A Tapping At My Door (DC Nathan Cody #1) by David Jackson

Book Description:

Published: April 7, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She’s disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes.

DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went terrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes.

As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too.

And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

Review –

This is my first time to experience any of David Jackson’s writings and if his others are half as good as this one, he has a fan for life!

The book starts off with a bang and with a spooky and suspenseful murder and the action just keeps going from there.

Someone is horribly  killing policemen and leaving dead birds beside the bodies. Cody, who was previously in UnderCover is now in the Murder Investigation Team,  and is partnered up with an ex-girlfriend – DC Megan Webley and although there is clearly some issues between them relating to their past history, the chemistry works very well and Webley is more than a match for Cody’s unpredictable nature. Although Megan is now engaged to someone else, there seems to be unfinished business between her and Cody.

 It is clear that a previous case has gone horribly wrong and has caused Cody extreme trauma, because during this investigation he loses it many times and at one point has a severe panic attack. He needs help but is afraid to seek out a therapist for fear that word will get back to the police force and he will be suspended or fired, and his job is ALL he has.

He tells Megan what happened to him a year ago and believe me it was HORRIBLE and the men who did it are still out there.

I loved the story, it was well paced and cleverly structured with the twists and turns that you would expect in a crime thriller. The who and the why came as a complete surprise – and will leave your jaw dropping.

It is a suspenseful story with a dramatic finale and with some teasing loose ends that will no doubt be followed up (I hope!) – this is a series that I will happily follow and I look forward to meeting DS Nathan Cody again.

Five stars.

 

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The Night Bird (Frost Easton #1) by Brian Freeman

Book Description:

Published: February 1, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Homicide detective Frost Easton doesn’t like coincidences. When a series of bizarre deaths rock San Francisco—as seemingly random women suffer violent psychotic breaks—Frost looks for a connection that leads him to psychiatrist Francesca Stein. Frankie’s controversial therapy helps people erase their most terrifying memories…and all the victims were her patients.

As Frost and Frankie carry out their own investigations, the case becomes increasingly personal—and dangerous. Long-submerged secrets surface as someone called the Night Bird taunts the pair with cryptic messages pertaining to the deaths. Soon Frankie is forced to confront strange gaps in her own memory, and Frost faces a killer who knows the detective’s worst fears.

As the body count rises and the Night Bird circles ever closer, a dedicated cop and a brilliant doctor race to solve the puzzle before a cunning killer claims another victim.

Review –

Just finished this book and loved it. This is a “first read” of this author and I WILL be reading more.

It’s a murder mystery involving a serial killer targeting patients of a psychiatrist who helps people overcome bad memories by totally erasing them. So, would you let someone mess with your head to get rid of a horribly bad memory? I don’t have any memories that horrible so I say “No”, but I can see where it might be a good thing for those with debilitating memories. 

Frankie Stein (hokey name, but in this storyline it works) is the psychiatrist and several of her patients are being reprogrammed to kill themselves or others by someone who hates her because she let a guilty man go free. 

She is married but the marriage is slowly falling apart and she has a hateful sister. I felt bad for her and hope that she may reappear in future books with a brighter story.

The character of Frost Easton is a new favorite of mine because of his human-ness. He’s kind, caring and has a brother who is a chef but owns a food truck and a sister who was murdered. He rescued a cat when it’s owner died and hence inherited the house of said cat. He can live there for as long as the cat is alive. He’s a police homicide detective, who in the book, works mostly alone, rarely calling for back-up unless it’s a dire situation. This to me was the most unrealistic part of the book, because in real life that just doesn’t happen.

The story is fast-moving, action packed and filled with surprises.  It was a great read and I look forward to the next installment of the Frost Easton series.

 

The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper



Book Description:

Published: May 31, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well…

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret… A secret Falk thought long-buried… A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface…

Review –

Fantastic book! Once I started it-didn’t want to stop.

Twenty years ago a young teenaged girl is found dead in the river with her pockets full of stones so the story of suicide isn’t hard to believe, but when Aaron Falk’s name in found written on a piece of paper in her bedroom the people of the town think he had something to do with death. He didn’t and neither did his best friend, Luke, and they  agreed to alibi each other, but it still didn’t  stop the hateful people of the small remote Australian town to think Aaron guilty. Aaron knew they he and Luke both lied about their alibis  but Luke had told him to go along so he did. The harassment got so bad he and his Dad were forced to pack up and move away and he hadn’t been back since. Not until he heard about the death of Luke, his wife and son. He came back for the funerals and Luke’s parents asks him to look into the deaths because they don’t believe it to be a murder suicide.

