The President’s Daughter Review: A Punchy Political Thriller That’s Ideal For Summer

Following the success of their first novel together, The President Is Missing, former U.S President Bill Clinton and internationally acclaimed thriller writer James Patterson have collaborated on another book, which is due to be published next week.

This new book is titled The President’s Daughter, and despite the similarities in the titles, it’s a standalone novel, not part of a series with the previous book. That means a whole new cast of characters and a completely new tale. It also means that you don’t have to have read The President Is Missing to enjoy this new novel.

It’s a book about the kidnapping of a teenage girl, who’s father is a former Navy SEAL who later served as the President of the U.S. With his daughter kidnapped by a former enemy, he’s left to use his skills to track down his little girl and get her back safely, a journey that takes him around the world and into dangerous situations.

The title of the book is slightly misleading: by the time she’s kidnapped, Mel Keating’s father Matt is an ex-president, and has been so for 2 years. He’s now living quietly in a small house in a small town in New Hampshire, while his wife is working on an archaeological dig in Boston.

Mel was out hiking when she’s abruptly snatched from the trail and her boyfriend is shot dead in front of her. Now, she’s in the hands of a dangerous terrorist: a man whose own daughters, along with his wife, were killed while Keating’s men were exploring his compound during his presidency.  

Now, this terrorist is out for revenge, and he has the former President’s daughter in his clutches. Emotions run high as the former President and his wife watch in horror as the current administration, which already betrayed them politically, now fails them in trying to recover their precious daughter.

Switching between different perspectives, including Matt Keating, his wife, his daughter and the terrorists who hold her captive, the new President, the secret service agents working with Keating to find his daughter, and various international diplomats, the two authors create a varied and intense narrative. By withholding information from the reading, and showing us the initial, horrified reactions of a variety of characters, the writers turn even simple plot points into thrilling passages.

One of the downsides to this technique is that it does make the book much longer. The President’s Daughter is an immense volume with over 100 chapters split into 5 parts, plus en epilogue. Despite this extraordinary length, the book is surprisingly easy to read.

Clinton and Patterson do a good job of creating tension and making Matt Keating, the former POTUS protagonist, realistic and believable. We can really feel his pain and empathise with his feelings of impotence and inadequacy as he watches the hostage situation unfold. He feels powerless, until he decides to go off-script, in true action hero fashion, and take matters into is own hands.

Armed with a selection of weapons he understands from his days as a Navy SEAL, his grief, and a handful of security operatives and high-level contacts that he can trust, Matt Keating sets out to take down the terrorist who took his little girl. All the while, the truth is obscured and it’s unclear as to who Keating, or the reader, can trust.

While the pair are both clearly very good at writing powerful male characters, they fall seriously short when it comes to portraying women. Despite the sheer volume of female characters, the novel is very clearly written by men. The female characters are almost entirely either women who behave like the male characters and are almost indistinguishable from them, as is the case with the female secret agents, or they’re entirely controlled by men.

That’s the case with the new President, Pamela Barnes. She is married to a former cowboy, who’s now her chief of staff and who controls her. He literally makes decisions on her behalf. Her character is a caricature of what the first female President of America might look like, which is frankly shocking from the husband of a woman who stood a decent chance of becoming the first real life female POTUS if it wasn’t for America’s overwhelming racism and bigotry. Even when Pamela Barnes does eventually wise up to her husband’s debauchery and ditch him, she’s still facing the fallout from his past decision making.

Also, Clinton and Patterson both miss out on the irony of the female characters, particularly the secret service and FBI operatives, being constantly mansplained at and being overlooked for top jobs by incompetent men. There are plenty of male characters in this book who are clearly completely useless at their roles, but meanwhile women are running around cleaning up their messes and generally just doing their jobs for them.

For me, it’s characters and writing like this that makes me wish for more inclusivity and female perspectives in the crime fiction and thriller market. The women in The President’s Daughter have all accepted their fates as helpless and waiting for rescue, puppets or tokens. It’s such a shame that neither of the writers could take the time to consult with a woman, or research real women in power, before they put this book together.

The same goes for the foreign characters, many of whom appear to be a string of stereotypes clustered together. There are a few redeeming paragraphs which show some small international cooperation and appear to suggest that not all foreigners are bad, but for the most part the novel is incredibly regressive and filled with out-dated values. It’s hardly inclusivity if you include diverse characters but write them from your own, ignorant perspective.

This is the biggest let down the novel has, but if you can look beyond the lack of real diversity and the weird characterisation of everyone other than the ex-Navy SEAL turned former POTUS and his male security detail, then this is an interesting read. Patterson has written hundreds of books over the years, many of which have become international bestsellers. Combined with Clinton’s knowledge of the U.S political system, and you’ve got an interesting read that can help make your staycation feel like a really relaxing break. There’s not a lot of complicated plot points or information to absorb, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride through this action-packed book.

