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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

‘A Bespoke Murder’ by Edward Marston

Published by Allison & Busby,
26 September 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-0990-8

May 1915 and the Lusitania sailing from New York is in sight of land when she is torpedoed by the Germans.  The story is told by stewardess Irene Bayard who had worked on the Lusitania since her maiden voyage in September 2007.  

The sinking of the Lusitania provokes ferocious revengeful action in her home port of Liverpool.  The shops of anyone with a German name are looted, and even naturalised British citizens are not safe but beaten up at random. Sadly this action is soon seen in other major cities. But in London matters take a sinister turn when a tailor’s shop on Jermyn Street in London is burnt out and the owner killed.  Whilst fleeing from the shop at her father’s insistence Ruth Stein is waylaid by two soldiers and raped.

Assigned to the murder case are Inspector Harvey Mamion and Sergeant Keedy. The former, a family man, the latter a ladies man, but maybe he just needs to meet the right girl.

Whilst the action taken by Mamion and Keedy as they investigate both the murder and the rape, have all the hallmarks of a good detective story, with the satisfying knowledge that the strong arm of the law has a long stretch, much of the strength of the book is in the characters and their lives on the home front during war. Following her recent experience, Irene decides that she will return home to her sister Dorothy in London, and find work there.  Ruth Stein a quiet rather sheltered middle-class girl attempts to deal with the dreadful thing that has happened to her and, along with her family, the death of Jacob Stein. 

Cleverly plotted, well written and invoking the atmosphere of the time, I heartily recommend this book as an excellent read. I am delighted to see that this is the first in a new series and I look forward to the next one.
Lizzie Hayes

Edward Marston was born and brought up in South Wales. He read Modern History at Oxford then lectured in the subject for three years before becoming a full-time freelance writer. His first historical mystery, The Queen's Head, was published in 1988, launching the Nicholas Bracewell series. A former chairman of the Crime Writers Association Edward has worked in radio, film, television and the theatre. Edward lives in the Cotswolds with is wife, author Judith Cutler.  A Bespoke Murder is the first in the Home Front Detective series.

Monday, 19 September 2011

‘The Drop’ by Michael Connelly

Published by Orion 27th October 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-3428-2

LAPD Detective Harry Bosch has been put on DROP – Deferred Retirement Option Plan, and is currently assigned to the Open-Unsolved Unit. The thousands of unsolved cases are slowly being evaluated in the light of forensic developments such as DNA.  A cold hit is when DNA from an old case is matched to the DNA in the nation’s databases and then the case is re-opened.  With his long experience Harry gets the cases that require careful handling, and when a cold case from 1989 gets a DNA hit for the rape and murder of young woman which points to a convicted rapist who was only eight at the time of the killing, the case is immediately assigned to Harry.

Within hours of being assigned his new case Harry gets an urgent call to investigate the death of Councilman Irvin Irving’s son George.  It appears that the Councilman who has considerable clout with the police department has requested that Harry take-over the investigation.  As Irvin Irving and Harry have clashed on many occasions over the last twenty-five years, with Irving seemingly bent of destroying Harry’s career, he is surprised and suspicious of the request, but is unable to get out of it.  Although told to put his cold case on the back burner and to concentrate on the death of George Irving, Harry continues to pursue both cases along with his new partner David Chu.  

As with previous books I was fascinated by the detail of the chase as Harry follows the trail of these two cases that twist and turn like live snakes.  While the cold case leads Harry in pursuit of justice for a brutally murdered young girl, the current case immerses him in politics, corruption and conspiracy.

While juggling with two cases, with the Police Chief and Councilman Irving constantly on his back, Harry is also a single parent caring for his fifteen-year-old daughter, and trying to have a personal life – a tall order.

A compelling entry in this excellent series, I couldn’t put this book down and read into the early hours to finish it.  One of the best books I have read this year, put it in your ‘must read’ list.
Lizzie Hayes

Michael Connelly was born in Philadelphia, PA on July 21, 1956. After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. His first book The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly followed up with three more Bosch books, The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde, and The Last Coyote, before publishing The Poet in 1996—a thriller with a newspaper reporter as a protagonist. In 1997, he went back to Bosch with Trunk Music, and in 1998 another non-series thriller, Blood Work, was published.  Connelly's next book, Angels Flight, was released in 1999 and was another entry in the Harry Bosch series. The non-series novel Void Moon was released in 2000 and introduced a new character, Cassie Black, a high-stakes Las Vegas thief. His 2001 release, A Darkness More Than Night, united Harry Bosch with Terry McCaleb from Blood Work.  In 2002, Connelly released two novels. The first, the Harry Bosch book City Of Bones. The second release was a stand-alone thriller, Chasing The Dime. Lost Light was published in 2003. It is another in the Harry Bosch series but the first written in first person. Connelly's 2004 novel, The Narrows, is the sequel to The Poet. His 11th Harry Bosch novel, The Closers, was published in May 2005. The Lincoln Lawyer, Connelly's first-ever legal thriller and his 16th novel, was published in October. This book introduced Mickey Haller, a Los Angeles defense attorney who works out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car.  Echo Park, was released in October 2006. The Overlook, Michael's 18th novel, was originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine. This Harry Bosch story was published as a book with additional material in May 2007. Michael's 19th novel, The Brass Verdict, was released in October 2008. It introduces Lincoln lawyer Mickey Haller to LAPD Detective Harry Bosch in a fast-paced legal thriller. Michael's 20th novel, The Scarecrow, was first released in May 2009, and reunites reporter Jack McEvoy and FBI Agent Rachel Walling for the first time since The Poet. In the 15th Harry Bosch novel, Nine Dragons, Bosch goes to Hong Kong to find his missing daughter. It is the most personal Bosch story since The Last Coyote.  In October 2010, The Reversal was released. This book has Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch working together on the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. The Fifth Witness, a Mickey Haller novel, was released in April 2011.     Michael lives with his family in Florida.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

