Beneath the Ashes by Jane Isaac.


About the Book

The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.
When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.
Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.
Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

My Review

Beneath the Ashes is the second book to feature Will Jackman and his team and is based in Stratford upon Avon. When a young woman, Nancy is found injured in a remote farmhouse and a man is then discovered dead in a barn nearby Will and his team must solve the mystery of who the man is and why he has been murdered. You would expect it to be straight forward but this novel is anything but.
Will is a character that I really like. He wants to solve the case quickly whilst caring for his wife and spending time with his daughter who is visiting with her boyfriend. He is also considering applying for a more senior position in another force but not wanting to be behind a desk and loyalty to his team is causing doubt. There is less focus on his personal life than in the previous novel, his wife’s accident is mentioned but not in great detail. The novel is mainly about the investigation.
Nancy, is struggling to recover from her injuries but also the knowledge that her boyfriend isn’t who she thought he was. She didn’t have a great childhood and dreams of a life where she was married, has a close family and a beautiful home. She was an easy character to like and I wanted her to achieve her dream. There was a lot to the case, it’s hard to review without giving any spoilers but it didn’t go the way I expected at all. It does all work though and was believable.
I have read all the books that Jane Isaac has published and they just get better with each one. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series. With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Only The Brave by Mel Sherratt.


About the Book

When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion.
DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies.
As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realises she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.
Set over forty-eight tension-filled hours, Only the Brave is the latest gut-churning book from acclaimed author Mel Sherratt.

My Review

When I first met Allie Shenton in Mel Sherratt’s debut novel I liked her very much and thought the storyline fantastic. Equally so in the follow up but then I did my usual trick of falling behind with a series. When I eventually got around to reading the third book it didn’t take me long to pick up where I left off.
The books are very closely linked, there is a very strong thread running through the series so if you haven’t read the previous two you might struggle slightly. They are very good though so I would recommend them anyway.
When the body of a local man is found on a rough estate there are plenty of suspects. Most of them are known to the police and having appeared earlier in the series also the reader. Some of them are victims but there are also some nasty characters, all of them very believable. Allie is struggling, her sister’s health has deteriorated and the case is very intense. The team are desperate to solve quickly and Allie hasn’t been as truthful with anybody about a continuous personal threat.
I have read two of Mel’s series of books now and whilst enjoying The Estate Series I like this one more. Allie is a character I really like, she isn’t a senior officer, constantly has to answer for her actions to her superior officers and keep her marriage on an even keel. Her marriage feels real, they are devoted to each other and her husband understands her commitment to her job and her guilt over her sister. I felt that a lot of research has been done, talking to serving officers on how they keep everything level. The case was also believable, you often see on the news about ongoing ‘situations’ in real life cases like the one that features in the book.
This book seemed to provide closure to a few of the storylines but I would love it if there will be more in the series.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.

Cracked by Barbra Leslie.


About the book

After her stormy marriage ends, Danny Cleary jumps down the rabbit hole into a world of crack cocaine delivered to her door by a polite but slightly deranged dealer. But when Danny’s twin sister Ginger is murdered, Danny and her rock musician brother fly to California to find their nephews and the people who killed their sister. Fighting her addiction, nosy cops and crazy drug dealers, she kicks ass and takes names, embracing her inner vigilante in a quest to avenge her sister and save her family. Cracked is a darkly comic roller-coaster ride to redemption as Danny struggles with bad guys and her own demons to find out who killed her twin.

