Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton, July 2015, 368 pages, Bantam Press, ISBN: 059306920X

Reviewed by Michelle Peckham.
(Read more of Michelle's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Catrin Coffin, works for Falkland Conservation, lives on the Falkland Islands, and as the book opens, she is out at sea, diving off her boat, collecting sea urchin samples, when she sees an elephant seal killing a young fur seal in seconds. She admires the quickness of the kill, and the ruthlessness. Could she kill something as easily?

When she returns, as she pulls into her usual mooring at the harbour, someone is waiting for her. A three-year old child called Archie has gone missing, and the police want to know if she has seen any unknown vessels out at sea. Is this new disappearance linked to those of two children of about the same age who went missing previously? Fred, about two years ago, and then Jimmy about six months later. Has this third missing boy been taken by the same person? Search parties are organised, and Catrin is asked to lead one of the teams in the search to find him.

Catrin has two boys of her own that are no longer there, Ned and Kit. She is clearly still raw with grief, and her thoughts about killing someone relate somehow to how they died. And have something to do with someone called Rachel, the woman who used to be Catrin’s best friend, until she somehow killed Rachel’s sons three years ago. She left them alone in a car, which went over a cliff and they were killed instantly. But why would she do this? Ben, a medic, and now her ex-husband, had rung her to tell her the news. Was he somehow responsible too?

As the story progresses, slowly the truth emerges about Catrin and how her sons died. Her reasons for her hatred for Rachel start to become apparent, and how now she is slowly starting to plot her own revenge, driven by her desperate grief. However, as she is drawn into the search for the third missing boy, she becomes distracted, we sense that this search will turn into a something more, something that will somehow link back to her own life in some way, and lead to some kind of resolution.

The first inkling of this starts with what she and Callum Murray discover on an old ship just out to sea; the Endeavour, which is close to where the boy went missing. Callum is an ‘incomer’, a Scotsman who fought in the Argentine conflict, and then bought a cottage close to Stanley after leaving his regiment, shortly after the conflict ended. Involved in the search, he thinks the boy might be hidden on the Endeavour, as it’s close by but out of everyone’s way, and persuades Catrin to go and look with him.

LITTLE BLACK LIES is an intriguing book, which weaves in the backdrop of the Falklands Islands very effectively. There is a strong sense of the isolation, the rawness of nature, and the small close-knit community which all play into the story. Catrin is a strong, determined character, well embedded into the local community and yet at the same time she also feels very isolated. Various tales of Catrin’s life, her experience with her father with a whale out at sea, and the desperate plight of the beached whales on the Falklands, and how she has to deal with that, ring true. Her grief at the loss of her children and her happy family life as a result are played out slowly. The secrets that people kept from her, and the clues that she didn’t pick up on as events first unfolded, gradually become apparent, as she slowly pieces together the truth behind the death of her children, and the mystery of the missing boys. An excellent read, that I very much enjoyed.

Michelle Peckham, September 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards, May 2015, 528 pages, HarperCollins, ISBN: 0008105960

Reviewed by Rich Westwood.
(Read more of Rich's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

THE GOLDEN AGE OF MURDER is a history of the Detection Club written by crime writer Martin Edwards.

The Detection Club is a dining society for crime writers founded in 1930, and during what is usually called the Golden Age of crime fiction (roughly speaking the period between the two World Wars) it had as its members most of the leading lights of the genre. Martin Edwards, as the Club's Archivist and President elect, is uniquely qualified to write their story, and has produced an entertaining history with loads of human interest.

The 1930 Club line-up included G K Chesterton (Father Brown), E C Bentley (who kick-started the Golden Age with TRENT'S LAST CASE), A A Milne (who wrote THE RED HOUSE MYSTERY four years before WINNIE-THE-POOH), Baroness Orczy (THE OLD MAN IN THE CORNER and THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL), Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anthony Berkeley Cox (who wrote as Frances Iles and Anthony Berkeley).

All of the Club's members get their moment in the limelight, but the majority of the story is carried by three mainstays of the Club: Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Anthony Berkeley Cox. Of these, Christie is of course a household name and Sayers will be very familiar to mystery fans at least. Martin Edwards points out that both had mysteries of their own. Christie's eleven-day disappearance in 1926 has never been fully resolved. Meanwhile, Sayers somehow managed to keep a much-loved illegitimate son quiet for most of her life. The third pillar of the book - Anthony Berkeley - probably qualifies as a forgotten author these days, but was one of the most inventive and influential crime writers of the period. Also one of the crankiest, it turns out (and the not-so-proud owner of an extremely complex love life).

Many lesser lights are fascinating by virtue of their politics, their personal lives, or their approach to the genre. The crime-fiction connections, often related in the end-notes to each chapter, are great. For example, Margaret Cole (half of the left-leaning married couple writing as G D H and Margaret Cole) was sister to Raymond Postgate, who wrote three crime novels including the influential VERDICT OF TWELVE. Raymond's father-in-law was grandfather to Angela Lansbury, famous for playing Miss Marple and of course Jessica Fletcher in MURDER, SHE WROTE. Raymond was also father to Oliver Postgate, inventor of Bagpuss.

One surprise was the debt owed by crime writers to true crimes, which often inspired details in their work or in many cases inspired them to write more socially-aware mysteries. Several members collaborated on a book of essays entitles THE ANATOMY OF MURDER. Founder member of the Club, Millward Kennedy, came unstuck when he was sued for libel by the acquitted suspect in a murder case. Another surprise was the media savvy of the Club, with members working together on plays for the BBC as early as 1930.

As usual with this kind of book, the reader can scribble down recommendations as they read, and nowadays it is becoming a lot easier to own previously out-of-print titles, with even mainstream publishers such as the British Library, Faber Finds, Bello, and Collins racing to revive forgotten books.

A lovely reference book for the classic-crime aficionado, and at 528 pages you won't feel short-changed.