‘Cage of Bones’ by Tania Carver

Published by Sphere,
17 September 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-4525-8

Employees of a building company inspecting an old house for demolition, discover a feral child in the cellar imprisoned in a cage of human bones.

Detective Inspector Phil Brennan of the Essex Police Major Incident Squad, calls in his partner psychologist Marina Esposito, to try and talk to the child, but the child can barely form words. 

As the CSI and the detectives investigate the cellar it becomes apparent that this is not an isolated incident. They have disturbed a killer who has been operating secretly undetected for many years.

How has this killer operated for so long, where are his victims? And more importantly does he have accomplices that have enabled him to have stayed hidden for so many years?

This is the most action packed thriller that I have read for many a year. The story moves along at a cracking pace. The characters are well fleshed out and each of their lives a story in themselves.  Detective Rose Martin, manipulative and power hungry, who had an affair with DCI Ben Fenwick, and is now is well in with his successor DCI Brian Glass, back on duty after a period of recuperation following her abduction in an earlier case. DS Mickey Philips, who has unexpressed feeling for DC Anni Hepburn -will he ever be able to voice them?  And Faith – what is her story?

It’s not a comfortable book, delving as it does into the depths into which humans can sink. Greed, lust for power, and evil. As Phil Brennan digs around he becomes more and more uncomfortable – but he cannot put his finger on the cause of his discomfort, he only knows something is wrong, but what?  As the hunt for the killer intensifies before he kills again, there are secrets long buried now rising to the surface which will have a profound effect on Brennan, and those around him.

For lovers of a good thriller this is a must.  Atmospheric and plain scary you won’t be able to put it down. 
Lizzie Hayes

Tania Carver is the pseudonym for the husband and writing team Martin Waits and his wife Linda Waits. Martin Waits is the author of the Joe Donovan crime series set in Newcastle.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

‘Rip Tide’ by Stella Rimington

Published by Bloomsbury, July 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-4088-1112-2

Mitchell Berger who has lived in most places in the world, is now living in Athens and co-ordinating aid for the charity UCSO. A call that an aid ship bound for Mombasa had been subject to a hijacking attempt, which had been foiled by a French Navy patrol is on the face of it good news. However this is the third hijacking of an aid ship and Mitchell surmises that it is no chance attack, as like the earlier two hijacking this particular aid ship was carrying unusually expensive cargo.  With a sigh Mitchell telephones the London Headquarters of UCSO and alerts his boss David Blakey to the problem. An ex-MI6 officer David decides to have a chat with an old colleague.

Meanwhile, the problem reaches MI5 Officer Liz Carlyle by a different route as the French Navy who captured the pirates have found that one of the gang has a British passport.  Would Liz like to question the prisoner?  During the decade that Liz Carlyle has been in MI5 things have changed dramatically following 9/11. So a British citizen of Pakistani descent in a gang of Somalis pirates raises a red flag.

As Liz investigates the background of the prisoner Amir Khan, and tries to make sense of the chain that has resulted in Amir being part of a pirate gang, a separate prong of attack is being put in place in Greece.

Whilst the investigation steps up, and Liz and her team try to get a handle on the facts and information that they are uncovering, equally fascinating are the behind the scenes politics and relationships inside MI5 and MI6

On a personal level Liz is currently enjoying a relationship with a French counterpart, but can relationships ever stand still?

An exciting entry in this excellent series, this book is recommended.
Lizzie Hayes

 Dame Stella Rimington joined the Security Service (MI5) in 1968 and during her career she worked in all the main fields of the Service's responsibilities - counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism - and became successively Director of all three branches. She was appointed Director-General of MI5 in 1992. She was the first woman to hold the post and the first Director-General whose name was publicly announced on appointment. She has written her autobiography and five Liz Carlyle novels. She lives in London and Norfolk.
 Earlier books in the series are: At Risk, Secret Asset, Illegal Action, Dead Line and Present Danger