Review: The Unkind Hours, by Dwayne Alexander Smith


Steven Burns, a former major league baseball player, had the perfect life… until his five year old daughter is abducted and murdered.

With zero suspects the police are left baffled and Steven must accept the haunting loss without justice.


A shadowy stranger offers Steven an opportunity to exact ultimate revenge. Compelled by fury and grief, Steven finds the stranger’s unspeakable proposition impossible to resist, despite fears he’s headed down a path of no return.

The blurb for this novel is very enticing, and I’m pleased to say the story lives up to the blurb. Steven Burns has the chance to come face to face with his child’s abductor, but why? And how? This is a tense ride with thrills and spills, and enough surprises to keep you reading (or in my case, listening). I always enjoy a book where I cannot even begin to guess how things are going to play out, and this hit the mark for me.

I believe Dwayne Alexander Smith is a professional screenwriter, and if so, that makes a lot of sense. The story is very well-crafted and keeps you glued to your seat, and the narration by Tom Jordan is excellent.


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Review: A Deathly Silence, by Jane Isaac


When the mutilated body of a police officer is found in a derelict factory, the Hamptonshire police force is shocked to the core.

DCI Helen Lavery returns from injury leave and is immediately plunged into an investigation like no other. Is this a random attack or is someone targeting the force? Organised crime groups or a lone killer?

As the net draws in, Helen finds the truth lies closer than she could have imagined, and trusts no one.

But Helen is facing a twisted killer who will stop at nothing to ensure their secrets remain hidden. And time is running out…


A Deathly Silence sees the return of Jane’s original protagonist, DCI Helen Lavery in this, her third outing, and what a welcome return it is!

Two children playing in an abandoned warehouse find the body of a dead woman, and it’s clear that she’s been tortured. To make matters worse, the victim was a police woman, as is her husband, now a widower. This is DCI Lavery’s first case after a short period of sick leave following injuries she herself sustained on a previous case.

I’ll say no more about the story/plot, but will briefly mention the story-telling. Which, if you’ve read any of Jane’s novels, you’d be under the expectation that it will be good. And if that’s what you’re expecting, you won’t be disappointed.  Jane has a brilliant knack of writing police procedurals that are character-driven, and never get bogged down in procedure. And she always creates such realistic characters, whether it’s Will Jackman,  Helen Lavery, or any of the supporting cast.

The story has plenty of twists and turns and finishes with a satisfying (if shocking) ending, which makes this a crime fiction novel you will not want to miss. Although it’s Helen Lavery’s third outing, you can easily read this as a standalone.



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Review: Tell Me Lies, by Ed James


Megan Holliday opens her eyes and finds herself slumped on her doorstep. The last thing she remembers is being in the car with her two kids. She sees a handwritten note on her lap – Don’t call the police. It’s then that she realises her car is missing, and her children are gone…

Leading the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team, FBI agent Max Carter will stop at nothing to find children taken from their families. After all, he was once one of those taken children, so he knows exactly what’s at stake. When he hears that a young senator’s two children have been abducted and their mother left for dead, he races to the Holliday family home in Washington State.

Facing a wall of police cruisers and blacked-out SUVs, Carter quickly uncovers the facts. Megan Holliday was ambushed by a man with a gun as she returned home from taking her kids out for ice cream. Bound and drugged, the attacker left her unconscious on the doorstep with the sinister note on her lap.

As Senator Christopher Holliday walks through the halls of the US Federal Building in Seattle, his phone beeps with an alert. Frustrated by the interruption, he takes a cursory glance and is horrified by the image on the screen – his two children, Brandon and Avery, unconscious. The message he gets simply reads Meet me or they die. When Agent Carter tries to make contact with the busy senator, it seems the politician has gone missing, fleeing from the Federal Building and abandoning his distraught wife. If Carter knows one thing, it’s that Holliday has something to hide. And he just became Carter’s prime suspect.


There seems to be a recent spate of authors from this side of the pond who are writing USA based thrillers in what (to me) sounds like a very authentic American voice. Take Steve Cavanagh and Adrian McKinty – both from Northern Ireland (although McKinty resides in the US). And now we have Scottish author, Ed James with the first in a new series.

