Book Review: Perfect Remains (A DI Callanach Thriller #1), by Helen Fields #PerfectRemains

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Publication date: 26th January 2017

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Perfectly acceptable reasons to love Perfect Remains:

perfect-remains-blk-coverAN AMBITIOUS ODDBALL with a CUNNING PLAN

Do you love to hate a deluded menace in pursuit of their warped personal goal?? Well this one’s a meticulous ploster with a talent for creeping people out without even trying. It’s always someone else’s fault of course, or so their conscience deceives them. They can’t quite grasp that the only reason people start to leave a room is because they’ve entered it. As you know their identity from the off you may be lulled into believing they’ve already done their worst – WRONG!

Interests include: Applying empathy in moderation, being ingratiating to a fault, discovering inventive methods of disposal, and amateur dentistry.

THE DETECTIVE INSPECTOR

Aaah. DI Luc Callanach. I suppose ought to explain why, hadn’t I? Okay, he’s an attractive Frenchman and has curiously exchanged Interpol for a Police Station in Edinburgh. With a dark stain from his past clinging to him, Callanach has a tendency to be brusque in tone and has zero tolerance when it comes to people trying the patience he no longer has. After a greeting by the official unwelcoming committee he discovers at least one ally in the force, respected DI Ava Turner. While this cinema loving detective is investigating a desperately saddening case of a series of abandoned babies, Callanach relies on Ava’s little words of wisdom to curb his surly side as he hunts for his invisible killer giving careful consideration to the murder scene.

Interests include: Retaliating to wisecracks with an involuntary scowl, attempting to interpret the local dialect (despite being half-Scottish himself), and steering clear of all conversations that start, “so why did you leave France then?”

THE UNFORTUNATE VICTIMS

The totally unsuspecting victims are going about their days without the slightest hint they have a target on their backs. The only option is to accept their fate as their world falls into a cesspit of despair, where the only thing that will be found is their remains… a molar, a charred body part, you get the idea. Families and colleagues are distressed by developments and the police have absolutely no idea who could be responsible for their loved one’s demise.

Are they alive, dead, or something much, much worse? As a reader the truth wasn’t kept from me, but the story follows the frustration of the police as they hunt the missing puzzle pieces. The outcome of each new event threatens to be consistently grim, only to be reinforced by that contemptible rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’…

MY OVERALL VERDICT

Perfect Remains starts as it means to go on and ends with a wow. It’s gruesome fayre in places, particularly during scenes of the victims’ captivity. The ominously remote locations, evidence that taunts the authorities, and a culprit that evades capture with a snotty superiority are a gift for a plot of this nature. Enigmatic DI Luc Callanach steals the show and his dialogue was such a bonus; when he was ‘speaking’ he conjured the most wonderful French accent in my head – just be relieved that I don’t read aloud!

Terrific characters with plenty to fearand absolutely recommended.

Rating:  4/5

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

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(Courtesy of Proof Copy supplied by publisher)

First he takes them…

then he breaks them…

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

BUY THE BOOK

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.

Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Perfect Remains is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW + AUTHOR PROFILE: The Domino Killer, by Neil White

Publisher: Sphere (Little Brown) | Publication Date: 30th July 2015 | Edition: Kindle (Netgalley)

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I’m delighted to be taking part in Neil White’s The Domino Killer book tour. Today, I review his excellent book – PLUS you will find an author profile for this talented chap at the end of the post.

BOOK SUMMARY:

When a man is found beaten to death in a local Manchester park, Detective Constable Sam Parker is one of the investigating officers. Sam swiftly identifies the victim, but what at first looks like an open and shut case quickly starts to unravel when he realises that the victim’s fingerprints were found on a knife at another crime scene, a month earlier.

Meanwhile, Sam’s brother, Joe – a criminal defence lawyer in the city – comes face to face with a man whose very presence sends shockwaves through his life. Joe must confront the demons of his past as he struggles to come to terms with the darkness that this man represents.

Before long, Joe and Sam are in way over their heads, both sucked into a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to change their lives for ever…

Neil White My Review Domino Killer

The Domino Killer is a sinister concoction of ingredients, brewed methodically to perfection.

Joe Parker represents criminals for a living, not all of them as innocent as they plead. As a lawyer, it’s his job to offer the best The Domino Killer by Neil Whitedefence, regardless. His detective brother, Sam, catches the wriggling blighters.

While accepting a new client to defend for suspected arson of his own car, the brothers are drawn into the sociopathic world of a serial killer who has a penchant for young girls and a shedload of misery. As their sister was killed eighteen years previously, the investigation into her unsolved murder is unofficially reopened like an old wound exposing all kinds of nasties and guilt.

