November (and October!) 2016 Round-Up and Raven’s Book(s) of the Month

_DSC0185 (Common Raven)Well, hello everyone- lovely to see you!

Having just realised that I completely neglected to post a round-up in October, for reasons far too wearisome to go into here, so someone has missed out on the accolade for October’s Book of the Month. That will be rectified forthwith! Still getting to grips with my work/life balance, so despite reading loads thanks to my bus commute, haven’t quite got a handle on finding time to review them all. It’ll sort itself out soon…promise. However, an upside to my new regimen is more time to tackle that TBR pile, and it’s been nice to read books that have been languishing on my shelves for far too long. More of these to come.

So let’s get down to business and bring this blog up to date, as December is with us, and Raven’s Top 5 of the year is on the horizon. Serious stuff which needs to be thought about carefully…in other words, how on earth is this year of stellar reading going to be whittled down to just 5 favourites. Hmmm…..

Have a good month, and just remember that most sensible people would love to be bought a shiny new papery book from your local bookshop for their Christmas stocking!

Raven’s Book of the Month- October

birdAgnes Ravatn- The Bird Tribunal

Samuel Bjork- I’m Travelling Alone

Helen Cadbury- To Catch A Rabbit

Owen Sheers-I Saw A Man

Domenic Stansberry- The White Devil

Carl-Johan Vallgren- The Tunnel

Steinar Bragi-The Ice Lands

Raven’s Book of the Month- November

gaylinDoug Johnstone- Crash Land

Mark Hill- The Two O’Clock Boy

A. D. Garrett- Truth Will Out

Nuala Ellwood- My Sister’s Bones

Eva Dolan- Long Way Home

Davide Longo- Bramard’s Case

Pascal Garnier- The Eskimo Solution

                                    Frederic Dard- Crush

                                                A. L. Gaylin- What Remains of Me

 

Blog Tour- A. D. Garrett- Truth Will Out (Simms/Fennimore #3)

 

TruthWillOutGIF-64coloursA mother and daughter are snatched on their drive home from a cinema. The crime has a number of chilling similarities to a cold case Professor Nick Fennimore had been lecturing on. Then Fennimore begins receiving taunting messages – is he being targeted by the kidnapper?

Meanwhile, a photograph emailed from Paris could bring Fennimore closer to discovering the fate of Suzie, his own daughter, now missing for six years. He seeks help from his old friend, DCI Kate Simms, recently returned from the US. But Kate is soon blocked from the investigation… A mother and child’s lives hang in the balance as Fennimore and Simms try to break through police bureaucracy to identify their abductor…

Truth Will Out is the third of A. D. Garrett’s series featuring DCI Kate Simms and forensic psychologist Professor Nick Fennimore, their particular disciplines reflecting the expertise of their co-creators, accomplished crime writer Margaret Murphy, and policing and forensics expert, Helen Pepper. Following, Everyone Lies, and Believe No One, things are going to get particularly troublesome for Simms and Fennimore as this gruelling investigation takes its toll…

Using the abduction of a woman and her young daughter, as the central hook, Garrett cleverly links this to the on-going mystery of the violent events in Fennimore’s past, with the unexplained disappearance of his wife and daughter some years previously. My usual caveat applies that entering the series at this later point is not an issue, as all the back story is clear and concise, and despite a hiatus in my own reading of the series catching up was easy to do. With both Simms and Fennimore back on home soil, after their Stateside exploits, they once again find themselves, striving to properly solve the current case, but as usual, in Simms case, defying their superiors, and finding their personal lives and professional relationships sorely tested. For me, one of the stand out features of these books is the shifting parameters of the relationship between the two main protagonists, feeding on or fuelling the other’s particular weaknesses and strengths. Aiming to avoid spoilers, I will say that their relationship has undergone a series of shifts through the books, but in this book, the solidity of their working relationship and friendship is tested to the limit, as Fennimore embarks on some less than legal action to track down his daughter, and Simms pushes the boundaries of her involvement in the central investigation. Both Simms and Fennimore are highly intelligent but prone to a little too much introspection and self-questioning, and I like the way that Garrett explores the particular flaws and insecurities in their characters. Indeed, one of the central enjoyments of crime fiction reading is having your good guys a little tarnished, and both these protagonists fit the bill perfectly.

