Dead Calm by Inge Löhnig

51NLOhDy8bLWhen the body of a retired paediatrician is discovered in his weekend house on Lake Starnberg, it seems clear that his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong. But as Inspector Konstantin Dühnfort starts to investigate and details of how the man met his death are revealed, an altogether murkier series of events begins to emerge – one of torture, betrayal and cruelty, of complex sibling relationships and toxic parental ambition. With a family ripping at the seams, will Dühnfort be able to uncover what really happened?

I was excited to read Dead Calm not just because it sounded right up my street but because it would be my first crime novel set in Germany.  I am a big fan or Nordic Noir and crime fiction so wondered how this would compare.  In a nutshell – really well.

In many ways, it’s similar – it’s dark and gritty – though I have to say German life doesn’t seem quite as structured or controlled.  There is much more eating, drinking and seeming to enjoy life here.  Not too much though because there is murder afoot and a murderer to be found.

In this case the victim is a respected and semi-retired paediatrician Dr. Heckeroth, who is found rather gruesomely in his lakeside cabin by his son, Albert. Albert was the apple of his eye and chosen child – with the other two (Caroline and Berstram) being ignored for the most part.  It’s an interesting and potentially explosive family dynamic which plays out as the investigation progresses and which I think Lohing uses to good effect to bring the story and the characters to life.

They also do a brilliant job with the detective’s, led by Dühnfort and supported by Gina and Alois.  Dühnfort and Gina especially are really well drawn, with enough of their personal life to make me like and care for them.  Much like my Monday read (Mercy Killing) this was very much a team effort.  Dühnfort relies on his instinct a lot but doesn’t go off on his own, working with others to get results.  I like this and it is a good change for me and my recent reads where detectives tend to go off on their own.

The story itself is full of twists and turns and I wasn’t sure till close to the end who did it (I was right – yay!). It isn’t the fastest of paced books though.  Instead, I would say it was steady.  I never lost interest and I never got bored but I didn’t feel the overwhelming urge I have with other books to stay up late or keep turning pages.  This might not be a surprise as it runs to nearly 450 pages.

I thought it was well written and well translated.  I liked getting to know each character, none of which I didn’t like to a degree (even the bad apples had redeeming features), and learning a little more about life in Munich, which sounds lovely despite the subject matter.  I am not sure if this is part of a series or the first in one, but I’ll definitely be looking out for more.  Liked it a lot!

Enjoy!

Emma x

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Manilla Publishing
Publication Date: 18th May, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 448
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: 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.

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Tuesday intro: Dead Calm by Inge Lohnig

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. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m reading Dead Calm by Inge Lonig, which is due out in a week or so and sounds right up my street.  It’s a German translation (if I’ve got my facts right), which I’ve only read one of before, so looking forward to it for this also. Here’s what it’s about…

51NLOhDy8bLWhen the body of a retired paediatrician is discovered in his weekend house on Lake Starnberg, it seems clear that his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong. But as Inspector Konstantin Dühnfort starts to investigate and details of how the man met his death are revealed, an altogether murkier series of events begins to emerge – one of torture, betrayal and cruelty, of complex sibling relationships and toxic parental ambition. With a family ripping at the seams, will Dühnfort be able to uncover what really happened?

And here’s how it starts…

Prologue

Beneath the narrow steps leading down to the basement was a space that had once stored coal.  Black dust still clung in nooks and crannies, but it was so nearly dark that the boy, huddled on a pile of old blankets and curtains, couldn’t see it.  Instead he smelled the greasy odour.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

Pre-order on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

29938032Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves–until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

After reading The Kind Worth Killing last year, which was my first book by Peter Swanson and one of my favourite of 2016, I set myself a mini-challenge for 2017 – of reading at least one more of his books.  As it was due out, I decided Her Every Fear would be the one and was rather excited to finally pick it up a couple of weeks ago.

The description above (from Goodreads) is rather long and goes a long way to explaining the story, so I won’t repeat it here and maybe spend a little time instead talking about how the book is written and the characters.  It starts with Kate’s story, her anxiety as she moves to Boston and her thoughts / feelings as she settles in to the apartment of a cousin she’s never met.  Walking around the strange flat, opening drawers, skimming across shelves, she can’t get a feeling for him at all, immediately setting her to wonder and pushing her imagination into overdrive.

And she does have an imagination, one that sees danger everywhere.  Just seeing a friend knock on her neighbours door convinces her that neighbour is dead, and when she’s proved right, she spirals.  Her behaviour, which seems erratic from the moment you meet her, becomes more so as she starts to lock herself away from a city she hasn’t even had time to explore and begins to suspect her neighbours and he cousin.  She feels claustrophobic and so did I.

