Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell

Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell

Dr. Kay Scarpetta is working a suspicious death scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts when an emergency alert sounds on her phone with a surveillance film of her genius niece Lucy taken almost twenty years ago. The film clip and then others sent soon after raise dangerous legal implications that increasingly isolate Scarpetta and leave her not knowing where to turn – not to her FBI husband Benton Wesley or her investigative partner Pete Marino.
Not even Lucy.
Scarpetta is now launched into intensely psychological odyssey that includes the mysterious death of a Hollywood mogul’s daughter, aircraft wreckage on the bottom of the sea in the Bermuda Triangle, a grisly gift left in the back of a crime scene truck, and videos from the past that threaten to destroy Scarpetta’s entire world and everyone she loves.

Patricia Cornwell
It’s been a few years since I last picked up one of Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta books and was a little surprised to find out that this was the 23rd book in the series! I remember loving the earlier books though, and jumped at the chance to review this one.

Let me start with a quick word of warning. The events in Depraved Heart follow on closely from the previous novel, Flesh and Blood. Now, as I’m coming back to the series after quite a break, I’ve not read Flesh and Blood, and there were a few occasions where I felt a little lost so this is not really a standalone story as some of the earlier books were. I’d suggest that you should probably read Flesh & Blood first, and I’ll definitely be going back to do that!

That said, I really enjoyed Depraved Heart. It’s a compact story in terms of timeframe – everything happens fairly closely together, but Cornwell is a master at ratcheting up the tension. Scarpetta is knocked onto the back foot almost immediately as we join the story, and it’s interesting seeing how someone so absolutely capable and professional deals with the events which shake her so badly.

There’s a real psychological battle going on between Scarpetta and the others – she’s left not knowing who she can trust and is forced to deal with events as best she can, and not on her own terms. This is a different Scarpetta from the one I loved reading so much in the early books, and it’s fascinating seeing how the character has developed.

The story kicks off with Scarpetta receiving a video link from her niece’s phone. The video was taken some 17 years ago whilst Lucy was a trainee FBI agent at Quantico. Clearly someone is playing a *very* long game here, and you’re kept guessing along the way as the story twists and turns towards a pretty satisfying conclusion (though leaving you wanting the next book!)

It’s impressive how much Cornwell manages to cram into the short timeframe of the book and the writing is as crisp as I remember it from the beginning of the series. Scarpetta is a great character, though I was slightly less convinced by the ultra-competent hacker genius niece who at times felt a little too good to be true. That said, I’ve not really seen the character develop over the series and the last time I remember seeing her I think she was in her late teens/early twenties. Benton was as mysterious as ever, and Marino doesn’t appear to have changed in the slightest.

Overall, Depraved Heart was a good, solid quick read and if you’ve enjoyed any of Patricia Cornwell’s earlier books, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. I really enjoyed meeting Dr Kay Scarpetta again and will be delving back into the series (certainly with Flesh and Bone) to see what else I’ve been missing.  Probably not a great starting point for readers new to the series though – if you’ve got this far without having read any of the Scarpetta books, get yourself back to the first one, Postmortem. You’ve got a *lot* of catching up to do!

 

Thanks to Hayley at HarperCollins for the review copy. As always, the opinions in the review are entirely mine. The blog tour continues tomorrow at crimeworm.wordpress.com. Enjoy!
Depraved Heart Blog Banner

On reviews

TLW

Every now and again, a book comes along which makes me rethink how I do the ratings on books that I review.

Recently I finished Becky Chamber’s The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet and realised that whilst I’ve posted up a fair few five star reviews, here was a book which was so good, which I loved so much, that I really needed to rethink how I handed out my ratings.

I’ve gone back through my Goodreads reviews and shuffled them accordingly. From now on, five stars is reserved for those books which you read and immediately know that you’re going to pester people to read. Stuff like Red Rising and Golden Son, Snowblind, Banished or Tracer. Books which I love.

Books which I will rave about, and will nag you to read.

Mercilessly.

Now, a four star review is still a great book. One which I’ve enjoyed a lot, and would probably pester you to read if I know that you enjoy that particular author or genre. Recommended, and popped on the shelf.

