Monday, 27 May 2013

Guilt By Association by Marcia Clark


Looking for a top-notch legal thriller?  Then read Marcia Clark's Guilt By Association (2011).

Paperback:  When Deputy District Attorney Rachel Knight's journey home is interrupted by screaming sirens, she decides to follow them.

But what she finds when she arrives at a sleazy Los Angeles motel shatters her world:  her trusted colleague Jake lies dead beside the body of a teenage male prostitute.

The police say murder/suicide.

Rachel's gut says different.

Her search for proof will take her through the dark and tangled city, from its wealthy suburbs to its violent heart.

About the author:  Marcia Clark is a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, and was the lead prosecutor in the O J Simpson murder case.  She co-wrote a bestselling non-fiction book about the trial, Without A Doubt (1997), and is a frequent media commentator and columnist on legal issues.  She lives in Los Angeles.  Currently, there are two other books - Guilt By Degrees (2012) and Killer Ambition (available June 2013) - in the Rachel Knight series.

Marcia Clark talks about her first novel, Guilt By Association (2011), featuring Deputy District Attorney Rachel Knight:



Rating:  5/5

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Flight by M R Hall


The Flight comes highly recommended.

Paperback:  When Flight 189 plunges into the Severn Estuary, Coroner Jenny Cooper finds herself handling the case of a lone sailor whose boat appears to have been sunk by the stricken plane, and drawn into the mysterious fate of a ten-year-old girl, Amy Patterson, a passenger on 189, whose largely unmarked body is washed up alongside his.

While a massive and highly secretive operation is launched to recover clues from the wreckage, Jenny begins to ask questions the official investigation doesn't want answered.

How could such a high tech plane - virtually impregnable against human error - fail?

What linked the high powered passengers who found themselves on this ill-fated flight?

And how did Amy Patterson survive the crash, only to perish hours later?

Under pressure from Amy's grieving mother, and opposed by those at the very highest levels of government, Jenny must race against time to see the truth behind this terrible disaster, before it can happen again.

About the author:  M R Hall is a screenwriter, producer and former criminal barrister.  The Flight (2012) is the fourth novel in his excellent Jenny Cooper series, following Gold Dagger-shortlisted debut The CoronerThe Disappeared and The Redeemed.  Educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, he lives in Monmouthshire with his wife and two sons.  Aside from writing, his main passion is the preservation and planting of woodland.  In his spare moments, he is mostly to be found among trees.

Rating:  5/5

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Redeemed by M R Hall


Paperback:  The body of a dead man is discovered in an overgrown cemetery in Bristol, the sign of the cross gouged into his flesh.  At first it seems to coroner Jenny Cooper that all the evidence points to a horrific and tragic suicide.

Then an enigmatic young priest, Father Lucas Starr, arrives on Jenny's doorstep, entreating her to hold an inquest into the death of Eva Donaldson, a high-profile political campaigner whose past life haunted her.

A young man, Paul Craven, has recently been sentenced for Eva's brutal murder.  But, despite Craven's conviction and the evidence against him, Father Lucas is convinced of the man's innocence.

Jenny's investigations into Eva's death will lead her to a powerful new religious organization and to those who control it.  When it later emerges that the man found in the cemetery was also a member of the group, Jenny discovers that more could link the deaths of these victims than she could have realized.

Jenny's lone quest for justice takes her to the dark heart of an establishment that wishes to silence her, and on an inner journey to confront ghosts that have haunted her for a lifetime.

For coroner Jenny Cooper answers to no one but the dead.

First paragraph in the book:  Jenny was drinking cordial by the stream at the end of her overgrown garden, watching a school of tiny brown trout flick this way and that, quick as lightning.  It was late June and the sweet-smelling breeze was warm against her bare legs.  Before the telephone intruded she had managed to lose herself - how long for, she couldn't say - hypnotized by the gently swaying ash trees and the buzz of grasshoppers in the nettles.

About the author:  M R Hall is a screenwriter, producer and former criminal barrister.  The Redeemed (2011) is the third novel in his excellent Jenny Cooper series, following Gold Dagger-shortlisted debut The Coroner and The Disappeared.  Educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, he lives in Monmouthshire with his wife and two sons.  Aside from writing, his main passion is the preservation and planting of woodland.  In his spare moments, he is mostly to be found among trees.

M R Hall tells us about The Redeemed:



Rating:  5/5

Friday, 24 May 2013

Never Saw It Coming by Linwood Barclay


If you're looking for a thrilling read, read Never Saw It Coming (2013) - it is excellent!