Rich Westwood, September 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: Death on Demand by Jim Kelly

Death on Demand by Jim Kelly, July 2015, 224 pages, Creme de la Crime, ISBN: 1780290772

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

When the newspapers turn up to cover Ruby Bright's 100th birthday, they find her seaside care home is a murder scene. Someone spirited Ruby away by wheelchair down to the water's edge on the idyllic north Norfolk coast, and strangled her. But why kill a harmless centurion? As Detective Inspector Shaw and Detective Sergeant Valentine investigate, it's clear Ruby wasn't the first victim, and nor is she the last. All trails seem to lead back to the old Parkwood Springs estate, close to the docklands. There's only one way in and one way out of the estate - through the derelict Lister Tunnel. But what is the secret within...?

DI Shaw is advised by a very senior officer, that DS Valentine, his partner of many years, will be told that his heavy smoking habit has caused him to develop terminal lung cancer and that he has limited time left. Shaw is told this in confidence so that he may counsel Valentine, when he has been officially told by his doctor.

Thoughts and worries about Valentine weigh on Shaw's mind and are such that investigation of all the many clues regarding the serial murders is taken up more by Valentine than by Shaw.

The descriptions by the author of the Norfolk coast, Hunstanton and around there are very evocative for me and remind me of the many happy times I had on camping holidays in years gone by in the vicinity; and is something I look forward to reading when I have books by this author.

The high quality of the tight plotting of the story of this police procedural is much to be savoured and reading a book with characters that you have enjoyed in previous works is like putting on an old and well worn pair of gloves again and you pick up the previous enjoyment very quickly.

I read his outstanding first book in the Shaw and Valentine series, DEATH WORE WHITE privately and the second one DEATH WATCH for review in 2010 and really enjoyed it and although I had hoped to read his following books, DEATH ON DEMAND is the first one that I've had the privilege of reviewing since.

This was a most enjoyable book and I look forward to reading more by this very gifted author.

Recommended.

Terry Halligan, September 2015.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Website Updates: September 2015

I've updated the main files on the Euro Crime website today. Euro Crime includes both British and other European crime fiction writers (that have been published in English); non-British/European born crime writers who are strongly associated with British/European crime fiction (eg. Donna Leon), and crime writers in translation from outside of Europe.

Just a couple of reminders regarding the New Releases page:

1. The main by month/by author pages refer to when a book is published (in English) anywhere in the world however the 'by category ie historical, translated etc' is specific to the UK eg Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series which was published in the US in the 2000s (and on) is only recently published in the UK and so some of her books appear in the 2015 Historical list.

2. When a book is released "early" in ebook I am taking the publication date as to be when the print edition comes out (this is the rule we use for determining Petrona Award eligibility).

As always, if you spot something wrong or missing, please do let me know.

Here's a summary of the usual updates:

The Author Websites page now lists 1036 sites.

In Bibliographies there are now bibliographies for 2244 authors (11286 titles of which 2968 are reviewed).

I've added new bibliographies for: Yi A, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ahmet Altan, David Barry, Annis Bell, Matt Bendoris, Giulia Beyman, Stella Cameron, Andrea Carter, Rosie Claverton, Sinead Crowley, Nadia Dalbuono, Anja de Jager, Charles den Tex, Jonathan Freedland, Christopher Galt, Hitoshi Goto, Kristien Hemmerechts, Jason Hewitt, Max Hunter, Risto Isomaki, Jari Jarvela, David Lagercrantz, Kate London, Gilly Macmillan, Jorge Magano, James Marrison, Andrej Nikolaidis, Mahokaru Numata, Katja Piel, Mike Powelz, James Raven, Manuel Rivas, I D Roberts, Kazuki Sakuraba, U A Siebert, Patrick Smith, Viveca Sten, Michel Tarou, C L Taylor, Dick Trost and A J Wright.

I've updated the bibliographies (ie added new titles) for: Cathy Ace, Jane Adams, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Bernhard Aichner, Alaux & Balen, Hania Allen, Lin Anderson, Yukito Ayatsuji, Jean-Luc Bannalec, Emily Barr, Belinda Bauer, M C Beaton, Simon Beckett, A K Benedict, Tony Black, Alex Blackmore, Hilary Bonner, Xavier-Marie Bonnot, Rhys Bowen, Simon Brett, William Brodrick, Frances Brody, Adam Brookes, Donato Carrisi, Chris Carter, Maureen Carter, Karen Charlton, Sam Christer, Martina Cole, Roberto Costantini, James Craig, Judith Cutler, Torkil Damhaug, P C Doherty, Eva Dolan, Ruth Dugdall, Matthew Dunn, Marjorie Eccles, Martin Edwards, Christopher Fowler, Dick Francis, Nicci French, Robert Galbraith, Dolores Gordon-Smith, J M Gregson, Kate Griffin, Elly Griffiths, Mari Hannah, Sophie Hannah, Cora Harrison, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Tony/Anthony Hays, Veronica Heley, Keigo Higashino, Suzette A Hill, Matt Hilton, Hjorth-Rosenfeldt, Antonia Hodgson, Jonathan Holt, Anne Holt, Alex Howard, Linda Huber, Graham Hurley, D E Ireland, Graham Ison, Doug Johnstone, Meurig Jones, Will Jordan, Jessie Keane, Jim Kelly, Laurie R King, Bill Kitson, Ali Knight, Alanna Knight, Roberta Kray, Lynda La Plante, Camilla Lackberg, Stephen Leather, Leena Lehtolainen, Pierre Lemaitre, Anya Lipska, Catherine Lloyd, M L Longworth, Stuart MacBride, Malcolm Mackay, Adrian Magson, G M Malliet, Scott Mariani, Edward Marston, Faith Martin, Priscilla Masters, John McAllister, A J McCreanor, Nigel McCrery, Val McDermid, Shirley McKay, Sophie McKenzie, Adrian McKinty, Andy McNab, Louise Millar, Bernard Minier, Dreda Say Mitchell, Steve Mosby, Barbara Nadel, Hakan Nesser, Nele Neuhaus, Chris Nickson, Nick Oldham, Seth Patrick, Anne Perry, Leif GW Persson, Louise Phillips, Claudia Pineiro, Oliver Potzsch, Jutta Profijt, Mayer & Reed, Linda Regan, Ruth Rendell, Phil Rickman, Michael Ridpath, Mark Roberts, Craig Robertson, Michael Robotham, Craig Russell, Leigh Russell, A D Scott, Sara Sheridan, Jeffrey Siger, Roger Silverwood, Alexander McCall Smith, Sally Spencer, Lyndon Stacey, Michael Stanley, Mel/Melvin R Starr, Linda Stratmann, James Thompson, June Thomson, David Thorne, Rebecca Tope, Helene Tursten, L C Tyler, Luca Veste, Voss & Edwards, Ashley Weaver, Tim Weaver, Jeri Westerson, Susan Wilkins, Kerry Wilkinson, Andrew Williams, Laura Wilson, Elizabeth Wilson and Tom Wood.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Review: Murder House: Part Five by James Patterson & David Ellis

