Escape from the ER
4.5 Stars
The Weight of Shadows (Shadow Series) (Volume 1) - Karl Holton

4.5 stars rounded up


“The weight of shadows can be devastating. I’ve been collecting them since I was a young man….”


Three years ago Danny Benedict was the resident genius with homicide at the Met. In a chilling prologue we learn why he carries physical & emotional scars from what turned out to be his last case. Now he’s an investigator with NCA Organized Crime Command & the team has its hands full trying to track down mobsters with foreign ties.


DI Wallace is a whip-smart detective with the Flying Squad. Her team is sent to the scene of a major jewelry heist & it’s not long before she realizes things just don’t add up. But even she couldn’t have guessed where the investigation will lead.


Ray Hanson is a billionaire with a decidedly shady past. He left London years ago but personal reasons have brought him home. Besides, he has some scores to settle. First he needs to assemble a team & he has specific people in mind to execute his plans.


These are the 3 MC’s & initially we follow them in alternating chapters as their story lines take shape. By circumstance & design, they eventually cross paths in this fast paced, intricate & intelligent thriller. They’re compelling but very different characters which makes for entertaining interactions & great dialogue.


But it’s Benedict that really shines. He’s usually the quietest character in the scene but you get the feeling he was born with a few more grey cells than the rest of us. When he does speak, his lack of social skills frequently (if unintentionally) has darkly funny results. This is a man who can piss off an entire room with a single sentence & I thought he was a hoot.


There is a large cast of peripheral characters including government agents, mobsters & cops. Of note are DCI Evans, an old nemesis of Benedict’s & asshat of the highest order. And then there’s the Doctor, a man with all the charm of a Komodo dragon. Let’s not go there.


All these elements combine to produce an entertaining read that keeps you turning the pages. And that ending. I don’t know who’s more gobsmacked…Benedict or the reader. There’s a big question mark left hanging after it’s all done & dusted that guarantees I’ll be moving book #2 up on my reading list.




2.5 Stars
Three Weeks Dead: A DC Sally Poynter Novella (DI Hannah Robbins Prequel Novella) - Rebeca Bradley

This year I've been diligently tackling my TBR pile in an effort to clean up my kindle. The first two were great, leading to my picking up more books by these authors which....I know, I know....kind of defeats the purpose.


No worries here. Despite an interesting blurb this was a ho-hum shortie with a female MC who commits the ultimate crime. She's boring. The silver lining is it's the beginning of a series I've been eying for while & now I know it's just not for me. 


On to the next contestant....




3 Stars
Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 1) - LJ Ross

The one New Year's resolution I made was to seriously tackle my TBR pile, especially my groaning kindle. The plan is to post mini reviews for older books that already have a ton of feedback on sites such as Goodreads, unless it really catches my fancy & I feel the need to gush. 


Sadly, no gushing will be occurring here. The good: beautiful, mystical & atmospheric setting of Holy Island. It's the kind of place you want to immediately add to your travel bucket list. I enjoyed some of the peripheral characters & the main plot is suitably creepy with an excellent little twist at the end.


The bad: I'm kind of a crime/police procedural kind of gal & I'd categorize this as more romantic suspense. Which is too bad because the insta-love between the 2 MC's is completely unnecessary to the plot. For me, their relationship would have been much more interesting as just colleagues bouncing ideas off each other on their way to nabbing the icky bad guy. I desperately wanted to know who was behind it all but felt like I needed a machete to cut through all the smouldering glances & lingering looks that kept getting in the way. 


Still, I'm glad I read it. It's the first of a series & I now know it's just not for me. And my kindle just got a little lighter.





3 Stars
Now We Are Dead - Stuart MacBride

Oh man…this is a tough one. First let me say I’m a huge fan of this author. HUGE. When I see a new book of his on the horizon, I break out the happy dance. And immediately begin plotting how to make it mine.


I’ve read all the Logan McRae & Ash Henderson books & although this one is tagged as belonging to the former, it heads off in a new direction starring DS Roberta Steel, Logan’s sometime partner & author of his nightmares. She was his boss, then peer but after events of the last book, she’s been busted down to DS & tasked with chasing down pickpockets & wandering pensioners. So it comes as no surprise that Roberta is not happy. And if Roberta’s not happy, no one in Aberdeen is safe.


