An introduction would be most welcome.


to learn more about Jake Needham’s international crime novels:












Posted in Interviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

MARKED FOR LIFE – Emilie Schepp

Tense as a drawn bowstring, this is a fire-cracker of a read, bristling with glimpses into the horrific dark pool of human depravity involving the enslaved children of murdered immigrants.


Swedish police detectives, and, together with a prosecutor, are baffled by the shooting of a man who is head of the Immigration Board. Even more confusing are the handprints found at the scene – those of a child in a home that has no children. Days later, the body of a young boy is found, shot dead on a beach with the weapon beside him that killed him and the murdered man.

We follow the main investigators, and the prosecutor, Jana Berzelius, whom they find to be an emotionless cold fish, on their quest for the truth. Jana attends the post mortem of the child, to discover that the child has been taking heroin and has a name carved into his neck, which begins to unlock forgotten memories of her own past. The discovery triggers a need for her to discover the truth even before the police do.

With my review copy in pre-print eBook form, there was no blurb to suggest that this was the first of a trilogy, which in turn kept Jana’s continuity a secret, which added a twist I didn’t expect and would not have got had I known. And now knowing, I look forward to the next in the series.


Emelie Schepp

However, I did not find, so far, anyway, that Jana matched Harry Bingham’s Fiona Griffiths, or Stieg Larson’s Lisbeth Salander, as truly mould-shattering personalities, but this was a well worthwhile read which had me gripped to the last page.

Emelie Schepp has been awarded Crime Writer of the Year 2016 in Sweden which is very exciting as the book is released. My thanks to Alice Geary of Midas PR, London, for this copy for review.


Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, Thrillers, Whodunnit | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

END of the ROADIE – Elizabeth Flynn.

Welcome to the Blog Tour! Two days later than promised; I apologise.

End of R pic2

An old-school who-dunnit with more feel-good than edgy grit or slime.

Readers are getting so used to the latter that I’m sure some are disappointed when there is less of the blood and guts than our TV series show us every day.

Set in London, at the Apollo theatre where a hot rock-band draws their fans like a vacuum cleaner, a roadie lies in the rear alley, shot dead, with the rock-star standing over him in shock. Nobody else is there and the first on the scene is a Detective Constable who has just attended the show.

His senior, Detective Inspector Angela Costello, will be the chief investigator. Her team gets to work interviewing all those involved in making the rock concert possible, from ticket sales to backstage, from bandsmen to managers and groupies.

The threads are unplucked and, as they unravel, discussed in the brainstorming sessions of the team in the incident room, we are privy to the suspects and the motives, the logic and the questions. The trail changes direction, from switchbacks to deadends until the final twist.

Blackmail? Petty ticket touting or big time business? Both or neither?


Elizabeth Flynn

Sorry to disappoint those who prefer hardbitten misfit detectives, but Angela is a happily married woman, not an alcoholic divorcee. The members of her team are enthusiastic men and women with normal hopes and dreams. Elizabeth Flynn gets away with likeable clean characters because their humour and warmth appeal. Not a lot of nail-biting, maybe, but I found it to be a great read.

More to follow, I hope.


BOOK POSTMORTEM’s review is part of the blogtour as this enjoyable novel is launched. This is the third in the D. I. Angela Costello Series, published by Lion Hudson.  (WWW.LIONHUDSON.COM )

Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, Whodunnit | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

INSIDIOUS – Catherine Coulter

By now, after 19 novels in what is known as the FBI Series, and some 50 others, Catherine Coulter’s thriller novel factory is a well-oiled machine.

Incidious coverHusband and wife team, agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock are smooth, well connected and well established.

Savich’s family and that of Venus Rasmussen, a powerful businesswoman and matriarch, have been friends for generations. Venus is the survivor of an attempted poisoning, for which it seems that only her immediate household has the opportunity to carry out. It is up to the pair to find out who is responsible before another attempt on the old lady’s life succeeds.

With Venus in her 80’s, what’s the hurry to dispatch her, and who would benefit, seeing as her children are already well heeled?


The action alternates between the Savich-Sherlock pair and Special Agent Cam Wittier, who, in the meanwhile, has her own investigation to run and leaves for Los Angeles, where a serial killer is cutting the throats of budding star actresses.

The Starlet Slasher keeps chalking up another score and the pressure to track him down mounts to a drum-tight pitch before Wittier can nail him down.

