A Sinner’s Prayer; M.P. Wright

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Saying farewell to the dark side doesn’t mean the dark side wants rid of you. And I was about to be reminded of that fact.

1970, St Pauls, Bristol. A new decade, and JT Ellington is determined it will be a quiet one. He’s stepped away from the private-eye game to scratch a living, respectable at last, as a school caretaker.

Still his nights are full of torment – guilt and ghosts that no prayers will banish but it’s not until the past comes calling in the unwelcome form of Superintendent Fletcher that JT’s resolve is truly tested.

Fletcher has a job for JT – and the hard-nosed cop can’t be refused. A young man, Nikhil Suresh, has disappeared hours before his wedding; rumours abound and his family is distraught. JT is to investigate.

With what feels like blood money in his pocket, JT is plunged deep into a demi-monde of vice, violence and forbidden passion. An extraordinary, malevolent enemy is intent on destroying him. Now – seeking survival and redemption – JT must play as dirty and dangerous as those who want him dead. buy it here credit for these words from Amazon

My words

I’ll miss J T Ellington as this is his swan-song (apparently) last of the books featuring our well loved Bajan ‘inquiry agent,’ as he likes to be known. A truly rich character from whence M P Wright conjured him I really don’t know.

The book opens with JT as a caretaker in a school earning a crust in a simple but mundane way so he can care for his adopted Chloe.

This book brings to the fore the reality that LGBTQ issues were about as much in the 70s as they are today but not under the same spotlight of course.  It brings up some old characters and some links back to the first book. He’s still seeing his aunt and uncle and despite his cousins demise in a past novel, there is an interesting twist in the tale.

Whilst this isn’t driving forward at the national speed limit as have been the last two it harks back to the first book in that JT is doing what he does best. He’s been effectively bribed back into action by an old copper to track down an Asian boy just before his arranged wedding after JT walks out of his job at the school after an unfounded accusation and finds the ‘offer’ from Fletcher just Hobson’s choice.

I love the book; the dialogue; I love the characterisations and the descriptions of the situations JT gets himself into along the way are really well described. I love the prose and the pace – M P Wright’s story telling is for me, excellent. I just love M P Wright’s written style.

So 5.5 stars out of 5 for this exciting and thoroughly enjoyable novel that I couldn’t put down (from opening the post to getting with a tear in my eye) to the last page.

Well done Mark; I look forward with high expectations to what will come out of your pen in the future and it has been a great pleasure of mine to be part of JT’s journey.

Thanks to Black & White for the preview copy and to Mark for the acknowledgement. It’s a pleasure to be part of the blog tour.

Catch the blog tour…..

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Chris Brookmyre – Jack Lapsley Parlabane and other stories……

If you were wondering where I’ve been or more what I have been reading, I’ve been on a mission .. I’ve found a new author for whom I am queuing up the books like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve just binged on eight books about Jack Lapsley Parlabane and I loved every one of them as they’re funny and they get better and better ….. 

so truthfully I’d started to read Be My Enemy but put it down I guess because I didn’t know who Jack was from Adam and didn’t really care that much about him as a character so and I didn’t go back to BME until I came to it in the series; anyway I started again and by the end of Quite Ugly I was hooked; a new character I could bring into my literary life; wondering what would become of Jack…

Quite Ugly One Morning

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Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it. Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things. Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef? How come his hands are digitally challenged? And if it’s not the corpse, what is that awful smell?

A post-Thatcherite nightmare of frightening plausibility, QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING is a wickedly entertaining and vivacious thriller, full of acerbic wit, cracking dialogue and villains both reputed and shell-suited. Credit Amazon buy it here…..

My Words…….

Jack is one hell of a journalist – pre Levenson he is always a little bit over the thin blue line but that’s what makes him and his investigations much more interesting than the usual crime yarns that I write about.  He solves the most unusual of conspiracy theories in his endeavours to get a good headline.

Back Story

Let’s rewind; I read Places in the Darkness and enjoyed the plot,  the characterisation and the setting. Just add no sign of Jack in this one but it opened my eyes to the writer. I like his style; the descriptive passages and from what I know with hind-sight not what I would have expected when I started on the Jack books…

Places in the Darkness

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“This is as close to a city without crime as mankind has ever seen.”
Ciudad de Cielo is the ‘city in the sky’, a space station where hundreds of scientists and engineers work in earth’s orbit, building the colony ship that will one day take humanity to the stars.
When a mutilated body is found on the CdC, the eyes of the world are watching. Top-of the-class investigator, Alice Blake, is sent from Earth to team up with CdC’s Freeman – a jaded cop with more reason than most to distrust such planetside interference.
As the death toll climbs and factions aboard the station become more and more fractious, Freeman and Blake will discover clues to a conspiracy that threatens not only their own lives, but the future of humanity itself. Credit Amazon buy it here….