The plot is as you’d expect of a linear investigation into a highly emotive abduction, but heightened by the very real connection to the travails of Fennimore’s past, and cut through with authentic and eye-opening forensic detail. I was a little less than enamoured with the abduction storyline concerning Julia and Lauren Myers, but appreciated its necessity in drawing in Fennimore to the case, and the abductor baiting him. As Fennimore’s involvement in the case becomes more ingrained, some ghosts from the past are put to rest, and it will be interesting to see how Fennimore and Simms’ relationship develops in possible future books. However, my interest was firmly held throughout by the unexpected tangent concerning one of Fennimore’s students, which took the story off on a thorny and violent diversion, with an emotive conclusion, and having proved itself an interesting offshoot to the main plot itself. Once again, this addition to the series, Truth Will Out, is never less than a procedurally and forensically accurate thriller, held together by the unique and mercurial relationship of its two main characters. I must confess, not my favourite of the series to date but, intrigued that having had a central mystery solved, what lies ahead for Fennimore and Simms in the future. Recommended.

everyone-lies-200pxEveryone Lies (Simms/Fennimore Book #1)

DCI Kate Simms is on the fast track to nowhere. Five years ago she helped a colleague when she shouldn’t have. She’s been clawing her way back from a demotion ever since. Professor Nick Fennimore is a failed genetics student, successful gambler, betting agent, crime scene officer, chemistry graduate, toxicology specialist and one-time scientific advisor to the National Crime Faculty. He is the best there is, but ever since his wife and daughter disappeared he’s been hiding away in Scotland, working as a forensics lecturer. Read Raven’s review here

Jelieve No One (Simms/Fennimore Book #2)

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms is on placement in the United States with St Louis PD, reviewing cold cases, sharing expertise. Forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore follows her, keen to pick up where they left off after their last investigation. But Simms came to the US to escape the fallout from that case – the last thing she needs is Fennimore complicating her life. Read Raven’s review here

Enter The Crime Vault competition for a chance to win all three books in the Fennimore & Simms series. (Ends 30th November)

(With thanks to Corsair for the ARC)

Missed a stop? Check out the tour at these excellent sites:

cwvq32wwqaau04d

*COVER REVEAL* A. D. Garrett- #TruthWillOut

Welcome to an exclusive cover reveal for Truth Will Out,  the third instalment of A.D.Garrett’s crime series featuring DCI Kate Simms and forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore. Truth Will Out brings together the combined writing talents of Margaret Murphy ( author of nine internationally acclaimed psychological thrillers) and Helen Pepper,  a Senior Lecturer in Policing, former Crime Scene Manager, and Forensic Consultant. The Simms/Fennimore series is a must read for fans of psychologically intriguing, and forensically aware crime thrillers, and the Raven has very much enjoyed the previous two outings…

TruthWillOutGIF-64colours

A mother and daughter are snatched on their drive home from a cinema. The crime has a number of chilling similarities to a cold case Professor Nick Fennimore had been lecturing on. Then Fennimore begins receiving taunting messages – is he being targeted by the kidnapper?

Meanwhile, a photograph emailed from Paris could bring Fennimore closer to discovering the fate of Suzie, his own daughter, now missing for six years. He seeks help from his old friend, DCI Kate Simms, recently returned from the US. But Kate is soon blocked from the investigation… A mother and child’s lives hang in the balance as Fennimore and Simms try to break through police bureaucracy to identify their abductor.

