Terminal Memory by Brian Drake


Terminal Memory by Brian Drake
Publisher: Wolfpack Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

SAM RAVEN BATTLES THE ENEMIES JACK REACHER’S AFRAID OF. . .
Three years after a daring escape from a jihadists’ camp, ex-CIA officer Mara Cole is a target once more. She’s alone, on the run, and in need of a friend.

Sam Raven is tracking Mara’s hunters for a different reason – he’s on a mission of vengeance. A man with dark secrets, bound to Mara by shared history, they join forces to fight back. Together, they play a deadly game of chess through the back alleys of London, to the bright lights of Marseille, and the desert hell of Afghanistan opium fields, risking everything as they move closer to the truth.

With each feign and attack, they find the answers they seek lie deep in Mara’s memories of captivity, torture, and betrayal – secrets to a conspiracy at the heart of the US Intelligence community, and men who will do anything to protect their power.

It’s been more than three years since Sam Raven barely escaped from his final mission with the CIA. His team all went their own way, each of them doing their best to find some measure of peace away from the crazy world they’d known for so long. When Sam is contacted by one of his old teammates and informed that two of their number had died in recent weeks and an attempt had been made on another, Sam knows he needs to discover what is really going on before he’s blindsided.

I’m usually a sucker for spy thrillers, especially with this sort of beginning – an agent who had just barely managed to get out being sucked back into the dangerous life and world they’d escaped. I found this book to be a really good example of that sort of story. The pacing was really good to my mind, a fast and steady clip but not so crazy I couldn’t take in all the details. Sam was a hard but still interesting character, and I enjoyed his character’s voice and perspective. I felt there was a little too much (for my personal tastes) in describing the various guns and weapons that were used, but I totally understand many readers, especially those crossing over from military thrillers or more blokey action orientated genres would find this extra time and descriptions to be a really good thing.

I was pleased that while the level of action and slightly heavy focus on weapons catered to one side of the readership, there was clearly plenty of characterization and an attempt at making Sam’s character relatable and interesting in an emotional way. I found this really helped me connect and respond to him and this really added to my enjoyment of the story itself. The plot was also really well thought out and I felt a lot of more mystery/suspense based readers will find this is what grabs them and keeps them turning the pages.

I really enjoyed the complexity of the plot – while in many ways it seems a re-run of many other stories, I loved how the author managed to make it feel fresh and with the characters and setting it felt interesting and gripping to me, not just another book I’d read various different combinations of many times before.

With a small cast of very interesting and layered characters as well as a gripping and interesting plot this was a really good book, and I am definitely interested in picking up the second in this series.

Restless Dead by David J Gatward


Restless Dead by David J Gatward
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

His latest case has him chasing ghosts. But the murderer is flesh-and-blood hiding in the ashes…

DCI Harry Grimm is on the cusp of a stunning decision. Considering making his move to the scenic Yorkshire Dales permanent, he ends up reviewing details of a terrible car accident that killed a retired colonel’s beloved wife. But when the panicked widower calls the police claiming the deceased woman’s spirit is haunting him, the dedicated detective wades in to piece together a less implausible explanation.

With suspicions running high after a cabin on the property burns down, Grimm and his team are shocked to identify the scorched human remains that leave behind a twice-grieving family. And when he uncovers evidence the fire wasn’t simple misfortune, the no-nonsense investigator is certain the culprit is more than a ghastly ghoul…

Can he nab the phantom killer before they vanish into thin air?

DCI Harry Grimm is settling in well to life in the Dales, both the small police force he’s working with and the friendly community. When a road accident tragically kills a woman Harry and his team are drawn into the strange goings on at Black Moss House – which the community whisper tales about, believing it was – and maybe still is – haunted. With the additional stress of a herd of valuable sheep being stolen by a seemingly well-established gang there is plenty going on for Harry and his team.

I really enjoyed this book, an excellent addition to the DCI Harry Grimm series. While the book can be read by itself, I feel readers will definitely get much more out of it having read the previous books in the series. The sheep/animal rustling plot in particular had been started in previous book and the lingering sub-plot of Harry, his brother and their father has been going on in the background for a few books now. The main plot – that of the car accident and death – along with how the family cope with their grief and the strange goings on at their home can certainly be read by itself and I feel the reader can easily enough follow along with the two plots intertwining in this story, so readers shouldn’t be too put off by it being the middle book in a series.

