Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: The Body on the Doorstep by A J Mackenzie

The Body on the Doorstep by A J Mackenzie, August 2016, 288 pages, Zaffre, ISBN: 178576120X

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

The year is 1796. It is midnight on Romney Marsh, Kent, on England's south-east coast in the darkness of a new moon. Smugglers’ boats bring their illicit cargoes of brandy and tobacco from France to land on the beaches of the Channel coast. Suddenly, shots ring out in the night. The rector of St Mary in the Marsh, the Reverend Hardcastle opens his front door to find a young man dying on his doorstep and is lucky to avoid another shot himself.

The young man lives long enough to utter four words. "Tell Peter...mark...trace..."

What do those four words mean? Who is the young man? Where did he come from, and who killed him? Why, five minutes later, was a Customs officer shot and killed out on the Marsh? And who are the mysterious group of smugglers known as the 'Twelve Apostles', and where does their allegiance lie? When the rector investigates, aided by his faithful allies:- Mrs Amelia Chaytor, a local widow, and the young painter William Turner, he quickly finds himself involved in a world of smuggling, espionage...and danger.

This book was absolutely gripping in the historical details which were really fascinating and the one thing I was absolutely amazed about was the huge volume of alcohol that was consumed by the Reverend Hardcastle. He often drank a pint of claret with his breakfast and was sipping port or brandy all day long and getting through several bottles each day!! The joint authors say that people in the eighteenth-century drank, and not tea and coffee, but very large volumes of alcohol. They really drank. Not just trebles all round; beer for breakfast was not unusual among the lower orders, while those who could afford it might start the day with a tankard of claret, or even port. And throughout the remainder of the day, alcohol was consumed in vast quantities at all levels of society.

This was a really exciting and truly atmospheric historical mystery that had me transfixed from page one until the final conclusion. The plot was hugely imaginative and the characters were very believable. Whilst the rector and Mrs Chaynor investigate all the various clues to the mystery that they unearth, the plot twists one way and then goes off in another direction and the reader has no alternative but to read on and I just did not want this book to conclude but unfortunately it did and I only am comforted by the fact that further books are promised by these very talented new authors.

Because of the time that the story was set in when there were great worries that the French might invade and the modern appliances that we take for granted such as the internet, DNA, newspapers, TV and other modern conveniences were refreshingly absent at that time solving a crime was particularly difficult and word of mouth was extremely important. So the Reverend Hardcastle and his allies had great difficulty in their investigations and this made the story so much more interesting. I look forward to reading many more books in the future by this very exciting author.

Strongly recommended.

Terry Halligan, April 2017.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Review: Murderabilia by Craig Robertson

Murderabilia by Craig Robertson, March 2017, 432 pages, Simon & Schuster UK, ISBN: 1471156591

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

Another corker from Craig Robertson and covering a topic that is gruesome to say the very least. The central theme of the novel hovers around the unsavoury habit of collecting artifacts from murders – pieces of clothing, jewellery, hair, weapons. Even bricks from houses where murders took place. The list goes on and the prices paid can be astronomical. Robertson admits to having looked into this murky world as part of the research for his book. It is impossible to imagine what he found or, indeed, why people want to collect such things.

MURDERABILIA continues Robertson’s series featuring crime photographer Tony Winter and his detective girlfriend Rachel Narey. Tony lost his job with the police in the last book and is now trying his hand at journalism. Getting a lead for a good story is not proving to be particularly successful for him and he doesn’t feel cut out for the job. But then, one morning, a body suspended from a bridge in Glasgow city centre shocks the early commuters and the whole city finds itself reeling. The deceased is the son of a high profile politician and Tony’s photograph of the pile of clothes left neatly folded beneath the body proves to be an instant media hit. Narey, now pregnant, is removed from the case and, much to her disgust, made to endure forced bed rest after collapsing at work. She must stay calm at all costs to keep her baby safe but staying out of things proves to be too difficult for her – especially with her nemesis Denny Kelbie brought in to save the day.

