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Now You See Me: Lacey Flint Series, Book 1
Now You See Me: Lacey Flint Series, Book 1
by Sharon Bolton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Tightly plotted and well written., 22 Mar 2014
Another good read from rising star of the crime fiction genre, Sharon (SJ) Bolton.

A present day killer seems to be mirroring the infamous murders of Jack the Ripper, and it falls to odd yet endearing detective constable Lacey Flint to unearth the murderer. Whilst the plot may not be entirely original, it is an interesting take on the usual serial killer format.

The narrative, like all Bolton's novels, is fast paced, and the writing sharp enough to keep the reader turning the pages. The characters are believable and engaging. DI Dana Tulloch makes a refreshing addition to the crime genre - complex and unconventional, although she features less in this book than in others by the same author. Lacey Flint is an interesting character, and here the reader gets an insight into her life, background, and burgeoning 'relationship' with DI Mark Joesbury. In subsequent novels her 'weirdness' makes it difficult for the reader to fully connect with her, and certainly by 'Like This For Ever' she's much more in the shadow of Dana Tulloch in terms of characterisation (not a bad thing).

As is to be expected with good crime fiction, the story has plenty of twists, but as a previous reviewer pointed out, the ending borders on the ridiculous - maybe there are a couple of twists too many...?

Overall, whilst the story is a bit bonkers at times, it is an enormously entertaining read.

Like This, For Ever: Lacey Flint Series, Book 3
Like This, For Ever: Lacey Flint Series, Book 3
by Sharon Bolton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 2 Mar 2014
A very readable book, which is the third outing for quirky DC Lacey Flint.

The story is engaging, and well-written, though the 'Hardy-Boys-and-Nancy-Drew' antics of the teeny-bop gang get a bit tedious after a while. However, I realize this is relevant to the plot.

Sharon Bolton paints a vivid and realistic portrait of South London, capturing the social diversity and changing character of the area. The plot trundles along at a comfortable pace - neither too fast to avoid a decent delve into character development, nor too slow to become leaden and tedious. The ending did make me think 'really...?!', but at least it wasn't predictable.

Whilst Mark Joesbury comes across as a bit bland, and Lacey Flint just too weird to fully appeal to the casual reader, DI Dana Tulloch is both interesting and credible. I frequently found myself wishing this was Dana's book rather than Lacey's. There's enough of an insight into her personal life to flesh her out beyond mere investigative policewoman, but her professionalism and strength of character help to drive the narrative.

Overall, a good, contemporary, chic crime novel, with convincing characters and a strong story.

Cold Killing (Di Sean Corrigan 1)
Cold Killing (Di Sean Corrigan 1)
by Luke Delaney
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-Paced Thriller, 27 Feb 2014
Even though the plot is pretty unbelievable, and the characters bordering on the two-dimensional, this story races along at a frenetic pace and hooks the reader from the first page. Like previous reviewers, I was unable to put this book down.

Corrigan is an interesting addition to the crime genre - he plays mostly by the rules (except when he doesn't!) and has the ability to 'connect' with victims, due circumstances in his family background. I must admit, I'm not sure I was entirely convinced by Corrigan's backstory and how it's given him these 'powers', but I appreciate he needs something to make him stand out from every other cop in the crowded world of crime fiction.

James Hellier, however, is a fascinating and complex character, and strangely I found myself rooting for him by the end of the book. The reader gets little more than a glimpse into his character, and only the tiniest hint of what makes him tick, but he drags the reader along by the scruff of the neck and refuses to let go. In that respect, he's up there with the likes of Hannibal Lecter as a bad guy we cannot help but engage with.

Although the plot wasn't especially convincing, and - despite having been written by a former Met police officer - there were times when I found myself questioning the actions and behaviour of the police, e.g. lying to witnesses, planting evidence, etc, I enjoyed reading this. At the end of the book we're given no real information as to why the killer did what he did - there are hints of insanity, and rampant ego, but there's nothing that offers a credible explanation for the murders, and ultimately the reader is left feeling his actions are a consequence of plot rather than psychology. However, these are minor details and don't spoil what is a very readable book.

