July 13, 20115:00 am
This is your chance to have your say about our books and to be part of the quest to find the next killer read!
Our panel is made up of our initial volunteers, but each month we will be offering two lucky people the chance to be a guest reviewer for the month. We’ll send you a copy of one of our favourite books, you review it and we stick up your opinion for the world to see – what could be simpler than that?
How it works
- Sign up to the newsletter or check out the site for our review title of the month
- If you like the look of it, send an email to email@example.com to let us know that you’d like to be involved
- If you’re picked as one of our 2 lucky guest reviewers, we’ll send you a copy of the book and you will have 6 weeks to read the book, write the review and get it back to us
- Once we’ve collected your reviews they’ll go up online for the world to see!
June 7, 20138:18 am
She closed her eyes and he was gone – who is watching him now?
When Carrie’s five-year old son, Charlie, disappeared on a Norfolk beach, her world was destroyed. Now, three years on, her marriage crushed by grief and the uncertainty around Charlie’s fate, Carrie keeps herself distracted by running a local gift shop. Persuaded by her mother to visit a medium, Carrie is initially sceptical, but is blown away when he appears to reveal something about Charlie’s disappearance; something that nobody could ever have known except herself.
Single mum, Molly, is worried about her young son, Max. Naturally a sensitive child, Max has been having more of his little ‘accidents’ at school and has recently starting talking again to his imaginary friend. Reluctant to tell his teachers, Molly knows that Max’s problems stem from his very real anxieties about his father – a violent and unstable man – who they are now in hiding from.
Carrie is desperate to learn the truth about Charlie’s disappearance and Molly is will do
anything to protect Max from danger. Little do the women know that their worlds are about to converge – and both of them will have to face the thing they fear the most. But will the truth destroy them or will love be their saviour?
This month we’re giving you the chance to review Someone to Watch Over Me. Written by the winner of The People’s Novelist competition, this is an unforgettable debut novel with the emotional power of Rosamund Lupton’s Sister and the nail-biting tension of Before I Go to Sleep. For your chance to review this beautifully written thriller, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 17, 20139:38 am
From the No. 1 bestselling author of The American Boy comes a brilliant new historical thriller set during the American War of Independence.
Manhattan, 1778. A city of secrets, profiteers, loyalists and double agents.
As the last part of America under British rule, New York is home to a swelling tide of refugees seeking justice from the British crown.
Edward Savill is sent from London to investigate the claims of dispossessed loyalists. No sooner does he land than he becomes embroiled in the case of a gentleman murdered in the city’s notorious Canvas Town. An escaped slave hangs for the crime, but Savill is convinced they have executed the wrong man.
Read the rest of this entry »
September 11, 20126:53 am
On a summer’s evening a young woman’s body is discovered aboard an abandoned boat. The likely cause of death is drowning, but her clothes are completely dry.
A man is found hung in his apartment. His death looks like suicide, although there is nothing to climb on to reach the ceiling.
On the surface the deaths seem unconnected but Detective Inspector Joona Linna suspects something more sinister. He discovers that the woman is the sister of Penelope Fernandez, spokesperson for a peace organisation. The hanging man is Carl Palmcrona, General Director of a Swedish Arms committee.
A killer is at large with more targets suspected. Contracts have been broken and blood will be shed. The one certainty is that only Joona Linna can stop…
Crackling with tension and relentless in pace Lars Kepler once again manages to make the feeling of terror creep up inside you as you feel like its you running away from the killer. To let us now what you think of the book and be considered as a reviewer, simply email email@example.com
March 15, 20121:10 pm
Oxford, 1583. A place of learning. And murderous schemes.
England is rife with plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and return the country to the Catholic faith. Defending the realm through his network of agents, the Queen’s spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham works tirelessly to hunt down all traitors.
His latest recruit is Giordano Bruno, a radical thinker fleeing the Inquisition, who is sent undercover to Oxford to expose a Catholic conspiracy. But he has his own secret mission at the University – one that must remain hidden at all costs.
When a series of hideous murders ruptures close-knit college life, Bruno is compelled to investigate. And what he finds makes it brutally clear that the Tudor throne itself is at stake…
A gripping, atmospheric Tudor crime novel with a conspiracy twist – by an author who knows her history as well as how to keep the pages turning. To be considered as a reviewer, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
February 2, 201210:20 am
A body is found in the sweating heat of an Alabama night; headless, words inked on the skin. Detective Carson Ryder is good at this sort of thing – crazies and freaks. To his eyes it is no crime of passion, and when another mutilated victim turns up his suspicions are confirmed. This is not the work of a ‘normal’ murderer, but that of a serial killer, a psychopath.Famous for solving a series of crimes the year before, Carson Ryder has experience with psychopaths. But he had help with that case – strange help, from a past Ryder is trying to forget.
Now he needs it again.
