Review: Exit Strategy, by Colleen Cross



Diamonds, Danger, and Disappearance

A Katerina Carter Legal Thriller

Out of work and running out of money, private investigator and fraud expert Katerina Carter desperately needs more clients or she’ll be forced to go crawling back to a cubicle at her previous firm, a fate worse than debt.

So when Liberty Diamond Mines CEO Susan Sullivan hires Kat to find Liberty’s missing CFO and a large sum of embezzled money, she’s eager to accept the job. But her excitement soon turns to terror when two company employees are brutally murdered.

Kat realizes that this investigation is much more dangerous than she had ever imagined when she uncovers a sinister connection between blood diamonds and organized crime. She races against time to prove it—and stay alive long enough to expose the real criminals…or her first case might just be her last.

I listened to this book via Audible, and really enjoyed it! The forensic accountant angle for a protagonist is a new and unusual one for me, but one that worked well. Katerina (Kat) Carter is struggling to keep her Practice – and her life – afloat, when she’s hired by Liberty Diamonds following a $5 billion dollar embezzlement. But the prologue showing a daughter trying to betray her arms-dealing gangster of a father gives us a steer that there’s much more going on here.

Kat is hired by the CEO to try and track down the missing funds, but soon uncovers clues to something much bigger going on. With her foolish uncle having invested much more than he can afford into Liberty Diamonds, and her own livelihood hanging in the balance, there’s a lot at stake.

Kat Carter is an interesting choice of protagonist, smart, yet vulnerable, but with a dogged determination that drives her to uncover the truth, even as the bodies start mounting up, and it’s clear that her own life is in grave danger.

Great characters, great story and great narration (even though I struggled not to liken Uncle Harry’s voice to that of Marge Simpson!)

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Review: Seek and Destroy, by Alan McDermott



She got away once. They can’t let it happen again.

Eva Driscoll is on the run. She has a new identity, and the best part of $20m liberated from the CIA. Henry Langton is dead but his sinister allies are circling, and not even a presidential pardon can help Eva against an organization that operates above the White House.

With agents around the globe and no tactic off limits, Langton’s men are calling the shots. When they track down ex-CIA computer expert Farooq Naser and threaten Andrew Harvey and Tom Gray, Eva knows they will come for her next. She needs to run—and fast—but what chance does one woman have against the most powerful group in the United States, with just a few ex-spooks and a couple of mercenaries on her side?
But her pursuers should know that, even backed into a corner, Eva Driscoll is not the kind of prey to give up without a fight. But will it mean hurting those she cares for the most?

Seek and Destroy, due to be published on 14 November 2018, comes hot on the heels of the first Eva Driscoll novel, Run and Hide, which I reviewed over the summer. Eva’s story follows on from where the last book left off, and once again we are plunged into a shadowy world of espionage, where governments are not the most powerful organisations on the planet.

Eva’s world crossed with Tom Gray‘s (McDermott’s debut novel series character) in her first outing, and does so even more so in this story. In fact, I’d probably have to go back to check, but I’m not sure that Tom Gray doesn’t get more page time than Eva. But that’s not to the detriment of the story when you have two such great protagonists. And deadly too. And with that combination who or what can stand in their way?  But the stakes are high, with young children’s lives hanging in the balance, so nothing is guaranteed.

Seek and Destroy is another excellent, fast-paced thriller from Alan McDermott, who reminds us that in a world as dangerous as Eva Driscoll’s, nobody is safe. Or guaranteed to make it home.



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Review: Lost and Found, by JL Simpson


Hot on the success of her first case, British female sleuth Daisy Dunlop can count the offers of work on one finger. An empty bank account and the need to prove to her business partner, private investigator Solomon Liffey, that she is an asset, not a liability, calls for drastic measures. Terror has to be overcome as she answers a plea to find the one thing that gives her night sweats and flashbacks. A dog! A missing stud poodle to be exact.

Solomon’s amusement at Daisy’s new case is short lived when the arrest of his former girlfriend, Lisa, leaves him with the full-time care of his young daughter, Molly. A dead man is discovered in Lisa’s bed. Now he needs to help find the killer before Molly’s safety is compromised.

When Daisy realizes the dead man is linked to her current case, Solomon and Daisy are forced to work together to rescue the dog and uncover the killer’s motives. Would the sexual prowess of a poodle really incite someone to murder, or is the real motive hidden somewhere in Solomon’s secret past?

I’m going to start off by saying this isn’t my usual fare, and I think I probably enjoyed it all the more because of that. I listened to the story via Audible (lasting 9 hrs and 36 mins, and brilliantly read by Diana Croft), and found it very entertaining. The characters work their way through the story with a gentle humour that isn’t supposed to be ‘laugh-out-loud’ funny, but which will keep a smile on your face for the majority of the mystery.

And yes, we do have a mystery here. A stolen poodle.  Oh, and murder. But the main joy here is watching the interaction between Daisy and Soloman as they get themselves into all sorts of trouble and strife. Great characters, and perfect for this humorous private investigator murder mystery.

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Review: Devil’s Kitchen, by Stephen Puleston


How far would you go for the one you love?

It is Inspector Ian Drake’s first murder case and he’s keen to do a good job and impress his superiors. When the body of man and a woman are found at the bottom of a cliff face in the mountains of Snowdonia it seems a straight forward case. The woman has been brutally murdered and all the evidence points to her husband as the culprit.

But despite the clues Ian Drake wants to cover ever possibility. He builds a picture of the wife that suggests she was having an affair so Drake knows he has to investigate further. And when he discovers evidence about the husband he has to follow his instinct and dig deeper into their lives.

It is only after Drake’s superior officers have closed the case that he finally puts all the pieces together and discovers the final clues to identify the killer.

