November 2014 Round-Up and Raven’s Book of the Month

_DSC0185 (Common Raven)Another busy month of reading and reviewing by the Raven, not only here, but also in conjunction with the brilliant New Talent November feature that has run for a month over on Crime Fiction Lover . NTN November has revealed some great new talents and I’m sure you will all discover some debut crime novels to tickle your fancy!

Elsewhere, there was much talk of Iceland Noir 2014 and check out these sites for some fascinating and informative posts around the events that took place:

Mrs Peabody Investigates

Crimepieces

Euro But Not Trash

In sad news for crime fiction fans everywhere I was called upon to post a tribute to the wonderful P. D. James on her passing. She will be greatly missed amongst readers and fellow authors alike. P.D.James 1920-2014 A Retrospective

On a happier note I was pleased as punch to take part in David Baldacci’s UK Blog Tour with a specially written post on the roles of heroes and villains in his writing and reading- David Baldacci:Giveaway-The-Escape

I also need to pass on thanks again to Andrew James for his nomination for Raven as a Very Inspiring Blogger- much appreciated! Andrew James Writer

December beckons, and with it I will post a series of articles revealing my best reads of the year and new discoveries, as well as the usual reviews and crime news. Working in book retailing, December is a busy, busy month for me, but wearing this hat I would urge you to remember that there is no greater gift than a book! Unless you can afford that natty sports car, or a condo in Florida…

Have a good month 🙂

Books reviewed this month:

Matthew Pritchard- Werewolf

Elly Griffiths- The Zig Zag Girl

Chris Ewan- Dark Tides

Tammy Cohen- Dying For Christmas

J. G. Jurado- The Tipping Point

Nadia Dalbuono- The Few (www.crimefictionlover.com)

Sheila Bugler- The Waiting Game (www.crimefictionlover.com)

Paddy Magrane- Disorder (www.crimefictionlover.com)

Alexander Hartnung- Until The Debt Is Paid(www.crimefictionlover.com)

Raven’s Book of The Month

fewRead as part of the New Talent November feature at Crime Fiction Lover this debut novel really struck a chord with me, and I have now hand-sold all my copies at the bookstore where I work. Yes- it’s that good. Focusing on the less salubrious activities of a group of Italian politicians, and the disappearance of a young American girl on holiday in Italy with her parents, Dalbuono has constructed a compelling plot, that will keep you guessing until the end. Add to that her police protagonist, the charming and determined  Detective Leone Scamarcio, who has seemingly turned his back on his Mafia connections, and what Dalbuono has achieved is a thoroughly accomplished debut crime novel that will leave you itching for another in the series. A truly 5 star read and perfect for fans of top notch Euro crime thrillers.

Sheila Bugler- Hunting Shadows

Product DetailsA young girl has been taken. There are no witnesses, no leads, no clues. The police are tracking a shadow, and time is running out. DI Ellen Kelly is at the top of her game – at least she was, until she took the law into her own hands and confronted her husband’s killer. She’s back at work now, but has a lot to prove. And she knows it. When she’s drafted in to lead the investigation, it resurrects painful memories. As she hunts for the missing girl, Ellen is ambushed by her own past and the question that has always haunted her: why was her own sister murdered?

With a nice little tagline from the one and only Ken Bruen on the front cover, and the mouthwatering allure of a new London based police procedural, I could not resist the temptations that this debut crime thriller offered. So did this live up to my expectations? I would say, categorically, yes….

Knowing my love/hate relationship with female police characters, and the intrinsic baggage of cliches that usually surrounds them, I have to say that DI Ellen Kelly, rose above the normal mediocre and largely predictable female protagonists that I have encountered, and proves herself a more complex character. I always cite the character of DS Stella Mooney from David Lawrence’s excellent and late lamented crime series as my doyen of London female detectives, so was singularly delighted that DI Kelly could easily give Mooney a run for her money. Although Kelly inevitably has dark secrets threatening to undo her career and liberty, with her bloody reprisal on the man responsible for her husband’s death, I actually found this very credible, and felt emotionally drawn in to the interior pain and anger that Kelly seeks to keep below the surface of her day-to-day life and career. Through Bugler’s pinpoint characterisation, Kelly is a woman of extremely interesting contradictions stemming from her complicated formative years, with her professional persona as a police detective, as a widow, a mother, and a woman who harbours not only a resilience and strength that fuels her air of calm, despite the anger beneath, in so many areas of her life, but interestingly causes her to question her ability to connect emotionally as she seeks to embark on a new fledgling relationship. By constructing such a multi-faceted character who easily carries the weight of the story, the importance of the plot could easily be relegated to second place, but Bugler does not disappoint…

I concede that the plot is an oft repeated one in terms of its use of an abduction of a young girl, Jodie Hudson, (reminiscent of an earlier unsolved abduction) by a seemingly beyond-a hope-completely-la-la weirdo fixated on the evil and brutal events of his childhood, but maybe all is not as it seems to be. Intrigued huh? The trauma of the abduction is brought to the reader through the eyes of Jodie in a form of stream of consciousness, as she seeks to make sense of, and more importantly try to survive, her ordeal, with the story mushrooming out to include a very intriguing plotline involving her stepfather that bats against the predictable conventions of a plot such as this. Throw into the mix, the personal and professional machinations during the investigation of DI Kelly, and all-in-all this is a thoroughly readable and satisfying thriller, and certainly merits a resounding thumbs-up from this reader.

Sheila Bugler grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland. After studying Psychology at University College Galway, she left Ireland and worked in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland and Argentina before finally settling in Eastbourne, where she lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children. Sheila adores crime fiction and has never wanted to write anything else and would  be delighted to share her recommendations and to hear yours too. If you’d like to contact Sheila, you can do so through her website: www.sheilabugler.co.uk  or via Twitter: @sheilab10.

(With thanks to Brandon, an imprint of O’Brien Press, for the ARC)