Bamburgh by LJ Ross


Bamburgh by LJ Ross
Publisher: Dark Skies Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY…

When a cantankerous old woman dies at her home in the sleepy, picturesque village of Bamburgh, DCI Ryan doesn’t think much of it—except, that is, for the small matter of it having been his wife who happened to find her body. Then another body turns up amongst the sand dunes at the base of the mighty castle fortress, and he decides it can’t be a coincidence…

Meanwhile, after a recent revelation about her sister, DC Melanie Yates’ quest to avenge her death is becoming an obsession—much to the concern of those around her. With a new DCS to contend with and hundreds of cold case files to sift through, the chances of uncovering a dormant killer seem unlikely. But as Melanie delves deeper into the secrets of the past to uncover the truth, she soon realises it lies much closer to home…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit, set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

For the first time in fifteen years since the murder of her twin sister, DC Melanie Yates has concrete evidence the monster she has searched for is not only still active, but remains nearby. Determined to eke out her revenge, Melanie is not deterred when she is sidelined from the investigation. Meanwhile DCI Ryan and his team are kept busy not just with the hunt for this murderer, but also discover an old woman dead in her home near the sleepy township of Bamburgh. They wouldn’t have thought much of it, except they had all met the lady shortly before her death at a masquerade ball at the castle, and DCI Ryan’s wife was the one to discover her body. Can the team work these two cases in tandem and find justice before it’s too late?

I found this to be a well balanced and interesting story. While the series is quite long, I feel readers should certainly be able to pick this book up with very little history and still enjoy the two murder mysteries contained inside. Though I do admit I found it far more emotional and deeper for having known the complexities tying all the main characters together and their histories.

I have to be honest and I was quite disappointed with a number of Melanie’s decisions in this book. Despite multiple conversations with her team-mates and her partner, Melanie consciously decided to chose a path not just of revenge but also of taking actions where the future ramifications were quite dire. I can fully sympathise with Melanie’s character, and I can even comprehend how in the moment she wasn’t thinking about the future or where her actions were going to lead. But I really struggled to feel empathy when a number of her choices were entirely selfish and destructive to her loved ones and Melanie recognized this – but chose to keep going anyway. I really disliked how Melanie put her personal need for revenge above the safety and emotional wellbeing of her supposed life-partner and the love and friendship of her nearest and dearest. I’m not sure I can forgive her character for acting like this.

To be fair, this absolutely made the plot more interesting, and made the danger lurking much stronger and a more conflicted and interesting read. Indeed, this overshadowed pretty much everything else in the book for me, personally – this massive metaphorical bomb going off in the character’s lives and relationships overshadowed most of the rest of the book for me. It made gripping reading and was very well written. I also have to admit that much of this plot – and its seriousness – would have sailed right past me had I not known and understood the histories between all the characters. I do feel the book and its main plots would have still been quite enjoyable as a read had I picked this up with no prior history, but for sure the depth would not have been there without that prior knowledge.

An enjoyable read – and quite explosive for fans, I expect – this is a well written police procedural with a good murder mystery, a small but delightfully layered cast of characters and a series I plan to continue to enjoy more of.

Roulette by Thomas Locke and Jyoti Guptara


Roulette by Thomas Locke and Jyoti Guptara
Publisher: Down & Out Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Don’t trip. It could cost your life…

They call it Roulette because there’s no way of knowing what kind of ecstasy awaits. A rollercoaster ride through any one of seven heavens—or straight to hell.

A new and dangerous substance has suddenly appeared at the rave scene of Gainesville, Florida. When former special agent Eric Bannon comes to investigate, the local sheriff doesn’t know whether to be relieved someone is finally taking the rave issue seriously, or disturbed about who has answered the call. The inquiry must be kept quiet. But why are senior government officials turning a blind eye to such a dangerous drug?

