Trace and Eliminate Review: Inspector Stark Is Back And Better Than Ever

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After having interviewed author Keith Wright I was excited to check out the second in his Inspector Stark series. I had to wait a little while but eventually I received a copy and was keen to check it out.

Set in the 1980s, this latest in the Inspector Stark series sees the dogged detective battle against both his own demons and the seemingly motiveless murder of a solicitor.

A hard-working family man seemingly with everything going for him, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for anyone to kill him. As Stark and his team race to find the killer a second, equally motiveless murder occurs, and the team has to work even hard to prove themselves to be ahead of this evil killer.

This is only the second in the Inspector Stark series, yet somehow he feels like a long established character with his own quirks. Yet, despite this, he doesn’t feel like a tired caricature; Stark is as individual as it gets, and his team all work together well, interacting in a natural way that makes this book exciting, thrilling yet at the same time completely believable.

The characterisation is the real selling point for this novel, with the core detectives, their suspects and witnesses all perfectly crafted so as to be both suspicious and at the same time believable. Many obvious but often-overlooked traits, such as pride, envy and intuition are all shown here in all their glory, making readers sympathetic to the character’s and their situations.

One thing I would say, and it’s literally my sole criticism, is that at times the language is a little clunky. There’s a lot of hedging that goes on, with phrases like ‘a bit’ used with alarming regularity at times. At others, the novel is exceptionally witty and intense, with the author taking control of the narrative and driving it towards intense conclusions that leave readers guessing with every new clue discovered and every new lead followed.

In all, this is a great historical novel, and as such if you’re a fan of old school detectives then Trace and Eliminate is the book for you.


Bodies From The Library 2 Review: Another Incredible Anthology Celebrating Golden Age Crime Fiction At Its Finest

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Initially, I found out about Bodies From The Library when someone recommended it as something I would enjoy.

They were completely right, and the first edition of this unique anthology of forgotten stories from some of the greatest golden age crime fiction writers was a real hit. I later looked into it and discovered that the anthology is linked to an event of the same name, which explores golden age writing and the influence it had on the crime fiction genre as a whole.

When I found out there was going to be a second edition I was excited to get my hands on it and see what new forgotten tales (some of which are actually previously unpublished) of this often underrated sub-genre editor Tony Medawar had in store.

This second collection is as ingenious, unique and perfectly curated as the first. Medawar has selected some real gems from previously overlooked authors, as well as old favourites such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, as well as writers whose work has been forgotten over the years such as Q Patrick and Jonathan Latimer.

There is a truly diverse selection of tales here, from play and radio scripts through to dialogue driven short stories, descriptive narratives through to longer, almost novella-esq works. The stories are all written in English but are set around the world, and there are a variety of different writers here so that the reader can really delve into the depths of crime fiction, rather than settling on the more common authors and the predictable detectives.

Each story is accompanied by a short description of the author and their other work, offering readers a chance to find out more about the writer, their lives and the role they played in the crime fiction market during their day. Many of the authors were members (in some cases influential ones) of the Detection Club, the renowned dining club for crime fiction authors, and through his descriptions of their lives and works Medawar weaves a unique timeline of the club and its rich history of inspiring some of the greatest works of crime fiction that the world has ever seen.

If you need any further reason to check out Bodies From The Library 2, you need look no further than the Q Patrick thriller Exit Before Midnight. This ingenious tale is incredible and the perfect choice for the anthology, and its worth picking up a copy just to read this one story, although you’d be mad not to keep going afterwards.

At the end of the day, such a perfectly collected anthology is a testament to the hard work and dedication Medawar and his associates put in to showcasing the golden age of crime fiction. For those interested in the genre, this is a must-read.

The Olympian Review: A Glitzy Jet-Setting Thriller

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Having recently interviewed author Mark Atley I was keen to read his debut novel, The Olympian.  

The titular Olympian is a guy called Samuel, who is being blackmailed by a bookie while on a family vacation. His holiday is intercepted by a bookkeeper who is determined to get back money that someone else skipped town with.

Set in an all-inclusive Mexican resort owned by a cartel, it features a strange cast of characters that are all equal parts evil, strange and dastardly. As more characters from both Samuel’s past and the cartel’s roster of criminal associates arrive the plot thickens and the reader is drawn into a complex plot involving love, money, drugs and much more.

