Book Review: Nameless (The Hellbound Anthology), by David McCaffrey

Publisher: Britain’s Next Best Seller

Publication date: 17th May 2017

Source: My own purchased copy

…real power is not given, it is taken.

Welcome to the Obadiah Stark appreciation society, with followers so hopelessly devoted to their murderous idol’s philosophy that they personally subscribe to his macabre brand of ‘making a point’ by taking the lives of unwilling volunteers themselves.

Stark, a serial killer known also as ‘The Tally Man’ for his trademark tattoos keeping count of his victims, blighted the world with his butchery and warped vision of society. The cult’s sole purpose is to continue the work of Stark, who they believe was treated unjustly (I wholeheartedly encourage you to read Hellbound, which is a reckoning of sheer magnificence before you embark on this brutal journey).

From the way his supporters revere Stark as a gift to humanity, I’m surprised they haven’t built a grisly theme park in his honour. Then again the property they reside in is a horrific playground, but a trip to Madame Tussauds it’s not – in fact, it wouldn’t even come close.

They have an interest in a certain character from Hellbound and given this person’s previous obsession with Obadiah Stark the cult leader happily parades obvious hints and clues as to their existence, as they know this individual will be powerless to resist the main attraction – a merciless exhibition of their authority with the capacity to carry on regardless.

With the exception of certain scenes representative of a classic slasher movie, the really scary thing is the cult’s conduct which operates with the composure of a hive – the drones busy themselves with their duties making sacrifices where required, no matter what that may be, recruiting new workers to further their cause. It makes you wonder what hideous catalyst could have occurred in these individual’s previous lives that would encourage them to believe their practices are acceptable in any way.

Nameless occupies the realms of horror / thriller and doesn’t hold back. In places, the procession of gruesome spectacles are so intensely savage and graphic to the point that I don’t think this book would be to everyone’s taste.

But, if this book has caught your attention you may also be interested in reading In Extremis, a short introduction into the magnitude of another terrifyingly furtive operation in the Hellbound Anthology – ‘The Brethren’, who have been making disconcerting appearances since the infamous days of James Maybrick, aka Jack the Ripper.

My curiosity is itching to know what scars Obadiah Stark could possibly leave behind next, despite existing as nothing but newspaper headline…

Rating:  4/5

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men
long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.’
Ernest Hemingway

One serial killer terrified the world. Imagine what an army of them could do…

A cult member is arrested at the scene of a brutal murder. She will only speak to former crime reporter, Joe O’Connell.

Joe’s obsession with Obadiah Stark a.k.a The Tally Man cost him everything. He is about to learn that Stark’s message did not end with his death.

They believe in what The Tally Man stood for. They believe in what The Tally Man did. But he was one, and they are many. Once they have you, they will never let you go…


(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

David lives in Redcar in the North East of England and works as an Infection Prevention and Control nurse in a local Acute trust. He has a Kelly, a Jake and a Liam.

A huge fan of Steve Alten, John Grisham and Lee Childs, David loves reading as much as he enjoys writing. Hellbound was his first novel, all thanks to Britain’s Next Bestseller and the aforementioned Steve Alten who took a chance on him as a writing coach client and taught him so much about what it takes to be a writer.

Hellbound was voted by W H Smith readers as one of 2014’s most underrated crime novels.

His second book, the novella prequel to Hellbound titled ‘In Extremis’ is currently available on and on both Kindle and paperback and is a Semi finalist in the Kindle Book Awards 2016. ‘In Extremis’ is also available as an audio book on Audible, Amazon and ITunes; Hellbound is due out as an audio book before the end of the year.

He is currently working on Nameless, the next book in the Hellbound Anthology which is due for release before the end of the year.

His project with Stephen Sayers, “By Any Means Necessary” is due out 15th November 2016.

A self professed geek, David loves Doctor Who, Arrow, Supernatural, Batman, Superman, D.C Comics, Person of Interest, Continuum, Gotham, Star Wars, The Flash, The Walking Dead, The Blacklist…beginning to see a pattern here?