As the county hospital’s senior ER nurse, Carol Steen has seen her share of small-town trouble. Her greatest concern is the snobbish new doctor. Stacie Swann is everything Carol detests: fresh out of med school, too many years her junior, drop-dead gorgeous—and with a bad attitude. Why did Stacie, an upcoming surgical star, leave her prestigious residency at the University of Florida medical center and take up station in their remote clinic?

To Stacie, the nosey nurse is only a bitter reminder of what the medical establishment took from her, landing her in Middle of Nowhere, Florida. But when the night’s emergencies are rushed in, the two ladies begin to bond over a common challenge.

What appears to be a simple case of overdose turns into an ER nightmare. Patients seem to be suffering symptoms from multiple drugs. None are detectable.

Eric arrives at the clinic in time to witness the victims’ transformation from near-coma to bestial strength and ferocity. Eric and the ladies track the drug’s origin to clandestine operations based within the university student body. These young people both finance the production and facilitate the human trials of the world’s most exciting new high.

Roulette makes you feel like your best self, times ten. Because it’s no longer the old you.

Carol and Stacie’s patients belong to the 1% of consumers exposed to Roulette’s true purpose, a purpose so heinous it will rewrite not just history, but the human genome.

As opposition mounts from within his own government, Eric must face off with experimental science and the question: In the battle to control the future of humanity, do they really want to fight fire with fire?

What are the chances of winning when the payout is a negative expected return? Playing roulette is a game of chance; when you compare the outcome to playing with an experimental drug what can possibly happen?

The book started off during a normal shift at the Alachua County Medical Center. Readers are introduced to senior ER nurse Carol Steen, who knows and does her job very well. But as the shift progresses Carol and medical resident doctor Stacie Swann find that their patients have been introduced to something more than the normal prescription drug party.

Carol’s husband, local sheriff Dewey Steen, is aware of the effects of this new drug, as are other law enforcement officers, such as former special agent Eric Bannon who is assigned to Gainesville, Florida to investigate this new and dangerous drug.

This book is an easy read, has a very interesting storyline and I enjoyed the characters, however I wanted more to happen or more detail to what happened to the wolf-like people. Is the book paranormal, romance or a thriller? I felt that it touched on a lot of genres, but it is missing some of the substance that would make this an edge of your seat, cannot put the book down thriller. The book seemed to be more character driven since a higher percentage of the novel focused on the main characters and their lives versus the details surrounding the fallout from the drug. While there are brief mentions on how and why the drug was created, I am thinking some of the “slowness” could have something to do with the narration or point of view being told that leaves the gaps and missing details. There are heightened moments of suspense and excitement, but it felt like this story has been told before. I don’t want to give spoilers, but the reason the drug was invented was something that we’ve seen many times before.

I was able to put the book down for a few days with no rush to see how it ended. Not saying that as a bad thing it just did not draw me in as much as I’d hoped. There was action that heightened the reading experience and I did have some anticipation on how the story would play out. The book kept my attention well enough, and I was able to finish reading it. The writing style is easy to read and follow, it has very short chapters which I prefer and the plot flows with a good pace. Car chases, kidnapping, being on the verge of realistic and supernatural, this is a thought provoking read that made me think what if there was such a drug introduced to society.

This 280-page book has a wide cast of characters with an abrupt ending that leads me to believe there will be a sequel.

Blood Runs Cold by JM Dalgliesh


Blood Runs Cold by JM Dalgliesh
Publisher: Hamilton Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Believe in nothing… and kill for something…

When a man’s dismembered body is discovered at an abandoned quarry on the north Norfolk coast, DI Tom Janssen and his team must wade through his secretive life to figure out how he met his end.

The victim was a quiet man, well respected by those who knew him, and someone often willing to help local charities with his free time. Presenting an image of himself to the world of a simple, inoffensive individual, he never allowed anyone close enough to look behind the mask. As his associations become clearer, the team realise that there are others with secrets of their own… but are they willing to kill to keep them that way?

With a community reeling from such a gruesome and seemingly macabre act of violence the pressure is on to get a result. When the investigation crosses paths with another operated by the Major Crimes Unit, Tom begins to question who the real victim is and why, to some, the murder is such a low priority?

