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.

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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.

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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.

www.midaspr.co.uk

 

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END of the ROADIE – Elizabeth Flynn.

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

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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?

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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 )

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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.

www.sullivanandpartners.com
facebook.com/sullivanandpartners

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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THE DEAD HOUSE – Harry Bingham

Excellent, as expected. No. 5 in the Fiona Griffiths series. The body of a beautiful young woman is found respectfully laid out in the bier house of a small Welsh country churchyard, in a white dress surrounded by candles. As the local constabulary is overstretched dealing with a toxic tanker accident, newly promoted Sergeant Griffiths is sent to take a look.

The Dead HouseOperation April, a task force involved in pinning down a conspiracy of mega criminals, has ground to a halt with no new leads, despite a conviction that there are still some very evil men out there. Fiona is temporarily seconded from the Cardiff force to aid DI Burnett to get to the bottom of this mystery. Although it turns out that the girl died of natural causes, who laid her out, why, and who is she?

 

Fiona’s stubborn refusal to let sleeping corpses lie, and her affinity with the dead, begins to shine a light on the matter. A quiet beginning gains momentum to screw-turning tension, as DI Burnett gets to trust and respect the weird, edgy detective.

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Harry Bingham

There is another ongoing mystery woven into the series – how and why, as a baby, did she wind up on the seat of the car owned by the man who adopted her, and is this connected to that man’s shady past? For this reason, I recommend that the series is read in their order to pick up on these threads, but, in any order, I am an out and out fan of Fiona’s. She will go down in literary crime history as a strong contender for the most memorable character ever.

Bravo, Harry! Keep going.

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FIFTH COLUMN – Mike Hollow

Based in war torn London during the WWII blitz. The anxiety, the fear, the sirens, the discomfort of the Anderson shelters, the crump of incoming bombs and shaking earth are realistically portrayed.

Fifth ColumnThe body of a young woman lies among the bomb rubble, but that was not what killed her. She is found by a squad of men tasked to search the fallen masonry for the dead and injured and to account for the residents who used to live there.

When a local engineering factory reports a staff member missing, she is identified as Mary Watkins. Detective Inspector Jago is tasked with piecing together the scant clues to why she died.

No spoilers; blitzed London is well portrayed and the interwoven torn loyalties, old Fascist sympathies, blackmarket sidelines, and sabotage all play their part…

Jago is a very likeable character, although a little fragile and tentative in his personal relationships, as personified by his interest in the company of a beautiful American journalist. Perhaps it is this empathy that makes one warm to him?

Mike Hollow

Mike Hollow

Despite the fact that the pace is gentle and rarely tense enough to raise a heartbeat, the tale is warmly readable, the characters real and grounded. A comfortable read, I certainly found no reason to put it down, and if offered another Jago novel – this is the second in the series – I would welcome it.

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ALFREDO’S LUCK – Michael Ludden

luddencoverTHIS CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATED by JIM NESBITT.

It’s a fine but rare thing to find a writer who’s capable of spinning out a winning, fast-paced thriller with an intricate plot and a baker’s dozen of well-defined characters without leaving the reader in the dust, dazed and confused. Rarer still to find an author who also tells his tale with a well-tuned sense of place, deftly delivered like just the right amount of spice, adding a dash of taste and texture to the story without overpowering it.

Michael Ludden’s ALFREDO’S LUCK is one helluva read that delivers the goods described above with skillful panache. And the place we’re talking about is Florida – Miami, to be precise — with a short jaunt to Cuba and the Keys thrown in. Hunter S. Thompson once called Miami “the Hong Kong of the Western Hemisphere” and it is an exotic, seedy, luxurious and often violent place that inspires hyperbole and over-the-top caricature.

Michael Ludden

Michael Ludden

However, Ludden avoids the trap other Florida writers can’t seem to resist. He writes knowingly about the state where he long worked as a roving correspondent and editor without making Florida’s rococo wackiness the centerpiece. His story never jumps the shark and never gets bogged down in details about subjects such as the politics of Miami’s Cuban-American community. Instead, he shows discipline and restraint to keep this rollicking novel in high gear. To be sure, there are a lot of colorful characters and enough authentically painted local color to satisfy even that rarest of birds, a native Floridian. But they’re there in service of Ludden’s story.

At its core, this novel is equal parts prison break with killer convicts on the run and a murder mystery that appears to be a botched assassination attempt on a very wealthy and politically influential Cuban-American businessman, Alfredo Gonzales. Tate Drawdy, as loose a cannon as you’ll ever find in the long history of detective novels, is the Metro-Dade PD detective who catches the case. Drawdy is nobody’s fool – and nobody’s idea of a by-the-book, chain-of-command kind of cop.

 

He and his partner, the improbably-named Hugh Brice-Whittaker, piece together the clues that tell them why Gonzales is a target and eventually reveal his well-financed plan for payback – nothing less than an assassination plot against Fidel Castro by his own cadre of Cuban-American exiles and their descendants. Running headlong into this story line is a manhunt for four prison escapees, led by Grady Osmund, prison superintendent, and his brothers Buddy Lee and Fred. A murderous assassin-for-hire, Jacky Boy Barnett heads the cons. They leave a trail of bodies as they head for Miami’s seedier enclaves, including one of their own and more than a few of Metro-Dade’s finest.

James NESBITT

Jim Nesbitt – author & reviewer.

The stories merge as it slowly becomes clear that Barnett is the killer-on-deck for the next attempt on Gonzales life and Drawdy, hell bent on revenge, closes in. Will Alfredo’s luck hold? You’ll need to buy Ludden’s book to find out. Along the way, you’ll be surprised by the author’s well-disguised plot twist, saved for the finale.

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FLASH CRASH – Denison Hatch

ONE ALGORITHM: EXECUTED. FOUR TONS OF GOLD: GONE.

Flash CrashI was bracing myself for a techno-thriller, but nowhere was this racy narrative flooded with show-off techno detail that detracted from either the flow or tension.

It may be a bit misleading to call this a Jake Rivett Heist Series, although it is No. 1, as there is less of the New York Detective than there is of David Belov, a backroom programmer at an investment bank. But perhaps the glue will be the heist part of it.

However, there is enough of the tenacious, wiry motor-bike riding detective to get a good sense of what he is about, and I do look forward to the next of his exploits.

David Belov has fought his way out of the clutches of his Russian gang childhood to become a brilliant computer tech, cloistered in the depths of the banks innards. He is a timid quant, barely acknowledged by the Ivy-league floor-traders. Then his world falls apart when he is blackmailed into writing an algorithm that will intentionally crash the gold market. Shoring up their collateral involves the bank moving the bank’s physical gold reserves to the vaults of major investors.

The gold disappears en route.

And David is the fall-guy. Jake Rivett of the Major Crimes Unit is after him, convinced of his involvement.

On the run and in fear for the safety of his wife and young son, he is forced to turn to his childhood friend, gang leader, Vlad. Their uneasy history is deftly dealt with in a series of flash-backs which flesh out these two characters convincingly. Confronting his past may just allow him a future…

Denison Hatch

Denison Hatch

The tension mounts with ever increasing intensity. A highly recommended yarn; the launching of a promising writing career for Denison Hatch.

For more on the musings and news of this author, go to www.DenisonHatch.com

 

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