There’s Johnny, an escaped criminal on the run from his bondsman and his bookie with a load of stolen cash, as well as a journalist and her cameraman, attending a bizarre intervention that is quickly derailed by everyone else’s criminal activities. The plot quickly spirals forward and the reader is propelled on a strangely compelling journey.

The only downside The Olympian is the slightly stilted dialogue. Ately’s characters are intriguing, two-dimensional individuals, yet they speak like robots that have, at one point read a Raymond Chandler novel.

For all of its dialogue flaws, the novel is still fast-paced and deeply thrilling. Readers are invested in following the plot as it rattles on towards a gripping finale. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, and with so many characters the reader has to work hard to keep on top of who’s aligned with whom as each moves to outwit the others.

At the end of the day, I’m impressed by Atley’s debut and keen to find out what’s in store for his next book. The Olympian will be a tough act to follow, but with a few enhancements any future books have the potential to be bestsellers.




A Killing Sin Review: A Gripping Thriller To Enjoy While You Laze Around In The Summer Sun

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Whilst searching for a read to keep me company over the warm summer weekend, I found A Killing Sin lounging on a pile of books to be read, which is worryingly tall.

So I decided to give it a go. I had been a bit sceptical about this book since I received it. After all, a book about Islamic terrorism could be full of lazy stereotypes and boring one-dimensional characters.

Instead, K.H. Irvine has created a really great novel that perfectly blends thrills and human emotion to really make the reader think and keep their attention throughout.

In a world much like ours but in the slight future, three completely different women, joined by a fragile university friendship, lead separate lives, until one day draws them all together and changes their lives forever.

There’s Amala Hackeem, lapsed Muslim tech entrepreneur and controversial comedian, who dons a burqa and, completely out of character, heads to the women’s group at the Tower Hamlets sharia community.

Meanwhile, her friend Ella Russell, a struggling journalist, leaves home in pursuit of the story of her life. Desperate for the truth, she is about to learn the true cost of the war on terror and find out some facts that may be hard to swallow.

Finally, Millie Stephenson, a university professor and expert in radicalisation arrives at Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister and home secretary. Nervous and excited she finds herself at the centre of a nation taken hostage.

All of these three women’s lives are entwined in this one day as the leap between normal people and extremists blurs. Jumping between times, spaces and actions, the book is fast-paced and requires your attention: but don’t worry, it’s so gripping you won’t want to put it down!

So if you’re searching for your perfect summer thriller, look no further. A Killing Sin will keep you hooked from page one and won’t let you go.

The Top Five Best Summer Reads for 2019


This summer there are loads of great new books for you to read while you enjoy the good weather and any time off you may, or may not, have.

Not limited to crime fiction and thrillers, my list showcases five of the coolest new books out there that will keep you busy as you laze around in the good weather. So sit back and prepare to find your new favourite summer read.

5. Heroes: Stephen Fry’s hilarious retelling of the Greek myths Mythos is a great way to educate and entertain yourself, and its sequel Heroes is just as funny and enlightening. For those who can’t get away for the summer, this enticing tale of intrigue, love and lies will transport you to mythical Greece and make you appreciate the origins of a lot of words and concepts at the same time.

4. Careless Love: Peter Robinson’s latest novel in the longstanding DCI Banks series is a thrilling, fast-paced tale of serial killers and vengeful enemies. When the body of a young student is found abandoned in a remote area the detective is confused as to how she got there when she can’t drive and didn’t have a car. Another body is uncovered giving Banks something else to worry about, as well as the return of an old foe. All of this creates a gripping narrative that will keep you riveted to the very final twist.


3. Wilding: Alongside crime fiction, pastoral is my favourite genre, and non-fiction pastoral books are the best. Wilding tells the amazing true story of how Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell turned their unprofitable farm in West Sussex into a unique experiment. Introducing free roaming animals including cows, pigs and deer, the pair were able to welcome a diverse range of wildlife who are now breeding and thriving in this stunning natural paradise.

2. Siege: Trump Under Fire: When Trump first stumbled into power Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury was the perfect read for anyone seeking to understand the early years of the unlikely president’s chaotic administration. Now, Wolff is back with Siege, which explores how the administration now has an almost completely different staff but is still just as shambolic. Wolff offers a dynamic front-line report of the president’s downfall as he struggles with an increasingly inquisitive media, many legal challenges and allegations of everything from nepotism to outright lying.

1. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee: This thrilling true crime book tells the story of Reverend Willie Maxwell, a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim, who was later also acquitted by the same lawyer. Harper Lee was in the audience at the second trial and reported heavily on the case, hoping to use her research to create her own version of In Cold Blood, Truman Capote’s retelling of a real case that she had helped him with years earlier. In Furious Hours Casey Cep brings the case to life in vivid detail, as well as exploring how the famed author Lee struggled during this time and ultimately never completed her own book on this compelling case.

Come Back For Me Review: Summer’s Contender For Most Enticing Plot

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Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts over the past week, I’ve been on a very exciting work trip to the beautiful city of Dubai!

Whilst I was out there I took one of the ever-growing stack of books that I still haven’t got round to reading to keep me occupied during my long waits at the airport. As I wanted something I knew I would enjoy I selected Heidi Perks’ latest novel, Come Back For Me. 

Having already read and reviewed her previous novel, Now You See Her, I was certain that I would enjoy her latest offering, and I wasn’t wrong.

Come Back For Me tells the story of therapist Stella who, as a young child, fled with her family in the middle of the night from their home on a remote island off the coast of Dorset (my home county and the best place in the world, fact). A fictional place named Evergreen, Stella’s childhood memories show an idyllic space where her family gambolled and played happily and freely.

Now living in Winchester, Stella is a family counsellor hoping to support other families that have been through trauma such as her own, without fully understanding or acknowledging the seismic events that led to the breakdown of her own family all those years ago.

That is until one day a news item appears announcing that a body has been found on Evergreen, at the site of Stella’s beloved former family home. She is shocked to discover that there might be more to her past than meets the eye, and as such she sets out on a quest to find out the truth about what drove her family to flee.

Perks is a skilful and brisk storyteller, and as a result Come Back For Me is a fast-paced thriller that readers will hardly be able to stop reading. Every time I felt I could put a bookmark in and go do something for a bit I found myself driven further into the narrative by the gripping plot and the incredible sense of foreboding that haunts every aspect of the narrative, from Stella’s prickly sister Bonnie and haunted brother Danny through to the enticement of her trip back to Evergreen, which seeps out of the pages and makes the reader almost urge her on to go and check it out.

So in all, if you’re looking for a tantalising and thrilling tale to keep you occupied this summer, I can recommend nothing better than Come Back For Me. Trust me when I say that you won’t be able to put it down or forget it in a hurry.

Proximity Review: A Tantalising Thriller About The Terrors of Technology

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Personally, I’ve long thought that Jem Tugwell was an awesome writer. I interviewed him previously and was so taken by his idea I requested an early view of his at-the-time unfinished novel, Proximity.

The novel’s plot was one of such a uniquely original and fascinating idea that I just knew it would be a hit. Jem is a skilled writer and I could see at once that this was a truly creative, original idea that was in capable hands.

The premise is a simple one: in the future, people are embedded with technology that tracks where they are and what they do. As such, crimes are pretty much gone, as anything that happens can be tracked and the culprits apprehended.

In Proximity, everyone is accountable for their actions, and every aspect of their lives, from the food they consume through to the transport they take, is logged and controlled in the interested of benefiting society as a whole. After all, with fewer substance abuse, weight and exercise based health issues and less crime, costs will be reduced for the taxpayer, which is at least how Jem’s fictional society justifies its innovative new approach to government.

As a result, civil liberty is sacrificed for the good of society, as everyone’s thoughts and feelings are downloaded onto software embedded in their minds. Jem worked for more than two decades in the software development market, but he manages to perfectly combine expert technical insight with great storytelling to create a book that is equally fascinating and accessible.

Soon into the novel this causes trouble, with a crime coming in under the radar and forcing the now pretty much superfluous police force to put their thinking caps on. When things get personal and more murders are committed, the team is left to uncover the truth behind who could’ve both committed the crimes and tampered with the technology to cover it up.

Throughout the novel, the author’s eye for detail and exceptional characterisation drive readers towards the nail-biting conclusion. Everything, from the tightly wound plot to the tense dialogue, is designed to keep the reader hooked, and it works. You won’t be able to put Proximity down, and you’ll be happy about it.

So, in conclusion, when Proximity becomes the bestseller it deserves to be and Jem Tugwell is the name everyone’s talking about, just remember, you heard it here first.