My Review

Barbra Leslie is likened to Janet Evanovich, an author whose books I enjoy very much. Cracked is the first of a new series of books that feature an extremely flawed heroine, Danny. Danny had a fantastic life until her marriage fell apart and she went from being somebody who was a fitness fanatic to somebody who was addicted to crack. When she gets a telephone call that her twin sister is found dead in a seedy hotel she is desperate to find out why whilst maintaining her habit.
Danny is fully aware of all her flaws, doesn’t try to blame other people for them and struggles immensely with guilt when she finds out that the reason her sister died was that she was trying to understand why Danny had become an addict. Devoted to Ginger, her nephews and a younger brother she is hell bent on getting answers and revenge.
At times, it was totally unbelievable but it was also a lot of fun. The characters were likeable despite their flaws and showed that despite addiction they were also loyal. There were quite a few ‘baddies’, some of them unexpected.
My impression was that there would be a continuing storyline throughout the series. There was no cliffhanger ending but there were a few unanswered questions that I hope will be resolved in the second book Rehab Run. I have this book also and hope to read very soon.
With thanks to Titan Books for both books received.

Finders Keepers by Stephen King.


About the Book

Morris Bellamy is a reader so obsessed by America’s iconic author John Rothstein that he is prepared to kill for a trove of notebooks containing at least one more unpublished novel.
Pete Saubers, a boy whose father was brutally injured by a stolen Mercedes, discovers a buried trunk containing cash and Rothstein’s notebooks.
After thirty-five years in prison, Morris is up for parole. And he’s hell-bent on recovering his treasure.
Now it’s up to retired detective Bill Hodges – running an investigative company called ‘Finders Keepers’ – to rescue Pete from an ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris…

My Review

When I read Mr Mercedes earlier this year I found it very difficult to put down. Finders Keepers was a little different. I did enjoy it, but the story leading up to ‘modern day’ was a little slow. Bellamy isn’t a nice person, a passionate reader who takes offence when an author doesn’t treat the character he created with the respect that he felt he deserved. He does a long sentence in prison, for unrelated crimes but the account of his time there didn’t really appeal to me.
However, when Hodges and his friends Jerome and Holly appeared I enjoyed it more. After all, who couldn’t like Holly, she is a fantastic character. I felt very sorry for Pete. His family was torn apart by Brady who appears in some very creepy scenes in this novel even though they are only brief. He decides to help them with the cash he finds but in doing so he places them all in danger. Not only from Bellamy but also the book dealer who is another nasty individual.
It could be read as a stand-alone but to get the best out of it you really need to have read Mr Mercedes. Only a few characters are in both but parts of the storyline are linked. I already have End of Watch, the final part of the trilogy on my bookshelf and I plan on reading very soon.

The Watcher by Ross Armstrong.


About the Book

Lily Gullick lives with her husband Aiden in a new-build flat opposite an estate which has been marked for demolition. A keen birdwatcher, she can’t help spying on her neighbours.
Until one day Lily sees something suspicious through her binoculars and soon her elderly neighbour Jean is found dead. Lily, intrigued by the social divide in her local area as it becomes increasingly gentrified, knows that she has to act. But her interference is not going unnoticed, and as she starts to get close to the truth, her own life comes under threat.
But can Lily really trust everything she sees?

My Review

The Watcher was definitely be one of the strangest books that I have read during 2016. Lily lives in an upmarket flat that is across the road from a block of flats that is being demolished to make way for more luxury accommodation. She is a keen birdwatcher and spends a lot of time looking for birds and spying on her neighbours from her home. This occupies her time whilst her husband Aiden is busy writing his novel and barely communicating.
When she witnesses an assault in another flat she decides to investigate and goes across to the building site where there are a few groups of people who are refusing to leave their homes and are squatting in the flats whilst they are demolished around them. The consequences of this has a huge impact on her life.
Told from Lily’s point of view throughout its like you are reading a journal where she is talking to somebody but the reader doesn’t know who. She becomes more obsessed and at times less likeable although she did make me laugh.
It was strange to read, I could visualise all the new luxury flats in colour along with their wealthy owners and the mainly empty properties with its handful of occupants in black and white. I also thought I knew what was going to happen but I was completely wrong. After about two thirds of the novel something was revealed that was completely unexpected and left me dumbfounded. Thankfully it was a twist that worked very well and left me wanting to read it again.
A very clever storyline, and a well written debut novel.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.