Book Review: Summoning the Dead (DI Bob Valentine Book 3), by Tony Black

Publisher:  Black and White Publishing

Publication date:   6th October 2016

summoning-th-dead-my-review

DI Bob Valentine stood outside the chief superintendent’s office, worrying the thick, brown, industrial carpet tiles so much that he guessed a static shock was imminent.

summoning-the-dead-by-tony-blackIf anything conjures up a vision of DI Bob Valentine as he works, that quote does it for me. He seems like such a humble bloke; dedicated, considerate, and also fighting a fascinating battle with a unique gift for connecting with the victims, particularly the deceased ones. Yes, Bob is a psychic in denial but he must learn to recognise and embrace the not-so-subtle signs when they present themselves in his new case, especially when complications begin to set in.

In Summoning the Dead he’s trying his damnedest to focus on unearthing the awful truth behind the discovery of a body sealed in an oil drum. The truth may have been festering for over thirty years but Bob won’t give up easily, despite grumbles from higher ranking officers who seem to care more about maintaining good PR.

It’s always disturbing to learn that it’s the body is that of a child who has been disposed of in a merciless way. Given the nature of the heinous crimes preceding the death of this individual, the plot could have so easily have strayed into tactless sensationalism territory to quench the thirst of an audience that relies on explicit language, OTT violence and gratuitous imagery before a story is considered compelling. Thankfully, Summoning the Dead has the upper hand as its sensitively grounded and assured plot has you rooting for DI Valentine as the body in the barrel is just the tip of a repugnant iceberg.

Harrowing scenes from the past are punctuated by apprehension, fear, and the trauma of the uncompromising depravity that can seize innocence and break all trust. These scenes are fleeting and written from a child’s point of view, so no overly-gratuitous pictures just the simple and cruel facts are more than enough to wring your heart out – I felt utterly powerless as I witnessed the events leading up to the victim’s plight.

What makes it worse (if it could be) is that the epicentre of this crime bombshell is in Bob’s former home town of Cumnock, in Scotland. Could he have known a boy like this when he was growing up? A boy whose football kicking and sticker collecting days were over so soon? The moments he’s not working the case gives the DI call for reflection, as he’s come a long way but he still unsure where he’s headed.

I so wanted Bob to catch a break, and the animals that committed the offences. His DS, Sylvia McCormack, seems the closest person he can confide in about the spirits who reach out and she seems a supportive soul without mocking or being preachy. That’s precisely the encouragement he desperately needs between deflecting the obstacles placed by his boss and also his wife, who I strongly suspect is suffering from annoying person syndrome (for which there’s no known cure, until she convinces Bob to accept her terms that is).

Summoning the Dead is a rare find and I applaud the compassionate manner in which the challenging narrative was approached. As this is book three in the DI Valentine series and also my first introduction I was naturally worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with the already established characters but the writing is sheer class and it reads as a standalone with ease.

Rating:  4/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publishers with my thanks, and this is my unbiased review.)

summoning-th-dead-book-review

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

“We have a dead child, and a crime scene that has been remarkably well kept for us.”

A young child lies mummified in a barrel. His hands, cable-tied, appear to be locked in prayer. As forensic officers remove the boy they are in for an even bigger shock – he is not alone.

With his near-fatal stabbing almost a memory, DI Bob Valentine is settling back into life on the force but he knows nothing will ever be the same. Haunted by unearthly visions that appear like waking dreams, he soon understands he is being inducted into one of Scotland’s darkest secrets.

When the boy in the barrel is identified as a missing child from the 1980s, it re-opens a cold case that was previously thought unsolvable. When further remains are unearthed, the facts point to a paedophile ring and a political conspiracy that leads all the way to the most hallowed corridors of power.

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summoning-th-dead-author-profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Tony Black is the author of 13 novels. An award-winning journalist, he was born in Australia and grew up in Scotland and Ireland. Described by Irvine Welsh as his ‘favourite British crime writer’ Tony’s work took a turn away from the mean streets after the birth of his son. His Father’s Son was his first novel outside of the crime genre. Tony was shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize in 2014 and has been nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger seven times, including the prestiguous ‘Dagger in the Library’ award in 2016, which covers an author’s entire body of work.

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ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE DI BOB VALENTINE SERIES…

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Book Review: The Silent Twin (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller Series Book 3), by Caroline Mitchell

Publisher: Bookouture   |   Publication date: 14th April 2016

The Silent Twin My Review

The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

A disquieting vibe surrounds The Silent Twin, as childhood tragedies and the paranormal collide to leave a haunting impression once more. Yes, Caroline Mitchell has mastered the art of simmering the ever-stewing pot of suspense. This author doesn’t just invite something sinister into her stories, she actively nurtures it.

It starts with a game of hide-and-seek. Who would have thought that something so innocent could cause so much misery? One twin is silent and withdrawn, while the other has vanished into thin air.

Finding Abigail results in a full blown police search and a escalating social media campaign, which attracts all manner of trolls placing the emphasis of the wrong kind of publicity for the family. Hope for the little girl is fading as precious time and effort is wasted.