Close scrutiny of Tony’s photo soon reveals that not everything is as it should be. Key pieces of clothing are missing from the pile and pretty soon they appear for sale on a somewhat dodgy website. Armed with her laptop and going out of her mind with boredom, Rachel starts to dig and is soon out of her depth in the Dark Web, shocked at what she finds. She sends Tony to do her investigating and both of them are soon caught up in a world where murder is a collectible art and people seem to be willing to pay very high prices for their coveted prize. Rachel, drawn in by the irresistible lure of the objects she finds, is soon buying murderabilia. But her questions have been noticed and it is not long before somebody is watching her closely as well. Can she and Tony solve the case before it is too late or will her fate end up being the same as that of Sharon Tate, who was infamously murdered when pregnant, and is now haunting her dreams?

An absorbing and engrossing book, this is one of Craig Robertson’s finest works. It has so many twists and turns that you must stay on your toes to keep up but the ever-increasing pace, that winds up slowly then reaches a screaming crescendo, will keep you up at night to find out what happens. I have read all of Craig Robertson’s books and am always delighted to be asked to review another one. He is a talented wordsmith and I am enjoying watching him develop his craft.

Extremely Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, April 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Some New Amateur Sleuths

Here are some British traditional mysteries published this year, that I'm looking forward to reading. The first two are historicals and the last two are modern day and all are first in series (though I'm not sure if A Dangerous Crossing is actually a standalone.).


The Riviera Express by TP Fielden published in February 2017 by HQ.

Gerald Hennessey – silver screen star and much-loved heart-throb – never quite makes it to Temple Regis, the quaint Devonshire seaside town on the English Riviera. Murdered on the 4.30 from Paddington, the loss of this great man throws Temple Regis’ community into disarray.

Not least Miss Judy Dimont –corkscrew-haired reporter for the local rag, The Riviera Express. Investigating Gerald’s death, she’s soon called to the scene of a second murder, and, setting off on her trusty moped, Herbert, finds Arthur Shrimsley in an apparent suicide on the clifftops above the town beach.

Miss Dimont must prevail – for why was a man like Gerald coming to Temple Regis anyway? What is the connection between him and Arthur? And just how will she get any answers whilst under the watchful and mocking eyes of her infamously cantankerous Editor, Rudyard Rhys?

A Dangerous Crossing by (Tamar/Tammy Cohen writing as) Rachel Rhys, published in March 2017 by Doubleday.

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

Date with Death by (Julia Stagg writing as) Julia Chapman, also published in March, by Pan.

Samson O'Brien has been dismissed from the police force, and returns to his hometown of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales to set up the Dales Detective Agency while he fights to clear his name. However, the people of Bruncliffe aren't that welcoming to a man they see as trouble.

Delilah Metcalfe, meanwhile, is struggling to keep her business, the Dales Dating Agency, afloat - as well as trying to control her wayward Weimaraner dog, Tolpuddle. Then when Samson gets his first case, investigating the supposed suicide of a local man, things take an unexpected turn, and soon he discovers a trail of deaths that lead back to the door of Delilah's agency.

With suspicion hanging over someone they both care for, the two feuding neighbours soon realize that they need to work together to solve the mystery of the dating deaths. But working together is easier said than done . . .

The Prime of Ms Dolly Greene by (Daisy Waugh) writing as E V Harte publishing in September by Constable.

In the heart of South West London, just a short stroll from the Thames, lies an enclosed and overgrown bike path and a single row of cottages. Its name is Tinderbox Lane. Foremost among the Lane's hotpotch of loyal residents is professional Tarot reader, Dolly Greene: divorced and permanently broke, she shares her tiny house with her 21-year-old daughter Pippa.

When, one stiflingly hot summer's day, Dolly reads the cards for the voluptuous and highly-sexed Nikki, her usually professional patter is interrupted by a sudden vision - a flash of Nikki's face, covered in blood and bruises. Death hangs over the magnificent Nikki - but there is an etiquette to reading Tarot and Dolly will not talk of murder to her client.

