The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

The Blurb On The Back:

The girl who hunted …

Becomes the woman who hunts.

The anger her sprung from the terror I’ve lived with since the moment I found out my dad was taken.  This anger is the flip side, the counterpoint, the shouted answer to the terror’s question.  Asks the terror, what will become of me?  Answers the anger, this.

When her diplomat father is kidnapped, Gwendolyn seems to be the only one with the will and determination to find him.  As she follows a trail across Europe’s criminal underworld, she must relinquish her schoolgirl identity and face a terrifying truth about herself.

To overcome the cruelty she encounters, she must also embrace it.

Who will Gwendolyn become?

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What Remains Of Me by A. L. Gaylin

The Blurb On The Back:

People don’t need to know you’re a murderer.

They just have to think you could be.

On June 28, 1980, Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home and instantly becomes a media sensation.  For years, speculation swirls over the seventeen-year-old’s motives and what really happened that night.  Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom but keeps her secrets to herself.

Thirty years later and five years after her release from prison the past has come back to haunt Kelly.  Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.

Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder.  But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent of both killings and want to help clear her name.  But is she?

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Fever by Mary Beth Keane

The Blurb On The Back:

Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, has battled fiercely to better her lot in life.  She works her way up the ranks to cook for the wealthiest families in Manhattan, but leaves a trail of death and disease in her wake.  When she is accused of spreading typhoid and imprisoned in complete isolation on an island off Manhattan, despite being perfectly healthy herself, she refuses to understand her paradoxical situation.  Condemned by press and public alike, she is branded a murderer, but continues to fight for her freedom.   

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Blurb On The Back:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs.  The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer.  Now what Starr says could destroy her community.  It could also get her killed.

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The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The Blurb On The Back:

I’m going to tell you something.  A little story.  A tragic tale.  I advise you to listen carefully. 

It’s about a legacy …

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s ten-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died.  And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people.  Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased.  But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky.  The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio.  He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code?  And if they do, will they be next?

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Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

The Blurb On The Back:

12.46:

13-year-old Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop.

12.47:

Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her.

12.52:

The girl is missing …

Six minutes is all it takes to ruin detective Ted Conkaffey’s life.  Now he’s living in the croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake, and a high-profile author has just gone missing …

Accused but not convicted of Claire’s abduction, Detective Ted Conkaffey escapes north, to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson lake.

Amanda Pharrell knows what it’s like to be public enemy no. 1.  Maybe it’s her murderous past that makes her so good as a private investigator, tracking lost souls in the wilderness.  Her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own – so she enlists help from the one person in town more hated than she is: Ted Conkaffey.

But the residents of Crimson lake are watching the pair’s every move.  And for Ted, a man already at breaking point, this town is offering no place to hide …

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A Twist Of The Knife by Becky Masterman

The Blurb On The Back:

It takes a strong woman to be able to watch someone die.

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn has seen it all, and survived.  But nothing can cut her closer to the bone than family …

Laura Coleman once saved Brigid’s life, but is now working on an ‘innocence project’, investigating cold cases.  And one in particular seems to have caught her attention.  Fifteen years before, Marcus Creighton was accused of killing his wife and three children.  Now the state governor has signed the warrant for his execution.

Worried that her friend is getting in too deep, Brigid promises to help.  But what if her instincts are betraying her?  If she can’t even trust her memories of her own childhood, how can she make a call on some stranger’s story that took place over fifteen years before?

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The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Blurb On The Back:

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her House is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her.  Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin, Henry VI of England, fails to recognise her as a kindred spirit, and even more when he sinks into madness.  Worst of all for Margaret is discovering that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

Married to a man twice her age, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph.  She sets her heart on putting her son Henry on the throne of England regardless of the cost.  Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty she sends Henry into exile and pledges him in marriage to the daughter of her enemy Elizabeth Woodville.  She feigns loyalty to the usurper King Richard III, marries one of his faithful supporters and then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time – all the while knowing that her son is growing to manhood, recruiting an army, his eyes on the greatest prize. 

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Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

The Blurb On The Back:

Some patients will live.

Some patients will die.

But while their lives hang by a thread …

The heart surgeon will do everything he can to save them.

The day his grandfather died, Steve Westaby vowed to become a heart surgeon.

Today, as one of the world’s most eminent heart surgeons, Professor Steve Westaby shares the stories of the lives he has fought to save. 

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Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The Blurb On The Back:

THIS IS THE STORY OF:

A mysterious city stripped of its name.

A mythic hero with blood on his hands.

A young librarian with a singular dream.

