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Saturday 29 October 2011

‘Truth Dare Kill’ by Gordon Ferris

 Published by Corvus
6 October 2011.  
ISBN 978-0-85789-492-2 

Danny McRae having survived the war has set himself up as a private investigator. The world is trying to get back to normality, but for Danny, who has no memory of a year of his life, what is normality?  He knows that he was in France on a mission and he knows that he was captured by the Germans, but for the rest…..

His first case is very reminiscence of what we know of the Golden Age, as beautiful elegant, upper-class Kate Graveney hires Danny to investigate the death of her lover – she says she is not certain whether she killed him, or  if it was  the bomb that ravaged the flat in which they were both staying.

Danny set’s out on this his first investigation, but Danny is still subject to black-outs that are a result of his head injury which account for his loss of a year’s memory. As he sets off on a hunt through bomb-ravaged London, he meets Valerie who seems to be on his side, something he dearly needs – someone on his side.  But Valerie is elusive giving no address and just turning up out of the blue and disappearing just as abruptly.
As Danny attempts to establish whether Tony, Kate’s lover died in a bombing, his blackouts raise for him questions, as he reads about a brutal killer stalking London's red light district, and he wonders of just what he could be capable of when out of it.

Gradually, he begins to piece together the events leading up to his arrest in France and as he does so he becomes a threat to someone, someone who cannot risk him recovering his memory. With his handicap of not knowing Danny is stabbing around in the dark and the fact that an Inspector Wilson has it in for him doesn’t help.  

This is an excellent mystery with a wonderful ambiance of the mysteries of the late 1940’s.  It has a truly wonderful surprise ending, and is highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes

Gordon Ferris is an ex-techy in the Ministry of Defence, and ex-partner in one of the Big Four accountancy firms. He writes about the important things in life: conflicted heroes and headstrong women embroiled in tangled tales of life, love and death.  Other books are The Unquiet Heart and the highly acclaimed The Hanging Shed

Tuesday 4 October 2011

‘The Deadly Touch of the Tigress’ by Ian Hamilton

Published by Sphere,
6 October 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-84744-503-2

Wow! I have been reviewing for fifteen years and I have never started a review with, Wow! This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Ava Lee is a forensic accountant - she tracks money owed to people who have advanced money in good faith, but then found that the recipients have reneged on their commitments.

Asked by her elderly Hong Kong based ‘Uncle’ to locate money that should have been paid to Andrew Tan, Ava sets out to track the money and return it to its rightful owner.  But, although she quickly successfully tracks the money, retrieving it is a different matter. Her quest takes her to Guyana, and it’s not a place I would ever want to visit, and if you read this book you won’t want to visit it either. But with some fancy footwork Ava sets up deal, but she is dealing with rogues and very influential rogues at that. Can Ava pull it off?

I was fascinated about the form of martial arts she practised bal mei, not that I was familiar with this form of martial art but interested because it is said to be Taoist, which is close to my heart. It is I think, having done a little Internet research a coincidence that the author Ian Hamilton should have a protagonist who practises a Taoist martial art, that instantly brings to mind J D Salinger’s ‘Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters’ which features on it’s first page a Taoist tale, and that Ian Hamilton wrote a book entitled ‘In Search of J D Salinger’ this is I assume one of those bizarre coincidences.

For whatever reason you pick up this book, don’t put it down unless it is safely in your tote bag and you are taking it home. It is a not to be missed read. I just can’t wait for the next one.
Lizzie Hayes

It was a life-threatening health scare that prompted Ian Hamilton to write his first in the series of captivating Ava Lee novels. Just two days out of hospital and recovering from surgery, Ian sat down at his computer. The name ‘Ava Lee’ came to him and the first chapter was quickly written. A few short weeks later, the first Ava Lee novel was completed. Ian is not a stranger to the literary world. He began his career as a journalist and wrote a non-fiction book in 1968, The Children’s Crusade, which was a Canadian Book-of-the-Month selection. He has written for several magazines and newspapers in Canada and the U.S., including Maclean’s, Boston Magazine, Saturday Night, the Regina Leader-Post, the Calgary Albertan, and the Calgary Herald. He has been a senior executive with the federal government, and as worked internationally as a diplomat and businessman. Although there are 40 years between books, Ian never lost his passion for writing. The years he spent travelling the world on business, spending countless hours on planes and hotels, became important influences on his writing, providing personal insights into the world of business and into the many people, places and cultures Ava Lee encounters. His inspiration for the Ava Lee series did not end when the first book was complete. About half way through writing the first book, an idea for the second book came to Ian and he built it into the plot of the first. He began writing the second book the day after the first book was finished. The same is true for the third and fourth books. Within eight months, all four books were complete. Ian secured a four-book deal from his publisher before the last two books were even read by the publisher. International rights have been sold into the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Germany and worldwide Spanish and French rights. Ian is currently working on the continuation of the Ava Lee series and has already completed books 5 and 6.
Ian lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife Lorraine. He has four children and seven grandchildren.

