The Method, by Shannon Kirk

FBI Special Agent Roger Liu is allocated the case KIRK-The Method
(# 332578) of a missing pregnant teen, Dorothy Salucci. His partner and he follow leads and interview the parents and the young father. Liu has a personal need to focus on child abduction cases, his unusual partner understands, and as their sometimes unorthodox methods get results they’re left to get on with it.

But for most of the thriller, we are in the head of the victim. Far from hapless, with her habits, abilities, and how she processes her situation, she is a fascinating character. She has a method and uses it to cope, to learn, to devise her own getaway plans and plot her later revenge.

Does she get away? That would be telling, but certainly not before Liu uncovers a surprise or two. Not before our victim discovers there is more than one perpetrator involved. And not before being forced to face a gruesome foresight of her future. Through all this, we don’t see the real picture, which is a tragic reveal.

This is a thriller that is chilling right to the end. Shannon Kirk’s novel won the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for best suspense, and the novel is now under option for a major motion film. Previously released in the US under the title Method 15/33, this is one heck of a good read.

The Method by Shannon Kirk

sphere imprintPublisher
ISBN: 9780751564310


Published in the US as Method 15/33 by Oceanview Publishing, Florida.

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Liar, Liar, by M J ARLIDGE

The opening fiery scene is ARLIDGE -Liar Liardramatic in itself, leading on to the realisation there are two other fires in Southampton. Southampton police are desperate to find if there is a link between the fires, and a lead opens when suspicions arise about the owners of the first three properties.

Within a day, three more suspicious fires are set.

Their new DS Jordan Gardam is a micro-manager, to Helen’s discomfort. Her team instinctively trust her orders and follow instructions without pause. The SOC team and officers sift through the remains of the razed homes and buildings, combing among ash and charred remnants for clues, around the dangerously-near to imminent collapse of structural parts of the buildings.

One family tragedy is the start of many, as the arsonist continues. Our old friend Emilia, newspaper investigator and reporter–and fame-seeker–is right on the scene, publishing ‘only the facts’ about the case. Which serves to add fuel to the fire of outrage among the community

Just when we think Helen’s got it sorted–there come more fires, more deaths, more fraying nerves and tempers–and more leads. DI Grace and her team have to put together bits and pieces of information of they had not realised the significance.

We begin to suspect she’s on the wrong tack, and then more pieces of the puzzle take on a new interpretation, leading to the final gripping chapters and unvoiced questions (the answers to which may, or may not, be revealed in a follow-up in the series).

Liar Liar is the fourth in Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace thriller series, Liar Liar fulfils all DI Grace’s fans with the same fascination in her and the team’s progress through the investigation of “a series of carefully calculated acts of murder” as they have found in Eeney Meeney, Pop Goes the Weasel and The Doll’s House.


Paperback ISBN: 978-0-718-18082-9
Published 2015

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Close Your Eyes, by Michael ROBOTHAM


Close Your Eyes NZ cover“My father said nothing, not that first day or the next day or any of the subsequent ones. Instead he sat in his armchair, mouthing words as though conducting some unfinished argument. One day I asked him if Mum was in Heaven.


‘Where is she?’

‘Rotting in Hell.’

‘But Hell is for bad people.’

‘It’s what she deserves.’

Joe O’Loughlin from Watching You ( Australia’s No. 1 crime & thriller book of 2013) features again in this worrying tale of multiple murders, multiple suspects, and families in anguish.

Clinical psychologist Professor Joseph O’Loughlan tells the story, starting in the grounds of Oxford, as his daughter is checking out the colleges. Just as his wife invites him to move back home, their conversation is interrupted by a phone call from Chief Superintendent Veronica Cray.

And thus he returns to the force as a consultant, arriving at the scene of the crime–the first crime in the tale, with  two victims: a mother and her daughter. The bodies show differences in the killer’s intent: the mother has been butchered, the daughter suffocated. The mother’s body is centred in a display of occult symbolism and her own blood spatter, the daughter has been neatly laid out in a peaceful pose.

The struggle to draw together a picture of the perpetrator’s profile and motive begins.  Further murders arise, and old cases become linked to the current investigation. Joe’s daughters are innocently drawn into the picture. As the investigations continue, Joe is torn between withdrawing from it and staying in the world of his family, and yet also feeling driven to resolve the questions which come to light as each piece of action and evidence enters the pursuit of the killer.

It is a jig-saw puzzle of hints, suggestions, reader’s “Aha!” moments–which may (only may) cause the reader to see ahead. This reviewer enjoyed the puzzle immensely.

