Tag Archives: detective

storm front

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

From Goodreads:

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.

So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.

Magic – it can get a guy killed.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book has been around for 11 years now but I only heard about it recently. I came across the series when mentioned by Anthony on his blog Today’s Perfect Moment and so glad he did! I really, really enjoyed it.

This is a completely unique character and setting for me and despite my initial misgivings it works really well. The character of Harry Dresden is a quite cynical character and with a modern setting he’s very different from the traditional depiction of a wizard, about as far from Gandalf and Dumbledore as possible! The supporting characters are also very interesting and especially Harry’s relationship with Murphy. My favourite character by far though was Bob.

Bob typifies the disregard the author has for traditional magic, wizards and fantasy in general. The creation of the two potions was a fabulous comedic and well written scene that was one of my favourite, closely followed by Bob’s blackmail of Harry (trying not to give spoilers). This somehow reminded me of Terry Pratchett and his Witch characters.

There are a number of proper fantasy scenes that are also really well done. The best by far was Harry’s meeting with Madame Bianca but the appearances of the Toad Demon were also really well written.

The author seems to be quite prolific with 17 titles in the series so far. I hope he manages to keep the quality high as they go along as I hope to read them all.

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poppet

Poppet (Jack Caffrey #6, Flea Marley #4) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

In this chilling, seamlessly-plotted thriller, British detective Jack Caffery must find a dangerous mental patient on the loose—before he can kill again . . .
 
The Beechway High Secure Unit in Bristol, England, has a storied past—first as a nineteenth-century workhouse, then a poorhouse for the homeless, and now as a psychiatric hospital. With that troubled history come superstitions like the Maude, believed to be the ghost of a sadistic workhouse matron.
 
But while some of the patients and staff think the Maude is behind a series of unexplained episodes of self-harm amongst the ward’s patients, nursing coordinator AJ LeGrande thinks they might be the work of an all too human horror—a homicidal patient who was released back into the public in error.
 
Calling on Det. Jack Caffery, LeGrande hopes his investigation will reveal what’s truly been going on inside and outside the hospital’s walls. But what Caffery discovers about former patient Isaac Handel is beyond anyone’s imagining.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. I’m a big fan of Jack Caffrey and Mo Hayder in general but I absolutely devoured this book, reading it in less than 3 days. It’s written in a really good way that draws you on and on at a frenetic pace that does not allow you an easy opportunity to stop reading.

It’s both a complicated and very simple story with twists and turns all along the way. It’s focused mostly on Jack but introduces two new central characters from the mental hospital that are just for this story. That was a nice change but it also allowed Jack to be a police man in the main.

There was no sign of The Walking Man this time but there were enough eccentric characters here without him. I kept expecting him to pop up at some stage but he didn’t appear.

Finally and with some relief it appears that Jack and Flea are beginning to solve their personal problems and bring Misty Kitson’s death to an end. That’s been dragging on for a while now and it will be good to move on.

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walk the wire

Walk The Wire (Amos Decker #6, Will Robie #5.5) by David Baldacci.

From Goodreads:

Amos Decker — the FBI consultant with a perfect memory — returns to solve a gruesome murder in a booming North Dakota oil town in the newest thriller in David Baldacci’s #1 New York Times bestselling Memory Man series.

When Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are called to London, North Dakota, they instantly sense that the thriving fracking town is ripe for trouble. The promise of a second gold rush has attracted an onslaught of newcomers all hoping for a windfall, and the community is growing faster than houses can be built. The sudden boom has also brought a slew of problems with it, including drugs, property crimes, prostitution — and now murder.

Decker and Jamison are ordered to investigate the death of a young woman named Irene Cramer, whose body was expertly autopsied and then dumped in the open — which is only the beginning of the oddities surrounding the case. As Decker and Jamison dig into Irene’s life, they are shocked to discover that the woman who walked the streets by night as a prostitute was a teacher for a local religious sect by day — a sect operating on land once owned by a mysterious government facility that looms over the entire community.

London is a town replete with ruthless business owners, shady government officials, and religious outsiders, all determined to keep their secrets from coming out. When other murders occur, Decker will need all of his extraordinary memory and detective skills, and the assistance of a surprising ally, to root out a killer and the forces behind Cramer’s death. . . before the boom town explodes.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

It’s a while since I read any David Baldacci books and I was looking forward to reading another installment in the Amos Decker story but this was a bit disappointing. It felt like the author was just going through the motions and that this is a book written for money rather than a good story.

