Just Read… Redemption Road by John Hart

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Imagine:

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

This is a town on the brink.

This is Redemption Road.

I first came across John Hart in 2011, with The Last Child. It blew me away. I called it one of the best crime novels I had ever read. It still is, so I was excited to get Redemption Road (on Audible, so I listened to it rather than read it).

There are a number of strands to Redemption Road that Hart weaves deftly together. Detective Elizabeth Black is on suspension for the apparent use of excessive force in what appears to be the execution of two men who were torturing and raping an 18-year-old girl being held captive in  a basement. Adrian Wall, an ex-cop and colleague of Elizabeth’s has just been released from prison after serving time for the ritualised murder of a woman.

Elizabeth doesn’t think Adrian did it. The victim’s young son, Gideon, does though, and he’s after revenge. Elizabeth has been a mother figure to Gideon, but she wants to clear Adrian’s name. Her suspension from the force isn’t helping though. And when more women are murdered in exactly the same way as the murder Adrian was convicted for, things start to get even more complicated.

Redemption Road is a powerful read, dealing with the darkest depths of the human psyche. Written by John Hart, it’s never going to be anything other than fantastically written. And was it as good as The Last Child? No, but then what is?

It was pretty darned good nevertheless.

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Just Read.. Willow Walk, by SJI Holliday

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Again, maybe not ‘just’…

When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight?

When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run – but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away? 

As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes an irrevocable decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once more?

Another sequel and second book, this time from Susi Holliday. Willow Walk is a stand-alone novel, but is the second in the fictional Banktoun trilogy (the first being Black Wood that I was lucky enough to attend the launch for.) Recurring character, Davie Gray, is a great protagonist. Gray isn’t any kind of detective fighting his own demons – he’s just a simple small-town police sergeant, getting involved with cases that should be handled by out-of-town CID. And due to the size of Banktoun’s small community, getting involved on a personal level too!

There are a number of different plot strands to keep things interesting, and the story is well-paced to ensure you keep turning the pages. This is a police procedural with just the right balance of procedural / characters / psychological elements, which makes it a great read!

 

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Just read… Made to be Broken, by Rebecca Bradley

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Well, not ‘just’. Two months ago, maybe? I’m a little behind. In fact, I didn’t actually read it at all. I listened on audiobook! Anyhoo…

A rising death toll. A city in panic.

A young mother is found dead in her home with no obvious cause of death. As DI Hannah Robbins and her team investigate, it soon becomes clear that the woman is the first in a long line of murders by poison.

With the body count climbing, and the city of Nottingham in social meltdown, the team finds themselves in a deadly race against a serial killer determined to prove a point.

And Hannah finds herself targeting an individual with whom she has more in common than she could possibly know.

This is Rebecca’s second book, following up her debut, Shallow Waters, and once again follows DI Hannah Robbins in this police procedural. Hannah and her team are trying to come to terms with the events of six months earlier when faced with a serial killer, who seems to be targeting the people of Nottingham without any clear motive or demands, with poison being the method of choice.

Although this can be read as a standalone, the first book offers some useful context, and of course, covers the issues the team is trying to deal with. The story moves along at a satisfying pace, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes.

All-in-all a great follow up from Rebecca!

 

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Just read… The Devil’s Work, by Mark Edwards

It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.


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I’ve met Mark Edwards. He’s a nice guy. That doesn’t stop him coming up with thrillers that make you that little bit more wary of the people you live near, or work with. And The Devil’s Work does just that as we watch Sophie Greenwood’s new dream job become a nightmare. Is she imagining things, or is she in real danger?

This is another great solo book from Mark Edwards (Mark also co-writes thrillers with Louise Voss) with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Oh, and there is a certain appearance by detective constable Darren Paterson. 😀

If you’re a fan of domestic thrillers, you’ll like this. I loved it (and not just ’cause my namesake is in it!)

The Devil’s Work is published tomorrow (13th September).

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Just read… Behind Closed Doors, by Elizabeth Haynes

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‘Just read’ is factually incorrect, as I’m behind with my book reviews. Really behind! But, in keeping with the book review blog post titles I use, I’ll stick with it. Well, I use the same when I actually listen to the audiobook instead of reading the printed matter. Anyway…

Ten years ago, fifteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted, or did she run away? Lou Smith worked the case as a police constable and failing to find Scarlett has been one of the biggest regrets of her career. No one is more shocked than Lou to learn that Scarlett has unexpectedly been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone.