Book Review: Kill The Next One, by Frederico Axat

Publisher:  Text Publishing

Publication date: 

26th January 2016 (UK) – Paperback

28th November 2016 (UK) – Kindle


kill-the-next-one-by-frederico-axat-coverThe second I spied the book summary for this one I knew I had to read it. The premise is ingenious by itself, yet Kill The Next One goes beyond the dominion of ordinary psychological suspense to amuse itself with the twisted intellectual intricacies of Theodore ‘Ted’ McKay.

Ted is coming to terms with the thought of his inoperable brain tumour and has decided to take matters into his own hands and end his life. His family is away. Everything’s prepared. There’s nothing to stop him. Nothing, that is, until he is ‘saved’ by the doorbell.

This unexpected caller is insistent and Ted has no choice but to abandon his plans and open the door. A man called Justin Lynch invites himself in and Ted listens in intently as he explains the reason for his visit: people who are contemplating taking their own lives or have a terminal illness are enlisted by an anonymous organisation to kill chosen targets that have evaded justice through the usual channels. The enlisted vigilante receives a name, executes the plan, and in turn for their grateful participation the vigilante’s name is then passed along the ever growing list of willing volunteers until another person, like them, reciprocates.

The reasoning is simple. While it may be shocking for the family to discover you’ve been taken from them, the cause of your death may be easier to process than if you decided to ‘leave’ them behind of your own accord. After questioning exactly how Lynch knew what he was contemplating Ted accepts, receives the names of his targets and we watch as he carries out his part of this bizarre partnership. What I wasn’t banking on, and I don’t think Ted was either, was the immense fallout that follows. Despite meticulous planning and insider information from Lynch, things don’t exactly go according to plan.

Ted may be used to living the dream but now he can’t escape this disorienting nightmare. The combination of paranoia, bordering on a conspiracy theory, allows Ted to replay aspects of his life on a ground hog day loop. As he unlocks his reality deficiencies as a result of his condition, I realised I was reading one of the most unpredictable tangents I’ve come across.

A complex plot emerges, involving a handful of cryptic characters. Their distinctive roles continually challenged my opinions throughout as they unleashed irregularities in Ted’s life I hadn’t remotely prepared for: Dr Laura Hill, Edward Blaine, Justin Lynch, Wendell, his parents, and the curious possum… each of them manoeuvring through Ted’s mind mangle until everything can be straightened out.

The level of mistrust and claustrophobia is exceptional. From the sleight of hand outfoxing to the reward of that epic finale, Kill The Next One is unconventional, inventive and thoroughly, thoroughly riveting. Feeling extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to read and review this one.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

(I requested a digital download of this title from the publisher and NetGalley, and this is my unbiased review.)


(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

An audacious psychological thriller where nothing is what it seems.

Ted McKay had it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. Then the doorbell rings.

A stranger makes him a proposition: why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, Ted will become someone else’s next target, like a kind of suicidal daisy chain. Ted understands the stranger’s logic: it’s easier for a victim’s family to deal with a murder than with a suicide.

However, as Ted commits the murders, the crime scenes strike him as odd. The targets know him by name and possess familiar mementos. Even more bizarrely, Ted recognizes locations and men he shouldn’t know. As Ted’s mind begins to crack, dark secrets from his past seep through the fissures.

Kill the Next One is an immersive psychological thriller from an exciting new voice.



(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Federico Axat was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1975. His first novel, Benjamin, was published in Spain by Suma de Letras and translated into Italian. His second novel, El Pantano de las Mariposas, was published in 2013 and translated into Portuguese, French, and Chinese. Kill The Next One is his U.S. debut.


Book Review: Rattle, By Fiona Cummins #Rattle

Publisher:  Pan Macmillan

Publication date: 26th January 2017


rattle-by-fiona-cummins-coverThere is a distinctive, malevolent streak in Rattle that is not to be missed. It’s the kind of book that cackles with delight as it confidently struts passed the realm of crime thriller and into a territory where only the darkest mind can thrive, ominously gathering pace with the rustle of every page turn.

Still haunted by the unsolved mystery of what became of little Grace Rodriguez over a year ago, the daunting task of detecting falls with a thud onto Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy.

As her personal life discreetly implodes, Clara Foyle vanishes from the school gates. Elsewhere Clara’s mother was having her nails done, abandoning the responsibility of her child to someone else, and not for the first time. Her vanity quickly disappears as her perfect world caves in and is soaked liberally in alcohol.