A few days later when the body of a battered woman is washed up by Chiswick Bridge, Dolly is haunted by the belief that Nikki's time may have come. . . but can she be sure? How far is Dolly prepared to go to act on her intuition? And will Sergeant Raff Williams, the officer assigned to investigate the murder, think Dolly's hunch insane?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Awards News: Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2017 - Longlist

It feels like summer's on its way when the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year longlist appears!
From the press release:
Now in its 13th year, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction and is open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2017.
We are delighted to share with you the 18 titles that have made their way onto this year’s longlist!

Mark Billingham - DIE OF SHAME
Christopher Brookmyre - BLACK WIDOW
Lee Child - NIGHT SCHOOL
Eva Dolan - AFTER YOU DIE
Sabine Durrant - LIE WITH ME
Mick Herron - REAL TIGERS
Sarah Hilary - TASTES LIKE FEAR
Antonia Hodgson - THE LAST CONFESSION OF THOMAS HAWKINS
Val McDermid - OUT OF BOUNDS
Alex Marwood - THE DARKEST SECRET
Peter May - COFFIN ROAD
Stuart Neville - THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND
Ian Rankin - EVEN DOGS IN THE WILD
Craig Robertson - MURDERABILIA
William Shaw - THE BIRDWATCHER
Susie Steiner - MISSING, PRESUMED
Ruth Ware - THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10
David Young - STASI WOLF

The shortlist of six titles will be announced on 20 May, followed by a seven-week promotion in libraries and WHSmith stores nationwide from 1 June.

The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at www.theakstons.co.uk.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on 20 July on the opening night of the 15th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Review: The House With No Rooms by Lesley Thomson

The House With No Rooms by Lesley Thomson, September 2016, 480 pages, Head of Zeus, ISBN: 1784972231

Reviewed by Susan White.
(Read more of Susan's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

In the baking hot summer of 1976 a young girl, Chrissie, is reluctantly having botanical art lessons with Mr Watson who works at Kew Gardens. The lessons have been arranged by her father, a taxi driver, who wants her to have the best chances in life. He enrols her in a private school where she meets new friends, Bella and Emily, and as she tries to equal their backgrounds and lifestyles, she soon finds her stories are growing out of control and pretends that Mr and Mrs Watson are her parents and that she lives in their big house. One day as she waits for her friends, she sees a woman being murdered, but the body disappears.

In November 2014, Stella Darnell owns a very successful cleaning company which has just won the contract to clean at Kew Gardens. Before his death, her father was a senior police detective and Stella and her close friend Jack, have had some success in solving mysteries in their spare time. Jack is a train driver, as well as working as a cleaner for Stella's company. He is also jealous of Detective Superintendent Cashman's close connection with Stella. Cashman was a friend of Stella's father and feels that it is his duty to look after her. Early one morning when cleaning one of the galleries at Kew on her own, Stella finds the body of a man.

The two strands of the story, 1976 and 2014 are told side by side. For most of the book, I felt as if I was reading two separate stories and found the experience annoying. I think that if an author adopts this sort of device then they need to ensure that some of the connections are clear enough to pick up, otherwise it is easy for the reader to lose track of the various strands. For me, the book only came alive, when I started to recognise and understand the connections between the characters and this was quite late in the story. I haven't read this author before, but I will be reading another since I did like the characters and this encourages me to give the author another chance.

Susan White, April 2017

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Review: Dark Asset by Adrian Magson

Dark Asset by Adrian Magson, January 2017, 256 pages, Severn House Publishers Ltd, ISBN: 0727886991

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

This author never ceases to amaze me with the high quality of his writing even though he is currently researching and preparing two main series of books. There is this series with Marc Portman and also the 'Cruxys Solutions Investigations' series the last one named THE BID which was published in paperback in February 2017.

Marc Portman's latest assignment is providing back-up for a French intelligence agent sent to recover a hard drive from one of the most dangerous cities on the planet: Mogadishu in Somalia. What he hasn't been told is that the device records secret negotiations between two leading western nations and a hard-line terrorist organisation responsible for killing thousands of innocent people.

When the decision is taken to abandon the talks, anybody in the know immediately becomes a target to be silenced.