So then I saw Chris had a new novel out and went for it immediately – I read it in two days- page turning stuff completely different from what I’d expected and a couple of interesting twists….. but you can only find out if you read it! NO SPOILERS

Fallen Angel 

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Note: This is not a Jack novel but it is hot on conspiracy – it’s not Scotland nor is it outer-space. It is however and excellent

ONE FAMILY, TWO HOLIDAYS, ONE DEVASTATING SECRET

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…

And suspicion is a dangerous thing.

credit Amazon buy it here..

So in conclusion Brookmyre isn’t just a one trick pony; he’s prolific winning awards for Jack stories like Black Widow I like his writing and so I’ve ordered the first of the Angelique de Xavia novels to see how these play out….

A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away

full list of books from Brookmyre on Amazon here……Amazon author page

Also there is a great wiki page Wikipedia

Our Little Secrets; Peter Ritchie

 

IMG_0603At a dark place in Edinburgh’s heart, secrets refuse to lie dormant.

At Police Scotland HQ, Grace Macallan has pitched up in Counter Corruption. But the demons of her past are never far behind.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s gangland is in turmoil. As a new breed of upstarts challenges the old criminal order, their battle for territory causes serious havoc.

Into the war steps DI Janet Hadden. Ambitious, hardbitten and addicted to risk-taking, she knows how to throw opponents off balance. But when she’s thwarted, Hadden seeks help from a notorious underworld fixer, a man who keeps secrets but always extracts a price.

Beset by violence and double-crossing, Grace is soon embroiled in a savage game of cat and mouse with colleagues and criminals alike. With all sides driven by dark desires, theirs is an endgame that will take Grace down unless she holds her nerve. Credit to the back of the book and Amazon Buy it here……

My words….

It doesn’t seem like five minutes since I finished Where No Shadows Fall, the fourth in the Grace Macallan series of crime thrillers.

I’d made the effort to read no 1 Cause of Death, as my pre-requisite minimum to find out the genesis of the characters. After WNSF I went to on read the 2nd Evidence of Death and 3rd Shores of Death and thoroughly enjoyed them both as they’re both excellent novels in their own right.

There is a continuing development of Grace’s character and life after Cause of Death the connections she makes in and out side of Police Scotland; her relationships with colleagues and journalists alike. Whilst we lose some people along the way we gain new ones who become part of the fabric of these novels. She doesn’t feature as much in this one as the others but as you’ll know she has changed her life and her role in Police Scotland

That doesn’t detract as the big-hitter for me is the way Peter Ritchie builds up the gangland characters; in their most fiendish and ultimately misguided genius – as we see time and time again in these novels their naivety; and we’re all saying to ourselves as we read – how can they possibly get away with this? Who would know this paradigm unless they’d been around the block chasing down these guys.

This isn’t a whodunnit; it’s how and when will the world fall in around them? Big Arthur Hamilton, his son-in-law Dominic Grainger and low-level criminals like Tonto – Davy McGill and plenty more I won’t mention.

Then there is the central protagonist DI Janet Hadden – I quote from the book…

A call from the head teacher and a tense meeting made Hadden’s parents realise their daughter was never going to be someone who loved easily or would be loved by others. …..their friends and acquaintances, whose common agreement was that Janet Hadden was a ‘strange yin’  

She threw herself into sports and martial arts.

So we jump forward to the present – she’s hit a ceiling in her career – what’s that down to? She’s cold and calculating so to get ahead she decides to cross the thin blue line to see if she can play both ends against the middle. She introduces herself to a successful criminal. This is where the book basically starts to develops.

I think she misses one vital thing – the criminals are doing what they do because they are fundamentally dishonest and can’t be trusted as far as even, she, a martial arts expert can throw them.

This isn’t a procedural either; we know what’s going on from 360 degrees throughout it’s just a question of when will their respective house-of-cards fall down.

This one gets my five-gold-star award because there’s a bloody good old fashioned yarn on these pages full of intrigue, murder, double-deceit, threat, violence and cunning at play from all angles in this page-turner which I read in double-quick time.

Fast-paced and gripping from start to finish I never wanted to put the book down and that despite my wife catching up on a very popular fantasy TV series whilst I read –  Peter Ritchie won for me, he’s my king beyond the wall (Hadrian’s of course).

my thanks to Peter Ritchie and Black & White for the preview copy; it’s always a pleasure and also an accolade to be actually quoted on the inside cover of OLS from my blog of WNSF. Keep them coming Mr Ritchie I am waiting ….. we are all waiting!

follow the blog tour …..

