Book Review: The Damselfly (Banktoun Trilogy #3), by S J I Holliday

Publisher: Black & White Publishing

Publication date:  2nd February 2017

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the-damselfly-coverAfter reading all three books in the Banktoun Trilogy I am officially declaring this my favourite. The others were good, very good in fact, but a moodier vibe courses through The Damselfly, something much darker.

I was encouraged to see certain characters and their past traumas making an appearance from Black Wood (#1) and Willow Walk (#2) and how they stepped seamlessly into The Damselfly’s plot to enhance the atmosphere of its riveting storyline. It’s interesting to see the paths they have chosen and learn what motivates them in their current life and why as their quirky traits are given clarity to often show them in an entirely different light.

In particular Polly McAllister has returned to Banktoun to work at her old school as a counsellor to help students through whatever life has to throw at them. Dealing with her recent separation and recalling the incident in the ‘Black Wood’ she finds her first day at work more challenging than she’d anticipated when the news of the unexpected death of a young Katie Taylor cleaves its way through the students, her family, and the community.

Yet it’s the community’s reaction that is the most tragic of all. The story explores the powerful effect of fiery words on social media platforms and how rumours can bring people to their knees, leading to an accusation made so easily and sadly believed by many. Reason doesn’t enter in to the actions of many on these platforms, as the herd mentality doesn’t require justification only the briefest cheer from the crowd.

The sessions Polly holds with the students may be brief but are oh-so-revealing; who has something to hide, who’s fearful or is simply caught in the crossfire. How their home life borders on travesty, how broken things have become. Some are destined to repeat the same mistakes as their parents while others are trying hard to avoid them at all costs.

Adorable Sergeant Davie Gray, now even more endearing as Detective Sergeant Gray, is investigating the death of the girl who ironically had her whole life ahead of her: a keen entomologist with a boyfriend, university prospects, and recent unexpected good fortune. Banktoun is his hometown too. He knows these people but who would be capable of this? The truth is surprisingly more toxic than any theory he could entertain – it was very well played and I was impressed by the composed manner in which he exercised his enquiries with confidence and caution.

Although I was saddened to see how events conspired throughout, the bleakness made for grittily compelling reading. It’s crystal clear that even the smallest hopes can be tainted by tragedy. Damn, those final pages almost shattered my heart.

Rating:   4.5/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publisher with my thanks, and it is my pleasure to provide this unbiased review.)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She’s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie’s luck runs out.

Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie’s death. And it’s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brother’s mysterious friend?

With Banktoun’s insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands…

The Damselfly is the latest novel from the bestselling author of Black Wood and Willow Walk set in the small Scottish town of Banktoun. Fans of Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsons and Peter James will love this riveting psychological crime thriller as DS Davie Gray tries to hold together a community once again rocked by tragedy.

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Also available:

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up in East Lothian. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize. She has written three crime novels, a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller, set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun. They are: Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly – all featuring the much loved character, Davie Gray. Susi also works as a pharmaceutical statistician. She is married and lives in London, and you will find her at crime fiction events in the UK and abroad.

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Book Review: Deep Down Dead, by Steph Broadribb #BlogTour #DeepDownDead

I am over the moon to be joining the blog tour today for Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb and below is my review of her breathtaking debut. This terrific book is available to buy now, and believe me when I say it will have you reading by the seat of your pants.

Publisher:  Orenda Books

Publication date: 

5th January 2017 [Paperback]

15th October 2016 [Kindle]

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Seriously, how outrageously good is Deep Down Dead?! It buzzes with an intensity that’s so feverish by the time I’d finished reading I’d forgotten how to blink.

Combine its rapid fire plot with insurmountable complications, where the odds of survival in a wicked game of endurance swing wildly out of control – and that’s not even scratching the surface.

I have colossal respect for Lori Anderson: Bounty Hunter, mom, life survivor. With her young daughter’s health troubling her, and existing medical bills + living expenses mounting up, Lori needs to take the next high paying bounty that comes along – something big that will be worth her trouble to settle her debts, for a few months at least.

When she asks Quinn for a job she wasn’t expecting to hear the name of another Bounty Hunter she who taught her everything she knows. Aah, should be easy, Quinn said. It’s just a collection and delivery, and you’ve got three whole days to do it…

The story of the pick up is told by Lori herself and the dialogue exchanges are just superb. During the perfectly rolling scenes I felt had more than five senses – I could almost feel the intensity of the temperature rising and the grit from the road sticking to my skin.