Except Jack Wallace. He’s the reason she was demoted & ok, maybe she did “find” some evidence in an effort to put him away for the rape/assault of local women. But now he’s free & proclaiming to anyone who’ll listen that he plans to sue Police Scotland. So Roberta is duly warned: do not approach, speak to or even look at Jack Wallace. Apparently she’s supposed to let him live his scumbag, dickhead, perverted, weaselly life unhindered.


Fine. There are other men to use for target practice such as Logan (who she’s not speaking to) & DC “Tufty” Quirrel, her shiny new partner. But then a woman is violently assaulted…..and another. Roberta knows Wallace is responsible but she’s on a short leash where he’s concerned & another screw-up won’t mean further demotion. She’ll lose her career.


So here’s the deal. Like other books this one has the multiple cases & eccentric characters that make the stories so entertaining. Full points for providing a bad guy we desperately want to see get what he karmically deserves. And bonus points for turning a farmer’s demonstration into a literal shit-show.


What I discovered was that, while I’ve enjoyed Roberta in a supporting role, she’s a bit much for me as the MC. She’s an original, you have to give her that. But shadowing her raunchy, potty mouthed, perpetually itchy character 24/7 soon lost its appeal. For me, she’s like cilantro…a little goes a long way.


Also, while there are multiple story lines that unfold & wrap up, the emphasis is on putting Roberta & Tufty in situations that become slapstick routines. Bumping heads, tripping, falling, knocking things over, being sprayed with multiple substances…some of it is genuinely funny but the sheer number of incidents causes the book to quickly devolve into the realm of farce with the Roberta & Tufty Show. Which is ok if you’re a fan of bathroom humour & the Three Stooges. Also, her habit of greeting every woman she meets with comments full of sexual innuendo would surely land her on the #metoo list & makes for uncomfortable reading at times. 


It all depends on where you keep your funny bone. Having said all that, I give full props to her & wife Susan for the final scenes. High five, girl. (em…note to any male readers: you may want to down a few beverages before you hit this part. Just sayin’.)


So there you have it. Just one person’s opinion & as always, it’s a matter of personal preference. I’ll continue to wait impatiently for the next book featuring Logan or Ash. As for Roberta, I think it’s best we maintain a long distance relationship.




5 Stars
London Rules (Slough House) - Mick Herron

In the murky world of the British secret service, there’s a tacit understanding that everyone plays by London Rules. These aren’t the ones neatly compiled in official binders. No, these are the unwritten rules, the real ones.  #1: Cover your arse.


And when it comes to MI5, it doesn’t matter whether you work at Regent’s Park or Slough House. The former is where all the cool kids get to be spies. The latter is home to agents who’ve screwed up royally but can’t legally (or at least, quietly) be killed.


As the book opens, Regent’s is on high alert. A group of armed men drove into the centre of a village in Derbyshire & opened fire. People died, the men vanished & Islamic State claimed responsibility.


News of the attack doesn’t exactly brighten the current mood In the UK. The public is still bitterly divided over Brexit, right wing politicians are pushing their xenophobic agenda & previous attacks have left everyone a tad jumpy. MI5 desperately needs a win but before they literally have a clue, a second attack takes more lives. Regent’s Park #2 Diana Taverner is running on fumes & the last thing she needs is to deal with Slough House’s resident fossil, Jackson Lamb.


Lamb’s not sure if he has a problem or not. It seems someone may have tried to run over Roddy Ho. “The Rodman” (as he thinks of himself) is Slough House’s IT guy. He has 2 gifts. The first is his way with computers. The second is an unshakeable belief he’s a chick magnet with basic social skills. Lamb’s at a loss. Why would a stranger want to kill Ho? He’d understand if it was someone who knew him. Everyone at Slough House has thought of killing The Rodman, pretty much on a daily basis. Colleague Shirley Dander was the one who saved him & she’s already apologized.


From these 2 threads the story goes haring off in multiple directions before doubling back to give you the big picture. There are several new characters added to the returning cast of (ir)regulars & as usual, not everyone will survive. A couple of things make this outing a little different than the others. We get more one-on-one time with each of the Slow Horses as they reflect on personal problems & the remnants of their career. These more serious moments add layers that make us sympathize with their situations. Well…except Ho. But you do have to admire his refusal to let reality dent his delusions. Herron also shines a light on current issues such as government bureaucracy, the rise of overt racism & how easily the media can influence & manipulate public opinion.


