Book Review: From the Shadows (Dan Grant Book 1), by Neil White

Publisher:  Bonnier Zaffre

Publication date:  Kindle – 9th March 2017 / Paperback – 10th August 2017

All hail the first in a new British legal thriller starring Dan Grant, and what a firecracker it is!

If someone would have said I’d have enjoyed reading anything about courtrooms I’d have said, “no, you’re alright thanks.” Except for the occasional Perry Mason episode it wouldn’t be my first choice of entertainment. So it’s a damned good job I was familiar with Neil White’s writing from reading his crime thriller “The Domino Killer” or I probably would have passed on this one, and THAT would have been a huge mistake!

I was mightily impressed by just how much the aspects of case preparation and court procedure intrigued me – the truth chasing, deciphering the witness testimony, the late additions of ‘forgetful’ interviewees, alongside lawyers’ etiquette and conduct both in and out of the court room.

Forget pages of endless paperwork and lengthy ‘lawyer talk’, the time just flew by as I was reading. From the Shadows excels when representing the demands placed on a defence lawyer with integrity and it genuinely kept me on the edge of my seat. What makes you suspect someone isn’t telling you the whole truth and everything but the truth? What if your appraisal of the evidence is off the mark and your case fell apart along with your client’s life? More importantly, what have you actually achieved if you succeed and the guilty go free? So many questions, so little time face Dan Grant, a lawyer with a moral compass directing him to places he may regret visiting.

Grant is the last hope for some and has earned a reputation for providing legal assistance with a conscience, both inside and outside the courtroom. Occasionally his work is shrouded in a mystery that is impossible to unravel, like this case involving a ‘creepy’ bloke accused of murdering a young woman in her bedroom was literally thrown to him like a hot potato after a rival law firm stated ‘conflict of interest’, plus there was only two weeks to the trial date.

With the help of his freelance assistant, a previous client he defended after she killed her abusive boyfriend in self-defence, they uncover witnesses who are too reluctant to talk to the police because of their personal ‘experience’ of them or for a gut feeling that Dan and his assistant cannot pin down, until it steps out From the Shadows.

Conflicting facts and maintaining chameleon-like social skills to adapt to people from all walks of life is emotionally and physically demanding, especially when the only thing you can believe is that your client is holding something back. But that doesn’t mean they are not entitled to have representation to convey their version of events before a jury. After all, what if ‘the whole truth’ hasn’t been revealed yet?

This story shows anything can be waiting in the shadows. Tremendous work, Mr White – I loved it!

Rating:   5/5

(My thanks to the publisher for offering me the opportunity to read a digital copy of this title for which it is my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered.

Robert Carter stands accused of killing her.

According to Mary’s friends, Robert watched her, harassed her, stalked her.

But did he kill her?

Dan Grant is Robert’s lawyer. He and his investigator Jayne Brett have two weeks before Robert Carter goes to trial. Two weeks to prove whether or not he killed Mary.

Together they will get to the truth – whatever the cost . . .

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(Currently £0.98 at the time of publishing this review!)

(Courtesy of Author’s own website)

I’m a criminal lawyer and I’m a crime fiction writer. I have published nine books so far, and my new series is now out in ebook, the first called From The Shadows, published by Bonnier Zaffre, involving defence lawyer Dan Grant and private detective Jayne Brett. The paperback will follow on 10th August 2017.

My previous books include the Jack Garrett series, published by HarperCollins, four of which were top twenty ebook bestsellers, with Cold Kill spending a month at number one and becoming one of the biggest selling UK ebooks of 2011. The books in the Parker brothers trilogy were published by Sphere from 2013, with the last in the series, The Domino Killer, was released in paperback on 1st December 2016.

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Book Review: Death is a Welcome Guest (Plague Times Trilogy 2), by Louise Welsh

Publisher:  John Murray

Publication date:  January 2016 (Paperback)

death-is-a-welcome-guest-my-review

death-is-a-welcome-guest-by-louise-welshIn this second book in the Plague Times Trilogy, Death is a Welcome Guest, the ‘every person for themselves’ reaction to the global pandemic continues as it threatens to indiscriminately wipe out the world’s population. As it cleaves through families to leave a single survivor, or in most cases no one at all, I began to wonder which group should be considered the most fortunate – the living or the dead.

The increasingly lawless state encourages small pockets of communities to gather. They appear to observe minimal social graces while a feral streak is itching to get to the surface. Sinking into biblical regression is just one of the options for those who have tried or lost everything else and the author reinforces the ferocity of their situation as scenes of panic, repulsion, and defensive tactics are portrayed vividly but in perfectly timed wake up calls.

With the combination of a variety of characters and their degrees of despair, the story marches on at quite a pace until the most unlikely hero emerges in a stand-up comedian by the name of Magnus McFall. His initial problems began when he tried to save a girl from being assaulted only to find he was arrested for the offence himself. When ‘The Sweats’ hit, being trapped in a cell with his putrefying cellmate would seem like a walk in the park compared to what awaits him outside his door.

