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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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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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.

“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.

Cut to Black …. DI Joe #5 Graham Hurley

In my last blog I was in catch-up on Graham Hurley’s Portsmouth Police Procedurals featuring DI Joe Faraday and also dipping into the continuation of these in the Jimmy Suttle series set in the West Country. I have now read no. 5 called “Cut to Black”I raved in my blog about the procedural narrative,  the lives of the coppers and their personal battles, and the use of the back-drop of Portsmouth as an added bonus for me living in the area where most of the crimes are perpetrated, the police and perpetrators live.

The nastiness of the crimes in some of these cases has me now looking over my shoulder for Bazza’s mates, wondering if the lad with the hoodie loitering by the bike-rack at the station is up to no-good! The site of an unmarked Ford Fiesta parked at the side of the road with two dodgy looking blokes sitting there could be a couple of Kingston Crescent DCs watching an address or someone in particular. The sound of a siren, usually a head-turner anyway, now has my imagination fired-up even more.

The book of the blog

Cut to Black follows the continuing exploits of Faraday and Winter.

Faraday is still in Major Crimes and gets appointed to take over a covert operation to bring down the aforementioned crime-boss in Pompey  “Bazza”  who has almost completely separated himself from being  ‘a mush from Copnor’ ; from his away football fan roots in the notorious and violent ‘6:57;’ his evolution into drug-dealing, the foundation of his fortune, and then his move to appear legitimate by setting-up businesses and buying property to help him wash his dirty money. Joe’s appointment is a result of one his colleagues being seriously injured in a hit and run accident. J.J., Joe’s son is now making serious documentary video’s with Joe’s now girlfriend Eadie Sykes and this leads to some trouble for both father and son and a conflict of interest!

Meanwhile Winter is now part of a crime-squad aimed at proactive policing – their task is to try run out of town some drug dealing ‘scousers’ who are treading on Bazza’s toes. Paul is partnered with Jimmy Suttle in this story and he learns some valuable lessons from Winter with hindsight.

This novel also has a lot of political ooomph as it’s set in March 2003 during the invasion by the US and UK of Iraq and the toppling of Sadam Hussein. I found this weird timing – I started reading this book just after the Chilcott report was published. The novel for me wasn’t so much about crime but about the people involved in it and how far their web can be spun. It’s about drug culture and the potential the money coming from that has for changing the economic fortune of an area.

Another highly recommended novel from Hurley’s library! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

PS Blood and Honey, no 6 is already dispatched from Amazon 

Connor Montrose in The London Cage

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As quite often happens a publisher – in this case Fledgling Press drops me a line and asks me to read and review a book before it’s release.  In this case it is The London Cage by Mark Leggatt. As with all the books I receive my first move is to check if there is one before. I was correct and in this case The Names of the Dead was published previously so being cheeky I asked the publisher for a copy of that book and it duly arrived in the post.

So who is Connor Montrose? Described in some reviews as Bond meets Bourne meets Indiana Jones – there is some truth in this in comparison as the pace of the plots is similar. The real Connor Montrose is a CIA IT Technician who has gone rogue because he was digging where he shouldn’t and found out about aircraft flights that no one should know about when he is trying to find out what has happened to his sister. The irony of this is to keep him out of trouble he is posted to Interpol in Europe, where he gets into more trouble.

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Names of the Dead

The CIA want Connor dead! “Shoot on sight with extreme prejudice” are  words expressed to ensure he cant speak. He gets tangled up in a plot to extract gold and millions of dollars hidden since the second world war. This involves him being permanently on the run.

The London Cage

Connor survives, as one would expect, but only by being one step ahead of the CIA with the help of a new ’employer’ and a side-kick called Kirsty.

We find him in a bar in London with an ear-piece watching proceedings between some Russian guys and some one selling photographs. The ear-piece is allowing him to communicate with Kirsty who is a hacker of the Lisbeth Salander standard.

Kirsty is an interesting character in her own right as you’ll find out she knows the rat-runs and back ways in London. She knows how to spot a Victorian lamppost that isn’t a lamppost at all but carries a bank of CCTV.