The slower pace and the freshness of the small-town feel and close community really was a pleasure to read, and I enjoyed how the small police force all had easily differentiated characters who were well drawn. I found them engaging and easily got sucked back into this authors world.

Readers who enjoy a solid mystery with interesting characters and a small-town feel should definitely enjoy this book, though I would recommend going back to the start of the series and enjoying each of these works. Recommended.

Tonight You’re Dead by Viveca Sten


Tonight You’re Dead by Viveca Sten
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Soon to be divorced, attorney Nora Linde is finding her way as a single mother, and even falling in love again, when she’s asked by her childhood friend Detective Thomas Andreasson to help in a disturbing investigation. Marcus Nielsen, a university student, has apparently committed suicide, but it’s what he’s left behind that’s so suspicious and damning: his research into the Coastal Rangers, an elite military group where, in 1976, a young cadet died under questionable circumstances, a sadistic sergeant went free, and a case went cold.

When two of Nielsen’s contacts are also found dead—and diaries of their tortuous training turn up missing—Thomas and Nora are certain that whatever happened three decades ago is unforgivable. And for someone who wants to keep those secrets buried—unforgettable. Now they must fight against time to expose a cover-up that hasn’t yet claimed its last victim.

Detective Thomas Andreasson is still recovering physically and emotionally from injuries that nearly killed him in his previous case. As he eases himself back into his police work, he finds himself unusually drawn to what at first glance appears to be a clear case of suicide with a young university student. It’s only as Thomas traces the young man’s interviews for a school project that Thomas finds not only long-buried secrets, but also what appears to be a second murder. Thomas calls for some research assistance from his childhood friend, lawyer Nora and together they try to understand what’s happening before it’s too late.

I really enjoyed this full length novel. While the mystery is somewhat slower paced than many modern stories, I didn’t feel like this affected the pace too much as there was a lot happening in both Nora and Thomas’s private lives that helped keep this side to the story moving at a good rate. Readers who pick this book up expecting a fast or action-orientated mystery might find that aspect to the story lacking – especially in the first third or so. But since I’ve read the previous three books in this series I greatly enjoy both Thomas and Nora’s characters and was very happy to be updated on how Thomas is recovering from his injuries and reconnecting with his ex-wife. I also was very interested to see the fall-out to Nora and her separation from her almost ex-husband. In this sense I didn’t need a break-neck paced action mystery adventure story, I was quite happy to see more character and emotional growth with the two main characters. Other readers – especially if they pick this up as a standalone – might not find this as satisfying as I did.

That said, once the murder mystery really began to pick up speed this was an exceptional police procedural style of mystery novel. There had been snippets every few chapters showing scenes from the past which helped the reader understand some of the motivation behind the killings and helping to set the scene without being too spoilerish and giving the entirety of the plot (or the identity of the victim/murderer) away, so I really thought the author did an excellent job of balancing giving enough away without ruining the surprise.

Readers who enjoy previous books in this series should definitely give this one a try. I can also happily recommend this entire series so I can recommend readers going back to the start of this series. A good, solid book with lots of character growth and an interesting mystery plot.

High Force by LJ Ross


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

Hell has unleashed a demon – and he’s coming for you…

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan’s worst nightmare has just become a reality. Notorious serial killer The Hacker has escaped prison and kidnapped one of his best detectives from her own home. His brutality is the stuff of legend – Ryan lost his sister and nearly his own life bringing the man to justice first time around. Can Ryan do it again to save his friend?

There’s a nationwide manhunt underway but the trail has gone cold and fear spreads like a virus. Ryan and his team must find The Hacker before he takes another life – but are they too late?

