Avarice (DI Munro and DS West #2) by Pete Brassett

I admit that when I read the first book in this series, She, I had some reservations, and while they haven’t all gone away, the books and the characters are growing on me. In this second book, Avarice, DI Munro has retired back to his beloved Scotland only to be pulled in to help solve a nasty crime before the town of Inverkip is flooded with tourists for the annual regatta. It just so happens Munro knows DS West is also in the region and, when he makes her an offer she can’t refuse, they join forces to solve a crime that seems to have more suspects than clues and only a week to solve it.

Easy-reading with lovely banter between the characters, and interesting relationships between the suspects, this is a delightful escape without the blood and gore that seems to dominate too many crime books these days. It also has a great twist at the end. Devoured it quickly and purchased the next one which is already proving to be fascinating.

3.5 stars and getting better with every page.

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The Midnight Line by Lee Child

The 22nd book in the Jack Reacher series, Midnight Line, has Reacher being sentimental in more ways than one. Finding a female’s West Point class ring in a pawn shop window, Reacher is moved to find the owner. His journey takes him west as he gradually uncovers a criminal trail involving prescription medication, veterans and a cover-up that goes to the highest levels. Along the way, in usual Reacher fashion, he makes friends and enemies, mowing down those who stand in his way, embracing those who wish to help him.

I really found the premise behind this book – the suffering of wounded veterans and the government’s indifference to their continued ordeal and the role of drugs in all of this harrowing, relevant and engaging. Reacher, being a soldier himself, is motivated by the plight he uncovers and is prepared to sacrifice a great deal to help those he understands and deeply respects. But in other ways, this book didn’t have the verve and energy of others in the series. It plodded at times, felt padded in parts, and lacked the meat and punch that makes the Reacher series such page-turners. I enjoy that Reacher is getting older and his priorities in some regards have changed, but in others, he is still reliably (un)stable – doing what he’s always done, refusing to put down roots, to become “settled”, all the while drifting and casting a long, unforgettable shadow.

I wonder where his next adventure will take him?

 

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Angel by LJ Ross DCI Ryan #4

The fourth book in the DCI Ryan series, Angel is a page-turner.
Life is slImage result for High Force L J Rossowly returning to a semblance of normality for Ryan and his fiancé, Anna, and wedding plans are being made, that is until the body of a young woman is found. Not only is she partially-buried in a grave intended for someone else, but she’s been positioned to look like an angel. When more bodies start turning up, some in the angelic pose and others not, Ryan and Phillips realize they have a different sort of religious killer on the loose – a religious killer who doesn’t care who their victim is as long as she has red hair, pale skin and is of a certain age, very much like the love of Phillip’s life, Detective Inspector Denise McKenzie….

While I had my doubts about this series to start with, I confess, the characters have really grown on me. Ross has developed Ryan, Anna, Philips, Denise and Jack to the point you feel invested in them and care deeply when they’re threatened, which is what makes this book so very appealing. Not only that, but the plot moves at a fast pace, the killer remaining a step ahead all the time.

There are still some clichés that can grind a tad, but some are simply part of the generic conventions of crime narratives and can be forgiven, especially when other aspects of the writing are so very good. The ending is a doozy as well and had me buying and starting the next in the series immediately.

Good start to the new year reading!

 

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Heavenfield by LJ Ross DCI Ryan #3

I guess I should start this review with a Happy New Year! It might be belated, but is no less sincere for that. I reImage result for happy new yearally hope 2018 is a cracker of a year for you. I am excited about it – not only do I have two novels coming out this year (the US version of The Locksmith’s Daughter in May with William Morrow, replete with a gorgeous new cover which I will preview soon and The Chocolate Maker’s Wife in Australia/NZ through MIRA Harlequin/Harper Collins in October – 2019 release slated for the USA,), but I also commence a new writing job as an advice columnist for a magazine. Watch this space. So I really feel writing is my living now – from fiction and history to contemporary politics, social issues and pop culture to advice. Feel ever so fortunate to be making my living with words and the ideas they inspire, imaginations they fuel, knowledge they impart and also the ability they have to console, excite, arouse, enrage, and satisfy.

I have made a promise to myself to read a lot this year – non-fiction (which I will do researching my new novel) as well as glorious fiction from all genres. Currently, I am reading the book that, before its release, caused so much controversy – Fire and Fury by Michael Woolfe. OMG.  Stay tuned for a review of that in the next few days. In the meantime, here is the first of  my reviews for 2018. So many great books, so many lovely words. Never enough time! Happy New Reading Year!

NuImage result for heavenfield LJ Rossmber Three in the Detective Chief Inspector Max Ryan series ups the ante by commencing the novel with Ryan being placed into custody under suspicion of murdering a man in a church. While it’s evident to the reader he is no more guilty of such a crime than we are, and for those following the series we understand how and why he’s been detained, it’s the one flaw in this otherwise good book that other investigators take their time releasing him so he can do what he does best: track down the real culprit.

Focusing once more on the mysterious “Circle” who have been the bane of Ryan’s life, in this book, they turn on each other and one by one, die gruesome deaths. Suspects become victims and Ryan and his team find rather than narrowing the pool of potential perpetrators, they are at a loss to know who is responsible. But time is running out as not only the death toll grows, but the murderer sets his or her sights on one of Ryan’s own.

Dark at times, but also interwoven with gentle humour and romance, this book, like the others in the series, is a light and easy read. With each book, the characters grow on you, even if the plot around the Circle is becoming thin. That said, they are well worth a read and great for holiday escapism.

Have already bought the next one.

 

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Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross

Sycamore Gap, the second book in the DCI Ryan Mysteries, takes place about six months after the events in Holy Island. Ryan and Dr Anna are all but living together in Durham when Ryan is called to Hadrian’s Wall where a body has been found stuffed in cavity. Just as the police discover the body is only a decade old and not, as the ambitious archaeologist hanging around the site hopes, ancient, another much fresher body turns up in the same place – a body with ritualistic markings similar to those who were murdered on Lindisfarne months ago.

Once more, past and present collide for Ryan, his side-kick Phillips, and Anna as they work to uncover the killer or killers and seek connections to the brutal, sadistic Circle who caused so much havoc on Lindisfarne.

But it’s when Ryan is forced to confront his sister’s killer that events take an even more sinister turn. There are those involved who have professions and stellar careers to protect and, if they’re at risk, then what have they got to lose, especially when there are more victims to claim?

Fast-paced, the book nonetheless manages to delve slightly deeper into Ryan and Dr Anna’s relationship as well as the professional ones of Ryan, Phillips and their colleagues – as well as the case that almost broke Ryan. The dreaded Circle and its members are also fleshed out, though I confess there were times I found my disbelief stretched almost to breaking point.

While the Mills and Boonish air of the first book has, thankfully, dissipated in this one, there is still the sense that everyone is so bloody beautiful, they’ve been cast by a US modelling firm. Only some of the villains seem to bear any ordinariness in their physical characteristics… I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it did. LOL!

Still, I really enjoyed the book and Ross knows how to keep a reader turning the pages. Have already bought book three and look forward to losing myself in it.

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