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.

Post Script: Notorious – Allison Brennan

Notorious

Allison Brennan

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250035059

 

 

Description:

New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan introduces an irrepressible heroine in her pulse-pounding new thriller Notorious, which Lisa Gardner says is, “Guaranteed to keep you up late at night.”

Maxine Revere has dedicated her life to investigating murders that the police have long since given up any hope of solving. A nationally renowned investigative reporter with her own TV show and a tough-as-nails reputation, Max tackles cold cases from across the country and every walk of life. But the one unsolved murder that still haunts her is a case from her own past.

When Max was a high school senior, one of her best friends was strangled and another, Kevin O’Neal, accused of the crime. To the disgrace of her wealthy family, Max stood by her friend, until she found out he lied about his alibi. Though his guilt was never proven, their relationship crumbled from the strain of too many secrets.

Now Max is home for Kevin’s funeral—after years of drug abuse, he committed suicide. She’s finally prepared to come to terms with the loss of his friendship, but she’s not prepared for Kevin’s sister to stubbornly insist that he didn’t kill himself. Or for an elderly couple to accost her at the airport, begging her to look into another murder at Max’s old high school. Max is more interested in the cold case at her alma mater than in digging around Kevin’s troubled life, but she agrees to do both. As Max uncovers dark secrets, she finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies that hit far too close to home. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that someone will do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

My View:

Initial impressions were deceiving; this narrative started more like a cosy, romantic mystery. I didn’t like the attention to class, money and “the right school” etc. however I continued on and soon discovered a heroine who was strong and passionate about her work and about discovering the truth. At this point the story became so much more interesting. At this point I too wanted to know the truth.

This is largely a story about lies, family and belonging.  Truth can be liberating or stifling.

I think this protagonist will be worth following in future novels as she develops and becomes familiar to the reader. An enjoyable read

Post Script: When Shadows Fall – J T Ellison

When Shadows Fall

J.T. Ellison

Harlequin

Harlequin MIRA

ISBN: 9780778316046

 

Description:

 

Dear Dr. Owens,

 

If you are reading this letter, I am dead and I would be most grateful if you could solve my murder…

 

Forensic pathologist Dr. Samantha Owens thought life was finally returning to normal after she suffered a terrible personal loss. Settling into her new job at Georgetown University, the illusion is shattered when she receives a disturbing letter from a dead man imploring her to solve his murder. There’s only one catch. Timothy Savage’s death was so obviously the suicide of a demented individual that the case has been closed.

 

When Sam learns Savage left a will requesting she autopsy his body, she feels compelled to look into the case. Sam’s own postmortem discovers clear signs that Savage was indeed murdered. And she finds DNA from a kidnapped child whose remains were recovered years earlier.

 

The investigation takes Sam into the shadows of a twenty-year-old mystery that must be solved to determine what really happened to Timothy Savage. Nothing about the case makes sense but it is clear someone is unwilling to let anyone, especially Samantha Owens, discover the truth.

 

My View:

The opening letter to Dr Owens sets the scene for a wonderfully plotted, intense and at times brutal journey directed by the deceased from the grave as he attempts to seek some sort of belated redemption for past sins. This is a great police and forensic procedural and I can see a great future for Dr Samantha Owens in future novels by this author. I think she will rival Tempe Brennan in her quest for truth on behalf of the dead.

 

This is the third book in the series yet despite not having read any of the others I was able to successfully negotiate the back story and immerse myself in this novel.  The characters were mostly endearing excepting the villains who were manipulated and violent and self-centred.  I think that the development of the villains in the piece was exceptional – not often in crime fiction do we get such a great understanding of the evilness within the narrative.  The character Timothy Savage is complicated walks a slippery trapeze between good and compromised. He clearly shows that we are all capable of bad judgements and mistakes; some mistakes having huge costs.

 

In all a fast paced enjoyable read that leaves me seeking previous work by this author.

Post Script: The Lost Girls – Wendy James

The Lost Girls

The Lost Girls

Wendy James

Michael Joseph

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9781921901058

 

Description:

From the bestselling author of The Mistake comes a hauntingly powerful story about families and secrets and the dark shadows cast by the past.

Curl Curl, Sydney, January 1978.

Angie’s a looker. Or she’s going to be. She’s only fourteen, but already, heads turn wherever she goes. Male heads, mainly . . .

Jane worships her older cousin Angie. She spends her summer vying for Angie’s attention. Then Angie is murdered. Jane and her family are shattered. They withdraw into themselves, casting a veil of silence over Angie’s death.

Thirty years later, a journalist arrives with questions about the tragic event. Jane is relieved to finally talk about her adored cousin. And so is her family. But whose version of Angie’s story – whose version of Angie herself – is the real one? And can past wrongs ever be made right?

The shocking truth of Angie’s last days will force Jane to question everything she once believed. Because nothing – not the past or even the present – is as she once imagined.

My View:

What an incredible talent this author has that she can take you back thirty odd years, to a time of innocence, to a time of discovery, a time of burgeoning sexual awakening that is the adolescent in the ‘70s.    With a stroke of a pen we are in that small country town, it is school holidays, we are watching TV; Sounds Unlimited, The Road Runner, Elvis re runs… going to the corner shop for mum and dad, happy to spend the change on lollies, listening to the radio, buying records of our favourite artists with Christmas money/pocket money, following our best friend and older cousin around, happy to be on the periphery of her golden aura.

But Angie is not content with hanging round with her younger cousin. She wants more; more admiration, more excitement, more experiences.  Life suddenly changes when Angie goes missing. Her death haunts her family for the next thirty odd years. Innocence is buried with Angie at the cemetery. Life is never the same.

