The Blame Game by Terri Reynolds

The Blame Game by Terri Reynolds

Best friends they may be, but Molly and Kate are very different individuals. Molly, a spoilt child and then an indulged wife, not only gets whatever she wants, she takes things that don’t belong to her, including other women’s husbands. Kate, fiercely loyal, has, until now, always defended and protected her friend, at the same time offering refuge to Molly’s traumatised son. Against her better judgement, Kate is forced to revisit the deaths of two men; men who had affairs with Molly. Considered tragic and accidental at the time, fresh scrutiny and new revelations trigger a disturbing chain of events that have sickening consequences.

Molly either can’t or won’t mend her ways, and Kate, caught up in her own personal tragedy, is forced to draw a line in the sand. Their friendship is at breaking point; Molly has gone too far this time. All is not as it seems.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

The Blame Game is a rollercoaster of a read, and something I was really able to sink my teeth into. Filled with menace, treachery, lies, deceit and a heaped serving of threat. It was a pacy book with so many twists and turns it had me gripped from cover to cover. The story plays out against a backdrop of adultery, broken marriages, death, grief and obsession. Molly is vilified in the small town in which she lives, having had two affairs, one with a married man. The apparent suicide of the married father of one only compounds her problems. The other man died in a car accident.image1As her marriage broke down, things worsened with verbal and physical violence in front of their young son, Seth. As the years rolled by, Seth became a troubled individual suffering from the trauma of what he has seen and heard over the years. He becomes estranged from both of his parents. Molly, having filed for divorce from her husband James, suffers torment and game playing from him, making the process as painful as possible. The widow of the man she was seeing has turned large parts of the community against her.

Things spiralled as Molly suffers more and more at the hands of the scorned widow and her estranged husband. Though no matter what happens some habits are harder to kick. Her friends, few in number though they may be, seek answers to what is going on and reflecting on the seemingly tragic deaths of her two lovers. Can there be a killer involved? Is Molly responsible? Or the estranged husband? The scorned widow? The traumatised child? Or were these events really just a series of tragic events.

Terri Reynolds presents a cast of credible suspects throughout the book. Any one of them could be the culprit, and I found as the story progressed that I was continually see-sawing from one to the other, never totally sure as to who was the true culprit. Not until, quite literally, the last line of the book. The narrative was fast paced, moving from one element to the next keeping me guessing, and wanting to unravel the next part that might help me uncover the truth. The Blame Game is an impressive read from start to finish.

My rating:
goodread

Red Sun Over Panama by H. Paul Doucette

Red Sun Over Panama by H. Paul Doucette

Just prior to WWII, Japan has made its first move to cripple America’s ability to challenge them in the Pacific Ocean. The Panama Canal. Washington has grave concerns about the safety and security of the Canal and orders the Counterintelligence Police Corps to ensure the Canal remains open and free from sabotage. This has fallen to one agent: Paul Jarvis. He is dispatched to the Canal to work in cooperation with the FBI and the Office of Naval Intelligence. They soon uncover a plot to blow up the Pacific locks. The clock is ticking. In the distance the Red Sun rises above the horizon.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Red Sun Over Panama takes place ahead of the American intervention in World War Two. With tensions growing in the Pacific Ocean and Japan engaging in a policy of saber rattling, protecting the Panama Canal became of vital importance. Paul Jarvis of the CPC is tasked with solving a series of murders of military personnel and how the Japanese contingent in Panama City are connected.
22978375As his investigation unravels he must call upon colleagues in the ONI and FBI to unravel far more sinister plots with the fate of the US military at stake. What started out as a murder case develops into a race against time to uncover a Japanese plot to destroy the locks of the Canal and enact an even greater attack.

Once again, Doucette has put a lot of research in to create a story that feels historically accurate, and draws you in. It flows from beginning to end without ever feeling like it drags or is laboured. The characters feel real, relatable. The events in the book feel entirely believable, irrespective of whether they actually are. It at no point feels like it is another characteristic retelling of the history of the war designed to make it appear that the Americans won the war. If anything, it serves to show that they were far removed from events until Japan pushed into the Pacific region. Red Sun Over Panama gives a well written possible view of events preceding Pearl Harbor. A great read for fans of historic fiction.

 

My rating:
goodread

Lockheed Elite by Tyler Wandschneider

Lockheed Elite by Tyler Wandschneider

Working to pay off a blackmailer who has learned that a certain genius mechanic isn’t as dead as he was made out to be, Anders Lockheed takes his team on their biggest salvage op yet.

Unfortunately, Anders has hired an undercover military operative bent on using them as bait to draw out a mastermind who has been attacking the public with deadly mechs. 