First impressions are deceptive in this tale. The story creeps along like a snakes belly, leaving a tricky trail of clues in its wake. Why this viper struck in this way makes no sense; the discovery of a man’s body in a park will lead the brothers and those they care for into a personal hell, where someone is setting them up for a fall in a clever little cascade.

It goes without saying that a lot of people are going to get hurt, as they are manipulated from a shady chat room scene. But what exactly connects each of them? It will take all of the Parker brothers’ resolve to join the dots, especially when suspicion comes knocking on one of their doors.

Sam, Joe and Joe’s assistant, Gina, an ex-copper who worked on his sister’s case, are soon faced with dilemmas galore – their professional ethics tell them one thing, their moral compass will steer them somewhere else entirely.

Trust. Grief. Revenge. The good guys contend with all of this. They are not heroes. They are portrayed as ordinary folk and are therefore guilty of a ‘severe lack of judgement syndrome’. This creates a more plausible and compelling plot, as they’re only human after all.

Can they stop the domino effect before one of them falls? Only if a dark truth from the past is revealed.

Although I did have an inkling of the final outcome it was still well played. It’s the first Neil White book I have read, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Most definitely recommended by me.

Rating: 4/5

Note: Although this is the 3rd book in the Parker Brothers’ series it can be read as a stand alone.

Buy the book:   The Domino Killer  Published on 30th July 2015.


Author Profile

Author links:   Twitter  |  Website  |  Amazon UK

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Thanks for stopping by,

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(My sincere thanks to @Lizzy11268 for organising the Neil White book tour. Thanks also goes to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an advanced copy of this book for review.)

Evil Games (Detective Kim Stone Book 2), by Angela Marsons

Publisher:  Bookouture  |  Publication date: 29th May 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (Netgalley)

Evil Games by Angela Marsons - DI Kim Stone Book 2

Exceptional crime fiction from Angela Marsons: DI Stone leaves no clue unturned.

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you here. After reading the superb Silent Scream, I didn’t believe Angela Marsons could dream up an even more depraved villain to roam the Black Country streets. But, thankfully she did and I’m absolutely thrilled about it!  Is there no limit to her fictional wickedness?

Detective Inspector Kim Stone has her work cut out for her this time round. With not one, but two vile cases that will have a profound affect her personally. It’s not long before the firewall she’s customised to keep everyone else out is tested to breaking point.

Case one involves a sickening report of child abuse. Ever the detached professional, Stone might be able to draw on experience from her own neglected childhood to get answers, but the detective’s heart silently breaks for the victims involved.

The other case takes quite a different line of enquiry altogether. A convicted rapist is found dead in what seems to be an unprovoked attack. Already Stone’s detective sense is tingling…

As ever, the devil’s in the detail.  But it’s these details that help her catch the monsters we trust the most. This time, she will have to confront her own demons to go head-to-head with possibly one of the greatest tormentors I’ve seen portrayed for some time – their character is SO well written, and oh, so cold. I despised them in a matter of seconds as they selected their prey.

DI Stone knows only too well that there’s a fine line between a fragile mind and a broken one. During the course of the investigation that line is crossed. Without knowing, she too has been invited to play Evil Games’.

Our Detective tries hard not give too much of herself away, except for a stare directed at DS Bryant that would give Medusa a run for her money, or a perfectly-timed, sarcastic quip to put one of her team in their place. Will this be enough to prevent Kim Stone becoming part of the sinister experiment our curious villain is conducting? As she hunts for the dark truth in both cases, she may not have any choice in the matter.

Angela Marsons certainly knows how to throw a curve ball out of nowhere, and it’s damned subtle. I can’t wait to see what’s in store in Book three. For now, I urge you to read this – you won’t be disappointed.

DON’T PANIC! If you haven’t read book one, you can jump right with this one. It’s a stand-alone investigation and you won’t feel like you’ve been left behind.

To summarise:

Silent Scream (Book 1) was quite brilliant. Evil Games (Book 2) is EXCEPTIONAL. Clearly, the current rating system is broken as it’s unable to accommodate books of this calibre. So I give you –

6/5  – Yes, I know, I’ve invented a new one. It’s okay, Evil Games grafitti font made me do it.

(I would like to offer my sincere thanks – and my left kidney – to the publisher for allowing me to download this title from Netgalley.)


You can follow the very lovely author on Twitter: @WriteAngie  |  And the equally lovely Publisher:  @Bookouture

Want to know what Anglea Marsons is up to? Find out here:

TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  WEBSITE

BOOKS IN THE DI KIM STONE SERIES:

The Lie, by C L Taylor

Publisher: Harper Collins UK / Avon  |  Published 23rd April 2015  |  Edition: Kindle via NetGalley

WARNING: A packed lunch is advisable, as you’re not going to want to put this one down!