The clock is ticking…

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

This book follows on almost immediately after the conclusion of the previous book (Angel). Angel ended on a high-stakes cliffhanger with DI Denise MacKenzie being kidnapped by DCI Ryan’s greatest foe. While this kidnapping and the immediate ramifications are detailed from the very first page of this story – so I feel reading Angel is not strictly necessary to understand what’s going on – I do feel much of the readers’ connection to the characters as well as much of the suspense/tension is better gained for readers having read at least some of the previous books, so they have an emotional investment in what’s going on, particularly for Denise. That said, readers shouldn’t feel like it’s critical to have read any of the previous books as the author does a very good job of explaining the plot, the real danger Denise is in and enjoy the thriller aspects as the team hunt for their colleague.

I was pleased that the author managed a good balance between keeping the conflict/suspense and tension very high but didn’t resort to too many gritty details nor dwell on the serial killer aspect merely for titillation purposes. I strongly feel that there was ample conflict as it was, so I really thought there was no need to go over the top with more delicate or grisly aspects to the story. Rather obviously, the entirety of the book focused on the team hunting Denise to rescue her and bring her safely home, but also return The Hacker to prison.

At times I wondered if there could have been a little more to the plot – because when you really boil it down the book is only about chasing the Hacker and rescuing DI MacKenzie. I feel maybe some readers could feel like the plot of this book is a little one-dimensional for a full-length novel – but there was enough adrenaline, action, suspense and tension I lean toward thinking the book didn’t need more plot to it, but I really did wonder a few times while reading this. I readily admit had there been another sub-plot that it could easily have detracted away from the importance of the team focusing on Denise and her rescue, or stolen pages away from Denise surviving her capture. This could very well have been a Catch-22 for the author with no “correct” answer.

With exceptional characters and a boatload of tension in this thriller/suspense novel this is a good read that might tempt you to finish it in one sitting. Not for the faint of heart (this is about a main female character surviving being kidnapped for a period of time by a serial killer and known enemy), this is a page-turning kind of story that I feel will suit a wide range of readers.

Hear No Evil by JM Dalgliesh


Hear No Evil by JM Dalgliesh
Publisher: Hamilton Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When the bonds of brotherhood are strained, who do you turn to?

The celebration of the Viking Festival of Scira ensures that thousands descend annually on the small coastal town of Sheringham, but when one man dies amidst the grand finale, it falls to DI Tom Janssen and his team to identify who the victim was and how he met such a grisly end.

The victim was a local man, successful, hard working and well respected. A motive proves to be elusive. As the case progresses it becomes evident that not all is at it seems. Those within the victim’s trusted circle appear unable, or unwilling, to aid the investigation. Someone has a grudge… one strong enough to willingly send a man to his death in the most brutal, and public, manner.

The answer must lie in the victim’s past; a past that sees highly decorated military service. The past shapes our future and the consequences of our actions catch up with us. Those with the darkest secrets… with the most to hide… will face their day of reckoning.

Witnesses, friends and enemies alike all appear to employ the same old adage; see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, but a ruthless killer is on the loose and they want revenge… Janssen and his team must unmask a murderer before they strike again…

Set within the mysterious beauty of coastal Norfolk, this fast-paced British detective novel is a dark murder mystery with moments of humour, one that will keep you guessing until the very end when the final shocking twist is revealed.

When DI Tom Janssen along with many of the locals witnessed a person set alight then fall from a cliff during the Viking Festival everyone knew something dark was going on. When the body turns out to be of a returned solider, generally well liked everyone including the police are confused. But then another returned veteran is murdered – someone linked to the first victim’s military service and Tom along with his colleagues rush to try and figure out the truth behind the grisly murders.

I really feel like this series – the “Hidden Norfolk” series – is starting to hit its stride. The author has found a good balance between a layered and complex plot with interesting characters and enough of a small town feel to really lend atmosphere and a gripping murder mystery. While largely a police procedural style of mystery novel there is plenty of twists and turns in the plot, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way events unfolded to reveal layer upon layer.

While this is the fifth book, I definitely feel readers shouldn’t shy away from picking this up if it’s the first one they’ve tried. The plot itself is very well contained in the book and everything reaches a natural conclusion. While the members of Tom’s team are all well-established characters – as well as Tom’s private life with his girlfriend Alice and Alice’s young daughter Saffy – I didn’t get the feel of missing connections between the characters or like readers fresh to just this book would be left lost or unsure of what was going on. This would be an excellent summer read on the beach somewhere or a lovely way to spend a relaxed weekend.