Crossing state lines into unknown territory, evading capture by the seat of her pants and facing jaw-breaking flashes of resistance that she could never have prepared for, Lori’s toughened spirit is tested beyond anyone’s limit. The reason why JT, another straight-talking Bounty Hunter, is being bought in kept me on my toes as the trust between the two of them shifts constantly and JT is like a human minefield! But Lori can’t walk away from him as she has her daughter to think about in more ways than one – and if ever there was a traumatised nine year old that needs a gold medal, a standing ovation AND an Oscar, Dakota Anderson IS that girl. What a little trouper.

Blimey, circumstances have really poked Lori with a pointy stick and have no intention of letting up until someone gets their own way. Learning who that is, what they want, and why this relatively simple job has turned into the road trip from hell is like a contagion – trouble keeps multiplying over and over!

Deep Down Dead is brilliantly observed from start to finish: the plot, its pace, the action, the villainous motives, that riveting Lori/JT backstory – everything. With so much punch and palm-sweating suspense it’s a breakneck, adrenaline-charged stunner of a read that grabs you by both arms and refuses to let go. What. A. Ride.

Rating:  5/5 

(Many thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy of this title. It goes without saying that I was excited to read it. Oh, and all opinions are most definitely fangirly my own.)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from Leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong.

The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

Breathtakingly fast-paced, both hard-boiled and heart-breaking, Deep Down Dead is a simply stunning debut.

BUY THE BOOK (I did – because it’s brilliant!)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK. Author photograph courtesy of Publisher.)

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Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at Crime Thriller Girl, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Deep Down Dead is her debut novel.

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Don’t forget to check out the other blogs on the #DeepDownDead tour!

Thank you so much for stopping by 😀

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Book Review: The Girl Who Had No Fear (George McKenzie, Book 4), by Marnie Riches

Publisher:  Avon (Harper Collins UK)

Publication date:  1st December 2016

~ A very happy publication day to Marnie Riches! ~

the-girl-who-had-no-fear-my-review

the-girl-who-had-no-fear-by-marnie-richesOooh, I have SO MUCH LOVE for the George McKenzie Series! It’s a riptide of a read where the past, present and future collide for The Girl Who Had No Fear.

How these characters live and breathe! With every investigation there’s something new to discover about them as their comfort zones are stretched to unrecognisable proportions. And for those loathsome individuals who lurk in the shadier corners of the globe there is no ceiling where exploitation is concerned. Marnie Riches demonstrates this with perceptive ease, harnessing the extreme best and desperately worst traits of the good, the brutal and the downright reckless.

In The Girl Who Had No Fear our maverick criminologist, Georgina McKenzie, is compromised both emotionally and professionally as she continues to receive disturbing emails from the estranged Spanish father she hasn’t seen for twenty years. Her mother has gone AWOL too and despite the fact that Letitia (The Dragon) is probably living it up somewhere sunny  with cocktail bar George still worries, especially after the cliff hanger from Book 3 where she received an alarming parcel forewarning her that she would need to keep an ‘eye’ on situation that was yet to evolve.

Yet none of these relatively minor distractions are enough to keep George from jumping feet first into the next case Paul Van Den Bergen has enticed her into. Men are dying, their bodies discovered in a canal after an enthusiastic evening where a lethal blend of drugs and intense company were enjoyed.

An undercover operation launches involving George and her colleague Elvis (Dirk) leading them both on a fiercely dangerous and personal journey. In George’s case it will take her to the cold heart of Mexico’s hostile terrain. While she investigates the links and possible origins of drug manufacture to the killings in Amsterdam, maybe she can track down the last known whereabouts of her Spanish father on route. I genuinely didn’t believe her impulsiveness could test the gangly, medically challenged hypochondriac, Van den Bergen, to new limits but it does, and their text exchanges when the going gets tough are legendary (as is the Dutch Chief Inspector’s failure to adapt his dress sense to the oppressive Mexican climate).

If her spirited attitude doesn’t act as a repellent to those who throw themselves in her way, hopefully the gift of the ‘blag’ from her experience of gang culture as a teen will prove invaluable against the varying degrees of low life. Unfortunately the notorious ‘El Crocodilo’ is circling in the shallows and George is unwittingly dipping a toe into his territory.