Aaron is a Federal Police investigator but deals with crimes involving money but he agrees to look into the matter with a local police detective, Raco,  in a sort of rogue investigation.  The author creates a character out of the parched farming community  within a day’s drive from Melbourne. It is suffering from a severe  drought going on two years and everyone’s tempers are near the breaking point.

I won’t give away the ending but  several secrets from the past are uncovered and leads to the truth behind the deaths of the Luke Hadler family and it’s not what anyone expects. The death of the young girl is also solved, but only we as readers know the true identity of the killer. 

I hated for this book to end but learned that a second in the series will come out next February so I have already listed it on my TBR list.

Fantastic read.

Five stars!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Faceless Enemies (Kurt Wallander #1) by Henning Mankell

Book Description:

Published: January 14, 2003

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It was a senselessly violent crime: on a cold night in a remote Swedish farmhouse an elderly farmer is bludgeoned to death, and his wife is left to die with a noose around her neck. And as if this didn’t present enough problems for the Ystad police Inspector Kurt Wallander, the dying woman’s last word is “foreign”, leaving the police the one tangible clue they have–and in the process, the match that could inflame Sweden’s already smoldering anti-immigrant sentiments.

Unlike the situation with his ex-wife, his estranged daughter, or the beautiful but married young prosecuter who has piqued his interest, in this case, Wallander finds a problem he can handle. He quickly becomes obsessed with solving the crime before the already tense situation explodes, but soon comes to realize that it will require all his reserves of energy and dedication to solve.

Review –

I LOVE foreign crime fiction/drama and I never would have discovered this author if I hadn’t found a series on Netflix called Wallander.

The first disc I received had one show which was ninety minutes long and I WAS NOT impressed. The storyline was convoluted and the acting not very good. The episode was called Sidetracked and in the credits said it was based on a book by Henning Mankell. I jumped on my Overdrive site and searched for this author and his works. I found this book, which is the first in the series. 

This book was very good and just goes to show how a movie or television series can ruin a good book. I loved this version of the main character, he was quirky, dressed slovenly, drank  and needs to lose weight. He is a very good policeman and  once he’s on a case, he’s like a dog with a bone, and will not give up until it is solved.

I will not watch any more of the Netflix series but I will definitely read or listen to more books in the series.

So, Thank You, Netflix for turning me on to another Swedish crime fiction writer.

 

The Hypnotist (Joona Linna #1) by Lars Kepler

Book Description:

Published: June 21, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the frigid clime of Tumba, Sweden, a gruesome triple homicide attracts the interest of Detective Inspector Joona Linna, who demands to investigate the murders. The killer is still at large, and there’s only one surviving witness—the boy whose family was killed before his eyes. Whoever committed the crimes wanted this boy to die: he’s suffered more than one hundred knife wounds and lapsed into a state of shock. Desperate for information, Linna sees only one option: hypnotism. He enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to mesmerize the boy, hoping to discover the killer through his eyes.

It’s the sort of work that Bark has sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring. When he breaks his promise and hypnotizes the victim, a long and terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl.

An international sensation, The Hypnotist is set to appear in thirty-seven countries, and it has landed at the top of bestseller lists wherever it’s been published—in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark. Now it’s America’s turn. Combining the addictive power of the Stieg Larsson trilogy with the storytelling drive of The Silence of the Lambs, this adrenaline-drenched thriller is spellbinding from its very first page.

Review –

The novel opens with a horrific crime: A father, mother and their 5-year-old daughter are butchered. The couple’s son, 15-year-old Josef, survives but has been stabbed hundreds of times and is unconscious. He may be able to identify the attacker and thus save other lives, so police summon a hypnotist in the hope that he can communicate with the boy despite his being in a coma.

Erik Maria Bark, the psychiatrist/hypnotist, is a man of many sorrows. He vowed 10 years earlier to give up hypnotism because of a tragedy that is not at first explained. He’s addicted to painkillers, his marriage is falling apart and his 14-year-old son has a blood disease that requires constant treatment. Even worse travails lie ahead once Bark breaks his vow and uses hypnosis to communicate with the survivor of the massacre.

In one of the first of the novel’s many surprises, Josef confesses under hypnosis to killing his family. Of course, the subconscious mind works in strange ways, and the confession may not be true. The boy then escapes from the hospital and may or may not be involved in the next horror, when Bark’s ailing son is kidnapped.

Bark teams up with a detective named Joona Linna to find both youths, one perhaps a mass murderer, the other possibly in the clutches of someone who hates his father. Suspects in the kidnapping include a group of violent criminals whom Bark had treated with hypnosis therapy and who were not always grateful for his efforts. 

The deftly plotted story barrels along in more than a hundred short, swift scenes; it moves about as fast as a 500-page novel can. In one scene, Bark’s wife and her father are about to enter the basement of a house where her son may be held by his kidnapper.  As the woman and her father descend into the darkness — with the reader shrieking “No, no, stop, you fools!” — the beam of their flashlight falls upon “the glass of a framed movie poster.” I take that poster to be homage to Thomas Harris’s landmark thriller, Silence of the Lambs,which as both book and movie was another memorable blending of evil and suspense.

I won’t tell you the ending but it’s worth the reading.

Great on the edge of your seat foreign crime drama. Loved it!

 

Breakdown (Alex Delaware #31) by Jonathan Kellerman

Book Description:

Published: February 2, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Psychologist sleuth Alex Delaware is surprised to get the call when well-known TV actress Zelda Chase turns up half-naked, half-mad in the LA’s rural Westside. He has little connection to the starlet, save a psychiatric evaluation he performed on her adopted son several years ago, a child who has since vanished without a trace and whom Zelda refuses to talk about. When the actress turns up dead a few weeks later without a scratch on her, Delaware calls in police lieutenant Milo Sturgis to help him crack the case—or at least the wall of silence surrounding it. When the body of a second actress turns up with the same mysterious cause of death, Delaware and Sturgis start to wonder—is this a copycat case or a coincidence? When they uncover the death of another actress, a star from another era who vanished decades ago, never to be found, they realize they’re facing one of their most baffling, mind-bending cases yet.

Review –

Kellerman offers up a slightly different Alex Delaware in this outing, a slightly obsessed one  and the plot – thankfully – kept me guessing. I say  – thankfully – because the last few have been a bit predictable.

This storyline  is mostly an interesting one, although a tad convoluted . But the author also introduces a few threads, which all tie up in a fairly surprising way at the end; but I was kept guessing and keen to understand Zelda’s fate so was pulled into the unfolding story.

I’m hoping Kellerman keeps throwing a few curve balls at his lead characters as this was an improvement on its predecessor and a very  enjoyable read/listen.

A Cold Heart (Alex Delaware #17) by Jonathan Kellerman

Book Description:

Published: December 30, 2003

Format: Audio/OverDrive

LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis summons his friend, psychologist-sleuth Alex Delaware, to a trendy gallery where a promising young artist has been brutally garroted on the night of her first major showing. The details of the murder scene immediately suggest to Alex not an impulsive crime of passion, but the meticulous and taunting modus operandi of a serial killer.

Delaware’s suspicions are borne out when he and Milo find there’s a link between the artist’s death and the murder of a noted blues guitarist. The twisting trail leads from halfway houses to palatial mansions, and from a college campus to the last place Alex ever expected: the doorstep of his ex-lover Robin Castagna. As more killings are discovered, unraveling the maddening puzzle assumes a chilling new importance — stopping a vicious psychopath who’s made cold-blood murder his chosen art form.

Review –

I’m finding more and more of this series, Alex Delaware, that I haven’t read or listened to but I was disappointed with this one.

It’s a bit on the boring side and predictable to boot. The identity of the killer is a little too easy to guess and the action packed ending a tad too obvious. All in all, not the authors’ best work.

 

 

The Dead Will Tell (Kate Burkholder #6) by Linda Castillo

Book Description:

Published: July 8, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Everyone in Painters Mill knows the abandoned Hochstetler farm is haunted. But only a handful of the residents remember the terrible secrets lost in the muted/hushed whispers of time—and now death is stalking them, seemingly from the grave.

On a late-night shift, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide—an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn. But evidence quickly points to murder and Kate finds herself chasing a singularly difficult and elusive trail of evidence that somehow points back to the tragedy of that long ago incident. Meanwhile, Kate has moved in with state agent John Tomasetti and for the first time in so long, they’re both happy; a bliss quickly shattered when one of the men responsible for the murders of Tomasetti’s family four years ago is found not guilty, and walks away a free man. Will Tomasetti be pulled back to his own haunted past?

When a second man is found dead—also seemingly by his own hand—Kate discovers a link in the case that sends the investigation in a direction no one could imagine and revealing the horrifying truth of what really happened that terrible night thirty-five years ago, when an Amish father and his four children perished—and his young wife disappeared without a trace.

And, as Kate knows—the past never truly dies .  . .

Review –

The story begins thirty-five years earlier as a young Billy Hochstetler is awakened in the middle of the night by intruders threatening his family. During the burglary, his father is shot and killed, his mother is forced to leave with the three men, and he and the children are forced into the cellar. Billy decides to try to save his mother and after escaping through a window, goes after her, leaving his brothers and sisters by themselves. He chases the get-away car, but is unsuccessful in rescuing his mother. He returns to the house to find it engulfed in flames. In one night he has lost his family.

