Tuesday intro: Perfect Death by Helen Fields

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon.

tuesdayI’m also joining in with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share teasers from your current read. I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too

This week, I’m reading a book that’s not out till the end of January but, given I am a huge fan of the series (this is number three), I couldn’t wait to read it – Perfect Death by Helen Fields.

Cops Lie! by Leonard Love Matlick

35683982When I was asked to review Cops Lie! I spent a bit of time on Amazon reading the reviews because I have to be honest here and say that the title didn’t appeal and neither did the cover (which you know is a big thing for me, shallow as I am).  The reviews convinced me though that it was a worth a go with three and four-star ratings and promises of a gritty book about dirty cops. 

There is definitely grit in this book.  The story revolves around two honest cops in a sea of police officers on the take or up to no good, shaking down drug dealers and making false arrests.  There is a reference in the book to Serpico and I wonder if that is what the author was trying to do, tell a similar story. 

Thieves on the Fens by Joy Ellis

Thieves on the fens

DI Nikki Galena is back and I couldn’t be happier as she is one of my favourite female detectives and the “on the Fens” series, one of my favourites too.

There are some many things to love, including that they all start with a bang, something to make you want to keep reading on.  Here, it’s a call to Nikki from a mysterious man speaking in thieves’ cant, an old fashioned secret code (think cockney rhyming slang).  People, he says are going to die – and he is going to be the one doing the killing.

It all seems linked to a series of burglaries that the team are already working on, though it’s not clear how or what this mysterious man’ (who they nickname Mad Tom) ultimate aim is, other than teach Nikki a lesson.  

The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph

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Nightmares are scary things for all of us (well, for me at least, so I’ll project that same response onto anyone reading this), no more so than for Steven, who has been having the same dream for as long as he can remember.  It’s one he can’t explain and can’t shake.  As he grows older, his dreams start to invade his waking hours, becoming visions he can’t control.

Growing up in the foster system, afraid his new parents would “send him back” if he told them how bad it was, he has managed to (mostly) successfully hide what was happening to him from those he loves and those he works with.  Work is especially important as he is a homicide detective – no one wants a crazy policeman do they?

Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey

51F315SsdqL.jpgA murder without a body
Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.

A girl too scared to talk
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but best friend Bethany Norris won’t let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from?

A detective with everything to prove
As the team dig deeper into the residents of Valerian Road, no one is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that’s not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share…

I am used to reading books with dead bodies, there is probably at least one in most books I read, but I have to say I’m not so used to reading books where there isn’t one, just an assumption of murder.  The idea of this is one of the things that makes Let The Dead Speak stand out.  As far as openings and plots go, it’s different – in a good way.

What it does is throw up lots of questions that DS Maeve Kerrigan has to find the answer too, not least of which is where the missing body is – and whether it’s murder at all.  Because, without a body, how can you be sure?  With that much blood, though, that’s the theory the police follow and, with no clear suspects, they start by looking close to home…because you never know what is going on behind closed doors and twitching curtains

Casey has created a brilliant cast of potential suspects including: Kate’s daughter Chloe, who may be brighter than she first appears; her boyfriend and neighbourhood thug, who seems to be honest but you never know; her best friend Bethany, who doesn’t want Maeve to get close to Chloe; Bethany’s father, who found the house full of blood and doesn’t like being asked questions; and her uncle, who is – quite simply – a nasty piece of work.

I was convinced each of them was guilty at one point – a good thing because it means nothing was obvious here and, as a reader, I had to work at figuring things out.  These are my favourite type of books, ones that leave me guessing till the last minute, staying up late and turning the pages because I have to know!

Maeve helped with the page turning because I really liked her, and her colleague Derwent, who she has a love / hate relationship with (more on the love side it seems, though not in a romantic way).  They are both dogged and determined and not afraid to push things to get to the truth – though, unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out well for them.  They played off well against each other and, though their conversations, I was able to get an insight into both their home lives and understand them more.  It’s important to me to like the central characters in the books I read and I definitely did here.

I thought I would as I have read other Jane Casey books and met Maeve before but it’s been a while (I think it was the fourth in the series and this is book seven so I’ve missed a few…this definitely can be a standalone though for people like me who haven’t read any/all of the series).  I am really glad I found her again because this was a great read – well written, well plotted, well paced and with interesting and complex characters – and I loved it.

Enjoy!

Emma loved-it

Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 9th Mach, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

Don't Look Behind You by Mel Sherratt 

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She got into bed but sleep didn’t come easily. Every creak in the house made her alert. She was waiting for him to come and get her.

The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet.

The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. Her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes but, now he’s out and coming for her.

As Eden starts to close in on the attacker, she also puts herself in grave danger. Can she stop him before he strikes again? And can Carla, terrified for her life, save herself – before the past wreaks a terrible revenge?

So I want to start this review not with an overview of the story but with a comment on the tagline “He destroyed your life once. Now he’s back to do it again.” because I don’t think it – or the overview above – do this book justice.  They suggest this is the story of one woman at risk from one man, a popular theme in the books I read at the moment and I have to say that it caught my eye when requesting.  These books tend to follow a pattern though that Don’t Look Behind You doesn’t, which for me was a welcome change and a nice surprise.