Fair warning, this tackles fairly explicit themes including trafficking, drugs, an execution scene, and unconventional ‘reunions’. But have #NoFear. The plot is as complex and fiery as our unlikely heroine, and has a phenomenal, adrenaline charged ending – IT’S BLISTERINGLY GOOD STUFF!

Rating:  5/5

(I am grateful to have received a copy of this title I requested from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my unbiased review. It’s also been on pre-order since I can remember!)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Amsterdam: a city where sex sells and drugs come easy. Four dead bodies have been pulled from the canals – and that number’s rising fast. Is a serial killer on the loose? Or are young clubbers falling prey to a lethal batch of crystal meth?

Chief Inspector Van den Bergen calls on criminologist Georgina McKenzie to help him solve this mystery. George goes deep undercover among the violent gangs of Central America. Working for the vicious head of a Mexican cartel, she must risk her own life to find the truth. With murder everywhere she turns, can George get people to talk before she is silenced for good?

A pulse-pounding race against time, perfect for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo.

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the-girl-who-had-no-fear-author-profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK. Photograph courtesy of publisher.)

Marnie Riches

Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester. She learned her way out of the ghetto, all the way to Cambridge University, where she gained a Masters degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. Previously a children’s author, now, she writes crime and contemporary women’s fiction.

Marnie Riches is the author of the George McKenzie crime thriller series, published by Maze and Avon at Harper Collins.

In her spare time, Marnie likes to run (more of a long distance shuffle, really) travel, drink and eat all the things (especially if combined with travel) paint portraits, sniff expensive leather shoes (what woman doesn’t?) and renovate old houses. She also adores flowers.

Winner of the Patricia Highsmith award for ‘Most Exotic Location’.

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE

Other books in the George McKenzie Series…

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…And here are my Reviews

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die – Book 1: http://wp.me/p5N83r-k9

The Girl Who Broke The Rules – Book 2: http://wp.me/p5N83r-GD

The Girl Who Walked In The Shadows – Book 3: http://wp.me/p5N83r-1nL

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Book Review: Strangers, by Paul Finch #Strangers

Publisher:  Avon (Harper Collins)

Publication date:   22nd September 2016

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Strangers by Paul FinchStrangers has a massively satisfying plot which catches light from the first page, and I can genuinely say it made my eyes burn as I was still reading at 2am, and on a work night too (oh, the shame). Any nagging loose ends are cleverly tucked in on route, and it has the right balance of action and snappy dialogue exchange that would make it TV script-worthy. Yep, it’s an exceptional read.

Cocking up on duty was the beginning of the end of PC Lucy Clayburn. After committing career suicide, and still stinking from the whiff of stepping into a nasty situation, she accepts she’ll be plodding along as Constable for the foreseeable. Although her sights remain firmly on becoming a detective, she is content to uphold the law in her uniquely effective manner and reminisce on what might have been.

When the possibility arises for her to turn temporary detective again what follows is a relentless quest to do whatever is required, as she volunteers to go undercover to catch a killer who’s going round mutilating their victim’s bits without a hint of compassion or compromising their identity.

Nick-named “The Ripper Chicks”, Lucy and other female officers mingle on the dimly lit streets hoping to catch the butcher before they strike again.

An outbreak of the plague wouldn’t deter Lucy from this opportunity. But her determination only encourages her borderline recklessness. She’ll sink deeper into a world of vice, surrounding herself with alarmingly untouchable people who keep especially grim company and have to think on her feet to save her skin. Her involvement in this case could make or break her future, yet there’s every chance it’ll have the same effect on her physically.

Clayburn is the perfectly tenacious, Ducati motorcycle riding police officer, with her eye firmly on the prize. And no. She doesn’t want fame she, wants to find the hives of criminals. While she stamps on their nests whenever she can, her single parent mother does her laundry and cooks her tea – such a refreshing change from the stereotypical aging / brooding / recently separated Inspectors normally chosen for the starring role.

There’s also a terrific assortment of fellow cast members, including the unusually supportive ball-breaking Inspectors, and a multitude of shady employers from brutal brothel keepers to obsessively organised crime lords, where the hired muscle takes pride in reprimanding staff and tailoring on-the-job-training accordingly.

With its engrossing, adrenalin-fuelled plot, withholding the perfect pinch of vital information to leave you craving more, Strangers is in another league entirely. I’ve previously read two of Paul Finch’s books in the ‘DS Heckenburg’ series and loved them both, but this one featuring PC Lucy Clayburn is outstanding.