Devil’s Kitchen is a 70 page / 2 hour 21 minute novella prequel to Stephen Pulestone’s five Inspector Drake novels, set in fabulous north Wales. I listened to this via Audible, and it just happened to be the perfect length for my weekly drive to Wales. And the perfect setting too! Although this is a relatively short novella, the story is very complete, and never feels rushed, and there are enough twists, turns and dodgy suspects to keep fans of police procedurals very happy. Stephen’s writing is very crisp and clean, and his descriptions, brought to life for me by excellent narration of Richard Elfyn, paint a very vivid picture of the mountainous terrain of north Wales. I think releasing a prequel novella is an excellent idea to give potential readers a decent idea of a writer and their protagonist. And with Devil’s Kitchen, this pays off very well; I for one am keen to read more in the series.

And guess what? If you join Stephen Pulestone’s Readers’ Club, he’ll give you Devil’s Kitchen for free! Click here to join.

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Review: Fallout, by Karla Forbes


The British government is being blackmailed by criminals who got their hands on a quantity of plutonium left over from the Cold War. There is only one man who knows their identity and can prevent a disaster, but he is on the run for a murder he didn’t commit and has no intention of being found.

As the authorities attempt to track him down, the clock is ticking, and they are running out of time. They pin their hopes on the fact that a bunch of amateurs won’t have nuclear technology and the worst they will manage is a dirty bomb. After all, everyone knows they aren’t really that dangerous.

People run away from the explosion, and the radiation drifts harmlessly into the atmosphere. But suppose you could change that? What if the terrorists had found a way to keep the radiation near to the ground, encourage people to hang around breathing in death, and when you invite them to their own slaughter, they come willingly? They would be dangerous then…wouldn’t they?

I listened to this novel on audio, and I have to admit, at first I wasn’t taken with the narration. And I couldn’t really put my finger on why. But I did say ‘at first’ because by the time I was half-way through, all was fine, and by the end, I found myself hoping that it is Craig Bowles narrating the rest of the series.

And whilst this is clearly marked as book 1 in the Nick Sullivan thrillers, I was wondering how an on-the-run banker could become a main series character. And I was pleased to find that question resolved itself nicely at the end of the book.

I really enjoyed this book. The story is character-driven and moves along quite nicely, and despite some early deaths, it never feels hurried. I liked the idea of the protagonist being a wanted man, trying to avoid the police whilst trying to track down the real criminals. And with their crimes being far worse than Nick could ever imagine, and Nick’s own life becoming more and more in jeopardy, the stakes are high.

I’m looking forward to what Nick Sullivan gets up to in book 2!

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Review: Mortom, by Erik Therme


Andy Crowl barely knew his recently deceased cousin, Craig Moore, so he’s especially surprised to be named as the sole beneficiary in Craig’s will. Not that there’s much to inherit: just an empty bank account and a run-down house.

Once Andy arrives in the town of Mortom, however, he’s drawn into his puzzle-obsessed cousin’s true legacy: a twisted and ominous treasure hunt. Beckoned by macabre clues of dead rats and cemetery keys, Andy jumps into the game, hoping to discover untold wealth. But unsavoury secrets—and unanswered questions about Craig’s untimely demise—arise at every turn, leading Andy to wonder if he’s playing the game . . . or if the game is playing him.

This is the second Erik Therme book I’ve reviewed (following my review of Roam, in December). Similarly, I listened to this one via Audible, and similarly while listening I was again strongly reminded of Stephen King. King has such an amazing skill of creating believable characters whose journey you just want to follow, and I think Therme possesses that same skill.

He takes the reader, and his protagonist, Andy, on a macabre treasure-hunt which starts with a decomposing rat and faces us with tasks in places no sane person would undertake. But Andy is no ordinary person; he’s obsessed by puzzles, and the greatest one he needs to solve is why Craig has left his house, and this trail, to him. But with a deathly threat hanging over him, he has no choice other than to see things out – even when he doesn’t like where they’re heading.

I loved this story! The pace and story were wonderful, and the small town USA feel was perfect. The writing is such that even minor characters are memorable, and with secrets aplenty, you’re never too sure who is going to be important and who isn’t. And as a reader, Therme keeps you as baffled (and as interested) as he does Andy. Oh, and Christopher Lane’s narration is top notch too!


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Just Read… Run and Hide, by Alan McDermott



Eva Driscoll is used to chasing down bad guys, but now the bad guys are chasing her. She knows they won’t stop until she’s dead.

After her brother is killed in a faked suicide, Driscoll teams up with ex-soldier Rees Colback, the one person who can help her find answers. Together they’re determined to uncover why members of his Special Forces squad are dying in mysterious circumstances.

But with every agency in the country in hot pursuit, their only choice is to flee.

The clock is ticking. They can’t run forever. It’s time to make a choice: kill or be killed…

* * *

When you’ve already got a successful series, it’s always a risk to start something new. Alan McDermott released Trojan last year, a spin-off from his great Tom Gray series, with MI5 agent, Andrew Harvey in the driving seat. This time around, Run and Hide introduces us to Eva Driscoll, a brand new American protagonist, who is not short of skills when it comes to dealing with bad guys. Or even good guys, being bad.

Run and Hide isn’t a spin-off, but it is set in the same world as Tom Gray, and hence some familiar faces make an appearance, drawing the characters’ worlds together. In this story, there are powerful forces at work, and it is soon clear that Eva Driscoll is facing more than just a rogue team.

I mentioned the risk of starting a new series. The best way of dealing with risk is to mitigate it, and Alan has used all the right ingredients to pull it off: great writer; a fantastic kick-ass protagonist in Eva Driscoll;  a decent plot: and all of this wrapped up in a fast-paced novel. Great stuff!

Run and Hide is published today by Thomas & Mercer. Go buy it!


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