Cragside DCI Ryan #6 by LJ Ross

The sixth book in the DCI Ryan series, Cragside, opens with Ryan and Anna recovering from the events in the pImage result for Cragside L J Rossrevious book and the destruction – physical, psychological and emotional – The Hacker left behind. Likewise for McKenzie and Phillips. Temporarily relocated to the grounds of a manor house, Cragside, due to the fire that gutted Anna’s cottage, when Ryan and Anna are invited to a murder-mystery party, the last thing they expect is for a real body to turn up.

When more bodies start appearing, Ryan understands something sinister is afoot. Worse, a new appointment is about to be made at Northumberland Constabulary, an appointment that bodes nothing but ill for Ryan.

Once again, Ross creates a wonderful balance between intrigue, romance, personal relationships, office politics and the various suspects of the crime. Location also becomes a character in the novel, the house and the lands upon which it sits, adding atmosphere and tension (as well as beauty) to the narrative.

Managing to capture a great deal in a few words, Ross’s books are just getting better and better. It’s no wonder that as soon as I finish one, I quickly purchase and start the next. A good read indeed!

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Die of Shame by Mark Billingham

28379690Die of Shame is the first of Mark Billingham’s books I have read, but it won’t be the last.

Ostensibly a crime novel, it is also a psychological thriller that, borrowing from the language of support groups to title the various parts of the story, segues between time frames (then and now) and perspectives to tell the tale of a group of former addicts who meet in the home of their counselor and what happens before and after one of their members is murdered.

The group itself is diverse: there is the wealthy housewife, the gay prostitute, alcoholic, drug-addict, over-eater, etc. All of the members have a history of addiction, including their counselor, Da Silva, who is much admired and trusted and has his own personal problems to contend with.

When one of the group is found dead, suspicion immediately falls on each member. Detective Nicola Tanner, a hard-nosed and capable cop determines to uncover the secrets of the group – those that lie buried beneath their history of addiction. In order to do this, she needs to discover what it was on of the groups did that was so shameful, she had to die.

Taut, well-written (even if the time slips can be confusing – mainly because when you put the book down at night and pick it up the next day it takes a minute to orientate yourself), this book is, forgive the pun, addictive. The lives of the group’s members are slowly unpacked and their various motives for addiction and, indeed, murder explored. You find yourself changing your mind as to “who dunnit” and, while I did guess the right person (only towards the end), I didn’t foresee their reasoning.

A terrific read. Looking forward to the next one of Billingham’s.


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Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

8333678Cold Granite is the first book in the Logan McRae series by Stuart MacBride, and it’s a doozy. Opening with a really disturbing scene – not only the finding of a child’s dead body (which is horrific enough), buried beneath snow and ice, but one that’s been mutilated as well, the book sets a cracking pace that rarely lets up.

Apart from a series of grizzly murders and grieving parents, dodgy suspects, and wild Aberdeen weather, readers are introduced to the extremely likeable and relatable Detective Sergeant Logan McRae who, after a year recovering from a near-fatal stabbing and the break-up of a relationship, is back at work, scarred literally and metaphorically by his experiences.

As additional bodies are discovered and the media appears to know more than the police, leaking intimate details of the cases and causing panic in the town to rise, McRae and his colleagues are angry and desperate.

When McRae discovers the source of the leaks and draws closer to the identity of the killer, it’s not just children who are under threat, but the affable DS as well.

Dark at times and laugh out loud funny as well (McRae’s relationship with his colleagues and his bosses as well as his self-deprecation is oft-times hilarious), the book doesn’t shy away from the brutal details (not just of murders, but autopsies – I don’t think I’ve read a crime procedural quite so graphic) and the kind of gallows humour that people in these jobs develop as a survival mechanism. As the case both proceeds and is stalled by outside influence and suspicion within the team, the reader is drawn into not only the case but also the personal lives of the main characters.

Abderdeen is as much a character in the book as the police and grieving families, as it comes alive in all its rainy glory and wonderfully diverse and richly tongued people.

Taut and tightly plotted with great dialogue and logical, believable crime and outcomes, this is a terrific book for fans of crime. Loathe to leave the world of DS McRae and co, I’ve already downloaded and started the next one.

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