When DI Jackman’s sister-in-law commits suicide, his family finds it hard to believe. She was a loving wife and mother and didn’t seem to have any real cares in the world.
His partner, DI Marie Evans, finds it so hard to believe she becomes convinced not all is as it first appears. It’s a belief that becomes a reality as first one then two more suicide victims are found, neither of which are quite what they seem.
It looks like someone has come up with a very clever way of committing murder – by getting his or her victims to do it themselves. It’s also a very clever idea of a book, one I enjoyed as I watched the police scramble to figure out just who was behind some rather vicious attacks on seemingly innocent people.
Brian Caskey is a bit of a mess. A former cop, he drinks too much, smokes too much, has mental health problems, and has got himself involved in something he probably shouldn’t have gotten himself involved in.
He is also a writer of 1940’s crime fiction, with a main character who drinks too much, smokes too much and has got himself involved in something he probably shouldn’t have.
Both Brian and his detective live in Northern Ireland, a place where people seem to have a bit of an edge to them but also don’t take life too seriously unless they have to. Neither seem to have had much luck in life, living alone and on the edge of the “real world”
Let Me Lie is another book by Clare Mackintosh that is hard to describe because one wrong word and you let out a plot twist – and possibly spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it.
It starts with Anna, home with her eight year old daughter Ella and mourning the loss of her mother a year earlier and her father seven months before that. Both committed suicide, jumping off the cliffs at Beachy Head.
Or, at least the police and coroner say they committed suicide; Anna isn’t so sure and, when a card telling her to think again turns up on her doorstep, she becomes convinced her parents were murdered. Now, to persuade the police.
When the body of a young and popular teacher turns up in the waters of Sonny Lake, the first detective called to the scene is Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, a local who not only knows the area but also the victim – Rosalind Ryan, at least in passing (they went to school together).
The connection, Gem insists, is slight. The relationship between the two women non-existent. So she stays on the case, along with her partner Felix. Unfortunately, Gem isn’t quite telling the truth; she has a history with Rosalind (Rose), holding a secret that might put the case in jeopardy.
Splinter in the Blood is one of those books that opens with a scene that can’t help but hook you. A police officer at the scene of a crime, the shooting of another officer, who – instead of calling it in – is destroying the evidence.
The victim is DCI Greg Carver. And the officer destroying the evidence his partner, Ruth Lake. Why, it’s not clear – just as it’s not clear if Ruth is a dirty cop or a good one making bad decisions.
She seems good, I have to say, dogged and determined to figure out who shot Carver – and finish the case they were both already working on, the Thorn Killer, a serial killer loose on the streets of Liverpool. But there is always, all the way through the book (well until the climax) that nagging doubt.
Finn’s life seems pretty perfect. He has money, a house in the country and a beautiful and caring fiancé. Things probably couldn’t get much better, especially when you think that ten years previously he had been suspected of murdering his then-girlfriend, Layla, while they on vacation.
No body was found though and the evidence there was, was circumstantial. Slowly, he rebuilt his life till he found himself where he was now – happy, or as happy as he thinks he can be, and waiting to get married.
Then he comes home to find his fiancé, Ellen, in a strange mood. She’s found a small Russian doll on the wall outside their house. A doll that looks remarkably like the one she always thought her sister, Layla, stole from her when they were children. Yes, the same Layla that Finn was dating. Do you get the feeling that things might be about to get complicated?
When Sophia gets a late-night call from her mom asking her to come home, she does what she always does – puts it down to her mom’s usual erratic behaviour. Putting her mom off, she tells her she’s had too much to drink and will drive over the next day, which she duly does only to find her mom (Nina) dead and her dad seriously injured, with knife wounds to the stomach.
While her dad lies in a coma, unable to tell them what happened, the police rule Nina’s death a suicide – something Sophia can’t get her head around and can’t bring herself to believe. Her mom may have been many things, but suicidal is not one of them.
Things become even more confusing – and interesting – when a letter arrives from a publisher, confirming they will be publishing Nina’s book and asking when they’ll be sent the final chapters. Nina, Sophia discovers, has been writing her memoir and it’s much more interesting than anyone could have imagined. The question Sophia needs to answer though is was it interesting enough to kill Nina for?
James Sallis is one of my favourite authors. I came to his work late and, over the last few years, have been slowly working my way through his back catalogue. He is also the most-reviewed author on my blog – with nine reviews where I basically tell you he is brilliant.
It probably had to happen, then, at some point, that I would come across a book that wasn’t and – unfortunately – that day has come. I’ve just finished The Killer Is Dying and – very much like my last review (The Last of the Greenwoods by Clare Morrall), I’ve been left more than a little flat.
I am not sure why – the writing style is the same – sparse and to the point in that noir way I love. The characters are just as damaged as in other books, unsure how to live their lives without messing them up but doing the best they can. And the dark setting is there too – this time Pheonix, with the harsh, hot weather almost becoming a character in and off itself at times. Yet, for me – this time – it just didn’t work.
When Zohra, a postwoman with a past that has derailed her life, is asked to deliver a letter to two brothers who time seems to have forgotten, she can’t help but be intrigued – especially when she finds out they live in a railway carriage (also lost in time).
Zohra has an interest in trains, is helping to restore a local station and train line, and an interest – it seems – in people who, just like her, have secrets. And the Greenwoods, Johnny and Nick, have secrets, a whole lifetime of them.
Johnny and Nick bury everything in a shield of anger at each other, they always have, but it got worse when – forty odd years ago – their sister died and their mom fell apart. Still only young, they were left to their own devices and to pick up the pieces. They didn’t pick them up very well.
When an early morning Amber Alert disrupts Detective D. D. Warren’s plans for the day, she knows it’s bad. Turning up at the scene of a horrible crime, she thinks it couldn’t be worse. Four members of a family of five are dead, the last member – a sixteen year old girl named Roxy – is missing.
The first question any officer would ask – is Roxy in danger or is she on the run, having killed her family. Now it’s one D. D. must answer. Helping her, as well as her team, is Flora Dane, a young woman we first met in Find Her and who was kidnapped and held hostage for 472 days.
Now, she spends her time helping other survivors, though not always in a way D. D. would like, at the same time as tracking down potential predators and inflicting her own type of justice (which D. D. definitely doesn’t like). Roxy is one of the survivors she has been trying to help out and, with the girl having seemingly disappeared into thin air, D. D. and Flora agree to work together to track her down.