I don’t have a great track record when it comes to slowly savouring Herron’s books & once again I failed. It was just too damn good to put down. It’s well paced & full of colourful characters. Many come across as thinly veiled stand-ins for some of the country’s well known figures & you get the sense it’s Herron’s chance to take satirical jabs at some of the ridiculous behaviour of late. The dialogue is clever & frequently laugh out loud funny. Each of the characters has a personal tic that helps bring them to life or in the case of Lamb, a whole herd of them. They alone ensure this is an entertaining read. What elevates the book is smart, intricate plotting that will have you scratching your noggin as you try to figure out how the story lines tie together.


This is book #5 of what has become my favourite series (Heron also has a number of stand-alones). I adore black humour & for my book dollars, you can’t beat smart & funny. So…you may have caught that I’m a fan but this is just me babbling. If you’re interested, pick up “Slow Horses” & see if it suits.


Before I go, I’d like to apply what I learned here & add 2 new rules to the playbook: Never turn your back on a can of paint. Avoid penguins.




My semi-festive attempt at 2017 Top Reads (so far...)


Mostly mystery, crime & suspense so if that's not your cup of tea, here's a cat attacking a tree.





4 Stars
The Force: A Novel - Don Winslow
I’m late to the party with this one & there are already a ton of reviews to help you decide whether or not to add it to your TBR pile. I doubt I have anything new to add so I’ll just toss out a few thoughts.

First of all, this came with an incredible amount of buzz…always dangerous. But I picked it up after hearing it compared to Ken Bruen, an author I’ve long admired.

I’ll be honest…by the time I reached about 150 pages it was firmly in 3 star territory. Denny Malone is the MC & we spend a massive amount of time in his head. Every character & location is seen through his personal lens & it’s a somewhat distorted view. As he tours his “kingdom” we get a full history lesson on every colleague, criminal, building & intersection that comes to mind as he reminisces about his impressive career. I confess I found this part a tough slog as it’s all Denny all the time & I can’t say I particularly enjoyed his company.

The story picked up at about the 200 page mark as the plot finally kicked in & things got interesting. Other characters began to get more air time & they’re a compelling crew from all walks. Very few of them come off well & Machiavelli himself wouldn’t stand a chance. The level of corruption on all sides is breathtaking & there’s no question of it ending well, just who will be left standing. 

Winslow’s knowledge of the history of New York’s crime, cops, politicians & scandals is encyclopedic. I can’t begin to imagine the hours of research & the whole thing reads like a dark, violent love letter to the city.

Perhaps that is where the comparisons to Bruen came from. His books are also bleak, gritty cop tales. But that’s where any similarity ends. His MC Jack Taylor is far from angelic but is honest with himself about who he is, unlike Malone who shies away from examining himself (and his motives) too closely. Instead he convinces himself he’s a man of the people & doing everything for the sake of the city he loves. Make no mistake…Denny is all about Denny. Taylor’s philosophical musings are full of self deprecating black humour & combined with Bruen’s elegiac prose, the result is a character you become invested in. For me, that makes all the difference. So while I can stand back & admire this book as a whole, ultimately I just couldn’t muster enough interest in Denny’s fate & it was other characters that kept me reading.

Renewed pace & intricate plotting in the second half bumped it up to 4 stars. But as usual, it’s all about personal taste & there are many glowing reviews on here that may give you a better idea of what to expect.
4.5 Stars
The Vanishing Season: A Mystery - Joanna Schaffhausen

For the past 3 years, Ellery Hathaway has received the same card on her birthday. From a relative? Perhaps a friend. Uh, no. The cards may be unsigned but she knows exactly what their arrival means.


Ellie is a cop in the rural town of Woodbury. It’s a sleepy place where crimes range from petty to domestic. The cop shop is small & the only outstanding mysteries are 3 missing persons. One each July when Ellie turns another year older. She’s desperate to reopen the cases but until she comes up with some new info, her boss doesn’t want to hear it. As far as he’s concerned there’s nothing to connect the 3 & he’s satisfied with what they found.


