Newest Crime Reviews

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Well of the Winds (DCI Daley) by Denzil Meyrick

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It's not a happy time for DCI Jim Daley. The woman he loved is dead - there are those who blame him for what happened - and his relationship with Liz, his ex wife, and his young son is deteriorating by the day. He's finding solace in the bottom of a glass, whilst the man who used to do that all too often, his friend DS Brian Scott is off alcohol completely and has found exercise. There's a new officer in charge at Kinloch - DS Carrie Simmington - and whilst she might look young, it's unlikely that she got to that position without having a core of steel. Full review...

Miraculous Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics) by Martin Edwards (editor)

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Consider the following scenario: a policeman hears someone screaming and runs to a house on a particular street, number 13, from where the noise is emanating. When he peeps through the letterbox he discovers a dead man in the hallway with a knife in his throat. He goes to fetch help, but upon returning, finds that the street does not have a number 13 and that the body and the room he saw have both mysteriously vanished... Full review...

The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh

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So. In the interest of honest disclosure I should tell you that I love Irvine Welsh's work and I must confess to a particularly gruesome fancy for Begbie, the notoriously violent, terrifying protector/tormentor of the Trainspotting gang. Whilst this means you are unlikely to receive an unbiased review, it does mean you will get a passionate one. It is fair to say that I loved The Blade Artist and my only critique would be that it was over too quickly. For those of you who may not be familiar with Welsh's earlier manifestations have no fear, you can pick up The Blade Artist and be transfixed by Jim Francis, artist, father, husband and elegant thug. For those of you with previous knowledge of Francis Begbie you'll be instantly drawn back into the world of a man previously defined by petty vengeance, violence and blood. Full review...

The Killing Bay by Chris Ould

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Between the Scando-noir and the Highlands-and-Islands crime, it was only a matter of time until a series featuring a life-weary detective set in Greenland, Iceland, or thereabouts appeared. And here we are, with a series based in the Faroes. Full review...

The Pictures by Guy Bolton

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It's the spring of 1939: in Hollywood The Wizard of Oz is in production at MGM and it's important that nothing interrupts shooting or causes bad publicity for the actors or the studio. The police department recognises that it's good for Hollywood that all goes smoothly and it's Detective Jonathan Crane's job to see that the crimes and misdemeanours of the stars are swept under the proverbial carpet. The studio rewards him handsomely for this and there's perhaps a little bit of antagonism within LAPD that Craine's got it easy and wouldn't know how to investigate a case if it came up and slapped him, but in Craine's mind all that's going to change. Full review...

The Acid Test by Elmer Mendoza

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Mayra Cabral de Melo is dead. Murdered in cold blood in a desolate, dusty field by the side of the road. Once the most adored, celebrated dancer at the local strip club, she had a collection of rich and powerful admirers but who amongst them was deluded and dangerous enough to kill her? And what connects her to the deaths of various associates, arms dealers and Narco kingpins? Lefty Mendieta returns in The Acid Test, following on from Mendoza's first novel Silver Bullets. I haven't read the first instalment of this series and don't believe that had any impact on this story. Lefty has a personal connection to the case, forever haunted by the memories of his brief but life changing night with Mayra and uses his connections to the powerful criminal underworld, his tense relationship with American agents and his consuming desire to avenge her death to track down this violent and deranged killer. Along the way we learn about the growing tensions between Narcos which erupt in explosive levels of violence, meet a host of damaged, humorous and violent residents of Culiacán and follow Lefty on a trail of destruction, death and disorder. Full review...

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

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Maben is on the run. For a long while it's not clear whether she's running from something or towards something, or simply back to where it all started. She's got her small daughter with her, and they've been walking for a very long time. It's hard on the child, but it's also clear that if it wasn't for the child Maben would stop running, and it's clear that that would not be a good thing. Full review...