James Patterson & David Ellis's MURDER HOUSE was released in hardback on 24 September. Prior to that it was serialised in 5 parts.

Here's the official blurb:

Released as a unique weekly five-part serialisation in audio and eBook from 1st September 2015 in the run-up to publication in hardback on 24 September 2015 (RRP £18.99). Each five part serialisation is released with exciting extra content relating to the Murder House story. Radio news bulletins, newspaper articles, coroner’s reports and letters all help to create a truly immersive experience, helping you uncover vital clues and delve deeper into the mystery.

I have read a couple of James Patterson's books before which I've enjoyed: JACK & JILL and 7TH HEAVEN (with Maxine Paetro) and also his collaboration with Liza Marklund: POSTCARD KILLERS which I enjoyed a bit less.

I was therefore very pleased to accept an invitation to receive and review each week's serialisation as it came out. Part One is reviewed here, Part Two is reviewed here, Part Three is reviewed here and Part Four here.

Murder House: Part Five by James Patterson & David Ellis, September 2015, Cornerstone Digital

Part Five of MURDER HOUSE covers chapters 96 to 121 plus some supplementary documents. Please note this review may contains spoilers for earlier Parts.

To recap, we're in the Hamptons and handy-man Noah Walker is arrested and tried for the murder of two people who were renting the gothic-looking house at 7 Ocean Drive, known locally as the Murder House. Det. Jenna Murphy, a former NYPD cop who has moved to the Hamptons, initially believes Noah to be guilty and even when it is revealed that he was framed, and is subsequently released, she is still at first, not sure of his innocence.

There are several men who could be the serial killer that Jenna is looking for. She has rattled enough cages to make the guilty party reveal the location of two bodies together with the some evidence which relates to Jenna's mysterious disappearance as a child. Jenna thinks she knows who to trust and who is the guilty party, but is she correct? A tense showdown in the Murder House has all her suspects brought together but things aren't as they appear and Jenna has something important to learn about herself.

The final part of MURDER HOUSE is quite exciting and manages to keep the reader in suspense over who is the bad guy until a very late stage. I did peg the right guy (from the moment he first appeared) but I had several moments of doubt along the way. I don't think MURDER HOUSE was written as a serial as not all parts ended on a cliff hanger but it is an easy read and I was always left keen to read on.

The story does require some suspension of disbelief - all those murders/disappearances over the years in a small town and no-one linked them until Jenna did? Of the five parts, the first is probably the best, but overall this was an entertaining read which kept me guessing. I don't see there being another story about Jenna but I would read it if there was.

Karen Meek, September 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: Murder House: Part Four by James Patterson & David Ellis

James Patterson & David Ellis's MURDER HOUSE is released in hardback 24 September however you can read it before then by buying it in 5 individual parts, with the final two parts out this week.

Here's the official blurb:

Released as a unique weekly five-part serialisation in audio and eBook from 1st September 2015 in the run-up to publication in hardback on 24 September 2015 (RRP £18.99). Each five part serialisation is released with exciting extra content relating to the Murder House story. Radio news bulletins, newspaper articles, coroner’s reports and letters all help to create a truly immersive experience, helping you uncover vital clues and delve deeper into the mystery.

I have read a couple of James Patterson's books before which I've enjoyed: JACK & JILL and 7TH HEAVEN (with Maxine Paetro) and also his collaboration with Liza Marklund: POSTCARD KILLERS which I enjoyed a bit less.

I was therefore very pleased to accept an invitation to receive and review each week's serialisation as it comes out. Part One is reviewed here, Part Two is reviewed here and Part Three is reviewed here.

Murder House: Part Four by James Patterson & David Ellis, September 2015, Cornerstone Digital

Part Four of MURDER HOUSE covers chapters 75 to 95 plus some supplementary articles. Please note this review may contains spoilers for earlier Parts.

To recap, we're in the Hamptons and handy-man Noah Walker is arrested and tried for the murder of two people who were renting the gothic-looking house at 7 Ocean Drive, known locally as the Murder House. Det. Jenna Murphy, a former NYPD cop who has moved to the Hamptons, initially believes Noah to be guilty and even when it is revealed that he was framed, and is subsequently released, she is still at first, not sure of his innocence.

Jenna is now beginning to believe that Noah is innocent and she forms a team with him and her friend in the Police, Officer Ricketts. They begin to investigate the history of the family that owned 7 Ocean Drive aka the Murder House for several generations, and try to find any possible surviving family members.

The reader knows that the murderer calls himself "Holden" and flashback chapters appear to show the young "Holden" first meeting his mentor.

Meanwhile Jenna has a busy time with both a date, and the discovery of  what was behind her family avoiding the Hamptons for the latter part of her childhood. Jenna then really goes off the rails and breaks the law until she ends up on the wrong side of the table in a police interrogation room where again, we are left on a humdinger of a final sentence.

Part Four advances the story somewhat with information about Jenna's past, "Holden's" past and that of several characters who could be "Holden". The pages rattle along and the information revealed cleverly had me flip-flopping my opinion on who is the bad guy though I'm still fairly sure who he is. Not long to wait until Part Five and all is revealed.

Karen Meek, September 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: Murder House: Part Three by James Patterson & David Ellis

James Patterson & David Ellis's MURDER HOUSE is released in hardback 24 September however you can read it before then by buying it in 5 individual parts, released weekly.