With interesting characters and a deliciously layered plot with some interesting twists I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can strongly recommend both this book and the series it comes from.

Crisis by Frank Gardner


Crisis by Frank Gardner
Publisher: Bantam Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Introducing Luke Carlton – ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions.

Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the run from one of South America’s most powerful and ruthless drugs cartels and its psychotic leader thirsting for revenge, Luke is in a life-or-death race against time to prevent a disaster on a truly terrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon is diabolical and the means of delivery is ingenious.

Drawing on his years of experience reporting on security matters, CRISIS is Frank Gardner’s debut novel. Combining insider knowledge, up-to-the-minute hardware, fly on the wall insights with heart-in-mouth excitement, CRISIS boasts an irresistible, visceral frisson of authenticity: smart, fast-paced and furiously entertaining, here is a thriller for the 21st century.

After many years as an SBS commando, Luke Carlton needed a change of pace and a short-term contract with SIS seemed like the perfect fit. With impeccable Spanish from a large part of his childhood spent in South America and a razor-sharp mind, Luke is happy to see where this leads him. Only his first big mission is to uncover why a station-leader in Columbia has been murdered. Luke figures with his personal knowledge, some good connections and his military training there shouldn’t be a problem, only Luke didn’t realize just how powerful and ruthless his enemies are – or how far they’re willing to go to achieve their objective.

This is the first of currently three books about Luke Carlton and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. The writing style has a very solid British spy/espionage feel to it and more than a few times throughout the full-length novel I was reminded of a Bond sort of storyline or feel to the atmosphere. At the same time, though, there was a strong touch of the current world circumstances and a very modern feel to it all. This is not a cheesy style of story, but just a very British type of espionage thriller. Readers who want a high level of realism and a modern story should find this really suits their tastes.

There was a lot of realism to the international aspect of the plot too. I didn’t find many of the characters to be overdrawn or caricature-like, which in itself was refreshing. I also enjoyed the fact that Luke’s personal history was where a lot of his talents lay – having spent much of his childhood in South America it made sense he knew the local scenes, customs and languages very well. With his extended stint in the military, it made sense he could handle himself in a rough situation and had plenty of organizational skills and a sharp mind. I really enjoyed the fact the author had covered a lot of these bases and didn’t just write a movie-like action thriller that had huge holes in it.

Readers looking for a tightly woven plot should also find this book very appealing. While there is plenty of action, much of the first section of the book is laying the groundwork – introducing Luke, showing his current situation as a newbie in the SIS office and showing how all the puzzle pieces are arranged. While I did not find this a slow start to the story, neither was it a ramped-up, heavily action orientated type of beginning that a lot of thrillers are expected to have nowadays. I would strongly suggest sticking with the book if you find the beginning a little slow – the action definitely intensifies as the story progresses and I found this a real page-turning thriller the further I went.

With excellent characters, a modern and realistic outlook to our current world and solid plotting and pacing, I thought this was an exceptional spy/thriller style of story and I am eager to read the author’s next offering.

Tell No Tales by JM Dalgliesh


Tell No Tales by JM Dalgliesh
Publisher: Hamilton Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In a world of lies, one truth remains. Dead men tell no tales…
When the body of an unidentified man is found at the foot of Sheringham cliffs with injuries inconsistent with a fall, DI Tom Janssen must piece together his final days to determine how he fell to his death… or who pushed him…

The investigation quickly reveals a network of locals with ties to the victim, but as for the man himself… he remains something of a mystery. The dead man doesn’t fit in; not with his social circle, not with his business interests and when others come looking for him, the intrigue only deepens.

Joined in the investigation by his new Detective Sergeant, Cassie Knight, Janssen uncovers closely guarded secrets alongside long-held grudges. Any one of them could be a motivation for murder. This man had powerful enemies and even more dangerous friends…

As the inquiry develops it is clear that someone wanted him dead but, a formidable character in his own right, who would dare to take him on? One death threatens to unravel a wider conflict where neither the innocent… or the guilty… can feel truly safe. Janssen must bring down the wall of silence encircling his childhood town, coming up against old antagonists as well as facing new adversaries, or risk an escalation in the violence.