Fast forward to present day…Painter’s Mill Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a supposed suicide. After checking the scene and looking into other facets of the dead man’s life, it is determined that he was murdered. Inside the mouth of the murdered man was a small carved Amish doll with the name Hochstetler on it.  Circumstances in subsequent murders also  seemed to bring the Hochstetler incident into the mix. But are there any other connecting threads?

Kate and her officers, including over seventy Pickles, have to work around the clock to solves theses crimes and harm comes to some.

John Tomasetti is dealt a blow when one of the men responsible for the murders of his wife and daughters is let go-free as a bird.  Tomasetti has to do something, but will it be legal or ethical?

Kate and John have been living together now for about six months and she’s afraid that now that she’s given away her heart John will hurt her.

Great read and I can’t wait for the next one to become available on OverDrive.

 

The Fireman by Joe Hill

Book Description:

Published: January 3, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

Review –

The Fireman, follows a nurse named Harper as a deadly pandemic called Dragonscale spreads across the world. Hosts of the spore break out in elaborate black and gold rashes before bursting into flames, burning to death and taking down anything near them. When Harper develops Dragonscale marks after becoming pregnant, she finds a group of the infected that have learned to control the flames, including a man known as The Fireman, who can manipulate the fire within him as a weapon.

After being taken Camp Wyndham, where she discovers a whole group of the infected are hiding out from roving cremation crews and vigilantes (which later includes her deranged husband). There, she learns something startling: they’ve learned how to prevent the infection from burning them up. Not only that, Dragonscale seems to allow them to connect on a deep, communal level. The Fireman can even control the flames on his body. Their hideaway has become a refuge where they have formed a safe, small ocean of calm in the midst of a burning New England.

When Harper comes to the camp, it seems like the safest place for her and her unborn child. She learns how to control the infection on her body, and has access to shelter and food. As the months drag on, the tension only increases for the group. When the camp’s de facto leader, Father Storey, is mysteriously attacked, the residents place his daughter Carol in charge.

Under Carol, the camp turns into a dark place, and this is where the novel really gets its feet under it. Eager to help ensure everyone’s safety, paranoid and unwilling to relinquish power, the camp becomes a place where there’s only one voice: hers, and Harper is forced to navigate a tenuous existence in her new home.

Complicating matters is Dragonscale itself: it allows the infected to connect with others – it’s not quite telepathy, but a sort of group mind. In perfect situations, it could form the basis for the utopian society that everyone at Camp Wyndham envisions. With the wrong personalities in charge, that utopia becomes a dystopia quickly.

I won’t tell you the outcome but there are tear-jerker parts and a semi cliffhanger at the end.

Five stars.  Loved it even with all the Mary Poppins references!

 

A Drink Before The War (Kenzie and Gennaro #1) by Dennis LeHane

Book Description:

Published: September 15, 2003

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Kenzie and Gennaro are private investigators in the blue-collar neighborhoods and ghettos of South Boston-they know it as only natives can. Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential state documents.
Finding Jenna, however, is easy compared to staying alive once they’ve got her. The investigation escalates, implicating members of Jenna’s family and rival gang leaders while uncovering extortion, assassination, and child prostitution extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of government.

Review –

I was lucky enough to find the audio version of this, the first in the Kenzie and Gennaro series on OverDrive and it was fantastic.

A Drink Before The War is the story of Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, private investigators who have been hired by a politician to find some missing documents believed to have been stolen by a cleaning lady. Their job is to find the cleaning lady (who has gone missing), recover the documents and return them to the politician. Although it sounds like a pretty cut-and-dried case, things start getting complicated when the cleaning lady is located and she lets the PIs in on a secret that starts up one of the bloodiest gang wars that the Boston area has ever seen.

Before they know it, Patrick and Angie are right in the middle of the action, and both of the rival gangs want them dead. To complicate matters, Patrick is still trying to come to terms with the ghost of his abusive father, and Angie goes home every night to a husband who has a tendency to leave her with black eyes and bloody lips. Over the course of the novel, Patrick and Angie must find a way to defeat their personal demons while desperately searching for a way out of the death sentence they seem to be facing.

A Drink Before the War is a  well-paced thriller that not only features an excellent and thought-provoking plot, but also interesting and deep characters. It’s no wonder that Lehane has gone on to write more novels featuring Patrick and Angie. They are certainly two of the best protagonists featured in a current mystery series.

Loved it and will continue to read this series.