It’s addictive and impossibly twisty – I just couldn’t stop reading it – when I’d finished, I looked up and saw that it was dark outside. Now THAT’s the sign of a great plot.

The Lie by C L Taylor

How well do you really know anyone? Gripping stuff.

At first our narrator, Jane Hughes, tells us the pretty ordinary story of her life. Presently, she works at Green Fields Animal Sanctuary. She has a new fella in her life, a respectable primary school teacher no less. His young daughter seems to love both her and the animals she looks after. Jane doesn’t have any cause for complaint, until she receives a letter addressed to her at the sanctuary.

It simply reads:

I know your name’s not Jane Hughes.

Really? I’m already intrigued, and it’s only chapter one.

But the writer’s statement is accurate. Jane Hughes is not her name. It’s an identity Emma Woolfe adopted to free herself from events that she and three friends endured 5 years ago…

Aaaand cue flashback:

She and her ‘friends since university days’ plan a trip to help one of the group take their mind off a recent, obsessive breakup. They could have gone to Ibiza, or another similar place for fun. But no, at the suggestion of one of the friends they settle for trekking up Kathmandu to spend time at a retreat, which is designed for chilling-out and generally taking a step back from life.

We can all appreciate, there’s nothing quite like a remote location for a bit of psychological terror…

Over the period of their travels, some traumatising events take place and instead of drawing them closer, the friendship within the group starts to crack. Soon they begin to realise the bond that tied them together all these years may not be as strong as they might have believed, and you’re left wondering if the group will ever recover.

Five years after her return from the holiday from hell, despite making a new life for herself, a different nightmare is about to begin for the animal sanctuary attendant. During the course of the story, Jane, aka Emma, receives further unnerving contact from the anonymous source, intent on dropping sinister hints about their ‘knowledge’. The wait to discover ‘the truth’ is indeed a suspenseful one.

Oh, I do like a plot where you don’t know who to trust – although I could have struck a few of them for being perfect candidates in ‘the exceptionally annoying friend category’. At the end I can’t say my heart truly warmed to any of them, except for the rescued Staffordshire Bull-Terrier, called Jack!

The Lie is a well-constructed, psychological crime thriller that is guaranteed to get under your skin. It dares to ask the question: just how well do you really know anyone?

Good stuff.

Rating: 5/5

(My thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for the advanced Kindle copy.)


You can follow the author on Twitter:  @CallyTaylor

Black Wood, by S J I Holliday

Black Wood

Crime story, filled with dark secrets and suspense…

Publisher: Black & White Publishing | Published: 24th February 2015 | Version: Kindle (own copy)

Set in the quiet Scottish town of Banktoun, it’s not difficult to know everyone’s business. But despite the gossips, it soon becomes clear that the locals don’t really know the real truth about each other and this town is a perfect breeding ground for a few secrets…

The story’s timeline flicks backwards and forwards between the past and the present. Childhood friends Jo and Claire have been through much together, although an incident in the Black Wood some twenty years earlier has affected them in different ways; Jo is not fully recovered psychologically and although Claire’s trying to get on with life, her wheelchair is a constant reminder of that day.

Soon, Jo’s already troubled life is turned upside down in more ways than one when she is convinced she has recognised someone from her past. Everyone tells her to forget it, including Claire, but Jo can’t walk away from this new arrival in town.

More tension is added to the story when ladies walking alone are being targeted by a menacing presence ski mask / balaclava. The small, local police force is struggling to track the offender down and local chief, Davie Gray, is making slow progress with his enquiries.

The story builds slowly to quite a crescendo before taking quite a sinister turn. And all the time Jo is close to snapping the fragile bonds with her closest allies. Still, she is determined to confront the past that’s returned to haunt her, in more ways than one and regardless of the consequences.

It appears the writer has endeavoured to torment Jo throughout this story and I so desperately wanted to discover what had caused this fictional character to behave like she did. It may sound harsh, but despite everything that happened to the poor girl I still had such a hard time liking her!

As I found myself striding deeper into the book it was clear more things than meet the eye have happened in the Black Wood over time. Subtle clues are littered throughout the story at intervals but I didn’t spot them all. In fact, I didn’t know who to trust right up to the end, as most of the town seemed to be hiding something!

It has atmosphere, suspense and kept me in the dark.  Good stuff.

Rating: 4/5 for atmosphere | 3/5 characters | 5/5 for the ending = overall 4/5


You can follow the author on Twitter: @SJIHolliday

Silent Scream (Detective Kim Stone Book 1), by Angela Marsons

Publisher: Bookouture | Published: 20th February 2015 | Edition: Kindle (own copy)

The innocence of the life taken was known to them all but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried…

Good grief, what a ride!