The fist third of the book is Kate’s story and it was easy to fall into.  I can’t say I liked Kate (I didn’t) but I understood some of her behaviours as her past was revealed.  Then it jumps to Corbin, her cousin. I have to say, I found the switch to Corbin’s voice jarring after spending so long with Kate and it pulled me out of the story a bit…I’m not sure I ever really got back into it.

You hear about Corbin’s arrival in London but not much more before you move back over a decade to when he was a student, also in London, and a series of events that set his life on a trajectory he couldn’t have imagined and definitely didn’t want.  His past doesn’t paint him in a good light and does lead you to question whether he is Audrey’s killer.  In Corbin, I found another unlikeable character…leaving me struggling to connect with the book.

Strangely, I did quite like Alan, whose voice you hear through chapters interspersed throughout the book.  He’s an odd one and definitely suspect.  But there was something about him that drew me to him and made me warm to him, hoping he wasn’t the killer.  There is another voice too (not saying whose – spoilers), which sheds more light on Corbin’s story and helps bring everything to a conclusion.

I have to say, for me, that (the conclusion) couldn’t come soon enough because I was tired.  The book felt long. The story – for me – dragged for the second half and the characters – as mentioned above – just didn’t do it for me.  Their fates, I felt blah about and this made me sad.

I so wanted to like this book and, no matter how many times I think back to it, I have to say I just didn’t.  It wasn’t badly written and the story had some great twists but not caring about the characters meant that even these weren’t enough to save it for me.  I know from other reviews I am in the minority here but it just wasn’t for me  – I liked it, but only a little!

Sorry!

Emma

liked-it-a-little

Source: Library
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 10th January, 2017
Pages: 353
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts

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. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, after a few weeks of review copies, I’m back at the library with Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts, which I know nothing about but which caught my eye because of the title. Here’s what it’s about…

31129137The death of a local sex offender places the police officers at East Rise incident room under immense pressure – they must treat this case like any other murder, but they know what Albie Woodville did and can feel little sympathy. Except, as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear this isn’t just a one-off killing – someone is out for revenge …

Not much to go on is there?  Here’s how it starts…

Few things made Dean Stillbrook happy any more but the one part of the day he really enjoyed, relished, adored, was his early morning walk through the woods from his flat to work.

The hideous experience of the last six months was only now starting to blur into the past where it belonged.  He hadn’t for one moment believed that he would ever look forward to the rest of his life. One stupid mistake had cost him so much but he was learning to adapt and be glad for the small things in his day to day existence.

As he made his way deeper into the trees, he paused for a second to tilt his face up towards the sky, the May sunshine breaking through the branches and warming his face. He stood still, eyes shut, and listened to the birds, a slight breeze rustling the leaves, and then he heard the sound of movement behind him.

A bit of a longer intro to make up for the blurb. What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

31443401Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

Red, the colour of anger and revenge, and the colour Zoey imagines inside herself as she prowls the streets of New York looking for people who need saving. It’s not all altruistic though, it’s her way of taking control of her life, something she doesn’t feel and hasn’t had since her parents were killed and she was left for dead 10 years previously. No one was ever arrested for the murders but Zoey knows who is guilty and, now, she feels strong enough to start making them pay.

On the outskirts of New York, Claudia is looking to start afresh, having left the city and moved into a run down farmhouse left to her by her father. Her plan is to rebuild and refinish the farm, creating a life away from the grind of the city for her and her daughter. Like Zoey, Claudia has a past touched by violence – her daughter, Raven, is possibly the result of rape. She has never wanted to know but it has coloured her and Raven’s lives.

As Zoey and Claudia’s stories unfold over alternating chapters it starts to become clear that violence isn’t the only thing that links them and that their lives are on a collision course, destined to intersect and putting them all in danger again. Just how this happens I won’t say (spoilers) but I will say Lisa Unger brings it all together very well, building the tension slowly and steadily until the final scenes.Read More »

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

31180439The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

Twenty years ago, a small village on the edge of Hadrian’s Wall was left shocked and scarred by a series of murders.  Eventually, the killer was caught, but people were never the same again.  Each did what they could to cope, some better than others, and to forget – though it seems that wasn’t really possible.

For Isla – who found three of the victims – coping has meant looking the evil she came across that day in the eye.  She is a forensic psychologist, studying the brains of serial killers to try and understand why they kill and if she can stop it.  It’s something her husband (and the only survivor of the Killer on the Wall), Ramsey, doesn’t understand…he is looking for a “normal” life, one free from stress, danger and – maybe – with a few kids running around. Isla, though, can’t help herself, meeting with the very person who nearly ended Ramsay’s life – Heath McGowan (aka The Killer on the Wall).