SPERE_hachette au sphere imprintvia      Hatchette NZ logo

Date: August 2015
ISBN: Hardback: 978-0-7515-5287-4 Paperback: 978-0-7515-5288-1

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My Name Is N. by Robert KARJEL

KARJEL-My Name Is NIn this mystery cum crime novel, Karjel takes us back and forth between 2004 December in Thailand and 2008 in the US. Ernst Grip serves as security for the Swedish Security Police, but occasionally is called back to his former role as an agent. This time his boss sends him for the Swedish Foreign Ministry to work with the Justice Department of the US about a crime committed in Topeka .

Before the latest assignment, he worked with five people who met after the Tsunami of 2004 in Thailand. This group carries a grudge against the loud-speaking leader of a conservative church, and Grip assists them in taking revenge for his outrageous public derogatory spume against the tsunami victims.

His current assignment takes him to the US, then to a remote secure island in the Indian Ocean, under the “management” of an FBI agent. His task is to try and confirm whether a captive of the US security is a fellow Swede. The captive will not speak, but Grip manages to break through and learns enough of his background and suffering to put together the full picture.

Grip’s own risky position is resolved, but only in the final chapter do we realise the disturbing link between them all.

Karjel uses time swapping to good effect. We gather the bits and pieces of the mystery as each part of the twisted plot is revealed. His dialogue reflects the thought processes of the characters, conveying their urgency, their doubts, their dreams. And we, the reader, become intent on sorting out the tangled threads that form a tight knot. And when the final end of the last thread is pulled out–what is on the end we probably will not have seen coming.

Karjel original published this as De Redan Döda in 2010. This translation (by Nancy Pick) has been released in June 2015.


ISBN: 9780007586028
ISBN 10: 0007586027

Reviewed for

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All Involved – Ryan GATTIS

All_InvolvedGattis presents, from the points of view of many residents of differing ethnic groups,the actions of gangs and individuals in the area which took advantage of the enraged riot in Los Angeles 1991, to battle as they fought to take revenge, or increase their territory. This new angle gives a gut-wrenching reveal of the gang mentality with its flimsy loyalty, arrogance, and intimidation of members  and public alike.

The book comprises six sections – one for each day of the riots. Within each day, Gatttis lets us see the connections and interactions between seventeen individuals involved – gang members, their partners, wanna-bes, and fire fighters, nurses, law enforcers.

Each section allows the reader to feel the social pressure the individual is under – whether gang or relationship pressure – to conform, to meet demands, to follow the rules and expectations. Horrific consequences face those who go against a gang or gang leader (their own or another). Drugs and pimping are commonplace (though the latter is only briefly included).

We hear their street language. We sweat with the nervous. We tremble with rage at the atrocities. We gulp at the helplessness of those ensnared in this life style. We sympathise. We are in suspense awaiting foretold attacks.
We feel hope for Freer, who makes his escape from the city to try to be “freer”, elsewhere.

(For those of us who’s only knowledge of the Mexican/Hispanic LA community comes from TV shows, there is a Glossary of terms appended to the book.)

The factual background:
On 1991 Monday 29th April, four white officers were acquitted by an all-white jury of ten of all charges laid after they had (sixty-seven days earlier) been caught in an 89-second amateur video, beating the unarmed, intoxicated and uncooperative African-American Rodney King, following a car chase.
Within hours, South-Central Los Angeles exploded in riots, fighting, arson and looting, by folk enraged by the racially biased beating, trial and acquittals Six days of murder and mayhem followed.
(refer for further details)
© Even Skrederstu

Evan Skrederstu’s realisation of Freer’s final LA tag, in memory of Ernie
© Even Skrederstu
(cropped by Red-Penn)

For an extensive examination of the novel’s back ground,

Picador for  Pan MacMillan
Publisher Picador for
Pan MacMillan

ISBN: 978-1-4472-8318-8 paperback

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Burnt Paper Sky, author Gilly MacMILLAN

“In the absolute quiet, … I glimpsed the sky above, MacMILLAN_BurntPaperSky
and I could feel darkness starting to push in
as surely as fire creeps across a piece of paper,
curling its edges, turning it to ash.
In that moment, I knew that Ben wasn’t there.”

Ben is the eight-year old son of Rachel, and sole child of her former marriage to John. The lad whom, at his request to be allowed to run on ahead to the rope swing in a glade off the beaten track, she felt she should protect his every moment, then realised she also had to allow him to experience moments of daring–and so she allowed him to rush on.