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Where No Shadows Fall: Peter Ritchie

Where No Shadows Fall by Peter Ritchie (7 February)
Peter Ritchie returns with the latest detective Grace Macallan thriller, Where No Shadows Fall. Detective Macallan’s life has taken on a steady pace; a career away from the front line has resulted in an easy 9-to-5 desk job. However, when she’s asked to review the suicide of Tommy McMartin, the once heir of Scotland’s most powerful criminal family, Macallan is set on a trail that threatens to expose more than the lies the departed took to their graves. For fans of Jo Nesbø, Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson.
Where No Shadows Fall
So in preparation for my blog of this book I read Cause of Death the first in the Grace Macallan thrillers before I started this one.
I wanted to understand her back story; what makes her tick and what brought her to Edinburgh. It seems that a lot of water has gone under the bridge since that book. The old characters are there however i.e. the retired Harkins is still around always good to have continuity. If you haven’t read the others I would also recommend them.
Ritchie writes a ‘stonking’ crime procedural! In fact one of the best writers I’ve read in the last five years of reading crime – my passion so I can claim to be critical and know my business.
So in this one she’s got into a desk-job because she has a family and likes the routine hours but in contrast it bores her silly – watching the clock to see when she can leave that desk. There maybe other reasons in the books in between this and the first but I need (and so do you) need to read them. You’ll know I maintain that reading stories out of order is like watching episode 4 of an 8 parter on TV – you don’t really know the whole story or as I call it ‘the big picture.’
Grace misses the adrenalin of being in the front-line; even the long hours and the unknowns – but then that’s part of the fun of being in that line of work and for us reading page-turners like When No Shadows Fall.
Tommy McMartin is dead and has been a long time but we know the story in the first part of the book – almost like a prologue then there’s a seven year gap!  Two crime gangs are battling for supremacy – one’s on the down and the other is on the up and when the rivalries reach a head we are into some exciting reading.
The upshot is that Grace is asked to investigate Tommy’s involvement in a murder and his subsequent death in prison and why they were never solved properly – was he setup – was someone in the inside of the investigation covering-up?  I am being rhetorical because you’ll have to read this excellent crime story for yourselves to find out. As you know I do TEASERS but not SPOILERS!
Conclusion ‘5 stars’ for Peter Ritchie – in summary this is better than the first and he is developing his oeuvre. Keep up the great work sir. Back to my reading and happy staying up nights to finish this one and catch-up on the backstory.  I love the setting Edinburgh the castle the history and the atmosphere.

Black Water by Cormac O’Keeffe.

I love Dublin; the atmosphere; the bars; the history and the people. I’ve visited three times twice in the 90s and once in the last five years. One of the best places for the craic and a few pints of the black stuff which does taste better there! I’ve walked down Grafton Street and Molly’s statue but….

Black Water is a different Dublin! It’s not the Dublin I could have imagined before reading this well written and graphic novel about the darker side of the city. It is as billed like ‘The Wire’ with young broken kids doing the dirty work for the gang bosses. They’re also a young local soccer team led by Shay from the community trying to give them a better time.

I initially got lost with the fast pace: different characters popping up in a few pages. A death early on draws in the Garda to investigate. The circumstances around the windscreen wipers are a starting point for Garda Crowe to unravel the threads! She has a possible leak to the gangs from inside Garda to deal with- who can she trust?

Jig for one has drawn my affection for all his flaws and misguided actions. There’s his mates too – impressionable kids – are they already on the social scrap-heap?

Answer them for yourself- Black Water has to be read!

I love this book it’s gripping; page-turning stuff and I give it five stars! Good strong characters and soundly plotted. Looking forward to the next.

Catching up on my reading so far in 2017

Based on last year I am not doing very well on reading but I think I have the bug back now.

  • I’ve read Nutshell by McEwan;
  • re-read The Honourable Schoolboy by JLC;
  • The Whitehall Mandarin by Edward Wilson and also
  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.

Since I first drafted this piece I’ve now added

  • A Very British Ending again by Edward Wilson.
  • I then changed direction and read Beloved Poison by E. S. Thomson.

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I enjoyed the Nutshell because of it’s unusual narration from the perspective of an unborn child in the lead-female’s womb – commenting the to be committed crime along with her new partner – the brother of her ex-husband. The descriptive passages from the unborn child’s sentience although unborn and unworldly – describing being at the other end of the sexual act to being able to hear his mother listening to audio books. I loved the whole thing and it does have a predictable ending I suppose but still exciting as it builds-up to the final pages.

