Light Seekers by Femi Kayode – Review.

About The Book

When three young students are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, their killings – and their killers – are caught on social media. The world knows who murdered them; what no one knows is why.
As the legal trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo is contacted by the father of one of the boys, desperate for some answers to his son’s murder. But Philip is an expert in crowd behaviour and violence, not a detective, and after travelling to the sleepy university town that bore witness to the killings, he soon feels dramatically out of his depth.

Will he finally be able to uncover the truth of what happened to the Okiri Three?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Philip is asked by his father to help an old friend get answers about his son’s death he does so, despite finding out things about his father’s past life that upsets him. He has had many years experience in his career in America but isn’t prepared for what he faces in the small university town in Nigeria. The uneasy feelings he has about the case increase when a conversation with a passenger on the flight deteriorates when he mentions why he is going. But he soon realises this is the least of his problems, he isn’t made welcome by anybody in Okriki and he can’t rely on who he is working for. He can’t even rely on Chika his ‘driver’

I liked getting to know Philip and Chika, especially trying to work out who Chika was and his background, but the other characters were just as fascinating,. Madame Landlady was the first who had an impact on me. How her attitude changed when she realised why they were there. But she wasn’t the only one. The hotel manager, the university and especially the police make it evident that the questions weren’t welcome. There was also the town. The way of life, the lack of infrastructure,  and the lack of support to the students made Philip realise that this was a world where he was totally out of his depth and which soon made him homesick for his family and life back in America.

I know little about Nigeria and this novel was a fantastic and slightly unsettling introduction. It was also very believable. A small community facing judgement for their actions from the rest of the world, a police department who didn’t want to admit they had made a mistake and an acrimonious religious divide that was easy to manipulate. It is a novel that I will be thinking about for some time.

Femi Kayode will be appearing on First Monday Crime alongside Nadine Matheson, Tim Glister and Abigail Dean. You can watch this via their Facebook page on Monday 1st March at 7.30pm. 

Buried by Lynda La Plante – Review.

About The Book

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.

Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

My Review

Even though I have watched numerous dramatisations of Lynda La Plante’s novels this is the first that I have read. And what an introduction it is! Even though it is the start of a series featuring a new team of detectives there are strong links to the book series Widows. I was pleased that I knew that storyline, even though I would have still enjoyed this novel without knowing anything about it.

My first reaction when reading this novel was that the author writes in away that reflects her enthusiasm and personality when she is being interviewed. At a very past pace and one that is very refreshing. Jack, her lead, wasn’t a saint and he often came to close to crossing the fine line in more than just criminal activity. He was probably one of the more convincing fictional detective I have met when reading crime fiction. You saw his strengths, his weaknesses and his frustration at having his efforts ignored or not being able to be proven. You also saw his devotion to his partner and his adoptive parents and the guilt he felt with his ongoing determination to find his birth father. With his team members I felt a combination of liking, annoyance and sympathy towards all three. None of these characters approached their jobs in the same way, again I felt this was a true reflection of detection.

The women that Jack was investigating were people that I struggled to judge. Some I had a lot of sympathy for, a couple I really liked and wanted to know more about. Some of them made me laugh and there were more poignant moments the more I read. I would definitely be interested in reading the Widows series and I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series.

The Art Of Death by David Fennell – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Art Of Death is an extremely sinister crime thriller where the victims are displayed as works of art around London. Grace Archer is heading the police team who are trying to find the perpetrator but she has more to deal with than just the crime. She is in a new position, in a station where she doesn’t expect to be made welcome after she had to arrest her predecessor. She also has to care for her ailing grandfather, her only family.

She does have her friends in the team though, Quinn who wasn’t one of her predecessor’s biggest fans and Klara, who is more than capable of ignoring snide comments and smirks. 

It was a novel where you got to meet some of the victims rather than their killer. You could see how they were coerced to their deaths and with some of them the horror they experienced when they realised they had been duped.  And with the others, I  felt sadness at knowing that they wouldn’t have their happy evening.

There were a few times early in the book that I felt I had missed an earlier novel, but it was just a different style of writing. Both Grace’s and Quinn’s past are revealed much later in the novel. Most of the novel does focus on Grace but there poignant scenes that featured another victim. I felt quite tense reading these, hoping for a happy ending.

Not as believable as many crime thrillers but very entertaining and I read it very quickly. I hope that this book will become a series, I see huge potential for Grace, Quinn and a hopefully united team.

What Will Burn by James Oswald – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The eleventh book in the Sunday Times-bestselling Inspector McLean series, from one of Scotland’s most celebrated crime writers.

The charred remains of an elderly woman are discovered in a burned-out game-keepers cottage, hidden away in woodland to the west of Edinburgh. Clearly no accidental fire, Detective Inspector Tony McLean suspects that neither is this simply a grim arson attack. There is far more to the victim than her humble surroundings might suggest, and something ritualistic to her horrific murder.

Nor will it be the only case of death by fire that Tony and his team will be faced with. This is only the beginning, and with such evil clouding the air, Tony begins to wonder what else will burn . . . 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. What Will Burn is the latest book in the Inspector McLean series set in Edinburgh and one I was looking forward to reading. It is a series where I have an interest in all of the characters, not just the lead and the crimes are always a little sinister. In this book the crime appears to be connected to witchcraft.

I have been fascinated by witchcraft and the trials for years, since hearing about the local Pendle Hill legends when I was at school. The interludes that form part of the backstory in this book made me think of those straightaway. The cruelty and superstition in those interludes were just enough for the reader to see and understand the manipulation of some of the characters in the modern day murders.

Most of the novel concerns McLean but Janie Harrison also has a prominent role. Recently promoted by the new Chief Superintendent, Gail Elmwood, she is a great sidekick to the newly demoted McLean. While he is lucky to keep his job and has Gail to thank for it she is very demanding of his time and attention. To the extent that she is just as intimidating as Tommy Fleming, the obnoxious lawyer who features heavily in this book. I struggled to decide who I disliked most. 

There are some graphic and unusual deaths and unsurprisingly the team are baffled even though they do have outside help. But this also added to the intrigue with hints of what could come in the future. And not just from people but also one of the animals which had quite a prominent presence.

This series is very different to others that I read. Not only are the police team recurring characters but there are a few others too, Madame Rose, Dalgleish and also a character that featured in the author’s other series. This was Izzy, a character I loved and would like to see developed more. With the ending of this novel I can definitely see that happening.

Fatal Isles by Maria Adolfsson – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .

In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland.

Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.

So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she’s made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas’s ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.

The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.

Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland’s history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read quite a lot of translated fiction and Fatal Isles was the best that I have read for a long time. I thought the island was fictional but after research I discovered that Doggerland was a submerged area of land in the North Sea. But the setting, the inhabitants, customs and often inclement weather all came from the author’s imagination.

The storyline was absolutely fascinating. The murder of an extremely unpopular woman who was also the ex wife of a leading detective. You would think there would be any number of suspects, with the number of people who didn’t like her but the small team are only concerned with one and that is to prove innocence rather than guilt. The suspect does have an alibi in Karen but understandably when you get to know more about him you can see why she is reluctant to come forward. Because of his personality as well as his position in the force.

Karen was a different character to what I expected, older for one thing and far from perfect. Like many she has a troubled past, details of this are revealed towards the end of the novel. But she is loyal, caring and willing to help many that others would judge or ignore.

The police team in this book are all hardworking but not close. There are grudges and some resentment, a few of them are not that likeable but they were there for each other when needed. I am definitely interested in seeing how the relationship dynamic progresses further into the series.