Simms and Fennimore are complex, compelling and just plain marvellous.’ Jeffery Deaver

Follow A.D. Garrett on Twitter: @adgarrett1

Website : http://www.adgarrett.com/

 

everyone-lies-200pxEveryone Lies (Simms/Fennimore Book #1)

DCI Kate Simms is on the fast track to nowhere. Five years ago she helped a colleague when she shouldn’t have. She’s been clawing her way back from a demotion ever since. Professor Nick Fennimore is a failed genetics student, successful gambler, betting agent, crime scene officer, chemistry graduate, toxicology specialist and one-time scientific advisor to the National Crime Faculty. He is the best there is, but ever since his wife and daughter disappeared he’s been hiding away in Scotland, working as a forensics lecturer. Read Raven’s review here

Believe-No-One-200pxBelieve No One (Simms/Fennimore Book #2)

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms is on placement in the United States with St Louis PD, reviewing cold cases, sharing expertise. Forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore follows her, keen to pick up where they left off after their last investigation. But Simms came to the US to escape the fallout from that case – the last thing she needs is Fennimore complicating her life. Read Raven’s review here

July 2014 Round Up and Raven’s Book of the Month

_DSC0185 (Common Raven)Another busy month on the blog with no less than three blog tours for Dan Smith, John Burley and Tim Adler, and although not as many reviews posted as normal, a lot of reading has been going on to get ahead for the jam packed August release schedule (see below).  July also heralded the start of International Crime Month in the UK and there was the traditional Theakston’s Harrogate Crime Festival. Belinda Bauer’s Rubbernecker claimed the prize of Crime Book of the Year, and the other books on the shortlist included:

Elly Griffiths- Dying Fall

Malcolm Mackay- The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Peter May- The Chess Men

Denise Mina- The Red Road

Stav Sherez- Eleven Days

 

 And so to the books:Reviewed this month:Dan Smith- Red Winter

M. J. Arlidge- Eeny Meeny

Tim Adler- Surrogate

A. D. Garrett- Believe No One

Chris Carter- An Evil Mind

Neely Tucker- The Ways of the Dead

Georges Simenon- A Man’s Head (www.crimefictionlover.com)

Raven’s Book of the Month

neely Neely Tucker: The Ways of the Dead

To be honest, this was one of the easier months to decide on a best read, despite the visceral charm of Chris Carter’s An Evil Mind, and the previously reviewed Red Winter from Dan Smith, as this book just sang to me from the first few pages. This Washington DC based thriller illustrates perfectly all that is good and true about contemporary American crime fiction, and taking as its starting point a real life crime case from the 1990’s, just had me completely hooked throughout. The plot and characterisation were compelling and emotive, as well as the realistic detail afforded to the racial and economic tensions, behind the glamour and wealth of the seat of America’s political power. A superb read, and I would be very surprised if this one doesn’t feature strongly in my traditional best five reads of the year.

Also read with reviews coming in August:

Erin Kelly- Broadchurch (at Crime Fiction Lover)

Malcolm Mackay- The Night The Rich Men Burned

Marco Malvaldi- The Art of Killing Well (at Crime Fiction Lover)

K. T. Medina- White Crocodile (including a feature about the inspiration for the book)

Kanao Minato- Confessions

Kevin Sampson- The House On The Hill (including a feature on the writing of the book)

Andrea Maria Schenkel- The Dark Meadow

Kevin Stevens- Reach The Shining River

 

 

 

A. D. Garrett- Believe No One

garrett

Forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore has engineered lectures in Chicago and St Louis – a ploy to get to Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms. She’s in the United States on sabbatical with St Louis PD, and he’s keen to see her again. Simms is working with a ‘method swap’ team, reviewing cold cases, sharing expertise. But Simms came to the US to escape the fallout from their previous case – the last thing she needs is Fennimore complicating her life.

A call for help from a sheriff’s deputy in Oklahoma seems like a welcome distraction for the professor – until he hears the details: a mother dead, her child gone – echoes of Fennimore’s own tragedy.