While on the scav op, things go from bad to worse as the crew of Elite One recover an abandoned woman aboard the claim. Now Anders must decide quickly—stay and fight or cut cables and run.

Either way, it’s too late. Someone has other plans for them. The trap has been set, they’ve rescued the woman and taken the bait, and before long Anders and what’s left of his dwindling crew must navigate with caution through the grips of the military and an especially vile outlaw.

But Anders doesn’t captain just another team flying the black. With a genius mechanic who uses his ragtag high-tech machine shop to aid them in getting in and out of trouble, they’ve earned a reputation as the best of the best. With Anders’s careful planning, this motley crew must band together and flip the military to use them on a monster heist and dig themselves out from the heat pressing in from both sides of the law.

Fly with them. They are clever, they are fierce, they are Lockheed Elite.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Science Fiction is a genre I love, but don’t read often enough. Too often sci-fi is over the top, or filled with cliches. From the description of the book I thought it sounded like a good, fun read. It ticked all of the boxes in terms of what I look for in a sci-fi read. And from the very first page to the very last, Lockheed Elite delivered. 35561062._SY475_Anders Lockheed is the best scavenger crew captain around, and his crew is renowned for being the best. He seldom involved himself in anything illegal, and when he did it was never anything massively criminal, more of a grey area. He commands respect wherever he goes. He gives respect back wherever it is warranted. 

His latest job offers him and his crew an opportunity for an incredible score to make a huge cash windfall. The chance to scav a decommissioned Galactic Command vessel. There would be a whole swarm of other scav crews looking to snatch a piece of the pie, but for Anders Lockheed and the crew of the Elite One this was a simple enough job. But nothing goes right for the crew from that point onwards.

Lockheed Elite offers a well-constructed sci-fi adventure. It has comedic moments that lighten the story without detracting from it. The locations are brilliantly described. The characters are well put together, relatable. This was a great read that I couldn’t put down, so much so that I found myself wanting another book to carry on the stories of Anders and his crew. This has ended up being one of the best books I’ve had the chance to read in a long time.

My rating:
goodread

Face Your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson

Face Your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson

Jennifer’s young life has never been better. She has it all: family, friends and fun. That is until her terminally ill cousin comes to live with them setting in motion a horrific turn of events unlike anyone in the town of Cleveland has ever seen.

 


Oh yeah…and did she mention her best friend’s sister has a massive crush on her?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Face Your Demons offered up a short horror story that really piqued my interest. As an avid reader of Stephen King, my love of the horror genre is huge. Face Your Demons follows 12 year old Jennifer and her best friend Ron, his twin sister Angie and Jennifer’s younger brother Tom. Jennifer is sure something is off about the back room of her house where her cousin passed away. She had seen things in there through the window that couldn’t be explained.
NinaHobsonTaintedBloodFYDebookcoverA mysterious man comes into their lives, clearly otherworldly and demonic, tormenting and terrifying the children. A spate of grisly child murders in town add to the horrors experienced by such young protagonists.

Sadly the story did not take off for me. More than once, Angie’s crush on Jennifer is referenced but in no way serves the story. In one case it rears its head in the immediate aftermath of a life changing, grisly terror which felt off. It left me feeling that the emotions of the children were fleeting and inconsequential. The ending felt unresolved for me – nothing was answered by the end really, certainly not in a satisfying manner. And to cap it off for me, the use of a demonic language seemed unnecessary – each word or phrase having to be translated in brackets before being slipped in amongst English speech as if it were the most normal prose. 

Perhaps it is just my perception, tainted by expectations. I have grown accustomed to my horror novels being layered with descriptive narrative, atmosphere and imagery, that such a short novel felt almost rushed and distinctly lacking. It may well appeal to certain readers, but did little to sate my love of horror.

My rating:
notforme

All The Dead Stars by A.K. Alliss

All The Dead Stars by A.K. Alliss

In the occupied province of De’Zhun, Ae-Tor, once a member of the sorcerous Tapestry, has betrayed his brethren to save his own life. Seeking redemption, he sets forth on a dangerous mission to recover an alien weapon which could overthrow the invaders.

The thief, Mischa the Sullen, is in trouble. Having stolen a mysterious artifact, she finds herself trapped within a ruin of alien origin. Imprisoned by the forces within, she seeks escape and freedom.

Echo, a genetically engineered assassin, awakens from an 800 year long hibernation aboard the crashed starship, Mistress of Infinity. Stranded far from home, she must learn the rules that govern the strange land she has found herself in if she hopes to survive.