Three stars and we’re into ‘well, it was fine‘ territory. Books which you read, and whilst the time spent reading was perfectly enjoyable, you don’t really feel the need to re-read or even keep the book. I might pass them along if I know you like that sort of thing, or donate them to the charity shop.

Two stars and below? Not often worthy of a review unless it really calls for it. Take Matthew Reilly’s Great Zoo of China. A firm two stars, and only really reviewed because I am (or was) a huge fan of his early work. They were great fun, stratospherically high concept thrillers which were fantastically silly but enjoyable. Great Zoo… wasn’t. So disappointing.

So, there we have it. Dave’s New Review Rating System.

Now, go read Becky Chamber’s The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, or Red Rising and Golden Son. You can thank me later.

Trigger Mortis, by Anthony Horowitz

Ah, Mister Bond. I've been expecting you. #Bond #007 #TriggerMortis

Trigger Mortis is a pitch-perfect Bond. Possibly the closest to Fleming’s Bond in any of the Bond stories I’ve read. Once I got past the seemingly-daft title (which does make sense as played out in the story), we get to a cracking tale of classic Bond adventure. Trigger Mortis follows immediately on the heels of Goldfinger, with Bond and Pussy Galore back in London. It’s not long before Bond is off on another mission, this time to race the Nürburgring and foil an assassination attempt against a British driver. But not all is as it seems, and soon Bond is embroiled in a bigger tale, one which threatens New York.

Horowitz’s Bond is superbly authentic, with a real feel for the character as written by Fleming. There are a couple of places in the book which, plot-wise, feel like slight mis-steps, but the action is such that they’re soon forgotten.

Very confidently written, and I hope Mr Horowitz has the chance to dabble in 007’s world again soon.

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

Sewing The Shadows Together - cover

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend?

More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

“Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.”

When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…

Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question:

Do we ever really know the people closest to us?

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Alison Baillie’s book. I was more than a little surprised to discover that it’s her debut novel – the writing is assured and the characters wonderfully drawn. And what an ensemble cast of characters they are.

The story shifts from Tom’s perspective, returning home to Scotland to scatter his mother’s ashes, to his old school friend Sarah, Shona’s best friend at school, each revealing a little more of the goings-on around the old group of friends. I loved the character of Rory Dunbar, Sarah’s husband and larger-than-life, full of confidence popular TV show host. Sarah’s mother is also brilliant, deliciously acerbic towards her daughter but fawning over her famous son-in-law. It’s definitely a character-driven piece, with the mystery underpinning the family tensions and causing the inevitable cracks to show.

As the story unfolds, you’re presented with plenty of suspects on offer, and just when you think you’ve been awfully clever and sussed out who the killer actually is, another clue or event comes along and makes you rethink it! Skillfully done and certainly keeps you on your toes guessing…

The book has a great sense of location too. As with some of the recent Scandinavian crime I’ve been reading, I really like it when the author gives you a real feel for the place the story plays out in, and Alison has done a fine job of that and clearly knows the areas well. There’s a lovely little interlude in the Outer Hebrides which gives the mystery a little time to breathe before diving back into Edinburgh and Portobello.

Sewing the Shadows Together is a tale that leaves you wanting more, just another chapter to uncover another snippet of the lives of the friends, another shard in the mystery of what happened to Shona. Highly recommended.

There are still a couple more days to go on the blog tour – be sure to check them out!

Thanks to Michael Linane and Alison Baillie for the review copy of Sewing the Shadows Together, in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions in the review are entirely mine.
Alison Taylor-Baillie

blogtour

Golden Son – Pierce Brown

Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy, #2)Golden Son by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh. My. Word.

I thought that Red Rising was good (not entirely true – I thought Red Rising was spectacular), but Golden Son takes it to a new level. Pierce has clearly matured as an author and Golden Son is more assured and confident. We rejoin Darrow and his Howlers, but this time the action takes place on a much larger tableau. Whereas Red Rising was confined to Mars, Golden Son stretches its wings and takes us on another rollercoaster adventure across the solar system.

Plots within plots, machinations of power-hungry Golds – the comparisons to the intricacies and intrigues of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones are entirely justified.

