Rosie’s #BookReview Of #CrimeFiction BURY THEM DEEP by James Oswald: An Inspector McLean Novel

Bury Them Deep: Inspector McLean 10 (The Inspector McLean Series)Bury Them Deep: Inspector McLean 10 by James Oswald

4 stars

Bury Them Deep by James Oswald is book ten of The Inspector McLean crime fiction series.

Set in Scotland, this story begins with a missing person: Anya Renfrew has worked as a loyal and reliable police administration assistant for many years, but when she doesn’t turn up at work for an important new case, the amount of access that she has to securely held information is as much a concern as her absence.

Detective Inspector McLean is under a lot of pressure from his superiors to find Anya, as her loss is jeopardising the start of the new case. Added to this, a dangerous serial killer escapes from a local psychiatric detention centre and police fear he will seek revenge on those who caught him years ago.

This is the first book that I have read in this series. I liked the Scottish setting and the folk tale theme that weaved its way into the narrative; although horrific, it was very interesting. McLean was a likeable detective and his investigative methods were thorough in an old-school style. The narrative focused on the police procedures and the many leads which the case exposed, rather than a novel that was filled with unexpected twists. There was still plenty of tension as the story moved towards the final denouement; however, there were no surprises for me with the final reveal.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

When a member of the Police Scotland team fails to clock-in for work, concern for her whereabouts is immediate… and the discovery of her burnt-out car in remote woodland to the south of Edinburgh sets off a desperate search for the missing woman.

Meanwhile, DCI Tony McLean and the team are preparing for a major anti-corruption operation – one which may raise the ire of more than a few powerful people in the city. Is Anya Reynolds’ disappearance a co-incidence or related to the case?

McLean’s investigations suggest that perhaps that Anya isn’t the first woman to have mysteriously vanished in these ancient hills. Once again, McLean can’t shake the feeling that there is a far greater evil at work here…

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #crimefiction Dead On Leave by @ChrisNickson2 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from E.L. Lindley, she blogs here https://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

E.L. has been reading Dead On Leave by Chris Nickson

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The Dead on Leave by Chris Nickson is a gripping crime novel set in 1930s Leeds. From the opening page I was engrossed in both the story and its historical backdrop.

The novel’s protagonist is the likeable Detective Sergeant Urban Raven who is tough and cynical but has an underlying insecurity that becomes most apparent in his relationship with his wife. Urban has facial scars from injuries sustained in WW1 and this defines how he sees himself and how others see him and treat him. He refers to his marriage as “beauty and the beast” and there is the sense that he feels he doesn’t deserve to be happy.

The story begins as supporters of Oswald Mosley prepare to stage a rally in Leeds which provokes a violent clash with Communist protesters. This proves to be a challenge for the police and is made worse when someone is murdered during the melee. Urban and his colleagues, unused to such serious crimes, struggle to solve the case which becomes even more problematic when there are two more murders which are somehow linked to the British Union of Fascists.

The crime element is engaging, especially as Urban proves to be a good, methodical investigator willing to do whatever it takes to solve the case. However, the novel has so much more than this to offer. Nickson’s knowledge of Leeds is evident in the way he expertly describes the drab landscape of a city still reeling from the Depression. Nickson uses the motif of vividly coloured advertisements posted around the city to highlight the bleak reality of a community where the majority of people are unemployed.

Nickson’s historical knowledge also brings something to the novel as men such as Urban are shaped by their wartime experiences. Almost every encounter he has with men of a similar age involve references to the war. At the same time the spectre of WW2 is looming in the background as Hitler is consolidating his power and his influence is spreading as a result of the widespread poverty and desperation. The media meanwhile are focusing their attention on the possible abdication of King Edward Vlll and his affair with Wallis Simpson.

Despite the fact that the novel is set in the 1930s it feels very relevant to modern Britain and I could relate to many of the issues it raises. The popularity of the British Union of Fascists as they play on the fears of people who are suffering the effects of austerity can clearly be likened to the emergence of groups like Britain First. The idea of ‘fake news’ is also not new as Nickson refers to it as “Bread and Circuses” where the media try and set the political agenda by focusing on stories designed to distract people from what’s really going on.

I really enjoyed Nickson’s exploration of Urban’s marriage to Marjorie who was his nurse when he returned from the war. Even though they have done better than most financially, escaping from the slums to new housing, their marriage is not plain sailing. Marjorie has suffered numerous miscarriages and the lack of children has created a void between them. Marjorie feels like she is disappearing and Urban avoids communication by focusing on work. The difficulties they face are believable and I’m sure lots of readers will relate to them.

All in all I enjoyed The Dead on Leave very much. It is well written with a lively plot that kept my interest throughout. If you enjoy a crime which is steeped in history then I suggest you give this one a try.