Silent Scream THIS ONE

Silent Scream is a crime reader’s dream…

Silent Scream is a crime reader’s dream. Pacey and plot driven, it is filled with ‘real’ characters that you gain an immediate rapport with.

The story unfolds in 2004 with five people huddled around a fresh grave on a winter’s night. This was such a great opener, I just had to read on to discover who had succumbed to this awful fate. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to each and every chapter.

In the present day, when headmistress Teresa Wyatt is found murdered in her own home, a punchy, determined, take-no-messing Detective Inspector named Kim Stone is called to investigate her death.

The enquiry into this seemingly unmotivated attack leads our Detective and her team down a winding historical path. Whilst revisiting the past, the investigation takes them to the scene of an old children’s home in the Black Country where the murdered Principle used to work.

The home had previously been destroyed by fire, but the ground on which it stood had become the subject of a recently permitted archaeological dig: Cue our elusive watcher in the shadows…

With the body count starting to rise, some slightly unorthodox investigative processes are deemed necessary to catch a killer who seems to be determined to see through what they’ve started. But will Stone’s usual resolve be strong enough in order to catch them? Only time with tell if she will succeed – as this case grows darker, the Detective must also confront her own past.  By the end of the story you see that victims and survivors come from all walks of life.

If you’re still thinking you’re in need of a little more atmosphere after all that, the killer also ‘voices’ their creepy motivations periodically. These little snippets are fed to readers at perfect opportunities. And if that doesn’t convince you, there is the most excellent finale.

This is the first book I’ve read with the local Black Country Dialect included in parts of the dialogue and it was conveyed perfectly. It’s a cracking debut and one I would thoroughly recommend.

So, here’s hoping ‘The Scream’ goes on for a very long time.

(Book 2 in this series was published on 29th May 2015 and is even more exceptional. You can read my review here:  Evil Games )

Rating: 5/5


CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

And you can follow the both the writer and the publisher on Twitter:

Author: @WriteAngie  |  Publisher: @Bookouture

TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  WEBSITE

BOOKS IN THE DI KIM STONE SERIES:


Concerning the locality: 

On a personal note, I’m now nick-naming this book Silent Squeal. After working in this area for over twenty years I recognised all of the places in it. It’s such a cracking story, I don’t think I can pass the main murder scene again without thinking about this book…

 

Influence, by Chris Parker

Publisher: Urbane | Publication date: 1st March 2014 | Edition: Paperback (review copy)

I select my prey with care. I talk to them so that I can listen. I listen so I can see…

Influence by Chris Parker

An unnerving read, one that really gets into your head.

You and I follow the herd. The killer, it seems, does not.

“Influence” is a consulting agency, the brainchild of one Marcus Kline. He’s a seemingly arrogant know-it-all, who knows your mind better than you do. People hire him, people that need help to turn themselves around.

Nothing gets passed him – he believes he’s the best at what he does – which is influencing people by scientifically reading their every move. That’s what he gets paid for, to teach people how to communicate effectively, take charge, and in turn influence their own lives and those around them.

Marcus is so emotionally detached in his work, he could give the deep-seated, psychological side of Sherlock Holmes a run for his money! He notices (then analyses) something so invisible that it’s undetectable to everyone else. He has a gift, which he has perfected over many years. But if he’s not careful, his ‘perfection’ could alienate even his closest allies.

When a gruesome and unique murder takes place, Marcus’s ability is the reason why his friend, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jones, consults with him. But it’s not long before they realise that all hell will soon break loose, as a series of events unfold, affecting them both and those close to them.

I’m not giving away any of the plot, as you need to experience the killer’s mind games for yourself. Let me just say that the story builds to a shocking crescendo in a way you cannot fathom. That ending really throws you quite a curve ball!

I hadn’t the faintest clue what to expect with this book, but I was overwhelmed by the way this story was tackled. The characters are genuine, their individual lives are on full display, and the cascading plot with its bubbling undercurrents make for a great read.

And my favourite part? Although exceptionally creepy, throughout the book the ‘killer’ offers to us various monologues. These were particularly unsettling, as they have the knack of making you feel that you are the intended audience. The writer has successfully created the killer’s voice, so it speaks to you directly from the page.

Recommended to anyone looking for a crime thriller that’s just that little bit quirkier than the norm.

Rating: 4.5

(My thanks to Matthew of Urbane Publications for providing a copy of this book for review.)


You can follow the author on Twitter: @Chjparker | Publisher: @urbanebooks & @urbanepub