The twist, when it came, was admittedly a predictable twist, but clever just the same.

Overall, despite the inevitable flaws of a first novel, this is an impressive debut for Luke Delaney.

If you like deep, psychologically-complex crime novels, then this probably isn't for you. But if you like tightly-plotted, razor-sharp thrillers that grab you by the throat, then 'Cold Calling' is a must.

Exile (Garnethill 2)
Exile (Garnethill 2)
by Denise Mina
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 30 Aug 2013
This review is from: Exile (Garnethill 2) (Paperback)
Quite possibly the best crime novel I've read in a long time.

I can find nothing negative to say about this book.

Maureen O'Donnell is a terrific character: strong, vulnerable, gutsy, determined and above all believable. Readers are introduced to her in 'Garnethill', and 'Exile', the second book in the trilogy, develops her character further. I found it easy to empathise with Maureen as she felt very real - flawed, yet enormously endearing. The other characters are equally convincing and leap off the page, almost punching the reader in the face - be it abused women, or dodgy Glasgow/London gangsters, Mina brings them to life, making them both credible and entertaining.

The plot sears along at an electrified pace, grabbing the reader by the throat in the first chapter and refusing to let go until the end. Mina's descriptions of Glasgow and London are vivid and authentic - the reader gets a real feel for both cities.

Overall, an excellent book, which enthralls me every time I read it. Sadly, I feel none of Denise Mina's subsequent novels have quite lived up to the brilliance of the Garnethill books, though she still remains one of the most skilled and talented crime writers of her generation.

Evil in Return
Evil in Return
by Elena Forbes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and unpredictable, 30 Aug 2013
This review is from: Evil in Return (Paperback)
This is the second book I've read in the Elena Forbes's DI Tartaglia series. Whilst I found the first book (Die With Me) quite slow and plodding in places, I really enjoyed this tale.

Again, the plot meanders along at a gentle rather than frantic pace, and the characters take a bit of time to get to know. However, this is a well-crafted story with plenty of twists. There is good description of contemporary London, if, perhaps, a rather comfortable, middle-class London.

Mark Tartaglia is an impressive lead character - charismatic and likable, but with an edge. The other characters were interesting, but I can't honestly say any were especially memorable.

Overall, well-worth reading, and I look forward to catching up with Tartaglia's next adventure.

A Dedicated Man (The Inspector Banks Series)
A Dedicated Man (The Inspector Banks Series)
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.50

4.0 out of 5 stars An old fashioned tale, 23 Aug 2013
The second in Peter Robinson's Detective Inspector Banks novels, this novel isn't as complex or as accomplished as his later books, but is still an entertaining read.

Written in the late 1980s, the story is slightly dated and a bit old fashioned compared with contemporary crime novels, though possessing a good, strong story at its heart. The characters are well drawn and come across as realistic, while Banks - at this stage in career, still a happily married man - is a welcome alternative to the jaded, emotionally-damaged cops that seem to be a necessary requirement of today's crime fiction.

It's a basic plot, involving the apparently motiveless murder of a former academic, and the subsequent investigation trundles along at a fairly sedentary pace, with a few clever twists along the way to keep the reader guessing. The ending is a little predictable and laden with some tedious exposition, which drags down the final chapter.

However, what Robinson excels at is painting a piercingly vivid image of Yorkshire, where you can almost touch the craggy outcrops and taste the ale in the pleasant country pubs - this could be Yorkshire's answer to 'Midsomer Murders', but without the silliness. Though I suspect this is more the Yorkshire of yesteryear - one of county vets and friendly village bobbies.

Overall, a pleasant novel that contrasts nicely with the visceral grittiness of more modern crime books, Robinson's included. A gentle stroll, rather than a frantic dash.

