Crime

Not Without Risk

Not Without Risk
Author:
Publisher:
Published: November 10, 2017
Author's Twitter: @PeterTrewin
When Martin Bennett, the backroom brains in a regeneration company charged with bringing back Merseyside’s former prosperity, sees an ex-friend murdered on a hospital escalator and discovers that the body was too hastily cremated, he feels compelled to investigate.   In order to discover the truth about the murder, he must navigate the Merseyside underworld peopled by bent solicitors and coppers, corrupt politicians and violent thugs. He forms an alliance with the mayor’s right hand woman, who is out of favour with her corrupt boss, and uncovers not only the surprising story behind the murder but also a conspiracy to carve up Merseyside’s green belt.   The journey will not be without risk. For both of them.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heads You Lose

Heads You Lose
Categories: ,
Author:
Published: December 31, 2014
Author's Twitter: @RobJohnson1000
The assignment in Greece might have been the answer to Trevor and Sandra's problems except for one thing. Someone was trying to frame them for murder... with a watermelon. 'Money for old rope,' Sandra had said when they accepted the job of looking after the ageing Marcus Ingleby at his villa in Greece, but when a neighbour brings a gift for the old man, the prospect of spending most of the rest of their lives in a Greek prison becomes a terrifying reality. Meanwhile, Ingleby has problems of his own. During his seventy-odd years, his cupboard has accumulated plenty of skeletons, one of which is about to be rattled by a couple of ex-cons and a retired police inspector from his murky past. Heads You Lose is the sequel to Lifting the Lid and the second book in the 'Lifting the Lid' series, featuring Sandra Gray, Trevor Hawkins and his incorrigible dog, Milly.

Assessed 

4 Stars

Trevor Hawkins and Sandra Gray are two PIs who aren’t exactly a rousing success. When they’re hired to travel to Greece to be nursemaids to a sick old man, Marcus Ingleby, they see it as a welcome change of pace. Little do they know that the only case from which they made money, the downfall of semi-retired gangster, Harry Vincent, will follow them to Greece and complicate their lives beyond measure.
After an interesting opening which starts like a thriller, and ends with Trevor being bonked by a cheating spouse he’s been tailing, the reader is plunged head-on into a comic romp in which even the violent encounters and bloody, beheaded corpses are milked for laughs.
This story has an expansive cast of characters, with different, but ultimately interlocking motives. But, the author handles them well by introducing each in their own chapter. The suspense is kept up by only hinting at the complex relationships—there are two separate crimes that bring them all together—until near the end when the threads are brought together.
The main weakness of this book is that the relationship between Hawkins and Gray is not as fully explained as it could be. Their history is mostly hinted at until well past the book’s midpoint when the reader learns that they had an almost romantic encounter. Donna Vincent’s motive is exposed too early, taking away some of the mystery. This, however, is just one reader’s observation. Heads You Lose is a funny book, and well worth the read.
I give it four stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Read: Publish And Be Dead

Blood Read: Publish And Be Dead
Publisher:
Published: November 18, 2016
Author's Twitter: @simonjtownley
When investigative journalist Tom Capgras finds his literary agent hanging from an oak beam in her West End office, an immaculately tied noose around her neck, his dreams of a non-fiction book deal appear dead in the water. Joanne Leatherby’s death looks like suicide but Capgras suspects murder. Nonsense, say police, who dismiss him as a conspiracy crackpot. Capgras uncovers links to a string of untimely deaths – editors, publishers, reviewers, even book bloggers, killed for an unkind word. All the evidence points to one man – a mid-list author of detective tales with a career on the skids. Cast adrift by agents and publishers alike, his dreams thwarted, Arthur Middleton has gone to the dark side and embraced self-publishing. He may be crazed with ambition, but how mad would a man have to be to kill for publicity, for book sales? Mad enough to admit everything on the pages of his latest blockbuster? As the body count mounts, and the police refuse to take him seriously, Capgras must act alone, defy his critics and get to the truth fast – before the killer gets to him.