Here's the official blurb:

Released as a unique weekly five-part serialisation in audio and eBook from 1st September 2015 in the run-up to publication in hardback on 24 September 2015 (RRP £18.99). Each five part serialisation is released with exciting extra content relating to the Murder House story. Radio news bulletins, newspaper articles, coroner’s reports and letters all help to create a truly immersive experience, helping you uncover vital clues and delve deeper into the mystery.

I have read a couple of James Patterson's books before which I've enjoyed: JACK & JILL and 7TH HEAVEN (with Maxine Paetro) and also his collaboration with Liza Marklund: POSTCARD KILLERS which I enjoyed a bit less.

I was therefore very pleased to accept an invitation to receive and review each week's serialisation as it comes out. Part One is reviewed here and Part Two is reviewed here.

Murder House: Part Three by James Patterson & David Ellis, September 2015, Cornerstone Digital

Part Three of MURDER HOUSE covers chapters 49 to 74 plus some supplementary articles. Please note this review may contains spoilers for Parts One and Two though I'm trying to keep it vague.

To recap, we're in the Hamptons and handy-man Noah Walker is arrested and tried for the murder of two people who were renting the gothic-looking house at 7 Ocean Drive, known locally as the Murder House. Det. Jenna Murphy, a former NYPD cop who has moved to the Hamptons, initially believes Noah to be guilty and even when it is revealed that he was framed, and is subsequently released, she is still not sure of his innocence.

In Part Three, much of the time is spent with Jenna. She is not popular with her fellow cops with the exception of a female officer who looks up to Jenna and who is willing to help Jenna with her investigation.

Another murder, from a few years ago, is described and we get to see the planning that our murderer, who calls himself Holden, goes to, to get his victim.

Meanwhile it seems Jenna's investigation is beginning to home in on a suspect, plus we find out why the murderer is using the sobriquet Holden. Several scenes take place at Tasty's, the restaurant where one of the latest murder victims worked and in one scene Holden is there. Is he someone already known to Jenna? In addition another possible suspect (at least I think he is) is introduced as well.

I enjoyed Part Three as the history behind 7 Ocean Drive is beginning to hang together and Jenna is starting to make some progress on the case and she also has a breakthrough about the nightmares she's been experiencing since her return to the Hamptons. I'm anxious to read Part Four to see if some of my suspicions are correct or not.

Karen Meek, September 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: The Chessman by Dolores Gordon-Smith

The Chessman by Dolores Gordon-Smith, August 2015, 240 pages, Severn House Publishers Ltd, ISBN: 0727885413

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

It is a Friday during 1925 in the very quiet, Sussex village of Croxton Ferriers and a couple of local ladies, Isabelle Stanton and Sue Castradon have gone to the church to change the flowers on the altar. As the fresh ones need different sized vases they entered the vestry to fetch them. Puzzled by a strange musty smell there, they opened this large cupboard and were horrified to discover on the shelf next to the vases, a naked corpse, wrapped in a tartan rug. This male corpse had been made unrecognisable by the mutilation of the head and removal of hands and feet.

Arthur Stanton, husband of Isabelle knows that the local village policeman would not be experienced enough to deal with this crime so he telephones an old friend, Detective Superintendent Ashley of the Sussex Police, who agrees to come. Ashley asks for Major Jack Haldean, former Royal Flying Corps hero and present day crime novelist for his help, as, as an amateur detective, he has been involved in solving several previous murder incidents.

Major Jack Haldean, finds in the cupboard where the body had been located, a black marble chess knight with crystal eyes. Soon several notable villagers are receiving typed letters with messages to the effect that their deaths are imminent and the letters are signed "The Chessman".

The day before Sue Castradon had entered the church and discovered the corpse, her solicitor husband Ned had had a violent argument with Jonathan Ryle a drunken chauffeur of local VIP Sir Matthew Vardon, which had been broken up by the local vicar and this event was a hot topic of gossip in the Croxton Ferriers tea-rooms.

The clues follow one another with astonishing speed and I found the story immensely exciting and very fast moving and the pages just shot by. The story is peopled with a very interesting mix of authentic, well described characters. It was very atmospheric and expertly researched giving a real glimpse of life in a Sussex village and the wider country in the 1920s.

There are a few red herrings to draw the reader up the wrong path before the dramatic and gripping conclusion is reached. I was really flummoxed before I reached the end of this book as to how it would end and of course I got everything wrong I'm pleased to say. I read for review her previous book AFTER THE EXHIBITION, the eighth in Jack Haldean series and was so impressed with that book I was very pleased to have this one to review as well.

Well Recommended.

Terry Halligan, September 2015.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Review Roundup: Bussi, Moore, Parsons, Patterson & Ellis, Roberts, Walters

Here are seven reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, all have appeared on the blog since last time*.

*I am trialling a new approach at the moment in that all reviews will appear on the Euro Crime blog rather than being separate files as part of the Euro Crime website. I feel this will give the reviews more exposure and make them more findable in a search engine. The reviews will usually appear daily ie Monday to Friday, with occasional weekend postings, and roundups will appear on Sundays. The website will continue with bibliographies etc, the only change is that the reviews will be on the blog.

I'd be interested in any comments about this new approach.

You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page and follow on Twitter, @eurocrime.

New Reviews


Craig Sisterson reviews Michel Bussi's After the Crash tr. Sam Taylor;

Ewa Sherman reviews Margaret Moore's Broken Chord set in Italy;








Amanda Gillies reviews The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons;

I review Part One and Part Two of  James Patterson & David Ellis's Murder House;








Amanda also reviews Mark Roberts's Blood Mist, the first in a new series


and Michelle Peckham reviews Minette Walters' The Cellar.




Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, along with releases by year.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Review: Murder House: Part Two by James Patterson & David Ellis

James Patterson & David Ellis's MURDER HOUSE is released in hardback 24 September however you can read it before then by buying it in 5 individual parts, released weekly.

