Post Script: Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart – Christopher Fowler

Bryant & May – The Bleeding Heart

Christopher Fowler

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Doubleday

ISBN: 9780857522030

 

Description:

It’s a fresh start for the Met’s oddest investigation team, the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

 

Their first case involves two teenagers who see a dead man rising from his grave in a London park. And if that’s not alarming enough, one of them is killed in a hit and run accident. Stranger still, in the moments between when he was last seen alive and found dead on the pavement, someone has changed his shirt…

 

Much to his frustration, Arthur Bryant is not allowed to investigate. Instead, he has been tasked with finding out how someone could have stolen the ravens from the Tower of London. All seven birds have vanished from one of the most secure fortresses in the city. And, as the legend has it, when the ravens leave, the nation falls…

 

Soon it seems death is all around and Bryant and May must confront a group of latter-day bodysnatchers, explore an eerie funeral parlour and unearth the gruesome legend of Bleeding Heart Yard. More graves are desecrated, further deaths occur, and the symbol of the Bleeding Heart seems to turn up everywhere – it’s even discovered hidden in the PCU’s offices. And when Bryant is blindfolded and taken to the headquarters of a secret society, he realises that this case is more complex than even he had imagined, and that everyone is hiding something. The Grim Reaper walks abroad and seems to be stalking him, playing on his fears of premature burial.

 

Rich in strange characters and steeped in London’s true history, this is Bryant & May’s most peculiar and disturbing case of all.

 

 

My View:

Considering that this is the 11th book in the series I had no problem at all in picking up this novel and quickly becoming involved and engaged with the characters and the narrative; and this read was fun! As Fowler says on his website; http://www.christopherfowler.co.uk/blog/faq/

“I’m certainly no fan of kitchen sink drama I like stories that soar into strangeness rather than ones that faithfully replicate the ordinariness of life,” and this novel certainly dips into the ‘strangeness’ jar coating the characters in quirky,  spreading ‘unusual’

across a swathe of bizarre crimes (disinterred bodies, a death by sewage, ghostly happenings, evil mad  magical conspirators, missing birds…the list goes on.

 

I read somewhere (sorry the source has escaped me) that Fowler continues to add to this series because writing it is fun – and the reader gets a real sense of this in the narrative; the whimsy, the oddball, the eccentric…the quirky, all mixed with a good dose of social commentary and of course crimes as they progress through this novel.

This is good solid enjoyable crime read somewhat reminiscent of  the style of the Golden Age of Crime – at the least, the protagonists are of that golden age  🙂

 

Post Script: The Burning – Jane Casey

The Burning

Jane Casey

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250006608

 

Description:

In this first in Casey’s thrilling, romantic mystery series for adults, meet Detective Constables Maeve Kerrigan and Rob Langton

 

The Burning Man. It’s the name the media has given a brutal murderer who has beaten four young women to death before setting their bodies ablaze in secluded areas of London’s parks. And now there’s a fifth.

 

Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable, keen to make her mark on the murder task force. Her male colleagues believe Maeve’s empathy makes her weak, but the more she learns about the latest victim, Rebecca Haworth, from her grieving friends and family, the more determined Maeve becomes to bring her murderer to justice. But how do you catch a killer no one has seen when so much of the evidence has gone up in smoke?

 

Maeve’s frenetic hunt for a killer in Jane Casey’s gripping series debut will entrance even the most jaded suspense readers.

 

My View:

A first rate police procedural with a strong female cast- loved it!

            

This is the first book in the Maeve Kerrigan series and is a great introduction to the very likable main characters, the location and the fluent effortless writing style that is Jane Casey. I loved that the characters were fully developed; we get viewpoints from Maeve, Louise and Rob, and Casey uses the ploy of researching/interviewing associates from an earlier crime to further provide more background on our victim, suspects and on Kerrigan herself.

 

I like strong character based police procedurals.   I like the feeling of knowing our protagonist, of hearing her thoughts, her reasoning and following her actions. Kerrigan is just an average cop – with a determination to do her job well. I like the subplot of a new romance in Kerrigan’s life, again it adds to her “normalness” without cluttering the main storyline or tuning this into a cosy crime.

 

Without giving too much away – I liked the strong calculating, manipulative villain; a great character!

 

This was a very enjoyable read and I am looking forward to reading more by this author.

 

 

Post Script: The Son – Jo Nesbo

The Son

Jo Nesbo

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781448161102

 

Description:

 

SONNY’S ON THE RUN

Sonny is a model prisoner. He listens to the confessions of other inmates, and absolves them of their sins.

HE’S BEEN LIED TO HIS WHOLE LIFE

But then one prisoner’s confession changes everything. He knows something about Sonny’s disgraced father.

SONNY WANTS REVENGE

He needs to break out of prison and make those responsible pay for their crimes.