Nine-year-old Red, adventuring in Oklahoma’s backwoods, has no clue that he and his mom are in the killer’s sights. Back in St Louis, investigators discover a pattern: victims – all of them young mothers – dumped along a 600 mile stretch of I-44. The Oklahoma and St Louis investigations converge, uncovering serial murders across two continents and two decades. Under pressure, the killer begins to unravel, and when a fresh body surfaces, the race is on to catch the I-44 killer and save the boy.

 

Having reviewed the first collaboration between crime author Margaret Murphy and forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay, Everyone Lies , here last year, I was looking forward to Believe No One, the second in the series. Relocating DCI Kate Simms and forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore to the USA for the duration of this book was a brave and original move, so was interested to see how effectively this would work…

Without a doubt, all the essential tensions and unspoken chemistry between the main protagonists, so evident in Everyone Lies, shone through and the characterisation of Kate and Nick was pitch perfect. I like the more dysfunctional aspects of their characters very much, Nick’s through the loss of his wife and child, and Kate through the pressures of her professional and personal life as a high ranking female detective. I also loved the premise of Kate hot-footing it to America at the earliest opportunity, to provide some distance from her suffocating relationship with Nick, only for Nick to appear in a true ‘tah-da’ fashion, like a genie from the bottle. The ramifications of the intensity of their investigation in the first book, and Nick’s continuing torment over his own personal tragedy, provide a solid base for the development of their of their relationship throughout the course of their American sojourn. Sometimes, I did want to give Nick a good shake, as he does come across at times as too much of a little wounded puppy, rather than adhering to the adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and somehow undermining his professionalism as a forensic psychologist of some distinction. Likewise, Kate is a little indulgent with him at times, whilst trying to distance herself, so these less admirable facets of their characters, make them altogether more human, and interesting for the reader, manipulating our empathy back and forth between them.

Less successful for me was the actual realisation of the investigation that both Kate and Nick find themselves immersed in. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the plot, which I found compelling, as the hunt is on for a serial killer, and serial killers, by and large always provide good morbid entertainment for the average crime reader. The little twists and turns of the investigation were pleasing enough, although I did find the direct echoing of Nick’s personal tragedy, with the disappearance of women and children, a little forced at times. Being a prolific reader of American crime fiction, I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I did feel that there was a certain lack of authenticity about the realisation of the American characters. I did begin to feel that they could have been transposed to any country, and felt they lacked a real sense of ‘being American’. I don’t know if this was due in part to the stiffness of the dialogue when Kate and Nick were interacting with their American counterparts, which to me didn’t carry the cadence of realistic American speech patterns, or just an overall weakness in capturing the feel of the American location generally. It was almost as if the plot and the development of Kate and Nick’s characters took prominence over the attention that should have been afforded to rooting the story in the location chosen and imbuing the American characters with an authentic voice.

However, criticisms aside, I would still recommend this book, along with the first, as a solid pick for crime readers. With the experience of Margaret Murphy accrued from many years as a crime writer, and the intricacy and detail of the forensic psychology that Professor Dave Barclay brings to the collaboration, the foundation is built for a long-running series. I, for one, am very interested to see what Kate and Nick get involved in next…

A. D. Garrett is the pseudonym for the writing collaboration of prize-winning thriller writer Margaret Murphy and forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay. Margaret Murphy is the author of nine psychological thrillers. She lectures on writing and is a former Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow. She is founder of Murder Squad, a touring collective of crime writers, and was Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association in 2009-10. Professor Barclay holds two university posts and is a forensic adviser to the police forces and the media. He was Head of Physical Evidence at the UK National Crime and Operations Faculty for 10 years. He is currently working for several UK police forces and a state of Australia on high profile murders. He is part of the ‘Murder, Mystery and Microscopes’ team which aims to explain the real science behind popular crime fiction via a national series of public lectures http://www.margaretmurphy.co.uk/