Here's the official blurb:

Released as a unique weekly five-part serialisation in audio and eBook from 1st September 2015 in the run-up to publication in hardback on 24 September 2015 (RRP £18.99). Each five part serialisation is released with exciting extra content relating to the Murder House story. Radio news bulletins, newspaper articles, coroner’s reports and letters all help to create a truly immersive experience, helping you uncover vital clues and delve deeper into the mystery.

I have read a couple of James Patterson's books before which I've enjoyed: JACK & JILL and 7TH HEAVEN (with Maxine Paetro) and also his collaboration with Liza Marklund: POSTCARD KILLERS which I enjoyed a bit less.

I was therefore very pleased to accept an invitation to receive and review each week's serialisation as it comes out. Part One was released 1 September and is reviewed here.

Murder House: Part Two by James Patterson & David Ellis, September 2015, Cornerstone Digital

Part Two of MURDER HOUSE covers chapters 28 to 48 plus some supplementary articles. Please note this review may contains spoilers for Part One though I'm trying to keep it vague.

To recap, we're in the Hamptons and handy-man Noah Walker is accused of murdering two people who were renting the gothic-looking house at 7 Ocean Drive, known locally as the Murder House. Det. Jenna Murphy, a former NYPD cop who has moved to the Hamptons, believes Noah is guilty.

In Part Two, we get to find out the result of the trial against Noah, plus what happens to him in the few months after that. In addition we are privy to some earlier murders which took place five or so years before at 7 Ocean Drive, that of two students, and the subsequent murder of a prostitute.

Meanwhile, Jenna has been burying herself in reports about the incident mentioned in the prologue in Part One – where a twelve-year-old shot some of his fellow pupils with a BB gun (a type of airgun). When she looks into her uncle's computer files however, she finds a document that changes the case against Noah dramatically.

With Jenna less convinced about Noah's guilt she takes the first steps in her own off-the-record investigation.

Part Two is slightly shorter than Part One and I have to say I didn't enjoy the several chapters about the killings – these seemed to drag a bit - perhaps because they were uncomfortable reading, however I was back on track as soon as Jenna reappeared about half-way through. She's ditched her slimy boyfriend and she has some sort of connection with Noah, but it's not clear how innocent or guilty he actually is at the moment. I hope the investigation gets moving in Part Three which is released 14 September.

Karen Meek, September 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: Broken Chord by Margaret Moore

Broken Chord by Margaret Moore, April 2015, 344 pages, McNidder & Grace Crime, ISBN: 0857160826

Reviewed by Ewa Sherman.

BROKEN CHORD by Margaret Moore introduces State Prosecutor Jacopo Dragonetti known as Drago, in the first novel of the series, set in Tuscany, and one of the first titles published by the new M&G Crime imprint. Born in the UK, Margaret Moore has lived most of her adult life in Italy. She’s married to an Italian, has a large family and a keen eye for detail. The author weaves her extensive knowledge of all aspects of Italian everyday life: music, food, architecture and history into the novel’s setting, creating a vivid, memorable background.

Ursula von Bachmann has been brutally murdered in her own elegant villa on the outskirts of Lucca. A nouveau riche and a despot she has made many bad decisions in her life but it seems that the worst was to let her killer into her bedroom. Her three children by three different fathers, staying with her during the unbearably hot summer, are shocked by the violence of the attack. They suspect that Guido, their mother’s jilted fiancĂ© and a lounge lizard gigolo of the purest water, is the killer. And so the youngest, Marianna, nearly 18, in a world of her own, an older Lapo, with a physical deformity, beautiful face and a cruel streak, and Tebaldo, a recovered drug addict, now a questionable pillar of his own family, cling to the hope that all will be sorted soon. Imprisoned in the villa, they eye each other with increasing mistrust and fear, becoming anxiously aware of their circumstances, the constant presence of faithful yet resentful servants and the echoes from the Second World War as well as the more recent past. With so many people inside and outside the family bearing grudges the situation becomes tense. The components of this complex case prey on the investigating magistrate Dragonetti’s mind during his trips between his ancestral own Palazzo in Florence, police station and von Bachmann’s villa. Things are not what they seem…

Against the backdrop of the sophisticated surroundings, under the unforgiving July sky a much darker toxic side appears to the superficially comfortable peaceful life. Following his own instincts and some false trails Drago unravels a private history of feuds and violence, and tales of a family rich in money but poor in love where jealousies, hatreds and passions run riot.

The opera-loving chain-smoking Drago is a stylish, astute yet empathetic Italian character. Although he reminds me of both Andrea Camilleri’s Salvo Montalbano and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander he is definitely a man in his own right and these comparisons are definitely favourable. He seems to have a fairly normal private life, with a sensible attitude to his own work and not many demons lurking in the background.

BROKEN CHORD, an elegant psychological exploration of a dysfunctional family in a fine tradition of crime mystery is a great read, and I will follow Drago’s investigations and musings in further instalments.

Ewa Sherman, September 2015

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Review: The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons

The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons, May 2015, 384 pages, Century, ISBN: 1780892357

Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Tony Parsons is an award-winning journalist and author. THE SLAUGHTER MAN is his second crime novel and the second in his series featuring DC Max Wolfe – a skilled detective who lives in London with his young daughter, Scout, and their dog, Stan. The book is written in the first person – from Wolfe’s viewpoint – and this makes it even more hard hitting. The book is extremely disturbing and dark yet also has enough good people in it to stop you losing your faith in humanity. Wolfe’s heart has been shredded by the end of his marriage but he and Scout are close and she, along with Stan, gives him his reason to carry on.

The murder that Wolfe and his team are investigating is brutal. On New Year’s Eve, a whole family is executed, in their exclusive mansion in London, and the youngest child goes missing. The family is beautiful, rich and happy and, to outward appearances, perfect: It appears as if they have been murdered simply because they are happy. The murder weapon is a bolt gun, used to stun cattle before they are slaughtered, and a quick search of the archives takes Wolfe to a killer known as The Slaughter Man, who used the exact same method to kill a whole family thirty years ago. After serving time in prison, this killer is now free but a quick visit to eliminate him from enquiries shows he is dying from cancer and unlikely to be the guilty party this time.