Hardback:  Keisha Ceylon is a psychic.

At least, that's what it says on her business card.

What Keisha actually does for a living is she watches the news for stories about people who have gone missing.  She gives it a few days, then makes her move - telling the distraught family that she's had a vision about their missing loved one and may just have a clue to where they could be found.  Which she'd be happy to reveal - for a modest fee, of course.

Keisha's latest mark is a man whose wife disappeared a week ago.  She's seen him on TV, pleading for his wife to come home or for whoever took her to let her go - and right away she can see dollar signs too.

But when she pays Wendell Garfield a visit to give him the good news, things don't go exactly according to plan.  At first he's sceptical, hostile even.  But once she starts telling him about her visions - visions that might just explain why his wife of twenty-one years has been missing for four straight nights - she can tell she's got him hooked.

The trouble is, unbeknownst to her, Keisha's 'vision' is uncomfortably close to the truth.

And advertising it may be the last thing she wants to do.

About the author:  Linwood Barclay is married with two children and lives near Toronto.  He is a former columnist for the Toronto Star and the author of ten novels, several of which are international bestsellers.  Visit Linwood Barclay's website for more information and updates.

Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

In Plain Sight (The Joe Pickett Novels) by C J Box


In Plain Sight (2006) is the sixth book in the compelling Joe Pickett series.

Hardback:  J W Keeley is a man with a score to settle.  He's tracked down the one person he blames for his brother's death:  Joe Pickett.  And now J W is going to make him suffer.

Game warden Joe Pickett is relieved that the long, harsh winter is over.  However, a cloud of trouble threatens to spoil the milder weather:  local ranch owner and matriarch Opal Scarlett has vanished under suspicious circumstances.  Two of her sons, Hank and Arlen, are battling for control of their mother's multi-million-dollar empire, and their bitter fight threatens to tear the whole valley apart.

Everyone is so caught up in the brothers' battle that they seem to have forgotten that Opal is missing.  Joe Pickett, the game warden, is convinced, though, that one of the brothers killed her.

When a series of wicked pranks escalates into the most personal kind of violence, Joe knows that whoever is after him has a vicious debt to collect and wants him to pay . . . and pay dearly.

About the author:  C J Box is the winner of the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award and the Edgar Award and is also an Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.  His novels are US bestsellers and have been translated into 21 languages.  Box lives with his family outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Visit his website at www.cjbox.net

Rating:  5/5

Out Of Range (The Joe Pickett Novels) by C J Box


Out of Range (2005) is the fifth book in the exceptional Joe Pickett series.

Hardback:  Game Warden Joe Pickett returns in a twisting, action-packed tale of greed, power and murder.

Attempting to enjoy his mother-in-law's wedding to a local big-shot rancher he receives some disturbing news:  Will Jensen, a fellow Wyoming game warden and a good friend, has killed himself.  And Joe's been picked to run Jensen's Teton district.

Jackson, Wyoming, is a far cry from Joe's home town of Saddlestring and he quickly finds himself in over his head in his new job.

Yet despite the pressures of his new job and his growing attraction to a married woman, Joe begins to question the circumstances of his friend's suicide and becomes obsessed with finding the reason why.

Meanwhile back at home in Saddlestring, Joe's wife, Marybeth, struggling to hold her family together in her husband's absence, receives a series of threatening phone calls.

There are mysteries to be solved and dangers averted before the truth about Will's death finally emerges.

About the author:  C J Box is the winner of the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award and the Edgar Award and is also an Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.  His novels are US bestsellers and have been translated into 21 languages.  Box lives with his family outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Visit his website at www.cjbox.net

Rating:  5/5

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline


Lisa Scottoline wrote in her Acknowledgements - A novel doesn't connect unless it's emotionally true, and when it's emotionally true and does connect, it rings true for everyone because that's the way it is with truth, it strikes a chord in you.  And so it is with this enjoyable novel, Come Home (2012), which questions whether one ever stops being a mother, or an ex-stepmother, and whether there are limits to love in any family at all.

Paperback:  There's no escape from your past.

Jill had married William Skyler for all the right reasons:  love and the hope that she was making a family for her daughter, Megan, as well as his two girls.  But her husband's devastating betrayal ripped their marriage apart and she and Megan lost everything.

Now, years later, her ex-stepdaughter Abby shows up on her doorstep drunk and distraught with the news of her father's death.

Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer.  Jill reluctantly agrees to make a few enquiries and discovers that things don't add up.  As she digs deeper, her actions threaten to rip apart her new family, destroy their hard-earned happiness, and even endanger her own life.

Yet Jill can't turn her back on a child she loves and once called her own.

About the author:  Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author.  She has thirty million copies of her books in print in the United States, and she has been published in thirty-two countries.  She has written eleven legal thrillers and all of her novels draw on her experience as a trial lawyer.  In each of her books, her goal is to write something that's true, true in the emotional sense.  She teaches a course called Justice & Fiction at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater.  She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

Rating:  3/5

Saturday, 18 May 2013

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Atticus said to Jem one day, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds.  Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

I asked Miss Maudie about it.  "Your father's right," she said.  "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) is a timeless classic about growing up and of human dignity.

Compassionate, deeply moving, and dramatic, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behaviour - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humour and pathos.

Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.  The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice.

Truman Capote said of Lee's book, "Someone rare has written this very fine novel, a writer with the liveliest sense of life and the warmest, most authentic humour.  A touching book;  and so funny, so likeable."

About the author:  Harper Lee was born in 1962 in Monroeville, Alabama, a village that is still her home.  She attended local schools and the University of Alabama.  Before she started writing, she lived in New York, where she worked in the reservations department of an international airline.  She has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, two honorary degrees and various other literary and library awards.  Her chief interests apart from writing are nineteenth-century literature and eighteenth-century music, watching politicians and cats, travelling and being alone.

To Kill A Mockingbird was Lee's first and only novel.  She has always considered her book to be a simple love story but today, it is regarded as a masterpiece of modern American literature.

Rating:  5/5

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Murder On A Lonely Road by George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer


Paperback:  Murder On A Lonely Road (2012) is the true account of a murderer who thought he was beyond punishment, and the lawmen who would not relent until justice was finally done.

On 17 June 1985, twenty-year-old beauty pageant winner Jackie John's car was found abandoned, the interior drenched in blood.  Four days later, her bludgeoned, nude body was discovered floating in a nearby lake.

Sheriff Dwight McNiel vowed to catch Jackie's killer, however long it took.

His prime suspect:  local rich kid Gerald Carnahan.  But despite suspicions, the evidence never managed to add up, and Carnahan slipped away again and again.

Throughout the next two decades, multiple other women went missing - some murdered, some never found.  Fearful residents believed that a murderous bogeyman was connected to all these crimes.

Carnahan's conviction on the charge of attempted kidnapping of another young woman brought his name into the mix over and over again - but all of the cases remained unsolved for decades, until a highway petrol sergeant sent DNA from Jackie John's murder for testing and came up with a quadrillions-to-one match to Carnahan.

This book is not only about a brutal beauty queen murder that shocked Missouri residents, but also about a privileged killer it took twenty-five years to bring to justice.

About the author:  George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer are investigative reporters for the Belleville News-Democrat in southern Illinois near St Louis.  They have worked as a team for more than a decade, during which they won the Robert F Kennedy Award in 2007 for their series "Lethal Lapses" (about the faulty child protection system that led to the deaths of over fifty children) and the prestigious George Polk Award in 2009 for their series "Trapped in Tamms" (exposing the state supermax Tamms Correctional Center's practice of holding mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement for more than a decade).  This is their first book.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

My Mother Wore A Yellow Dress: An Irish Childhood in the 1960s (non-fiction) by Christina McKenna


"This is the story of my journey out of a lonely childhood into the dissonant world of the adult.  It's about the mother who cared for me and tried to smooth the way, and the father who couldn't, who charged on ahead regardless, letting the briars and branches of his discontent crash into me, to cause me to stumble, to defeat me and make me bleed." (Prologue)

Paperback:  Christina McKenna's stunning memoir is a tale of two generations of Irish women.

Sparkling with wit and compassion, My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress tells the story of a mother and daughter, one bound by the constrictions of 1960s Ireland, the other struggling desperately to escape both it and the heartless father who has blighted her life.

But escape does come, and in the most macabre way:  a prolonged haunting confirms for Christina the reality of the spirit world, freeing her imagination from the dysfunctional dance of her mother and father, her twisted headmaster, her unyielding uncles scrounging for land and the hoard of ancestral money.

Passionate and beautifully told, My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress (2004) is the redemptive postscript to over a decade of Irish childhood memoirs, concluding that our past, no matter how painful, need not keep us bound.  The choice is between hate and love.  And the right choice, suggests the author, will set us free.