Overall, if you enjoy fast-paced thrillers then you could find that The President’s Daughter is right up your street. Written by a former President and a master of popular thrillers, the book is a well-researched page-turner. It’ll be a great read for the summer. If you’re looking for a book with substances and a social conscience, then this isn’t the novel for you, but it’s still a great way to pass the time. It might be a hefty book, but it’ll fly by and you’ll be shocked by how quickly you finish it thanks to Patterson’s narrative skills.

Guilty Review: A Shocking Thriller With A New Twist In Every Chapter

Having recently interviewed author Jane Hobden, I was eager to check out her book, Guilty.

It’s billed as a unique version of a traditional crime novel, and it’s easy to see why as soon as you turn the first page. The narrative is divided into sections, so that the reader sees the case from multiple perspectives. It offers almost Gone Girl esq perspective flips, but more of them, so that the reader is constantly unsure about whose version of the truth is the real one.

The plot follows the strange case of Megan Sands, a young mother whose six-year-old daughter is taken into care following a fall down some stairs. The teaching assistant who took the child to hospital and urged the staff there to call social services is also a mother with a daughter in the same class; indeed, the two young girls are friends.

Not long after Lola Sands is taken into care, someone breaks into the teaching assistant’s home and throws acid over her husband’s face, before tying her up and berating her before letting her go. The teaching assistant, Becky Thurston, recognises the assailant and identifies her as Megan Sands. She tells the police that Megan had threatened her before and been abusive prior to the devastating attack.

When the police go to visit Megan at her flat to quiz her about the attack, they find a bottle of acid and a blanket out in the hall on the floor below where she lives. It’s this coincidence, and Megan’s lack of alibi and shifty behaviour that leads the police to arrest and charge her with the crime.

The novel details the court case, as well as the events leading up to it and in between. Skipping from different perspectives and narrative styles, Hobden creates an enthralling tale that’s very difficult to put down. The reader is thrust into this captivating story and soon finds themselves wondering who to believe.

Many of the characters that narrate chapters, and deliver witness statements that Hobden uses to change up the writing style, are unreliable, with their versions of events differing drastically from other people’s accounts. So, the reader is left on tenterhooks and you’re unable to guess what’s going to happen next.

Thanks to Hobden’s diverse writing style, which includes witness statements, court dialogue and first person, character narrated chapters, the reader gets a complete perspective over the case. As mentioned, several of the characters are, at specific times throughout the story, unreliable, meaning that we see the action unfold slowly. The tale becomes increasingly complicated as Megan gives her evidence in court, and twisted versions of the truth start to come out.

The book is great, but it’s not without its flaws. The main issue I find is that the witness statements, used at the beginning of the novel to break up the narrative, feel a little samey. For those that are supposed to be written by characters in professional jobs, they don’t quite hit the right note. The same goes for the court proceedings: at times, the lawyers just don’t sound right. I’m not a lawyer or an expert myself, but I’ve read enough crime fiction to know that some of the text isn’t quite accurate.

That being said, accuracy isn’t everything, and while these minor issues might impede the narrative slightly, they don’t change the fact that this is an incredible book that keeps you hooked to the very end. Hobden structures the novel well, so that you feel compelled to keep going to get to the next twist and uncover the next fact.

It’s this propulsion that drives the reader through the novel and makes Guilty such a great read. You’ll be surprised how quickly you finish this compelling read. Once you’ve finished it, you’ll be haunted by the plot. It’s not just the plot that’s unforgettable; the characters are also engaging and memorable. Megan Sands, whose first-person account is interspersed with her witness testimony, is a relatable and understandable character who inspires both pity and understanding.

Her supposed victim’s wife, Becky Thurston, is also relatable and is both suspicious and subtly threatening. Even small, minor characters are intriguing and memorable, including Megan’s lawyer. He’s a robotic career man who has no compassion for his client and is neither sympathetic nor particularly competent. Through characters like him and the unsympathetic policemen who interview Megan, Hobden makes a point that the legal system in the UK is often incredibly prejudice, particularly towards single mothers living in social housing. 

When all’s said and done, Guilty is a unique thriller that works on many levels. It’s not without its flaws, but those don’t detract from the novel. It’s still a great read that will keep you riveted for a long while to come. The book also makes you question the truth and how every story has more than one side. So, if you want to enjoy a gripping summer read, then this could be the perfect solution for you.

Five Books About Unsolved Mysteries To Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat

True crimes are an exciting trend in non-fiction books, as the world looks for something to entertain and keep itself busy.

You only have to check out your Netflix list to see the world’s fascination with true crime.

Documentaries on the subject are more popular than ever before during the pandemic, as we’re all keen to keep ourselves busy.

While solved crimes will always be fascinating, unsolved mysteries are even more so.

There’s the suspense and the mystery, which makes them all the more intriguing. Think about how well the legend of Jack The Ripper has endured in popular fiction and the media.

If the killer had been caught, then he might not have been as interesting to writers, artists and social commentators.