Given the failed attempts of other officers and the unusual circumstances at Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight is called to contribute to the investigation. As one part of the team of Operation Moonlight, the hush, hush, paranormal department at Haven nick, her perception will prove more than useful after reports of unearthly phenomena. Her gut also tells her that cracking this case will be hell, as no one is above suspicion.

Emboldened by wearing her signature high heels, Knight feels the ominous pressure of the residence almost immediately. As she spends more time with the family she sees the drip, drip, drip of dread seeping from the family’s crumbling lives. The shadow of Blackwater Farm touches everyone, as previous occupants have discovered to their peril. It’s becoming a case of ‘abandon hope all ye who enter here’, as false trails and peculiarities take the enquiries off on unthinkable tangents.

Matters are compounded further when Knight’s boss starts breathing down her neck, while the twin’s father, a copper himself, refuses to co-operate fully during the investigation and seems content to watch his wife gliding around in vintage clothing and sporting a surreal ‘everything’s just dandy’ mantra. Not to mention the perfect housekeeper who would give Mary Berry a run for her money! And Olivia, finding solace in silence, her family building a protective barrier around her to keep the authorities at arm’s length. If there’s one trait Knight’s not lacking it’s persistence; gaining that little girl’s trust could be the only way to bring her sister home, dead or alive.

Be prepared for a creak, a disembodied voice, and subtle exchanges that are almost missed but not quite what they seem. And read excerpts from a hidden diary that hints at the intent to cause harm and relish in it. The writer’s identity is also concealed, but they’re forever watchful from the dark place they regularly retreat to.

The Silent Twin explores bonds that can never be broken, which have the power to relieve or haunt.  As the pendulum swings between what is unnervingly odd and dark secrets that cut deep, there’s only one thing that matters – finding Abigail.

Note: This is the third book in the DC Jennifer Knight series. While the regular cast have grown and formed stronger relationships over time this book could still be read as a stand alone. However, I believe you’d feel more impact if you appreciate how ‘Operation Moonlight’ was born by reading Don’t Turn Around (Book 1) and Time to Die (Book 2) beforehand.

Anyway, I loved it and it’s nothing less than a 5/5 from me!

(My thanks, as always, to Bookouture for providing a digital copy of this book for review, via NetGalley.)

The Silent Twin Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

I’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late.

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found.

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?

A darkly gripping, page-turning thriller that will enthrall fans of Rachel Abbott, Alex Marwood’s The Wicked Girls and Mark Edwards.

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DC Jennifer Knight Series

The Silent Twin Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Caroline Writes Polaroid

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her husband, four children and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. Her crime thriller series, featuring DC Jennifer Knight reached the number one position in the Amazon crime charts. These edge of your seat crime thrillers are infused by Caroline’s personal experiences in both the police and the paranormal. To find out more please subscribe at http://www.caroline-writes.com

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Book Review: Time To Die (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller Series Book 2), by Caroline Mitchell

Publisher: Bookouture  |  Publication date:  24th September 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (Netgalley review copy)

Time to Die My Review

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell Kindle Edition

Time To Die is devilishly chilling. To the tempo of Caroline Mitchell’s words, the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, resulting in yet another phenomenal read.

Following her run-in with The Grim Reaper in Don’t Turn Around (Book 1) the determined DC Jennifer Knight is settling in to her new role in Operation Moonlight; a squad of hand-picked detectives forming a team to solve the most inconceivable crimes.

Primarily, the police fight to keep order in our world, but what do you do when the suspects are committing crimes using skills they honed from beyond it? The team from Haven constabulary combines trained officers, whose duty it is to uphold the law by targeting these paranormal parasites.

They have their fair share of hoaxes and time wasters, until occasionally they face a menace more evil than they could ever imagine.

Under the watchful eye of DI Ethan Cole the team is already investigating a cult like group when they are called to attend an apparent suicide, but all is not as it seems and the incident shows up on their radar. They are deployed to apply their specialist skills, which includes the odd psychic ability coupled with some damn fine police work, to find a link to the victim and a mysterious tarot reader who recently predicted his death.

Coincidence? Maybe. That is until more incidents mount up, including one that touches an acquaintance of our Jennifer Knight.  Still the team are no closer to tracing the culprit responsible; as well as having a talent for predicting what the future has in store for our victims, our supernatural psycho can also conceal himself incredibly well and stay one step ahead of the game.

As the race to catch a killer is on, ravens are drawn to our DC Knight. They gather on rooftops to cast a disapproving eye over her progress and unnerve her further with their mocking caws. Well, they do call a group of ravens an unkindness, which is apt under the circumstances. Our fortune teller, who has an affinity for these threatening, feathered creatures, is creepily-insane and targets a certain class of person with his malevolent deeds. If The Raven asks if you’d like a reading, your future is already looking pretty bleak…

Time To Die is an awesome crime thriller, laced with an impressive supernatural essence. What you’ll discover is a thoroughly gripping story to sink your teeth into, one where you’re guaranteed a shock that will unveil itself in the most unexpected way.