Connor and Kirsty are in the middle of a cat and mouse game; the CIA and MI5 are after them and narrowly escaping capture or being shot as in this story MI5 and the metropolitan police are US poodles doing what and when they told.

They are helped by a mysterious character called Pilgrim the brother of a character introduced and who dies in the prologue set 30 years in the past. The circumstances of his demise slowly unravel as the plot unveils a threat of nuclear war and Armageddon in the middle east unfolds with the Russians and Kirsty with her back-office genius Zac in the background competing to decipher codes taken from a photograph of the dead man when his body is recovered at the bottom of an glacier.

The plot comes to the explosive ending when the clues lead them to Whitechapel and the arches, a house with a supposed and disgraced double agent just before he gets killed. They do solve the problem, but Kirsty and Connor have to be chameleons in the watched-world that is 21st century London, with containment zones closing around them they change appearance, clothes and use devious means of transport to get where they need to go.

The London Cage is an excellent follow-up to Names of the Dead from Mark Leggatt and I can highly recommend it if you like a page-turning thriller non-stop tension, jumping from one close-call to another only escaping from each one in sometimes the most unlikely and fluky situations. in the Connor Montrose you never know who is on your side or who you can trust and how much they have to hide.

 The Names of the Dead is on Amazon in ebook format.

The London Cage is publish on June 29th, 2016 on Amazon in paperback.

thanks to:

Mark Leggatt

Linda MacFadyen at Fledgling Press for my review copies.

 

 

Willow Walk by SJI Holliday

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The Book of the Blog

Following on from ‘Black Wood’ – ‘Willow Walk’ sees us back in the fictional Banktoun following Davie Gray investigating drug-related deaths amongst teenagers in the region for his colleague in CID – Malkie. Does Davie want to join CID at his age?

His private life overlaps this story in a big way when a woman is found badly wounded and Malkie thinks it’s someone Davie knows! When he goes to the hospital it turns out not to be the girl – Marie – that he’s been dating on and off, but they have a lot of similarities but one key identifier isn’t on the injured victim.

In parallel with this Marie is receiving letters from someone called Graeme. As the story unfolds we find out who the mystery letter writer is and when he turns up in Banktoun things get messy for Marie and for the rest of community especially in the location of the book’s title.

Davie is hot on the trail and has discovered a link between Marie and a missing mental hospital patient as well as being hot on the trail of the ‘drug’ pushers.

Overlapping all this is Laura from the first story – one of Davie’s karate students and her escapades with a boy – a rite of passage for her, leading to her playing a part in the conclusion of the mystery letter-writer – when it all goes to mayhem.

I wont say anymore about the plot as I will spoil it.

My Thoughts

I was, I must admit, initially, a little dissapointed that not all of the main characters from Black Wood were featured but as Davie is the copper in the mix he is central to Willow Walk even more than he was in Black Wood. This makes Willow Walk a standalone if you haven’t read Black Wood, but my followers will know I like to read in order.

This is another excellently written page-turner from Susi. A true nail-biter.

I’d read the first in a matter of days despite having a day job and read this one in a similar time frame, consuming hundreds of pages sometimes in one sitting. That speaks volumes for me about the fluid way in which the narrative flows, alternating between Davie and Marie and ‘the letters’ she receives. The letters that keep appearing in the novel add to the ultimate creepiness of this story.

I highly recommend this chilling novel – it has suspense, thrills and it gave me the creeps. A thoroughly good read. 5 Stars for Willow Walk

Credits

SJI Holliday 

Black & White

Laura at B&W for my review copy of Willow Walk which started me on the Banktoun trail and introduced me to Susie’s work

 

Willow Walk – as I said in a recent post on social media “if it’s half as good as Black Wood we’re in for a treat”.

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watch out for the Blog Tour in June for the paperback release. In the meantime this is now out on ebook at the following page (if you’re not already there of course.)

Willow Walk eBook 

Black Wood is also on eBook, Print and Audio Download too!