The Raven’s Mark by Christie J Newport – Review.

About The Book

Meet Beth Fellows, a Preston detective haunted by her mum’s murder when she was only four. She’s a driven woman with a heart of gold.

A stranger came into our home, strangled my mother to death and left me sitting alone with her body. What happened to my mum is the driving force behind every major decision I’ve made since . . .

Now Beth faces the hardest case of her career: Rose Danes’s throat is cut, her body discarded on a council estate. Seared into the teenage girl’s skin is the image of a raven.

Six years ago, another girl was attacked. The victim, fourteen-year-old Celine Wilson, barely survived and was left brain-damaged in a coma.

THIS GIRL ALSO HAD A RAVEN BURNED ON HER BODY.

Why wait six years to strike again?

Then Beth receives a mobile phone from the killer — with a warning that he will hurt those closest to her if she tells anyone.

She’s talking to a dangerous predator but nobody knows. Not her team. Not her partner. No one.

If I’d known the personal cost of heading this investigation I would have walked away. No, I would have run as fast as I could and never looked back. Now, it’s far too late . . .

Beth must break all the rules to stop any more girls from suffering. But will her everything be enough to stop a sick murderer?

My Review

I first became aware of this novel when I saw a link to an article in my local newspaper. It’s not often where I read a book set where I live so I immediately looked closer and placed an online preorder. And then sat and waited impatiently.

It was well worth the wait, this is a gem!

Firstly, this was a team of detectives that I liked a lot. I could see how they were all affected by the death of a teenage girl, especially when they all felt guilt that there were a lot of similarities to a previous case where the culprit had never been found. Not just the frontline officers but the team working behind the scenes as well, the forensic investigators who often go unmentioned. All were unable to relax in their free time. I also really appreciated the closeness and their loyalty. None of them wanted to outshine their colleagues, they just wanted to stop a killer. 

Secondly, the storyline. The death of a young girl is always going to be upsetting and the author showed how raw the situation was. The way that Rose’s family and friends fell apart from grief, anger and guilt. It also had a huge impact on Beth, who also has to cope with selfish behaviour from her partner Yvette and worry over the safety of those close to her. 

And obviously, with it being a local book and author I enjoyed the setting. I did spend quite a bit of it trying to place the real Preston into a fictional setting but that was part of the fun. It wasn’t just the places, it was also the people. I felt that the author captured the true personality of Prestonians. 

A fantastic debut novel and I’m hoping that there will be a follow up.

She Knew Her Killer by Rebecca Bradley – Review.

About The Book

A DARK, TWISTY AND UTTERLY COMPELLING PAGE-TURNER.

Five old school friends reunited for a weekend in Sheffield. A drunken game of truth or dare. One won’t survive.

The young woman is found murdered in a swanky hotel room. Detective Claudia Nunn gets the text just as she leaves her therapist’s office.

The victim’s friends all say the same thing: she had been distracted and kept disappearing all weekend. And on the Saturday, someone had screamed abuse in her face.

Did she know her killer?

As Claudia closes in on the murderer, the top-brass start closing down the investigation. And the team become the target of violent attacks.

Someone will do anything to stop the truth getting out.

Prepare to be hooked.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. This is the third book in the series that features Claudia Nunn and it is probably the easiest out of the three to read as a standalone novel. However I do recommend that you read them I’m order. This is one of those series where you benefit from knowing exactly what is happening within this small team of police officers. 

I can’t remember when, or if, I’ve read a novel where one of the main characters was the police officer who was investigating the murder and the other was the victim. This felt a little eerie at first, knowing what was going to happen even though I didn’t know who the murderer was. Seeing Harlow’s excitement and trepidation and knowing what the outcome would be even though you didn’t know what her plans were.

I have also never read a novel where the police were being controlled by somebody outside of the force. Someone who was determined to prevent them finding out the truth and were prepared to do anything to get their wish. I read with increasing anxiety about the team’s safety.