I listened to this novel on audio, and it was excellently narrated by Jared Hendrickson.  I liked that the story is largely told from three different viewpoints, our protagonist, Max Carter’s, the kidnapper’s, and Senator Holliday’s.  It was fast-paced, and whilst the prologue gave some clue to the kidnapper’s motivations, it really was the tiniest of clues, and the author did well to reveal things only very gradually.

The story unfolds with all the twists and turns you’d expect from a novelist as experienced as Ed James, and I was surprised by the length of time that still seemed to be remaining when the story was apparently drawing to a close.  It turned out that there was still plenty more story to tell.

A confident start to a new series, and I’m looking forward to the next.





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Review: The Twisted Web, by Rebecca Bradley


A social media shaming. A killer with a message. A deadly combination.

When the body of a man is left in the city centre set up as a realistic police crime scene, DI Hannah Robbins is forced to enter a world that can break a person, a case and a reputation.

Social media platforms light up and Hannah is pitted against the raging online monster and a killer who has already lost everything.

Can she catch the killer and put him behind bars or will she become part of his sadistic game?

The Twisted Web is book 4 in the Detective Hannah Robbins series, and can certainly be read as a standalone, although for fans of a series, you might want to start with book 1, Shallow Waters, if you want to enjoy the characters’ progression – and don’t want to find out prematurely about the odd character’s death!

The murder of a real-crime blogger followed by the very public dumping of his body drops the police into their very own social media nightmare, where viral posts can drive public opinion faster than you can say police media liaison officer.

I love Rebecca’s police procedurals – they have the authenticity that being a retired police detective can bring, but her skill at slipping police methodology into the story without it feeling laboured is excellent, and there’s always something new and interesting that I’ve never come across before!

Although we have a good idea who the perpetrator is early on – and through the use of mixed first and third-person narrative we have the jump on the police in that respect – there is still a great reveal towards the end that I didn’t see coming.

Another fab (and well-paced) book from Rebecca, which is excellently narrated by Colleen Prendergast.

My thoughts on the first three Hannah Robbins novels can be found here: Book 1, Shallow Waters; Book 2, Made to be Broken, and Book 3, Fighting Monsters.

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Review: Impostor, by LJ Ross

impostor jacket image

After an elite criminal profiling unit is shut down amid a storm of scandal and mismanagement, only one person emerges unscathed. Forensic psychiatrist Doctor Alexander Gregory has a reputation for being able to step inside the darkest minds to uncover whatever secrets lie hidden there, and soon enough he finds himself drawn into the murky world of murder investigation.

In the beautiful hills of County Mayo, Ireland, a killer is on the loose. Panic has a stranglehold on its rural community, and the Garda are running out of time. Gregory has sworn to follow a quiet life, but when the call comes, can he refuse to help their desperate search for justice? 

LJ Ross

L J Ross (Louise Ross) e-book literary bestseller pictured at her home in Bath, Wiltshire. Photo courtesy of Gareth Iwan Jones

LJ Ross might not be a name you recognise if all your books are bought from bookshops (although that is soon likely to change), but she has sold an astounding four million-plus copies in paperback, ebook and audio. I’ve previously reviewed one of her DCI Ryan Mysteries, Cragside, but this is the first in a new series, featuring forensic psychiatrist, Dr Alexander Gregory.

As with all of Louise’s books I’ve read, this is a real ‘page-turner’. The character of Alex Gregory is great; his calm and likeable manner helps him build trust and confidence, with the ultimate aim of understanding what makes people who do bad things tick, and I really enjoyed being taken on the journey with him.

But our protagonist is just one in a collection of characters, all of whom seem to have hidden depths and have been written to ensure they are all three-dimensional. And this one keeps you guessing – pretty much any one of them could be the killer. And the reveal at the end was brilliant.

As with many of the books I get through nowadays, I listened to the audio of this. If you weren’t aware, audio is, I believe, the fastest-growing novel medium, and with the driving I do, I’ve been a huge fan for a long time. In my experience, a poor narrator can bring down a good novel, and a good narrator can bring up a mediocre one. But when you get a combination of a great novel and a brilliant narrator, in this instance in the form of Hannibal actor, Hugh Dancy, you’re on to a real winner!

Hugh Dancy

Hugh Dancy – Photo courtesy of Stephanie Diani

Impostor was published on 31 October 2019, so you can go and buy it now. Or, if you’re up for a good listen, you can get it from Audible.

