Crime

Bloodie Bones

Bloodie Bones
Publisher:
Published: May 11, 2015
In 1796 Bow Street Runner and amateur pugilist Dan Foster is sent to Somerset to infiltrate a poaching gang suspected of murdering Lord Oldfield’s gamekeeper, Josh Castle. Dan has walked into a volatile situation: the locals are up in arms against Lord Oldfield for enclosing Barcombe Forest and depriving them of their rights to gather fuel and food. Against a background of vandalism, arson and riot, Dan discovers that there were others with a grudge against Josh. However, Lord Oldfield orders him to arrest the poachers. When Dan learns that Josh had a claim to the Oldfield estate his suspicions focus on Lord Oldfield. Before he can confront him, rioters attack Oldfield Hall protesting against the arrests. During the fight, Dan finds himself at the mercy of the local doctor and realises that he and Josh were rivals in love. Dan narrowly escapes death and arrests the murderer: Doctor Russell.  

Reviewed by Awesome Indies' Assessor

May 18, 2014

 

When Lord Oldfields, a magistrate and wealthy landowner, asks for assistance to determine who murdered his gamekeeper, Josh Castle, Foster’s superior dispatches him to the small village. Disguising himself as a wandering itinerant, Foster becomes part of the gang of poachers who are Lord Oldfields’ real targets. In the process, he uncovers deeds from the past, some so evil that their perpetrators will do anything—including murder—to keep them hidden.

Lucienne is a masterful storyteller, skillfully weaving history, culture, and the social customs of the period into the story in a natural manner that not only piques the reader’s interest, but helps the reader with a watchful eye and attentive mind to figure out whodunit.

This story has a profound theme. The injustices perpetrated upon the poor by the privileged, how people react to events over which they have little or no control, and the importance of integrity and empathy in alleviating the human condition.

Not one word in this story is wasted, and it is told in a manner that both entertains and educates—the true sign of a master wordsmith. Extremely well edited, I could not find one comma or semicolon out of place, and unlike books by some of today’s bestsellers, no misspellings or grammatical glitches—nary a one.

Unlike many books I read, which are good stories, but contain a few formatting or other errors, making it impossible for me to give them a top rating in all honesty, I found nothing here that gives me pause; and, I re-read several passages just to make sure. Actually, I have to get personal here and say that I re-read several passages because I found the prose so entertaining, I just wanted to go back over it to enjoy reading truly great writing.

I found everything about this book engrossing, from a cover that conveyed in stark symbolism the theme of the story, to passages that glistened with brilliance. The characters were magnificently portrayed. Dan Foster, the protagonist, is totally captivating—from his willingness to face his own weaknesses, to his devotion to right and justice, but most compelling, his sense of honor and decency. Even the secondary characters were fully fleshed and well-rounded, creating a setting that made me feel that I was there. I could see, hear, and smell the surroundings, and sense what characters were thinking and feeling in a story that was impossible to put down once I started reading.

An easy five stars.

Greenies

Greenies
Category:
Published: : July 24, 2014
In the year 2030, London is recovering from a disastrous flood, which some say was caused by climate change. When a controversial talk-show host is murdered, suspicion falls on radical activist Ben Martins. Ben may be innocent, but he has no sympathy for the victim, and risks becoming embroiled in ever more dangerous schemes. If protecting the planet can justify anything, is Ben a pragmatist or a terrorist? And why does CCTV footage of the murderer show someone dressed distinctively like Ben? As friends and loved ones become involved, Ben’s thinking and loyalties are tested. Caught on the hard edge of radicalism, he must make choices that will affect the rest of his life – and the lives of those he has never even met.

Dead Wood

Dead Wood
Categories: ,
Publisher:
Published: June 17, 2014
Dundee International Book Prize winner 2009 Award winning crime novel set in Dundee, Scotland, A mystery and detective story which is a combination of police procedural, and woman in jeopardy. Book 2 of The Dundee Crime Series, with the popular DS Bill Murphy. Kara owes money to Dundee gangster Tony and takes to the streets to earn the cash. She narrowly escapes the clutches of a killer on the prowl, but stumbles across the bodies of his other victims. Hunted by the serial killer and the gangsters, Kara goes on the run. DS Bill Murphy teams up with newcomer, DC Louise Walker in the murder investigation. But Murphy is heading for a breakdown and it is up to Louise to catch the killer. One of the murder victims is the daughter of Dundee gangster, Tony, and he vows revenge. He is determined to mete out his own kind of justice to the killer. Who will find the killer first? Tony or the police. And what will happen to Kara? In the end what kind of justice will prevail?