P’Sult is a Republic spy with a tragic past. Learning of a potential threat to his government, he begins an investigation which may lead to his demise.

All The Dead Stars is an epic Grimdark Fantasy /Sci-fi that combines conspiracy and gritty adventure.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

It’s time for the first book review of 2020. All The Dead Stars is a fantasy with sci-fi elements. It comes from cyberpunk author A.K. Alliss, writer of the futuristic Ouroboros Cycle series of books. This marks his first forray into fantasy. We follow a cast of diverse characters including Ae-Tor and P’Sult, thief Mischa, the curious Echo and an equally intriguing supporting cast.
49413398._SY475_With the nefarious Perditionist Republic pushing to expand their borders across the land our four protagonists embark on their own journeys. Ae-Tor seeks to save his own skin after double crossing so many people for his own gain. Mischa seeks her freedom having stolen an artifact of unknown origins that binds itself to her. Echo, having spent 800 years dormant in a futuristic space craft, her only directive to be an assassin, struggles to come to terms with her knew life as she seeks to understand how this strange, dangerous new world works. P’Sult is fleeing his past tragedies, knowing the journey he takes could be his last.

The lead characters are well constructed, while the settings are vibrant. While all four are on very different journeys, I enjoyed the way they intersect, everyone heading to the same location each for very different reasons. While there’s definitely a sci-fi feel to things, All The Dead Stars makes for a great first dip into fantasy. This first book sets things up nicely for the series to come.

My rating:
goodread

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon

 In ‘A Maigret Christmas’, the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Coming into December this seemed a fantastic, short read to enter the festive season. When two women from the apartment building across the road knock upon the legendary Inspector’s door, his Christmas Day will be anything but festive and jolly.35074088What starts out as a mystery of an unexplained figure dressed as Father Christmas in a girl’s room in the depths of night searching for something beneath the floorboards. This puzzling event caught the Inspector’s attention from the outset.

Barely leaving his apartment, Inspector Maigret sets an investigation in motion. He dispatches officers to unravel the loose threads of this curious case that ends in murder, mystery and intrigue.

While most versions of this book appear to be a collection with other Maigret stories, the version I read was just the one story. Short though it was, I loved it. It moved along well, and I loved the way the strands of the mystery unravelled to an intriguing conclusion. I would definitely read further Maigret stories.

My rating:
goodread

Andorra Pett and her Sister by Richard Dee

Andorra Pett and her Sister by Richard Dee

“When a sister hates you, that really is the end of the world.”

Andorra Pett is back for another adventure, and this time it’s personal!

Trouble seems to follow Andorra Pett, wherever she is in the Solar System.

Andorra Pett hasn’t seen her sister for a while, they never really got on; there was a falling out and they drifted apart.
Out of the blue, Andorra gets a call while on a business trip to London. As if she hasn’t got enough to deal with, it turns out that her sister’s in trouble, big trouble.
There are allegations of drug-smuggling and money laundering, it’s so unlike the staid, respectable life that she remembers her sister leading.
How can she be involved in things like that? And why isn’t her husband, Simon, sorting it all out for her? Could he be part of the problem?
The police have decided that she’s guilty, Andorra is her only hope of avoiding prison. Against her better judgement and without her friend Cy to help her; Andorra starts to investigate.
All she has to do is work out what’s really going on.

At the end of the day; family comes first.

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading.

Andorra Pett – space station café owner, scooper pilot and sometimes super sleuth – returns for another adventure. Andorra finds herself on Earth to sort out her ex, Trevor’s affairs following his grisly murder at the hands of a mobster on Mars.
48281875._SY475_Intending this to only be a brief stay to finalise affairs before returning to the space station orbiting Saturn and the comfort of partner Derek. Unfortunately, as ever, trouble manages to find her in the form of her estranged sister Tia. When she is arrested for smuggling through importers and money laundering she calls the only person she can for help – younger sister Andorra.

Suspecting from the start that something is amiss, not least Tia lacking the sense to pull off such a crime, Andorra cannot help but be drawn in to solve the mystery and see that justice is served. Smugglers, corrupt police and a chance run in with Clive – an old face from her first ever mystery – make for high jinks aplenty. He is found running what he claims to be an official Oort Cloud Café tribute bar complete with sleazy Andorra lookalike waitresses and slanderous tales of fictitious romances assuming Andorra will never hear of it way back in space.

Once again Richard Dee has delivered a wonderfully funny murder mystery with a cast of characters new and old to entertain readers. The mystery becomes farcical as it twists and turns to a conclusion. Andorra sees herself in her share of trouble and tight spots all in the pursuit of clearing Tia’s name. This third instalment of the Andorra Pett series is a wonderful addition and only  makes me long for book four in 2020 that much more.