Awesome Indies Assessment

November 18, 2016

5 Stars

Great book, beautifully written and a perfect read for anyone in the publishing industry. It’s written with a light touch while having a deadly serious plot. The story revolves around murders in the publishing industry and a reporter trying to catch the murderer without the kind of support a detective or PI would have. Highly recommended for authors, publishers and anyone who likes a good mystery. 5 stars!

 

 

A Fair Wack

A Fair Wack
Categories: ,
Author:
Published: April 27, 2014
Author's Twitter: @PeterTrewin
Fresh scratches in old scar tissue. Old burn scar tissue. That’s got to hurt. Paul Eston has blown the whistle on some bad people in Liverpool and gone to ground with vital evidence in the North East of England Wacker Hughes must track him down. He has not been involved in the violent side of the operation for years but now everything that he has worked for is under threat. But what made Eston blow the whistle? Will he find out the truth behind his father’s murder? And how did he get those scratches on his back? Only a woman’s fingernails could do that much damage. Ouch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood-tied

Blood-tied
Categories: ,
Publisher:
Published: February 13, 2018
Author's Twitter: @wendy_percival
A desperate crime, kept secret for 60 years. But time has a way of exposing the truth. And the repercussions are only just beginning. Esme Quentin is devastated when her sister Elizabeth is beaten unconscious, miles from her home. Two days later Esme discovers that Elizabeth has a secret past. Desperate for answers which the comatose Elizabeth cannot give, Esme enlists the help of her friend Lucy to discover the truth, unaware of the dangerous path she is treading. Together they uncover a trail of unresolved bitterness, blackmail and dubious inheritance and, as the truth emerges, Esme exposes evidence of a harrowing and pitiful crime. Realising too late the menace she has unwittingly unleashed, Esme is caught up in a terrifying ordeal. One that will not only test her courage and her sanity, but force her to confront her perception of birth and family.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

 

Wendy Percival’s Blood-Tied is a mystery centered on family origins. Esme Quintin rushes to the hospital where her sister, Elizabeth, lies in a coma after being attacked in a park. Witnesses had seen Elizabeth arguing with a man beforehand. The police return Elizabeth’s locket to Esme, and inside are photos of two strangers. Esme, a researcher with unquenchable curiosity, sets out to discover who they are and who put her sister in hospital. She soon learns that Elizabeth is her adopted sister and Elizabeth’s true origin might have everything to do with the attack.

Percival creates some distinctive characters. Esme intrigues me with her quiet determination and unexplained scar. Polly, an old woman whom Elizabeth had been helping, is altogether believable in her fright and anguish. The villain is a nasty piece of work; anyone involved in a disputed inheritance will recognize his type. Other characters could be more fully developed. Esme’s niece, Gemma, comes off as a sulky whiner whose behavior can be excused only because she’s under stress. The story requires that I care what happens to her, but I don’t.

The plot holds together well but occasionally seems contrived. At times Gemma’s opposition to her aunt appears to have no motive other than creating another complication. The police return Elizabeth’s locket and handbag to her sister, who was most likely attacked and now lies in a comma. Wouldn’t they keep the items as evidence and test them for fingerprints? No, because Esme must find the photos in the locket and the keys inside the bag.

Percival’s prose is economical and unpretentious, and she writes effective dialogue. I just wish she trusted her writing more. She inserts explanations as if afraid readers wouldn’t get the story otherwise. I cringe at statements like this: “For Esme it was the first step on what would prove to be a strange and bewildering journey.” Even though the story has only begun, Percival has done her work well enough that I already suspect that Esme will encounter things strange and bewildering. I don’t have to be told. When Esme goes to interview a witness, Percival writes: “He gave no indication as to whether her second visit in such a short time was an imposition. He received her well enough.” The preliminary summary undermines the drama of the scene that follows.

Quite a few mystery readers ought to enjoy Blood-Tied despite its flaws. The backstory of Elizabeth’s birth family is engrossing, and the story culminates in an exciting scene that won’t distress anyone with graphic violence.