I’ve already gone over the best true crime books and serial killer books for documentary fans, so now I thought I’d showcase 5 awesome books about true cases of unsolved mysteries.

After all, unsolved mysteries are a unique part of our lives. While you’re never likely to solve the crime by reading a book, it’s interesting to check out all the facts and see them from different perspectives.

If you’re looking for a book about unsolved crimes, then keep reading and maybe you’ll find a new favourite!

5. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery: Investigative journalist Robert Kolker delves into the lives of five women who worked as escorts and advertised their services on the website Craigslist. Over the span of several years, young women who sold their time and services on the site were lured to their death on Long Island. Kolker worked with the families of the young women who were presumed to be the victims of a serial killer and explores how their lives were shaped by poverty. There could have been many other victims, and not all might be the victims of the same killer, but this story is more about the women and what led them into the work that put them in the path of a killer. The author works to produce a very human portrayal, not of the unknown killer, but of the women whose lives they took.

4. Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident: It’s a chilling tale that could easily be the plot of a film. A group of experienced hikers is taking on a trail in the northern Ural Mountains during the 1950s. They’re bodies are discovered, but it’s clear that something strange has happened. The bodies exhibit signs of violence, they’ve clearly run out of their tents unprepared and there are mysterious photos and other weird information that doesn’t add up. In 2019 the Russian authorities launched an investigation, and branded the incident the work of an avalanche, but many remain unconvinced. In 2013, Donnie Eichar put together this compelling overview of the trip and the incidents leading up to the tragic deaths of the group. He goes into detail about what happened and offers intriguing theories. He presents the tale well, so that the reader is propelled through the story all the way through to the mysterious, and still completely unresolved, ending.

3. The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft: I’d never even heard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the art heist that rocked Boston until I saw a recent Netflix documentary on the subject. The show wasn’t very well structured and it offered its information haphazardly and out of logical order. However, the one benefit of the documentary was that it did interest me in this strange case. So, in my quest for more information on the subject, I went in search of a book about the case, which was never solved. Journalist Ulrich Boser delves into the case in this insightful book, basing it on the case files of a detective who specialises in art thefts, Harold Smith. He’d dedicated a many years to the case, and after his death Boser took his notes and turned them into a comprehensive overview of the case, all of the evidence in it and potential scenarios that could have occurred when this selection of valuable art was spirited away. The report explores Smith’s leads and a range of ideas, ranging from run of the mill theories to downright crazy suppositions involving tenuous links to big time gangers like James Whitey Bulger. The book also offers an informative insight into the formation of this unique and illustrious museum, which was founded by a wealthy heiress who wanted to make it a hub for art lovers. If you’re interested in learning more about the case, which remains one of the biggest unsolved art thefts in the world to this very day, then this book is a comprehensive and compelling choice.

2. Blood And Money: This insightful book covers the unique case of Joan Robinson Hill, a successful horse rider living in Houston, Texas. She was also the daughter of a ruthless oil tycoon and the wife of an ambitious plastic surgeon. Joan died in suspicious circumstances, and her husband quickly married his mistress shortly after her death. Joan’s father believed that she was killed by her husband, who had been eager to leave her for some time before her death, but he was indebted to her father and being blackmailed by him to stay with his daughter and avoid a scandal. After her death, Joan’s father pursued her husband for murder through medical negligence, as he didn’t take her to hospital for several days after she became sick, and when he was eventually pressured into taking her to one he took her to a small hospital without an emergency room, rather than a larger hospital. It was never proved that John Hill killed his wife, although many people have alleged it. After an initial mistrial, thanks to the sensational claims of his second estranged second wife, John Hill was murdered himself. While his killers were caught and found to have links to his former father in law, he was never charged with organising the hit. The fascinating case is as scandalous and complex as it sounds, with so many twists and complications that it’s almost impossible to keep up. Thankfully, Blood And Money lays out the case in a logical manner, giving the reader access to the facts. Thomas Thompson covers this sensational case clearly and creates a compelling narrative that helps to untangle this confusing tale.

1. Zodiac: Many people have seen the film Zodiac starring Robert Downey Junior, but some people don’t realise that it was actually based on real life events. The zodiac killings shocked America to its core, and the fact that the killer was never identified is unprecedented and incredible. Robert Graysmith’s 1986 book on the subject is acknowledged by many to be a definitive account of what occurred during the killing spree, which occurred in the 1960s and 70s and was highly publicised. It’s also the book on which the movie was based. The book goes into far more detail than the movie does, and discusses every aspect of the case, explores the lives and deaths of the 6 known victims, as well as the killer’s claims and potential motives. It’s a compelling account that’s definitely a must-read for thriller loves and anyone who’s interested in mysteries that may never be solved. 

Lost Souls Review: An Thrilling Modern Mystery You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

Hot on the heels of the amazing and engaging Serpentineis John Kellerman’s latest novel, which he created in collaboration with his son, award-winning playwright Jesse Kellerman.

