Tag Archives: detective

deja dead

Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan #1) by Kathy Reichs

From Goodreads:

Her life is devoted to justice; for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her, her best friend and her own daughter, in mortal danger…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This was a good book but I found it hard to get into. Nothing much seemed to be happening for the first half/two thirds of the story but it did definitely pick up towards the finish. The story skips around quite a bit which makes it a difficult one to read in small chunks and the style also doesn’t lend itself to reading one chapter at a time. The introduction of a lot of unfamiliar Canadian police and political organisations and acronyms compounded this.

My other issue was the unavoidable comparisons to Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. I had read a few of this Temperance Brennan series a number of years ago and found them quite good and when I went back looking for them found Kay Scarpetta instead. That was unfortunate as Temperance Brennan is a much better series as far as I remember.

Temperance is also a much better character and despite some annoying personality characteristics is very likeable. Then there is the permanently pissed off and dismissive Claudel and the smoldering relationship with Ryan. The development of the murderer and the building of the case against him is well done.

I’m expecting to enjoy the rest of the series and possibly consign Kay Scarpetta to the bin once and for all.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

ritual

Ritual (Jack Caffrey #3, The Walking Man #1, Flea Marley #1) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

Nine feet under water, police diver Flea Marley closes her gloved fingers around a human hand. The fact that there’s no body attached is disturbing enough—until the discovery of the matching appendage a day later. Both hands have been freshly amputated, and there are indications that the victim was still alive when they were removed.

Newly seconded to the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol, DI Jack Caffery soon establishes that the hands belong to a young man who has recently disappeared. As Caffery and Marley search for the rest of the victim—and for his abductor—they journey into the darkest recesses of Bristol’s underworld, where drug addiction is rife, street kids sell themselves for a hit, and a disturbing occult ritual may be making an unexpected appearance.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

One of the very best books I’ve read in a long time! The author has taken her familiar character and turned him upside down by moving him out of London and into a new city in Bristol. He hasn’t managed to leave all his baggage behind though so he hasn’t changed completely.

Two new characters have been introduced. One is the very complicated Walking Man who has only been touched upon in this story and with this book being sub-titled as the first installment of “The Walking Man” series we will get to know him better in the future.

The second is Flea Marley and she is as important and central a character as Jack. Another complicated character with a messy background story and again someone we will be meeting again. In an interview with the author she described how she had intended to leave Jack Caffrey aside and develop Flea as a character with her own series but was drawn to bring Jack and her together in the one story. It’s a fantastic result.

All that and then you add in gruesome murders, African occult and a host of other really well written minor characters and it was a story I could hardly put down.

the treatment

The Treatment (Jack Caffrey #2) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

Midsummer, and in an unassuming house on a quiet residential street on the edge of Brockwell Park in south London, a husband and wife are discovered. Badly dehydrated, they’ve been bound and beaten, the husband is close to death. But worse is to come: their young son is missing.

When DI Jack Caffery of the Met’s AMIT squad is called in to investigate, the similarities to events in his own past make it impossible for him to view this new crime with the necessary detachment. And as Jack digs deeper, as he attempts to hold his own life together in the face of ever more disturbing revelations about both the past and the present, the real nightmare begins…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is an excellent book. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is that it takes a little while to develop momentum but it definitely rocks along when it does!

This is no easy reader though, it’s very, very dark and right to the very end. Jack Caffrey himself is carrying a huge amount of mental baggage and is on the verge of a mental breakdown for most of the book. Pretty much everyone in this book is either going through intense mental and physical stress or is causing it through sheer evil.

The storyline is horrific in a lot of the subject matter it covers (murder, rape, child abduction, torture, paedophilia) and the style of writing pushes the book close to the horror genre as opposed to simply a thriller. In fact Benedicte’s story reminded me quite a lot of Stephen King’s “Cujo” with the mother and child trapped in the car.

The way the author constructs this story makes it very fast paced. The story is being told from 3-4 different aspects as it charges to a conclusion from about the middle of the book. Despite the very difficult subject matter I found it very difficult to put down and would easily rate it as one of the best I’ve read for quite a while. It won’t be for everyone though!

trace

Trace (Kay Scarpetta #13) by Patricia Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, now freelancing from South Florida, returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: Her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won’t reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Scarpetta dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.

Deprived of assistance from colleagues Benton and Lucy, who are embroiled in what appears to be an unrelated attempted rape by a stalker, Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence — traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must follow the twisting leads and track the strange details in order to make the dead speak — and to reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear …

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Half this book is very good but the other half is very poor. First of all it was great to see a return of Kay and Marino as investigative partners. In a twist from the norm Kay is investigative only, more like a detective than a medical examiner, as she returns to Virginia with barely any access to postmortem exams. Marino is also back as a leaner, healthier and mentally stronger detective without a badge. It was great to mostly get away from Kay’s relationship with Benton and the constant, depressing angst of earlier books and to focus on catching the bad guy. This element of the story was really interesting and the quality of the writing high carrying me right through to the end before I knew what was happening.