Meanwhile, Erdman and Lilian Frith’s son, Jakey, is being wrapped in parental cotton wool to prevent his bones from taking a knock due to an exceedingly rare and painful medical condition. Time is already ticking for the boy to have a ‘normal’ life before it is cruelly stolen, and they only wish to protect him from the little things that can hurt him until that day finally comes. You’d think they’d have enough to contend with during frequent trips to A&E, but their worst nightmare hasn’t even begun.

Damn, this is fiendishly good! Vulnerabilities are exploited and hope is crushed as meticulous planning is rewarded with success, and all because a curator of a macabre private collection is obsessed with expanding his inexplicable legacy. But his own desire to enhance his life’s work will inevitably cost others their lives, others who you get to know in a dreadful waiting game, as an ordinary man with a select dress sense stalks the hosts who are of specific interest to him.

I must commend the author for portraying such salivating professionalism during his labours. He’s a wicked operator able to merge with the hordes, unseen, unchecked, unwavering. Once his ‘suit’ is on its hanger he switches persona to become a simple man with an ironic responsibility.

The story is told during the period of a little over a week. The days in which devastating crimes are committed have time stamps indicating the stage of the investigation and how it’s progressing, offering a fly on the wall  perspective as to who’s bearing up under the weight of their tremendous private anxieties: the Erdman’s, the Foyle’s, the Rodriguez’s, the Fitzroy’s and, of course, the Collector himself.

The situations the individuals find themselves in are perfectly perceptive and their existing domestics serve as fuel the already roaring fire. It’s emotionally crushing in just the right places before sweeping you along in a blaze of dazzlingly sharp dialogue. With its detestable villain, relatable detective and a common link that will bind the victims’ anguish for all eternity, the suspense in Rattle is so fierce it’s a physical wrench to put the book down – and believe me, you won’t want to.


Rating:          5/5

(I received a copy of this title courtesy of the publisherFrancesca Pearce – and the author with my thanks, and this is my unbiased review.)




(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A serial killer to chill your bones.

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.



(Courtesy of publisher’s ARC)

Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror show business journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. Rattle is her first novel.


Book Review: Portraits Of The Dead, by John Nicholl

Publication date:  1st September 2016

Portraits of the Dead - My Review

Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl - CoverThis is the third book I have read by John Nicholl. He’s an author who appears to have a impossible understanding of unthinkable situations, where the degree of vileness that can be inflicted upon another human being is presented in a wholly plausible way. Portraits of the Dead is no exception as it projects the sadistic realism of a sick-minded individual to provide a psychologically warped reading experience.

Looking at the expressions in the photographs adorning the sound-proofed walls Emma’s daily activities take place in, she can only guess what happened to the ‘guests’ that once stayed in the room she now occupies.

Throughout her imprisonment this student’s thoughts turn to escape, ending her suffering, or objecting to the situation she finds herself in, none of which are recommended by her anonymous captor who goes to great lengths to ‘educate’ Emma so she will ultimately respect the freakish contract between them.

She is expected to feel privileged to be at his mercy and grateful for the trouble he’s gone to when creating an environment where his demeaning fetishes can thrive – he may conceal his features but it’s clear to see he’s irritatingly patronising and has some whopping unresolved issues.

While she may lose her dignity and smash through the mental and physical pain threshold, she does what she can to hang on to the fact that there are people out there looking for her, aren’t there? With no concept of time or day, her world of obedience is captured on camera by the conceited psychopath who demands she embrace the submissive role he’s bought her in to play in his weird theatre of one – her. A desperate Emma looks to work things to her advantage, but it becomes clear that non-compliance will not be tolerated.

Emma’s gradual realisation of her plight is pitched to grim perfection, as is the intent of the man behind the crime who is truly hateful and will make your skin crawl. What I especially liked were the non-heroic, frustrated detectives who were fraying round the edges from the friction of everyday policing while trying to locate the student’s whereabouts. Also, the inner battles of the characters’ thoughts between dialogue exchanges as they evaluate their current circumstances before responding drew me further into the darkness, even though my natural instinct was to back away.