Wolfe has a chase on his hands if he is to solve the crime and find the missing child before it is too late. During the course of the investigation he uncovers too many dark secrets and several times finds that his own life is in danger. Only thoughts of Scout keep him focused and strong. He needs to survive to protect his daughter. Can he also save another young life at the same time?

This superbly-penned book is one of those stories that you can’t let go of. And neither will it let go of you. I sat up late, finished it in two days and am still haunted by it. Fabulous. If you only read one book this year, I would suggest that you try this one. My only regret is that I have not yet read THE MURDER BAG – Parson’s first crime fiction novel that introduces the characters in this one – but that is easily rectified. If you love noir then you are going to love this book as it is definitely on the darker side of dark. But the glimpses of the good side of humanity in it make it even better!

Extremely Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, September 2015.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Review: The Cellar by Minette Walters

The Cellar by Minette Walters, May 2015, 256 pages, Hammer, ISBN: 0099594641

Reviewed by Michelle Peckham.
(Read more of Michelle's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Muna is a young fourteen-year-old girl living in Mr and Mrs Songoli’s house. She is somehow ‘adopted’, not allowed to leave the house, illiterate, and thought not to speak English, but only Hausa. Mrs Songoli (Yetunde) describes her to the police as her brain damaged first born, who finds it hard to learn.

The police are in the Songolis’ house, because their youngest son, ten-year-old Abiola, has failed to come home from school. Strangely, when Abiola went missing, but before the police arrived, Yetunde discretely moved Muna’s mattress out of the cellar, and moved her into a room with a proper bed and a window.

Muna, too frightened to speak, listens to Mr and Mrs Songoli telling the police lie after lie about their missing son and their life together, while Muna’s thoughts tell the reader what has really been happening, uncovering the lies, and revealing all that she wishes she could say. She would really like to tell the police that she needs their help, because she was stolen when she was just eight years old, and she just wants to go home, but she doesn’t know who her parents are or where she is really from. But somehow, she cannot say a word.

The investigations continue, and the external influences of the police presence start to give Muna a strange sort of courage and boldness. Despite intensive searching, Abioloa is not found, and eventually the police leave. But the change in Muna’s behaviour continues, and this heralds the start of the decline and fall of the remaining Songolis: Yetunde, her husband Ebuka and their thirteen-year-old son Olubayo. All of which is somehow helped by the evil influence of the devil in the cellar.

The story mostly unfolds from Muna’s thoughts and observations on life in the Songoli household. The reader gradually discovers the appalling treatment meted out to her over the years, and the stark contrast between her demeaning treatment and life of fear and deprivation, with the extravagant, amoral lifestyle of the Songolis. The devil in the cellar is laughing and wants revenge. Muna responds by taking action. A short intriguing story, clearly commenting on the upsurge in ‘slavery’ that often makes the news, with a few genuine surprises along the way. Recommended.

Michelle Peckham, September 2015

Monday, September 07, 2015

Review: After the Crash by Michel Bussi tr. Sam Taylor

After the Crash by Michel Bussi translated by Sam Taylor, 400 pages, August 2015, W&N, ISBN: 1780227329

French political analyst and university professor Michel Bussi garnered acclaim and awards in his homeland for his detective fiction over the past decade, but it was the publication of this standalone novel in early 2012 that catapulted him to near household-name status. More than 700,000 copies were sold in France (100 times his debut sales), and it was translated into two dozen languages, optioned for film adaptation, and serialised in a newspaper for months.

Un Avion Sans Elle is also the first of his books to be published in the United Kingdom, allowing us English-speaking crime fiction fans to find out just what all the fuss is about.

It is 1998, and Christmas looms. Private eye Credule Grand-Duc sits at his desk, dispirited, having spent nearly eighteen years failing to find the truth behind a miracle wrapped in a tragedy. A fiery plane crash near the Swiss border in 1980 had incinerated passengers and crew, but a newborn baby somehow survived. Joy turned to confusion and heartache, however, when two families – one rich, one poor – claimed the baby as their own.

Grieving grandparents found themselves at war in the public eye and the courts. Was the baby who survived Lyle-Rose or Emilie? Grand-Duc had been trying to answer that question ever since, but had come up empty. As midnight and the girl’s eighteenth birthday approaches, he grabs his gun and prepares to farewell this life, only to uncover a secret that upturns everything. Before he can share his last-minute discovery, however, he is silenced; homicide, not suicide.

AFTER THE CRASH is told in switching narratives, as we follow Mark (the baby girl’s maybe-brother) as he reads Grand-Duc’s casebook in 1998 and tries to work uncover the truth the detective left behind. Just how much can we trust what Grand-Duc wrote? What is the real truth?

Bussi spins an intriguing and unique mystery; a search for someone who isn’t missing, physically, but whose identity is. The novel has plenty of requisite clues, twists, and red herrings, while also posing some interesting questions about what makes someone who they are, how the media focus then forget tragedies, and how one twist of fate can create all sorts of ripples.

There is a strong narrative drive throughout AFTER THE CRASH, with the early “who is this girl, really?” hook cinching readers in for the roller coaster. The ‘detective’s diary’ device could fall flat, but seems to work well for this story – helped by a little suspension of disbelief now and then (Why wouldn’t Mark just skip to the end to check if there was an answer? Would someone really write a casebook in that style and language?). One flaw in an otherwise very fine piece of thriller writing is that the characters can at times feel like moving pieces; I didn’t feel particularly connected to many of them. This gives an effect of observing something very interesting as it unfolds, rather than being fully caught up in it, or sucked into the experience on a deeper level.

Despite this quibble, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. AFTER THE CRASH is written in something of a French style, in terms of pacing and other aspects. The story gets pretty dark, twisted and chilling in places – not in terms of gratuitous violence, but rather disturbing themes and situations. As it builds to a climax I was thoroughly hooked, and although some of the twists were predictable, Bussi still managed to deliver a few surprises along the way. A very good read.