In this novel you get to see how close that team is. Having to deal with the control, the danger they faced when they over stepped the boundaries and the huge amount of respect they had  for each other. I really appreciated seeing the bond between Claudia and Russ but also with her DCI, Maddison Sharpe. All too often that relationship is missing in a novel, but the author shows how important it is for the more superior officers to be present. 

This is a series that I’m eager to continue, I can’t wait to see what Claudia has to face in the future.

Seconds To Die by Rebecca Bradley – Review.

About The Book

A killer who sends drawings of the murders he will commit.
A detective who will do anything to stop him.

Detective Claudia Nunn has never seen anything so beautiful — or so horrifying.

The intricate drawing is sent to her at work. It shows a man, naked on a bed. His arms are bound, his face contorted in agony, a huge blade stuck deep in his back.

Gory? Certainly. Something to worry about? Not likely. Police get sent weird stuff all the time.

Until Claudia is called to a crime scene that exactly recreates the drawing.

When another sketch arrives, Claudia thinks she might have a serial killer on her hands, who thinks he’s an artist.

Claudia’s in a race against time to stop anyone else dying — and the next victim could be her.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. Seconds to Die is the second book in the series to feature Claudia, Dom and the rest of the team who are tasked with solving more complex cases. They have a lot to prove and this case, featuring the murderer that the press have named The Artist is a difficult one. 

This is a investigation that affects Claudia deeply. She is desperate to get a result but also grieving the murder of her friend and stepmother Ruth. That investigation is the topic of the previous book and I do recommend that you read that first. The investigation and certain aspects of it feature heavily in this novel. 

The murders committed are vividly described, I didn’t need to see the drawings to get an image in my head of how the victims looked. The way they differed made this case difficult to solve, not helped by the very short time frame they were given with little idea of where the crime took place. And with pressure from above and an increasingly fractious relationship with Dom it was no surprise that Claudia was struggling. 

One of the reasons I like Rebecca’s books so much is that they show the police as not always coping well with their situation. You see the exhaustion, forgetting to eat and frustration of having to deal with the media. I had never thought that giving a murderer a title would cause anger before.  

I have to admit that I wondered if this book would be similar to others that have been published recently concerning art and murder but it isn’t. This is a completely original novel and one which I enjoyed a lot. 

Blood Stained by Rebecca Bradley – Review.

About The Book

Can’t find her.

Can’t catch him.

Can’t trust anyone.

The first in a gripping new Sheffield-set crime series starring Detective Claudia Nunn.

Detective Claudia Nunn’s colleague DS Dominic Harrison has been leading the case against a dangerous serial killer, who hunts his victims using a dating app. But now his own wife has gone missing.

Then a large pool of blood is discovered in their garage. And Dominic is the prime suspect.

Is Dominic being framed by a serial killer or will Claudia expose an even uglier truth?

Can’t tell a soul how it ends.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I have enjoyed all of this author’s earlier books and was looking forward to this new series. It is an unusual one, I’ve never read a book where a member of the team has to investigate a colleague. That colleague is Dominic and it concerns the disappearance of his wife, Ruth. He claims it is the work of a serial killer he has been investigating.

As the novel progresses you see both investigations, Dominic attempts to find the serial killer and Claudia trying to find out who, if any of them, is responsible for Ruth’s disappearance. And as usual there were times I was aching to find out what happened next with both.

With the author’s background I was prepared for the level of detail concerning a murder investigation. This made the book more real and at times more upsetting. Not with the forensics but the emotions and not just concerning families.You could see the effect the crimes had  on both of teams involved and the way they had to learn to cope. I also had a lot of appreciation for the way they worked together, in particular Claudia and Ross Kane. 

I read plenty of books and I’m not often taken by surprise but there were a few times in this book when I read something unexpected. One of them I had to reread, flicking back to see what I had missed. And it worked perfectly. 

A great start to a promising new series.