It might be a coincidence, it might not, but whilst Isla is meeting with Heath, a body is being found – propped against Hadrian’s Wall, just like the bodies twenty years previously – and the hunt is on for a new killer.   Leading the case, Isla’s father (the local policeman who caught Heath and is now police superintendent) and her best friend Mina.

It’s the way of small towns / villages, everyone is connected and as the case progresses, things get messy.  No one is sure if the killings are being directed by Heath somehow, if it’s a copycat killing, or (even worse) was the wrong man put away first time.  I have to say, I wasn’t sure myself – right through to the end when the killer was revealed (bit of a shock I didn’t see coming at all!).  I loved all the guessing and how I started to distrust pretty much everyone at some point.

I loved the way the story was told too, “travelling” from person to person and telling a bit of their story and what they were up to…dropping clues for me to pick up.  I know it’s something that a lot of authors do, alternating chapters, but this felt more like snapshots in time and I thought it was well done.  I got to hear the voices of each person involved and make my own decisions on whether I liked them…and, more importantly, trusted them.

There is lots of love going on here I realise and that’s how I felt about The Killer on the Wall – I loved it.  It was a great story, simple and effective, with great characters, great pace and a killer ending (pun intended).  Highly recommended!

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

 

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Arrow
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

 

 

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

31393997Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

1999.  In a field at an eclipse festival, 21 year old Lara comes across what she instinctively believes is a rape. Something about the look in the man’s eyes, the blankness in the woman’s, the harness of the scene. Despite the man (Jamie) saying it was consensual, not what it looks like, and the woman (Ruth) saying nothing at all, Laura calls the police – setting in motion a chain of events that will change her life and that of her boyfriend (Kit) in ways neither could have predicted.

2015, Laura is six months pregnant and suffering from anxiety.  She and Kit are married and he is about to leave her for a trip to another eclipse festival, bringing back memories of that fateful summer and what happened next.  Told in chapters that move between 1999 and 2015 and Laura and Kit’s stories, He Said/She Said slowly unfolds into something more than I originally expected (though given Erin Kelly’s other work shouldn’t have been surprised about).

Slowly, a tale unfolds not just of rape but of it’s impact, on the victim, the perpetrator, families, friends and witnesses.  He Said/She Said looks at consent and sexuality, why we view women’s in one way and men’s in another.  Somehow it does all this not only well but in the context of a thriller that had me turning the pages, desperate to know what would happen next.  It is a real testament to Erin Kelly that she can weave such a tale sensitively but also with such darkness and edge.

And it is a dark book, one that makes you question yourself and your assumptions and doesn’t shine any of the characters in that good a light.  As Kit and Laura’s stories unfold you realise that nothing is quite as it seems, that truth – odd as it sounds – can be subjective and is often also about perception, what we perceive to have happened.

Given the subject matter, this isn’t always an easy read, but is a good one.  Laura and Kit are so well drawn I felt I knew them.  I was happy when they did the right thing, disappointed when they didn’t. Ruth and Jamie meanwhile became larger than life, seen as they were only through Kit and Laura’s eyes.  Did I believe them, like them, loathe them?  Hard to say at points.  I definitely didn’t trust them or their truths.

And, by the end, wanting to the know the truth was consuming me as much as it was Laura.  I didn’t just want to know, I needed to know.  And what I found out left me shocked.  It wasn’t the ending I expected.  It was, though, probably the right ending for this twisted tale, one I highly recommend and liked a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan

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. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m reading the oldest book on my Kindle (part of a personal challenge I wrote about here). I’m a little way in and not sure how I feel. I normally love Nordic Noir, which this is, but it’s also very long and very wordy…we’ll see I guess. Here’s what it’s about…

10240235

How could one man inspire such hatred?

Professor Lars Helland is found at his desk with his tongue lying in his lap. A violent fit has caused him to bite through it in his death throes. A sad but simple end. Until the autopsy results come through.

The true cause of his death – the slow, systematic and terrible destruction of a man – leaves the police at a loss. And when a second member of Helland’s department disappears, their attention turns to a postgraduate student named Anna. She’s a single mother, angry with the world, desperate to finish her degree. Would she really jeopardise everything by killing her supervisor?