Craig Sisterson
September 2015

Sunday, September 06, 2015

New Releases - September 2015

I've spent some time updating the bibliographies and consequently the upcoming releases page has increased since last time! Here's a snapshot of what I think is published this month (September). Further months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page.
• Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem - Mycroft Holmes (with Anna Waterhouse)
• Adler-Olsen, Jussi - The Hanging Girl #6 Carl Morck and his assistant Assad, Department Q, Copenhagen
• Alaux, Jean-Pierre & Balen, Noel - Montmartre Mysteries #8 Benjamin Cooker, world-renowned winemaker turned gentleman detective
• Anderson, Lin - The Case of The Missing Madonna #2 Patrick de Courvoisier, France
• Anthology, An - The Starlings & Other Stories (ed. Ann Cleeves)
• Arlidge, M J - Liar Liar #4 Helen Grace, Southampton Police
• Aykol, Esmahan - Divorce Turkish Style #3 Kati Hirschel, Crime Bookshop owner, Istanbul
• Beaton, M C - Agatha Raisin: Dishing the Dirt (apa Dishing the Dirt: An Agatha Raisin Mystery) #27 Agatha Raisin, Retired PR person, Cotswolds
• Bell, Annis - The Girl at Rosewood Hall #1 Lady Jane, 1860s England
• Benn, James R - The White Ghost #10 Billy Boyle, WW2
• Black, Tony - A Taste of Ashes #2 DI Bob Valentine
• Carter, Andrea - Death at Whitewater Church #1 Benedicta 'Ben' O'Keeffe, Solicitor, Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland.
• Child, Lee - Make Me #20 Jack Reacher, ex MP, USA
• Cleeves, Ann - The Moth Catcher #7 Inspector Vera Stanhope, East Yorkshire
• Costantini, Roberto - The Memory of Evil #3 Commissario Michele Balistreri, Rome
• Doherty, P C - The Herald of Hell #15 Brother Athelstan
• Edwards, Martin - The Dungeon House #7 Daniel Kind, Historian and DCI Hannah Scarlett, Lake District
• Francis, Dick - Front Runner (by Felix Francis) #2 Jefferson Hinkley
• Fraser, Anthea - A Tangled Thread
• Harper, Tom - Black River
• Hays, Tony - Shakespeare No More #1 Jacobean Mystery
• Hiekkapelto, Kati - The Defenceless #2 Anna Fekete, Detective, Finland
• Hill, Suzette A - A Southwold Mystery #3 Rosy Gilchrist
• Horowitz, Anthony - Trigger Mortis #1 James Bond
• Howard, Alex - A Hard Woman To Kill #3 DI Hanlon
• Ireland, D E - Move Your Blooming Corpse #2 Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins
• Kray, Roberta - Dangerous Promises
• La Plante, - Lynda Tennison
• Lewis, Roy - Blood Money Inspector John Crow
• Lewis, Roy - Cardinal Obsession DCI Cardinal
• Martin, Faith - The Work of a Narrow Mind #16 DI Hillary Greene, Oxfordshire
• McCreanor, A J (as Anne Randall) - Silenced #2 DIs Wheeler and Ross, Glasgow
• McKay, Shirley - Queen & Country #5 Hew Cullen, Edinburgh, 1570/80s
• McKenzie, Sophie - Here We Lie
• Ohlsson, Kristina - The Chosen #5 Inspector Alex Recht
• Perry, Anne - Treachery at Lancaster Gate #31 Charlotte and Thomas Pitt
• Phillips, Louise - The Game Changer #4 Dr Kate Pearson, Dublin
• Piel, Katja - Death on Ibiza
• Robertson, Craig - In Place of Death #4 DS Rachel Narey, Glasgow
• Rowson, Pauline - Fatal Catch #12 DI Andy Horton and his sidekick Barney Cantelli, Portsmouth
• Smith, Alexander McCall - The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine #16 Mma Ramotswe, PI, Botswana
• Starr, Melvin R - Ashes to Ashes #8 Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon, 14thC England
• Stratmann, Linda - Mr Scarletti's Ghost #1 Mina Scarletti, Brighton, 1871
• Toyne, Simon - Solomon Creed (apa The Searcher)
• Voss, Louise & Edwards, Mark - The Blissfully Dead #2 DI Patrick Lennon

Friday, September 04, 2015

Review: Murder House: Part One by James Patterson & David Ellis

James Patterson & David Ellis's MURDER HOUSE is released in hardback 24 September however you can read it before then by buying it in 5 individual parts, released weekly.

Here's the official blurb:

Released as a unique weekly five-part serialisation in audio and eBook from 1st September 2015 in the run-up to publication in hardback on 24 September 2015 (RRP £18.99). Each five part serialisation is released with exciting extra content relating to the Murder House story. Radio news bulletins, newspaper articles, coroner’s reports and letters all help to create a truly immersive experience, helping you uncover vital clues and delve deeper into the mystery.

I have read a couple of James Patterson's books before which I've enjoyed: JACK & JILL and 7TH HEAVEN (with Maxine Paetro) and also his collaboration with Liza Marklund: POSTCARD KILLERS which I enjoyed a bit less.

I was therefore very pleased to accept an invitation to receive and review each week's serialisation as it comes out. Part One was released 1 September and contains a prologue and the first 27 chapters plus some extra items relating to the case.

Murder House: Part One by James Patterson & David Ellis, September 2015, Cornerstone Digital

MURDER HOUSE is set in the Hamptons. It begins with a prologue set sixteen years before the main narrative, in which an unnamed child plays a frightening prank at school. The child also mentions the haunted house – 7 Ocean Drive.

Back to the present day and we meet Noah Walker, an odd job man, with Matthew McConaughey looks, who is having an affair with Paige, the third wife of a possessive and influential billionaire. The police burst in, heavily armed, and arrest Noah for the double murder of an aspiring actress and a Hollywood agent. The lead police officer in the arrest is Det. Jenna Murphy who has been hounded out of NYPD and given a job by her uncle, the Chief of Police, Langdon James. Jenna, however, is not on the case but that doesn't stop her paying a visit to the crime scene – 7 Ocean Drive, already known to the locals as the Murder House.