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Reviews: Blowout and Greenwash, by Colleen Cross


Two book reviews in one!

Blowout is book 3 in the Katerina Carter fraud thriller series. Here’s the blurb:

On private investigator Katerina Carter’s trip to a remote island aboard a luxurious yacht, she suspects the boat’s slick and charming owner is hiding a dark secret. With her cunning instinct for sniffing out malevolent cons, Kat tries to warn her friends that something is very wrong with their host and that his moneymaking scheme smells fishy. And why is she only one who thinks he’s not being completely honest?

While exploring the island, Kat and her friends research the rumors of a sinister cult, the Aquarian Foundation, and search for buried treasure. The cult swindled people out of their money and now the same situation is starting to eerily echo their present circumstances. That is if Kat can prove to the others that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is . . .

When Kat’s warnings fall on deaf ears, she uncovers a horrifying truth that will place those closest to her in mortal danger. Now it’s a race against the clock for Kat to expose a killer before he strikes again.

I really like Colleen Cross’s Katerina Carter series. Katerina’s forensic finance expertise gets her into all manner of trouble, and in this story, even when she’s not on a case. As the blurb says, in this story, she suspects her best friend’s fiance of hiding a dark secret, and to the reader, it’s pretty clear what that secret is.

That doesn’t spoil the fun as we follow Katerina’s adventures, which are made all the better because Uncle Harry is also along for the ride this time. And what’s accountancy without danger, and there is plenty of that for Katerina in this book, who once again manages to piece the clues together just in time.

I listened to this on audio, and whilst it’s book 3, it could easily be read or listened to as a standalone. Oh, and great narration from Petrea Burchard!



And of course, Greenwash is Katerina Carter book 4!

Private investigator Katerina Carter and boyfriend Jace Burton embark on a cozy weekend getaway just before Christmas at a luxury mountaintop lodge. While he writes the biography of a billionaire environmentalist, she explores the snowy wilderness.
Then two local environmental protesters die under mysterious circumstances. Kat and Jace race to uncover the truth only to face even deadlier disaster. The mountains take no prisoners.

Neither does the killer.

In the remote mountaintops of the Rockies, everyone looks out for each other. Except for cold-blooded killers, that is. And the killer is creeping closer and closer. Someone doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Kat from finding the truth.

I listened to book 3 and book 4 back to back. Sometimes when I do that, I get bored with the characters, but not in this case.

Katerina is getting pretty unlucky now. This is her second trip for pleasure in this series, and sadly the first trip on the yacht last time out didn’t go too well. Well, it’ll come as no surprise that her trip accompanying Jace to a luxury mountain lodge doesn’t go quite as planned either!

No uncle Harry this time, and Jace is a bit of a pain – he always seems to be so enamoured with his hosts that he doesn’t pick up on the clues that they’re usually as dodgy as can be.  Kat doesn’t though, and despite Jace never really believing her suspicions, she’s not one to let a little mountainside avalanche danger get in the way of uncovering a good mystery, especially when environmental catastrophe threatens!

Another great read (or listen) from Colleen Cross!


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Review: Resthaven, by Erik Therme


The last thing Kaylee wants to do is participate in a childish scavenger hunt – especially inside the abandoned retirement home on the edge of town. When she finds a bruised, deaf boy hiding inside one of the rooms, she vows to lead him to safety – only to discover the front doors are now padlocked, and her friends are nowhere to be found.

Kaylee is about to learn that not everything that goes “bump in the night” is imaginary, and sometimes there are worse things to fear than ghosts.

This is a  YA (Young Adult) novel, written by Erik Therme. Let’s start off by saying I’m a fan of the author, and all of his novels I’ve read (or listened to via Audible) always have great characterisation, and Resthaven is no different.

Set within the spooky backdrop of a derelict nursing home, the group of teenage girls find themselves in the middle of a scavenger hunt which goes badly wrong from the start. The characters in the story don’t much like each other, and when they find they can’t all get out of the nursing home, things start to ramp up.

This isn’t a horror, but it’s on the darker side of a YA thriller. It’s well-written, with the tension and the speed of the novel gathering pace as the story unfolds. Great narration by Randi Larson makes this an all round winner for me.

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