Kids messing around with fireworks in a local abandoned quarry manage to unearth a dismembered body. DI Tom Janssen and his team try hard to uncover who the mutilated corpse might belong to. With no official means of IDing the body they finally settle on a secretive – but generally well liked – man who they feel might be the victim, only to discover the more they search the harder it is to work out what really happened. With pressures from both outside and within the local team, can Tom and his team find some justice?

I have been greatly enjoying this series and feel this book is an excellent addition to it. While the members of the team have been working well together now for a number of years, I don’t feel like a reader should shy away from picking up this book if they haven’t read any of the previous ones. There is history between the team, yes, but it’s all fairly clear how they work well together and there’s not many in-secrets or group dynamics that can’t easily be picked up on. Readers shouldn’t worry about reading this or the other books out of order.

I thoroughly enjoyed how through most of the book the identity of the victim remained in doubt. While yes, the team had a good idea of who the body was and tried to piece together what had occurred, this in itself was what most of the mystery of the story was and I enjoyed this as a different style of plot. I admit the pace of this book might read a little slow to some readers – instead of rushing around and chasing many clues with an over-arching feeling of dread or rush, this was very much a slow and methodical working together of secrets and puzzle pieces. I admit this was a different tone of book, but I enjoyed it.

Readers looking for an interesting, layered plotline with a British police procedural flavour should find this is an excellent book to enjoy. I found the characters varied and the book retained my attention throughout. I am eager to try more – both in this series and others – by this author.

The Turnbull Murders by R.J. Koreto


The Turnbull Murders by R.J. Koreto
Publisher: Level Best Books
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Movie star Nicky Tallon selects architect Wren Fontaine to renovate Turnbull House, where he’ll be filming his next movie. Even to Wren, used to old homes, this one is special: a 200-year-old federal-style home on a private island in New York harbor, designed by the most celebrated architect of the day. But Turnbull House hides many secrets, such as the disappearance of the sea captain who built it. That’s just a historical curiosity, until a studio executive no one likes is killed.

Wren just wants to keep her worksite safe, but then another murder occurs, and she starts noting eerie connections between the mysteries surrounding the Turnbull family and Nicky and his entourage. The handsome star seems to have two girlfriends, a childlike folk singer and a cynical fashion model. Meanwhile, renowned actress Veronica Selwyn renews a friendship with Wren’s father, which Wren finds more disturbing than she wants to admit. She concludes it’s time she and her girlfriend Hadley take the next step and find a place together, an exciting but stressful change.

As the attacks continue, Wren realizes she will have to solve the mysteries surrounding Captain Turnbull and Nicky Tallon. Turnbull House speaks of order and harmony, and Wren must dig deep to see how the house has affected its owners, old and new. Fortunately for her, the eminently practical Hadley is by her side, pepper spray at the ready—because a frighteningly clever killer is about to find that Wren is getting too close to the horrific truth.

The intriguing characters we meet at the opening of The Turnbull Murders grabbed this reader’s interest right away. R.J. Koreto described this new work as a ‘Historic Homes Mystery,’ and I for one, never imagined what a super backdrop architecture could be for a murder.

Our lead character, Wren, is as you have might have already guessed, an architect- but a special sort, with an interest not only in the history of certain styles of homes, but in the specific homes she is asked to restore. The home she tackles on Turnbull Island is that perfect icon of murder locations: it’s isolated. And, it has this sort of haunting back-story…none of which prepares either our lead, or the reader, for the first murder.

The investigation, while important, still takes a backseat to Wren’s interaction with her employer and his entourage. The world of the theater is another whole interesting part of the setting.

Wren’s girlfriend is incidentally involved at the start, as her job brings her to the same location. There’s a touch of family involvement, new friendships, and suddenly something that seems like another murder attempt. The threat looms and is cleverly tied to a long past mystery on Turnbull Island.

R.J. Koreto is brilliant at keeping the plot turning, all the while, keeping our attention on all these other, totally engaging, details. It’s hard to keep clues in mind while you are being entertained by gossip! To quote one of the characters: “Wow, just wow.”