This is a stunning follow-up to a fantastic debut. No sign of a saggy middle to the trilogy here – my only worry is how he’s going to top it with Morning Star.

But, on the evidence here, I’m confident that we’re going to be blown away.

Pierce Brown is a name to watch very, very closely.

View all my reviews

Murder in Malmö – Torquil MacLeod

Enjoying Murder in Malmö with a coffee. Nordic crime stories seem to feature a *lot* of coffee!

A gunman is loose in Malmö and he’s targeting immigrants. The charismatic head of an advertising agency is found dead in his shower. Inspector Anita Sundström wants to be involved in the murder investigations, but she is being sidelined by her antagonistic boss. She is assigned to find a stolen painting by a once-fashionable artist, as well as being lumbered with a new trainee assistant. She also has a lot to do to restore her professional reputation after a deadly mix-up in a previous high-profile case. Then another prominent Malmö businessman is found murdered and Sundström finds herself back in the action and facing new dangers in the second Anita Sundström Malmö mystery.

Murder in Malmö follows hot on the footsteps from Meet Me in Malmö, which I enjoyed a great deal, though the ending of Meet Me (hinted at in the synopsis above) left me surprised!  In Murder, Anita has been assigned to investigate a stolen painting by a prominent artist whilst her colleagues are dealing with the rather more juicy murder of a Malmö businessman. I’d highly recommend reading Meet Me first though, as there are certain elements in Murder which are better experienced knowing the first story.

Naturally, as the cases progress, the tangled yarns of plot slowly unravel and Anita is soon back in the thick of the action…

i’ve read a lot of Nordic Noir (or, as a friend on twitter put it, Noirdic crime) recently, from Iceland (Ragnar Jonasson’s splendid Snowblind), to Norway ( Gunnar Staalesen’s ecological thriller We Shall Inherit The Wind) and now onto Sweden, though Torquil MacLeod hails from Edinburgh, making him the first non-Scandinvian author! His writing shows a  clear familiariarity with and fondness for Malmö and all things Swedish and the locations throughout the book are very evocative – as with Ragnar’s book, you almost feel that if you were put down in the centre of Malmö, you’d be able to make your way around (and certainly find a good Swedish coffee!)

I really liked the main character, Anita Sundström. She’s great in the first book, but her character really seems to grow and shine more in her second outing. Her backstory is interesting and her interactions with the other members of the mostly-male police squad feel authentic, though sometimes unpleasant. There’s a well-balanced cast in both books and the major players, good and bad, all work well together as characters, though not necessarily as colleagues.

The mysteries and murders are also tautly plotted – there’s a lot going on and a veritable smörgåsbord of supporting characters and suspects. It’s one of those books where you find yourself just wanting one more chapter, then realising it’s 1am…

I’m looking forward to Anita’s next adventures in Missing in Malmö and Midnight in Malmö. Luckily they’re coming later this year in paperback, and out now in ebook.

Thanks to Linda at McNidder & Grace for the review copies of Missing and Murder. As always, the opinions in the review are entirely mine.

Torquil MacLeod in Malmö with Murder (1)

MURDER IN MALMÖ by TORQUIL MACLEOD
Published by MCNIDDER & GRACE CRIME
www.mcnidderandgrace.co.uk

BLOG TOUR 9-24 August 2015
#blogtour #murderinmalmö
@mcnidderandgrace @LindaMacFadyen

9 Aug – The Welsh Librarian       http://thewelshlibrarian.blogspot.co.uk
10 Aug – Reading Room With A View        http://reading-room-with-a-view.blogspot.co.uk
11 Aug – Northern Crime        http://northerncrime.wordpress.com
12 Aug – http://ravencrimereads.wordpress.com        http://ravencrimereads.wordpress.com
13 Aug – http://crimeworm.wordpress.com        http://crimeworm.wordpress.com
14 Aug – Off-the-shelf book reviews        http://off-the-shelfbooks.blogspot.co.uk
15 Aug – Liz Loves Books        http://lizlovesbooks.com
16 Aug – The Book Bag        http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/
17 Aug – Euro Drama http://eurodrama.wordpress.com
18 Aug – espressococo        https://espressococo.wordpress.com < YOU ARE HERE. HELLO! 🙂
19 Aug – Blue Book Balloon        http://bluebookballoon.blogspot.co.uk
20 Aug – Café Thinking        https://cafethinking.wordpress.com
21 Aug – Claire Loves to Read        http://claireh18.booklikes.com
22 Aug – Mystery People        http://mysterypeople.co.uk
23 Aug – Crime Thriller Girl        http://crimethrillergirl.com
24 Aug – La Crème de la Crime        https://lacremedelacrime.wordpress.com