Part of the Clay Edison series, Lost Souls follows the intrepid coroner as he deals with a case of a baby’s dead body, found decomposing under a stage at a Berkley University park.

The park in question, known as People’s Park, is due to be demolished and turned into a dormitory complex. However, as the building crew come to tear down the park’s infrastructure, including the stage, a bone is discovered.

The bone turns out to be the entire skeleton of a young baby, wrapped in a blanket and clearly old. The discovery turns the park into a political playground, with the University on one side and organisations fighting to protect the park, which they believe to be a Native American burial site, on the other.

In the middle, Edison and his team are trying to uncover the identity of the infant whose remains were under the stage. They find out that he’s a boy, and then they uncover a match for his DNA. This discovery, made early in the novel, takes Edison to a prison cell where a violent white supremacist is in denial about the child, and his kids refuse to acknowledge their previously unknown sibling.

At the same time, Edison is contacted by a wealthy tech entrepreneur, who thinks that the remains might be those of his long lost sister. He’s never met her, and he doesn’t remember ever having done so, but he has a snapshot of his mother and a baby long before he was born. His mother is now dead, and he’s desperate for some kind of closure on the subject. So much so that’s he’s gone to desperate lengths and, so far, found nothing. His father, who doesn’t speak to anymore, has let slip that the child was a girl, but he doesn’t know much more about her.

The remains at the park are not the tech wizard’s sister, but Edison, who has his own little baby girl at home, agrees to take on the case to help find out what happened to the child in the picture. Through the case, which he takes on privately, he comes up against silence, bureaucracy and the FBI, all of which takes him on towards some shocking discoveries.

All the while, the fight over the park and the potential building of the dormitory is reaching fever pitch. Tensions boil over and violence ensues. Edison also receives personal threats, leading him to fear for the safety of his family. While the plot has a lot of twists and turns, it remains enticing and easy to follow. If anything, the multiple plot points help readers to feel engaged in the story.

Thanks to the narrative skills and extensive experience of the writers, Lost Souls is an eye-opening tale that teaches readers a lot about American policing and the process of managing cases. As an English woman, I didn’t realise that American coroners have so much power, and that they act as a combination of pathologist and police officer. Clay Edison is certainly not like the fuddy duddy English pathologist type character that you see in a lot of British crime novels.

Instead, he’s a hardened yet compassionate officer who understands people and has a lot of experience handling individuals in many different painful, dangerous or generally difficult situations. The two Kellerman’s deftly entwine his personal and professional lives in the novel, giving just enough insight to make the issues he’s dealing with at work seem so deeply personal and painful to the protagonist.

As well as Edison, there are so many incredible, believable characters in this novel. There’s the tech mogul, who is both dedicated to finding out more about his long lost sister and disillusioned that his past attempts have all led to dead ends. Also, there is the family of the white supremacist, who are intriguing and more than just the typical stereotypes that you see in many thrillers. Instead, they’re two-dimensional figures who are clearly a product of a very messed-up upbringing and who really enrich the story.

The characters are backed up by punchy dialogue that sounds realistic yet slick. The police characters are all witty enough to keep the novel moving but not so much that they seem corny or completely fake.

One of the few criticisms I have of the novel is that some parts of the storyline, namely Edison taking on a private case, feel a little forced. It seems a bit unbelievable that a busy coroner, in the midst of a hectic investigation and barely sleeping because of his young daughter, would jump so readily at the chance to take on yet more work. The case appears unsolvable, and there while the character of the tech businessman is portrayed as slick and persuasive, I wondered a few times whether a busy public official would stoop to taking on a private job. I also wondered about the legalities of doing so; while Edison doesn’t agree a fee, in the UK such a practice would definitely be frowned upon, if not a definite breach of rules.

However, that’s a minor grumble, and given that it is a book, and not real life, I suppose I can give the Kellerman’s a bit of artistic license, especially since it makes the novel that much more enticing. It’s fascinating to watch the two cases unfold alongside one another, and between them the two entwine to carry the plot through to its dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

Ultimately, Lost Souls is a fascinating addition to the Clay Edison series and incorporates all of the best parts of John Kellerman’s storytelling abilities with the fresh ideas and innovation of his son Jesse. This is a gripping thriller that should definitely be added to your summer reading list. It’ll make the perfect read for when you’re relaxing out in the sun and want to enjoy a fascinating crime caper.

The Whispers Review: A Haunting Thriller That You’ll Remember For All The Right Reasons

As part of her blog tour, I’m excited to share my thoughts on the latest book from renowned thriller writer Heidi Perks.

After Perks’ past works, including Come Back For Me, Three Perfect Liarsand the incredible Now You See Her, comes her latest offering, the deliciously deceitful The Whispers.

The author’s latest release is a gripping thriller with a Gone Girl esq twist. Not to spoil the plot, but honestly, if you love Gillian’s Flynn’s bestseller then The Whispers could be the perfect read for you.

