Yes, some actual reviews! Steve Cavanagh- The Devil’s Advocate/ P. J. Vernon- Bath Haus/ Jen Williams- Dog Rose Dirt – @stevecavanagh_ @pjvernonbooks @sennydreadful

Hands up and apologies for the distinct lack of new content on my blog over the past few weeks. I can only say that is tied up with an additional workload in my day job, which has left me a bit knackered and stressed to be honest! As much as my reading has continued at a fairly steady pace, I seem to have lacked the impetus to sit down and write reviews, so in an attempt to draw your attention to some extremely good books that have passed my way, here is a quick round-up post for your enjoyment- I hope. I also apologise to the authors below for the lack of chunky monkey reviews, but sometimes less is more… 🙂

STEVE CAVANAGH- THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE: They call him the King of Death Row. Randal Korn has sent more men to their deaths than any district attorney in the history of the United States. When a young woman, Skylar Edwards, is found murdered in Buckstown, Alabama, a corrupt sheriff arrests the last person to see her alive, Andy Dubois. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that Andy is innocent. Everyone in Buckstown believes Andy is guilty. He has no hope of a fair trial. And the local defense attorney assigned to represent him has disappeared. Hot shot New York lawyer Eddie Flynn travels south to fight fire with fire. He plans to destroy the prosecutors case, find the real killer and save Andy from the electric chair. But the murders are just beginning. Is Eddie Flynn next?

Well, what more needs to be said, when a new Eddie Flynn arrives in your life, except to get stuck in and enjoy the ride. For my money, and having read every Flynn to date, I can honestly say this is Cavanagh’s best yet. I raced through this one with it’s intensely sultry and atmospheric Alabama backdrop, which added so much to this tense and nerve shredding legal thriller. With a young black man’s life, literally in Flynn’s hands, Cavanagh has constructed not only a taut and exceptionally well plotted thriller, but a book that addresses the very serious issues of racism and the inequalities of the American legal system for black defendants. Through Flynn, and his legal team’s experience, we quickly fear for how this one is going to play out, and the injustice that permeates every inch of this case. Cavanagh’s precise and always fluid style is like a knife through hot butter as always, and with the authenticity of legal procedure, the assimilation of the particular socio-economic climate of Alabama and how this affects the black communities so deeply, Cavanagh produces a necessary and overwhelmingly powerful distillation of the American legal system, yet balances it perfectly with the needs of a pacey and entirely compelling plot.

It also has to be said that prosecutor Randal Korn, who proves to be a truly sinister and dangerous nemesis for Flynn, can quite rightly be crowned one of the most evil protagonists I have encountered in crime fiction. He positively oozes- literally- a demonic compulsion to send as many men as possible to the electric chair whether guilty or innocent, and Flynn is embroiled in his most testing case yet. Still grappling with the overhanging grief of the events of the last book, Flynn is at his most vulnerable point that we have observed, but surely that tenacity and sass can’t desert him now? Enjoy finding out in this brilliant addition, to hands down one of my favourite series ever… Highly recommended.

(My reviews of the Eddie Flynn series to date here)

(With thanks to Orion for the ARC)

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P. J. WILLIAMS- BATH HAUS: Oliver Park, a recovering addict from Indiana, finally has everything he ever wanted: sobriety and a loving, wealthy partner in Nathan, a prominent DC trauma surgeon. Despite their difference in age and disparate backgrounds, they’ve made a perfect life together. With everything to lose, Oliver shouldn’t be visiting Haus, a gay bathhouse. But through the entrance he goes, and it’s a line crossed. Inside, he follows a man into a private room, and it’s the final line. Whatever happens next, Nathan can never know. But then, everything goes wrong, terribly wrong, and Oliver barely escapes with his life. He races home in full-blown terror as the hand-shaped bruise grows dark on his neck. The truth will destroy Nathan and everything they have together, so Oliver does the thing he used to do so well: he lies… 

You know how it is. You’re mooching around on social media looking at books, that you really shouldn’t buy because you have a bazillion books already crying out for your attention already, and then boom! One of your favourite authors, S. A. Cosby in this case mentions a book. And then another author mentions it, and then another and you’re immersed in a host of brilliant authors saying brilliant things about a book you’ve not heard of.

Reader I bought it.

Reader I loved it.

P. J. Vernon’s Bath Haus is a sleazy, deliciously dirty romp, totally channelling a queer Fatal Attraction. I loved the ever increasing trouble that Oliver finds himself in, after an illicit encounter at a tawdry bath-haus, resulting in him being completely trapped in a web of lies and deceit, in order to keep his relationship with the seemingly perfect Nathan on track. The book pivots between both men’s narrative, and as Oliver starts to flounder in the shadow of the ever growing shit-pile of his own making, we see Nathan’s responses to the situation change and morph along the way. But who is lying to who, and is everything as it really appears? Bath Haus positively vibrates with dark, dangerous energy, sassy humour and really enjoyed the unexpected progression and reveals of the plot. Highly recommended and read if you dare…

(I bought this copy of Bath Haus)

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JEN WILLIAMS- DOG ROSE DIRT: Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women. Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades. When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather. If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

I was highly impressed by this carefully plotted and intriguing thriller from Jen Williams, and starting from a unique and fascinating premise, of how sometimes we know little of the lives of those closest to us, I was enthralled from the start. I found Heather to be an empathetic and earnest character, delving into her family history, when her life becomes inextricably linked with that of a notorious serial killer, and found her to be a credible character throughout. It was nice to be presented with an incredibly less hackneyed portrayal of a serial killer, than some of the overblown and overwritten thrillers I have encountered, putting a very different spin on a man imprisoned for heinous crimes.

As she investigates her mother’s past life in a hippie commune, I was strongly reminded of the poise and tautness of the late Barbara Vine, and William’s characterisation supported this initial impression of her writing. As the tension, and danger to, Heather ramps up considerably, Williams succeeds in keeping the reader with her during the plot twists, and although there was a slight disappointment at the final denouement, I would have no hesitation in recommending this one to you. Definitely worth a read.

(I bought this copy of Dog Rose Dirt)

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5 comments

  1. Bloody hell Raven! Yes, I’m planning on getting the new Steve Cavanagh, and I also had bought Bath Haus after reading a great review somewhere but I thought I was going to get away with the Jen Williams…until you mentioned Barbara Vine!
    Are you trying to start a domestic in my household, filed under the usual cause, “Books, amount of”?
    Great reviews, as ever. And I’m really looking forward to reading Bath Haus. Sounds fantastic and very original.

  2. Thanks so much! I think this year has been crazy good for books, and like you my book mountain has grown. I have no remorse!! 😈 Hope you enjoy the ones you get to too, and sorry about the domestic! Happy reading 😘

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