About the author:  Christina McKenna was born and brought up in County Derry.  Educated at Belfast College of Art and University of Ulster, she left Northern Ireland in 1985 to teach abroad.  Over the years she has had exhibitions of her work in Ireland, Spain, Turkey, Italy and Mexico.  She currently resides in Rostrevor, County Down.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Disappeared by M R Hall


The Disappeared (2009) is the second book in the Coroner Jenny Cooper series.

Hardback:  Two young British students vanish without trace.  The police tell their parents that the boys had been under surveillance, that it was likely they left the country to pursue their dangerous new ideals.

Seven years later, Nazim's grief-stricken mother is still unconvinced.  Unable to understand why the police failed to investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the boys' disappearance, or the mysterious involvement of the Security Services, she has exhausted every avenue in her search for the truth.  Jenny Cooper is her last hope.

Finally established as the Severn Vale District Coroner and with the ghosts of her past banished to the sidelines, Jenny launches an investigation which reveals secrets from the past that powerful and corrupt figures have worked hard to suppress.

But how is the theft of the body of a young woman from the hospital morgue linked to the case?  What is the connection to Maybury nuclear power station?  And just who is Alec McAvoy, the bewitchingly charismatic and disgraced former criminal lawyer who seems to know so much more than he reveals?

As the pressure mounts to silence her increasingly dangerous and politically sensitive inquiry, events from the past collide with the present and propel Jenny into a desperate and life-threatening struggle for justice.  And how could she have known that by unravelling the mysteries of the disappeared she would begin to unearth her own dark secrets?

About the author:  M R Hall is a screenwriter, producer and former criminal barrister.  The Coroner (2009) is his first novel and was nominated for the Crime Writer's Association Gold Dagger in the best novel category.  Educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, he lives in Monmouthshire with his wife and two sons.  Aside from writing, his main passion is the preservation and planting of woodland.  In his spare moments, he is mostly to be found amongst trees.

Other books in the Jenny Cooper series are

The Coroner (2009)
The Redeemed (2011)
The Flight (2012)

The Innocent (2012) - a free Kindle edition

The author gives us his insight into The Disappeared:



Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lost Girls by Caitlin Rother


Pulitzer-nominated author Caitlin Rother delivers an incisive, heartbreaking true-life thriller that touches our deepest fears.  Her goal in writing this book is "to get the complete and accurate story out into the public, to try to educate people on why John Albert Gardner did what he did, what went wrong, and what could have been done differently."

Recently, Lost Girls has been chosen as a San Diego Book Awards finalist.

Paperback:  Chelsea King was a popular high school senior, an outstanding achiever determined to make a difference.

Fourteen-year-old Amber Dubois loved books and poured her heart into the animals she cared for.

Treasured by their families and friends, both girls disappeared in San Diego County, just eight miles and one year apart.

The community's desperate search led authorities to John Albert Gardner, a brutal predator hiding in plain sight.

About the author:  Caitlin Rother is the author of Dead Reckoning (2011), Body Parts (2009), Twisted Triangle (2008), Poisoned Love (2005), and the thriller, Naked Addiction (2007).  She is also the co-author of My Life, Deleted (2011) and Where Hope Begins aka Deadly Devotion (2009).  Rother, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, worked as an investigative reporter at daily newspapers for nineteen years before deciding to write books full-time.  She is a regular contributor to In Cold Blog, and her work has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles TimesThe San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago TribuneThe Washington PostThe Boston Globe and The Daily Beast.

She has appeared as a crime expert on E! Entertainment, the Oxygen Network, Investigation Discovery, Greta Van Susteren's "On The Record," and "America at Night."  She also teaches narrative non-fiction, journalism, and creative writing at UCSD Extension in San Diego, CA, where she resides.

Visit her website for more information, updates and Rother's other books.

Rother was interviewed on KPBS News on her controversial and latest book, Lost Girls (2012):

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Rules of Honour Matt Hilton



Rules of Honour (2013) is the eighth book in the action-packed and addictive Joe Hunter thriller series.  Congratulations to Matt Hilton on his latest and eighth(!) book.

Hardback:  When Rink's father is brutally murdered, Joe has to stop his friend rushing headlong for vengeance.

Because Rink's mother witnessed the crime and Yukiko isn't telling everything she knows.

Her silence is governed by the Japanese tradition of giri, or moral obligation.

But when there are more vicious deaths - all of them elderly men known to Yukiko - it becomes a matter of honour to uncover the shameful secret that lies behind the murders.

The killer isn't playing by the rules.