This novel is told in memories, via interspersed chapters from the point of view of Rachel, notes on child abduction advice found online by Rachel’s sister, and of D.I. James Clemo, the prime investigator of Ben’s abduction case. The case has haunted Jim for a year, and he is ordered to attend sessions with Force Occupational Health Service therapist Doctor.

The novel provides more than only details of the case investigation, movements and possible motives of potential suspects. There are some surprising, even gut-wrenching reveals of Rachel’s family life and upbringing, of John’s marriage, of Jim’s partner in an affair with a fellow investigator.

The strain on Rachel, as she seems always to be caught on camera or film when in a distressed state, leads to a vicious trial by public social media, with news vultures constantly crowding her home, vandalistic attacks on her home, leads her to shut down and retreat.

While suspects are questioned, checked, and released, Rachel reads through Ben’s exercise books from school, and notices something significant to a possible lead, and fights against ‘standard procedures’ to get her thoughts across to James’s team.

Through her self-protective daze–a whirl of confusion– she still manages to pick up a word–one single word which could turn the case completely around. The least suspect person in Ben’s life is apprehended while waiting for a flight out of the country. The child is found, but will not allow himself to tell what has happened to him, leaving us to wonder, and Rachel to wait until he is ready to talk.

This for me was a one day gripper to read…and as it fascinates, it also allows us to review our parenting. Should we protect from possible harm, or encourage possible discovery–which is the better choice for our children?

Piatkus-logoPublisher: Piatkus, via Hatchette NZ

ISBN: 978-0-349-49637-4
Publishing Date 2015

NZ Release Date: February ‘15

Woman of the Dead, x Bernard AICHNER


If you, at age six, had to begin work in preparing bodies for funeral directors–your parents– what effect would that have on you?

For Brum, it taught her to shut down her emotions, right up to the day she allowed her parents to drown. She took over the family business, reinvented and remarketed it, built it up as a successful business, but always dedicating herself to giving dignity to the deceased.

Her life is gently comfortable, until she sees her husband–police officer and father to their two daughters–killed by a black car slamming into him on his motor bike. Her life is upturned, as she grieves, listens to her late husband’s phone calls on his cell phone, and discovers he was spending time interviewing and calming an aggrieved young woman.

Emotionally bereft, Brum finds comfort in the companionship of her husband’s best friend, police officer Massimo. She is driven to find the woman, and when she does, is horrified to learn of her tormented life as a captive. Gradually she draws more and more information about the woman’s torturous life, who she invites to stay with the family. One morning, the girl goes shopping for the family, and never comes home.

Massimo tells her of the discovery of a drowned homeless woman, whose body is in the police morgue. Brum is driven to track and remove each of the young woman’s tormentors, aided by her mortuary assistant, Reza–a man with his own criminal past. He is detached from emotion after years of creating trauma and serving time, but warms to the welcome Brum’s family have given him.

Her tracking of each of the sadists and what she does when she succeeds makes gut-churning reading, which in turn makes it impossible to put down the book – in case what you imagine is worse than what is written next.

The resolution is a reveal of a shuddering discovery, and handled in the same way as with the first three sadists. I’d have read this in one session, but starting in the late evening made it impossible. Guess what I was reading over breakfast next morning. I hope to be reading more from AICHNER, and soon.

Hatchett_NZ_logoPublishing Date: April 14th 2015
Paperback 978-0-297-60848-6
Case bound 978-0-297-60847-9

BookSellers-NZ_logo     N Z Release Date: 9th April ‘15

The Killing Lessons — Saul BLACK

Killing Lessons cover
NZ edition cover

The Killing Lessons, author Saul BLACK


ISBN Hardback: 9 781 4091 5294 1
ISBN Paperback: 9 781 4091 5295 8
ISBN Ebook: 9 781 4091 5297 2

Why did it take three years over eleven states before seven murders were connected as the work of one killer? A creepy and sick behaviour pattern is the link, and San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart is driven to an to pursue the cold cases –and the new murders.

Special agent Carla York is brought in to replace a colleague on sick leave–but why then blight Detective Hart’s reputation with hate mail, reporting her blackouts, her alcoholism, and an attempt to frame her as a drug user?

The serial killer is no longer working alone, and killings continue, with the intervals between killings reducing over time. So far, so usual…

Except Black gives us a direct point of view into the delusional, crazed alpha killer and his simpleton beta partner. The killer has a reason for his killing trail, not yet complete, risen from his macabre past. It drives him closer to insanity as he continues–and we are with him all the way.

We are also with his latest victims, as they suffer the most chilling sadistic treatment, and a humiliating death.