Written In Bone
Written In Bone
by Simon Beckett
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant book, 23 Aug 2013
This review is from: Written In Bone (Paperback)
Having read - and loved - 'Chemistry of Death', I had to dash out and read the next book in the David Hunter series.

Like 'Chemistry' before it, I really enjoyed this tale - Beckett writes so well that it's almost impossible to skim read his novels - every sentence earns its place in the book. Again, the atmosphere is palpable, and the characters well-written and vivid. There's a very real sense of isolation and a feeling of a community turning in on itself as the characters are effectively stranded on a lonely Scottish Island with a psychopathic killer on the loose.

Hunter comes across as sympathetically as he did in the previous book, and is an appealing and credible lead character.

My only minor gripe about 'Written in Bone' is the similarity between the plot in this book and 'Chemistry of Death' - an isolated community with a psychopath in its midst. Even the twist at the end of the book was comparable with the twist at the end of 'Chemistry'

However, this didn't detract from the fact both are extraordinarily well-written books, streets ahead of many other crime novels out there.

The Hollow Man
The Hollow Man
by Oliver Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 23 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Hollow Man (Paperback)
This was a fast-paced tale, with a good, strong story that keeps the reader turning the pages.

However, the characters are difficult to connect with - especially the lead. Whilst he was well-written and enormously entertaining as a lead character, I just couldn't believe in him as a cop. He came across as being closer to a TV detective than someone you would find in the real-life Met. Whilst it's always a bonus to have a 'hero' with plenty of flaws, Nick Belsey seems to have so many flaws you wonder how he can function. More to the point, you wonder why he hadn't been chucked out of the police years ago.

But he drives the narrative, and the narrative sears along like an out-of-control express train - sometimes the plot stretches credulity to breaking point and beyond, and at times it reads more like a thriller than a conventional crime novel, but overall this was a thoroughly entertaining piece.

The plot has plenty of twists that makes it anything but predictable, and the descriptions of London are vivid and well-described. This is comparable with James Craig's Inspector Carlyle novels in terms of bringing London alive on the page.

I'm not sure Belsey sits up there with the Rebuses, Thornes et al of other contemporary crime books - he just feels to forced - but I suspect we haven't heard the last of him.

Connie - The Complete Series [DVD]
Connie - The Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephanie Beacham
Price: 15.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Entertainment, 1 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite the issues with the poor sound quality and the disappointing lack of extras, this DVD is still a good buy.

An enormously entertaining, at times high-camp drama that pokes scorn at the avarice and solipsism that defined the Thatcherite 80s. Connie offers up some fantastic, scenery-chewing performances combined with razor-sharp dialogue and set against the bleak, urban backdrop of the industrial East Midlands.

The cast are mostly on top form, and Stephanie Beacham shines in the title role as Connie, the prodigal daughter returning to her home turf after an eight-year sabbatical to grab a slice of whatever's on offer. However, as a previous reviewer noted, it's Pam Ferris's highly-charged performance as nasty Nesta, Connie's embittered step-sister, that steals the show: Ferris dominates every scene she's in like a designer-clad drag queen on speed.

The plot is, at times, convoluted, and a fair amount of extraneous 'chatter' helps pad the series out to its 13 episodes, but overall, this is a strongly-written, well-acted drama that captures the greed and 'glamour' of the 1980s with a flourish.

The Breaker
The Breaker
Price: 3.59

3.0 out of 5 stars An OK book, 20 May 2013
This review is from: The Breaker (Kindle Edition)
Minette Walters writes well - her books have convincing, well thought out characters and vivid, well-described settings.

The Breaker is no exception, except here the story just isn't strong enough to sustain a full-length novel. The book reads OK - good pace, colourful descriptions and a fair bit of intrigue to keep the reader turning the pages, but it lacks the intricacy of plot, and psychological depth of her earlier books. The main characters are interesting, if a little bland, and the story has the occasional twist to prevent it becoming too boring. However, overall, it lacks the sparkle of, for example, The Sculptress.

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