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Sunday 31 May 2020

‘Dead at First Sight’ by Peter James

Published by Macmillan,
17 October 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-5098-1639-2

Whilst there are many happy stories of couples who have met on internet dating sites, this latest book by Peter James deals with the not so happy.  The book opens with retired John Charles Fordwater standing at Gatwick Airport in the arrival area, clutching a huge bouquet of flowers, tingling with anticipation for sight of the love of his life Ingrid Ostermann, who he met on a German web site.  But Ingrid isn’t coming, because Ingrid doesn’t actually exist.

The perils of internet dating are brought sharply into focus as we are presented with a retired NYPD cop who across the world waits in a bar in Florida’s Key West who also is waiting for the woman he believes is his soul mate.  Both men have been relieved of literally all their money and more besides.  And not only men are targeted – wealthy widows and divorcées are also eager to hear words of love from a handsome man. Many can’t believe their luck when some good-looking man seems to find them in their middle years attractive. But for these vulnerable people it’s not going to end well. For out there are people who will kill to keep their scams bringing in the money.

Penniless and in despair John Fordwater contemplates the unthinkable and people in similar situations in various places are not far behind him.

When Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to investigate the possible suicide of a woman in Brighton, he is struck by certain aspects that merit further examination.  It appears that her photograph has been used by Internet fraudsters. Moreover, an attractive married Brighton motivational speaker Toby Stewart reports to the police that he has been contacted by one Suzy Driver who has discovered his handsome face on several online dating sites.

The author skilfully weaves the individual threads from the various countries and gradually the picture of a huge international romance fraud emerges.  But who is the mastermind behind it?  Interspersed with the story are short chapters by someone we come to know as ‘Tooth’.  Not a pleasant person by all accounts, but clearly in the pay of the Mastermind of the operation, whoever he is.

Cleverly plotted, this is Peter James at his storytelling best. Recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Peter James was educated at Charterhouse and then at film school. He lived in North America for a number of years, working as a screen writer and film producer, before returning to England. His multiple award-winning, Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling novels have been translated into thirty-three languages. His writings reflect his deep interest in medicine, science and the world of the police. He has produced numerous films, including The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes. He also co-created the hit Channel 4 series Bedsitcom, which was nominated for a Rose d'Or. Peter James won the Krimi-Blitz 2005 Crime Writer of the Year Award in Germany, and Dead Simple won both the 2006 Prix Polar International award and the 2007 Prix Cœur Noir award in France. He us the author of the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series. He divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill in London and Sussex.

‘The Liar’ by Jane Adams

Published by Joffe Book,
19 November 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78931267-6 (PB)

John Tynan, retired police officer, is surprised to find himself in love again. Grace, his childhood sweetheart and wife of 40 years had died twelve years previously and John had not expected that he would ever have those feelings again.  But Martha Toolin, eighteen years his junior, had changed all that.

Heading out to visit Martha at her hotel one morning John is devastated by the news that Martha had been discovered dead in her room – stabbed.

Called to the scene to investigate is Detective Mike Croft. It is 10 years since Mike Croft was last in this part of Norfolk leading the search for a young girl who disappeared in The Greenway. That was also where he first met and became friends with John Tynan who worked on the case with him. 

Investigations reveal that the address supplied by Martha does not exist and the more they dig the more complex appears her life.  Although a stranger in the area there are reports that she was seen the day before arguing with a young boy. Who was he? But that is not the only trail they have to follow for further investigation reveals that Martha Toolin was not her only name and slowly John Tynan realises that everything he knew about the woman he loved was a lie.  Just who was she? 

Sightings of a large black dog-shaped creature are being reported from various people in the area. Even John Tynan states that he saw it, the night before Martha was found dead. The creature stared at him and then snarled, and John beat a hasty retreat.  Is this creature a harbinger of death? Then another body is found.

I have read many books by this author and enjoyed them all. Recommended
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Jane Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk-rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing; martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. There are several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Twelve titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and more recently seven books featuring Rina Martin. Her latest series is set in the 1920’s and features Chief Inspector Henry Johnson. Jane has also written three standalone novels. She is married with two children.

‘End Game’ by Anna Smith

Published by Quercus,
14 May 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-78747400-0 (PB)

Set in Glasgow, this is the third in a series featuring gritty Kerry Casey, who became gang boss after the brutal murder of a relative.  Now, crime iron lady Kerry, who is pregnant, is minded to turn legit although when a villainous friend of her father comes calling for help, she can’t resist becoming involved in the aftermath of a murky, notorious heist from a Hatton Garden safe deposit facility.  The underworld theft includes rare diamonds and precious jewelery plus highly incriminating evidence —photographs and DVDs— of prominent members of the government that if made public, would undoubtedly lead to their exposure, disgrace and incarceration.  Kerry is gleeful - it’s payback time.

Kerry isn’t the only tough, Corleone-type female character. Hannah, a younger, ex jailbird is another and she’s learning fast from mentor, Kerry.  Two formidable dames confront the male criminal fraternity, a world that is fraught with blood and bullets, Russian racketeers, hoodlums, Italian mafia, and incredible dimwits who mess with these women at their peril.

The story is an accomplished, action-packed shoot-out.  Violent and brutal incidents stack up leaving the reader breathless wondering what is next going to happen to whom.  Anna Smith is not an author  I have encountered before, but she has a sure touch, deftly stitching the plot and sub-plot together, possesses the rare ability to produce one dark, nail-biting page after another and has truly mastered the craft of writing a slick, gripping, high octane, never- a -dull moment thriller, not an easy thing to do.  

I read the book in one sitting and am full of admiration for the way the author has the reader on tenterhooks bang off from page one.  The end is such that it signals that there is a follow-up in the offing.  Can’t wait!  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

Anna Smith. After a lifetime as a tabloid journalist, wading through other people's misery on the frontline all over the world, she decided to put her experiences to good use. And so, the series of Rosie Gilmour novels were born, featuring a Glasgow journalist trying to tear down the world of corruption and injustice.  Her debut novel was The Dead Won't Sleep, the story of police corruption, prostitution and a child sex ring in a children's home. This was followed by To Tell the Truth, about a toddler stolen from a beach while on holiday with her parents in Spain.  Anna has now written six books in Rosie Gilmour series.  Her most recent series is set in Glasgow and features gang boss Kerry Casey. There are currently three books in the series.
Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.