And Portman finds himself at the top of the list...


This book was non-stop action and suspense. Portman has to go into the centre of this highly dangerous city to meet a French agent who is supposed to have a hard drive with highly dangerous data on it. Unfortunately, the rendezvous building he goes to is under siege by very unfriendly people and Portman finds the agent but he has been shot and killed.....

It is a book that once started it is almost impossible to put down and I was up until quite late at night before I finally reached the very gripping conclusion.

The main attraction I have in reading this author's work is that the stories are completely unpredictable, in the middle of this one I remember thinking - what is going to happen next? And having no idea at all except that whatever it is will be highly imaginative and take the story in a fresh direction entirely.

This very exciting and sensationally well plotted creation rushes on to its final dramatic conclusion. I have had the privilege of reviewing many of this author's books and I hope to read yet more of this very gifted author's stories, whether it is in this new series or any of the previous ones or completely in a new direction soon. If you want to start reading an exciting book that is exceedingly difficult to put down once started then buy this one. Very strongly recommended.

Terry Halligan, April 2017.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Publishing Deal - Susanne Jansson

[I discovered this a bit belatedly]..from The Bookseller:
In the Mire, the atmospheric Swedish debut which prompted a Europe-wide frenzy for rights at last week's London Book Fair, has been snapped up by Hodder & Stoughton after a three-way auction.

Crime and thriller publisher Ruth Tross bought British and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, as part of a two-book deal and will publish In the Mire by Susanne Jansson on the Mulholland list in early 2019.

[] "eerie" thriller, about two women who are forced to confront “buried horrors of the past” in a mire in rural Sweden []
It's also been snapped up in the US. From Publishers Lunch Weekly [with a bit more about the plot]:
Susanne Jansson debut IN THE MIRE, following a young biologist who returns to the rural town where she grew up in order to make up with her traumatic past, only to get pulled into the hunt for a serial killer who draws inspiration from the Iron Age when people buried their human sacrifices in peat bogs - a natural ecosystem that preserves bodies for thousands of years, to Grand Central.