Parallel Lines by Steven Savile

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Books are full of coincidences, because if they were not, they would be pretty dull. The action takes place during an extraordinary timescale of the characters – the time they were involved in a bank robbery, or their loved one was murdered. People are more likely to read this type of book than one about the time they picked out their new curtains. For the intrigue to happen, links between characters have to be made, but balancing coincidence is tricky. Too little and the characters don't gel, too much and you start to think the book is supernatural. Did Steven Savile get the balance right in Parallel Lines? Full review...

Quieter than Killing (D I Marnie Rome 4) by Sarah Hilary

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The attacks all seemed to be quite random, but the nights were dark, the weather freezing and D I Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake were spending quite a lot of time on the streets of London. Then Marnie's family home was ransacked and every indication was that it had been done by someone (or on the order of someone) who knew her. Normally Commander Welland would have been able to give Marnie a degree of protection - he knew her history all too well - but his cancer had returned and he was going to be away for four months. His stand-in was nowhere near as understanding in this or other matters. Then it was established that a child was missing - had been missing for ten weeks - but no one had reported it. Full review...

Little Bones by Sam Blake

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It was a fairly ordinary break in. A young artist's home had been given a going over, but it was hard to see that much had been taken. There were suspicions that it might have been one of the usual suspects, only the shoes weren't as they'd have expected to find them if that was to be the case. Something else was not as you might expect to find it: a wedding dress, an old heirloom piece by the look of it, and in the hem, stitched in there, tiny bones. Human bones. Full review...

The Chalk Pit (Dr Ruth Galloway) by Elly Griffiths

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Norwich is - apparently - riddled with tunnels, many dating back to the time when chalk was mined there. When bones are discovered in one of the tunnels it seems obvious that they've been there for hundreds of years, but Dr Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist, isn't so certain. The colour doesn't look right and she has a suspicion that the bones have been boiled: they've also not been there that long. DCI Harry Nelson has a murder case on his hands. His team has other problems: DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper and there's not a lot to go on other than the rumour that she's 'gone underground', but what, exactly, does that mean? Full review...

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

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Atlanta, Georgia. The Deep South. This is country that fought to keep the right to own slaves, and would continue fighting every last bastion of segregation as the United States slowly clawed its way to a humane system of governance of all her people. That's a history that today's southerners are variously proud or ashamed of, or choose to ignore, or hope to forget, or continue to strive against. Variously, because people are also individuals and we all hold to our own view of what is right. For many of us, what is right is sometimes hard to draw the lines around…but what is wrong is much more clear-cut. Divisions based on skin colour, or race, or creed are wrong. No two ways about that. Full review...

Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard

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Lisa Fulbrook's best friend is dead – the victim of a brutal attack who fell to her death from her own apartment window. Lisa was there, she too was a victim of the attack that killed her best friend, and she is left with the physical and emotional scars to prove it. Traumatised by the events, Lisa flees to a country village to help settle her frightened mind. But what happened that night still torments her; she is plagued by vicious flashbacks and questions surrounding why she and her best friend Ali were targeted, because the one thing Lisa does know is that she can't remember what really happened that fateful night. How did their assailant know them? Was it planned? More importantly, why were they attacked? Full review...

Time To Win by Harry Brett

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I have no idea what Great Yarmouth has ever done to Harry Brett, but, boy, is he getting his own back! Now personally, I don't much like the town, and I know it has its seedy side, like most places, but I can't believe it's quite this bad. According to Brett, the weather's as dreary as the down'n'outs, the streets are grim, and the people worse. He makes the point that no-one comes to Yarmouth for their summer holidays anymore…if that wasn't true before this book, it's likely to be so afterwards. If a place could sue for defamation of character, the town would want to. The opening shot is of Richard Goodwin going down into the murky waters of the Yare out back of his office. Goodwin was not a good person... Full review...

Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald

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It's not often that you get two books for the price of one, but if you are going to see this anywhere it will likely be in a reissue. Taking the back catalogue of an author and compiling a larger book consisting of similar stories is a great way of reusing stock that you already have. Hard Case Crime have done this with two books by Fletch author Gregory Mcdonald. Surely two books that centre on kidnapping by the same author would be similar enough to be placed together? Think again. Full review...