Rating:  5/5

(I received a paperback copy of this title from the Publishers in exchange for an unbiased review, with my huge thanks for a great read.)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

“A fast-paced, terrifying journey” RACHEL ABBOTT

Dark, gritty and always edge-of-your-seat: the NO.1 BESTSELLER is back with a standout new heroine…

Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come.

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

Always gripping. Always gruesome. Paul Finch will leave fans of Rachel Abbott and MJ Arlidge gasping for more.

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Paul Finch studied History at Goldsmiths, London, before becoming a cop in the north west of England. He then let his passion for writing allow him to follow a career in journalism. Now a full time writer, he first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, THE BILL, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers and horrors.

His crime debut novel, STALKERS, was a no 1 ebook best seller in 2013 and introduced DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg. This was followed last July 2013 by the sequel, SACRIFICE, and May 2014 by the third in the series, THE KILLING CLUB. The fourth, DEAD MAN WALKING, will follow in November 2014, with the fifth, HUNTED, in February 2015. The Heck series is also to be published in Germany, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, and Japan.

In addition to his Heck novels, Paul has had twelve books and nearly 300 stories and novellas published on both sides of the Atlantic. His first collection, AFTER SHOCKS (Ash-Tree Press), won the British Fantasy Award in 2002, while he won the award again in 2007 for his novella, KID. Later in 2007, he won the International Horror Guild Award for his mid-length story, THE OLD NORTH ROAD. His short novel, CAPE WRATH (Telos), was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award in 2002, and several other collections of his stories and novellas have been published since, all of them well received by fans and readers. His horror novel, STRONGHOLD, was published by Abaddon Books in 2010, and the same year Pendragon Press published his highly rated festive terror tale, SPARROWHAWK. Paul has also written three DR WHO audio dramas for Big Finish – LEVIATHAN, SENTINELS OF THE NEW DAWN and HEXAGORA, and THRESHOLD, the pilot episode for the DR WHO spin-off series, COUNTER MEASURES. Paul’s DR WHO novel, HUNTER’S MOON was published by BBC Books in 2011.

Paul is no stranger to film either, having written scripts for several horror movies. Two of these, SPIRIT TRAP and THE DEVIL’S ROCK, were released in 2005 and 2011 respectively, while his short story THE BELFRIES, is currently being adapted in Hollywood, and his movie script WAR WOLF is under development by Amber Entertainment.

Wearing an editor’s hat, Paul is also responsible for the TERROR TALES series from Gray Friar Press, a collection of ghost and horror anthologies exploring the folklore, history and geography of the various regions of Britain.

Paul Finch lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry.

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Book Review: Brighton, by Michael Harvey

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication date: August 2016

Brighton by Michael Harvey

Brighton is an intense dog-eat-dog urban wilderness. Racial tension is ever-present and a childhood there in the 1970’s screams despair at the top of its lungs, as the kids faced the reality of their situation but cling onto hope by the tips of their fingers. They couldn’t wait to grow up and follow their dreams, but when they finally caught up with the adult world they found it too was broken and all they could do was patch it up as best as they could.

Only the rare few escape Brighton’s clutches, but they are never free of their past. If a stray bullet or a concealed blade didn’t find you, the drug scene would infest lives one way or another, either on the giving or receiving end of it. And a devil may care attitude could command respect or get you killed. Police corruption, swindling your boss, and not observing the pecking order, have the same desired effect.

Despite being born and raised under Boston’s angry clouds, Kevin Pearce had a different kind of intellect. He was destined for a life outside of Brighton away from his abusive father and long suffering mother, so his grandmother told everyone. But sometimes bad things happen to good people and whether he likes it or not, this suffocating place will never let him forget a thing.

Kevin’s old buddy, Bobby Scales, possessed a special version of street wisdom and it kept him at the top of the food chain. In a warped kind of way he wanted to make the world a better place. He made a promise to the only person to show him kindness that he would give Kevin the advantage he deserved, even if that meant risking everything.

You’d think that after winning the Pulitzer prize for investigative journalism in 2002 Kevin could return to Brighton with his head held high, but no, he finds his old ghosts are lining up to haunt him, only they’ve invited a few new ones to join the queue. The people are older but not entirely wiser, still scrambling for crumbs off someone else’s table and always ready to jump into your warm shoes if you fall down or are pushed. Kevin’s District Attorney girlfriend has been following this breadcrumb trail, as she hopes it will lead to the sordid heart of Brighton where its residents are turning up dead.