Monday, April 03, 2017

New Releases - April 2017

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in April 2017 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). March and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything do please leave a comment.
• Arlen, Tessa - A Death by Any Other Name #3 Lady Montfort, Edwardian Era
• Beck, Haylen - Here and Gone
• Beckett, Simon - The Restless Dead #5 Dr David Hunter
• Bjork, Samuel - The Owl Always Hunts at Night #2 Holger Munch & Mia Kruger, Oslo Police
• Blake, Sam - In Deep Water #2 Detective Garda Cathy Connolly, Dublin
• Bolton, Sharon - Dead Woman Walking
• Brookmyre, Christopher - Want You Gone #8 Jack Parlabane
• Brown, Eric - Murder Take Three #4 Donald Langham, Crime Writer, London, 1955
• Buckley, Fiona - A Deadly Betrothal #15 Ursula Blanchard, an Elizabethan lady
• Bussi, Michel - Don't Let Go
• Chisholm, P F - A Clash of Spheres #8 Sir Robert Carey, 16th Century
• Clare, Alys - The Devil's Cup #17 Abbess Helewise and Sir Josse d'Acquin, 12th Century England.
• Connolly, John - A Game of Ghosts #15 Charlie Parker, PI, Maine
• Corbin, Julie - What Goes Around
• Corbin, Julie - Now That You're Gone
• Cotterell, T A - What Alice Knew
• Cross, Mason - Don't Look For Me #4 Carter Blake, USA
• Dahl, K O - Faithless #7 Gunnarstranda and Frolich, Oslo Police
• Davis, Lindsey - The Third Nero #5 Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco
• Daws, Robert - The Poisoned Rock #2 Detectives Sullivan and Broderick
• de Muriel, Oscar - A Mask of Shadows #3 Frey & McGray, Edinburgh, 1880s
• Finch, Paul - Ashes to Ashes #5 Detective Mark 'Heck' Heckenberg
• Gray, Clio - Burning Secrets #2 Scottish Mysteries
• Grey, Isabelle - The Special Girls #3 Detective Grace Fisher, Essex
• Gulvin, JM - The Contract #2 John Q Mystery
• Gunn, Alastair - The Keeper #3 DCI Antonia Hawkins, London
• Gutfreund, Amir - Last Bullet Calls It
• Hall, Simon - Justice Mirror #8 Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen & TV Crime reporter Dan Groves, Devon
• Hamalainen, Karo Cruel is the Night
• Hammer, Lotte and Soren - The Lake #4 Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen
• Hampton, Nell - Kale to the Queen #1 Kensington Palace Chef
• Harris, C S - Where the Dead Lie #12 Sebastian St. Cyr, Regency England
• Harrison, Cora Beyond Absolution #3 Reverend Mother Aquinas, Cork, 1920s
• Harrison, Cora - The Cardinal's Court #1 Hugh Mac Egan, Tudor Era
• Hawkins, Alis - None So Blind #1 Harry Probert-Lloyd, 1850s, Wales
• Hayes, Terry - The Year of the Locust
• Hezroni, Nir - Three Envelopes
• Hill, Mark - The Two O'Clock Boy #1 DI Ray Drake
• Hilton, L S - Domina
• Jackson, David - Hope to Die #2 DS Nathan Cody, Liverpool
• James, Ed - What Doesn't Kill You #3 DI Fenchurch, London
• Kavanagh, Emma - The Killer On The Wall
• Kelly, Erin - He Said/She Said
• Kerr, Philip - Prussian Blue #12 Private Detective Bernhard Gunther, 1930s Berlin
• Lapidus, Jens - Stockholm Delete #4 Stockholm Noir
• Legat, Anna - Nothing to Lose #2 DI Gillian Marsh
• Lehtolainen, Leena - Before I Go #7 Detective Maria Kallio, Helsinki
• Leon, Donna - Earthly Remains #26 Commissario Guido Brunetti, Venice
• London, Kate - Death Message #2 DS Sarah Collins
• MacBride, Stuart - A Dark So Deadly
• Malliet, G M - Devil's Breath #6 Max Tudor, Vicar
• Malone, Michael J - Dog Fight
• McIntyre, WHS - Good News, Bad News #2 Best Defense
• Meyrick, Denzil - Well of the Winds #5 DCI Daley
• Minato, Kanae - Penance
• Morfoot, Peter - Fatal Music #2 Captain Darac, Nice, France
• Nadel, Barbara - Bright Shiny Things #5 PI Lee Arnold and his assistant, Mumtaz Hakim. East End London
• Nakamura, Fuminori - The Boy in the Earth
• Nesbo, Jo - The Thirst #11 Detective Harry Hole, Oslo, Norway
• Padura, Leonardo - Heretics #6 Lt Mario Conde, Cuba
• Parsons, Tony - Die Last #4 Detective Max Wolfe of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, London
• Pembrey, Daniel - Night Market #2 Henk van der Pol
• Perry, Anne - An Echo of Murder #23 Inspector Monk
• Randall, Anne - Torn #3 DIs Wheeler and Ross, Glasgow
• Shelton, Paige - Of Books and Bagpipes #2 Scottish Bookshop Mystery
• Smith, Anna - Death Trap #8 Rosie Gilmour, Crime Journalist, 1990s
• Thomson, Lesley - The Dog Walker #5 Stella Darnell

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Win: A Pass to CrimeFest 2017


CrimeFest have kindly donated a pair of weekend passes to the upcoming event in Bristol on 18-21 May 2017.

Each pass includes admittance to all panels and interviews Thursday to Sunday, as well as a delegate goody bag and a programme, and is worth £195.

2017's featured guest authors include Ann Cleeves, Anthony Horowitz and Peter Lovesey.

The competition will close on 14 April 2017 at 11.59pm.
There are no geographical restrictions on entrants.
Only 1 entry per person please.

To enter the competition, please send the answer to the question below, along with your name and address to competition@crimefest.com
Who won the 2016 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year?
The winner of the 2017 Petrona Award will be announced at the Gala Dinner (tickets available separately).

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