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Reviews Written by
Elaine Tomasso (Troon. Uk)

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A Darker Sky (The Canary Island Series Book 1)
A Darker Sky (The Canary Island Series Book 1)
Price: £3.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 21 Jun. 2016
I would like to thank Netgalley and AmazonCrossing for an advance copy of A Darker Sky, a murder mystery set in Gran Canaria, by new collaborators Mari Jungstedt and Rubén Eliassen.
When the body of Erika Bergman, a young Swedish woman, is found murdered and displayed in an unnatural way Sara Moberg, editor of the local weekly Scandinavian newspaper is all over it. She soon teams up with new appointed vice consul and former policeman, Kristian Wede, to conduct their own investigation.
I have been reading Ms Jungstedt's Knutas series for years so I was looking forward to A Darker Sky but I must admit I was quite disappointed in it. The plot is fairly well thought out and has a few unexpected twists but the execution doesn't match it. There is no continuous narrative so you get a different point of view in every chapter and this makes it difficult to get immersed. Add in a very detailed history of the perpetrator which makes it impossible not to know who and most of the why early on so you're left wondering why carry on reading?
A Darker Sky is a facile novel with little depth of character or motivation which failed to hold my attention. The multiple points of view mean that none of the characters have room to develop and thus seem one dimensional and stereotypical. The killer's motivation is sound in fictional terms but the authors have not developed it in any meaningful way.
The novel is fairly well written and will appeal to many readers, just not me, so I have awarded it 3 stars.

The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri series Book 1)
The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri series Book 1)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good reading, 20 Jun. 2016
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I really enjoyed The Case Of The Missing Servant which has a rather simple plot, the title says most of it, but is rich in local colour. Vish Puri, known as Chubby to his friends and family, is the owner and main investigator in India's premier private detective agency, Most Private Investgations Ltdqq. Mostly they do matrimonial work, not what we westerners understand by the term but thorough investigations of potential partners in arranged marriages, which is boring but lucrative. Now and then, however, they get a real case like this one where Vish is asked to find a missing servant before her boss, an honest Jaipur lawyer, is charged with her murder.

As I said the plot is relatively simple - find Mary, the missing servant, and the lawyer's case goes away and keep up the matrimonial work at the same time - but it is an engrossing read due to the characters and the detail of Indian life. I don't really know where to start but probably with the fact that I know nothing about India so it's all new to me and I amn't sure if it's all a bit of a parody or accurate. What I think comes across very clearly is the divide between the "haves" who lead a comfortable life and the "have nots" who may work but don't earn enough to cover basic necessities like food and shelter and the corruption which seems to pervade Indian society at all levels.

Vish Puri is a larger than life character, not immune from vanity and boasting about his achievements he is an honest man with a strong sense of duty who always gets his man. He is ably assisted by a motley crew of assistants with nicknames like Handbrake, Tubelight, Flush and Facecream and thwarted at several turns by his mummy, who is a splendid creation and the star turn.

The Case Of The Missing Servant is a great read and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for excellent writing in an exotic location.

Last Resort (Bob Skinner Mysteries Book 25)
Last Resort (Bob Skinner Mysteries Book 25)
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good reading, 18 Jun. 2016
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Bob Skinner goes to his house in Spain to decide on his future. As an implacable foe of the proposed unitary Police Scotland he has not put his name forward for Chief Constable and doesn't fancy any of the other options he has been offered so he has to decide what to do next. While in Spain he simultaneously finds he is being followed and receives a call from his old friend Xavi Aislado wanting help in locating a missing employee.

The novel is told in two different first person voices - that of Bob and his daughter, Alex. Normally I'm not a big fan of the first person but Mr Jardine does it exceptionally well and I liked seeing the same events from two different points of view which is, I imagine hard to do. Bob concentrates on the Spanish missing person while Alex tries to get to the bottom of Bob's stalker.

Although there is plenty of action and some good twists Last Resort is quite an introspective novel with Bob having to make some life changing decisions. As always it is all about Bob, but he seems softer somehow and not as dislikeable as he can be in many of the novels.

I think Last Resort is very readable as a standalone despite being the 25th entry of a series and I have no hesitation in recommending it as a very good read.

Murder on the Second Tee
Murder on the Second Tee
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading, 17 Jun. 2016
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Murder On The Second Tee is a police procedural set in St Andrews. Inspector Flick Fortune has moved to St Andrews from the Met and is called out on her first murder. Investment banker Hugh Parsley has been bludgeoned to death on the second tee of the Old Course. Suspicion soon falls on his fellow bankers who are with him on secret negotiations and is soon heightened when she runs into former colleague, Baggo, who is working undercover as a waiter in order to investigate the bankers after allegations of money laundering. Flick's cup overflows when she realises her hated former boss ex-Inspector No has been engaged by the bankers to find the murderer.

There are many strands to this novel and initially it may seem complicated but Mr Simpson does a tremendous job of bringing it all together seamlessly throughout the novel and making it an easy, compelling read which I couldn't put down. There is so much going on I just had to find out what was coming next and was so absorbed I didn't have time to try and guess whodunit!

Much of the charm of this novel comes from Baggo's character - smart and likeable with a sense of humour he is an excellent protagonist. Flick Fortune is his foil. Equally smart she is very much a by the book officer with no sense of humour. These traits could make her very unlikeable but Mr Simpson very wisely shows her more human side and you can't help liking her. She is low on self confidence, weepy in her early pregnancy and still feeling her way in the alien world of Scottish policing, all things we can identify with. Ex-Inspector No is quite frankly disgusting but a recognisable caricature of old style policing. He produces the slapstick humour.

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder On The Second Tee. It has a dense but understandable plot, likeable characters and a lovely setting so I have no hesitation in recommending it as a good read.

Burned and Broken
Burned and Broken
Price: £8.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading, 16 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Burned and Broken (Kindle Edition)
I would like to thank Netgalley and Little Brown Book Group for an advance copy of Burned And Broken, a police procedural set in Southend from debut author Mark Hardie. The novel opens with DI Sean Carragher burning to death in his car and the discovery of his body. It then goes back to the events of the previous four days before returning to the investigation into his death. There are plenty of suspects as Sean was being investigated by professional standards for his cavalier attitude to the law and perceived offenders, especially a suspected sex offender, Clive Townsend, who is also Donna's chief suspect in the death of her friend, Alicia. Donna's efforts to get someone to see that Alicia's death was murder and not an accident also run throughout the novel.
There are some very good things in this novel. I liked the plot which has some neat twists and original thinking. I also think it is very realistic - it's a story you could read in the paper any day of the week. I also liked the characterisation which is very strong. Sean Carragher is a bit of a wide boy - all sharp suits but with no furniture in his house - but his heart is in the right place even though his methods would have got him sacked. Donna is so sad, brought up in care and powerless to set things right about Alicia she is a poster child for what is wrong with our society. Mr Hardie is, however, at his best when it comes to portraying the detectives. Frank Pearson and Cat Russell do most of the donkey work on the investigation, ably supervised by DCI Roberts while DCS Curtis takes on media liaison and Ferguson from Professional Standards stands by in case his input is required. I think you can probably read between the lines on that one and if not Roberts will spell it out for you in some funny lines. The police narrative mostly concentrates on Frank, a safe, sensible pair of hands but the action concentrates on Cat who finds herself in a rather invidious position. As Sean's work partner she is interviewed by Ferguson but has to lie to maintain the lies Sean, her boss, asked her to tell but as the case goes on and she finds out how much Sean has kept from her she doesn't know what to do. Mr Hardie does a great job of the moral ambiguity and hypocrisy of it all.
I hated the shifting timeline as I found it hard to work out what time I was reading about and I wasn't overly keen on the shifting perspective between the police and Donna as it interrupts the flow of the novel. Just as I got into one character it switched to another perspective.
There is much to like about Burned And Broken which is a very promising debut. I would like to read more about Frank and Cat so I hope it will become a series.

Streets of Darkness (Detective Harry Virdee 1)
Streets of Darkness (Detective Harry Virdee 1)
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading, 16 Jun. 2016
I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of Streets Of Darkness, a police non-procedural from Bradford based debut author A.A. Dhand. The novel opens with the main protagonist, DI Hardeep "Harry" Virdee, finding a crucified body. The body is instantly recognisable as Shakeel Ahmed, the newly elected MP for Bradford West and a prime mover behind Bradfords attempts at regeneration. To make matters worse DNA identifies the blood found at Shakeel's house as belonging to Lucas Dwight, a former prime mover in the British Nationalist Party and recently released after 14 years in prison. As Harry is suspended his boss asks him to quietly find Lucas and bring him in off the books in the hope of avoiding racial tension. Unfortunately Harry is not the only one looking for Lucas and the violence soon escalates.
The plot has good pace and tension which kept me turning the pages until the end and I read it in one sitting. I don't think it is a particularly realistic scenario and I don't think events would play out the way Mr Dhand envisages but, to me, that's a minor consideration in an action packed, lone wolf style novel where realism is seldom a consideration.
I like the portrayal of Bradford. It isn't particularly pleasant but I think Mr Dhand is very accurate in his portrayal of the hopelessness and helplessness of life in the inner city where drugs, violence, prostitution, racism and corruption are endemic.
Harry is an interesting character. He has anger management issues and a cavalier attitude to the rule book as evinced by his suspension but he is a dedicated officer and has a high solve rate. He is also estranged from his family, as is his wife because they chose to marry outside their faiths, he is a secular Sikh and she is an observant Muslim. I assume this is to make the point that intolerance is not only a black/white thing but as I come from Glasgow this is a fairly redundant point for me. That aside it means that they only have each other and protection of his wife is a key motivator in Harry's life.
Streets Of Darkness is not without its faults but I think it is a very good debut and I would like to read more about Harry and the dilemma he finds himself in at the end of the novel. For all you readers who hate a cliffhanger the novel is a stand alone with most issues resolved and Harry facing a few choices in his future. I don't hesitate to recommend Streets Of Darkness as a good read to anyone looking for an action packed read.

Miss Seeton Sings (A Miss Seeton Mystery Book 4)
Miss Seeton Sings (A Miss Seeton Mystery Book 4)
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A real treat, 16 Jun. 2016
I would like to thank Netgalley and Farrago for a review copy of Miss Seeton Sings, the fourth outing for Mr Carvic's innocent, crime catalyst Miss Seeton.

In a change of location from her Kent village of Plummergen, the scene of her past adventures, Miss Seeton is asked to go to Geneva to investigate the source of some very good forged banknotes. This is the start of a comedy of misapprehensions. The Swiss Banker behind the request believes Miss Seeton's press and thinks he is engaging a smart investigator, not the naive, innocent pensioner with a knack for causing mayhem and seeing things in her caricatures other people miss she actually is. Then, not being well traveled, she gets on a flight for Genova instead of Geneva, the same flight, coincidentally, as a currency smuggler but no one believes she didn't change itinerary on purpose. And on it goes.

This is an extremely funny novel with some real laugh out loud moments but it is also tightly plotted and had me gripped throughout, wondering what was coming next. I sat up much later than I intended to finish it as I didn't want to put it down. I think it is probably the best in the series so far and that is saying something as I've loved the whole series.

Highly recommended.

UNHOLY REVENGE: DI Helen Cooke Investigates
UNHOLY REVENGE: DI Helen Cooke Investigates
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5*, 14 Jun. 2016
Yet again I appear not to have read the same novel as the other reviewers. Unholy Revenge is a competent police procedural and a good first effort but it is marred by spelling and punctuation errors and some of the procedure is questionable, notably an English suspect being read his Miranda rights. Nothing a good edit couldn't fix.

The plot is suitably intricate with the police investigating the drowning of a prostitute and getting nowhere. A second body with links to the first does not initially help them but as they start to get an inkling of motive they move forward fairly rapidly. I'm not really sure what to say about the perpetrator. Ms Welsby does not explicitly reveal his identity but neither does she do much to conceal it so most of it is fairly obvious and the novel's interest lies in following the police investigation.

The characters are fairly appealing although DI Helen Cooke's lack of judgement does not fit with her rank - it would be surprising in real life if she could reach Inspector level when she is prone to jump to conclusions and hasty judgements. I like her sidekick, Chris Trainor, who seems very realistic - keen but wet behind the ears.

As I said Unholy Revenge is a competent novel. It is not overly complicated but it will hold your attention and is a good first effort.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2016 11:23 PM BST

Not Dead Enough: A Cal Claxton Oregon Mystery (Cal Claxton Oregon Mysteries Book 4)
Not Dead Enough: A Cal Claxton Oregon Mystery (Cal Claxton Oregon Mysteries Book 4)
Price: £6.84

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 11 Jun. 2016
I would like to thank Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press for an advance copy of Not Dead Enough the fourth instalment in Mr Easley's Cal Claxton series set in rural Oregon.
I have not read Mr Easley's work before so, as I am always interested to new to me authors, and the plot synopsis sounds intriguing, I decided to give it a go. The initial premise is fairly simple but the ramifications of Cal's investigation are complex and you need to concentrate to keep up with all the characters and their motivations. Winona Cloud hires Cal Claxton, a retired hotshot LA prosecutor now in private practice in rural Oregon, to find out what happened to her grandfather, Nelson Queah, who disappeared 50 years ago on the day the Celilo falls were dammed which he had vehemently opposed. The family has always discounted the witness account of him being drunk and falling in the dam and now his letters have been found and suggest foul play. Cal quickly finds out what happened to Nelson but this is only the start as he has seen the shooter who shot the original witness and becomes a target himself as he tries to unravel the events of 50 years ago.
I found the plot of Not Dead Enough suitably labyrinthine to hold my attention and keep me guessing about the puppet master behind it all - I had plenty of suspects but it's well disguised (the mark of a good read). The novel is also interesting on Native American culture and history and the effect of commercialisation on the environment but Mr Easley oversimplifies it by making the businessmen venal, ruthless and corrupt and the environmentalists committed and honest. I think a bit more grey would have strengthened his argument.
I enjoyed Not Dead Enough which I found interesting on a plot level but I'm a townie and have little interest in the great outdoors so the environmental concerns opened my eyes to the problems but it is hard to get worked up about something that has no relevance to my life.

The Girl in the Ice (A Konrad Simonsen Thriller)
The Girl in the Ice (A Konrad Simonsen Thriller)
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading, 11 Jun. 2016
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It seems to me that the Hammers divide opinion with their writing. I really liked The Hanging, which seems to be a minority view, and I have just found The Girl In The Ice equally absorbing.

A body is discovered in melted ice in Greenland. It is identified as that of a nurse who went missing in 1983 but the worst part for Konrad Simonsen is that he has seen the same MO on another body. After a brief investigation the team arrests Andreas Falkenborg for both murders but can't hold him due to insufficient evidence. As they scramble to accumulate more evidence he slips his tail and gets away.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The plot is maybe not the most believable but I like the slow accumulation of information, the detectives' efforts to mould it into acceptable evidence and the hard decisions they are forced to take. I also like the moral ambiguity that follows the politicians' involvement ("surely not" I hear you say). In some respects I found these dilemmas more fascinating than the hunt for and crimes of Andreas Falkenborg, who is a rather uninspiring killer.

The only negative I have is the translation which seems unsophisticated, given some of the plot complexities, and clunky. Otherwise I think The Girl In The Ice is a fascinating read and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good police procedural.

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