When the truth finally begins to dawn, it shines on an evil so twisted, so dangerous, it could destroy everything that he cares about…
A Sunday Times Top 10 Hardback bestseller, The Hundredth Man is a brilliant page-turner that will keep you hooked from the very first page. To be in with a chance to review it, simply email email@example.com
January 12, 201211:18 am
Christmas holidays are always incredibly busy, so we’ve only had three reviews back so far – but luckily for us, they are absolute crackers! They gave 5 stars for this brilliant psychological thriller from the author of the Dalziel and Pascoe series. Anyway, you can read what they said for yourselves…
Patricia Thompson writes:
This is definitely a five star read and one of the best books I’ve read for a long time.
The Woodcutter in the title is Wolf Hadda who we meet properly on his wedding anniversary when his house is raided and he’s arrested for crimes which he insists he hasn’t committed and has no knowledge of.
Gradually we begin to learn more of Wolf and his past and present and he’s a believable character who had me rooting for him and for his innocence to be proved throughout the book.
This is a book which I read at breakneck speed as I couldn’t wait to find out more and more about Wolf, boy and man.
For anyone who is familiar with Reginald Hill from his Dalziel and Pascoe books, this is a departure from his usual style and not a Yorkshire Moor in the whole book, just some gritty characters who you find yourself warming to as soon as they’re introduced and others you dislike immediately which I think is a sign of some excellent story writing as the reader is totally absorbed into the story and everyone in it.
After I’d turned the last page I was left with a sadness that it had come to an end. A thoroughly enjoyable book which you both want to finish to tie all the loose ends up and a sense of loss that it is all over. I’m sure Wolf will stay in my head for a long time as his character was so believable that you don’t want to say goodbye to him.
Carol Peace writes:
A great standalone book, a definite 5 out of 5.
A great book and a great mystery. The book revelations keep you glued and you just have to read the next page to find out what the conclusion will be.
Jo Barry writes:
With the recent death of Reginald Hill the literary world has lost a writer at the top of his game, however he could not have asked for a finer swansong than The Woodcutter. Five stars.
November 30, 201110:24 am
In September, we gave four readers a chance to review Lucifer’s Tears by James Thompson, a new name on the scandi-crime scene.
So what did our readers think? Read on to find out…
Helen Lowry writes:
This is a novel featuring Inspector Kari Vaara, set in the freezing snow of Finland. A woman’s body is found tortured and brutally murdered, with her lover lying next to her covered in blood. On the face of it, it looks straightforward, but Vaara isn’t convinced he lover is the murderer, if only due to the fact that both parties had been tasered.
The woman’s arrogant husband, Ivan Filippov, shows very little emotion at his wife’s death and becomes a suspect in Vaara’s eyes. The problem being, he is very well connected in the city and proves to be a more than worthy adversary of the detective. As the story moves on, Vaara discovers that Filippov is heavily into S & M and there are links with many of the city’s great and good, and wealthy. Always good for a potential cover-up and lack of discretion. Be warned, the book does have its share of a brutality, not just with the murder, but with equally brutal sex. The descriptions of S & M are fairly graphic and not for the faint hearted or timid.
As if one brutal murder isn’t enough to solve, Vaara’s boss asks him to investigate allegations regarding one of Finland’s war heroes as a possible war criminal. The problem being that the man in question was in the war with Vaara’s beloved grandfather, who might also have played a part in this. At the same time, his heavily pregnant wife’s brother and sister are over from the States. John, her brother, being a problem all of his own. His new detective partner is also a bit on the reckless side, adding to his problems.
Vaara suffers from excruciating migraines, controlled by pills and drink, and he doesn’t know whether this is down to all the stress he is under or something more sinister. His neurologist brother makes him a swift appointment for an MRI scan.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can quite readily state it has that page turning quality. Apart from the main murder plot, there are plenty of sub-stories to keep the reader’s interest, and to wonder if they all tie in as the book draws to a conclusion. Plus, an interesting aside is an all too brief history of Finland, told as part of the narration.
As well as being our featured reviewer this week, as Gareth has written in with such a detailed review of Lucifer’s Tears, we thought that we’d give it its very own blog post!
Name: Gareth Rice
Occupation: University Researcher and freelance writer
Best detective/good guy: John Rebus/Dr. Gill Grissom Favourite place to read: Anywhere really but I prefer cafes that have a quiet hum or, my top floor apartment with a stunning vista of the city.
Anything else you want to tell us? Reading crime fiction has taught me a lot about my own psychology and obsessions…
Review of Lucifer’s Tears
With its cold landscapes a perfect setting for grisly tales of murder, ‘Scandinavin noir’ has been the inescapable genre of recent years. When reviewers search for a ‘Scandinavin noir’ icon they tend to come up with writers, such as Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Ilkka Remes, Matti Joensuu and, more recently, Stieg Larsson. Enter Lucifer’s Tears, James Thompson’s second Inspector Kari Vaara novel which is a full-hearted stab at a sequel with more than an invigorating whiff of its brilliant predecessor, Snow Angels. The purgatorial sounding title comes from the first chapter, in which Vaara reflects on his home: “Finland. The ninth and innermost circle of hell. A frozen lake of blood and guilt formed from Lucifer’s tears, turned to ice by the flapping of his leathery wings.”