Reviewed by Kevin J. Hallock

4.5, rounded up to 5. Dead Wood was a fast-paced murder mystery that kept me guessing throughout the story. The main characters were well-drawn, with histories, personal ambitions, likes, dislikes, and all operating in the gray ethical areas that make characters interesting. I like the way the murderer was handled throughout the story, and the crimes themselves were different from typical mysteries. All around, a fun read that I would recommend to people who enjoy mysteries.

A minor quibble was the number of point-of-view characters. There were too many for my personal tastes. But it is just a quibble. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.

 

Reviewed by Adan Ramie

Dead Wood by Chris Longmuir is a crime thriller centered around a serial killer whose orders come from a forest haunted by memories of victims past. It’s book #2 of the Dundee Crime series, but it works pretty well as a standalone.

Longmuir’s story is bleak. Most of the characters are sleazy, immoral, or downright evil, and there are A LOT of characters. One of my complaints about Dead Wood is the number of point-of-view characters whose personalities aren’t unique enough to differentiate them. It was confusing at first, and I didn’t really get interested in how the story would turn out until over halfway in.

Although I had problems getting into Dead Wood, I did enjoy the last third of the story. It was gripping, powerful, and kept me reading until the end. The conclusion, however, took some of the wind out of my sails; it was abrupt, and I thought some of the character reactions were unbelievable.

I gave Dead Wood three out of five stars; the story itself was a good one, despite its faults.

 

 

Generation

Generation
A grotesque figure emerges from the sodden undergrowth; lost, lonely and starving it is mown down by a speeding car on the edge of a remote forest. Ghostly apparitions haunt a rural Northumberland community. A renowned forensic scientist is troubled by impossible results and unprecedented interference from an influential drug company. Hendrix ‘Aitch’ Harrison is a tech-phobic journalist who must link these events together. Normally side-lined to investigate UFOs and big-beast myths, but thrust into world of cynical corporate motivations, Hendrix is aided by a determined and ambitious entomologist. Together they delve into a grisly world of clinical trials and a viral treatment beyond imagining. In a game of escalating dangers, Aitch must battle more than his fear of technology to expose the macabre fate of the drugged victims donated to scientific research.

Reviewed by Alexes Razevich

AIA Reviewer

A Fast-Paced Story That Will Stretch Your Imagination

Four Stars.

What do you get when you combine a medical/crime thriller with science fiction/horror? A creepy yet compelling page-turner of a book. Told from multiple points of view, including several characters who are undead but not your stereotypical zombies, Generation takes us into a world of corporate greed, gene manipulation, and people desperate either to live or to die. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the science in Generation, but Knight makes it sound entirely plausible. Anyone who has ever worked in an office will recognize the truth of the politics, even if a character or two carry it to the extreme.

In fact, the villains are one of the few disappointments of the novel. The journalist who discovers a story much bigger than the one he set out to cover, the forensic scientist/teacher focused on her work, the National Enquirer-type journal editor, and other characters are nuanced and ring true. The chief villain, sadly, is the stop-at-nothing type we’ve seen too often. The best, most poignant characters are the undead, each of whom deals with his or her fate the best they can.

The other disappointment is a gratuitous sex scene that leaves the two main characters naked during the climactic (not that kind of climax) scene. The romance between them seems more grafted on than natural, and their sudden falling into bed together unlikely. The author could have sent them to have coffee at her flat and the plot wouldn’t have changed.

Still, the novel worked for me, and I would have given it five stars were it not for the clichéd villain, the unnecessary sex scene, a few info dumps, a couple of typos, and some weird hyphenation. I give it a solid four stars and recommend the book to readers who want a fast-paced story that will stretch their imaginations.

Missing Believed Dead

Missing Believed Dead
Missing children! Internet predators! Dead bodies! She crossed his arms over his chest, and placed the jade beads in his eyes. ‘To remind you of me,’ she said. Jade was 13 when she disappeared, five years ago, and DS Bill Murphy suspects someone from her family is responsible for recent Dundee murders. But is it her mother, Diane, who now suffers from OCD? Or Emma, her twin sister, who was catatonic for a year after Jade’s disappearance. Or Jade’s brother, Ryan, who enjoys dressing in women’s clothes and is going through a sexuality crisis, unsure whether or not he is gay. What happened to Jade? Is she alive or dead? Or has she returned to wreak a terrible revenge on all male predators?

Reviewed  Jan Needle

The (fictional) subject of grooming and targeting girls on the internet for sex is getting dangerously close to cliché, unfortunately. There’s hardly a TV thriller any more than doesn’t hinge on some form of child abuse, and – important subject though it is – it can feel just a wee bit hackneyed.

So when I started Chris Longmuir’s Missing Believed Dead, and entered the world of a mysterious, creepy man driving his van from Manchester to Scotland to meet ‘Jade’ for a cyber date, I must confess my heart sank a little – for the wrong reasons. Despite the taut scene setting and the quality of the writing, I feared I was in for yet another harrowing but essentially unsurprising trawl through the expected.