This is a wonderful read, not only for mystery fans, but for anyone. It’s fast paced, with well-developed characters and an impossible to predict plot. Recommended!

Rogue Vampire by Pamela Turner


Rogue Vampire by Pamela Turner
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

I work with the dead. Now, I work with the undead.

My name is Amber McAllister, and I’m a deputy coroner. Until recently, I didn’t believe in the supernatural. Then what I thought was an insect stung me. The next day, I see that a medical examiner is an angel with black wings, and a co-worker is a skeleton woman.

It turns out the insect was a vampire. I won’t be looking at blood the same way.

But bodies are showing up, drained of the life force. It’s my job, along with the detectives in the Louisville Paranormal Investigation Agency, to find and stop the killer. Only problem? The murderer might be the vampire who attacked me. If he or she dies, so do I.

A label is never a destiny.

The friendships in this book were strong and meaningful. Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that explored how the characters built, maintained, and benefited from the platonic relationships in their lives. I smiled as I read their banter and took note of all of the small ways they supported one another through difficult moments in their cases. Kudos to Ms. Turner for devoting so much time to this topic. It’s not explored often enough in many modern fantasy novels for my tastes, so it was refreshing to find it here.

I was surprised and confused by how quickly Amber adjusted to the idea that supernatural creatures are real and that some of them were her coworkers. The claims were so extraordinary that I really would have thought she’d struggle with them more. It would have been helpful to have more information about why she was so trusting there when many other folks would have at least temporarily been suspicious of such claims. She didn’t strike me as a gullible person in other areas of life, so this never quite sat right with me. I would have happily gone with a full five-star rating if this had been explained better as everything else about it was well done.

With that being said, I did enjoy the world building once Amber dug more deeply into her new life. It was interesting to see how many monsters from folklore and fairy tales popped up here and what the differences were between their real selves and what stories said about them. No sooner did I assume that I’d met all of them than someone would mention yet another mythical being who was running around in this universe. The author did a nice job of reinventing these characters and linking them all together in her universe.

Rogue Vampire piqued my curiosity.

Twist Of Fate by John Carson


Twist Of Fate by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Not everybody deserves a second chance.

After a young man’s body is discovered by a newlywed couple inside an abandoned caravan, the police initially speculate whether his death was accidental. However, the investigation takes a dramatic turn when they uncover the victim’s true identity.

The deceased has a deadly past, and barely paid the price for the heinous crime he committed.

DCI Harry McNeil is assigned the task of identifying the victim’s killer, but the case soon becomes shrouded in secrecy. The man’s past is far more complex than anyone had anticipated.

Despite the obstacles, the search for the victim’s original accomplice begins, but the individual seems to have vanished without a trace. However, the investigation takes a gruesome turn when the police in Glasgow discover a shocking crime scene.

It appears that the killer is seeking revenge for the victim’s past actions, which had provoked public outrage years earlier. With the public no longer on their side, Harry and his team must navigate bureaucratic obstacles and catch a ruthless killer who believes he is unstoppable – and is willing to demonstrate it.

DCI Harry McNeil and his team are assigned to find the killer of a young man found murdered inside a caravan. While initially they think it was an accident, soon they are piecing together a complicated puzzle around the young man’s past and they are quickly uncovering more questions and puzzles than finding solutions. Can Harry and his team catch the ruthless killer before more blood is shed?

I have been enjoying the Harry McNeil series for a number of years now and found this to be quite a good addition to the series. While any longer-running series has its ups and downs, I was really pleased to find myself greatly enjoying this book. Readers who are new to this series – or find themselves curious about this book having no prior experience with the author should still find this an enjoyable read. I must admit there is quite a large cast in this series with a lot of cross over from other books. While I do feel a reader can easily pick up on the histories and relationships (both personal and professional) with this book by itself, I must stress there is quite a large cast to keep straight in your head while reading.