A blue-skinned goddess every bit as perilous as she is imperilled.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around –

And Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly in choosing him.  Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it.  Then a stunning opportunity presents itself and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.  

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Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr

The Blurb On The Back:

France, 1956.  Bernie Gunther is on the run.  If there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s never to refuse a job from a high-ranking secret policeman.  But this is exactly what he’s just done.  Now he’s a marked man, with the East German Stasi on his tail.

Fleeing across Europe, he remembers the last time he worked with his pursuer: in 1939, to solve a murder at the Berghof, Hitler’s summer hideaway in the Bavarian Alps.  Hitler is long dead, the Berghof now a ruined shell, and the bizarre time Bernie spent there should be no more than a distant memory.

But as he pushes on to Berlin and safety, Bernie will find that no matter how far he thinks he has put Nazi Germany behind him, for him it will always be unfinished business.  The Berghof is not done with Bernie yet.

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Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

The Blurb On The Back:

The perfect death leaves perfect remains …

On a remote Highland mountain, a body burns.  All that’s left behind are the victim’s teeth and a fragment of silk.  Meanwhile, in the hidden back room of a house in Edinburgh, a second woman screams into the darkness.

It’s DI Luc Callanach’s first day with Police Scotland, and he’s handed a homicide investigation.  With everything to prove, he and his new colleague DI Ava Turner are up against a killer who meticulously covers his tracks.

When a third woman is taken, Callanach is desperate to prevent another innocent death – but the real fate of these women is more twisted than he could have ever imagined …

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Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

The Blurb On The Back:

A stranger has come to the city …

The metropolis of New Crobuzon sprawls at the centre of the world. Humans and mutants and arcane races brood in the gloom beneath its chimneys, where the river is sluggish with unnatural effluent, and factories and foundries pound into the night.  For more than a thousand years, the Parliament and its brutal militia have ruled over a vast economy of workers and artists, spies and soldiers, magicians, junkies and whores.

Now a strange has arrived, with a pocket full of gold and an impossible demand.  And inadvertently, clumsily, something unthinkable is released.

While the city is gripped by an alien terror, the fate of millions lies with a clutch of renegades on the run from lawmakers and crime-lords, outcast and alone.  The urban nightscape has become a hunting ground.  Battles rage in the shadows of uncanny architecture.  And a reckoning is due at the city’s heart, in a vast edifice of brick and wood and steel, under the chaotic vaults of Perdido Street Station.

A nightmare has come to the city.  And it is too late to escape. 

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Hoffer by Tim Glencross

The Blurb On The Back:

“Beside the sofa was a pooled form.  I’d seen dead bodies before, but there was something different about finding one in my Kensington flat, lazily covered by an old Liberty throw I’d had for years.

Though hardly in the mood, I decided not to cancel my appointment with Roland Turner at the Whig Club.”

William Hoffer – handsome, refined, a little cold perhaps – is an established figure in London society.

But Hoffer has secrets.  He is vague about his Midwestern origins.  The counsel he offers a Russian billionaire may extend to murkier topics than art investments.  Then there is the question of his money, which is running out.

When a ghost from his past in Mexico returns, so do Hoffer’s brutal instincts for self-preservation … 

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Spook Street by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Never outlive your ability to survive a fight. 

Twenty years retired, David Cartwright can still spot when the stoats are on his trail.

Jackson Lamb worked with Cartwright back in the day.  He knows better than most that this is no vulnerable old man.  ‘Nasty old spook with blood on his hands’ would be a more accurate description.

‘The old bastard’ has raised his grandson with a head full of guts and glory.  But far from joining the myths and legends of Spook Street, River Cartwright is consigned to Lamb’s team of pen-pushing no-hopers at Slough House.

So it’s Lamb they call to identify the body when Cartwright’s panic button raises the alarm at Service HQ.

And Lamb who will do whatever he thinks necessary, to protect an agent in peril

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Real Tigers by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Catherine Standish knows that chance encounters never happen to spooks. 

She’s worked in the Intelligence Service long enough to understand treachery, double-dealing and stabbing in the back.

What she doesn’t know is why anyone would target her: a recovering drunk pushing paper with the other lost causes in Jackson Lamb’s kingdom of exiles at Slough House.

Whoever it is holding her hostage, it can’t be personal.  It must be about Slough House.  Most likely, it is about Jackson Lamb.

And say what you like about Lamb, he’ll never leave a joe in the lurch.

He might even be someone you could trust with your life …

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Dead Lions by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Dickie Bow is not an obvious target for assassination. 

But once a spook, always a spook.  And Dickie was a talented streetwalker back in the day, before he turned up dead on a bus.  A shadow.  Good at following people, bringing home their secrets.