Monday 3 October 2011

‘Silent Mercy’ By Linda Fairstein

Published by Little Brown,
March 2011. ISBN: 978-1-4087-0241-3

This latest thriller featuring Assistant DA Alex Cooper and NYPD Detective Mike Chapman opens with the discovery of a headless body on the steps of a church in New York. Within days a second body turns up also left at a church, and not just any church, it is clear that the killer is making a particular point

To try and get in the mind of the killer Alex and Mike explore various religious beliefs trying to get a handle on the message being left by the killer.  With Mike being Catholic and Alex of Jewish decent there are many interesting discussions. Tackling a religion is never an easy subject but Linda does it in an interesting and non confrontational way

As with all the books in this acclaimed series Linda’s research is meticulous and we learn much about the history of New York landmarks. In this book we learn of the many churches in the city and in particular the Church of St John the Devine –the largest cathedral in the world.

Mercer Wallace completes the trio of pursuers of justice which take them to a stunning climax on Cape Cod.

A marvellous entry in this excellent series.
Lizzie Hayes

Linda Fairstein, former prosecutor and best-selling crime novelist, is one of America’s foremost legal experts on crimes of violence against women and children. For three decades, from 1972 until 2002, she served in the office of the New York County District Attorney, where she was Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit for twenty-five years. In that position, Ms. Fairstein supervised the investigation and trial of every Manhattan case involving sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and homicides arising out of these crimes. She was the lead attorney and directed all major litigation in these specialties, ranging from the homicide prosecution of Robert Chambers (the “Preppy Murder” case) in 1988 through the trial against the offenders charged with the riot in Central Park following the Puerto Rican Day parade in June, 2000.
Fairstein is an honors graduate of Vassar College (1969) and the University of Virginia School of Law (1972). In 1998, several of Fairstein’s law school classmates established a scholarship fund in her honor at their alma mater. The Fairstein Public Service Scholarship supports law school students interested in pursuing careers in the public sector. Linda Fairstein is married to Justin Feldman. She lives in Manhattan and on Martha’s Vineyard.
Earlier books in the series are Final Jeopardy (1996) Likely To Die (1997) Cold Hit (1999) The Deadhouse (2001)  The Bone Vault (2003) The Kills (2004) Entombed (2005) Death Dance (2006) Bad Blood (2007) Killer Heat (2008) Lethal Legacy (2009) Hell Gate (2010)

Saturday 1 October 2011

‘Above Suspicion’ by The Mulgray Twins

Published by Robert Hale,
October 2010.
ISBN: 978-0-7090-9136-3

Deborah J Smith (DJ)  an undercover investigator for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is currently residing in a B&B following information that a freighter carrying a consignment of drugs was due to arrive in the estuary of the Firth of Forth.  DJ’s instruction is surveillance -which is proving very boring.  What surveillance doesn’t cover is drawing attention to oneself and the local press by finding a dead body. ‘Undercover, not on the cover’ is the message DJ receives from her head of section Gerry Burnside.

Soon DJ and her trusty companion Gorgonzola, DJ’s Persian cat are re-assigned, this time DJ is to infiltrate the home of Sir Thomas Cameron-Blaik the wealthy and respected owner of Sron Dubh distillery on the island of Islay, by posing as a butler to locate the whereabouts of one Louis Moran.

Of course nothing goes to plan, and as ever Gorgonzola has her own agenda, as she puts her exceptional nose to good use.

A good romp with plenty of twists and turns along the way, as DJ attempts to remain alive and undetected long enough to attain her goal. 

An excellent entry in this popular series.
Lizzie Hayes

The Mulgray Twins. Helen and Morna Mulgray born 1939 in Edinburgh, took up writing after they retired from teaching English at two neighbouring Secondary schools in Edinburgh. Other books in the series are
No Suspicious Circumstances (2007)
Under Suspicion (2008) Suspects All (2011)