But Ellie has more insight than most & with good reason. Turns out she has a secret & it’s a whopper. When she was 14, she became famous as the final victim of a prolific & sadistic kidnapper. She only survived because of a brilliant FBI agent named Reed Markham. But survival can take many forms. The time she spent with a mad man & ensuing media crush left Ellie with obvious & hidden scars. In an effort to escape her past, she changed her name & broke all ties. No one in Woodbury knows who she is or at least that’s what she thought. As another July approaches, Ellie fears someone else will disappear & there’s only one person who can help. Because she just got another card.


Got your attention? I hope so because this taut, atmospheric read deserves a space on your TBR pile. It succeeds on several levels but I’ll just speak to a few. First, the setting. A small town is the perfect backdrop for setting the tone. Everyone knows everyone…or thinks they do. There is a closed culture that desperately wants to believe in “stranger danger” because horrific crimes couldn’t possibly be committed by someone they know, right? The sense of security borne of familiar faces & routines can be the first casualty when a killer strikes. But that familiarity also means that someone must know something.


Then we have the 2 MC’s. Their personalities are very different but both are dealing with fallout from the case that brought them together all those years ago. There’s a plethora of crime protagonists out there that come saddled with PTSD/tortured/hidden pasts & how much I enjoy their story often depends on how they’re portrayed. When it comes to Ellie, this author struck a perfect balance (IMHO). Her public persona is cool & collected, designed to discourage anyone from getting too close. But we are privy to private moments where her thoughts & habits reveal how she copes with the permanent psychological damage from her ordeal. Especially effective are the descriptions of her home which provide a telling mirror reflection of its owner. Reed is also well developed, a likeable flawed man whose career peaked when he rescued teenage Ellie. A subsequent screw-up erased his status as golden boy of the FBI’s Behavioural Unit. When Ellie calls it’s a chance to revisit his greatest success & perhaps find a little personal redemption in the process.


There’s a subtle underlying unease that gradually builds as we, like Ellie & Reed, wait for the killer to make their next move. Questionable behaviour from several characters means you may change your mind more than once as you try to identify the bad guy. And just so you know, details from Ellie’s past are sparing & kept to a minimum. The author chose to reveal a few choice tidbits instead of full on graphic descriptions which allows your imagination to run amok & fill in the blanks.


It all adds up to deliver a creepy, satisfying read & I sincerely hope a book #2 is in the works.



4 Stars
The Trouble with Twelfth Grave - Darynda Jones

My favourite Grim Reaper is finally back. On the surface, Charley Davidson may look like your average boot-wearing, taco-scarfing, coffee-swilling PI. But that’s her day job. To souls of the dead, she’s a bright light who provides safe passage to the other side. Oh, and turns out she’s a God. You know, like one of those really ancient, powerful beings but with better hair.


There’s never any shortage of weird & wacky cases for her & partner Cookie to solve. But right now Charlie has a more pressing problem. At the end of the last book, she sort of sent her husband to Hell. Literally. Reyes is also a God & it was supposed to be a quick business trip. Just pop down there, clear up a few things & get home in time for dinner. The good news is he’s back. The bad news? While the entity that returned may look like Reyes, lets just say he’s in a really bad mood & Charley’s pretty sure it’s not down to jet lag.


Meanwhile her Uncle Bob has a few weird cases of his own. He’s a detective with the Albuquerque P.D. & the discovery of some oddly burned bodies has him scratching his head. No human could be responsible for the injuries & it’s not long before all eyes turn to Reyes 2.0.


Charley is heartbroken but to tell the truth, she barely recognizes the man she’s loved for eons. He’s always been the dark side to her light but now she has to wonder if there’s anything left of the old Reyes. If not, he’ll have to be taken out & the only one powerful enough to do it is Charley.


That’s the story line in a tiny nutshell. As with the other books, there are multiple subplots & part of the fun is trying to figure out which are related. The regular gang is back & resigned to the fact that sooner or later Charley will drag them into battle against some scary critter intent on wreaking havoc. Dialogue is sharp & frequently hilarious to distract you from the possibility we humans are about to become snack food. Each chapter opens with a “Charleyism”, random snippets of words to live by that always make me smile (I want a throw pillow stitched with: “I never said I’d die without coffee. I said others would.”)