But some rules are made to be broken and Joe doesn't care what he breaks to ensure Rink gets his revenge.

About the author:  Matt Hilton has worked in private security and for the police force.  He is a 4th Dan blackbelt and coach in ju-jitsu.  He lives in Cumbria with his wife, Denise.  He keeps a website and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

For fans of the Joe Hunter series, the ninth book, entitled The Lawless Kind, will be out in January 2014, so do keep an eye out for that.

For those who want a short Joe Hunter e-story, Red Stripes (March 2013) - Hilton's second e-story - is now available.  His first short Joe Hunter e-story is Dead Fall (2012).

Rating:  5/5

Friday, 3 May 2013

Dead Reckoning (True Crime) by Caitlin Rother


You have a fifty-five-foot yacht to sell.  Would you, on point of sale, give power of attorney to the buyer?  In other words, would you sign total legal and financial control over your affairs to a stranger?  Does it even make sense?  

Some people are so convinced of their own lies that they are not aware of how the real world works.

How, and why, do they think 'spinning tales' can explain away their damning actions and get them out of trouble, trouble of their own making, in the first place?

Because it is just that - lies.

This is the moment when one of the most frightening and unthinkable murder cases unravels, because of lies, lies and more lies.

According to the author, this complicated - albeit heart-wrenching - career-making murder case drummed up nearly forty thousand pages of discovery, six hundred audiotapes, CDs and DVDs of text, audio and digital-image files, and more than three thousand pieces of evidence gathered with more than sixty search warrants.

The case became so complicated that the primary team of full-time detectives (at least nine) working the case reached out to local, state, and federal agencies in two countries, several states, three contiguous Southern California counties, and the Pacific Ocean.

On 15 November 2004, a happy and retired Newport Beach (California) couple, Tom and Jackie Hawks, sold the yacht they had been living on for $400 000 to former child star Skylar Deleon and his pregnant wife Jennifer.

The Hawks reportedly planned to buy a second home with the money so that they could be close to family and watch their first grandchild grow up.

But a trial voyage turned into a nightmare.

Out at sea, the Hawkses begged for their lives as they were forced to sign everything over to Skylar.

In return, they were tied to the ship's anchor and thrown overboard.

Alive.

It was an utterly inhumane act.

They were never heard from again.

Their car, a Honda CRV was eventually found in Ensenada, Mexico, miles away from where they had left it at Newport Beach.

It was an undeniable fact that the Deleons were the last people to see the Hawkses alive.

Sadly, their bodies and the anchor were never found.

So what happened on that fateful day?

How did a sale of a trawler turned deadly?

Skylar's father-in-law said to Skylar, "...I want you to think about love.  Love doesn't allow things like this to happen to family."

Did he do as his father-in-law said or was he incapable of thinking sanely?

Who are these young upstarts and what led them to kill for financial gain, and why?

What kind of people were the Deleons?

Well-researched, well-informed and well-written, Dead Reckoning (2011) is one of many true crime stories which teaches us that greed, no matter what form or shape it comes in, does not pay.

It does not warrant saying that the only true victims in this story are the innocent couple, Tom and Jackie Hawks, whose atrocious deaths do not even come close to justifying the final sentencing of the four perverse killers in the end.

This ultimate story of avarice also raises many thought-provoking questions, some of which deals with the complex inner design of the human psyche.

It is an astounding read and highly recommended to all crime fans.

"There are some murders, however, that are committed with such a malignant heart, such callousness, that the only just penalty is death," said a district attorney involved in the case.

Since his sentencing in 2009, Skylar Deleon has been awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison.

About the author:  Caitlin Rother is the author of Lost Girls (2012), Body Parts (2009), Twisted Triangle (2008), Poisoned Love (2005), and the thriller, Naked Addiction (2007).  She is also the co-author of My Life, Deleted (2011) and Where Hope Begins aka Deadly Devotion (2009).  Rother, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, worked as an investigative reporter at daily newspapers for nineteen years before deciding to write books full-time.  She is a regular contributor to In Cold Blog, and her work has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast.

She has appeared as a crime expert on E! Entertainment, the Oxygen Network, Investigation Discovery, Greta Van Susteren's "On The Record," and "America at Night."  She also teaches narrative non-fiction, journalism, and creative writing at UCSD Extension in San Diego, CA, where she resides.

She started researching the Deleon case in 2005, attended the murder trials and conducted scores of exclusive interviews with the major players along the way.

Visit her website for more information, updates and Rother's other books.

Rother reads from the Prologue of her book, Dead Reckoning: