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Tuesday 31 October 2017

‘The Cuban Affair’ by Nelson DeMille

Published by Sphere,
19 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-6588-1(HB)

Daniel 'Mac' MacCormick has a great life in Key West Florida, taking people out for day trips and fishing excursions on his forty-two-foot boat The Maine. The only trouble is he owes a quarter of a million dollars on it. Then a lawyer by the name of Carlos approaches him with an offer of two million dollars to charter his boat to Cuba. As a solution to his money problems this is too good a job to turn down. Carlos arranges for Mac to meet Eduardo Valaquez and Sara Ortega both members of a group of anti-communist Cubans.

They want him to smuggle out sixty million dollars along with other assets belonging to the people of Havana and which they had to leave behind when Castro and the communists took over. The idea is to distribute it back to the owners where possible and keep some to help fund their group.

Jack, the first mate of The Maine will take part in a fishing tournament in Cuba while Mac and Sara go to Havana with a party of ex-Yale students. They will bring the money and other assets to the boat and they will all come back to Key West on The Maine, what can go wrong? Well, plenty, and it does!

They have trouble knowing who they can trust. It seems everyone in Cuba is spying on everyone else and not all the population want the ensuing “Cuban Thaw”, many still hate the Americans. Then the dreaded Guarda Frontera show an interest in them.

Can they possibly get the money and assets and meet The Maine as arranged without being captured? The thought of that two-million-dollar payment drives Mac on to take risk after risk making for an exciting chase of cat and mouse right to the very end.

Nelson DeMille's books are always full of excitement and intrigue and this one is no exception. I always enjoy his way of writing, some amusement along with the tension.

The descriptions of Cuba bring the island vividly to life, a place where I have always wanted to visit. Now it is opening up more perhaps I shall have the chance. I just have to remember to avoid the Guarda Frontera! A greatly entertaining book, highly recommended.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell
Nelson Richard DeMille was born in New York City on August 23. He moved as a child with his family to Long Island. In high school, he played football and ran track. DeMille spent three years at Hofstra University, then joined the Army and attended Officer Candidate School. He was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army (1966-69) and saw action as an infantry platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. He was decorated with the Air Medal, Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
DeMille returned to the States and went back to Hofstra University where he received his degree in Political Science and History. He has three children, Lauren, Alexander, and James, and still lives on Long Island.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf  (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

‘Furthest Reaches’ by Gordon Brown

Published by Strident Publishing Ltd,
29 September 2017.
ISBN 978-1-910829-17-2

Furthest Reaches is the second in the Craig McIntyre series.  After months on the run Craig is finally trapped and returned to the custody of his powerful adversary, Senator Tampoline, whose main aim in life had been to harness Craig’s unusual mental powers and convert him into a remote killing machine.

Tampoline explains to Craig that a shadowy group, Factor, is intent on ruining the national economy. Factor has sabotaged a large percentage of The States oil reserves.  They have also kidnapped an Iranian involved in vital negotiations to supply the US with the extra oil that is now urgently needed to keep the country running. Tampoline urges Craig to neutralize Factor. He wants the Iranian freed and the leader of Factor killed. Craig, who distrusts Trampoline, is reluctant to help. But when Tampoline makes it clear that Craig’s ex-girlfriend, Linda, and his friend Charlie will die horrible deaths if he doesn’t cooperate, he realizes that he must do as he’s been asked.

Tampoline frees Craig who then teams up with Martyn, an ex-Factor operative, and the two of them set about the task of finding and freeing the Iranian.  Their task is complicated by copious quantities of men in suits who could be working for any one of about a dozen intelligence agencies, not to mention members of Factor, all of whom seem hell-bent on stopping them. At a terrible cost to himself, Craig has learnt how to control his disruptive influence over others, and this is something he does on more than one occasion.  As the tale reaches its climax Craig and Martyn are helped by Mary-Anne, a delightful old lady whom many would love to have as a friend.

Gordon Brown is a master of deception. Furthest Reaches is a fast moving, action packed tale that is darker and more devious than Darkest Thoughts, the first book in the series. There are so many unexpected twists that the story you finish is radically different from the one you started out with.  Once again Craig’s fate is left unresolved. Will the powers that have so cruelly and unashamedly manipulated him ever allow him to lead a decent life?  We will have to read Deepest Wounds, the last book in the trilogy, to find out
Reviewer:  Angela Crowther.

Gordon Brown splits his time between the UK, the U.S.A. and Spain. Gordon once quit his job in London to fly across the Atlantic to be with his future wife. He has also delivered pizzas in Toronto, sold non-alcoholic beer in the Middle East, launched a creativity training business called Brain Juice and floated a high-tech company on the London Stock Exchange. He almost had a toy launched by a major toy company, has an MBA, loves music, is a DJ on local radio, compered the main stage at a two-day music festival and was once booed by 49,000 people while on the pitch at a major football Cup Final. Gordon has been writing since his teens and has four books published – his latest, Furthest Reaches, being the second in the Craig McIntyre series with book 3 out in February 2018. Gordon also helped found Bloody Scotland – Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival. He’s married with two children and lives in Scotland.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

Sunday 29 October 2017

‘The Girl in the Green Dress’ by Cath Staincliffe

Published by Constable,
27 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-2537-8 (HB)

Cath Staincliffe used to write straightforward police procedurals, albeit with protagonists who had real, complicated family lives outside work. More recently, she has picked up the complicated family lives ball, and not only run with it but sprinted off into the distance, way ahead of other crime writers. She has tackled the fallout the victim's family faces after a murder; the agony of being thousands of miles away from the scene of a crime involving a family member; the wider ramifications of a terrorist attack; and now, the effect of a major crime on the families of the perpetrators.

But The Girl in the Green Dress is more than that. It's hardly a spoiler at all to mention that the murder victim, eighteen-year-old Allie, is transgender, another emotive issue which is explored from several angles. The narrative even offers a take on a couple more sensitive areas: what happens to a failed asylum seeker with a conscience, and the way mental health problems impact on the workplace.

Allie's battered body is found after the school prom, still in her beautiful green dress. Her immediate family, already damaged by life but totally supportive of her decision to transition from boy to girl, are devastated. DI Donna Bell assembles her investigation team, notably rookie DC Jade Bradshaw and experienced DS Martin Harris, and sets out to find Allie's killers.

The investigation gets off to a flying start – but unknown to Donna, there are big hurdles ahead, in her own life, and even more disruptively from parents who can't bear the thought of brutal murder being connected to their teenage kids.

And this is where Cath Staincliffe comes into her own. It's a crime novel, so the reader knows right is sure to win out eventually. But it's also a lot more. The triumph of good over evil doesn't always happen easily; inevitably, and in this case especially, the evil leaves its dark footprint behind it. Futures are wrecked, relationships founder and life will never approach anything like normality again for just about everyone close to the action.

I've long regarded Cath Staincliffe as one of the best kept secrets of British crime fiction. It's high time that secret was out in the open, and she received the acclaim and success she deserves.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Cath Staincliffe was brought up in Bradford and hoped to become an entomologist (insects) then a trapeze artist before settling on acting at the age of eight.  She graduated from Birmingham University with a Drama and Theatre Arts degree and moved to work as a community artist in Manchester where she now lives with her family. Looking for Trouble, published in 1994, launched private eye Sal, a single parent struggling to juggle work and home, onto Manchester’s mean streets.  It was short listed for the Crime Writers Association’s John Creasey best first novel award, serialised on BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour and awarded Le Masque de l’AnnĂ©e in France.  Cath has published a further seven Sal Kilkenny mysteries. Cath is also a scriptwriter, creator of ITV’s hit police series, Blue Murder, which ran for five series from 2003 – 2009 starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis.  Cath writes for radio and created the Legacy drama series which features a chalk-and-cheese, brother and sister duo of heir hunters whose searches take them into the past lives of families torn apart by events. Trio, a stand-alone novel, moved away from crime to explore adoption and growing up in the 1960s.  Cath’s own story, of tracing and being re-united with her Irish birth family and her seven brothers and sisters, featured in the television documentary Finding Cath from RTE. Cath is a founder member of Murder Squad, a virtual collective of northern crime writers.  She is an avid reader and likes hill-walking, messing about in the garden and dancing (with far more enthusiasm than grace).


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.