(With thanks to Constable & Robinson for the ARC)

A. D. Garrett- Everyone Lies

Product DetailsDI Kate Simms is on the fast track to nowhere. Five years ago she helped a colleague when she shouldn’t have. She’s been clawing her way back from a demotion ever since. Professor Nick Fennimore is a failed genetics student, successful gambler, betting agent, crime scene officer, chemistry graduate, toxicology specialist and one-time scientific advisor to the National Crime Faculty. He is the best there is, but ever since his wife and daughter disappeared he’s been hiding away in Scotland, working as a forensics lecturer. In Manchester, drug addicts are turning up dead and Simms’ superior is only too pleased to hand the problem to her. Then a celebrity dies and the media gets interested. Another overdose victim shows up, but this time the woman has been systematically beaten and all identifying features removed. The evidence doesn’t add up; Simms’ superiors seem to be obstructing her investigation; and the one person she can’t afford to associate with is the one man who can help: Fennimore.

It’s always a tricky proposition I imagine to undertake a crime, or indeed any kind of fiction novel with a dual writing partnership. In other books I have read with two authors there is usually a very noticeable distinction between their two styles causing me to favour one over the other, or the book falls down as one has obviously taken control over a certain facet of the story. Everyone Lies neatly bucked the trend for me and  I was incredibly impressed by this debut collaboration between  Margaret Murphy and Professor Dave Barclay, with this winning combination of established crime author and forensic scientist proving itself to be an altogether better combination than simply relying on meshing the talents of two authors.

Everyone Lies carefully combines the premise of a female  police officer, DI Kate Simms, seeking to re-establish her formerly successful career derailed by one investigation, causing her to take a transfer to Manchester, and her complicated but necessary professional and personal relationship with forensics expert Professor Nick Fennimore. Add into the mix an intriguing investigation into a cluster of suspicious drug deaths, with all the attendant forensic detail and the narrow and small minded politics of the police department and this thriller more than proves its worth. The plot was well paced and compelling with enough surprises along the way to keep the reader hooked and all in all a well-judged depiction of the insidious nature of the drugs trade and its consequent victims. Breaking the story down into the fields of expertise of its authors, the forensic detail is perfectly layered into the story, providing points of interest to the reader, but not overwhelming them with unnecessary information, and for me the tormented Nick Fennimore, who labours under the grief of his wife and daughter disappearing some time previously, is the most interesting character of the piece.  The mental conflicts this produces in him and the personal failings in his character, in addition to the insight and technical expertise his character brings to the book works exceptionally well throughout.  It quickly becomes clear to the reader that there is some shared emotional baggage between himself and Kate which adds another dimension to his more fully formed character. I was not as engaged with Kate finding her a little bland, simply because she seemed an amalgamation of pretty much all of the female detectives I have read. Throughout the course of the book I could see aspects of her more famous counterparts in her character construction, but there is always room for development as I believe this  book heralds the arrival of another series worth following in the future. Definitely worth a look if your tastes run to grittier British crime fiction,  and a good Manchester based police procedural accurately portraying the more sordid and criminal aspects of inner city life.

A. D. Garrett is the pseudonym for the writing collaboration of prize-winning thriller writer Margaret Murphy and forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay. Margaret Murphy is the author of nine psychological thrillers. She lectures on writing and is a former Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow. She is founder of Murder Squad, a touring collective of crime writers, and was Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association in 2009-10. Professor Barclay holds two university posts and is a forensic adviser to the police forces and the media. He was Head of Physical Evidence at the UK National Crime and Operations Faculty for 10 years. He is currently working for several UK police forces and a state of Australia on high profile murders. He is part of the ‘Murder, Mystery and Microscopes’ team which aims to explain the real science behind popular crime fiction via a national series of public lectures. Everyone Lies is their first collaboration. http://www.margaretmurphy.co.uk/

(With thanks to Constable & Robinson for the ARC )