Secrets are kept… Deceit is commonplace… And dead men Tell No Tales…

DI Tom Janssen and his team investigate the questionable death of a man found at the foot of Sheringham cliffs. The more they look into the circumstances, and the man himself, the more questions they have and the deeper the complexities become. Can Tom and his team unravel the knot of powerful people involved in this murky situation?

I have been mostly enjoying this Hidden Norfolk series, but I truly feel this is the best book so far. I think the author is finally hitting his stride with the characters, setting and plot and this book in particular really shines for me. I was ecstatic that Tom’s personal life has finally taken a back seat and there was a lot more focus in this story on the murder mystery and the various subplots revolving around that. I also found it surprising (in a good way) that I didn’t miss the fact that DCI Tamara Greave has a far, far smaller part to play in this story. The strong secondary characters in Eric and Cassie (the other members of Tom’s team) really started to grow and shine and I feel they easily made up for the smaller and more managerial – rather than boots-on-the-ground colleague – part Tamara played in this book.

I also strongly feel readers should feel comfortable picking this book up by itself. While there is absolutely a team dynamic between the officers the plot is very well contained to just this book. I think particularly with such a strong focus on this plot and the police procedural aspect to the solving of the crime readers who haven’t caught the previous installments won’t find themselves lost or trying to work out any of the dynamics or “in” jokes.

With a strong and well-crafted plot and a number of interesting peripheral characters I enjoyed trying to work out which people were involved in the crime, and which just got caught up in it with people’s lives crossing over as they do in smaller communities. I also greatly enjoyed how – for the first time for me – after the police conducted an interview there was a short chapter of what each suspect did/thought directly after the police left. I loved how this gave me as the reader a bit more insight into each character’s motivation, reaction and a small part of the puzzle as to how they fit the growing picture. I really enjoyed this and would love it if this style continues in Dalgliesh’s further books.

With a delightfully layered plotline, some solid police procedural work and a bunch of interesting characters this was a really good mystery book and a highlight for me, personally, so far in this series. I’m very eager to read more.

Think Twice by John Carson


Think Twice by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

As the end of the year draws to a close, Detective Chief Inspector Sean Bracken is called to a murder scene near the Writer’s Museum. The body of a woman is sitting on a bench in the square, her frozen hand holding a paperback.

The book is by famous American professor of psychology and crime writer, Edwin Hawk. Who has just ended a book tour, culminating in Edinburgh.

Hawk doesn’t know her and thinks she may be just a fan of his.

Knowing he is the number one suspect, he sets out to convince Bracken of his innocence. But Bracken has dealt with people like Hawk before. Is the man telling the truth or using psychology to get away with murder?

Bracken discovers the real reason the professor is still in Edinburgh, and it’s not for Hogmanay. And when he discovers the secrets he’s been keeping, not only could his own life be in danger, but those around him.

Bracken will have to deal with not only a vicious killer but somebody who doesn’t like to lose. But Bracken has played these games before, and one of them has to lose.

And for the loser, life will never be the same again.

DCI Sean Bracken has been back in Edinburgh for only a few weeks and already he’s drawn into another murder investigation. A woman is murdered and left holding a book – the author of whom she was a strong fan of and had been to a small soiree for just hours before her death. The more DCI Bracken investigates the deeper and more complicated the mystery – and everyone’s motives – become.

This is the second book featuring Sean Bracken and I really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of this author’s DCI Harry McNeil’s books but while the tone of the author’s voice is similar in a “more-ish” manner I was really pleased that the actual feel and structure of the story was quite different for this series. Sean Bracken is a fair bit harder and grittier than Harry McNeil and there’s a noticeable amount of more force and swearing in this series. The whole feel to the story rather than a fun romp through a police investigation is a lot harder and sharper. Readers who enjoy the darker edge many British based stories tend to lean towards should really enjoy this series and this book in particular.

I strongly feel readers can pick this book up as a standalone. The entire events of the first book were all crammed into a little over one week of story timeline – so quite a bit of explanation and background/character history was parceled out in this story. This should help keep fresh readers completely aware of what’s going on and the plot itself is very well written and completely contained in this book.