Plotting – Guest Post by Neil White (author of The Domino Killer)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Neil White to the blog. My first ever guest post! Neil’s new book, The Domino Killer is out in July in hardback (thanks to NetGalley for the advance review copy!). He’s here to talk about plotting, but let’s talk books first.

The Domino Killer | Neil White

When a man is found beaten to death in a local Manchester park, Detective Constable Sam Parker is one of the investigating officers. Sam swiftly identifies the victim, but what at first looks like an open and shut case quickly starts to unravel when he realises that the victim’s fingerprints were found on a knife at another crime scene, a month earlier.

Meanwhile, Sam’s brother, Joe – a criminal defence lawyer in the city – comes face to face with a man whose very presence sends shockwaves through his life. Joe must confront the demons of his past as he struggles to come to terms with the darkness that this man represents.

Before long, Joe and Sam are in way over their heads, both sucked into a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to change their lives for ever…”

It’s a gripping tale, neatly plotted and oozing authenticity. Two brothers, one a lawyer, one a policeman, both drawn into the investigation of their sister’s murder many years earlier. Secrets and lies, twists and turns abound as the case unfolds. It’s the third book in his Parker Brothers trilogy.

And now, thout further ado, over to Neil. Let’s talk plotting…

Plotting – a tangled weaving road, laced with potholes.

Plotting is one of the hardest parts of writing a book, because whatever is written in those early days can determine whether the book will be a success or not. A bad idea, or a good idea? It is hard to say then, it’s too early, but the idea takes shape there, jotted down with a pen and paper.

For me, learning to plot was part of the very long and steady learning curve. A necessary curve, but long nonetheless.
I started writing in 1994, the product of a few years of talking about it and then an idle moment when on holiday in Fuerteventura. ‘I’ll be a lawyer until I can be a writer’ was just some daft thing I’d say. I decided to test out my theory. How hard could it be? It’s only writing words, after all.

At first there were four pages of A4 in scruffy handwriting, and then there was a small typewriter with a tiny screen that only showed six lines at a time. Floppy disks saved the slow development of my opus, my creation, worked at in my bedroom where I lodged with my boss. I printed it off occasionally, so that I could marvel at how much I’d written.

Then came the crash. I sat down and read it.

Let’s just say that it wasn’t very good. Worse than that, I didn’t really know what it was about and what was going to happen. Looking back, I can’t remember the plot or even the characters, which perhaps says a lot about something I worked on for around three years.

I knew what the problem was: there was no direction, no coherence. I needed to plot.

I sat down and tried to come up with ideas, until I came up with a story about a serial killer in Boston, Massachussetts who was killing people who shared the name of Salem witches. His obsession with the Salem witches was because his wife killed herself out of a belief that she was a descendant of a Salem witch due to the coincidence of name, and that it had somehow caused her to be possessed by evil.

It didn’t matter whether the plot was any good. The point was there was a plot, and that was all that mattered.

So I started to sketch it out. A paragraph became a one-page summary, which turned into more pages, and I spent a few months fleshing it out, adding to it, putting in phrases I liked. The beginning, middle and end became more pronounced and chapters started to appear, the plot thinning out into strands, and then broken down into scenes. Eventually, it was a 10,000-word monster, a blow-by-blow summary of the book.

What helped was a documentary I saw about Steven Spielberg, who has a very meticulous way of setting out his storyboard, where he allocates a certain amount of time to each scene and will not deviate from it, regardless of how well the filming is going. In his view, his storyboard is balanced, and any deviation upsets the balance.

I looked at the summary again and tried to follow Spielberg’s method. After all, he’d done okay with it.