Portraits of the Dead is a fast paced, standalone thriller with a plot of mind-messing depravity. John Nicholl is undeniably an author who confidently stands on the edge and dares to jump into the unpleasant abyss of twisted crime. Expect multiple shockwaves to rush the natural stillness of the excellent Welsh setting and keep you on your (curling) toes.

Rating:  4/5

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

Portraits of the Dead - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

The greater the evil, the more deadly the game…

Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when Emma, a local nineteen-year-old university student, is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed at least five young women.

A gripping page-turner of a serial killer thriller packed with suspense. If you like Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsons and Karin Slaughter, discover John Nicholl’s chilling new thriller today.

How far would you go to save your life?


Portraits of the Dead - Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK – includes links to my reviews for the author’s other work)

john nicholl author photoJohn Nicholl’s debut novel: White is the Coldest Colour, a chilling dark psychological suspense thriller, draws on the author’s experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker. The novel entered the Amazon UK top 100 bestsellers chart after just 15 days, and became one of the 25 most read books on Kindle, reaching # 1 in British Detectives and Vigilante Justice. It also reached # 1 in British Detectives and Psychological Thrillers in France, # 1 in British Detectives and Psychological & Suspense in Spain, and # 1 in British Detectives and International Mysteries and Crime in Australia, where it reached # 10 of all books in the Kindle store.

The gripping sequel: When Evil Calls Your Name, was published on the 31st of December 2015, and quickly reached # 1 in Biographies and Memoirs of Women in the UK, # 1 in Biographies and Memoirs of Criminals and International Mysteries and Crime in Australia, and # 1 in Violence in Society in the USA.

Portraits Of The Dead, a gripping serial killer thriller, is available for pre-order from the 14, August 2016, with a 1st of September release date.


Other books by John Nicholl

Other books by John Nicholl


Book Review: The Wolf Road, by Beth Lewis

Publisher:  The Borough Press (Harper Collins)

Publication Date: EBook and Hardback 30th June 2016

 The Wolf Road My Review - Wolf

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis - Kindle CoverI’ve read some good books, and some great books. The Wolf Road surpasses both of those descriptions. This isn’t just a book, it’s an experience. It had me listening to every word our lone narrator spoke about her isolated existence in the woods with her elusive guardian. I say listening, as when I was reading the most fascinating, well-written dialect wormed its way into my brain until her personality was firmly embedded. Not once did she lose the unique, feisty tom-boy character she had developed into every time I opened the cover.

Elka is our plucky young lady’s name and she had my undivided attention as she told her tale of survival against the odds. Having the strong voice needed to convey everything her story had to offer she takes the most challenging circumstances on the chin. Each time she unearths an appalling fact along the way she briefly reflects by applying her unique brand of wisdom to the situation.

An eerie sense of alarm radiates from page one where you realise that a run in with a wolf or a bear is nothing compared to the stench of the something sinister that’s been occurring. When the penny dropped I felt for her dearly, but was truly horrified at the same time. It was the last thing I was expecting to discover at the end of The Wolf Road!

Elka’s real troubles started when she was approached by a magistrate asking her if she recognised a face in a wanted poster, she said his name was Kreager. As the menacing lady started to explain there was a killer on the loose and it’s not moose they’ve been hunting, Elka realised just how dangerous the woods could be. She may not know anyone called Kreager, but imagine her horror as she recognised the man’s face – it was Trapper’s, the man she’d known as her daddy since she was seven years old.

Creeping doubt of his innocence took hold until I sure as hell didn’t know what to think either! All Elka believed is that her real parents could help her, but they’d their sights set on mining for gold and had never returned. On her perilous journey to track them down Elka found she couldn’t escape Trapper, as his face was bearing down on her from the posters in every town. Yet this primitive man looked out for her, he couldn’t be the wanted man everyone is looking for, could he? The only way to find out for sure would be to ask him – an impossible task as the woods are his friend; no one can find him, not even the law that hunts him day and night.