The story revolves around four very close friends, who live in the picturesque, fictional Dorset town of Clearwater, near the very real town of Weymouth. These four friends are all parents of 8 year olds kids, who are all in the same class at primary school.

On the surface, these four live picture-perfect, happy lives. They have great husbands, lovely children, and beautiful homes. Those who have jobs seem to enjoy them, and the rest love being homemakers and taking care of their husbands and children.

All of this is pulled apart with the arrival of Grace, a woman who used to live in Clearwater but moved to Australia when she was a teenager. Now a married mother with an 8 year old daughter in the same class as the four friends’ kids, she comes back and expects to fit in with her former best friend, Anna, one of the four.

However, Anna now has her three new friends, and she is increasingly distant from Grace. The other three women all rally round her and seem to try to keep her away from her childhood best friend. In a desperate attempt to fit in and win her old friend back, Grace agrees to come to a Christmas night out at the local pub.

The night is filled with in fighting and strange revelations. Grace leaves early while the other four women stay and party. The next day, Anna has disappeared, and Grace soon finds that her friends aren’t being honest about what happened to her. In desperation, Grace goes to Anna’s gormless husband, then takes it upon herself to report the disappearance to the police.

Not only is Anna’s vanishing scary for Grace, but it also brings back unwelcome memories of an eerily similar disappearance that happened back when the girls where teenagers. A girl in their class disappeared, only to be found dead having fallen from the cliffs. The cliffs in the area are renowned as dangerous, but now Grace begins to wonder.

She meets up with a policeman who worked the case all those years ago, and the two reminisce. There’s little he can do to help Grace find Anna, and no one else seems to care that she’s missing. Anna has left an amazing husband and a gorgeous small boy behind, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason behind her sudden vanishing.

When Anna reappears suddenly, it’s clear that all is not well. All of her friends are clearly keeping secrets, and the story rattles on to its final, breath-taking conclusion. In between, the story is taut and tense, with Perks teasing the reader with small titbits of information but never giving us the full story until right at the very end.

It’s the author’s masterful storytelling abilities that keep The Whispers so engaging and enticing. The tale itself is a deliciously simple one, but the writing style means that the reader is left hanging on Perks’ every word as they traverse this bitter and backbiting fiction town with her as their guide.

The ending of the novel is insanely captivating. The reader is left wondering who was right: Grace or Anna? Perks does an amazing job of keeping everything ambiguous and leaving it open to interpretation. She keeps you guessing right to the very end, and then leaves you with more questions than answers. By giving various perspectives on the narrative, she makes it tough for you to get a clear view of the plot. You’re constantly wondering who is lying and who is covering for themselves.

It’s for this reason that her latest novel is so haunting. Even after it’s over, you’ll still be questioning everything that you read and wondering who to believe. I’ve been left wondering about the book and dissecting each detail of the plot ever since I finished it a few weeks ago. I struggled to put the book down when I was reading it, and now I can’t get it out of my head.

That’s the hallmark of a good thriller. It stays with you long after it’s over and haunts you at odd moments. There are few truly exceptional books that will stay with you and give you the fear long after they’re done, and this is definitely one of them. You’ll remember the plot and notice random qualities in people you meet that remind you of the characters. It’s also the kind of thriller that you’ll want to re-read as soon as the plot even starts to fade from your memory. I’m already considering giving it another go and I’ve only just finished it!

With all that said, it’s clear that I’d thoroughly recommend The Whispers to anyone who wants to read an engaging thriller that will help you escape from your reality. The book quickly draws you in and makes you feel invested in the fates of the characters. You’ll want to find out what happened to Anna and how her past actions have affected her future reality.

When all is said and done, I think that Perks’ latest novel is a gritty, modern thriller that really packs a punch. Like Now You See Her before it, I believe that this is the sort of novel that’ll soon be optioned by NBC, Netflix or Hulu and I can totally see Reese Witherspoon trying to grab one of the main roles for herself. She’d make a great Nancy, in my opinion. I’d be excited to see a TV adaptation of this terrifying exploration of the depths of human deceit and how quickly families and relationships can crumble under the pressure of past deception.

Have A Very Norwegian Easter By Reading A Crime Novel

Happy Easter weekend to all the lovely Dorset Book Detective readers!

If you’re looking for a new tradition for Easter this year, when things are a bit weird, then I’ve got the perfect idea for you: read crime fiction.

Hear me out: I know crime fiction doesn’t sound very Easter-y, but in some countries it actually is a time-honoured tradition to read thrillers at this time of year.  

At Easter here in the UK, traditions include hiding chocolate Easter eggs for kids to find, eating a cake made with marzipan balls meant to symbolise the apostles and cooking an oversized roast dinner.

While the holiday retains some religious symbolism for some Christian households, most of us just enjoy having the time off, seeing our loved ones and stuffing our faces with tasty treats.

One international tradition that I think we should adopt in the UK is the Norwegian habit of Påskekrim, or reading crime novels at Easter.

At Easter, in this beautiful and chilly Scandinavian country, people cuddle up with a gripping thriller or binge watch a Scandi crime film or TV show.