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The Whitehall Mandarin was a typical, factually based framework, good old-fashioned cold-war espionage novel following the main protagonist Catesby on the tail of double-agent; a US special forces agent who turned to fight against his comrades and the  daughter of the titular Whitehall Mandarin – the first female minister of defence. The detail which Wilson goes into of the circumstances in North Vietnam doing that conflict obvious belies his past as a special forces agent himself. The story centres around the reason the Chinese were able to get to the H-bomb in a much reduced time compared to the other major global powers and where did the secrets come from. A great read.

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I re-read The Honourable Schoolboy because of a repeated JLC interview about the Smiley trilogy and also because of the impending release this autumn of the latest novel from Mr Cornwell about Smiley and crew.  A long but enjoyable read about how George and the circus old-hands use the cover-ups perpetrated by Haydon to re-open what he was burying to protect Karla’s network.

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The Big Sleep was my first Chandler and as I read it the narrator sounded like Bogart all the way through – the book started very much – chapter and verse to the film but despite the closeness to the ploy throughout, the ending of the film was much more Hollywood than the book. Still a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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A Very British Ending is a long and detailed overlap of many of the stories of Catesby’s journey through the cold-war. Its main theme is the belief by MI5 that Harold Wilson was a soviet spy and the threat by some radical military to stage a coup d’etat! A great but scary read.

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Latterly, Beloved Poison is a gothic crime story about an apothecary, Jem Flockhart, in the 19th century who is trying to find out who is responsible for some miniature coffins that she and a character called Will have uncovered. The uncovering of the coffins starts a trail of deaths which put Jem in a cell before she is released by someone else’s confession but the story unfolds and leads back to Edinburgh and then establishes the link to London. A very enjoyable read. My current read is a first edition of the next Jem Flockhart – Dark Asylum

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I still have lots to read………

“Blood and Honey” DI Joe No.6 by Graham Hurley

Another exciting page in the continuing Portsmouth Procedurals with Faraday and Winter and more Jimmy Suttle.

I read this one, not a mean feat at 500+ pages, in a few days. Whilst this time last year I was struggling to find time and brain space to read I am now still travelling and working away but this now gives me the time to consume books at an increasing rate. In fact I am on no. 24 of 25 of my annual Goodreads challenge. I thought I’d set the bar quite high after only managing 20 at a push in 2015. I think I am reading faster into the bargain.

I read on Graham’s web page that his wife keeps ‘the charts’. I can only imagine these are extensive because the plot in each book always refers backwards to previous episodes.

The book of the blog.

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In this one we get a glimpse of how Winter is coping with his life changing event from a previous book but he will never really change his ways. Eadie, Joe’s most recent squeeze is out of the picture in this book, and J.J. doesn’t figure much either, but Joe does almost get involved with another woman with a thread from Angels Passing coming across his bows.

This one isn’t about Bazza Mackenzie, either, for a change. After the previous attempt to bring down his empire, we’ve moved on to a headless body at a bird watching site on the Isle of Wight, where in fact most of the action takes place with Joe as SIO and Willard putting on the pressure.

Meanwhile, working for Cathy Lamb on the crime squad, Paul and Jimmy are after a local business man called Wishart, after nicking a well known defence solicitor for possession and another guy for living on immoral earnings. Paul gets more than he bargained for out of the deal in the book and ends up with a nasty headache but a great new piece of skirt on his hands; she can be a headache too!

Joe is after a former squaddie for the headless dead body but they dont know who it is which makes pinning it down even harder. Helping Joe with this one is Tracey Barber, down on placement from London, she has a background in Special Branch which ties in nicely with the main plot. There are big references in this book to Bosnia which is where the main target has his allegiances and it appears also got a young and vulnerable ‘wife’.

What makes the story spin is the target runs lodgings and a care home on the island where a missing man had an argument with the owner. The missing man, not seen for months, seems to tie in with the body that is bloated and apparently chewed by sea creatures so not easily identifiable especially without a head. He had been visiting his ‘nan’ in the home but she’s unreliable because she has dementia.

My thoughts.

It’s a big book as I said but very enjoyable, very easy to read and I am on to the next one already called One Under.

As you know if you read my blogs I dont like to give anything away about the outcomes of books. I love all the local references which make these books very special to me.

I give it 5 stars because it flows, keeps you gripped whilst it leads you all over the place. The climax is good and whilst again a study of some political history with the backstory of UN peacekeeper forces in Bosnia.