As the police investigate the most brutal and calculated case they’ve ever known, Anna must fight her own demons, prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

And here’s how it starts…

Solnhofen, Southern Germany, 5 April 1877

Anna Bella Nor was dreaming she had unearthed Archaeopteryx, the earliest and most primitive bird known. The excavation was in its sixth week, a fine layer of soil had long since embedded itself into everyone’s faces and the mood had hit rock bottom. Friedemann von Molsen, the leader of the excavation, was the only one still in high spirits. Every morning when Anna staggered out of her tent, sleepy and shivering in the cold, von Molsen would be sitting by the fire, drinking coffee; the congealed porridge in the pot proving he had cooked and eaten his breakfast long ago. Anna was fed up with porridge, fed up with dirt, fed up with kneeling on the ground that only revealed bones that were, of course, interesting in their own right, but were too young to be the reason she studied biology, and most definitely not the reason she was spending six weeks of her precious summer holiday living in such miserable conditions. The year was 1877 and, at this point in her dream, Anna got the distinct feeling that something didn’t add up. She was wearing her quilted army jacket and thick furry boots with rubber soles, but Friedemann von Molsen didn’t seem the least surprised, even though he was wearing a three-piece corduroy suit with a pocket watch, a woolly cap, which rested on his ears, and had a pipe in his mouth.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza 

34368544He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

I think it’s fair to say that Robert Bryndza has done it again with this, the latest, in the Erika Foster series. Still stuck behind a desk in Bromley, Erika is missing her former role in the murder investigation team. Her application to go back, though, has been turned down – and she’s angry about it, no more so than when she’s summarily dismissed from a crime scene.

The scene – the body of a young woman has been found in a dumpster, badly beaten and tortured.  She has been missing for only a few days and Erika’s gut is telling her that the killer is likely to strike again.  The problem is no one wants to hear, not least the head of the murder investigation team (and her former adversary), even when she gets as close to begging as she can get and uncovers evidence his team haven’t.

Then, in twist I won’t share for spoilers, she gets given the opportunity to become senior investigating officer and the chase is on for a killer who is becoming more prolific and more violent.  As a reader, you know who he is, what he plans to do next and you see him spiralling.  It all adds to the tension as you also watch Erika and her team struggle to follow the clues, hoping for a lucky break and praying that they get to the latest missing girl in time.

And it is tense, from page one, and not letting up right until the very end.  The killer is suitably evil and just to say smart enough to keep ahead of the police (for a while at least), making my skin crawl more than a little.  And Erika is her usual brilliant self, trying hard not to be self-destructive for once but not doing too well at it.

The mix of tough and vulnerable in her is something I like in my characters.  She isn’t a complete hard-ass, is liked and admired by her team, but her past has left her damaged and with a hard outer shell.  She wants to break out but it’s hard.  Still, we get to see a little of that in this story, making her and her team more real than ever.

As for the story itself, you couldn’t ask for more really.  It’s a cracking read from start to finish.  These are all things I’ve said about other books in the series but here it is again – it was well written, had great pace (I read it in a day which is rare for me), great characters – event the bad guy was well rounded (see creepy killer above), and kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Can I say any more? I don’t think so – I loved this and really recommend it.

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 12th April, 2017 (yes today! cutting this review fine)
Pages: 281
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

Driven by James Sallis

14623750Seven years have passed since Driver ended his campaign against those who double-crossed him. He has left the old life, become Paul West and founded a successful business back in Phoenix. But walking down the street one day, he and his fiancee are attacked by two men and, while Driver dispatches both, his fiancee is killed. Sinking back into anonymity, aided by his friend Felix, an ex-gangbanger and Desert Storm vet, Driver realises that his past stalks him – and will not stop. He has to turn and face it

One of the many things I love about James Sallis is that he writes his characters as he finds them.  They are dysfunctional, not always likeable, definitely broken but also incredibly compelling.  So it is with Driver, who you meet as he watches his fiancé get gunned down in the street, seemingly for no reason.

In Driver’s world though, there is always a reason, and so there is here if he can just figure it out in between fighting for his life and constantly trying to stay one step ahead of a seemingly endless supply of hired guns determined to earn their money.   It involves talking to shady people, hitting shadier people and never giving up.  I like that about Driver – he doesn’t stop.

Like him, this book is relentless, never letting up for a second.  It’s dialogue heavy with not much in the way of descriptive scenes bar the odd flashback to his childhood or earlier life, before he tried to start again.  And it’s short (only 155 pages), meaning there isn’t much time to breath.

The language seems simple on first reading but then you realise that a picture is being painted, of men (mainly) who believe in action versus trying to talk things out.  It’s not a world I understand but it’s lived by a code and it’s best not to break it.  It’s a world where you don’t go to the police, you sort out your own problems. And it’s a world where people live with the idea of an eye for an eye.

It’s a world I was drawn into quickly and was quite sad to see the end of, especially as it was left open so you don’t know what is going to happen to Driver next and whether it will be good or bad.  Perhaps it’s good for me as I will get to meet him again…I just hope it’s not another seven years before I get the chance.  Loved this one and a recommended read!

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Library
Publisher: No Exit
Publication Date: 1st January, 2012
Pages: 155
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US