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Sunday, 17 December 2017

‘Cold, Cold Heart’ by Christine Poulson

Published by Lion Fiction,
20 October 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-78264-216-9 (PB)

Katie Flanigan was working as a researcher into blood disorders when she first met Patents lawyer Daniel, his wife Rachel and their daughter Chloe who suffers from Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare and serious condition.  Unfortunately, the funding for her research has dried up following her decision to expose a case of scientific malpractice. And although she knows that she did the right thing it appears ‘no one likes a whistle blower’. She has now taken a position with the British Antarctic Survey, and is due to fly out to Rothera.  But an accident at the Edward Wilson base, the most remote of the three British Antarctic research stations, creates the need for an urgent replacement.  And so, Katie finds herself on the last flight to Antarctica before the weather closes in and no one will be able to get in or out for several months.

In an email to Rachel, Katie describes the nine companions she will be incarcerated with for the next few months.  She doesn’t know that one of them is a killer.

Meanwhile, we are privy to the problems manifesting themselves back in the UK. The researcher into a new cancer treatment has gone missing at an important time and Daniel - who is the lawyer working on the patents for the investor - contacts Sara the only other female at the Edward Wilson base, and the person who had worked with Flora, the missing researcher. As they are talking the line goes dead.

As the weather closes in and they lock down the station a body is discovered. The killer can only be one of them.

This was an intensely gripping and atmospheric book.  Despite being curled up by a log fire, warm and cosy, Christine Poulson had me out there in the Antarctic, cold, shivering, frightened – nowhere to run.  The descriptions of what it is actually like out there were to me utterly scary. 

I have read all of Christine’s books and to me she is a master of storytelling and seriously underrated.  If you enjoy a stonking good story that keeps you on the edge of your seat this is for you.  Unmissable.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Christine Poulson writes, I was a respectable academic, lecturing in art history at a Cambridge college before I turned to crime. My first three novels featured literary historian and accidental sleuth, Cassandra James. Something that I didn’t expect when I started writing crime fiction was that other crime writers would be such good fun and so convivial. I’ve made some excellent friends and Martin Edwards is one of them. He knows a huge amount about Golden Age crime fiction – an interest we share.

After the events of Deep Water, scientist Katie Flanagan has gained an undeserved reputation as a trouble-maker. Her
career in research has foundered.
When an accident creates an opening at an Antarctic station she seizes it, flying in on the last plane before winter and the months of darkness close off all escape routes.
However, a killer is at large, seeking revenge for a scientific fraud.
Meanwhile patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont has been asked by a venture capitalist to undertake background research into a company involved in Antarctic research. His investigations threaten to uncover the fraud and expose powerful
Katie faces real danger. Then the power at the research
station fails - and only the killer has the skills to save them …

‘In the Dark’ by Andreas Pflüger

Published by Head of Zeus,
16 November 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-78669091-3 (HB)

Jenny Aaron is a unique police detective, blinded in a disastrously unsuccessful mission five years earlier in Barcelona when she abandoned a badly wounded colleague.  Exceptionally intuitive, an excellent marksman, she has battled meticulously to navigate her sightless world to ensure that the disability doesn’t impair her super efficiency in the secret, elite Berlin unit to which she’s urgently recalled.  Tasked to investigate the senseless and brutal murder of a prison psychologist, old enemies and hostilities re-emerge and old friendships and alliances revive.

It’s a race against time to hunt down a cunning and ruthless serial killer whose prey is Jenny. The reader twists and turns on a rollercoaster of a chase that is never predictable and this is entwined with interesting references to Bushido, the Samurai Code of Conduct, deeply engrained in Jenny and her pursuer, and to the limits of physical endurance.  

The plot is an elegant and detailed jigsaw of construction.  Jenny is a stubborn, likeable heroine and the author himself has stated, without giving too much away, that the book is the first in a trilogy.   Subsidiary characters play their part well and are entirely credible, and the dialogue is intelligent, flowing effortlessly right up to the final, shocking showdown.  This is a truly gripping, action packed and un-putdownable read.

The author, a German screenwriter, wrote in the German language and is served well by a talented translator, Shaun Whiteside, who has undertaken a superb job of rendering this complex novel into English. 

Let Jenny have the last word:
If there is still time in the end
I don’t want to ask myself
why I must die
I want to know
why I have lived.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

Andreas Pfluger is a German screenwriter and author. He has written a number of episodes for the hugely popular German police procedural Tatort.

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Never Let You Go’ by Chevy Stevens

Published by Sphere,
7 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-6918-6 (PB)

Not long ago I saw a post on social media bemoaning the fact that there were too many psychological thrillers featuring abusive and controlling husbands/partners as the main (villainous) protagonist. I have a certain amount of sympathy for that point of view, but, like everything else, the story depends upon how it is written. So, when I set out to read Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens -  with yes, an abusive husband in one of the main roles, I was interested to see how Chevy Stevens handled it. I have read several of her books and was confident she wouldn’t let me down with a run-of-the-mill nasty husband thriller.Reviewer:

The premise was good: Eleven years before Lindsey Nash had fled her home with her young daughter, leaving behind an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband ended up in jail, and Lindsey and Sophie began a new life. Now Lindsey is older and wiser and has left the past behind. Then Andrew is released from prison. Strange things begin to happen. Lindsey’s boyfriend is threatened, her home invaded and her daughter followed. Her ex-husband denies all knowledge of these events, but, thinks Lindsey, it has to be him. Doesn’t it?

The novel is told from two points of view - Lindsey and the now 17-year-old daughter, Sophie. It also jumps backwards and forwards in time, gradually revealing Lindsey’s abusive past. It has an atmospheric and unsettling narrative with many strands: the mother and daughter relationship, marriage, obsession, trust. The characterisation is excellent, and the way Chevy Stevens writes makes you feel as though you are in the thick of the action.

What makes Never Let You Go really stand out, however, is the way Chevy Stevens makes us feel for both the struggling and cynical Lindsey who is trying to keep her daughter safe, and the naive Sophie, who has no real idea what her mother’s marriage had been like. Lindsey knows what her husband is capable of but Sophie needs to understand her father and find some good in him - and it is this conundrum that lies at the heart of the book and elevates it from a domestic thriller to an excellent domestic thriller.

Chevy Stevens did not let me down.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing. Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.
Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter, when she was eight. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, was published by Killer Reads in April 2016.  To read the review click on the title.