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Monday, 5 December 2016

‘Dead Silent’ by Mark Roberts

Published by Head of Zeus,
5 May 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-78408292-5 (HB)

The first in Mark Roberts’s Liverpool-set Red River City series promised a lot in terms of creepy quasi-religious background, ample gory violence and characters with plenty going on in their lives.

Dead Silent, the second in the series, follows similar themes and doesn’t disappoint.

Liverpool’s two cathedrals have key roles to play, as does protagonist DCI Eve Clay’s difficult childhood in a Catholic children’s home. But the main action takes place in and around two chilling houses, and an upmarket adult care home with a venomous owner.

It opens, as did the first, with a bizarre and sickening murder late on a freezing midwinter night. An elderly man has been skewered with a wooden stake, and his body arranged in a parody of a famous religious painting. His sixty-something daughter saw what happened and is in hospital after an apparent epileptic fit, and seems to have been stunned into silence by the experience.

Eve Clay has another convoluted crime to unravel, and she and her diverse team set about picking apart the victim’s life in order to discover who hated him enough to visit such horror on him. And of course there are more murders, with the same theme. Art history, child psychology and plain old-fashioned man’s inhumanity to man all provide clues, but the final solution surprises everyone, not least Eve herself.

Mark Roberts clearly knows Liverpool intimately; the city itself plays almost as important a part as the novel’s characters. And in this second foray into both the place and its people, those characters begin to emerge more clearly as individuals: DS Bill Hendricks the psychologist; DS Gina Riley the ace interviewer; action man DS Karl Stone; Harper the pathologist’s quiet assistant are just a few.

The bad guys and supporting players are even more crisply drawn: vicious Adam Miller, the care home owner; Danielle, his glamorous but fragile wife; Abey, the five-year-old in a man’s body; Gabriel Huddersfield the abused religious maniac; and above all Louise, the first victim’s daughter, compassionate, damaged and clearly harbouring secrets.

Mark Roberts is rapidly showing himself to be a master of the kind of crime fiction that delves into the nature of evil as well as inviting the reader to solve the a complex puzzle. He doesn’t write comfortable books, but he certainly produces page-turners; however many times I had to turn away, appalled by the depths to which some of the characters could sink, I always had to return and read on.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Mark Roberts was born and raised in Liverpool and was educated at St. Francis Xavier's College. He was a teacher for twenty years and for the last ten years has worked as a special school teacher. He received a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for best new play of the year. The Sixth Soul was his first novel for adults.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

‘Home’ by Harlan Coben

Published by Dutton,
20 September 2016.
ISBN 978-0-5255510-8 (HB)

From the publisher:  A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent.  No trace of the boys ever surfaced.  For ten years, their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived:  Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe that they have located one of the boys, now a teenager.  Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken?  And most critically:  What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend? 

After a hiatus of about five years, this novel marks the return of Myron Bolitar and Win Lockwood (nee Windsor Horne Lockwood III), his best friend since their freshman year at Duke University. The big change in Myron’s personal life is that he is engaged to be married to Terese, an anchorwoman on an all-news channel, with Win as his best man.  The aforementioned still missing friend was the son of Win’s cousin, Brooke, so the matter becomes a much more serious and personal one for Win, and thus for Myron.  Myron had been a standout, if not “legendary,” basketball star until a serious injury ended his career, after which he went to Harvard Law School and then opened his own sports agency, with his friend Esperanza Diaz as his “receptionist/assistant/confidante/assorted other hats.”  (A subplot of sorts deals with Esperanza, known in the wrestling world as Little Pocahontas along with her tag team partner, Big Cyndi, a/k/a Big Chief Mama.)

In this newest novel from Mr. Coben, and in his inimitable style, he explores every nuance of that simple word “Home.”  It is that in the most literal sense for Myron when he buys the home he grew up in from his folks when they decide to retire to Florida.  The tale of “two boys who had grown up in the lap of luxury and been snatched away” when 16 years of age takes our protags to London, Rome, the Netherlands and back in the author’s trademark suspenseful fashion, with p.o.v. alternating between Myron and Win, before a totally unexpected ending.   

