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When an old man is found dead inside the ancient hermitage at Warkworth Castle, Northumbria CID are called in to investigate. With no apparent motive, it’s their job to discover why he was murdered – and this time they’re forced to do it without their star detective as DCI Ryan has tracked a killer across Europe and has sworn not to return until he has his man in custody. Nathan Armstrong is a dangerous psychopath but there’s just one problem – he’s also an international celebrity; a world-famous thriller writer with money and connections.
When I began reading ‘The Hermitage‘, I was staying in a hotel very close to the village of Warkworth, where LJ Ross’s latest book is set. I loved being even more immersed in the setting than usual. However, Ross’s descriptions are so evocative that you’ll be able to picture the locations even if you haven’t visited them before.
‘The Hermitage‘ is also unusual in the fact that DCI Ryan is actually out of the UK, we follow him and his wife Anna to Florence. Despite the beauty of their surroundings, Ryan and Anna find themselves fighting for their lives against an intelligent adversary.
I really enjoyed finding out more about Nathan Armstrong’s backstory, LJ Ross demonstrates an insightful streak by understanding the motives behind his heinous acts. Combined with a keen awareness of her main character, Ross uses ‘The Hermitage‘ to inform her readers about Ryan and his family too.
I think what continues to make the DCI Ryan series so successful is Ross’s ability to combine some awful crimes with strong relationships between the recurring characters. I particularly enjoy the banter between Ryan and Phillips.
Ross’s stories demonstrate a duality that most of us experience: that things are rarely all good or all bad.
I honestly did not want ‘The Hermitage‘ to end, it was utterly gripping. However, DCI Ryan fans don’t have long to wait for the next instalment: ‘Longstone‘ is due to be released on 10th December. Before that, though, is a new multicast drama on audiobook. ‘The Infirmary‘ will be available on Audible from 8th November. I, for one, can’t wait!
On Anna’s eighteenth birthday she defies her Mamma’s rules to visit Astroland, Florida’s biggest theme park, despite her mother’s ban on the place. When she arrives, though, Astroland seems familiar. On the same day, Anna receives a mysterious letter she receives and she starts to question her whole life.
In London, Rosie has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers. With the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance looming, the media circus starts up again, and Rosie uncovers some information that threatens to tear her family apart. Will Rosie uncover the truth before her family implodes?
I enjoyed ‘My Name is Anna‘ from the outset, my attention was grabbed by the intriguing prologue and beautiful prose. Lizzy Barber manages to balance a compelling narrative with excellent attention to detail and exquisite descriptions.
Told from two points of view, ‘My Name is Anna‘ is an interesting study of self-discovery. By having eighteen year old Anna and Rosie, who is sixteen, Barber evokes a time every reader can understand: adolescence. Combining typical coming-of-age drama with a serious crime is an effective tactic, I thought this was particularly inventive.
The characters are well-drawn and, thanks to Barber’s descriptions, I could see them in my mind’s eye. Anna’s mamma, in particular, was brilliantly evoked.
‘My Name is Anna‘ is such an intelligently-written book. It covers all sorts of issues including religion, coercion and the repercussions of past mistakes. It’s fast-paced yet sensitive, with several layers.
‘My Name is Anna‘ is Lizzy Barber’s debut novel and is available to download now. The paperback is released in January 2019.
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still – for everyone involved – is that his body was in an area that had already been searched.
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. Every officer involved in the original investigation must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.
‘In a House of Lies‘, the twenty-second Rebus novel is a masterclass in how to keep a series fresh. Featuring a strong cast of characters, ‘In a House of Lies‘ is sure to thrill the Rebus faithful. Although he’s still ruffling plenty of feathers with his unconventional methods, the years of heavy smoking and drinking are taking their toll on Rebus and it’s really interesting to see how Rankin demonstrates the fallibility of his main character. Rankin seems to have an excellent insight into how his characters behave – and why.
I thought the dialogue between characters in this novel was really strong, the banter between friends and foes is really realistic. Rebus’s dry humour really appealed to me.
The involving plot demonstrates the trust that Rankin places in his readers. He doesn’t over-explain or try to simplify the multiple narrative strands.
Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.
With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?
As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.
‘Dead Man’s Prayer‘ is the first in the DI Frank Farrell series and it’s a corker. The idea of a man leaving his religion in order to become a detective is a highly original premise. Farrell is complex and layered, with his supporting characters fully-rounded. Farrell’s break with the church leaves him with plenty of divided loyalties which ramps up the tension.
Baldwin’s characters in this novel have plenty of depth and enough conflicts to drive the story forward.
The way in which Baldwin uses religious imagery and symbolism ensures that the prose is rich and vivid. Her economy of language ensures that this police procedural is fast-paced in addition to being well-plotted.
A truly original debut.
The doorbell rings in the middle of the night and when Cat’s husband opens it, the police are there – with his eleven-year-old love child, Ruby: a daughter Cat didn’t know he had. The couple take Ruby into their home and Cat’s life begins to unravel.
‘Give Me the Child‘ is a perfect example of domestic noir: terror in your home.
The tension between Cat and her husband – as well as Cat and her new-found step-daughter – spills off every page. The idea of a cuckoo in the nest is a very interesting one, particularly when it complicates the existing familial relationships.
I found it easy to empathise and identify with Cat. Her situation, although slightly unusual, felt utterly realistic to me.
McGrath handles the subjects of paranoia and psychosis sensitively while allowing them to play into the narrative of the story. McGrath reveals just enough information at pertinent points in the story, to wrong foot the reader and make them question who to believe. The characters are interesting, particularly in relation to Cat’s job in child psychiatry.
‘Give Me the Child‘ has everything you could want from a psychological thriller: an intriguing storyline, pace and tension from page one. An absolute tour de force.
Returning home from a holiday, Tarot reader Dolly Greene learns that much has changed on her street. Squatters have taken over at 7 Tinderbox Lane, and a mysterious Brazilian woman has moved in next door at Number 3. Dolly also finds a surly Russian girl, Marina, waiting outside the house, insisting on a reading.
Marina’s cards reveal conflict, misery and death and Dolly knows she should be concerned. But the girl is so disagreeable Dolly’s only too relieved when the reading finally ends.
She would have preferred to forget about the whole reading . . . but Marina’s cards come back to haunt Dolly and those around her, until Death once again leaves its calling card on Tinderbox Lane.
‘The Case of the Fool‘ may have a very pleasant cover but don’t be fooled by it – there’s plenty of dastardly behaviour happening in this book so don’t expect too much of a cosy crime. If you like Agatha Raisin, you’ll love Dolly Greene.
The cast of characters in this novel are funny and well-drawn. Harte’s descriptions mean that the characters and scenarios are very vivid. I would love to see this series adapted for TV.
E.V. Harte uses her Tarot Detective series to cover a vast array of social issues including squatting, human trafficking, the economy and politics. ‘The Case of the Fool‘ represents a slice of London life today.
I can’t wait to read the next Dolly Greene book.