The final outcome is not an easy read–it’s damned scary, and although I love being scared as I review good crime writing as I have for this review blog, this story is the only one yet encountered which has had me so wound up in the terror that the closure for one character and another brought tears of relief. Now that’s good crime writing.

Nota Bene– Saul BLACK is, in re, Glen DUNCAN–writer of
The Last Werewolf  (pub. Canongate), &  I, Lucifer  (pub. Scribner)

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NZ Release Date:
12 May 2015
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NYPD RED 3 (James PATTERSON, w. Marshall KARP)

NYPD RED 3Three generations of a wealthy family, with Hudson Alden I as the founder of the family’s legacy pissed off at the lack of ethics of his son (‘Hunter’ Hutchinson Alden II), who is equally pissed off at his son-Hutchinson Alden III, a.k.a. ‘Tripp’. What Tripp has done to annoy his father is avoid the world of investments and trust funds, and instead seek a career in movie making, with friend Lonnie, under the tutelage of teacher Ryan Madison.

Not an atypical family issue…so far, fairly commonplace…you think?

Hunter’s chauffeur, Peter, has his head removed and placed, carefully in Tripp’s camera bag, on the floor of Hunter’s garage. Tripp and Lonnie are missing. The note in Peter’s mouth scares the b’jaysus out of Hunter. Memories of one tall blond unnamed man. But Hunter is not so scared that he’ll call the police – no, he’s a determined S.O.B., and tries to handle things his own way, being more concerned about the note and what its writer wants than he is about Peter, or should be about Tripp who is missing.

NYPD RED detectives Zach and Kylie only become involved when Peter’s headless body is found – not hidden, just…left on the ground among trees, a small distance from Hunter’s limousine. NYPD RED have a body, a limo, and nothing more – not even cooperation from Hunter. His wife, Tripp’s step-mother, doesn’t know about Tripp and his friend Lonnie being missing, nor about Peter’s death…yet.

While Hunter uses his private detective to carry out his own investigations, Zach & Kylie are left to patch information snippets together.
Faked TXTs from Tripp don’t help.
An interview with the typical neighbourhood busybody gives them another puzzle-piece to fit into the blurry picture.
The janitor of a disused school is dragged into the puzzle.
Hutch, uninterested in Hunter’s financial shenanigans, calls in the newly appointed mayor to lean on NYPD RED to move more quickly on finding his missing grandson.

Lots of “two steps forward, one step back” situations, the main characters fleshed out by incidental interaction in their personal lives, action scenes, and the solution comes, by way of an unexpected reveal before the case is closed.

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Publisher: Century for Penguin Random House, UK

Paperback ISBN: 9781780892757
Hardback ISBN: 9781780892740

Date: 2015, NZ release 2nd April
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The Killing Season, by Mason CROSS

Carter Blake is a bit of a mystery  He specialises in locating people who don’t want to be found, and certainly has skills and thought processes to make him good at his job. 
Hang on, it’s not a job – he’s not employed salary-wise – he accepts contracts, so he’s a free agent. We don’t know Blake’s background – is he ex police? Ex military? Ex Secret Service?
Blake is called in by the FBI to assist in locating a death row escapee, serial killer Caleb Wardell. SAC Walter F Donaldson sets Dave Edwards (“Assistant Special Agent”) in charge of the man hunt, with Special Agent Elaine Banner to work with Edwards and Blake.
Unsurprisingly when you get to know him, Blake prefers to use his own methods. Banner sticks with him as he heads in the directions he’s certain Wardell would have taken, while Edwards stubbornly takes the conservative, tried-and-true procedures and heads in the wrong direction.
Add interplay with Russian mobsters, whose attempt to free Wardell’s transport companion gave Wardell the opportunity to get away. They’re not too pleased about Wardell killling their objective either.
Blake works by getting inside the head of the one to be caught. But he arrives at the right locations at the wrong time: too late to prevent a murder or massacre. Wardell enjoys both – a particular target or a random set of victims.
Mix in politics and bad politics, manipulation of Wardell himself, and his of Blake, a fake FBI agent, and you have a pot-pourri of things rotten.
What makes this a great book is Cross letting us see different characters’ points of view – it adds to one’s understanding of the character, and of his/her motivation and processing of the events. It’s a method well handled, and I will definitely be looking for the next novel. Killing Season is the first of a Carter Blake series, so there’s a reason for buying it, then The Samaritan, expected in 2015.
Publisher Orion Books, for Hatchette UK Co
© Mason Cross 2014
ISBN 978-1-4091-4567-7 paperback
Also available as hard cover and ebook editions
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