Cut to the Bone – Alex Caan

image001

One Missing Girl. Two Million Suspects.

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls.

And she’s missing…

But she’s an adult – the police aren’t too worried.

Until the video’s uploaded…

Ruby, in the dirt, pleading for her life.

Enter Detective Inspector Kate Riley; the Met’s rising star and the head of a new team of investigators with the best resources money can buy. Among them, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris, the poster boy for multiracial policing. But can Kate wholly trust him – and more importantly, can she trust herself around him?

As hysteria builds amongst the press and Ruby’s millions of fans, Kate and her team are under pressure to get results, and fast, but as they soon discover, the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much darker than anyone could have imagined.

And the videos keep coming…

Enter the strange and murky world of the vloggers. I’ve got more than a passing familiarity with it, given my daughter’s fascination with YouTube and the parade of celebrity vloggers with millions of followers whose lives we follow. Oh, I admit it, I’m just as much of a fan of YouTube, and as you’ve probably guessed, am rather fond of the world of social media. Happily my experience of it is rather less sinister than Ruby’s…

It’s Ruby’s disappearance takes centre stage in the drama which unfolds and the cast of characters who inhabit her world, but the key (and more interesting) dynamic is that between DI Kate Riley and DS Zain Harris. Both are fascinating in their own ways, and both have their secrets. Riley has moved across the world to start again in the UK, and Harris has his own troubled past.

Cut to the Bone is a dark and atmospheric police procedural with a modern twist. It’s a fast-paced read and a classic page-turner. Just one more page, just one more chapter, where will the fickle finger of suspicion alight next?

You can find Alex on twitter at @alexcaanwriter or at www.alexcaanauthor.com

Many thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy.

Deep Down Dead – Steph Broadribb

Deep down dead - steph broadribb

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

If I have one thing to say about Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead, it’d be this: Go read it.

Featuring a kick-ass heroine, Deep Down Dead is a helter-skelter thrill ride pretty much from the off. Lori is unusual in many ways, but mostly because she’s that rarity in thriller books: she’s *interesting*. So often in thrillers you get these cookie-cutter characters, seen one, seem them all. I’ve never seen anyone quite like Lori though.

It’s a cat and mouse game all the way, when what appears to be a simple job goes south in a spectacular fashion. I love nothing more than a good thriller, and Steph has delivered a *great* thriller, steeped in Americana with settings and characters which feel completely authentic and with a plot which insists that you don’t put it down. I read this on holiday recently and found myself staying up entirely too late to read just one more chapter. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) is out now from Orenda Books. You can find out more on Steph’s website, crimethrillergirl.com

The Mine – Antti Tuomainen

the-mine

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life. A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results.

Well, another corker from Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books – regular readers of this blog will be under no illusions that I am huge and unashamed fan of this publisher. She has a phenomenal eye for a story.

The Mine is no exception. Part crime story, part conspiracy, with a dash of mystery thrown in for good measure. It’s a splendid concoction of beautifully evocative locations and compelling characters. Can Janne get to the bottom of the mysterious goings-on at the Mine before it’s too late?

I really liked the way the story played out with Janne’s investigation contrasting with the killer at work (and some deliciously horrible scenes there!). Definitely a page-turner that’ll keep you up into the wee small hours, though it’s a pretty quick read so not *too* many late nights!

You can check out a Q&A with Antti Tuomainen over at Lucy Hay’s blog. Antti can also be found on Facebook (you can like  his page here) and he’s also on Twitter @antti_tuomainen and Instagram@anttituomainen, or his website at www.anttituomainen.com.

Many thanks, as always, to Karen from Orenda Books for the review copy. Opinions are, of course, my own.

finnish-invasion-blog-tour

Revenger – Alastair Reynolds

Revenger - Alastair Reynolds

The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilisations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.

And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them…

Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It’s their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded with layers of protection – and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.

Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future – a tale of space pirates, buried treasure and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism… and of vengeance…

If I had to sum up Revenger, I’d have to go with something like ‘Firefly meets Iain M. Banks’. I think that’s a fair assessment, and if you’re a fan of either, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Those are easy comparisons though – the swashbuckling pirate adventure of a small ship and crew against a starry backdrop with enough hard SF to appease the most ardent fan. There are hijinks galore, treasure chests hidden in far-flung nooks, daring adventures and more than a touch of the high seas.