More deaths follow but this Part One, focusses on the case against Noah Walker. Is he a sadistic killer? Jenna thinks not then thinks yes. Is he being framed? Are the police setting him up? Jenna too has her own problems. Why did her family stop visiting the Hamptons when she was young? What is causing her blackouts? There is plenty more to know about Jenna over the next four parts. With Noah pleading his innocence and Jenna being a bright detective, you would expect her to jump in and get to the bottom of the rash of murders hitting this quiet town; she hasn't yet but will she overcome her prejudices and find the truth?

MURDER HOUSE Part One sets the scene, and was a quick read. It ends on a humdinger of a last sentence and I'm looking forward to Part Two. The extra material was interesting but I didn't find any clues this time.

NB. The murders are quite nasty but are described after the fact, rather than during.

Karen Meek, September 2015

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Review: Blood Mist by Mark Roberts

Blood Mist by Mark Roberts, August 2015, 352 pages, Head of Zeus, ISBN: 1784082880

Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

This book is the first in a new series and introduces DCI Eve Clay, who heads a team searching for a particularly nasty, Satanic killer in Liverpool. The book is fantastic! It grips hold of you right away with a tantalizing prologue that feeds you some tasty morsels about Eve’s early life and sets you up, ready, for the horrors that are to follow.

When an entire family is savagely slaughtered in their own home, and DCI Eve Clay is asked to head up the investigation, little does she know that she is about to end up face to face with her own unsavoury past. She also appears to be dealing with a killer, or killers, who know more about her than she knows about herself: abandoned soon after birth, by parents unknown, Eve was first brought up by an elderly nun, Sister Philomena, and then spent the rest of her childhood in a Catholic children’s home after the old woman passes away. Eve is now happily married with a young son and the severe brutality of the murders has her in fear for the safety of her family; especially when she finds out that the killer(s) seem to know her. Her search for answers seems to be heading nowhere but then she receives a telephone call from a deadly name from the past: Adrian White, a sadistic, insane murderer who she caught and helped to lock away many years ago, wants to see her. He has information for her but definitely knows more than he is saying.

When a second family is murdered, Eve knows that she must act quickly before more lives are lost. Her investigations lead her to a very shocking truth that has her dealing with some extremely evil and dangerous people. The reader is left not only horrified by what is going on but also amazed that Eve has turned out to be as sane and level-headed as she has, given where she came from and how she was brought up. I am delighted that this book is the first in a series about DCI Eve Clay. She is a feisty, interesting and likeable character and I am rather pleased that the case she got to solve messed beautifully with my head!

Mark Roberts is a gifted writer and was a teacher for twenty years before putting pen to paper. His last book, WHAT SHE SAW, that was reviewed on Euro Crime last year, was long-listed for a CWA Gold Dagger – which is an indication of how awesome this author’s writing is. As with Robert’s previous books, BLOOD MIST is a hard hitting and disturbing tale. It leaves you chilled, exhausted and most definitely uncomfortable. If you like your crime fiction to be more of a thriller than a procedural detective story, then you are going to love this book. Mark Roberts is another talent to look out for in the future. He has already been added to my growing list of favourites and I am really excited to see what he produces next.

Extremely Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, September 2015.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

TV News: Backstrom starts tonight


Backstrom, the US series based on Leif GW Persson's Evert Backstrom series of books, begins tonight on Fox UK at 9pm:

"Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom is a man with no filter. After a five-year exile to the traffic division for offensive behavior, he has returned from disgrace to lead Portland's newly minted S.C.U. Tasked with navigating the city's most sensitive and serious cases, he must solve each crime as he tries, and fails, to change his own self-destructive behavior."

Backstrom is played by Rainn Wilson and there are 13 episodes in this one and only season as the show was cancelled earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Some 1976 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in September, published in 1976. Here are 52 British/European crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1976, pulled from my database:
Ted Allbeury - The Only Good German (aka Mission Berlin)
Ted Allbeury - Moscow Quadrille
Meg Elizabeth Atkins - Samain
Robert Barnard - A Little Local Murder
Maisie Birmingham - The Heat of the Sun
Anders Bodelsen - Operation Cobra
Anders Bodelsen - Consider the Verdict
Kyril Bonfiglioli - Something Nasty in the Woodshed
Paul Bonnecarrere - Ultimatum
Simon Brett - So Much Blood
W J Burley - Wycliffe and the Schoolgirls
Gwendoline Butler - Vesey Inheritance
Margaret Carr - Blindman's Bluff
Margaret Carr - Sharendel
Agatha Christie - Sleeping Murder
Peter Conway - Cradle Snatch
Peter Conway - Flight of Fear
Peter Conway - Devil to Pay
David Craig - Faith, Hope and Death
Eileen Dewhurst - After the Ball
Colin Dexter - Last Seen Wearing
Madelaine Duke - Death at the Wedding
Frederick Forsyth - The Shepherd
Dick Francis - In the Frame
James Fraser - Who Steals My Name?
Nicolas Freeling - Lake Isle (apa Sabine)
John Harvey - Amphetamines and Pearls
John Harvey - The Geranium Kiss
Tim Heald - Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Veronica Heley - Cry for Kit
Reginald Hill - Another Death in Venice
Alan Hunter - Gently Where the Birds Are
Roderic Jeffries - Two-Faced Death
H R F Keating - Filmi, Filmi, Inspector Ghote
H R F Keating - Murder by Death
Maurice Leblanc - The Exploits of Arsene Lupin
Peter Lovesey - Swing, Swing Together
Jessica Mann - The Eighth Deadly Sin
Michael Molloy - The Kid from Riga
Hubert Monteilhet - Murder at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Hubert Monteilhet - Dead Copy
Torben Nielsen - A Gallowsbird's Song
Ellis Peters - Never pick up Hitch-hikers!
Ruth Rendell - The Fallen Curtain: And Other Stories
Ruth Rendell - A Demon in My View
Hester Rowan - Overture in Venice
Gerald Seymour - The Glory Boys
Leslie Thomas - Dangerous Davies
Janwillem Van de Wetering - Tumbleweed
Janwillem Van de Wetering - The Corpse on the Dike
David Williams - Unholy Writ
Margaret Yorke - Cast for Death