I don’t read a lot of paranormal/urban fantasy but this is one of 3 series that are exceptions to the rule. First, because I’m a fan of writing that is smart. Second, because this author has created an incredible world. The back stories of the characters & how it all works is so intricate & well thought out. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend this as a stand alone.


It’s a mad dash of a story full of colourful characters, action & reveals that further the overall arc of the series.  But that ending…..seriously?!  Guarantees I’ll be in line for #13.




5 Stars
The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

Thirty years ago, five misfits banded together while growing up in the small town of Anderbury. Eddie, Mickey, Hoppo, Gav, & Nicky weren’t cool or popular. And sometimes they didn’t even like each other all that much. They shared adventures, pranks & secrets. They even had their own way of communicating by leaving chalk stick figures for each other on pavement & fence posts.


Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint when it all began. Maybe it was the summer of 1986. That was when new teacher Mr. Halloran came to town. And when Eddie, Mickey, Hoppo & Gav found the body.


In the present, Ed is a bachelor still living in the same house. His days are spent teaching at the local school & occasionally meeting Hoppo & Gav for a pint. He’s a quiet, solitary man who rarely thinks about that summer. But someone wants to jog his memory. Ed receives a letter with only the drawing of a stickman in a noose & a piece of chalk. Then Mickey suddenly reappears on his doorstep after a long absence. And he’s got a proposition. Somehow you know this won’t end well.


Not another peep about the plot. It’s layered with so many twists that it’s better you go in blind to get the biggest bang for your buck. All you need to know is this is a fabulous read. The past & the present are told in alternate time lines. As we follow Ed the adult, we slowly learn what happened to those kids 30 years ago. And it’s quite a tale.


Chapters set in the past will feel familiar to anyone who grew up in a small town. There’s a clannish culture where everyone knows your business & outsiders are viewed with suspicion. We get to peek over their shoulders as the kids struggle to fit in & deal with family problems while something sinister stalks them from the shadows. Each character has such a distinct personality that they pop off the page fully formed as you meet.


There’s a definite Stephen King vibe to the story & it reminded me of the movie “Stand By Me” which was based on on his novella “The Body”. But the creepiness is balanced by humour, heartbreak & poignant moments that resonate as they remind you what it was like to be 12. With the possible exception of finding a body…you probably missed out on that.


After the chalk man arrives, Ed is forced to remember what it was like to be Eddie. As he sifts through events from that pivotal summer, he reexamines his own actions & how they affected the terrible crimes. Looking back with adult eyes, he sees things he couldn’t understand as a child. And he realizes he is surrounded by people who have kept their own secrets for decades.


This is a spooky, addictive read that forces me to trot out that tired old phrase….I couldn’t put it down. It’s a gripping mix of chilling suspense & coming-of-age.  And it’s not just great story telling. Once finished, I found myself thinking about memories & how they can be coloured by a specific place & time. Why I can remember a throw-away moment so clearly while something others would deem significant is a blur.  It’s a running theme on several levels from beginning to end where the author takes one final jab at your heart on the very last page.


I’m now officially freaked out by stick men. And…sorry kids…henceforth, all chalk is banished. So speaketh the boss.



4 Stars
The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers - Stuart Neville, Mick Herron, Helene Tursten, Peter Lovesey, Cara Black

I love anthologies like this. When your schedule is crazy & you find it difficult to make any progress on a full-meal book, these provide the perfect snack. Here we have 18 stories with an interesting theme. All are set around the Xmas season. But that’s about all they have in common as the authors took the brief & ran with it.


Some are funny, some are gritty. Settings include different centuries & locales such as Seoul, Bangkok, Ireland, America & Cuba. And genres run the gamut from psychological to full on action. There are even a few names you’ll recognize such as Jane Austen & Sherlock Holmes.


Like most collections some are great, most are good & a couple are meh. But what falls into those categories will vary from reader to reader. My favourites were those by Helene Tursten (do NOT mess with a Swedish granny), Teresa Dovalpage (great characters, set in Cuba), Tod Goldberg (poignant tale of a lonely sheriff’s final days on the job) & Martin Limón (American military police in 1970’s Korea). Two of these authors I’d never read before & therein lies the gift. It’s great chance to try out new (to you) authors & editor Peter Lovesey has included each writer’s back list at the end so you can easily select something meatier by whoever catches your fancy.