We join Vaara in Helsinki where he has moved to from his home in the remote Finnish north because his wife, Kate, was offered an opportunity to advance her career in the most upmarket hotel in the capital. It’s not long before Vaara and his sidekick, Milo, “a nervous puppy…who needs a firm hand to guide him”, are dispatched to investigate a crime scene in the residential district of Töölö. They are faced with what seems like an open and shut case: the nude, dead body of a young woman, Iisa Fillipov, the wife of the Russian businessman Ivan Fillipov. She has been sadistically tortured. Her skin is marked with cigarette burns and she has been whipped viciously with a riding crop, and ultimately asphyxiated. Iisa’s lover, an Estonian man called Rein Saar, woke up beside her in bed covered in her blood. Vaara is reluctant to arrest Saar and be done with it, contra his boss’s, Jyri Ivalo, suggestion. This marks the start of well paced interwoven plot lines that never feels padded out, and make it difficult to gulp back the keenness to read on.
November 9, 20119:34 am
The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
Wolf Hadda’s life has been a fairytale. From humble origins as a Cumbrian woodcutter’s son, he has risen to become a hugely successful entrepreneur, happily married to the girl of his dreams.
A knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison while protesting his innocence, abandoned by friends and family, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later prison psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo makes the breakthrough. Wolf begins to talk and under her guidance gets parole, returning to his rundown family home in rural Cumbria.
October 24, 20118:59 am
Each month we’ll ask one of our Killer Reviewers to give us an insight into their reading habits and who they are! This month, we spoke to Jackie Farrant…
Name: Jackie Farrant
Best detective/good guy: Charlie Parker/ Phillip Marlowe
Favourite place to read: Reads anywhere and it doesn’t matter what you read as long as you’re reading something!
Anything else you want to tell us? Crime fiction lover but ‘cosy’ crime leaves me cold…
This time our reviewers were given the chance to review City of Sins by Daniel Blake. A serial killer thriller set against a backdrop of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, this certainly isn’t your average murder mystery…
Jackie Farrant writes:
Detective Frank Patrese is back in this cracking follow-up to ‘Soul Murder’ which sees him uprooted from his beloved Pittsburgh to join a FBI unit in sultry New Orleans. I can honestly say that this is one of the most multi-faceted serial killer thrillers I have read including (takes a deep breath)….the Asian tsunami, body dismorphia, voodoo, ethnic cleansing, Mayan legends, Hurricane Katrina…oh…and a goodly amount of gory murders. I must admit that I felt the flimsy tsunami opener surplus to requirements and added nothing to the plot. One environmental disaster was plenty and the story would have been none the worse for its exclusion. Blake’s depiction of the seedy underbelly and voodoo heritage of New Orleans was exceptionally well-drawn and equally, the tense build-up to Hurricane Katrina and its horrific aftermath showed a deftness of touch. I will also say that I have not read any crime novel that used the largely un-addressed issue of body dismorphia as a plot device and this was fascinating and worked well within the overall plot-line. On the subject of character this novel more than establishes Frank Patrese as a credible character with just the right degree of toughness, morality and vulnerability and this bodes well for future outings. Overall, although the central plot-line was a little far-fetched, I found this a good read with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep me hooked and I shall certainly pick up the next one…
September 19, 20118:46 am
This time our review panelists were asked to review Roseanna, the first book in the series that is said to have inspired many of the future greats, including Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. If you’ve read the same book and want to comment then please do!
Antony Jones writes:
Originally written in the 1960′s by the Swedish author Maj Sjowall and her partner Per Wahlöö, Roseanna is a defining point in the genre of crime fiction, not only founding the award winning ten book series that feature Martin Beck – all of which have been made into films – but influencing many authors including Stieg Larsson (author of the Girl with the Dragon tattoo), Henning Mankell (author of the Kurt Wallander series) and Jo Nesbo (author of the Harry Hole series).
It all starts with a body, dredged up from the sludge of a lock near Sweden’s Lake Vattern. Naked and unknown, there are no clues to her identity or reasons why she had been killed. Martin Beck is called from Stockholm to assist the authorities in trying to find who she was and the identity or her murderer. One of the defining characteristics of the novel is the dogged realism – the fact that month’s pass before things actually happen on the case and it’s a process of time-consuming legwork that actually moves things along.
During these early chapters time is set aside to learn about the character and personality of Martin Beck – an unhappily married father of one who struggles with health issues and seems to suffer from a certain amount of desensitisation, floating through his life without too many strong feelings about anything. This everyday character – a realistic someone who you could quite easily meet in the street really grounds the novel and creates an incredibly realistic voice. Ironically it’s this sense of normality which really helps to set the novel apart, bringing to life the hunt for the killer – not with lots of high speed car chases and manly chest pounding but with actual police work by normal, yet gifted people. The pace picks up once they get their first real break and the focus moves back to the story at hand and from then on stays fairly well routed to the task of bringing the killer to ground.