The tradition allegedly started when two Norwegian crime writers took out an advert in the newspapers that convinced readers to read their new novel. The advert was so persuasive that many readers thought the tale was true.

Thanks to the success of the stunt the book was a huge success. As well as literary success, the publicity strategy started a tradition where readers would seek out new thrillers and mystery novels to read at Easter.

As a result, publishers started timing the releases of new crime fiction novels to coincide with the religious holiday. That meant that there were even more awesome thrillers for readers to check out at Easter every year. It also meant that it’s become a time-honoured tradition to read them over Easter.

Personally, I think that reading crime fiction at Easter is the perfect tradition for the UK. It’s a great way to reinvigorate yourself over the long weekend and expand your mind, while being lazy at the same time. Crime fiction is gripping and great for helping you to escape tough times.

It’s safe to say that there haven’t been too many times that have been tougher than these. That’s why crime fiction is particularly useful for this Easter. After all, we’re probably going to all being feeling a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) as we’re not able to meet up with as many people or do the fun Easter activities that we’re used to enjoying. But reading, particularly gripping mysteries and thrillers, is a great way to feel exhilarated even while you’re stuck indoors, or in the garden if the weather stays fine.

Really well written crime fiction novels can take you out of your home, or garden, and transport you to a new time, place and situation. There’s a type of crime fiction for every writer, ranging from quaint cosy crime fiction through to terrifying political thrillers and more. That means that whatever you’re into, there’s a mystery for you to enjoy this Easter.

Also, reading crime fiction is one of the few Easter traditions that doesn’t involve food. Don’t get me wrong: food is really good. Everyone needs food, and most of love eating it (except for people who just eat those weird Huel meal replacement things, and they’re weird). However, Easter is a lot about food for most Brits. From the cake with the marzipan apostles to the classic crème egg, hot cross buns to the all-important roast dinner, there’s just so much traditional Easter food to choose from. So, it’s nice to have a new tradition that’s not edible.

While I know some people who do use this time to read, or re-read, the Bible, as it’s a religious holiday, most of us don’t believe and therefore choose not to read it.

If that’s the case, then Påskekrim could be the perfect solution. By making this a yearly tradition, we can feel comforted by the familiarity and get the chance to read shiny new crime fiction novels. It’s a win-win situation if you ask me!

Going one step further with the tradition and giving crime fiction books at Easter could be the UK’s way of stepping up this tradition, and I for one am all for it! While we give out loads of edible gifts, mostly in chocolate form, we could start giving out a longer lasting reminder of the awesomeness of Easter. Whether you’re religious or not, this is an amazing time of the year. We get time off and the sun is shining. There will soon be cute baby animals for us to fawn over and pretty flowers. The days are getting longer and the weather’s getting better, and this year, we’re also beating a pandemic.

Being reminded of all that with a shiny new mystery novel would be ace. I for one have already treated myself to a few new thrillers over the past couple of weeks, and I’ll be reading them over the long weekend to celebrate Easter. I think in the future, getting one wrapped in egg covered wrapping paper would make me a very happy reader!

In all, I hope the weather does stay fine for us all this Easter weekend, and that everyone gets the opportunity to read an engaging thriller. It’s even better if you can eat some yummy chocolatey treats while you’re reading too! It’s been a tough year of lockdown, and while it’s getting easier, life is far from back to normal. So, please, be kind to yourself this Easter and consider adopting a new tradition: self-case and reading your favourite crime fiction.

5 Insightful Books About Famous Serial Killers For Documentary Fans

In lockdown, binge-watching Netflix documentaries has become the new normal, and the platform and other streaming services have stepped up.

Streaming sites are constantly creating new documentaries, so we can stay entertained.

One common topic for these shows is serial killers, which are a popular obsession for many.

Killing multiple people is deeply fascinating for many people, as it’s something that seems so abhorrent to us that we can’t understand how, and more importantly why, people do it.

That’s why we love to watch serial killer documentaries and get an insight into the motives behind the crimes and how murderers are able to get away with committing them for so long, in many cases.

After you’ve watched loads of documentaries, it’s easy to want to learn even more, which means reading up about serial killers and the psychology behind their crimes.

There are many true crime books out there, and many books focus on serial killers in particular and offer insight into their lives before and after they started their killing sprees.   

If you’re enjoying watching documentaries to learn more about serial killers, their victims and the crimes they committed, then here is a selection of five of the most interesting books about them.

I’ve chosen books about some of the most famed serial killers, as well as a couple on less renowned murderers who, nonetheless committed cruel crimes that deserve to be remembered and studied.

5. The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy: The inspiration behind the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, this book brings a unique perspective to the Ted Bundy murders. While many books about serial killers are written either from the perspective of relatives of the victims or criminology experts, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy is written by Elizabeth Kendall, who dated Bundy for six years. Later editions include additional information by Kendall’s daughter Molly, who Bundy spent a lot of time with while he was dating her mother. The book explores the relationship between the two and how Bundy’s façade of charm and wit hide a barbaric and depraved killer with a true contempt for his fellow human beings.