WHATEVER THE COST

 

 

My View:

The Son is perhaps the best of the Jo Nesbo books I have read (I have only read the Harry Hole series, not the standalones). Here there is great character development, a strange kind of innocence and serenity that is The Son, a wonderful love story that blossoms and warms the heart and murder, savage crimes, death and a bizarre kind of rogue justice that has you cheering for the bad guy come hero. Complex and intriguing, this novel has it all!

The Son introduces you to the bleak world of Sonny Lofthus – imprisoned for crimes he did not commit; his father a corrupt cop who commits suicide, his mother overdoses shortly after and then Sonny rapidly dissolves into the oblivion of  a heroin addiction. Life in prison follows quickly.  Here he has a special place; a place of solitude and a strange kind of respect where other prisoners’ value his stillness and confess to him their sins, seeking forgiveness in an almost religious manner. His life changes when his version of the world is torn apart with a truth that burns his gut like acid reflux and the need for vengeance and justice consume his existence.

Retribution for horrible and brutal crimes is exacted. Sonny is a gifted killer,  yet naively innocent of the world; compassionate, honest and this reader could not but help cheer him on his quest for vengeance and …love. Nesbo builds this narrative intricately, providing depth and understanding of the main characters in this book, providing the reader with a hero they can worship at the altar of street justice and villains that are truly evil and deserving all that is metered out to them, and a scorching ending that is gratifying and full of hope. A wonderful narrative that I feel truly showcases Nesbo’s talent and creative skills.  ENCORE!!!!

Post Script: The Dead Ground – Claire McGowan

The Dead Ground

Claire McGowan

Hachette Australia

Headline

ISBN: 9781472204370

Description

Forensic psychologist Paula McGuire returns in a nail-biting story that will keep you up all night…

A stolen baby. A murdered woman. A decades-old atrocity. Something connects them all.

A month before Christmas, and Ballyterrin on the Irish border lies under a thick pall of snow. When a newborn baby goes missing from hospital, it’s all too close to home for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who’s wrestling with the hardest decision of her life.

Then a woman is found in a stone circle with her stomach cut open and it’s clear a brutal killer is on the loose.

As another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula is caught up in the hunt for a killer no one can trace, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

The Dead Ground will leave you gasping for breath as Paula discovers every decision she makes really is a matter of life and death…

 

My View:

Claire McGowan – you are a talent I wish I have discovered earlier! This is a superbly crafted, well written, wonderfully descriptive, powerfully emotional and engaging narrative. I just loved this book and imagine that the earlier books in this series as well written. And yes it did keep me up all night – it was 2am when I finally and satisfactorily finished this read and was then able to allow myself to surrender to sleep. This is  book that stands alone; it does not rely on incidents of graphic violence and forensic pathology to shock the reader into submission; it relies on good storytelling, depth and talent!

This is my first 5 star read for the year – and I am pretty discerning! This narrative has all the elements of a great read – wonderful settings – rural Ireland is stark, harsh, and often remote and eerie. It has  characters that leap of the page, a sub plot; Paula’s story, that is engaging and heart rendering, a background based on the cruel and relentless violence of “The Troubles”, murders and mysteries that will have you guessing to the end and a plot with many twists and turns that will keep you reading until the very last page.

This is a fascinating read. Be carried away to a distant land, to a land of “Troubles”, a land of suspicion and violence and…hope.

Post Script: The Telling Error – Sophie Hannah

The Telling Error

Sophie Hannah

Hachette Australia

Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 9780340980767

Description:

Queen of psychological crime Sophie Hannah returns with a new literary mystery that’s impossible to solve…

Stuck in a traffic jam on her way to deliver her son’s forgotten sports kit to school, Nicki Clements sees a face she hoped never to see again. It’s definitely him, the same police officer. He’s stopping all the cars on Elmhirst Road one by one, talking to every driver. Keen to avoid him, Nicki does a U-turn and takes a long and inconvenient detour, praying he won’t notice her panicked escape.

He doesn’t, but a CCTV camera does, as Nicki soon finds out when detectives pull her in for questioning the next day in connection with the murder of Damon Blundy, controversial newspaper columnist and resident of Elmhirst Road.

Nicki can’t answer any of the baffling questions detectives’ fire at her. She has no idea why a killer might sharpen nine knives at the murder scene, then use two blunt ones to kill, in a way that involves no stabbing or spilling of blood. She doesn’t know what ‘HE IS NO LESS DEAD’ means, or why the murderer painted it on the wall of Blundy’s study. And she can’t explain her desire to avoid Elmhirst Road on the day in question without revealing the secret that could ruin her life.