I looked at each scene and thought of its importance or complexity, and then allocated a certain number of words to each one, intending to reach a total of around 120,000 words. That helped enormously with the plotting and then the writing. If a scene was pivotal, it would have to be a long one, but that is too long for a fast-moving crime novel. So I found a way of splicing it with smaller scenes, which kept the focus shifting. Once I set out on actually writing it, working to a word count gave me discipline. If a less important scene ended up with too many words in it, I cut some out. If a major scene needed more words, I had to find some more.

I didn’t follow the plot outline religiously, I’m not as disciplined as Spielberg, but the outline gave me a route map, and if I deviated from it, with a new idea or angle, I knew where the plot had to return to, as if it allowed me to take the occasional scenic route.

That finished plot ended up as a self-published book, Salem, which got me an agent, who eventually got me a publishing deal. It resurfaced, in a much re-worked format (and a different location, with Lancashire replacing Boston) in my third book, Last Rites. My only regret with Salem is that I didn’t pay for an editor; there are some grammatical howlers in there.

Now, I plot less. Not because I don’t need to, but just because I don’t have time. I set out the basics of an idea, try and get a notion of how it ends, and a few major points along the way, before I sit down with a pad and pen and sketch out the first fifteen scenes or so. I know I need to plot the next part when I get stuck, so I sit down with a bottle of wine and try to work out the next stage.

Some writers spend months planning and then blitz it. I can’t do that. I panic about not leaving myself enough time. So I start and plot as I go.

The hardest part is the middle, because I’ve arrived at a certain point but need to work out how to get to the end, and hopefully provide excitement along the way. Sometimes joining the end to the middle can seem impossible, but in the end it happens.

The 3rd Woman – Jonathan Freedland

The 3rd Woman - paperback cover

SHE CAN’T SAVE HER SISTER

Journalist Madison Webb is obsessed with exposing lies and corruption. But she never thought she would be investigating her own sister’s murder.

SHE CAN’T TRUST THE POLICE

Madison refuses to accept the official line that Abigail’s death was an isolated crime. She uncovers evidence that suggests Abi was the third victim in a series of killings hushed up as part of a major conspiracy.

SHE CAN EXPOSE THE TRUTH

In a United States that now bows to the People’s Republic of China, corruption is rife – the government dictates what the ‘truth’ is. With her life on the line, Madison must give up her quest for justice, or face the consequences…

This is Jonathan Freedland’s first novel published under his real name, having already had a successful career with five novels under his pen-name of Sam Bourne.

The 3rd Woman has a fascinating premise, the familiarity of the backdrop of LA jarringly set against the premise that Beijing has taken control after America has defaulted on its national debt. Part crime thriller whodunnit, part political conspiracy, the story plays out under a confident hand, tautly plotted and rattles along to be devoured in a couple of sittings. The plot twists and turns in a most satisfactory manner as truths are revealed and Madison digs deeper into her sister’s murder, which turns out to not be the first…

Madison Webb is a fantastic, well-realised heroine and feels fully fleshed-out, as does the family dynamic between her and her sisters. I loved her sheer bloody mindedness in getting to the truth behind her sister’s murder, going up against some seriously heavy hitters. There’s a real sense of danger and peril as Madison upsets the wrong people, with unpleasant consequences.

It’s crying out to made into a movie. The Chinese-dominated smoggy LA would make a brilliant backdrop to a series… Netflix, are you listening?