As right and wrong morphs until only one path lies ahead, I quickly realised that it can lead to a new beginning or the end of the road. I just couldn’t believe how each day could start off badly only to get progressively worse and constantly wondered if things would improve for the people at the heart of it all.

Brighton conjures an oppressive aura of bleakness where everyone glances over their shoulder to check if their past is hurtling toward them Its menacing streets and startling raw dialogue emit a moody vibe to create a punch-to-the-gut read, that is both addictive and bold. 

Rating: An intense 4/5

(My thanks to Bloomsbury and Philippa Cotton for providing a paperback proof copy of this title in exchange for an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

You came back here to bury your past … Thing is, you gotta kill it first.

Brighton, 1975: a Boston neighbourhood where racial tensions run high and gangs jostle for dominance in the trades that matter – drugrunning, book-keeping and theft. Fifteen-year-old Kevin Pearce knows his best hope is to get the hell out before its bloody streets get a grip on his dreams. Bitterness and brutality stalk the hard-drinking generations of his Irish immigrant family. But when an act of violence tears their home apart, Kevin is forced to leave for New York, changing the course of his life forever.

Twenty-seven years later, in 2002, Kevin wins the Pulitzer Prize for an investigative article on the wrongful conviction and death of a man from Brighton, and decides to visit his old neighbourhood for the first time in decades. But his past has long shadows – shadows which have taken on a life of their own. And when Kevin’s prosecutor girlfriend Lisa asks his advice on a murder case, he is plunged into a web of deception and bloodshed that will test his loyalties to the limit and place the life he has built at risk.

Grittily realistic, razor-sharp and darkly compelling, Brighton is about the meaning of family, the price of friendship, and survival in a world where one misstep can cost everything.

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BRIGHTON - Author Profile

(Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing website)

Michael Harvey is the author of The Chicago Way, The Fifth Floor, The Third Rail, We All Fall Down, and The Innocence Game, as well as a journalist and documentary producer. His work has won numerous national and international awards, including multiple news Emmys, two Primetime Emmy nominations, and an Academy Award nomination. He holds a law degree with honours from Duke University, a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in classical languages from Holy Cross College. He lives in Chicago.

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Book Review: The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows (George McKenzie, Book 3), by Marnie Riches

Publisher: Avon Books (Harper Collins)   |   Publication date: 31st March 2016

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows My Review

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows CoverWell, well, well. The Girl Who series continues and it’s another consistently feisty one, just like it’s heroine.

The story is set two years later from the incident with the psychotic Butcher in Book Two, and not only is Georgina McKenzie back as a trained criminologist she’s now managed to involve her whole family in this case. They make a formidable team – and you wouldn’t want to cross them, that’s for sure!

Their origins and quirky family background helps to lift the oppressive plot of child trafficking, kidnap, and the appearance of a cold-hearted killer called Jack Frost, who settles his scores armed only with an icicle. This murder weapon leaves no clues as to his identity for the authorities, as no finger prints or witnesses remain.

Georgina McKenzie’s expertise stretches only so far, especially as her efforts are being concentrated on making Paul van de Bergen suffer for his non-committal in their relationship. But although he desperately needs George’s mind to help further his existing case, at the front of his own mind is his pregnant daughter, who is the same age as George, making him realise just how odd a crinkled detective and a fresh-faced criminologist must look when they’re together.

Now, not only does this character ‘Jack Frost’ feature heavily, the storyline follows a young couple’s ups and downs in the media spotlight when their two toddlers go missing from their back yard. Like the adverse weather conditions, the plot becomes weighty under several heavy layers until it’s hard to discriminate between the good and the bad guys in a complex investigation stretching between London, Cambridge, and Amsterdam. The inclusion of the three very different locations of this series keeps the flow moving rapidly – it’s never settles, not even for a second, a bit like George’s erratic life and the constant threat to it.

The Girl Who series wouldn’t be the same without its shady characters crawling out of the woodwork, including The Duke, a low life enjoying a high position of power and literally getting away with breaking every moral code you could think of. There are feuds and a long distance relationship to mend (mainly George’s), and deadly confrontations that’ll knock your socks off.