Well deserving of its place atop the Bestseller List, Home is recommended.
Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Harlan Coben was born  4 January 1962 in Newark, New Jersey. He was the first ever author to win all three major crime awards in the US. He is now global bestseller with his mix of powerful stand-alone thrillers and Myron Bolitar crime novels. He has appeared in the bestseller lists of The Times, the New York Times, Le Monde, Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and four children.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

‘A Most Singular Venture’ by Donna Fletcher Crow

Published by Verity Press,
31 August 2016.
ISBN: 9781537435053

Richard and Elizabeth Spencer are Americans living in England and acting as house-parents at a boys’ boarding school. It is the summer holidays and the couple are off to London: Richard to teach at a University summer course, in which he intends to feature Jane Austen as a crime writer; and Elizabeth to do research on Jane Austen’s time in London for an article.

Their time to enjoy themselves together alone in London is soon interrupted. Richard’s brother, Andrew, who runs the family’s publishing business, flies to the UK to bid on a very rare collection of Jane Austen first editions and both Richard and Elizabeth are concerned that the deal may not be on the level, and, even if it is, whether Andrew is over-estimating what the firm can afford. Richard is even more concerned when Andrew meets and falls for Sara Ashley-Herbert. Andrew and his wife are in the process of divorcing but the matter is not yet concluded and Richard has very strict views on such matters.

Soon Richard and Elizabeth find themselves at the centre of a group of people needing their support: Jeremy, a young American student who has broken his leg in an accident, Babs, a demanding American woman attending Richard’s course, and Jack, one of the boys from their school, whose mother has left him to fend for himself while she is away with a boyfriend.

The concern Elizabeth and Richard feel about the Jane Austen first editions floods back when a death occurs that could be an accident but looks suspiciously like murder. Another death follows and Andrew is arrested for murder. Richard and Elizabeth are determined to discover the truth, even though it means placing themselves in danger.

A Most Singular Venture is a pleasant book with some likeable protagonists, in which crime mingles with English literature, history, religious observances and architecture. It has a clever plot and an unexpected conclusion. An enjoyable leisurely read.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Donna Fletcher Crow  is a former English teacher and a Life Member of the Jane Austin Society of America, She is the author of 50 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work.  She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have 4 adult children and 12 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.
To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to:
You can follow her on Facebook at:

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

‘Falling Suns’ by J.A. Corrigan

Published by Accent Press,
14 July 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-78165-249-7

Ex Detective Inspector Rachel Dune and her husband Liam are consumed by grief after their seven-year-old son, Joe, is abducted and later found dead. Rachel's mentally disturbed cousin Michael Hemmings is convicted of Joe's murder and is incarcerated in a secure psychiatric unit. Four years later, divorced and back in the police force, Rachel hears the news that Michael is being released to a less secure unit with the possibility of his eventual release.

Rachel cannot accept that the man who murdered her son might be set free and begins to plot her revenge. As a police officer, she is in a better position than most to carry out her plans, with her in-depth knowledge of the criminal side of life and the underworld contacts she has made during her career.

But as she gets close to Michael, her journalist friend Jonathan uncovers some disturbing information about her family, and begins to think that Rachel's perception of the truth might not be as accurate as she thinks, and that in her search for the truth she could make a devastating mistake.

J.A. Corrigan's debut thriller, Falling Suns, is a sympathetic and believable treatment of the rawness of a mother's grief at losing a child. It is also a disturbing look at some of the dark - very dark - areas of human behaviour and the horror that can lurk within families. Every character in the book is flawed in some way, makes mistakes and misjudges events, all of which makes for rounded characters in a novel - we may not like some of those characters but we can certainly empathise with them. Dysfunctional relationships abound.

Falling Suns is without doubt a dark tale, and is interesting and different from many of the psychological thrillers that are out there at the moment. There are some lovely descriptions and great writing. It will be interesting to see what J.A. Corrigan writes next.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

J.A. Corrigan now lives in Berkshire, but was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Her maternal grandad was a miner, her paternal, a baker. Her gran worked on a fruit and veg store in Mansfield’s market square. After A Levels she completed a Humanities degree in London, majoring in History and English Literature. She then went on to train and work as a physiotherapist. She loves to run, cook, and drink good wine. She likes to read great novels, autobiographies and a diverse range of non-fiction. Adoring travel, JA seems to be at her most creative, and most relaxed, sitting in a very narrow airline seat, going somewhere. She has been writing seriously since 2010 and her short stories have been published in various anthologies. Her debut novel, Falling Suns published by Accent Press,  is a compelling psychological thriller that explores the darker side of human nature.

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades.
Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, also published by Killer Reads, is out on April 28th. In her spare time Mary-Jane likes to walk the dog and eat a lot. Good job she likes walking.