Now, who would play Madison…

Here’s an extract from chapter 7:

~~~~

Leo could see the mayor was on his last question. Quick check of the phone before take-off. He scrolled through his messages. One from an old friend.

Just heard. Can’t believe it.

Just heard what? He couldn’t stand it when people played enigmatic. Total power trip, lording over you the fact they had caught some nugget of knowledge that you lacked. He would not succumb. He would not send the words his pal wanted to hear: ‘Can’t believe what?’

It was bound to be about the food export story. There were new figures showing Californians were exporting so many of their staples – oranges, strawberries and avocados among others – they were running short themselves. He checked his watch. Yep, this was about the time the numbers were due for release.

But he checked Weibo to be sure. He scrolled through, but stopped short.

Tragic news about @maddywebbnews’s sister. Thoughts and prayers are with her family.

And then:

What a senseless waste of precious life. Hearts go out to @maddywebbnews #tragedy

That came with a link to an LA Times story:

Abigail Webb, 22, an elementary school teacher from North Hollywood, was found dead early Monday in what police now believe was a likely homicide. An LAPD spokesperson would give few details, but sources indicate the cause of death was a heroin overdose. Despite an initial examination of the dead woman’s apartment which could find no confirmed signs of forced entry, detectives say a later probe of the scene found damage suggesting a break-in. Ms Webb is the younger sister of the award-winning LA Times reporter, Madison Webb.

Leo read the words several times over, believing it less and less each time. He and Madison had been together for just short of a year, but he had seen Abigail at least a dozen times. She was the first member of her family Madison had let him meet. He liked her: she had all the fizzing energy of Madison and none of the taidu, the attitude. Perhaps a bit too wide-eyed for his tastes, but her enthusiasm was contagious. He and Maddy had been to see a show at the Hollywood Bowl on a double date with Abigail and a short-lived boyfriend, dropped soon afterwards. But once those two were up and dancing, Maddy and even Leo – usually too shy and world-weary for such things – had felt compelled to follow.

Now he thought about it, Madison was different around Abigail. The cynicism receded; she was gentle. She smiled more. In their moments together, the older looking out for the younger, he realized he had caught a glimpse of the mother Maddy might one day be – a thought which he had never articulated at the time and whose tenderness shocked him.

He read the weibs again. He was scrolling further down, as if he might see a message voiding the others, announcing a mistake. He kept scrolling.

‘Leo, you better shut that down. Take-off.’

He said nothing, but turned off the phone all the same and stared right ahead.

They were fully airborne, the plane straightened, before the mayor spoke. ‘You mind telling me what this is about? You look like shit.’ Getting no answer, he pushed on. ‘You’ve seen some numbers and you don’t know how to break it to me, is that it? This that Santa Ana focus group? I’m not worried. Wait till we’re on the air in—’

‘It’s nothing to do with the campaign.’

‘You don’t care about anything but the campaign, so tell me: what’s the problem?’

Leo turned his face to look at his boss for the first time. ‘There’s been a murder. Woman, early twenties, found dead in her apartment in North Hollywood. Suspected heroin over­dose.’

Berger hesitated, letting his eye linger, as if he were assessing a job applicant rather than his most trusted advisor. ‘OK.’

‘We need to get out ahead of this one, Mr Mayor. We have to make sure that this is investigated with the utmost thor­oughness.’ His own voice sounded strange to him, too formal.

‘We always do that, Leo.’

He tried to steady himself, took a sip from the water glass on the tray in front of him, which appeared to have arrived by magic: he had no memory of anyone giving it to him. He told himself to get a grip. Focus.

‘LAPD are only calling it a “likely” homicide. Which means they’ve got some doubts. But the victim’s sister’s a journalist. She’s going to be demanding answers. High-profile, award-winner, big following on Weibo. That means this case is going to be noticed. People are going to be watching the Department, the DA, to see how they handle it.’

‘Sure.’

‘And they’ll be watching you. You don’t want to be going into the summer with a big, unsolved murder on the books.’

‘So what’s your advice?’

‘I think that when we land your first call should be to the Chief of Police, ensure this case is a priority.’

‘As soon as we land, huh? That urgent.’

‘I think so, yes.’

‘Anything else you want to tell me?’

Leo turned back towards the window, the city below now little more than a blur. He pictured Abigail and then he pictured Madison. He shook his head.

‘Anything else you ought to tell me, Leo?’

‘No.’ He paused. ‘Like what?’

‘You sure you don’t have a conflict of interest here?’

Leo hesitated, so Berger spoke again. ‘I know who the victim of this murder is, Leo. The police department of this city – sorry, of the area – do still talk to me. I know her sister is your ex, so there’s no need to bullshit me, OK?’ His gaze lingered into a stare until eventually he looked away, towards the window, watching the earth below swallowed up by clouds. When he turned back, he was wearing an expression Leo had not seen before, one that unnerved him. ‘As it happens, I agree with your advice,’ the mayor said. ‘We need to get out in front on this one. In fact, I’d go further. You need to make this story go away. And, most important of all, you need to keep me out of it.’