My rating:
goodread

Zombie World by Michael R. Martin

Zombie World by Michael R. Martin

Imagine a video game that let you participate in a post-apocalyptic battleground as if you were really there. An experience so brutally realistic a health check is strongly advised beforehand. Welcome to the future of gaming. Welcome to Zombie World …

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Zombie World is a fun short story based around Virtual Reality and how it may be used in a none to distant version of the world. Zombie World is a fully immersive video game using virtual reality. The game allows players to explore a zombie hunting game overlaid upon the real world.Zombie_World_KDP_Cover_01A stag party group travel to Scotland for a weekend of the most intense and realistic virtual reality game as something new and interesting to try. As a video gamer myself, who has tried VR I enjoyed the concept behind this story. It was a fun, quick read.

The story contained unusual, Matrix-like elements to it when unexplained events occurred involving a few of the players. These could be chalked up to nothing more than software bug. Until similar events seem to occur at other Zombie World locations around the country. All in all, a fun, short story.

My rating:
goodread

The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker

The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker

Hear No Evil

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten; a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth concealed for decades.

See No Evil

Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer—discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina—clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos—a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious 4MK serial murders turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation, but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

This review is a bittersweet one for me. In writing it, it means I have just read the final part in possibly the best crime thriller trilogy I’ve had the pleasure of reading. On the other hand it also means the end of the road for me with what has been an utterly gripping journey. The first two books piled mystery upon mystery, and were filled with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster.
46433688._SY475_Well I can confirm The Sixth Wicked Child is the twistiest, turniest book in this wonderful, dark trilogy. This book follows form with its predecessors – hopping around to tell the story in real time from the perspective of the various characters. The diaries make a reappearance chronicling the childhood of Anson Bishop. This time around we learn more about the past of Detective Sam Porter, a troubling past that may have serious implications for his freedom.

The situation for Porter deepens further with this third book, revealing some truly troubling events. But how much of this is true and how much is constructed by the evil mind of Anson Bishop? The murders continue to stack up but the perpetrator becomes even less distinct – spread out across state lines, staged in a way not entirely consistent with 4MK, and more evidence seems to point to someone else being the culprit all along.

Just when you think you are getting a handle on where the story is going, who the guilty party is Barker manages to keep the mysteries flowing. Right until the end the truth is cleverly shielded from view and even the finale leaves things in some degree of question. What an incredible read this book was, and what an incredible ride the whole series has been. It’s not often I wax lyrical about a book or a series of books, but the 4MK trilogy has been a joy to binge back to back, and it truly sated the darker corners of my mind.

My rating:
goodread

The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker

The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

I have to say, I thought the bar was already set high in The Fourth Monkey. The follow up, The Fifth to Die takes the bar and lifts it even further. I loved the first book so much I had to read this book immediately after. For context, I think the last book series I really felt a need to binge one after the other was The Dark Tower by Stephen King, a firm favourite in my book. With the fiasco that became of the Four Monkeys Killer case, the FBI swoop in to take over this case as a seemingly new killer hits the streets of Chicago.35682475._SY475_The team work hard, trying to figure out who is responsible, what are their motives. And the biggest questions of all, is 4MK involved this time around and what connects the victims together? All the while Detective Porter is plagued by what Anson Bishop achieved and how he had fooled them so easily. Once again Barker has crafted a book with intensity and pace, a breathless roller coaster that left me constantly saying to myself “just another few pages, just another chapter…”. It was all I could do to stop reading long enough to go to work.

The crimes perpetrated are dastardly and dark, the perpetrator troubled and deranged. While the rest of his team close the net around the unsub, Porter’s ever deepening obsession to ensnare Bishop sees him travel between Chicago, New Orleans and South Carolina. From Bishop’s childhood home, to the scene of his earliest crimes, and on to a prison in New Orleans, Barker manages to really paint a picture of him as a dark and tormented figure. Once again, diaries are used to illustrate Bishop’s early life, a wonderful device that helps break up the breakneck pace of the action.

If the murders depicted in the first book were despicable and dark, the crimes put forward on this second outing take things to a whole new level. The concept that the crimes are being used to punish others for perceived transgressions continues as a theme, as does the charming menace from the protagonists. Barker has developed links and threads between his characters that neatly tie things together that make for an engaging narrative filled once again with more questions than answers. A fantastic follow up to The Fourth Monkey, The Fifth to Die ups the ante and I am so happy I have the third book in the trilogy on-hand to immediately start on.

My rating:
goodread