That said, I have found that I personally greatly enjoy there are plenty of characters all interacting and floating around with these books. I do feel the author should be commended because with such a wide cast I have not yet ever felt any of the characters are shapeless or “yet another detective” – Carson does an impressive job keeping the characters identifiable and memorable which I feel he should be commended for.

Aside from the characters the other reason I enjoyed this book was because I found the plot well written and complicated enough it really captured my attention. Sometimes with such a large cast the antics and personal lives can completely over-shadow any investigative/procedural side to the plot and in this book, I was glad the plot definitely took front stage here and the various personal aspects were more of a back seat this time around. While balance is a great thing, I found myself really interested and enjoying the murder and the plot surrounding this and for a change I was less interested in what was happening personally for the characters. While with any of Carson’s books a small suspension of disbelief is needed, with an intriguing plot, a bunch of rambunctious characters and a really good line I’m more than happy to fall into the story and ignore any small niggles.

While this book doesn’t end on a cliff hanger there was a particular twist/development right at the end – related to one of the strong secondary characters and their personal life – which I desperately hope will be front and center for the next book. Readers who like every thread tied up properly might not be satisfied with this ending – but since many of Carson’s books end on far greater “cliff hanger” end points I’ve learned from previous experience to keep one or two books behind for exactly this reason.

A book with tons of lively and unique characters and a well woven plot this is a very good story and a series I am continuing to enjoy almost twenty books in.

The Shining Skull by Kate Ellis


The Shining Skull by Kate Ellis
Publisher: Piatkus
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Little Marcus Fallbrook was kidnapped in 1976 and, when he never returned home, by his grieving family assumed the worst. Now, thirty years later, teenager Leah Wakefield has disappeared and DI Wesley Peterson has reason to suspect that the same kidnapper is responsible.

As Wesley delves into the case, his friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, discovers a mystery of his own when he exhumes the dead from a local churchyard. A coffin is found containing one corpse too many and Neil believes it may be linked to a strange religious sect.

Wesley is still searching for the key to the abductions when, in a shocking twist, Marcus Fallbrook returns. DNA evidence confirms Marcus’s identity but his recollection of his past kidnapping is hazy. Wesley hopes that, as Marcus begins to recover memories, it will lead them to a sinister criminal. But he is about to discover that the past can be a very dangerous place indeed.

DI Wesley Peterson and his team are thrown into an unusual situation when a man returns home, claiming to be son of a local family – one kidnapped back in 1976. While they have their hands full with that, a local famous teenager is kidnapped and the two cases bear some striking similarities. Can they sort out what’s really going on?

Overall I have been enjoying this series though I must admit I do feel some of the characters have some ups and downs. The plots though – and the skillful way Ms Ellis weaves together the current mystery with a historical one – is always a pleasure. Admittedly I felt this time Wesley’s good friend Neil takes a bit of a back seat. I feel this was very well handled – and the reason for Neil keeping his distance completely understandable – and while I feel one of Neil and Wesley’s last interactions shows a strong glimmer of hope I have to say I’m glad things seem to be getting back onto a more even keel.

I also felt there was a fairly major “aha” moment for one of Wesley’s team-members, though the low key drama surrounding Rachel and her messy love life usually is one of the things I like least about this series. I am hoping the strong development/understanding that occurred in this book will also start putting all that tension to rest as well.

In amongst all these personal interactions and developments I felt the historical and current mysteries were given a good amount of weight and were written very well. While I admit I did guess a few of the revelations there were still a few interesting twists and I must admit the interwoven plots kept my attention riveted throughout the book.

Readers who enjoy a solid British police procedural style of book but also enjoy a bit of historical mystery and a few different layers to their plots should find this an agreeable read and a series worth investing in.

The Bay by LJ Ross


The Bay by LJ Ross
Publisher: Dark Skies Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

SECRETS NEVER STAY BURIED FOR LONG…

In the picturesque seaside town of St Ives, Detective Sergeant Sophie Keane is a pillar of the community. Between the occasional collar and lazy weekends spent on the beach, it seems a perfect life. But for Sophie, the golden sands and crystal waters hide a dark secret, one that’s lain buried for twenty years.