~~~~

The 3rd Woman is out now in paperback from HarperCollins.
JFBLOGTOURBANNER

disclaimer: Many thanks to @fictionpubteam from HarperCollins for the advance copy of Jonathan’s book for review. The opinions in the review are mine.

Follow You Home – Mark Edwards

follow_you_home-blogtour

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down.

After a perfect start, Daniel and Laura’s travels end abruptly when they are thrown off a night train in the middle of nowhere. To find their way back to civilisation, they must hike along the tracks through a forest…a haunting journey that ends in unimaginable terror.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what they saw that night. But as they try to fit back into their old lives, it becomes clear that their nightmare is just beginning…

Follow You Home is a chilling tale of secrets, lies and deadly consequences from the author of #1 bestsellers The Magpies and Because She Loves Me.

Follow You Home is a deliciously twisty and nicely paced psychological thriller. It starts out with our young couple on a night train from Hungary to Romania. They meet another young couple on the train and end up getting kicked off in the middle of nowhere.

Then the fun begins.

Something… bad happens. It changes them. Mark drops hints as their lives unravel and you’re drawn deep into their story. What exactly happened on that fateful night?

The pages turn, the chapters speed by. The events in Romania were bad enough, but someone has followed them home. The suspense never lets up and the twists and turns keep coming.

Loved it. Rattled through it in a couple of sittings. This is the first of Mark’s books that I’ve read, but I’ve added him to my list. If you like dark, tense, psychological thrillers, I’d recommend you add him to yours!

disclaimer: Many thanks to Liz for helping to organise the blog tour. I received an advance copy of Mark’s book for review from Netgalley.

We Shall Inherit The Wind – Gunnar Staalesen

“He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.”
~ Proverbs

We Shall Inherit the Wind BF AW.indd

1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then, in one of the most heart-stopping scenes in crime fiction, the first body appears…
A chilling, timeless story of love, revenge and desire, We Shall Inherit the Wind deftly weaves contemporary issues with a stunning plot that will leave you gripped to the final page. This is Staalesen at his most thrilling, thoughtprovoking best.

I’ve been on a bit of a Nordic Noir kick recently thanks to Karen at Orenda Books, and when I was asked if I’d like to take part in the blog tour for Gunnar Staalesen’s We Shall Inherit the Wind, I jumped at the chance.

This is the first of Staalesen’s books that I’ve read, though it appears he’s somewhat better known in Norway – he’s written over 20 titles which have been published in 24 countries, and he’s sold over four million copies. There have been twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels. I’ll have to track them down!

The story starts, as it were, at the end. Varg Veum is at his girlfriend’s bedside. Something terrible has happened and we’re about to find out what. We jump back into a missing person case where Varg has been called in to investigate the whereabouts of Mons Maeland. by his wife. The story unfolds like an origami rose, slowly unveiling more and more layers as we’re drawn deeper into the mystery. Where is Maeland? What’s the link between his disappearance and the proposed wind farm over on the small island of Brennøy?

The mystery is gradually revealed and, as with all great crime stories, each fresh revelation fills in another facet of the picture. Rumours are confirmed, secrets uncovered and a *lot* of coffee is consumed. I thought that *I* drank a lot of coffee, but one thing I’ve noticed about the nordic crime scene is how much coffee they drink!

At heart it’s a story of relationships, and how far people are willing to go to preserve the natural habitat and the consequences of their actions. Families and community are neatly portrayed and dissected by the lone wolf, Varg. Tidbits of information are teased out of people, revealing an unsettling dark side to a lot of the characters.

Staalesen has been called the Norwegian Chandler and Veum is your quintessential private investigator. There’s even a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen.

Gunnar with Varg Veum statue

I loved how his character developed through the course of the story. There have been other Varg Veum books but the character is so strong and the story so well crafted that you don’t feel you’re missing out by starting with this book. I’d love to read more and luckily the next instalments in the Varg Veum series – Where Roses Never Die and No One Is So Safe in Danger – will be published by Orenda Books in 2016 and 2017.  Sign me up!

Many thanks must go to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy.

The blog tour continues tomorrow with Tracy Shephard over at Postcard reviews.

We Shall Inherit the Wind Blog Tour