The second story was based around the inexplicable collapse of Lucy, her disastrous relationship with a new nutcase girlfriend and Benton’s attempt to solve an attack on her. The two stories were tied together with the same perpetrator but the Lucy element was badly written, boring and frankly unnecessary. It would have been a much better book if it had stuck with Kay and Marino.

I’ll probably keep going with this series as there does still seem to be the odd good book in there yet but I have a feeling it has almost run its course for me.

birdman

Birdman (Jack Caffrey #1) by Mo Hayder.

From Goodreads:

Greenwich, south-east London. The Met’s crack murder squad, AMIP, is called out by nervous CID detectives to a grim discovery. Five bodies, all young women, all ritualistically murdered and dumped on wasteland near the Dome. As each post-mortem reveals a singular, horrific signature linking the victims, officers realize that they are on the trail of that most dangerous offender: a sexual serial killer.

Detective Inspector Jack Caffery – young, driven, unshockable – finds himself facing both hostility within the force and echoes of his past in this, his first case with AMIP. Haunted by the memory of a death long ago, he employs every weapon forensic science can offer for he knows it is only a matter of time before this chaotic, sadistic killer strikes again.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a recent recommendation from Lucilla based on similar books I’ve read and a new author for me. Very much enjoyed it. The character, settings and storyline are quite similar to Peter James‘s series on Roy Grace but with a fresh approach that is very welcome as the Roy Grace character has been running out of material for a while now.

The London setting was enjoyable for me as we visited London last year and many of the street names and locations are familiar from that trip or from general knowledge of London.

The storyline is based around the abduction, mutilation and murder of prostitutes by a serial killer and the main protagonist police officer has a mixed up past that he’s hiding from his colleagues. None of this is new or original but the author builds the characters and stories really well and ties it all together very satisfactorily.

It’s the debut novel for the author and while the plot loses momentum in small sections it’s a great start. The conclusion of the story is very good but I have a feeling the author had it much more detailed and gruesome in the first draft as it feels like someone shied away from it to a certain extent, possibly the editor? However, a great book, enjoyable throughout and looking forward to reading more.

the retribution

The Retribution (Carol Jordan and Tony Hill #7) by Val McDermid.

From Goodreads:

There is one serial killer who has shaped and defined police profiler Tony Hill’s life. One serial killer whose evil surpasses all others. One serial killer who has the power to chill him to the bone: Jacko Vance. And now Jacko is back in Tony’s life – even more twisted and cunning than ever before.

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟

This book had a lot of potential. Carol and Tony are moving their lives to a new chapter and moving closer to a proper relationship, Jacko Vance breaks out of prison and there is another sicko serial killer on the loose. Somehow, however, the author manages none of the story lines particularly well.

Everything about this book is grand but it’s far from great. The twin stories of the new killer and Jacko’s revenge spree were very underdeveloped and really should have been two separate books while the ending was shockingly sudden and verging on ridiculous with Jacko. Both stories felt like the author ran out of time, especially with the new killer. This story just finished very abruptly. Add in the complete overreaction by Carol towards Tony and the overall story left a bad taste.

The saving grace of this book is the development of the secondary characters, especially Paula and Stacey. The second story line allowed for this but I really would have preferred to see this happen in a separate book.

It’s a step in the series and worth reading but the next instalment needs to be much better to rescue the series.

dead at first sight

Dead at First Sight (Roy Grace #15) by Peter James.

From Goodreads:

A man waits at London Airport for Ingrid Ostermann, the love of his life, to arrive. Across the Atlantic, a retired NYPD cop waits in a bar in Florida’s Key West for his first date with the lady who is, without question, his soulmate. The two men are about to discover they’ve been scammed out of almost every penny they have—and that neither woman exists. Meanwhile, a wealthy divorcée plunges, in suspicious circumstances, from an apartment block in Munich. In the same week, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to investigate the suicide of a woman in Brighton, that is clearly not what it seems. As his investigations continue, a handsome Brighton motivational speaker comes forward. He’d discovered his identity is being used to scam 11 different women, online. Roy Grace realizes he is looking at the tip of an iceberg. A global empire built on clever, cruel internet scams and the murder of anyone who threatens to expose them.

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟

I’ve read all of the other Roy Grace books and really enjoyed them. This one was a big disappointment, especially as I’ve been waiting a while to get a chance to read it.

The whole concept behind the story is definitely a huge issue but it’s not the type of story normally associated with Roy Grace. I found it hard to get invested in the victims and couldn’t really care less about them or their problems. The introduction of a typical old school, hard man criminal mastermind didn’t suit the story at all and the whole story and group of characters felt disjointed. I’m also fed up with the pointless story of Roy and Cleo’s adoption of Bruno. He’s obviously an obnoxious little git but the story arc has been dragged out to nowhere now for at least two books. The back story of Sandy’s disappearance was a good and unique story but it’s like the author introduced Bruno and now doesn’t know what to do with him.

I’ve looked forward to the next instalment in this series every time I’ve finished one of them but not this time. I would have given it two stars except for the increase in pace and the way he concluded the story in the last 15-20%.