It’s a great book to take on your daily commute or leave on the bedside table. Just keep it handy for those times when you have a few minutes to escape to another time or country.



5 Stars
Ultimatum - Anders de la Motte

As a new year begins, the Stockholm police force is reeling after a shootout between cops & several rival gangs in Skarpö, a forested area east of the city. It ended with 9 dead including 2 of their own. Among the injured was DI David Sarac, a legend within the Intelligence Unit. In the days that followed, the incident was quickly hushed up & David disappeared.


In a high security hospital far from the city, David’s only goal is accumulating a big enough stash of sleeping pills to put a permanent end to his nightmares. His broken body may be healing but the PTSD has done a number on his head. Then someone slips him a letter. It’s short & to the point: my secret for yours.


David relives Skarpö every night. He feels responsible for what happened but he also knows that one of his colleagues stitched him up. The letter writer claims to know who & will reveal the name if David answers one question. It’s a chance for revenge he can’t pass up & with pills in hand, he escapes from the hospital.


A couple of months later, DI Julia Gabrielsson is attending one of the most gruesome autopsies of her career. The body was dismembered & under water for weeks before being found. Identifying the victim is just one of her problems. The other is babysitting her new partner Omar Amante, a civilian investigator foisted on her by her waste-of-a-uniform boss. He’s a man of few words & no one seems to know how he ended up assigned to the Violent Crimes Unit. Lab tests on the body provide just 1 result but it’s a whopper. DNA matches a sample taken from Skarpö.


That’s it for the story outline, folks. The thought of trying to summarize any more is, quite frankly, exhausting. This is one of the most complex, labyrinthine plots I’ve ever read & I say that with a big smile. It could easily have ended up leaving readers in head-scratching confusion. Instead it’s a clever, multi-layered story that keeps you gripped & guessing right up to the final page.


The roots of the story began in “MemoRandom” which was more of a police procedural. This devotes equal time to Julia’s investigation & political corruption in the Swedish government. There is a large cast of returning characters, many of whom remain unburdened by trivial things like ethics. With few exceptions, these are people who take self-preservation to new heights. Lies, secret agendas, old debts & shifting alliances are gradually revealed as the story lines intersect. Think you’ve got it figured out? Ha! Just wait ’til you turn the next page.


The crew of despicables are offset by several characters you’ll cheer & fear for. Julia is a smart, perceptive woman who slowly realizes she has no idea who to trust. Amante is a man tortured by what he saw on Lampedusa while working for the EU & remains somewhat of an enigma. Atif is a part time gangster with dangerous ties who just wants to save a little girl he loves more than life. And David remains the damaged hero, a man who realized too late the ramifications of his actions. None of them are lily-white & some have done terrible things. But all have a moral line in the sand that is sadly lacking in people they’re forced to deal with.


It’s an intelligent, fast paced read that is hard to put down & you may be surprised by the time you get all the answers. No doubt this can be enjoyed as a stand alone but I highly recommend reading “MemoRandom” first to fully grasp all the intricate connections between the characters. There are a couple in particular I’ve become quite fond of & here’s hoping they pop up again in another book.



Shallow End: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery - Brenda Chapman

Jane Thompson used to have it all….beauty, a handsome husband, 2 great kids & a rewarding teaching career. Now she lives alone in a tiny damp flat, sneaking out the back to dodge reporters on her way to work at the Salvation Army.


Her new “career” is courtesy of an early release program. Four years ago, Jane was charged with the sexual assault of one of her students. In short order, she was convicted, imprisoned & divorced. All she lives for now is a chance to see the kids but her ex is not exactly the forgiving type.


Over at the Kingston Police Department, the detectives are getting restless. Local criminals seem to have taken the summer off & things at the station are slow. Then the call comes in. The body of a teenage boy was found by the lake. Jacques Rouleau assigns the case to detectives Kala Stonechild & Paul Gunderson and they quickly determine 2 things. It’s definitely a homicide & the victim is Devon Eton, Jane’s former student & accuser.