We follow his escape from prison under the reluctant wing of fellow inmate, Jeb Soames, an enigmatic loner with one or two skeletons in the cupboard. As with most people in this story, it’s unwise to make assumptions based on someone’s past or first appearances as their behaviour continually challenges your expectations.

As Magnus makes his way out of London to travel home to Orkney my liking for him grew. His mother’s telephone rings out which should tell him everything he needs to know, but he clutches to the vaguest hope that all is well. For the moment it’s all he’s got as it’s not just the threat of illness or his new convict companion he has to worry about, it’s the casual strangers they meet whose cause of death is swathed in suspicion. While the ‘whodunnit’ element isn’t overly complex I enjoyed the creeping suspense immensely.

Facing the harsh reality of a civilisation on the verge of imploding, Death is a Welcome Guest offers both the best and the worst of people. To learn that some people have preserved their integrity when others have lost their moral compass is reassuring, even in fiction.

Very much looking forward to reading No Dominion (Book 3) in 2017 to see how the trilogy concludes. Hopefully we’ll see more of our first survivor from A Lovely Way to Burn (Book 1), as Stevie Flint makes only the briefest appearance on this occasion. Not to worry though, Magnus McFall confidently holds the spotlight from beginning to end.

Rating:  4/5 (With special mention to the woman in the ‘Village in Bloom’ competition – what a trouper.)

(Source: My own purchased copy that’s been sitting on my shelf far too long!)

death-is-a-welcome-guest-book-summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Magnus McFall was a comic on the brink of his big break when the world came to an end. Now, he is a man on the run and there is nothing to laugh about.

Thrown into unwilling partnership with an escaped convict, Magnus flees the desolation of London to make the long journey north, clinging to his hope that the sickness has not reached his family on their remote Scottish island.

He finds himself in a landscape fraught with danger, fighting for his place in a world ruled by men, like his fellow traveller Jeb – practical men who do not let pain or emotions interfere with getting the job done.

This is a world with its own justice, and new rules.
Where people, guns and food are currency.
Where survival is everything.

Death is a Welcome Guest defies you to put it down, and leaves you with questions that linger in the mind long after you read the last page.

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death-is-a-welcome-guest-author-profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Louise Welsh is the author of six highly acclaimed novels including The Cutting Room and A Lovely Way to Burn. She has been the recipient of several awards including the John Creasey Memorial Dagger and the Saltire first book award. Death is a Welcome Guest is the second novel in the Plague Times trilogy.

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Book Review: The Art Teacher, by Paul Read #Legend100

Publisher:  Legend Press

Publication date:  1st September 2016

The Art Teacher - My Review

The Art Teacher - CoverThe Art Teacher is a portrayal of a blemished world where desperate youths are top of a dangerous food chain and the authorities are slowly losing their minds. Take every streetwise retort and sideways glare fuelled by troubled teenage tribes and simply accept that despite possessing a teaching degree, immense life experience, and your best efforts, you haven’t got a hope in hell of influencing their poor life choices.

An inoffensive Art Teacher wouldn’t normally orbit the infamous Braddock estate except he teaches the majority of the local kids who live at this unfortunate post code, infamous for its recruitment of youths into one of the territorial gangs – little did he know their worlds would soon collide.

Patrick might be paid to turn up every day and educate them on how to throw a pot to the best of their abilities and decorate it afterwards, but ironically all their interest lay in similar pursuits such as hurling clay bricks and daubing senseless graffiti tags all over the neighbourhood.

Yes, the cunning kids featured in The Art Teacher would seamlessly blend into a heckling pack of hyenas circling its prey. Their complacency in the classroom originates from dark, unpredictable motives and that’s the liberally greased slippery slope right there, as any problem behaviour is given a wide birth and their unbridled distain for authority is relatively unchallenged for fear of reprisal.

That is, until Patrick’s dignity is teetering on the verge of non-existent and he confronts one of his more troublesome students. The subject that day was Denis, self-appointed spawn of the devil by nature of his unruly actions. He uses the scar from his hair lip to his advantage to strike a menacing pose before he grunts something obnoxious at Patrick; wearing that scowl like a badge of honour he tallies invisible medals from the dishonourable deeds he’s been engaged in.

It was truly awful to witness Patrick’s downward spiral into oblivion as his spontaneous challenge only resulted in a larger target being placed on his back. While escape from the battle cries of the anonymous students who elected themselves judge and jury is nigh on impossible, retaliation festers behind their smirking jaws but it’s nothing like he (or I as a reader) could ever imagine.