Fura Ness makes for a fine and fiery protagonist with a lovely depth to her story, the world-building is absolutely first rate and some of the most fascinating I’ve read in a long time, and the supporting cast of characters is splendid.

There’s a real YA feel to the story, given the age of Fura and her sister, though some of the coming of age angst and rebelling against tyrannical father-knows-best was perhaps the weakest part of the book for me.

Revenger is splendid fun. Easily one of the best sci-fi novels I’ve read for a long time, and I really hope we get to meet Fura Ness again.

Many thanks to Gollancz and Netgalley for the advance copy for review. Opinions, as always, my own

The Two O’Clock Boy – Mark Hill

The Two O'Clock Boy | Mark Hill

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

I really *really* enjoyed this book. Sharp characters, sharper writing, an interestingly different premise, and a suitably twisty plot, and that smug moment where you figure out who the killer is.

Only for Mark to pull the rug out from under you. Sneaky crime writers, you’ve got to love ’em.

The characters are great – the horribly compromised DI Ray Drake stands out as he helps Detective Sergeant Flick Cowley investigate the deaths linked to a children’s home back in the 1980s. The story jumps back between the modern day investigation and the time at the children’s home which becomes increasingly uncomfortable and dark as the plot unfolds.

If you’re a crime thriller fan, definitely one for your list.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts. You can read an extract over at Raven Crime Reads, then catch up with Mark over at Crime Thriller Girl’s blog talking about online secrets, and a Q&A with Liz at Liz Loves Books

You can find Mark Hill on twitter @MarkHillWriter or at his website, markhillauthor.com

Many thanks to Netgalley for the review copy. The Two O’Clock Boy is published by Sphere @LittleBrownUK Ebook: September 22nd 2016. Paperback: April 2017.

Black Night Falling – Rod Reynolds

black-night-falling

‘And now I stood here, on a desolate airfield in the Arkansas wilderness, a stone’s throw from Texarkana. Darkness drawing in on me. Cross country to see a man I never imagined seeing again. On the strength of one desperate telephone call…’

Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.

Black Night Falling is Rod Reynolds’ second novel, picking up just a few months on from The Dark Inside. It’s a dark and deeply atmospheric thriller and Rod evokes the time and place (Arkansas in the 1940’s) of the story beautifully and there’s a wonderfully gritty, noir feel.

I must confess that I’ve yet to read The Dark Inside (though it’s now on my Kindle!) That said, Black Night Falling could easily be read as a standalone.

Our hero Charlie Yates finds himself in Hot Springs, Arkansas following a call from an old friend looking for help. Unfortunately Charlie arrives too late and finds that his friend died in a tragic accident. Or was it? He starts investigating, working with the somewhat cryptic notes he finds from his friend, looking into the deaths of several young women in the town.

Rod certainly knows how to tangle a plot, expertly draping it with red herrings which leave you guessing – who killed the girls? Just how far up does the web go?

I found it hard to believe that this was written by a non-American author, the evocation of place and period is just superb.

Liz (from Liz Loves Books) recently did a Q&A with Rod over on her blog which is well worth a read.

Highly recommended.

And Rod is taking part in the @FaberBooks Crime on Tour events in Lytham St Annes, Manchester, Urmston and Leeds in late September with JM Gulvin and Sarah Ward. I’m definitely going!

faber-crime

Willnot – James Sallis

willnot

Normally I’d post the blurb for the book here. This time, I won’t, for reasons I’ll go into below…

Let me start by saying that Willnot was not the book I was expecting to read. The promo blurb suggests a certain kind of deep southern noir which it turns out not to quite be. Now, that’s not to say that it’s not a good book – it certainly is that.

Sallis introduces us to the town of Willnot and its resident physician, Dr Lamar Hale as a grim discovery is made on the outskirts of the town. However, the book is more concerned with the impact that these bodies have on the inhabitants of the town over the course of the following months.

Willnot is a character-driven piece of literary fiction rather than being a more regular crime procedural, and Sallis is a master at showing character. Lamar and his partner Richard form the backbone to the novel as the events unfurl around them. Their relationship is charming and warm, and they are surrounded by a splendid array of sometimes eccentric characters who just exude authenticity.

At times through the novel I was unsure of where Sallis was taking me. As I said above, I was expecting more of a whodunnit noir, but instead just enjoyed the ride, watching the people go past.

Willnot is a short novel, but a perfectly formed one.

Many thanks to No Exit Press for the review copy. You can find them on twitter @noexitpress