Rating: 5/5 – Yep. It’s safe to say I’d happily recommend it.

(MAHOOSIVE thanks, as always, to the folks at Bookouture and Netgalley for providing a digital copy of this book for review.)

Time to Die Book Summary

Don’t ever cross his palm with silver.
He will reveal your most shameful secrets.
He will predict your death.
He is hiding a secret.
He is hiding a monster.
And all his predictions come true.

Investigating a series of chilling murders, Detective Jennifer Knight finds herself tracking a mysterious tarot card reader known only as The Raven.

As the death toll rises, Jennifer and her team build a picture of a serial killer on the edge of sanity, driven by dark forces. But these are not random killings. And the method behind the madness could be the most terrifying thing of all …

Especially when it seems the death of one of their own is on the cards.

Time to Die is an absolutely gripping serial killer thriller with a breath-taking supernatural twist.

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Time to Die Author Links

Caroline MitchellOriginally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her husband, four children and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. Five years ago Caroline and her family encountered real life paranormal activity in their home. Paranormal Intruder is her best selling true story.

Caroline’s new novel, Don’t Turn Around has recently been published by Bookouture in a three book deal as part of her DC Jennifer Knight series. These edge of your seat crime thrillers are infused by Caroline’s experience in both the police and the paranormal. To find out more please subscribe at www.caroline-writes.com.

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To read my 5 star review of Book 1 in the Jennifer Knight series, click the image below…

Dont turn around

 

 

 

Don’t Turn Around (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller Series Book 1), By Caroline Mitchell

Publisher: Bookouture  |  Published 24th April 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (via Netgalley)

Dont Turn Around

An perfectly atmospheric, paranormal crime thriller, that will make you want to look over your shoulder while reading…

If you’re looking for a brand spanking new crime wave-breaker, then look no further than the obsessive-compulsive Detective Constable Jennifer Knight – a determined wearer of killer heels with an intuition like no other on the force.

Despite her somewhat difficult childhood, when her parents both passed away under separate tragic circumstances, she’s a girl made good – it appears that upholding the law is in her blood, as she follows in their footsteps.

Yet she recently moved to Haven CID to escape a shadow she had cast on a previous investigation, although her keen investigative skills remain as sharp as her immaculate dress sense.

During her daily routine, Jennifer is called to interview a suspect known to her from long ago. The crime he’s accused of is out of character, so conducts the interview with the suspect, who is starting to behave rather strangely whilst in custody. As the investigation progresses and alarming comments are made, Jennifer is left wondering if there is something sinister than a knife attack is at work.

The interview disturbed her (well, it certainly disturbed me). But she dismissed it, so there’s no need to raise the cavalry and she goes home to her neat, but empty house. That is until she receives silent phone calls, progressing to a distinct feeling of being watched. Ach, she’s a trained police officer, she can cope – can’t she? Well, that would depend on who’s watching, wouldn’t it?

In the meantime, she goes about her job and attends other scenes of crime where sudden deaths have occurred. Similarities between individual cases her mother investigated many years ago start to brew, and Jennifer feels someone is taunting her. She’s trying to think straight: is it a copycat, or is she being paranoid?

Tarot Cards

You may not always hold the cards, but sometimes you should heed what they say…

Convincing her colleagues to listen to her theory that an extraordinary crime spree may be taking place will be the biggest battle she will face, and more than just a matter of life and death to those close to her; in addition to her habitual cleaning habit, it’s a battle she could do without.

And trying to ignore what’s appearing on her radar is getting her nowhere; she needs to trust her own instincts to achieve results, as someone IS watching, someone who lets us hear their side of the story during a few sinister visits to the past  – all expertly executed by the writer (excuse the pun).

This dangerous watcher already knows everything about her, but as a reader you’re just half a step behind him. Just be thankful he doesn’t know that you’re there:

…”Turn around pretty girl, come see what I have for you,” he thought….soon he would be able to touch her, to feel the warmth of her blood. And when the time came, no one would stop him.

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Just #DontTurnAround

Soon, Jennifer’s own past catches up with her and she doesn’t even realise until it’s breathing down her neck. I even found myself holding my breath as I waited for the story to unfurl!

Guesswork will only get you so far with this one; I didn’t foresee the destination until I’d arrived. It has a brilliant ending that couldn’t have been better if it had been wrapped up with a bow – I would go as far as to say it’s a TV series just waiting to be made.

With the promise of more books by Caroline Mitchell in the pipeline, I’m looking forward to see just where DC Jennifer Knight’s journey will take us next.

In the meantime, may the police-force be with you…

Rating: 5/5

My sincere thanks to Bookouture, who allowed me to download this superb book from Netgalley 🙂


Caroline Mitchell

Caroline Mitchell, Author of Don’t Turn Around

 

You can follow the author on Twitter: @Caroline_writes

Publisher: @bookouture

Visit Caroline’s blog for more details of this new book and further updates on her writing: http://caroline-writes.com/