Book Review: Ashes to Ashes (Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 6), by Paul Finch #AshestoAshes

Publisher:  Avon Books (Harper Collins UK)

Publication date:  6th April 2017

Ashes to Ashes is uncompromisingly grisly, releasing fearsome opponents from every conceivable angle. Its furious, intensely violent encounters creep a little close to home for our rebellious hero who relies on gut instinct, backed up by a wing and a prayer. Make no mistake there is colossal damage to the surrounding area, people, vehicles and Heck’s career. The only thing that remains unscathed is his reputation for ignoring authority.

This is the sixth outing featuring DS Mark (Heck) Heckenburg. After previously reading Dead Man Walking and Hunted, I’ve come to love our impulsive but highly effective copper for all his wilful and often brutal techniques, which may be frowned upon but they get the job done and ultimately save the day.

He has a shameless disregard for the official rules but he seems to scrape by without a reprimand while he successfully manages to wind up the top brass who may be used to supervising the loose cannon but regularly lecture him on his conduct and preference for solo policing. His responses to the dressing downs he receives only enforce his maverick streak.

There’s no doubting that it’s through Heck’s exploits the team he works with will reap results. Even if his methods are erratic and unorthodox, and his expertise of recognising opportunities then launching into an unrehearsed counter attack lands him in highly compromised positions.  

Yep. Our DS ‘Hecks up’ occasionally as he rendezvous with dangerous individuals, capable of much more than your average criminal in uncomfortable surroundings. Preoccupied with following a lead he casually forgets to check in with the station or mention a crucial meeting / conversation he might have orchestrated to gee the investigation up.

The criminal underworld is throwing itself into your path in this one: a torturous renegade with a mobile ‘office’, a merciless serial killer with a pyromaniac streak, and two extensive rival gangs engaged in a hostile turf war in Heck’s home town of Bradburn. The ever-increasing number of charred crime scenes left me wondering who would be last man standing as I revelled in the extreme thrills that unfolded.

There are some punishing situations with a direct connection to Heck and I have absolutely no idea how he retains the will to live, never mind walk! His resilience is just a fragment of his appeal and during this outing I learned how his family influenced his determination to succeed, but not in the way I was expecting. It made a nice change to be treated to a fleeting glimpse of something other than his tough, wise-guy exterior.

The author makes full use of urban landscapes creating a macabre playground for some ‘killer’ games, and Ashes to Ashes has all the intensity that unrestrained action and carnage could possibly deliver.

Rating:  4/5

(My thanks to both the author and the publisher for kindly sending a copy of this title. It was my pleasure to read this book and provide an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

The Sunday Times bestseller returns with his next unforgettable crime thriller. Fans of MJ Arlidge and Stuart MacBride won’t be able to put this down.

John Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.

A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move. DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again.

But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next. Least of all Heck…

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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 in July 2013 by the sequel, SACRIFICE. He now has THE KILLING CLUB, DEAD MAN WALKING and HUNTED in the series which is also published in Germany, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, and Japan and Croatia.

In 2016 Heck took a break to be replaced by DC Lucy Clayburn. The opening novel, STRANGERS, became an immediate success reaching the top ten in the Sunday Times Bestseller list. His next Heck novel is due out in April 2017 with a further Lucy novel expected in September of the same year.

In addition to his Crime 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: Strangers, by Paul Finch #Strangers

Publisher:  Avon (Harper Collins)

Publication date:   22nd September 2016

strangers-my-review

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.)

strangers-book-summary

(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.

BUY THE BOOK

strangers-author-profile

(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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Hunted by Paul Finch (DS Mark Heckenburg 5)

Publisher: Harper Collins UK, Avon  |  Publication date: 7th May 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (via Netgalley)

Heck

DS Heckenburg is back in town in a plot that’ll draw you in, Heck, line and sinker.

HECK IS BACK IN TOWN!

I last encountered ‘Heck’ during his last investigation in the Lakes (in the eerily good Dead Man Walking). Although references are made to this past case and touches on a little on previous history, it’s only briefly. It certainly wouldn’t prevent someone new to this series from enjoying this book. The writer has made it incredibly easy to get stuck right straight in, just like Heck when he’s solving his cases!

The previous book was unnerving, but for me Hunted was so much better. It’s non-stop, it’s grim and it has even weirder perpetrators – the perfect crime combo!

With the level of heinous crimes being committed, the Serial Crimes Unit needs skilled officers like DS Mark Heckenburg: he’s hands-on, a quick-thinker and looks outside the box for answers.

Which is why he’s the first person his boss, DI Gemma Piper, calls on when her mum raises concerns about the death of a member of her golf club. Something seems peculiar to Piper’s mother. One Harold Lansing had recently died in an unfortunate car accident outside his home. However, prior to this he’d been involved in another strange incident where a model aeroplane knocked him unconscious and into water where he was fishing.

Is it coincidence, or something more sinister?

Cue Heck. As ‘odd’ is his speciality, he’s the best officer to apply his unique investigative skills and look for answers.

But what he can offer with his irregular methods solving crime, he loses in subtlety. He makes his way to the local station and in his usual style he quickly manages to ruffle a few feathers, including those of his temporary partner, the young and ambitious DC Gail Honeyford. Needless to say they don’t see eye to eye on the investigation.

As the case progresses, it becomes apparent that more ‘freakish accidents’ have occurred around leafy Surrey than would be considered normal. Once again, our main lead comes into contact with some very unsavoury characters and has a bizarre list of suspects to wade through. Of course, it’s all in a day’s work for Heck. But he should be careful not to draw the wrong kind of attention to himself…

If you like action-packed crime with a showdown or two thrown in, then the stage is set with Hunted. After reaching the end of this gruesome crime-spree in DS Mark Heckenburg’s latest case, I am officially #hookedonheck.

Rating: 4.5/5

(My sincere thanks for the publisher for allowing me to review this title. It’s a little cracker, so thank you.)


You can follow the author on Twitter: @paulfinchauthor  |  Publisher: @crimefix / @AvonBooksUK

What to read more about Heck? Click on the book cover to see my review of ‘Dead Man Walking’:

Dead Man Walking