Because, although Nicki is not guilty of murder, she is far from innocent…

 

My View:

The introduction to this psychological mystery had me intrigued – an ad from the Men seeking Women section on a website called Intimate Links UK –heading – Looking for a Woman with a Secret. This was intriguing and further the ad went on to describe an actual murder…even more intriguing!  However it took me a little time to warm to this narrative – after this enticing intro I found there was a lot of info that for me did not connect to the narrative for a very long time…however once I made the connection I was hooked.

I really felt for the protagonist Nicki Clements – she was able to express in her emails to her cyber lover so many cohesive, pertinent thoughts and emotions; the sub text was so revealing and worrying, I really felt for the child Nicki, her pain and trauma was very convincing and so very sad, the effects of her childhood abuse so very telling.

The underlying theme about social media, online ‘adventures’ or cyber-sex was very very interesting; when navigating  cyber space do we really ever know who we are connecting with? Be very wary.

This narrative showed such great insight into the human psyche, the need for connections and unconditional love, the need to be trust and to belong…the more I think of the nuances of this story the more I understand; this author has great psychological awareness and she is able to weave this awareness seamlessly into a murder/mystery. A great read.

Post Script: Guilt. A Carl Morck Novel – Jussi Alder-Olsen

Guilt

A Carl Morck Novel

Jussi Adler-Olsen

Penguin Books Australia

Penguin

ISBN: 9781405909780

 

Description:

1987. Nete Rosen thought she’d put her traumatic childhood behind her. Caring foster parents and then a loving husband gave her a new start in life. But one night a man from her past reappears, destroying Nete’s confidence – and her life. Drawn back into a terrible nightmare, she won’t be a victim again . . .

2010. Detective Carl Morck and his cold case team are looking into the case of Rita Nielsen, owner of an escort agency who vanished twenty-three years ago. As they begin poking around into Rita’s past they uncover evidence of other disappearances at the same time. It’s not one missing person case – but several.

Soon Carl and his team find that powerful and ruthless people are upset by their investigation. Either, they stop now, or they will find themselves stopped – for good.

 

My View:

It took me a little time to warm to the language of this narrative – the translation was excellent however I found the conversations peppered with an abrasive coarseness (lots of swearing and toilet humour that did not work for me ) that I did not notice with the earlier book I read in this series (Redemption) and also a general malaise or general negativity that I hadn’t noticed in the previous book either but was present in this episode. This negativity seemed to spread to Morck’s general assessment of life and those around him; the author didn’t seem to be celebrating uniqueness as he did in Redemption – Rose and Assad seemed flat, their very uniqueness and special qualities seemed to irritate Morck. I almost felt as if this book was written in two sections or by two authors for once I got past this early irritating stage of the book I seemed to be back in the style of writing that I enjoyed so much in Redemption

I really enjoyed the narrative – the telling from two perspectives and time periods that discussed Nete Rosen’s life, the horrors of the “social/ethnic cleansing/eugenic” polices of the time that disempowered women and minority groups, of Nete’s plans for revenge and the current period when Morck and his team enter the frame and work to solve a few cold case crimes.   I particularly liked that Assad was given more depth and allowed some initiative – I look forward to learning more of his history in future novels in this series.

And there is plenty of scope for the next book/books. Adler Olsen leaves a particularly nasty cold case that involved Morck and Hardy still in the wind…we are also given a little hope for Hardy’s recovery or partial recovery – a good thing. Overall an engaging narrative.

Post Script: Poppet – Mo Hayder

Poppet

Jack Caffery 6

Mo Hayder

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam

ISBN: 9780857500762

 

Description:

The heartstopping new Jack Caffery novel – a Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller.

The patients at Beechway High Secure Unit are terrified. Unexplained power cuts have lead to a series of horrifying incidents. And now fear has spread from the inmates to the staff.

DI Jack Caffery is called to investigate, whilst working the most impossible case of his life. Will he be able to stare pure evil in the eye, and survive?

My View:

Firstly let me confess I only discovered Mo Hayder’s talent when I read Wolf last month ( review to follow closer to publication date), Wolf is the 7th book in this series so I am effectively working backwards in my reads – (I will remedy this as soon as I get a chance), however this has not affected my enjoyment of Ms Hayder’s writing skills or narratives.  I really enjoyed this narrative which gave me a deeper insight into Detective Jack Caffery – in fact he has become my favourite fictional detective. I really like his quiet ways, his ability to listen when others react, his compassion and his somewhat skewed yet human approach to morals and ethics. I understand his choices and largely agree with them. And on a personal level – he seems not half bad. J

Poppet was a well-constructed and intriguing story; hints of myths and ghouls and the strange goings on in a secure psychiatric unit will have you rapidly turning pages. The incidents in this unit are brutal and grotesque and the plot twists and turns will continue to surprise you til the very end. Bravo! I must read the rest of the series. And then I will work on reading her standalone novels.