4. Killing For Company: The Case Of Dennis Nilsen: The inspiration behind the ITV drama starring David Tennant, this award-winning book from Brian Masters was created with the full corporation of Nilsen himself. He killed at least 15 people in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the Muswell Hill area. By taking advantage of society’s ignorance and paranoia about homosexuality and the fact that young gay men were tragically overlooked at the time, he was able to ensnare his victims. As society at the time didn’t care about them, he was able to snatch them out of their lives and commit depraved acts. Masters uncovers a man who is obsessed with death and pain, and feels little remorse for his vile crimes. The book provides unique insight into the mind of a horrendous serial killer.

3. The Jolly Roger Social Club: A True Story of a Killer in Paradise: Investigative journalist Nick Foster explores the serial killer known as ‘Wild Bill’. Real name William Dathan Holbert, the American ex-pat and conman killed at least five other Americans living in the beautiful city in Panama called Bocas del Toro. The book explores Holbert’s history of lying and conning others out of money, as well as the nature of Bocas del Toro and why the region was the perfect place for Wild Bill and his wife to search for their victims. Their murders were purely for financial gain; the pair of them earned a lot of money and built up an impressive real estate portfolio thanks to their copious crimes, which included the slaying of the teenage son of one victim who was selling his home. Foster uses his storytelling skills to paint a picture of a beautiful but flawed paradise where criminals were able to easily entrap their victims and carry out their crimes with little notice for several years. If you want to learn more about this often overlooked serial killer, then this is the book for you.

2. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper: OK, so this isn’t strictly about a serial killer. Instead, it’s an exploration of the lives of the five women who were killed by famously uncaught serial killer known as Jack The Ripper. While the popular media is keen to focus its attention on who the Ripper was, it rarely provides any information about his victims. When it does, it’s often highly inaccurate: for example, only one of the women was actually a prostitute, as this insightful book shows. Popular culture might make them all seem like streetwalkers, but several of them were from very respectable backgrounds, and writer Hallie Rubenhold shares their story respectfully in this must-read for serial killer enthusiasts.

1. My Friend Dahmer: As a former friend of Jeffrey Dahmer, the renowned serial killer who butchered 17 men and boys and committed atrocious acts on their corpses, John Backderf, known as Derf, is in a unique position to shine a light on the early life of this vile killer. Backderf is a graphic artist, who shares his story of his time trying to connect with the teenage Dahmer in the form of a graphic novel. It’s an inventive way to learn more about the early life of a killer and the weird, uncanny actions he committed that foreshadowed his future murders. The images are creative and perfectly complement this tantalising true tale of a teenage friendship with a boy who later grew into a twisted killer.

The Primary Objective Review: A Promising Political Thriller Missing A Few Teeth

Political thrillers, when done well, are the perfect escapist literary. As a far of political thrillers who’s in need of an escape, I was looking forward to checking out Martin Venning’s new novel The Primary Objective.

Primarily set in a small village on the border between Iran and Azerbaijan, the novel charts the work of Peace International, a fictional charity organisation dedicated to providing reconciliation and mediation support to governments and military factions around the world.

Led by London-based Operations Director Edwin Wilson and a mysterious insurgent named only as ‘Dave’, a small team is put together from international experts in warfare, local tour guides, scientists and communications experts. Together, they infiltrate the small town of Ibrahim Sami and work to understand how the region is becoming so prosperous and what the military base on the outskirts of town is doing.

During the initial reconnaissance, the team from Peace International find out that the base is being managed in tandem with the Chinese military. Slowly, the team uncovers a lot of information about skulduggery that could threaten to destabilise the region and cause untold harm to millions. There’s a lot at stake, and the team has to work hard to understand the issues they face and to work together to stop threats that are coming in from all sides.

The novel switches between the perspective of the team and other players in the drama that unfolds. These include a young shipping magnate who is being used to provide logistics support for an underground organisation and a local man who is supporting Peace International’s work but is deeply concerned about his father’s involvement with the military in his hometown.

By switching through a variety of different perspectives and by moving around the world, Venning keeps the reader interested. From the dismal streets of London to the wilds of small town Iran and the hustle and bustle of Tehran, the plot traverses the globe and means that there’s never any shortage of action and adventure. As such, the novel lives up to its name- everyone’s ‘Primary Objective’ is different, so we see a variety of perspectives.

While this does serve to keep the reader entertained and the plot moving forward, the author’s constant chopping and changing does make The Primary Objective harder to follow than it needs to be. Also, as each chapter is from a different character’s perspective, and in some cases, the perspective switches even within paragraphs, readers aren’t able to get attached to any one character or storyline.

Instead, we’re constantly seeing the action from a different point of view. This approach does serve to ensure that the reader is never bored when reading this book, but it also makes the action less engaging. With so many characters involved, and with the reader seeing the story from the perspective of almost all of them, it’s hard to get attached to anyone or to care about their fate.

