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Tuesday, 24 May 2022

‘The Killer in the Snow’ by Alex Pine

Published by Avon,
11 November 2022.
ISBN: 978-0-00-845338-1 (PB)

It’s Christmas Eve and things are not going well for Robert Bateman. Oaktree Farm had been home to him and his wife Mary, and their daughter Charlotte for two decades, but he is aware his only option now is to sell the farm. Even that won’t get them totally out of debt. To top it all, he had that day received a threatening text. With heavy heart he makes his way home. Arriving at the farm he sees a set of footprints in the pristine snow heading towards the side of the house that descends to the cellar. The cellar is always kept locked, but strangely there are no returning prints. A scream from inside the house has him rushing to his front door.

 DI James Walker is pleased that Christmas has passed without incident, unlike the previous year, when a serial killer stalked Kirkby Abbey in the Lake District where he had moved to from the Met to escape gangster Andrew Sullivan who blames him for sending him to prison and has vowed to kill him in revenge.

Then a call comes in from a farm some miles south of Kirkby Abbey that there are three dead bodies at Oaktree Farm. The caller described it as a bloodbath.

Initially, it looks to James to be a murder suicide, but something doesn’t look right. Delving into the lives of the Batemans, it becomes clear that they had financial problems which had been exacerbated by Robert’s gambling. Did Robert kill his wife and daughter and then himself. But the forensics don’t support this. So, was there someone else there?   Evidence that Charlottes had fallen out with her boyfriend comes to light, and her boyfriend is missing.

While interviewing possible suspects, including the writer of the threatening text found on Robert’s phone, James learns that a similar crime occurred at Oakham Farm twenty years ago.  As James continues his investigation, he suspects that he may have to solve the old crime before he can solve the current one.

Cleverly plotted, this is a brilliant and intriguing mystery. It gripped me from start to finish, I couldn’t put it down.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Alex Pine is the pseudonym of a bestselling author who has also written books under the names Jaime Raven, James Raven and JP Carter. He was born and raised on a council estate in South London and left school at sixteen. Before becoming a full-time writer, he spent a career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and television producer. He was, for a number of years, director of a major UK news division and co-owned a TV production company. He now splits his time between homes in Hampshire and Spain with his wife.

Monday, 23 May 2022

‘Deadly Shores’ by Kerry Buchanan

Published by Joffe Books,
26 April 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-80405-229-7 (PB)

The last few months have been tough for Northern Ireland police officers Detective Inspector Asha Harvey and Detective Constable Aaron Birch after they were instrumental in revealing a serious web of corruption involving police officers of all ranks. Even though nobody suspects Asha and Aaron of corruption, the fear that there are still dishonest cops in the local force has destroyed the atmosphere of trust and interdependence at Lisburn Road police station. Both Asha and Aaron feel side-lined by their senior officer, Chief Superintendent Yvonne Patterson, who keeps reiterating that she is running a tight ship and rooting out corruption, as well as continuing the hunt for two corrupt and brutal police officers who had escaped after one of them stabbed Aaron. Asha has grown tired of Patterson inferring that she has received promotion because she ticks all the diversity boxes, rather than by her merits as a detective, and has transferred to a smaller police station where she is given more opportunities to investigate challenging crimes. Aaron is still at Lisburn Road station and struggling to stay motivated and keep his promise to Asha to study for his sergeant’s exams.

The two detectives are reunited when they receive a tip that something untoward is happening at Richard Steele’s luxurious boatyard. At first all seems quiet but then in becomes clear that the delivery of new boats is a means of smuggling in illegal drugs. The question that Asha and Aaron have to solve is whether Steele or his boatyard manager are complicit in the crimes. Asha is attracted to the handsome, wealthy boatyard owner, and it is evident that he is attracted to her, but because he is a suspect, she is determined to keep their relationship professional.

Violence escalates and the detectives realise that the criminals are employing blackmail and intimidation to force innocent people to collaborate with their crimes. To make matters worse, Asha and Aaron begin to suspect that the crime they are investigating is even darker and more dangerous than drug smuggling, and soon their investigation turns into a desperate race to trace the illicit cargo before it is too late.

As Asha and Aaron follow a trail of increasing brutality, they realise that the two violent police officers whose guilt they had helped to expose have resurfaced to continue their reign of terror, in which vicious assaults often result in murder. The two thuggish cops could not have stayed out of sight without powerful assistance and certainly could not have re-emerged at this crucial point without being directed. This confirms the fear that the corruption in their police force has not been eradicated as Asha and Aaron had hoped, but, on the contrary, is being controlled by a dangerous, authoritative figure, who will stop at nothing to retain dominance. Asha and Aaron have to tread carefully because they cannot know who within the police force they can trust. As the case reaches its climax, they have to act swiftly and decisively and put their own lives in imminent peril as they attempt to save a kidnapped young woman who is a pawn in the deadly game.

Deadly Shores is the third book in the series featuring Asha Harvey and Aaron Birch. It is an excellent stand-alone novel, the story thread about police corruption, which is a crucial part of the plot, does however have its roots in the second Harvey and Birch novel, Small Bones. Deadly Shores has a fascinating, fast-moving plot, filled with tension. The characterisation is excellent, and Asha and Aaron are engaging protagonists, showing steadfast integrity, courage and loyalty in challenging situations. Deadly Shores is a thought-provoking page-turner, which I thoroughly recommend.

Reviewer: Carol Westron

Kerry Buchanan lives amid the rolling County Down hills that feature in her crime series. When she isn’t writing, Kerry performs her work at literary events and participates in literary panels and works with new writers. She is disabled, and passionate about sailing and attempting to outwit the slugs in her vegetable patch. Generally, the slugs win.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin
click on the title