Book description

During a British Union of Fascists rally, a body is found.
War veteran Detective Sergeant Urban Raven is tasked with finding the killer.
But with virtually no clues, no witnesses and no obvious motive, he has few leads to start the investigation.
Leeds has become a shadow of its former self. Once a bright, vibrant and progressive metropolis, it has all but ground to a halt since the Crash of ’29, the Depression and the ensuing descent into unemployment and poverty.
And there are political stirrings as the BUF vie with the Communist Party for public support.
Was the murder an act of vengeance?
Was the victim killed for his political beliefs?
Or was the killing part of a more sinister plan, a grisly smear campaign? And if so, which side, if either, is responsible?
Raven and his colleagues find themselves constantly hindered by red tape, politics and the press. But sometimes, if you want a result, you just have to do it your way…
This puzzler of a crime story comprises convincing characters, a clever plot and a window into the dark days of 1930s northern England, where so many had lost hope…
…the dead. On leave.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT HELL HOLES by @DonFiresmith #Paranormal #Fantasy

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith

HELL HOLES by Donald Firesmith

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team

Mostly, I enjoyed this. It’s very much escapist genre fiction, which could have done with a better edit to rectify repetitions and a few lazily constructed sentences, but I did like it. It’s about geological scientist Jack Oswald who goes out to Alaska with his wife and two of his grad students, to investigate the appearance of mysterious holes in the tundra. Also along for the ride is enigmatic journalist Aileen O’Connor.

Once at camp, all hell is let loose as demonic beings appear from the depths of the mysterious craters. Very quickly, the situation grows from horrendous to super-horrendous.

The author has obviously done his geological research, to the extent of the dialogue being a bit on the information-heavy side in the first half of the book, but if the information is interesting I don’t mind, and this was. It cracks on at a great pace thereafter. At first I was a little put off by the sudden change from feasible arctic geological mystery thriller to Harry Potter-like spells and gargoyles the size of lions, but once I got used to it (pretty quickly), it kind of worked. The action was fast, convincing and scary. Do bear in mind that I’m not a great lover of supernatural; I don’t imagine that this will be any sort of problem for those who are used to reading this genre, in fact you’ll probably love it.

The book turned out to be only long novella length, or certainly very short novel, as it suddenly ends at about 80%, with a humdinger of a cliffhanger. The rest of the book is taken up with information about the series, notes about the inspiration for the book, and part of Book Two. Now, I didn’t understand the ‘part of Book Two’ thing AT ALL. Some people don’t like parts of series ending in a cliffhanger. I do, I love it. This cliffhanger was so good that all I wanted to do was find out what happened next, to the extent that I would have gone straight to Amazon and bought the next one if it was available, which is, surely, the purpose of such endings. So why, Mr Firesmith, have you given me a reason not to, by sticking ‘what happened next’ at the back of Book One? Think on!

My other complaint is about the diagrams at the beginning of the book. Placed there, they meant little. If the diagram for Pump Station 2 was placed right at the start of, or in the middle of, the chapter when the group arrive there, it would have given me all the information I needed, instead of me having to imagine it/keep flicking back to the start. The Alaska map could have been better placed, too.

I give this book a thumbs up, despite the criticisms. If you like arctic landscapes and demonic thrills, I suggest you nip over to Amazon and download it immediately.

Book Description

A geologist, his climatologist wife, two graduate students, a local newspaper reporter, an oil company representative, and a field biologist travel to one of dozens of huge holes that have mysteriously appeared in the tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. Their mission is to research these strange craters that threaten financial and environmental catastrophe should they open up under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline or any of the many oil wells and smaller pipelines that feed it. Unfortunately, a far worse danger lurks below, one that threatens to destroy all of humanity when it emerges. Who will survive the demonic invasion to flee south towards the safety of Fairbanks?

About the author

Donald G. Firesmith

A geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He’s also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat by his fear that the term “distinguished” makes him sound like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still slightly more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, and his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs, cats, and birds.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT HELL HOLES by Donald Firesmith @DonFiresmith #SciFi #Paranormal

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs at http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith

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Hell Holes: What Lurks Below (Volume 1) by Donald Firesmith Science,horror, fantasy, paranormal

I received a free ARC copy of the book and I voluntarily decided to review it. I am also sharing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Hell Holes is an intriguing book and one difficult to classify. Set in Alaska, the prologue already gives us a hint about what is to come, but once we start reading the account written by Professor Jack Oswald, we get taken in by the mystery of the holes, and by the hypotheses suggested, sending us in the direction of science-fiction. The explanations and the possible scenarios are plausibly rendered and the fact that Oswald’s wife, Angie, studies the effect of climate change, add to the interest.

The plot turns soon when the holes prove to be dangerous in more ways than one, and paranormal and fantastic elements become more important as the plot moves on. There are also horror elements, like the monsters and the destruction and killings, and we do get more than a few hair-raising moments.

As often happens with some of these genres, there is a fair amount of exposition, regarding the set-up of the different pump stations and oil fields, and later about the supernatural elements (as one of the characters is revealed to be completely different to what we thought at first sight). As there is a description of the different Hell inhabitants later on after the end of the story, it does feel somewhat repetitive.