This is a complex narrative that straddles the two time frames with ease – the settings and the stories of the past, 1978, the year Angie died and the present 2010 when the family are forced to relive, remember and recount the days surrounding the disappearance and the discovery of Angie’s dead body a few days later.  This is a story about memories, about families, about relationships, about how death and separation affects us and about the burden of secrets and lies that emotionally cripple a family until the truth is revealed. And a huge reveal it is.

James teases out the story using interviews, transcripts, multiple perspectives and recollections/memories – great devices to reveal the bigger picture.  Wendy James creates characters that are warm, that are flawed, that are passionate, that are real; I can recognise people I know in her characters. James asks the question – how far would you go to protect the ones you love?

Brilliant settings, engaging characters, a murder and a thirty year old mystery and wonderful storytelling this book has it all. 

Post Script: The Train Rider – Tony Cavanaugh

The Train Rider

Tony Cavanaugh

Hachette Australia

Hodder Australia

ISBN: 9780733630675

Description:

One man pushed Darian Richards to the edge. The man he couldn’t catch. The Train Rider.

As Victoria’s top homicide investigator, Darian Richards spent years catching killers. The crimes of passion, of anger, of revenge … they were easy. It was the monsters who were hard.

Someone was taking girls. At first he’d keep them a week then give them back. Darian warned that wouldn’t last. It didn’t. From then on, their bodies were never found. Girls kept disappearing. All they had in common was the fact they’d last been seen on a train.

The ever-rising list of the vanished broke Darian. Forced him to walk away. Now, retired, watching the Noosa River flow by, the nightmares had finally stopped. Darian was never going back.

Then three girls go missing from Queensland trains. Darian knows that the killer is playing him. He has a choice to make. But when the decision means a girl will die, there is no choice. He has to stop this man once and for all. Forever.

My View:

In this the 3rd novel in the Darian Richards series we learn a lot more about the person who is Darian – haunted by a murderer he could not catch, his present now embroiled in the residue  of  that  evil  that has followed him to his retirement by the river.  The same killer strikes again and this time it is personal, Darian is his target.  This is a great psychological thriller, the killer calmly plays a “catch me if you can” game with Darian, the stakes are high – the lives of innocent young girls and his relationship with Rose are at risk.

This is an engaging story with a voice that I found to be less intimidating than that of the villain in Promise, but don’t be misled the crimes committed by The Train Rider are as gruesome and as worrying as those in Promise but we are not privy to as much of the antagonist thoughts and so are spared some of the horror. This may make this easier reading for some.

A first rate psychological thriller, I look forward to the next chapter in this series.

Post Script: Night of Reunion – Michael Allegretto

Night of Reunion

Michael Allegretto

Open Road Integrated Media

MysteriousPress.com/Open Road

ISBN: 9781480462793

 

Description:

At Christmas, a psychotic killer returns to torment a happy family

 

After her release from the hospital, Christine drives straight to Colorado. The heat in her car is busted and her clothes are thin, but Christine doesn’t mind the chill. She is going to find Alex, and when she does, she will have vengeance to keep her warm. Years ago, after giving up her son for adoption, this delicate young beauty flew into a fit of jealous madness, killing her child and his new mother. The boy’s adoptive father, Alex, got away. He did not go far enough.

Living in Denver with his new wife and her six-year-old son, Alex is happy for the first time in years. When he learns of Christine’s release from the hospital, the police assure him that she won’t be allowed to harm his new family. But when strange things start happening around their rambling old house, Alex begins to fear that Christine is closer than he thinks.

 

 

My View:

Allegretto is the master of creating suspense and tension.  This novel starts of slowly, providing plenty of details of a cosy life, a happy family, a peaceful existence, and then it explodes with fear and apprehension. The reader sits in the background screaming – Get out! Get out of the house! What a great device to create tension – the reader is privileged with information about the villain; knows of her existences, her whereabouts, her plans, the cat and mouse games she is playing with the family. The reader knows where she is hiding. The family are oblivious. The tension just keeps ratcheting up. A great psychological drama unfolds.

Post Script: The Stolen Ones – Richard Montanari

The Stolen Ones

Richard Montanari

Mulholland Books

Mulholland Books

ISBN: 9780316244701

Description:

IN RICHARD MONTANARI’S CHILLING NEW SUSPENSE NOVEL, A SEALED-OFF NETWORK OF SECRET PASSAGES CONNECTS ALL OF PHILADELPHIA TO THE KILLER HIDDEN WITHIN.

 

 

Luther Wade grew up in Cold River, a warehouse for the criminally insane. Two decades ago the hospital closed it doors forever, but Luther never left. He wanders the catacombs beneath the city, channeling the violent dreams of Eduard Kross, Europe’s most prolific serial killer of the 20th century.

A two-year-old girl is found wandering the streets of Philadelphia in the middle of the night by detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano. She does not speak, but she may hold the key to solving a string of murders committed in and around Priory Park.

As the detectives investigate, more bodies are found at Priory Park, and they’re drawn closer and closer to the doors of Luther’s devious maze and the dark secrets of Cold River.

 

My View:

When you pick up a book and begin reading you can pretty much tell immediately if that writer is skilled and proficient in his craft, Montanari is one such writer. Despite this being the 7th book in the series and having no previous knowledge of the author and this series I had no trouble at all in understanding where /how all the characters fit in and was able to start enjoying this read instantly.  This narrative is complex, intense and tension filled. The author is a great story teller – again his craft well honed; the words flow effortlessly, it reads effortlessly.

This is a complex story that revolves around snapshots of historical events and crimes of the past; it is a great meld of past and present and it is not long before the reader is enjoying a full album of memories and current events- all twisted and cruel. This is a unique and mesmerising script. This novel will keep you reading till the early hours of the morning…