The biggest problem is that he tries to take three different mysteries that are only loosely connected. It would have been better to drop to one or probably two and keep a tighter storyline.

The author also depends too much on Amos’ perfect memory as a crutch. I lost track of how many times that he sat down, accessed his “cloud” and suddenly had a flash of inspiration that became a significant break in the case.

Will Robie and eventually Jessica Reel are pretty much shoehorned into this book. Again they’re used as a crutch to make storyline moves, they always seem to be in the right place at the right time and it does neither character any great favours.

The overall story is worth reading and I did enjoy the book. The three cases have merit, I just would have liked to see two of them developed better. It was also nice to meet Amos again and see how his personality is changing and developing. The final reveal did surprise me in the end up even if it was all a bit “Scooby Doo” and “those pesky kids”. Now that he’s updated Amos’ story I hope he is considering a return to the Camel Club.

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gone

Gone (Jack Caffrey #5, Flea Marley #3, The Walking Man #3) by Mo Hayder

From Goodreads:

November in the West Country.

Evening is closing in as murder detective Jack Caffery arrives to interview the victim of a car-jacking.

He’s dealt with routine car-thefts before, but this one is different. This car was taken by force. And on the back seat was a passenger. An eleven-year-old girl. Who is still missing.

Before long the jacker starts to communicate with the police: ‘It’s started,’ he tells them. ‘And it ain’t going to stop just sudden, is it?

And Caffery knows that he’s going to do it again. Soon the jacker will choose another car with another child on the back seat.

Caffery’s a good and instinctive cop; the best in the business, some say. But this time he knows something’s badly wrong. Because the jacker seems to be ahead of the police – every step of the way…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this book. If you read professional reviews and critic reports I’m sure there will be lots of comments about the lack of writing quality, how the story skips around a lot and how some plot lines appear out of nowhere or are discarded without a thought. I don’t care! This book is all about the story and all of the above creates a frenetic pace that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you along whether you want to go or not. I found it difficult to break away from reading this during the first 40% but the remainder was read virtually in one sitting this morning. I was so engrossed I even gave up on my planned 100km cycle and gave myself over to the story.

There is some development in the relationship between Flea and Jack and they both have starring roles in this book. The Walking Man also plays a more prominent role and we get to know some more of his back story. However, the story mostly focuses on “the jacker” and the search for the missing girls. It’s almost a standalone story but much more enjoyable if you have read the preceding books.

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skin

Skin (Jack Caffrey #4, Flea Marley #2) by Mo Hayder.

From Goodreads:

When the decomposed body of a young woman is found by near railway tracks just outside Bristol one hot May morning, all indications are that she’s committed suicide. That’s how the police want it too: all neatly squared and tidied away.

But DI Jack Caffery is not so sure. He is on the trail of someone predatory, someone who hides in the shadows and can slip into houses unseen.

And for the first time in a very long time, he feels scared.

Police Diver Flea Marley is working alongside Caffery. Having come to terms with the loss of her parents, and with the traumas of her past safely behind her, she’s beginning to wonder whether their relationship could go beyond the professional.

And then she finds something that changes everything. Not only is it far too close to home for comfort – but it’s so horrifying that she knows that nothing will ever be the same again.

And that this time, no one – not even Caffery – can help her …

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This picks up the story a few days after the conclusion of Ritual. At first it seems like it’s going to be a familiar murder/detective story with a bit of a development of a relationship between Jack and Flea before the author drops a hand grenade in the middle of Flea’s life. This seems so out of the blue that it appears completely unbelievable at first. However, once you let this feeling go it’s a very dark counterpoint to Jack’s story and there is an excellent depiction of how Flea deals with the stress and adapts to prevent her life from being completely destroyed.

Jack’s story is also quite good and I really enjoyed how the author blended and intertwined the stories while telling them from separate points of view. Right up to the very end I wasn’t quite sure how Jack was going to jump.

On top of Flea and Jack’s stories you then have the slightly mystical/supernatural elements of The Walking Man and the remaining African occult storyline from the previous book. All of these are expertly put together to create a book that really is unlike any other I’ve read.

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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.

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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.