With a small cast of vibrant characters and a solid plot that kept me turning the pages and guessing well into the story this was a good book and an exceptional new series I plan to thoroughly enjoy.

Return To Evil by John Carson


Return To Evil by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

A woman is found in a local cemetery, crushed to death under a gravestone. A production company is there, filming the remake of a classic sci-fi TV show in the grounds, making the investigation more difficult for DCI Harry McNeil. It’s his first day in charge of the cold case unit in Edinburgh. After spending four years in Professional Standards, he has little choice but to take the promotion. The Crown Office decides which cold cases should be reviewed, and this time, they’ve decided the murder of a teenage girl from twenty years ago should be re-opened. A girl who was murdered by somebody pushing a gravestone on top of her… The case gets more complicated when they find out who the latest victim is. Suddenly there are no shortage of suspects. As the filming continues, so does the killing. And McNeil wonders, has a killer been murdering for twenty years? Or is this case completely unconnected? With Frank Miller’s help, he’s going to find out…the hard way…

DCI Harry has just transferred out of Professional Standards and into the Cold Case unit. With a short period under his mentor to ease the transition for both Harry and the other officers no one expected them to suddenly pick up such a large and active case. Someone has murdered a woman in the cemetery in an identical manner to the killing of a pregnant teenage girl twenty years ago. With a film crew also currently inhabiting the cemetery shooting for a TV show there are any number of complications as Harry and his new team try to piece everything together.

I found this to be a fun and well-paced story. While this book was written after Sticks and Stones (the first in the DCI Harry McNeil series) the setting in the fictional world is shortly before Sticks and Stones – being Harry’s first case after leaving Professional Standards. It is still quite modern though and I found it was quite easy to read it out of chronological order.

There are a number of other cast members, including DCI Frank Miller who is featured in another of Carson’s series. At times I wondered if maybe there were too many secondary characters, but I feel Carson handled this quite well and I thought the story was better for having the somewhat larger size to its cast.

The mystery plot was very interesting and captured my attention pretty much from the beginning. This is a very well written police procedural style of story and Carson has an excellent writing style – the “voice” of which I really enjoy and personally I feel it flows very well and is easy to get sucked into the characters and stories. I greatly enjoy this series and am always happy to read more when each book is completed. This book – despite it being chronologically moving backwards – is no different.

A strong and well written police procedural style murder mystery book that I really enjoyed; I’ll definitely be purchasing more of Mr. Carson’s works.

The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz


The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: Arrow Books (Penguin Random House)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late . . . “

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine—a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realizes that these secrets must be exposed—even at the risk of death . . .

This is the second book featuring the ex-Detective, now Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and much like the first book I found myself utterly absorbed. I still find it a little odd how the entire story is written in the first person perspective by Horowitz, in a semi Watson-following-after-Holmes sort of fashion. Horowitz has been contracted to write three books about Hawthorne solving various murders that the police find too baffling to solve on their own and this lends quite a different spin to a more standard murder mystery book. And while I often find the first person perspective to be difficult to read for some reason these books don’t seem as hard for me to follow along with.

Readers will be glad that this book stands alone very well. Hawthorne and Horowitz aren’t best buddies or even particularly friendly outside of their crime-solving escapades and so I really don’t think there is much missed from book to book. And with the characters and plot explained very clearly this helps the book feel very much as a standalone story so I think readers should be happy to pick this up without needing to read the previous story.

While the story has an overall feeling slightly to me of Sherlock/Watson this book is very much a modern murder mystery, and I can never really tell if it’s just my imagination that makes the links between Hawthorne and Sherlock or if the faint echoes are there on purpose from the author. Readers who enjoy non-standard characters and enjoy a bit of conflict should really feel this suits their tastes. At times I wished we could have seen more of Hawthorne’s perspective – but the mystique surrounding the character really is a large part of the draw I expect, so again the first person perspective of Horowitz (while limiting in my personal opinion) simply adds to the drama and mystery of the ex-detective.

With a good plot, steady pacing and enough false trails and red herrings to keep even the most dedicated mystery reader guessing this is a good book and a solid read I feel that should appeal to many readers.