Ironically, Elka has the Trapper’s basic parenting skills to thank for her survival – in the woods and beyond. The scenes of when the knife is her only friend are as sharp as the blade itself, yet it’s balanced with bites of humour stemming from Elka’s ‘wade right in there’ outlook on life. On route, she finds herself a kindred spirit or two when she becomes the reluctant companion to a complete stranger, and forms a bond with an enigmatic wolf cub whose fleeting appearances offer clarity when all seems lost. If that’s not enough, a brooding showdown is played out to perfection.

The Wolf Road is a unrelenting journey of discovery in a place where the truth is as harsh as the elements. An event referred to as the ‘Damned Stupid’ left an altered world in its wake and I sensed every shadow, heard the snap of every twig, and saw Elka’s misty breath rising in the cold air as she speaks of her expedition into unchartered territory.

I simply cannot express the enormity of just how magnificent this book is – it’s positively superb.

I don’t much like roads. Roads is some other man’s path that people follow no question. All my life I lived by rules of the forest and rules of myself. One of them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path.

Rating: 5/5

(Huge thanks to the publisher, who provided a glorious ARC of this title in exchange for my honest – if somewhat fan-girly – review.)

The Wolf Road - Book Summary Wolf

A debut literary thriller from an incredible new voice [I second that!]. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? Perfect for fans of STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel.

Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.

So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.


The Wolf Road - Author Profile Wolf

Beth Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has travelled extensively throughout the world and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and Great White sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, fire performer, juggler, and is currently a Managing Editor at a leading London publisher.


Book Review: The Girl in the Ice (Detective Erika Foster Book 1), by Robert Bryndza

Publisher:   Bookouture   |    Publication date:  12th February 2016

The Girl in the Ice My Review.jpg

The Girl in the Ice - Kindle CoverRiveting. Twisty. Superb. The Girl in the Ice is everything great crime fiction SHOULD be – an intense read that packs a punch.

The concept of the plot seems pretty straight forward, but the effect is dazzling. The inclusion of simple detail conjures such atmosphere. From the victim’s haunting expression preserved by the ice, to the everyday lives of a peculiar line-up of suspects and their eccentricities, both witnesses and investigators come alive until they’re up close and personal and you are completely engrossed.

Erika Foster is one such character, and her energy bursts from the page. She’s a DCI who was widowed following a police raid that ended in unimaginable tragedy. She might have lost her husband but certainly not her tenacity. Despite grief still touching a raw nerve, she has returned to work determined to catch the killer of a young woman who died much too soon. Erika will push herself beyond any reasonable person’s limit, which includes risking what little she has left by defying her tip-toeing superiors as she digs out the truth, however unsavoury it may be.

Often reckless, technically homeless, and currently friendless, Erika battles with a narky DCI who had established the lead on the case before she happened along. Sparks is uncooperative and offensive, and has set his sights on waltzing into this case’s limelight again. Next to sign up for the ‘Erika hate campaign’ is the influential, dysfunctional family at the centre of the investigation, who ironically frown upon her Slovakian origins and threaten to widen an inappropriate class divide and hamper the hunt for the killer.

Her unorthodox methods and abrasiveness don’t appear to grate on the rest of the diverse team quite as much, as her investigative passion is what earns her their respect. When similarities of other unsolved deaths raise their head the question is: could they be dealing with a potential serial killer? As the murders of prostitutes bear no resemblance to Ice Girl’s life, the motive for her death grows more perplexing. Yet Erika’s superiors seem more concerned with avoiding bad publicity for those higher up the ladder; if she pursues this new line of enquiry her job prospects will go from bleak to non-existent.

Irrespective of the difficulties she may face Erika maintains her integrity. She doesn’t want praise. She wants to solve a murder. With nothing but a gut instinct to drive her onwards, she ignores warnings to take stock of her senses and subsequently fails to spot imminent danger until it’s too late.

The perfectly unhinged culprit avoided detection by my personal reader radar. Just when I thought there wasn’t room  for yet more shocks there it was, another crack of the whip. The only thing missing from the spectacular finale was a fanfare – it played out like a scene from the big screen, and IT WAS BRILLIANT! 


Rating: 5/5

(My thanks to the lovely folks at Bookouture for providing a digital copy for review, as always. As soon as I saw the cover I pre-ordered it – I had a feeling it would be a little cracker!)

