REVIEW: The Sentence is Death by Anthony Hawley (Daniel Hawthorne #2)

Series: Daniel Hawthorne

Book Number: 2

Read this book for: UK mystery, London mystery, whodunnit, author self-insert, amateur investigator, private investigator, contemporary mystery

Quick Review: Another brilliant, tightly plotted, page-turning instalment in a series with an interesting concept and a perfect blend of fiction and reality.

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Richard Pryce is an elegant, smooth-tongued lawyer who has made a fortune out of celebrity divorces – and a lot of enemies in the process. Unmarried himself, he lives in a handsome bachelor pad on the edge of Hampstead Heath.

Or rather he used to …

When he is found murdered, the police confront the most baffling of mysteries: who was the visitor who came to Pryce’s house moments before he died, arriving while he was still talking on the phone?

“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…” were Pryce’s last recorded words but what exactly do they mean?

Why does his killer paint a three-digit number on the wall before leaving the crime scene? And why exactly was he bludgeoned to death with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £2,000 – when he didn’t drink alcohol?

The police are forced to hand the case to Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne, who takes it on with characteristic relish.

But Hawthorne himself has secrets to hide and as our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case he realises that these are secrets that need to be exposed – even if it puts his own life in danger …

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REVIEW: A Conspiracy of Tall Men by Noah Hawley

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: conspiracy thriller, dark humour, twisting plot, amateur investigator, unique story premise

Quick Review: Understated, twisting, challenging and playful; Hawley gives a masterclass in balanced, fascinating writing and intricate plotting.

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Linus Owen is a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco. He teaches graduate-level classes on JFK and gives seminars on magic-bullet theories and how the symbols on the dollar bill reveal the presence of a secret government that is leading the world to ruin.

Linus’ marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming advertising executive, has gone to Chicago to visit her mother. But if Claudia is in Chicago, how is it that two FBI agents show up at Linus’ office and inform him that Claudia has been killed in a plane crash on her way from New York to Brazil? And why did a man named Jeffrey Holden, the vice president of a major pharmaceutical company, buy her ticket and die beside her?

Enlisting the aid of Edward and Roy — his friends and fellow conspiracy theorists — Linus heads across the country in search of answers. Along the way, the trio encounters a legion of disturbing and provocative characters and clues, including an irascible talk show host, a mind-controlling drug, and art emerging link between Claudia’s ad agency and the U.S, Government. As their journey progresses, it becomes frighteningly clear they’ve left the realm of the academic and are tangled up in a dangerous, multilayered cover-up. Finally, deep in the heart of the American desert, stunned by an ominous revelation, Linus sees he has a new mission: to try to stay alive.

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REVIEW: A Shroud of Leaves by Rebecca Alexander (Sage Westfield #2)

Series: Sage Westfield

Book Number: 2

Read this book for: historical mystery, contemporary mystery, cold case, police procedural, multiple storylines, UK mystery

Quick Review: A deftly constructed novel that offers a nuanced blend between historical and contemporary mystery stories.

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Archaeologist Sage Westfield has her first forensics case: investigating the murder of a teenage girl. Hidden by holly leaves, the girl’s body has been discovered on the grounds of a stately home, where another teenage girl went missing twenty years ago – but her body was never found. The police suspect the reclusive owner, Alistair Chorleigh, who was questioned but never charged. But when Sage investigates a nearby burial mound – and uncovers rumours of an ancient curse – she discovers the story of another mysterious disappearance over a hundred years ago. Sage will need both her modern forensics skills and her archaeological knowledge to unearth the devastating truth. Continue reading →

REVIEW: The Brief by Simon Michael (Charles Holborne #1)

Series: Charles Holborne

Book Number: 1

Read this book for: legal thriller, 60s London, semi-historical, this time it’s personal, wrongfully accused, amateur detective, corrupt cops

Quick Review: Vivid atmosphere, a great story and a wade range of people, places and parts of society; THE BRIEF is an extremely fascinating dual thriller.

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1960s London – gang wars, corrupt police, vice and pornography – ex-boxer, Charles Holborne, has plenty of opportunities to build his reputation with the criminal classes as a barrister who delivers. But Holborne, an East End boy made good, is not all he seems, and his past is snapping at his heels. When his philandering wife has her throat slashed, Holborne finds himself on the wrong side of the law and on the run, back in the only place he thought he’d be safe, the East End. But now he’s got caught in the middle of a turf war between the Kray twins and the Yardies. Can Holborne stay one step ahead of the police and the real murderer, discover the truth and escape the hangman?

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REVIEW: The Suffering of Strangers by Caro Ramsay (Anderson & Costello #9)

Series: Anderson & Costello

Book Number: 9

Read this book for: police procedural, Scottish mystery, female detective, this time its personal, multiple investigations, child abduction, kidnapping thriller

Quick Review: A twisting kaleidoscope of related investigations; a must-read for fans of the series!

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DI Costello faces a disturbing child abduction case; a six-week-old has been stolen and replaced with another baby. The swap took cold and meticulous planning, so Costello treads the seedy, Glaswegian backstreets for answers. She’s convinced that more than one young life is at stake.

Promoted into the Cold Case Unit, Colin Anderson reviews the unsolved rape of a young mother, whose attacker is still out there. Each case pulls Anderson and Costello in the same direction and, as their paths keep crossing, they begin to suspect their separate cases are dangerously entwined. Continue reading →

REVIEW: The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett (Fethering Mysteries #18)

Series: Fethering Mysteries

Book Number: 18

Read this book for: cozy mystery, UK mystery, whodunnit, contemporary mystery, amateur detectives, female detectives

Quick Review: An extremely cozy English mystery with all the trimmings, including a fun little puzzle, but with the freshness of a contemporary setting.

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Having been booked to give a talk at Fethering Library, successful author Burton St Clair invites his old friend Jude to come along. Although they haven’t met for twenty years, Jude is not surprised to find that St Clair hasn’t changed, with his towering ego and somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. What Jude hadn’t been suspecting however was that the evening would end in sudden, violent death.

More worrying, from Jude’s point of view, is the fact that the investigating police officers seem to be convinced that she herself was responsible for the crime. With the evidence stacking up against her, Jude enlists the help of her neighbour Carole not just to solve the murder but to prevent herself from being arrested for committing it. Continue reading →

REVIEW: Proximity by Jem Tugwell

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: near future setting, sci fi elements, cyberpunk elements, whodunnit thriller, genre crossover, hard-boiled detective

Quick Review: A solid thriller wrapped in an intriguing technological premise — an excellent read for the summer!

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You can’t get away with anything. Least of all murder.

DI Clive Lussac has forgotten how to do his job. Ten years of embedded technology – ‘iMe’ – has led to complete control and the eradication of crime. Then the impossible happens. A body is found, and the killer is untraceable. With new partner Zoe Jordan, Clive must re-sharpen his detective skills and find the killer without technology, before time runs out for the next victim… Continue reading →