Also, Venning uses a lot of info dumping in his novel; where loads of information is foisted on the reader through a lengthy explanation or piece of explanatory dialogue, rather than being integrated naturally throughout the story. Inserting long explanations makes the text feel very dense and less enjoyable to read, although Venning makes up for that issue with his fast-paced plot and by moving the action around a lot.

As for the characters, while there are too many, and the reader isn’t able to get too attached to them thanks to the almost constantly switching perspectives, they are still intriguing and well crafted. Each character is believable and relatable in some way, even the very unique military individuals that most people don’t encounter on a day-to-day basis.

The character backstories are often dumped on the reader haphazardly, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t slowly become invested in their fates as the novel progresses. Many of the characters give long, rambling depictions of their lives and what has happened to them, but as the action gets more exhilarating and the plot thickens we still get excited to see their fates.

Ultimately, I enjoyed The Primary Objective, but the novel is far from perfect. In the future, I’d be interested in reading some more from Martin Venning, and seeing if his coming works rectify some of the issues I found with this exciting yet somewhat confusing book.

The Top Five Alex Delaware Novels To Get You Hooked On This Daring Psychiatrist/ Detective Duo

It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve become a fan of John Kellerman’s writing, but now I am I’m hooked.

He’s a prolific writer who’s created books across a number of different genres, but my favourites are definitely his Alex Delaware/ Milo Sturgis novels.

This seemingly unlikely detective duo make for a great team. Kellerman breaks the mould with these two; unlike traditional detective double acts, the narrator and assistant is the cerebral one, while the Lieutenant and clear leader is the bullish everyman.

Together, the pair combine their skills to solve some of LA’s most brutal and disturbing crimes. While the novels are set in LA, Kellerman is quick to make witty retorts against the modern bullshit he sees around him and to turn potentially dreary lines of questioning into rapid, witty dialogue.

Personally, I hadn’t heard of the Alex Delaware novels until a couple of years ago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed several of the Alex Delaware series, although I’ve not yet read them all. I was surprised, when I started buying more of them, how many books are actually in the series.

If you want to know where to start, then check out my pick of five books in the series that are great for anyone who wants to test the waters and find a new favourite series to binge on.

5. Blood Test: In this gripping thriller, Alex Delaware is called in to negotiate when the parents of a young boy with cancer refuse his life-saving treatment because of the beliefs of their cult. The seemingly easy job quickly turns sinister when the five year old boy and his parents disappear from the hospital. A bloodied hotel room is found and Milo is drawn into the investigation. The cult turns out to be less wholesome than you might think, and Alex and Milo soon discover that the group is deadly dangerous and there’s more than one life at stake.

4. Serpentine: The most recent novel in the series, Serpentineis a cracking modern crime novel that is relatable and insightful, so it’s great for new readers just checking out these books. When Milo has a very old cold case thrust on him by his superiors, he asks his old friend Alex Delaware along to work out the psychology of the woman who is searching for answers about her mother’s murder more than thirty years previously. What initially seems like an impossible case, with little to no evidence, soon transforms into a

3. The Museum Of Desire: An unsettling staged murder scene in the back of a limo outside a rented mansion sets the scene for a gripping police procedural. The Museum Of Desireis both unique and enticing, as Kellerman draws you through the sordid and seedy underbelly of LA, dealing with everyone from rich, airheaded philanthropists through to washed up artists and beyond. Alex and Milo work hard to whittle down their cacophony of suspects down to a select few, then face a vicious fight to track down and capture the monster who staged the scene and committed more atrocities in the name of art and revenge.

2. Survival Of The Fittest: When the mentally disabled daughter of a rising diplomat is found murdered in a desolate corner of the mountains, Milo and Alex suspect a political motive. However, the girl’s father is adamant that there isn’t one, and wants to be in control of the investigation. Thanks to his power, he’s able to make the detective duo’s work difficult, and seems determined to either send the investigation on the wrong track or bury the investigation. When another body is discovered, things get difficult and Alex is forced to go undercover in what turns out to be a deeply sinister plot with far-reaching implications. This novel is chilling and the conclusion will stay with you long after you’ve finished the final chapter.  

1. When the Bough Breaks: As I keep saying, when you want to start a new series, start at the beginning. The first in the Alex Delaware novels isn’t the best in the series, but it is an ideal introduction to the psychiatrist and his friend in the LAPD, Milo Sturgis. In When The Bough Breaks, Alex is bought in on a case where a psychiatrist is found murdered, with one possible witness in the room; a traumatised seven year old girl. Alex must help her to tell the police what she knows, but he quickly realises that the murdered man wasn’t a decent human being, and that there are links to his own past trauma that he has to face before he and Milo can uncover the truth. This book is good for anyone who wants an introduction to Kellerman’s characters and story-telling style, but there are more engaging plots in the later novels.