Wrong. Jade was indeed a victim, and white van man sure as hell hadn’t arranged to meet her to have a chat about any problems she might be having at school. His vehicle was bursting with the required gear. Mattress, eye-bolts welded to the floor, black-out, the lot.

And when both the innocent young lady and the dirty old man ended up together in the back, something very nasty did indeed happen. There was a corpse, with beads jammed into the eye sockets. Jade beads. Jammed in with violence and intent. Jammed in by Jade, though, not the man.

Next day however – next moment for the reader – the boot is suddenly on other foot, the more usual one. This girl is called Megan, and she is young, blonde, beautiful. She is laid out on a rug on a floor of dirt, and part of her ponytail has escaped and spread across her face. The worst is about to happen. As it had happened to another girl, another victim of this man.

This book, set in Dundee, in Scotland, is many things, and proceeds in several interlinked strands. By chapter three it has turned into a police procedural, with officers struggling to unravel the startling mystery at its heart. But it is also about families, and appalling loss, and it is not afraid to delve into the misery that crimes like this, and the revenge that follows, must bring.

There is another book about the same detectives, Kate Rawlings and Bill Murphy, and I hope there will be more. It is gripping, thoughtful stuff.

Review by Jan Needle

 

Night Watcher

Night Watcher
Two stalkers, one target! A mysterious stranger arrives in Dundee, with a mission to find a new Chosen One to punish. He selects Nicole, a woman with a weakness for men. One of Nicole’s paramours is found hanged and everyone assumes he has committed suicide. However, his estranged wife, Julie, knows better and blames his death on Nicole. Obsessed with the need to punish Nicole, Julie stalks her, unaware that there is another stalker, the deranged and dangerous Night Watcher. Who will exact punishment on Nicole first? What price will Nicole have to pay for her misdemeanors? Will Julie’s mind games drive Nicole over the edge? And what price will Julie have to pay for her obsession? Only the Night Watcher knows! Night Watcher is the first book in the Dundee Crime Series.1

The Death Game

The Death Game
A world of mystery and intrigue in Dundee during the year 1919. And a new sleuth unlike any other currently in print. Kirsty Campbell, former suffragette and a policewoman in Britain’s newly formed women’s police service, returns to her home town of Dundee to become the city’s first policewoman. Her struggle for acceptance in the all male police force is not easy, and she fights for recognition. But Kirsty is not easily intimidated and, despite police attempts to curtail her activities, she defies her superior officer to pursue an investigation into a murder which is linked to missing orphan girls. Kirsty is an unusual character with a fascinating history and background. She has demons of her own to fight, as well as becoming involved in a deadly game of sacrifice and death? But how will she cope when the sins of the past come back to haunt her?

Reviewed 

I particularly enjoyed reading about one of Scotland’s pioneer policewomen in this first of a new series by Chris Longmuir. Towards the end of 1919, Kirsty Campbell moves from London to Dundee at the request of the Chief Constable, literally into uncharted territory as far as female police officers were concerned. Kirsty leaves behind a group of supportive friends in London, and a situation in which, if policewomen weren’t actually accepted, there were enough of them to band together and give each other strength. The fact that her family, from whom she has been estranged for a decade, lives in Dundee, is both a pull towards the city, and an additional source of anxiety for Kirsty.

A historical note at the end of the novel is useful in outlining the relationships between the suffrage movement and women entering the police force in the British Isles, and it’s no accident that Kirsty has been a suffragette. I found the historical details fascinating, from the uniform, which included knee-length army boots, to the duties women were considered capable of carrying out. They were often referred to as ‘statement takers’ though they were trained in jujitsu as a form of self-defense.

Kirsty’s relationship with her superior officer, Inspector Brewster, is well developed as the story unfolds, with Brewster ambivalent towards her, not knowing what to do with her, yet grudgingly admiring as well. The constables Kirsty has to work with are more inclined to mock than to give her a chance, and her father, when she plucks up the courage to visit him, is adamant that she should give up her foolish notions of independence. Her relationship with her parents is complicated by her relationship with her ‘sister’, Ailsa, who becomes a central figure in a plot involving missing girls.

I found the working out of this mystery less satisfying than other aspects of the novel, a mystery containing sexual predation, abuse and murder, spiraling around an orphanage and its staff, and the family of a man whom Kirsty knows from her former life in Dundee. Both the mystery and its resolution lacked depth, in my opinion. There was too much action and not enough reflection – the teasing out of possibilities and the weighing up of alternatives which can make a crime novel so enjoyable to read. It seemed inconceivable that Kirsty, given her intelligence, was gullible and blind where the main perpetrator was concerned.

That reservation aside, I enjoyed the historical setting and the characters and I would certainly be interested in reading the next book in the series.