The Girl in the Ice Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

A page-turning thriller packed with suspense. If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter, discover Rob Bryndza’s new series today – at a special launch price.

Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster.

She’s fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes.


Rob Bryndza Author

Originally from the UK, Rob lives in Slovakia with his Slovak husband and their two crazy dogs. He originally trained as an actor, but was bitten by the writing bug in his mid-twenties and hasn’t looked back.

His debut novel, The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard became an Amazon bestseller, and has grown to a best selling series of five books.

In addition to his recent number one romantic comedy Miss Wrong and Mr Right, Rob is excited to embrace the darker side of life, and has just signed a three-book deal with Bookouture to write a crime thriller series. The first book, The Girl In The Ice will be released in Spring 2016.

You can find out more about Rob at


Robert Bryndza's Books



Book Review: Alchemy, by Chris James

Publisher:  Globe Literary, London  |  Publication date:  15th February 2015  |  Edition:  Kindle (Review copy)

Alchemy by Chris James

Alchemy is a chilling psychological tale of mystery, murder and suspense and reveals an extraordinary decade in the life of a talented, sweet young and innocent genius, as he transforms into a monster. The author, well used to murder and the macabre, was a criminal trial lead detective in the British police.

In Victorian London, England, close to the end of the 19th century, a young artist unravels what he believes to be the formula for immortality and raising the dead, prescribed in an ancient tome: Alchemy

Just when he cracks the secret code for the final components of his elixir, his mistress and inspiration, dies. His life is devastated, his mind fragile, destroyed by drugs. He knows he has the power to revive her. But obtaining the last ingredients means resorting to murder, taking innocent lives.

He just has to decide whose.

His only surviving model, our narrator, infatuated with this painter of her portrait, attends the trial of the century, where she finally learns someone got away with murder.

Based on a true story? Why not decide for yourself?

Alchemy, my Review

I was overwhelmed by the ultimate suspense that author Chris James has created in his sensational murder mystery, Alchemy. As it has such an intriguing subject matter, and it was marvellously gruesome in all the right places, this story captured my attention from the get-go.

In a Jack the Ripper-esque tale the essence and mood of the period is paramount, and Alchemy has this in abundance. The story starts with the trial of an Artist accused of murdering several ladies. The prosecution does not paint the artist in the best light (excuse the pun) and makes short work of his lifestyle, including his potion-induced episodes and his overall mental stability, that is if you take into account his ‘guinea pig’ acquaintances in his earlier life. His parental influence meant the artist developed a skill for pharmaceuticals, dispensing various remedies via his late father’s old apothecary shop, above which he lived and continued his passion as a painter.

But the subject matter is almost always the same – his dear, fragile Emily, his one and only true love. He endeavoured capture her image forever. His father had once said, discover immortality through your work. No one could have predicted the fatal outcome of these last words…

When a particular book ‘Alchemy’ fell into his hands, the whole idea of immortality took a whole new meaning – but to succeed, a few unfortunate others must suffer a deadly fate. As a result his work becomes darker, as does his devotion to Emily.

As he strives to succeed, a series of grotesque events affect some of the colourful characters he comes into contact with, none of whom can ever compare to his lost love. The story leads you to wonder if he was working alone, or had lost his mind with the potions he consumes, or was in fact in any way responsible for the macabre acts that had been committed.

Told not only in the voice of his last known muse as she listens to the trial where the artist is accused of murder, but also in his own voice, made for a lively account and kept me on my toes. As events leading up to the trial were recalled, a picture of the artist and his life starts to build. Intermittently, various historical references also offered an interesting flourish to give the story an odd plausibility (I’m won’t give any more away about this – the cover suggests what to expect!).

If you’re an avid fan of vivid, wonderfully atmospheric and graphically murderous tales that are told with suspenseful relish, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend you read this.

Rating: 4/5

(My sincere thanks to the author for providing a Kindle copy of his book for review.)

Alchemy Author Profile

A former murder squad detective in England, Chris was often the lead-detective in murder trials. No stranger to murder and the macabre, he was a regular contributor to British True Crime television series. He has maintained an interest in criminology his entire adult life. In 2006 he moved from England to Mallorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean, where he is a keen yachtsman.

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