Material Evidence

Material Evidence
Category:
Author:
Published: July 11, 2007
Author's Twitter: @carver25
This is the first in a series of police procedurals set in North-East Scotland and featuring DCI Jack Carston. A woman’s body is found at her home. She died of a gunshot wound, had been brutally raped and all the clues point to the husband being the culprit. As Carston investigates, however, the main puzzle facing him is who the woman really was. Husband, colleagues and acquaintances variously picture her as a frigid menopausal woman, a highly-sexed lover, a shrewd investor and manipulator, a valued financial adviser, an embarrassment to her employers, a sad, unstable person. Before he can solve the crime, he must first reconcile all these images to establish her real identity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrinkled Heartbeats

Wrinkled Heartbeats
Published: October 19, 2015
Author's Twitter: @templewms
A war hero stumbles into a web of money-laundering, lies, and deadly secrets, including the “Gator Pole,” a painful way to make people disappear in Florida’s famous River of Grass, the Everglades. A very generous offer to buy the hero’s luxury home includes an expiration date on his life. The only person who can save him is the person hired to kill him. For the warrior, one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the Marine Corps becomes a life-threatening allegory in the tropical paradise of the Palm Beaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Lapse

Time Lapse
Category:
Author:
Published: February 18, 2015
Author's Twitter: @PeterTrewin
A despicable crime carried out twenty years ago by a teenage gang. The proceeds of a heist hidden away. Chris Crosby was involved and could have intervened but he didn’t. So he is just as guilty. But where to hide? How about the most obvious place.  He is a surveillance expert investigating organised crime in Merseyside – in particular the activities of an outfit led by Alison Mason who has had to take control when her partner was drowned in a botched drug smuggling operation. Chris is also a rock climber with ambitions to solo the hardest and most dangerous climb in the area, ‘Time Lapse’. Talk about not attracting attention to yourself. But the ghosts from his past have been awakened. Can Chris avoid exposure? Can he shop the gangsters? Can he climb – and survive – the route?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Stranger to Death

No Stranger to Death
Author's Twitter: @JanetOkane
A Scottish village. A burning corpse. Some very dark secrets. Can recently-widowed Doctor Zoe Moreland discover who’s killing her patients in time to save herself from becoming the next victim? Recently-widowed Doctor Zoe Moreland moves from an English city to a village in the Scottish Borders for a fresh start among strangers unaware of her tragic past. However, any hopes she had of a quiet life are dashed by her dog finding a woman’s body in the remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire. Although the last thing Zoe wants is to get caught up in a murder investigation, this changes when someone else dies unexpectedly and she herself narrowly escapes death. Determined not to become the killer’s next victim, she digs beneath the tranquil surface of the close-knit community to find out who is committing these horrible acts. And discovers that some secrets can be deadly.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

No Stranger to Death Review: A good first Novel

A grisly murder in a sleepy Scottish Borders village opens this debut novel by Janet O’Kane. The body is discovered by a relative newcomer to the village, who has joined the local surgery as a GP. 

Doctor Moreland is the central character and the novel, written in the third person, is told from her point of view. However, it is a distant, almost clinical POV, and given that she survives two attempts on her life, is involved in three suspicious deaths, and is just starting a relationship, I would like to have seen some more intimate third person perspective apart from her doubts about her prospective boyfriend. 

There is a good range of characters, with many of the supporting ones well portrayed, revealing more about them gradually as the novel progresses. The atmosphere of a small village is well created through the use of dialogue and characterisation.

The plot is not just a whodunit but manages to weave different sub-plots neatly into the main story without being distracting and there are some interesting red herrings and twists. The beginning is paced more slowly to set context, and pauses slightly at times with some minor insignificant detail, but as more is revealed later in the book, the pace picks up considerably, and through a number of red herrings and twists, builds up to an unexpected climax.

Strengths of this book were characterisation, thoughtful plot (and sub-plots), and the way the story played out. A lot of the story was conveyed through dialogue and was well-written and credible. When the immediate action happened it was very good. There were few literal errors.

Recommended to anyone who likes a mystery/crime novel that focuses on thinking, and one thatin its favourisn’t full of unnecessary gore. It’s a good first novel.