The Pledge by Friedrich Durrenmatt and Joel Agee (translator)

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In what sounds like rural Switzerland, a girl has been murdered and left for anyone to see in a forest. The police come, and soon find out who the villagers already think is the sole suspect – a man known for illegal liaisons with young girls. They have, in fact, to put a compelling case against lynch mob rule just to get him back for investigation. He does confess, after a lengthy process – and then hangs himself. But the leader of the investigation, even while walking across the airstrip to the plane waiting to take him to a different job elsewhere, is determined to follow up on the promise he made to the girl's parents, to make the guilty person face justice. It's a promise, however, with far-reaching consequences… Full review...

Kill the Next One by Federico Axat

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After getting started with the opening chapters of Spanish writer, Federico Axat's Kill the Next One, you might be forgiven for thinking you are stuck with one of those machismo riddled tales where a middle-aged man with a mysterious past is forced to shoot or blunder his way through a by-the-numbers thriller. The spectre of Lee Child's successful Jack Reacher series creeping in around the edges of the page. The novel opens with Ted McKay and his Browning pointed to his temple. He has the perfect life, including a beautiful wife and two adoring children, but has discovered that he is also in possession of an untreatable tumour buried deep within his brain which is slowly killing him. However, right before he decides to take the shot and end his life, there is a knock on his door. Standing behind it is a man named Justin Lynch who tells Ted that he represents an all-knowing organisation that turns would-be suicides into opportunities to correct the imbalances of the law. Ted, instead of killing himself, could kill someone who really deserves it. Full review...

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

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When a teenage joyrider crashed a stolen car and ended up in a coma a routine check of his DNA revealed a connection to an unsolved murder from years before his birth. On the face of it, it looked as though solving the cold case should be straightforward, but it's not. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at clearing cases which have proved unsolvable but in this case it looks as though the law itself might prove to be an insurmountable barrier. She's drawn to another case too - one which she really has no business investigating - and one which has its roots in a terrorist bombing two decades earlier. Like the case of the teenage joyrider nothing is quite as it seems. Full review...

Evil Games (D I Kim Stone) by Angela Marsons

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When Ruth saw the man who had raped her coming out of a local pub she was traumatised. He'd served his time (albeit it was rather short) and now he was free - and she was frightened. The rapist was murdered and DI Kim Stone and her team were called upon to solve the killing - and quickly. There was a little bit of a feeling that the man had got what was coming to him and didn't deserve a lot of sympathy, but professionalism won the day. Then more revenge killings came to light and it was obvious to Stone that there was something sinister behind what was happening. Full review...

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

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We've all encountered pushy mothers - the ones who seem determined not to let their children have a moment's peace between all the extra-curricular activities which they have arranged for them. Karen Bloom is in a different class though. Her son, Ewan, was something of a disappointment, but she's not going to allow that to happen to her daughter, the talented Bronte. There's not a moment to spare between the music lessons, dance classes and extra school work - sometimes they have to eat on the hoof from one lesson to another. The rest of the family can see the cost to Bronte and to the family as a whole, but Karen will not listen, will not change her ways. Then one day Bronte disappears. Full review...

Extreme Prey by John Sandford

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Making a long running series evolve organically is a very tricky business; a character that has been around for 26 books, and nearly as many years, is not going to be the same person that started out. Age catches up with us all and many crime writer have come up against the problem of retirement; not their own, but that of their character. Why is a 70 year old still out chasing criminals and shooting things? Lucas Davenport is a character who has always been a maverick, doing what he wants, therefore quitting the police was never going to stop him. Full review...

The Ad Man by Timothy Dickinson

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Tim Collinwood is single and so, working in Morocco as an advertising creative, he's free to enjoy all his host country has to offer: the expense accounts, the opulence and the women. Then it happens. He gets the contract of his life. He just needs to create a PR campaign that will reassure Morocco that French business has her best interests at heart. The truth may be otherwise but creating the façade is what advertising is about. Perhaps Tim should have noticed that there are clues from the beginning as to how shady this job is, including needing to work under an assumed identity. However, the secrecy becomes a side issue as something more important takes Tim's concentration: survival for him and those around him. Full review...