When a body turns up on the opening night of a glittering new art gallery on the seafront, the town is left shaken—especially Sophie, who recognises the killer’s style but knows that what she fears just couldn’t be possible…

With a killer on the loose, everyone’s a suspect—especially newcomer Gabriel Rowe, who seems to have settled in far too quickly for her liking. For Sophie, he’s guilty until proven innocent…

Suspense is peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced mystery, set amidst the spectacular Cornish landscape.

DS Sophie Keane has lived in St Ives since she was a small child, brought to the coastal town by her mother after their world collapsed. But Sophie is only too aware of the dark secrets she has hidden in her past, and when a murdered body turns up bearing the unique signature she knows all too well she discovers no one can hide their past forever. Can Sophie discover what really went on all those years ago before her world is shattered once again?

This is the third book in the Summer Suspense series, and I found it a light but enjoyable read. As the series name suggests, it’s a lighter and more romantic read than Ross’ DCI Ryan series and definitely is more of a romantic suspense novel to my mind rather than a straight mystery/thriller style. While the romance between Sophie and Gabriel is far more front and center, I’d describe the romance as closer to spicy rather than erotic – readers who like a bit of spice but nothing too overt or envelope pushing should feel this is a decent heat level for them.

I also was pleased that the bigger focus on the romance didn’t really detract too much from the mystery element to the story. I feel the author did a good job balancing the two, so readers who enjoy a strong mystery plot – and don’t mind the romantic element to it – should also find this book and series appeals to them. Finally, I can definitely say that this book stands well by itself. While there are a few characters, and the township has links to the previous two books, Sophie and Gabriel both were fully explained and met for the first time within this book and the murder mystery also began here and was neatly finished – so this book is entirely stand alone and I don’t believe any of the previous books need to be read to fully enjoy this.

Readers looking for a lighter style of book with a strong mystery, but an equal amount of romantic suspense as well should find this a lovely and relaxing book to read.

A Cursed Inheritance by Kate Ellis


A Cursed Inheritance by Kate Ellis
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The brutal massacre of the Harford family at Potwoolstan Hall in 1985 shocked the country and passed into local folklore. Now, twenty years later, a journalist researching the case has been murdered and the horror is reawakened.

DI Wesley Peterson is drawn into the dark history of Potwoolstan Hall as he begins to investigate the murder. The sixteenth-century hall, which is now a New Age healing centre, is reputed to be cursed because of the crimes of its builder and it seems that this inheritance of evil lives on.

As more people start to die in violent circumstances, DI Wesley Peterson is faced with his most disturbing case yet.

DI Wesley Peterson and his team are investigating the murder of a journalist killed while researching a book about a twenty year old massacre at an old stately family home. The murders had been seemingly solved those two decades ago, but with the death of this journalist new questions are being asked and there seems to be more than a few holes in the original investigation. When more people connected to this old case begin to die, Wesley will have his work cut out for him.

I found this to be an interesting and at times gripping police procedural set in rural England. While it is well into the series I feel the book stands well on its own and readers can fairly easily pick it up and thoroughly enjoy it. There are a number of connections between Wesley and his team members, as well as his archaeologist friend, Neil. While Neil is overseas on a dig and doesn’t have quite his usual equal shine in the spotlight, I didn’t mind Neil taking a slight back seat in this one story.

While the plot was complicated and quite well woven, I did manage to guess one of the major plot twists fairly early on which I frequently can’t do. There was still plenty left unanswered to me though and this didn’t spoil any of the really big reveals.

While I did enjoy the plot and the complexities there, I didn’t really like how there was some drama with Wesley in his marriage. While this tension between Welsey and his wife, Pam, has been slowly percolating in the background for a few books – along with Wesley’s unspoken but seemingly ever-present minor feelings for a co-worker – I did get the impression that these more complicated romantic aspects to the overall plot might be coming to a head sometime soon. There seemed in particular a steadily growing romance between Pam and Wesley’s good friend Neil and I have a strong suspicion this might grow murky – or even disastrous – in the coming few books.