I’ll leave it there for the investigation aspect of the story. There are plenty of twists (and a few bombshells) ahead & the less you know going in, the more you’ll enjoy each WTH moment. Suffice to say I was in danger of needing a neck brace after my double take in the final chapter.


What has always distinguished this series for me is the equal time devoted to the development of interesting & original characters. Kala is First Nations & it’s been a rocky road to where she is now. Due to her childhood she is a quiet, self contained woman who prefers the company of her dog Taiku to most people. A few years ago she met Jacques Rouleau (book #1) & he’s been her boss ever since.


Jacques is a kind, patient man moving toward the end of his career. Usually he keeps a sharp eye on his detectives but in this outing, his personal life has him distracted. On top of that, he has to figure out what to do about one of his detectives who is a slime ball (Woodhouse, you are so lucky you’re fictional or we’d be having words) while placating a superior who’s never met a camera he didn’t like.


Paul Gunderson is a big brawny cop with more than a professional interest in Kala. There’s just one eensy little problem….his estranged-wife-from-hell Fiona who also happens to be the coroner. And as much as I sympathize with him for the hoops she’s put him through, there are times I’d like to cuff some sense into him. He’s a man in desperate need of a V-8 moment.


The case is a gripping one with Jane as the obvious suspect. And it’s not helped by the cops having to deal with a bunch of teenagers who lie like they breathe. The author does a good job of examining the ripple effects when someone is convicted of such a hot button crime. In some ways the perpetrator gets to escape the fallout when they’re put away. But their family remains on the outside where they’re subjected to the whispers & sideway glances of friends & neighbours. Purely by association, they too serve a sentence & theirs may be life. 


It’s a twisty & thought provoking read that could stand alone but I really recommend starting with “Cold Mourning”. There’s a huge back story behind the characters, particularly between Kala & Jacques & each book is all the richer as the relationships develop.  Can’t wait for book #5.





Tomorrow is #Hideabookday, joint effort between Goodreads & the Book Fairies to drop free books on an unsuspecting public. Got my stash ready to go......

The book shelves of your dreams...

Take a look at these....and drool.




5 Stars
Angels in the Moonlight - Caimh McDonnell

If you’ve read “The Man with One of Those Faces” or “The Day that Never Comes”, no doubt you remember Dublin Detective Bunny McGarry. His wayward glare & ever present hurling stick make him hard to forget. And at some point you probably wondered if he’d always been crazy. In this prequel to the Dublin trilogy, we get to find out.


The story begins with a hilarious routine between Bunny & his partner Tim “Gringo” Spain as they try to talk a jumper off a ledge. They are truly chalk & cheese. Bunny is younger version of himself, blunt & permanently disheveled. Gringo is a handsome guy with nary a hair out of place. But maybe it’s their differences that make them such a good team.


Along with the usual headaches, Dublin police are dealing with a spate of robberies involving a well organized gang & armored trucks. So Detectives Harry Delaney & Bob Mulholland are assigned to follow the latest shipment. Sadly their partnership is hardly a bromance & before the day is over, it will be tested further when they meet up with a grenade.


The powers that be have had it & DI Fintan O’Rourke puts together a task force to deal with the gang once & for all. Because everyone knows who’s behind the robberies…..Tommy Carter & his crew. Tommy runs Clanavale Estate, an area of Dublin even the cops avoid. He’s young, smart & knows how to cover his tracks. Bunny has history with Tommy so he’s not surprised when he & Gringo are invited to join the team.


There is a large cast from all walks that provide colour & sub plots to the main story line. Two deserve special mention. Simone is a mysterious bartender who catches Bunny’s eye & through her we see another side of the blustery cop. Then there’s Sister Bernadette....half nun/half ninja & my new role model. ‘Nuff said.


Like the other books, it’s a cracking good police procedural with plenty of humour & red herrings to tempt you down the wrong path. But this has a little something extra that gives it a darker edge. There’s an added depth to the story & characterization that shows the author’s growth as a writer. You get a sense that he’s really hit his stride & as much as I enjoyed the previous books, I think it’s his best so far. I’ve grown quite attached to this band of loons & will be waiting on the next one.


For the uninitiated, the combination of wit & grit is reminiscent of Stuart MacBride & Jay Stringer, to name a couple.



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