Rupture (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jonasson and Quentin Bates (translator)

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Strange things are happening, as they are most wont to do, in rural Iceland. In a very remote fjordside community in the NW a passing visitor has left the legacy of a dangerous African virus, which has claimed two lives. It's becoming national news, to the extent that a TV journalist is in touch for updates. The community only has two policemen, trying to man their station round the clock between them to make sure instant responses are possible. But one of them has also been asked to look into a mysterious cold case from the 1950s, when a lady died from poisoning – and that in a community of only four adults and a baby. – Or was it five and a baby, as a newly-found photograph suggests? Elsewhere, in Reykjavik, a young couple are troubled by an intruder – but that won't have any connection to the other cases, surely? Full review...

What Remains of Me by A L Gaylin

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On the hottest night of the year, June 28, 1980 teenager Kelly Lund walked into a wrap party and shot the director, John McFadden dead. Two to the chest, one to the head, dead and centre. She offered no defence, though her attorneys played up her drug use and the heat but she still got 25-to-life. A journalist saw something in her nervous smile on the court steps, part of her defence mechanism others might have argued, called it the Mona Lisa Death Smile and set about building a demon. Full review...

Blood Lines (D I Kim Stone) by Angela Marsons

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Initially it looked like a robbery gone wrong, or possibly a carjack, only the car was still there and so was the expensive watch and the jewellry. Her wallet hadn't been taken either, but she'd been killed by a single, precise stab to the heart. There was no sign of anger: in fact there seemed to be a complete lack emotion and there was nothing to suggest that the victim had attracted the violence - she was a caring mother and dedicated social worker. D I Kim Stone wasn't alone in thinking that something didn't add up. Then a local drug addict was found with an identical wound. There's nothing to link the two cases other than the wounds and Stone's instincts. Full review...

Lost Girls (D I Kim Stone) by Angela Marsons

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Charlotte and Amy were best friends: they seemed to do everything together and the trip to the swimming pool was no different. It was all carefully planned - they were to stay in the building until one of the parents arrived to pick them up. Only, it didn't work out like that: the mother's car was disabled and before the pick up time both parents had received a text message to say that the girls had been abducted. It would get worse too - the next communication would tell them that they would have to bid for the life of their child. The parents who bid the most would get their child back. The other would not return. It sounds unbelievable, but it had happened before. One child was released, but not even the body of the other child had been found. Full review...

Finisterre by Graham Hurley

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The Second World War is almost lost but in a last, desperate roll of the dice the German High command launch Operation Finisterre. In America the apparent suicide of a scientist working on the atom bomb and off the coast of Spain the shipwreck of a German submarine, become catalysts as the plans spiral out of control, leading to a shattering climax. 'Finisterre' is a crime thriller packed with grit, suspense and style. Full review...

Then She Was Gone by Luca Veste

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Tim Johnson took his baby daughter out one day and in the course of their walk he was attacked and the baby was stolen. But there was a problem: only Tim seemed to believe that there was a baby and the police were convinced that there was an entirely different crime and that Johnson was their only suspect. He went to prison and was largely forgotten about. Full review...

Tokyo Nights by Jim Douglas

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Colin McCann, private detective, chronic smoker and dog lover, is charged with solving the mysterious death of the young and beautiful daughter of a wealthy businessman. The key facts of this case apparently hinge on the testimony of Charlie Davis, a ne'er do well dreamer with quick fists and a poet's heart. The only problem is that Charlie Davis has disappeared and appears to be unwilling to disclose his part in these tragic events. After some deliciously violent digging, McCann jets off to Tokyo and here is where the fun really begins… Full review...

Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou by Steven Burgauer

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A sudden death in New Orleans' red light district, the invention of a more effective US military landing craft with a big future, a crime family with links back to occupied Sicily and two Germans lurking suspiciously in America's southern states. All these are connected and, as World War II hots up across a fortnight in 1942, the links become more obvious as well as more dangerous. Full review...

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