While this may not be my favourite plot of the series (but still a damned fine one, I would add), it is delivered with more precision and barbed wit than all of them put together. Where many people fail, Marnie Riches excels: the magnificent feat of drawing a colourful personality, a distinct odour, or misshapen appearance of one of her creations with only a few choice words has more impact than any photographic still.

I bet I’m not the only one hoping that George will in return in the future. Although the immediate case is wrapped up the rather warped ending has left the door somewhat ajar …

Enticingly gritty crime and as pacy as hell. 

Rating: 5/5

(My thanks to the publishers, Harper Collins – Avon Books – for providing a digital copy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Europe is in the grip of an extreme Arctic blast and at the mercy of a killer, who leaves no trace. His weapons of choice are razor-sharp icicles. This is Jack Frost.

Now a fully qualified criminologist, Georgina McKenzie is called upon by the Dutch police to profile this cunning and brutal murderer. Are they looking for a hit man or a frenzied serial-killer? Could there be a link to a cold missing persons’ case that George had worked with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen – two abducted toddlers he could never quite give up on?

The hunt for Jack Frost sparks a dangerous, heart-rending journey through the toughest neighbourhoods in Europe, where refugees and Romani gypsies scratch a living on the edge of society. Walking into the dark, violent world of a trans-national trafficking ring, can George outrun death to shed light on two terrible mysteries?

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(Amazon kindly informs me I’ve had this on pre-order since 15th January!)

The Girl Who Walkd in the Shadows Author Profile

Marnie RichesMarnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester. She learned her way out of the ghetto, all the way to Cambridge University, where she gained a Masters degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. Previously a children’s author, now, she writes crime and contemporary women’s fiction.

Marnie Riches is the author of the George McKenzie crime thriller series, published by Maze and Avon at Harper Collins.

In her spare time, Marnie likes to run (more of a long distance shuffle, really) travel, drink and eat all the things (especially if combined with travel) paint portraits, sniff expensive leather shoes (what woman doesn’t?) and renovate old houses. She also adores flowers.

Winner of the Patricia Highsmith award for ‘Most Exotic Location’.

CONNECT WITH MARNIE RICHES:

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The Axeman’s Jazz, By Ray Celestin

Publisher: Mantle | Publication date: 8th May 2014 | Edition: Hardback (own copy)

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman

The Axemans Jazz

Excellent cover, perfect fit for this meaty crime story

A VERY gritty, meaty and twisty plot (or rather plots & sub plots) are contained under the cover of this special book. As I understand it, the writer of this book was originally inspired by a letter from a real serial killer nicknamed ‘The Axeman’, who was active in New Orleans around 1918-1919 – the rest of the story is mainly fiction. With three separate investigations going on, it took every ounce of my concentration to keep up! To summarise:

  • One was being run by Michael, a policeman in charge of the case, who has his own personal secret to conceal.
  • The second by the ambitious Ida, who worked as a secretary at the Pinkerton’s Private Investigation bureau (btw her best friend is Lewis Armstrong – later known as Jazz musician Louis Armstrong, and yes, it’s VERY plausible, as there are  true elements of his life are woven into the story)
  • And thirdly, Michael’s corrupt ex-partner, Luca, fresh out of jail and contracted by the local mafia to find the killer.

Despite setbacks, each of them strive to discover the truth and identity of The Axeman. And, although everything is connected is one way or another, they’re often not aware of the other’s discoveries as the body count grows in some quite ways. There’s a long list of suspects, plus, Michael’s department is full of corruption and back-biting. The poor bloke’s got a lot to contend with whilst trying to catch a seemingly demonic killer!

New Orleans obviously has unusual place names and surnames, then there’s unfamiliar Street names and even different food groups…I’m a little embarrassed to say that I found myself stranded on occasion and had to retrace my steps. Okay, I admit it, with the intense plot AND all these ‘new words’ I was completely lost there for a while! As you won’t discover who the ‘Axeman’ is until very near the end, I for one was relieved when everything fell into place. And very cleverly pieced together it was, too. It’s incredibly detailed with wonderfully descriptive prose, perfectly setting the scene with the music and racial tensions of the era within its pages.

I do feel a little more enlightened after reading this, as it’s a great read and I experienced lots of new things along the way. And I now know that ‘Chiaroscuro’ means: the contrasting effects of light and shade in a work of art (apparently). So there you have it. Although a few of my little grey cells died whilst reading this book, it was definitely worth it in the end.

Rating: 4/5