The book is also very short, even more than it looks like when we check the pages, as the end comes at around 80% of the book length, and the rest is taken by a summary/description, a cast of hell characters, a brief biography of the author and a longish sample of the next book, that follows (with a slight overlap) from the first one. From the sample, we see that the second book in the series is narrated by Professor Oswald’s wife.

The novel (novella) is plot-driven, and once the chase is on, the book moves quickly and never lets off, and we don’t have much chance to notice that we do not know the characters in detail, and there is plenty of room for development, although one suspects the action will continue taking pride of place in the next novels.

There are series where it doesn’t matter where you start reading (or it might matter, but it’s possible to read any novel and enjoy it in its own right without feeling you’re missing the context). This is not the case here, as although the story seems to be told from different points of view in the different books, it is all the same story. And in case you hate cliff-hangers, the book ends up in a worrying twist/hook. But, fear not, because if you read the sample of the next book at the end, at least that hook is solved.

The book is an easy and quick read and an action-filled one that you’ll imagine as a TV series or a movie with no difficulty. If you’re a stickler for specific genres and strong characters it might not suit you, and you might question some of the details, but if you’re looking for an entertaining read that moves easily between genres, and don’t mind investing in a series, give it a try.

Book Description

A geologist, his climatologist wife, two graduate students, a local newspaper reporter, an oil company representative, and a field biologist travel to one of dozens of huge holes that have mysteriously appeared in the tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. Their mission is to research these strange craters that threaten financial and environmental catastrophe should they open up under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline or any of the many oil wells and smaller pipelines that feed it. Unfortunately, a far worse danger lurks below, one that threatens to destroy all of humanity when it emerges. Who will survive the demonic invasion to flee south towards the safety of Fairbanks?

About the author

Donald G. Firesmith

A geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He’s also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat by his fear that the term “distinguished” makes him sound like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still slightly more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, and his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs, cats, and birds.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS | Goodreads | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview team #RBRT SMOKESCREEN by @KhaledTalib action #Thriller

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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Terry has been reading Smokescreen by Khaled Talib

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Smokescreen by Khaled Talib

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

Smokescreen is a fast moving, all action, international thriller about an assassination conspiracy, involving movers and shakers at the highest levels—think ’24’, James Bond, The Bourne trilogy, etc.

Magazine journalist and superficial Singapore socialite Jethro Westropp (Jet West) is to be set up as ‘the next Lee Harvey Oswald’ – only he knows nothing about it, and has no hint that anything is wrong until he meets up with the beautiful and ill-fated Niki. ‘He finds himself at the centre of a political plot so diabolical and sweeping in its world implications that he is stunned to discover tomorrow’s news headlines today’: that comes from the blurb, one of the lines that made me want to read the book!

It’s well written and I can tell it’s well researched; Talib obviously understands the dark side of politics in the international arena. The characters are brilliantly over the top stereotypes—that’s not a criticism as I think these sort of books and films rely on certain characters. Jet is perfect as the amusing and unsuspecting hero, but I enjoyed the dialogue between the older spies, agents and ne’er-do-wells best; X and the unscrupulous Chan and Yung, for instance. There are some good, witty lines!

There’s a case for saying that these sort of stories work better in films than in books, but this is very convincing, it’s a jolly good plot and I think anyone who loves this sort of books will thoroughly enjoy it. There’s certainly never a dull moment.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Terry reviews The Goddard Affair by Scott Marlowe

Today we have a book review from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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Terry Chose to read and review The Goddard Affair by Scott Marlowe

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The Goddard Affair by Scott Marlowe

About 4.8 out of 5 stars

As with most well constructed sequels, it is best to read the prequel first (in this case, the previous volume about The Assassin Without A Name, The Killing Knife), but not imperative.

I’ve just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours reading this. The assassin attends a dinner party given by a society he wishes to infiltrate, which is where he meets the intriguing Gwendolyn Morgan and becomes involved in her fight with her brother, one of the assassin’s clients. But never mind my summary of the plot; I made notes when I was reading as I usually do, but they didn’t do it justice. You’ll discover the rest of the plot for yourself when you read the book; my job is to say BUY THIS NOW if you love seriously good adventure in fantasy worlds not so unlike our own. Or buy it because you love ingenious weaving of unguessable plot about-turns and skillful characterisation, especially if your preference is for those that make you say “I’d better go and download the next one” as soon as you’ve finished it!

I’m not a lover of fantasy fiction, generally, but Marlowe does that clever thing that only truly talented writers of this genre do: he makes his imagined world seem so believable that the reader is not always conscious of the fact that it IS fantasy. His hero is super smart and witty and the story itself is a gem, but the beauty of this book lies in the smooth, amusing prose that seems almost effortless. The Goddard Affair reminded me of Roald Dahl’s My Uncle Oswald (a book most definitely for adults, not one of his children’s stories).

I can say no more except that this is one classy writer – highly recommended.

Find a copy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com