Dickie was in Berlin with Jackson Lamb.  Now Lamb’s got his phone, and on it the last secret Dickie ever told, and reason to believe an old-time Moscow-style op is being run in the Service’s back yard.

In the Intelligence Service purgatory that is Slough House, Jackson Lamb’s crew of back-office no-hopers is about to go live … 

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It’s several months after SLOW HORSES and River Cartwright had hoped that he would, if not, be back at Regent’s Park, at least be doing more ops.  Instead he’s still chained to his desk, following up paper trails that no one’s interested in. At least Min Harper and Louisa Gay are out doing something.  ‘Spider’ Webb has got them carrying out a babysitting exercise on Arkady Pashkin, a Russian energy oligarch with political aspirations keen to do a deal with London.

Meanwhile Jackson Lamb is looking into the death of Dickie Bow (an agent he worked with in Berlin) who died of a heart attack on a bus in Oxford.  Bow was a shadow – an expert at tailing people – and Lamb knows that he would never have strayed from his London home without good reason.  And there on Bow’s phone hidden under the seat where he died, Lamb discovers a clue to a myth, a legend that no one in the Service has ever really believed because it’s just too crazy to be true.  Isn’t it?

The second in Mick Herron’s JACKSON LAMB SERIES is another fast-paced, twisting spy thriller with Cold War roots, a dark sense of humour, sassy one-liners and a cheerful willingness to kill characters just as you’re starting to love them.  What makes this series stand out is the way Herron brings his different plot strands together in a fluid way that combines Cold War paranoia with modern worries and motivations to keep the reader hooked.  I love the machinations of Lady Di Taverner and Lamb’s ability to counter them, River’s relationship with the O.B. (who injects the Cold War history but only gives information up to a point) and I also enjoyed the way that the Slough House team is slowly coming together and Catherine’s role in achieving that (with Catherine rapidly becoming my favourite character by being the calm, ordered counterpoint to Lamb’s offensive chaos).  The two newcomers – Shirley Dander and Marcus Longridge – have promise and Ho’s more stereotypical attributes are slowly softening.  Herron is brutal with his character deaths and I was very surprised by the ones in this book and am intrigued to see the effects in the future books.  I still think Lamb’s personal habits are overdone but that’s the only bum note (no pun intended) in the book and I will definitely read the next in this series.

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

You don’t stop being a spook just because you’re no longer in the game. 

Banished to Slough House from the ranks of achievers at Regent’s Park for various crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal, Jackson Lamb’s misfit crew of highly trained joes don’t run ops, they push paper.

But not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a ‘slow horse’.

A boy is kidnapped and held hostage.  His beheading is scheduled for live broadcast on the internet.

And whatever the instructions of the Service, the slow horses aren’t going to just sit quiet and watch … 

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Nancy Parker’s Spooky Speculations by Julia Lee

The Blurb On The Back:

I am sitting up in bed in my new room.

It’s the middle of the night & I haven’t had a wink of sleep.  My ears are out on stalks & my eyes are peeled – every bit of me is ready to detect another STRANGE OCCURRENCE.

Not that anything has happened.

But I fear it will.

Nancy Parker thinks her luck is in when she finds the perfect job in an old house by the sea.

But strange noises and ghostly appearances soon set Nancy dusting off her detective skills.  And who better to help than her old friend, Ella Otter?  But what spooky secrets will they find as they delve into the mystery?

Who (or what) is making the mysterious creaks and thumps that only Nancy hears?  Does someone (or something) want them out of the house?  And what dangers do the dark, dank cellars hold?  

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Corpus by Rory Clements

The Blurb On The Back:

1936.  Europe is in turmoil.  The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland; in Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror; Spain has erupted in civil war. 

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist.  Within weeks she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books.  But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VII and his mistress Wallis Simpson …

Professor Wilde’s specialist subject is the Elizabethan secret service.  As the scope of the conspiracy is revealed, he must use all the skills he has learnt to save the woman he loves and prevent a massacre. 

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The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

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Brighton, July 1812. 

Lady Helen Wrexhall has taken refuge in Brighton following the scandalous events at her presentation ball.  Now she must complete her Reclaimer training, ready to battle the Grand Deceiver believed to have arrived in England.

Her mentor, Lord Carlston, is facing his own inner battle, and as he fights the violent darkness within his soul, Lady Helen’s loyalty is tested.  Entrusted with a secret mission by the Home Office, she must make the agonising choice between betraying those around her or breaking her oath to the Dark Days Club.  

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