What it is does have in common with other books is men’s behaviour towards women, how it can often be violent and how abuse isn’t always physical but emotional, with the effects lasting long after the violence stops or a relationship ends.  It’s a powerful topic that leads to a powerful book, one that doesn’t just entertain as a police procedural / piece of crime writing but makes you pause and think about how much more commonplace attacks on women, by strangers as partners, might be and how hard it is for them to stay safe and live full lives afterwards, lives not shrouded in fear.

Sherratt shows it here with two stories running side by side. The first is Detective Eden Berrisford’s search for a man attacking young women on their way home at night; the attacks are escalating and she needs to figure out who is responsible before someone ends up dead. The second focuses on Carla, who works at a women’s refuge but is also in hiding from her ex-husband Ryan, recently released from prison and out for revenge, blaming her for putting him there despite the fact that he had nearly killed her before he was arrested.

Both stories are compelling and well plotted, alternating in chapters and occasionally crossing over into each other. Because Eden knows Carla through her own work with the shelter she is the common theme running through each but I liked that I heard Carla’s voice too. She is a strong women with a sad history who is trying to rebuild her life – I admired her and wanted her to be happy and safe.

Each story could have probably been expanded into books in their own right but they did work well together and I didn’t find it distracting or difficult to move between the two. I did wonder if they would come together in a big twist at the end and was quite happy when they didn’t because I think that would have spoilt it and the conclusion to both was just right.

For me, it was much more satisfying than my first outing with Eden (and the first book to feature her) The Girls Next Door, where I struggled with some of the characters. Here, I didn’t have any of those problems so was able to settle in and enjoy the book and get to know Eden, who I think could become a firm favourite of mine – and not just because she wears doc martins (the best footwear ever) and drives a scooter (the coolest thing ever).

She is kind, caring, passionate about her job but there is a darker side too potentially, one that is hinted at when she and her daughter are threatened and I do wonder if that will come out in future books? There definitely seemed to be some teasers for what might happen next in her life in this book that I can’t wait to see develop.

I said at the beginning of this post that it was the tag line that caught my eye but it wasn’t the main or only reason. The other was Mel Sherratt, whose books I really enjoy and who is probably starting to rank as a favourite author. Her books have all the elements I love – crime, drama, twist, turns and strong female characters. They are well written, well plotted and keep me turning pages. I never know quite what to expect and I have – so far – always been pleased with what I’ve gotten. You can’t ask for more than that from an author or a book really, leaving me liking this one a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: 31st January, 2017
Pages: 287
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

Interested in what I thought about other Mel Sherratt books, check out my reviews below:

The Girls Next Door (Eden Berrisford 1)

Only The Brave

Follow The Leader

Taunting The Dead

The Doll's House by M. J. Arlidge

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A young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who her kidnapper is. So begins her terrible nightmare.

Nearby, the body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing – her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years. Someone has been keeping her alive from beyond the grave.

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it’s chilling evidence that she’s searching for a monster who is not just twisted but also clever and resourceful – a predator who’s killed before.

And as Helen struggles to understand the killer’s motivation, she begins to realize that she’s in a desperate race against time . . .

So after waiting a year between reading M. J. Arlidge’s first two books featuring DI Helen Grace I decided I didn’t want to go that long again, picking up The Doll’s House from the library almost as soon as I’d started Pop Goes the Weasel.

Once again, this a cracking read, and each book seems to go from strength to strength – developing Helen as a character that you don’t necessarily understand but you feel a huge amount of sympathy for.  This time round, she seems even more human and a little bit more humble as well, realising that she needs people and not everyone is out to get her.

I say not everyone but there is one person – maybe two by way of a bit of workplace pressure – which adds a nice sub-plot to what is a possibly more simple story than the last two books.  It adds to an already tense narrative and helps quickly bring other, newer characters, into the picture (Helen lost members of her team at the end of the last book). Adding newer characters also helps keep the books fresh.

For the story, when I say simple, I don’t mean it’s not good.  It is.  Helen is once again confronted by a serial killer, one who takes young women and locks them away in a “doll house” where he tries to re-create a perfect relationship with another, long dead, woman.  It’s clever and creepy.  The killer just doesn’t have the complexity – for me – of the previous two books.

His motives were clear but – again, for me – less forgivable (bearing in mind that in the last two books I had sympathy for the killer as well as the victims, strange as that might sound).  I think I maybe wanted a bit of a final twist, that explained him more, and I didn’t get it.

Still, I found myself turning pages at a rate of knots.  M. J. Arlidge is a great writer, whose style I like.  It is clean and punchy with short chapters that make you think you can (have to) read one more before bed or heading off to work.  He has a way of bringing his story to life, and his characters, which I really like and means I also liked this book – a lot – and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good piece of crime writing.

Enjoy!

Emma

p.s. if you want to know more about his first two books check out my reviews here of:

Eeny Meeny

Pop Goes The Weasel