Since this is primarily a mystery/suspense style of story with strong historical/archaeology overtones I don’t really read it wanting or expecting romance or marriage/affair woes and so I’ve been trying to skim over this, but it really does appear to be taking more of a front seat. I’m hoping this all blows over soon and the full focus can return to the mystery and archaeology.

Overall, this is a highly enjoyable British police procedural mystery novel and the series as a whole I really do enjoy. The mystery in this book is quite well written but the relationship drama soured me a little for this particular book so I’m glad it’s well into the series and isn’t enough to put me off too much. An enjoyable read but I certainly don’t feel it’s the best so far that I’ve read by this author.

The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci


The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci
Publisher: Pan Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Every day without fail, Travis Devine puts on a cheap suit, grabs his faux-leather briefcase, and boards the 6:20 commuter train to Manhattan, where he works as an entry-level analyst at the city’s most prestigious investment firm. In the mornings, he gazes out the train window at the lavish homes of the uberwealthy, dreaming about joining their ranks. In the evenings, he listens to the fiscal news on his phone, already preparing for the next grueling day in the cutthroat realm of finance. Then one morning Devine’s tedious routine is shattered by an anonymous email: She is dead.

Sara Ewes, Devine’s coworker and former girlfriend, has been found hanging in a storage room of his office building—presumably a suicide, at least for now—prompting the NYPD to come calling on him. If that wasn’t enough, before the day is out, Devine receives another ominous visit, a confrontation that threatens to dredge up grim secrets from his past in the army unless he participates in a clandestine investigation into his firm. This treacherous role will take him from the impossibly glittering lives he once saw only through a train window, to the darkest corners of the country’s economic halls of power . . . where something rotten lurks. And apart from this high-stakes conspiracy, there’s a killer out there with their own agenda, and Devine is the bull’s-eye.

Travis Devine catches the 6.20 am train to Manhattan six days a week with a whole stack of other – mostly much younger – struggling professionals. The one good part of his dull routine is when the train slows and frequently, he – and the other commuters – get an eyeful of a particularly gorgeous young woman having an early morning by her poolside. Yet Travis’ life is about to get a whole lot more complicated. His boring civilian life gets blown apart when shadows from his Army past come knocking, and soon the bodies start falling. Can Travis sort out who he can trust and who wants him dead?

I’m a big fan of David Baldacci and in many ways this book reminds me of many of his much earlier books. There is a lot about corporate America in this story – along with the power, money and greed that is rife in society as a whole now. I also really enjoyed that this book was clearly rooted in the very modern era – that of a global market and with the bad guys using a number of tools and financial scams that get used all too frequently in this day and age.

This is quite a long book at well over 500 pages and I was pleased the plot was complicated enough – and twisty enough – to justify this page length. It certainly kept me guessing. A few of the twists I could see coming, but plenty of them I didn’t, and a number of the twists unearthed whole different sides to the story that took me quite by surprise and delight. I feel the plot and complexities should appeal to most readers and for sure it maintained my attention throughout the read.

There is a decent cast of characters – I was pleased that there was a solid cast of primary characters and a good number of secondary. I felt the author balanced this just right. There were enough characters that the world felt properly populated, but there wasn’t so many I couldn’t keep track of everyone. There were also enough characters I couldn’t immediately rule people in or out as being good or bad. So, I felt this was handled really well by the author.

Readers who enjoy thrillers – especially espionage/corporation/power themed plotlines should find this book really suits their tastes. If you have enjoyed previous books written by Baldacci and if you enjoy his style, you should definitely give this one a go. Currently it’s a stand-alone though I think there might be a second novel coming down the track later on too which makes me happy. I’ll definitely be giving it a try.

A solidly written mystery/thriller with interesting characters and a really meaty, complicated plot. This was a book I’ll enjoy again in the future.