Lou and her Major Crimes team are already stretched working two troubling cases: nineteen-year-old Ian Palmer was found badly beaten; soon after, bar owner Carl McVey was found half-buried in the woods, his Rolex and money gone. While Lou tries to establish the links between the two cases, DS Sam Hollands works with Special Branch to question Scarlett. What happened to her? Where has she been until now? And why is her family with the exception of her emotionally fragile younger sister, Juliette less than enthusiastic about her return?

When another brutal assault and homicide are linked to the McVey murder, Lou’s cases collide, and the clues all point in one terrifying direction. As the pressure and the danger mount, it becomes clear that the silent, secretive Scarlett holds the key to everything.

Behind Closed Doors is the second book in the Briarstone crime series, featuring DCI Louisa Smith, the first being Under a Silent Moon. It explores the underbelly of the sex-trafficking industry as we slowly find out what happened to Scarlett through following dual timelines of then and now. I actually really enjoyed the dual timeline aspect revealing Scarlett’s (awful) ordeal from when she disappeared.

The book is well-written and draws you in, despite the subject nature. I came away feeling that the story gave an accurate representation of what human trafficking might be like, with characters the reader can empathise with. And with all good books, there’s a bit of a twist which catches you unawares!

My only bugbear was that the book includes copies of police reports, which were very difficult to read on my Kindle due to their size (the Kindle’s magnification function didn’t help). That said, this was a relatively minor inconvenience (possibly only with my (old) Kindle), which wouldn’t stop me from recommending this as a great read!

 

 

 

 

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Just read… Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne

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Once again, despite having a pristine signed hardback in the bookcase, I didn’t actually read this. I listened to the audiobook, excellently narrated by Joseph Balderrama. It’s probably a good job, too, otherwise I would never have known how to pronounce Mulcahy’s name properly.

The book, titled The Searcher in the US, centres around Solomon Creed, an almost albino stranger who we first meet walking away from an un-survivable plane crash in the middle of the Arizona desert, close to the town of Redemption. Creed has no memory of anything that has happened prior to the moment we meet him, not who he is, nor how he has gotten there. But he does know one thing: he’s there to save James Coranado. But the town of Redemption have just buried Coranado.

I’m a big fan of crime fiction and thrillers, and this is the best thriller I have ‘read’ for a long time. Great characterisation, great setting, and a story with all the elements you want. In fact, there’re two stories in one here. With Coranado dead, Solomon Creed is trying to work out why he’s there, which isn’t being made easy when everyone from the local mayor to a Mexican drugs lord wants a piece of him. In addition, we get the story of Reverend Cassidy, the founder of Redemption, and author of a slim volume telling his story that Solomon finds in his jacket pocket. I’m not sure how much Balderrama’s narration has influenced my opinion on this, but the book feels that it has been written with a real American voice, and it is all the better for it.

If you’re a fan of Simon Toyne‘s Sanctus trilogy,  there’s a hint of supernatural here that you won’t be disappointed with. We don’t know Creed’s past, but despite all of the other characters in the (audio) book being either American or Mexican, Balderrama gives Creed an English accent (in fact he sounds a lot like James McAvoy’s Professor X). Is the accent a clue, or just the narrator’s choice? Who knows. What I do know is that you won’t find out in this book. Nor the next. But I’m going to be reading all the sequels as they’re published until I do!

Solomon Creed is published in paperback today (2nd June 2016). I recommend that you buy it!

 

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Just read… Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary

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Tastes Like Fear is the third in the DI Marnie Rome series (following Someone Else’s Skin and No Other Darkness), and it’s a corker!

Marnie and her sidekick, DS Noah Jake, are investigating the case of a missing girl when a fatal car crash is caused by a mysterious young girl. Could it be the girl they are looking for? And why did she not stop at the scene of the accident?

But Marnie and Noah’s case is much more complex than they have imagined because there’s not just one runaway involved. And the man giving them shelter is no Samaritan. His name is Harm.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets, and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.

Tastes Like Fear was published in hardback and on Kindle yesterday, and you can read the first chapter for free on WH Smith’s blog, here: http://blog.whsmith.co.uk/read-extract-tastes-like-fear-sarah-hilary/

** Thank you Headline for the free Advance Reader Copy!

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