On the flip side of the coin, in a place where hope isn’t snuffed out, Patrick attempts to side step the bad eggs to help one of his students pleading help. Frequent visits to the grim Braddock estate opens his eyes, yet naivety will be his downfall as he’s outsmarted at every turn. This brooding plot aims to turn Patrick into a social pariah, and the intimidation and taunting he suffers attracts the interest of the local police to his door when they are drafted in to investigate a major incident on the estate which will alter the course of his life forever.

The Art Teacher excelled beyond anything I was expecting. The steady and continual layering is most excellently done until the tension is as snap-worthy as Patrick’s patience threshold. There’s a razor sharp observation of everything that has been damaged sociologically within the blink of a generation. Despite the oppressive air of despondency smothering them all the writing is fresh, engaging, and slices through contemporary issues with ease.

Rating:  A HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 5/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review, with my sincere thanks.)

Legend 100

The Art Teacher - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘This is a superb debut… gritty, disturbing and pacy. It opens with thrilling intensity and never lets up.’ — Alex Lake, author of After Anna

Patrick Owen managed seven years at Highfields Secondary School without punching a pupil in the face.

Unknowingly drawn into a war against his own pupils, Patrick’s patience finally snaps as he finds himself the number one target with the boy the school just can’t seem to expel.

When one of his Art students needs his help, she unwittingly pulls Patrick further into the line of fire, altering their lives forever.

With the media circling and rumours of his involvement reaching new highs, Patrick must escape the world he lives in, or face the consequences.

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The Art Teacher - Author Profile

(Courtesy of Goodreads. Photograph with permission of Legend Press.)

Paul Read Author Profile

After gaining a first in Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design at Canterbury, Paul Read moved to London, finding employment at Foyles bookshop before becoming a teacher. He has worked in several inner-city schools as an Art, English and supply teacher, both in England and Italy. He received a distinction from City University London for his creative writing MA.

A few years ago, Paul was involved in a hit-and-run incident which put him in a wheelchair for several months and was where he wrote the first draft of The Art Teacher. He lives with Patricia and their two children.

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BOOK TOUR + REVIEW: Follow You Home, By Mark Edwards

follow_you_home-blogtour

Publisher: Thomas Mercer  |  Publication date: 30th June 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (review copy)

Follow You Home is an intense mind-messing thriller with attitude – one so compelling and oh, so dark.

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

What goes on in the woods, stays in the woods. Not if it ‘Follows You Home’, by Mark Edwards.

It lulls you into a false sense of security before launching unexpected twists at you; first you’re paddling on the edge, then you’re wading, and the farther in you go you realise just how incredibly well plotted (and sub plotted) it is.

So, if you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise – and there’s an understatement, if ever there was one.

Daniel Sullivan and Laura Mackenzie. A fairly unremarkable couple, making plans to get married, start a family. They decided to throw caution to the wind and embark on a ‘Grand Tour’ before they settle down. And it’s all mapped out. Travelling through Europe, France, Spain, Italy, Greece…finally to Russia, and then, aaah, home-sweet-home.

They’ve been skipping about like little lambs until they reach Romania by train, when their journey is terrifyingly interrupted. After their hideous experience they travel home to London as quickly as the authorities will let them. But the trauma of the trip proves too great a strain to simply allow them settle back into their routine lives. Normality is now something that other people encounter.

As the book blurb states, they vow never to talk about ‘the woods’ with anyone, and this is where Mark Edwards succeeds in giving new definition to the phrase ‘lingering suspense’. He cruelly taunts you with little snippets of the couple’s time abroad, carefully teasing out the truth until the finale. My instinct had been clinging to the wrong scent due to the sheer number of vultures circling the scene.

I hesitate to use the term ‘psychological thriller’, as it just won’t cut it on this occasion. That would be categorising this book in the same league as many, many others. No, I couldn’t do that. This is ‘look-over-your-shoulder-whilst-reading’ worthy.

Twisted? Certainly.  Disturbing? Absolutely.  Why, you ask?  Well, what goes on in the woods, stays in the woods…or does it?  Sometimes, it just might Follow You Home.

~ WICKEDLY RECOMMENDED ~

Rating: 5/5

(My sincere thanks to both the author, Mark Edwards, and our tour organiser, Liz Barnsley, for THE most excellent review copy and allowing me to be part of this tour x)


Author Links Mark Edwards

Photo Mark Earthy www.earthyphotography.co.uk This image is protected by Copyright

Twitter: You can follow the author on Twitter (not home): @mredwards

Website: Want to know more about Mark Edwards?  Visit his website

Where to buy: Would you like to purchase Follow You Home?  Buy, my pretties, buy:  Amazon UK


 Book Summary Mark Edwards

(Extract taken from Amazon UK)

The page-turning psychological thriller from the author of #1 bestsellers The Magpies and Because She Loves Me.

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down. But after a perfect start, an encounter with a young couple on a night train forces Daniel and Laura to cut their dream trip short and flee home.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what happened that night. But as they try to fit into their old lives again, they realise they are in terrible danger—and that their nightmare is just beginning…