There is no mystery about whether evil might triumph over good, but this is an entertaining page turner to pass away the time. I suspect that the series is sufficiently stand-alone to be enjoyed in any order, so I would not hesitate to pick up any one that might come my way.

Thanks to Kelsea Woods of Sullivan and Partners, LLC, 138 W 25th St, FL 10
New York, NY for the eCopy.

Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, Whodunnit | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

DUTY and HONOUR – Grant Blackwood

TOM CLANCY’S DUTY and HONOUR, actually, rightfully keeping the Clancy flag flying.

Grant Blackwood turns out to be an acceptable successor to TOM CLANCY with his Jack Ryan Series.


He would have to be as accomplished a dealer in modern warfare, as well travelled and colloquial, and as exciting a writer. I think he manages pretty well and doubtless will slide slowly into his own groove in time.

The story features Jack Ryan Jr., son of Jack Ryan, now President of the USA, Tom Clancy’s protagonist for so many thrilling novels to date. Jack Junior is a Special Forces trained agent currently suspended from active service, who finds himself the target of assassins where the story kicks immediately into high gear and nail biting suspense.


Refusing to invoke his father’s power of protection and the forces at the President’s disposal, Jack sets out to find out who wants him dead and why. On the trail of clues left by a thwarted assassin, he saves the life of a journalist who has been following a trail of his own, putting himself in danger. With resources from both sides, the two men invoke the wrath of powerful men who need to bury them both.

Grant Blackwood.jpg

Grant Blackwood

A great read, worthy of the Tom Clancy name.

Keep ‘em coming, Mr Blackwood!

A Penguin-Michael Joseph imprint, Duty and Honour was sent to BOOK POSTMORTEM by Penguin Random House, South Africa.

Posted in Book Reviews, thriller | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

15TH AFFAIR – James Patterson & Maxine Paetro.

15th AffairAnother Women’s Murder Club thriller. This one is taught, and the grip tightens steadily. I found it to be more gripping and unputdownable than some others in this series and I enjoyed it. Lindsay Boxer, of the four friends who are members of the club, as usual is the main protagonist.

We feel for her as her normal heavy workload is especially backbreaking with the added concern about her missing husband, Joe Molinari. A fact that shakes her faith in her marriage is his history with a woman, Alison Muller, who just might be a ruthless killer.

Not only is Muller’s image there in the hotel security camera footage where four bodies are found executed, but a figure that just might be Joe is, as well. And nobody can find her either. It seems, too, that the CIA knows something about it about which they are not entirely forthcoming.

Maxine Paetro

Maxine Paetro


James Patterson

Fortunately for Lindsay, she has a willing babysitter in the shape of her friend and neighbour to look after their baby daughter as she sallies forth to joust with these mysteries and figure out just what Joe is up to. These domestic concerns give a more realistic feel to the tenacious detective sergeant.

This copy sent to the crime scene investigators of the BOOK POSTMORTEM by Penguin Random House, South Africa.

Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, thriller, Whodunnit | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The GAMES – James Patterson & Mark Sullivan

The Games.jpgThe timelines in this enormously exciting thriller are NOW! Right now, as we approach the start of the Rio Olympic Games. It was odd to live through the story, but not seeing it happen on the daily news.

What I would like to know is what part Patterson’s co-authors play in the development to his dual authored books, how to share out one’s praise, or criticism? In the case of The Games, whoever the driving force was behind it, he did an excellent job.


James Patterson

It is a PRIVATE thriller, this one featuring the head of this security consultancy, Jack Morgan himself. The threat is a two-pronged but mutually unaware, attack on the city of Rio and the millions of visitors, athletes and dignitaries thronging to the 2016 Games. Madmen and women protesting, each in their own murderous way, at the contrast between the uber-rich, and the poorest of the poor that inhabit Brazil’s favelas, living within a stone’s throw of each other. The billions that went into entertainment when they might have been better spent in uplifting the lot of the destitute. This may be the motive, but some have nothing but their pockets in mind. And a grief stricken bacteriologist out for revenge doesn’t care if the poor die as well…

Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan

As the worst atrocity the world has ever seen is about to be unleashed on the partying crowds, only a handful of men and woman stand between the lives and the annihilation of millions. The countdown is in seconds.

I found this story more plausibly human that some from the Patterson factory. A good read, indeed.

This review copy sent to BOOK POSTMORTEM by  Penguin Random House South Africa.

Posted in Book Reviews, Crime, thriller | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment