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Reviews Written by
R T Twinem "freeloader" (Bristol, UK)

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A Song for the Dying (Ash Henderson Novels)
A Song for the Dying (Ash Henderson Novels)
by Stuart MacBride
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as its predecessor, 3 May 2016
This is the second outing for ex DI Ash Henderson and having read the excellent Birthdays for the Dead I was expecting to love reading this new adventure for our intrepid hero.

When we last encountered Henderson he was too late to save his daughter from a brutal encounter with a killer known as the inside man (TIM) Further he had been framed by one of Oldcastle's most vicious criminals Mrs Kerrigan and when we meet him at the start of A Song for the Dying he is serving his sentence. Unfortunately incarceration does little to quell this lady's evil reach and Henderson suffers constant beatings from Kerrigan's hired thugs. He wants revenge, The Inside Man has begun his killing spree again, and the police have arranged for the early release and assistance of ex DI Henderson. Will the killer be caught? Will Mrs Kerrigan be punished? Will Ash Henderson ever find some form of peace again after the loss of family members and his 2 years in prison. All will be revealed in an exciting and enjoyable read.

Stuart McBride as a writer is an acquired taste. He speaks in the colourful language of a bitter Celtic populace with a somewhat twisted and black sense of humour. This all fits in nicely with the cold and desolate inner Scottish cityscape, and the harsh guttural sounds that come together to create this picture of daily inner depravation and decay. I like reading McBride's books but only occasionally, they are exciting and depressing in equal measures. A Song for the Dying is not as good as its predecessor and perhaps I should have waited a little longer before's good but not the full cigar!

Blood of Angels
Blood of Angels
by Michael Marshall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb conclusion to a wonderful trilogy, 1 May 2016
This review is from: Blood of Angels (Paperback)
"The crucial thing about Michael Marshall is that he is enormously readable....Once you have started one of his books you won't want to stop" (The Independent uk) His books are much more than mere thrillers and his characterization creates memorable participants in stories that have a certain gothic/horror feel similar to the Charlie Parker series created by the amazing John Connolly. Connolly in his books has the shadowy figure of "The Collector" and Marshall has created in this trilogy (The Straw Men, The Lonely Dead and Blood of Angels) a group known as the Straw Men who operate outside the conventional rules of society guided in their endeavours by a serial killer known as The Upright Man...."He's a serial killer. He also abducts people for others to murder for kicks. He has a theory that mankind was infected by a virus tens of thousands of years ago. It made us more sociable, enabled modern society to coalesce by obscuring some or our natural enmity towards our fellow men. We started living closer together, began farming, developed the modern world. They don't like it. They want the planet back the way it was."

Raged against this attempt by a shadowy group to spread fear, confusion and death amongst an unsuspecting populace is an eclectic group of characters; Ward Hopkins ex CIA agent recovering from the shock and death of his parents and their association with The Straw Men; John Zant an ex LA homicide detective with a personal interest in the capture of The Upright Man who he believes was responsible for the death of his only daughter Karen; Nina Baynam discredited FBI agent believing totally in both the existence of The Straw Men and their murderous agenda; Paul Hopkins, brother to Ward and identified as the notorious serial killer The Upright Man.

What is so readable about Blood of Angels is that even the minor characters we meet play an important role in the unfolding drama and they all contribute to the pulsating tension that radiates from page one; James Kyle/Jim Westlake is a killer in retirement in Key West Florida until his services are required by The Straw Men one last time; Lee h
Hudek his friends Grant and Sleepy Pete all wealthy middleclass kids dealing drugs until they encounter The Upright Man, a meeting that will alter their lives irrevocably......there is no going back!

The search is on for Ward's brother The Upright Man who has escaped from a secure institution. Has he been broken out for a reason? Have The Straw Men got a hidden agenda that will ultimately mean the destruction of society as we know and love. Ward, Nina and John are on the case and in the very capable hands of Michael Marshall we are treated to an extraordinary reading experience. The UK paperback version of this story is some 540 pages but I can honestly say I devoured this story in some 3 reading sessions. It still puzzles me that Michael Marshall, although a popular author, has never received the acclaim and credit he so, dear reader of my review, do yourself a favour and read all 3 books in this well researched, intelligent, dark and above all well written tale. A pleasure to read and a pleasure to recommend 5+++++ stars!

The Samaritan
The Samaritan
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top class thriller!, 25 April 2016
This review is from: The Samaritan (Kindle Edition)
The Samaritan by Mason Cross has been published to great acclaim and has a recommendation from the Richard and Judy Book Club, here in the UK, so it must be good!

I loved it: It's everything a good thriller should be, snappy characters, great setting and a cracking storyline that moves along at such an accelerated pace it's almost impossible to catch your breath. Carter Blake is at the centre of this serial killer novel, he is a kind of a Jack Reacher character but without that bullish aggressive nature that always seems to attract a fist fight. He has volunteered his services to two LAPD detectives Allen and Mazzucco in their attempt to find out the identity of a killer known as The Samaritan. Carter recognises his modus operandi and knows the killer as Crozier from his days as a special forces operative codenamed Winterlong.

It is not only important for an author to keep our attention during the telling of his tale but also the real test of a good story is the ability to draw all threads together to create an explosive conclusion. Mason Cross does this with some panache and confidence and produces an ending totally unexpected to me. There is certainly great scope here for further Carter Blake thrillers and I for one will be along for the ride!

The Devil's Serenade
The Devil's Serenade
Price: £3.74

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Gothic horror story, 22 April 2016
Maddie inherits a gothic mansion from her aunt Charlotte. She is puzzled and surprised by this gift but determined to make full use of the unexpected inheritance. She has decided for the present to reside there.

A series of unusual occurrences and events is somewhat concerning; what is the significance of the willow tree in the basement? what are the shady figures and apparitions that live within the confines of the house, in particular an elderly gentleman in a cloak. We learn that Maddie had a lonely childhood and to compensate for this she has created an imaginary circle of friends who appear to her throughout the story.

The reader is introduced to Shona and her amateur theatrical associates who make good use of the abundant house resources for rehearsal, and young Charlie Evans the friendly plumber who appears to be a resource of inspiration and help to an increasingly frightened and confused Maddie. Is there something unexplained and frightening within the characters of Shona and Charlie that the reader should be cautious and concerned about? As the story proceeds the issues are dealt with in a very effective manner.

For a haunted house story to be successful the most important element is the pace of the story telling. At the centre of this novel is the imposing and gothic presence of Hargest House. Maddie is frightened by ghostly figures and the willow in the basement, and her state of mind is deteriorating the longer she remains in residence.

The slow unveiling of the house and characters almost leads the reader into a false sense of security and is subtly done by the author creating a beautiful foundation to showcase the evil when it occurs in the latter part of the story.

So an enjoyable gothic horror tale expertly paced with enough hidden surprises to entertain and engage the reader's interest until the end. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Mister White: A Dark Thriller
Mister White: A Dark Thriller
Price: £3.50

1.0 out of 5 stars A big and I mean BIG disappointment!, 22 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For all those positive reviews on Mister White and for all those reviewers who thought this pathetic imitation of a horror story was "Brilliant"..."This is an amazing Thril Ride!!" (is that an intentional spelling error?)...."I can't stop saying his name" I only have one appropriate comment to make....."BOLL**KS!

This is possible the worst story I have ever read, yes even worse than "Night of the Nazi Zombies" (my review amazon uk Jan 4th 2012) Once the words "Who is Mister White" are uttered then hell and confusion abound in a story that has no direction no meaning, no plot, no memorable or likeable characters, no nothing!! When I tell you that those words are the opening lines in Chapter 1 then you will probably wonder how I ever managed to not only read but finish! It was tough dear readers of my review but I wanted to share my thoughts with you before you commit yourself to the buy button on Amazon! To think I actually spent £4.14 of my hard earned spondolies (cash to you and me) on this pitiful excuse of storytelling brought to you by Grey Matter Press.

This is a chase story and anyone who utters those immortal words "Who is Mister White" is hounded to death by some supernatural entity who will end your life in the most brutal manner. Lewis Edgar makes the unfortunate mistake of asking the White question and this starts a chain of events which sees him journeying from deepest Russia to his wife Cat and daughter Hedde in America. A coded message is received by Cat containing the word "Headband" and immediately she knows that she must flee following Lewis's careful instructions..."Go to Gerard's. Listen to Gerard. Do not leave Gerard's".....and that's about as good as it gets!!

I was totally bored, confused and perplexed, the writing was poor, the characters and characterization were introduced and forgotten in equal measures. Endless paragraphs of frightened people running aimlessly around akin to headless chickens in the farmyard of a demented farmer! There was the usual gratuitous violence, truncating body parts and a nice splattering of blood, but this is NOT enough to keep me entertained I want intelligence and horror that makes me think and question not this mindless drivel

Just before I pressed the buy button for Mister White I debated would it not be wiser to purchase 11/23/63 by the master of penmanship Stephen King. No I thought as I read the "buzz words" on the publishers website..."a potent mix of horror espionage and mystery"..."a finely tuned cat and mouse thriller"...."the most thrilling thing about Mister White is the way it is written"......(yeah right get a life!!) So I bought Mister White, much to my regret, but I will never make that mistake again and will think seriously about the merits of reading from small or self publishers in the future.

Black Widow (Jack Parlabane)
Black Widow (Jack Parlabane)
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing from a great author, 22 April 2016
This is the first book I have read by Chris Brookmyre and it most certainly will not be my last. It is a first class mystery/thriller and the writing, plotting and characterization are of the highest order.

The story revolves around consultant/surgeon Diana Jager, her relationship with husband Peter and his mysterious so called death and disappearance. As the title Black Widow suggests the reader is confronted with the facts and evidence regarding this partnership and must decide if Diana is guilty of the unthinkable.

I was hooked from the first page and loved the twists and turns of this intricate plot as the author expertly teases the reader before revealing a totally unexpected and highly original conclusion.

I was gifted a gratis copy of this book for a fair and honest review and that is what I have written.

Psycho: Sanitarium - The Authorised Sequel to Robert Bloch's Psycho
Psycho: Sanitarium - The Authorised Sequel to Robert Bloch's Psycho
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling enjoyable read, 12 April 2016
Few will forget the last image in that great Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho when Norman Bates is seen isolated in a protected cell with the immortal words from his mother incarcerated in his mind..."She wouldn't even harm a fly"

In many ways Sanitarium by Chet Williamson tries to encapsulate both the mood of the movie and the somewhat concerning "mother" thoughts that still dwell within the mind of Norman. Added to this is the deep feeling of uneasiness that exist not only in the hospital itself but also amongst fellow residents who have similar murderous afflictions to Norman. This creates a constant tension, the reader can never feel complacent as the volatile residents are liable to explode into violence at any time.

One such resident is a man called Miller who, as a great admirer of Norman Bates, is hoping to learn from him. Miller is a convicted rapist and he feels that by introducing murder into his rapist illusions he can create the ultimate sexual high. Episodes such as this are an everyday occurrence and the staff and doctors must remain vigilant and at a high state of readiness. This story is really a glimpse inside the walls of a building where the patients have no hope of release and must live a day to day existence in the human equivalent of a fish bowl where their every move is observed, their every action noted, and where violence and the unexpected are the accepted norm (no pun intended)

This is an enjoyable but unsettling tale and shows a world where all hope is gone. It was a help to me as I had seen the original movie and the images created by that classic fitted perfectly into the story. I received an advance copy of Sanitarium for an honest review and that is what I have written.

The Loney: Costa Winner 2015
The Loney: Costa Winner 2015
Price: £4.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding literary achievement, 8 April 2016
Some of the negative reviews describe this book as "strange" and I would agree with that another candidly states" nothing significant happens, never mind eerie" and a third makes the very unflattering comment "it was like reading a soap" I think that all the negative reviews have entirely missed the point of this astounding work of literary fiction. The story does not have to be fast moving, it does not have to have pages filled with action and movement and it is certainly much more than "a boys story of going on a religious pilgrimage"

I was fascinated and enthralled from the first page, as I was transported to a wild, rugged and lonely Lancastrian coast where the quietness and isolation of this god forsaken location instantly created a feeling of dread, fear and approaching evil. The beauty and loneliness of the surroundings was reflected so expertly in the reflective and creative writing style of the author. His command of the English language and his ability to paint a picture by his choice of phrases and words is simply unmatched in anything I have ever read......

"Like the shadow of a huge predatory bird, darkness moved slowly down the hillside, past Moorings, across the marshes, across the beach, across the sea, until all that was left was a muddy orange on the horizon as the last of England's light ebbed away."

"The wind came rushing in off the sea, sweeping its comb through the scrubby grass and sending a shiver through the vast pools of standing water."

"It was an albino, with eyes that looked as if they had been marinated in blood."

The narrator (we only ever get to know his nickname Tonto) his brother Hanny together with "Mummer" and "Farther" embark on their annual pilgrimage to a sacred shrine on a desolate strip of coastline known as the Loney. They are hoping that their faith will result in a cure for Hanny who is unable to speak. The Loney is a place of superstition and fear of hauntings and evil amongst a population equally eccentric and unpredictive in their behaviour. The beliefs and religious participation of all the characters we encounter is in wonderful contrast to the "Wicker Man" style rituals that fill the lives of the residents.

The horror is not what is said or done but in the implied which creates a magic visionary picture and in the final chapters uncovering a murder that had remained hidden for many years.The Loney is a great example of what is really important in both the writing and reading of a book. A good story should have the ability not only to entertain but to make you feel a part of the events unfolding before you, transporting you from the ordinary and mundane to the intellectual thoughts of the author. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and thanks to the good people of netgalley for the free copy I received in exchange for an honest review, and that is what I have written.

The Winter Box
The Winter Box
Price: £2.08

3.0 out of 5 stars A nice little tale of a sad relationship, 2 April 2016
This review is from: The Winter Box (Kindle Edition)
A short love story under the disguise of horror. What happens when you question the relationship of the one you thought you would share you life with forever? Todd has grown tired and complacent with Heather and she in her turn does little to try to stop the breakdown of their teenage love. Both have indulged in random pointless affairs and yet both refuse to have a conversation that includes the D word.

When Heather produces an old winter box that contains precious memories from each year they have spent together, strange dreams and happenings occur. The cold, the snow, the illusions all add to a strange and yet enjoyable tale that attempts to mend the cracks in a broken marriage....."It wasn't just him, though. The same thing had happened to Heather, if to a lesser degree, but that was no excuse. Each partner was expected to do his or her share of the heavy lifting in the relationship, and neither of them had done any for a long time, him more so than her."

The story has a surprisingly good and very relevant ending which brings all the strands of this sad tale to a somewhat unexpected but suitable conclusion.

Time of Death (Tom Thorne Novels)
Time of Death (Tom Thorne Novels)
by Mark Billingham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Great British Crime, 27 Mar. 2016
It is always a pleasure to read another episode in the life of DI Tom Thorne from the magical and elegant handwriting style of Mark Billingham. This is English crime as its best, well researched, intelligent, informative with strong characters who aptly display their strengths and weaknesses for all to see. There are no quick solutions here but a story that unfolds like the petals of a rose revealing a nasty underbelly and one shocking revelation concerning one of the players with a personal secret to unfold. (to say more would spoil the surprise!)

Thorne and his partner police officer Helen Weeks are on a trip to the small Warwickshire town of Polesford where an old school friend of Helen's is in trouble and in great need of comfort and assurance, her partner Stephen Bates having been arrested and accused of murder. This is also meant to be a break for Tom and Helen but as Helen becomes ever more involved in the pain and heartbreak of her friend Linda our surly DI finds himself somewhat ignored and at a loss is drawn into the search for the two missing schoolgirls.

I love the relaxed and unpretentious style of Billingham and how he expertly portrays Thorne as a loner with very few friends apart from the somewhat colourful police pathologist Phil Hendricks. It was good to see that Hendricks once again became a central pivot as the story evolved, and his unconventional appearance and lifestyle acted in sharp contrast to the conservative Thorne.

As suggested above there are secrets to be revealed and a relationship tested to the extreme in a great example of modern British crime fiction. Highly Recommended.

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