I have given the book 4 stars.

The Lupane Legacy

Lupane Legacy, The
A story of international intrigue, of the ghosts of Africa’s history, of tangled family ties, of betrayal, revenge, and redemption, and of two people finding a new start. In 1983 Patrick Khumalo, a five-year-old boy out gathering firewood for his mother in rural Zimbabwe, is the only survivor of one of Robert Mugabe’s notorious Gukurahundi massacres. White Rhodesian settlers who live nearby take the traumatized child in and raise him with their own children. In 2012, Patrick is an archivist for Robert Mugabe’s government. Everyone knows him as the ideal public servant, removed from politics and passion. But Patrick has a secret life, into which he draws Constance, the impulsive, idealistic girl he grew up with, now a classical violinist living in Austria. On the other side of the world, in Washington, D.C., ex-Marine Joshua Denham is trying to find his feet in civilian life as a newly wealthy man with political aspirations. At an Austrian Embassy concert where his cousin Constance is performing, a woman who’s been haunting him for the past year—a private banker he last saw in Kyrgyzstan—sits down at the end of his row. Perhaps he’s found what he was looking for . . . but Devon isn’t quite what she seems. Constance is acting strangely, too. After she leaves abruptly for the airport, Joshua gets a desperate call from her estranged father, Roger: Constance is in trouble. Joshua flies to meet Roger in South Africa, only to find that Roger has his own dark secret. Devon finds herself drawn after them to an abandoned farmhouse in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland District, and an explosive reckoning with the ghosts of the Rhodesian Bush War. The Lupane Legacy, the first in a series of novels of international suspense and intrigue, is a thriller for the thinking reader, a nuanced exploration of the history of postcolonial Africa as well as of Beltway politics and diplomacy. It’s a story of tangled family ties, of betrayal, revenge, and redemption, and of two people finding their way toward each other, and a new beginning.

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland
October 14, 2014

As a writer, I was told to keep a nice balance between narrative, description and dialogue. That including a lot of the former, along with a lot of backstory, really drags the reader through the experience and slows the pace down to nothing.

And yet here we are giving the Lupane Legacy five stars.

The Lupane Legacy begins with a brutal village massacre somewhere in the depths of Zimbabwe, just after it had stopped being named Rhodesia. A small boy, Patrick Khumalo, remains the lone survivor of the ordeal. Across the world, in Washington DC, Joshua Denham attends a concert held by the Austrian embassy where his cousin, Constance Traun is a renowned violinist. There, he again meets none other than Devon Kerr, a banker who first met him in Afghanistan, during his tour with the Marines. Patrick, now in Zimbabwean Intelligence years and years later, one day receives the package he has been waiting his whole life for: a film reel of what happened in his village when he was five.

The book continues thus, with two parallel lines on two different continents, until out of the blue Patrick calls Constance; they must meet in person.

The Lupane Legacy carries the reader along smoothly, a page-turner that kept me up nights trying to figure out just how everything would play out. The narrative reveals a lot about the author’s education, it’s full of choice imagery, the vocabulary is lush and full, and expects the reader to read between the lines often. Slow as narrative generally goes, this book hits a good stride and doesn’t let up even after the explosive climax.

Readers of thrillers and mysteries beware: while this book is an excellent one, in terms of historical fiction and even literary fiction, there isn’t as much action as one would expect. Most of the book is building characters and explaining the political situations of the present and the past for various different countries. The characters are real, the dialogue never trite or cardboard, and the description is handled with the same effortlessness as the narrative, though one could ask for a tad more in some places.

If there was one gripe about the book, it was that it sailed over my head in a few places. Movie, music and literature references expect the reader to be familiar with a lot of classics, and for a vast majority of readers, that simply won’t be the case. It was possible to surge past this, but I felt certain that my enjoyment and experience with the story was lacking something in not understanding these.

In addition, this book contains a preview of the second book in the series, the Pyin Protocol. I’m definitely keen to read further adventures of Joshua and Devon, to see what’s in store further down the road.

Thank you for the read, Darby.

 

The Figurehead

The Figurehead
Aberdeen, 1840. As John Grant is creating a figurehead combining the features of two women, he also uncovers the evils behind the death of the shipwright who employs him.<br> Return to an age where sail was being challenged by steam, new continents were opening, and the world was full of opportunities for people to be as good—or as evil—as they chose. When the body of a local shipwright is found on the beach, neither the customers and suppliers he cheated nor the women he molested are surprised. But the mystery intrigues woodcarver John Grant, who determines to seek out the truth of the killing. His work and his investigations bring him into contact with William Anderson, a rich merchant—and his daughter Elizabeth. Commissioned to create a figurehead that combines the features of two women, John eventually uncovers a sordid tale of blackmail and death as, simultaneously, he struggles to resist the pangs of unexpected love.