📚’This series just keeps on getting better.’ Sandra reviews Scottish #crimefiction Dead Man’s Stone by @tgreidbooks, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT📚

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Dead Man’s Stone by T.G. Reid.

DCI Duncan Bone is still on sick leave recovering from injuries sustained in the previous book, and finally getting treatment for his longstanding PTSD, when a sadistic killer who is dying in prison insists on speaking to him about a forty-year-old cold case. Once again, not sure that he is quite ready, he is drawn back into the heart of an investigation linked to high-ranking and well-respected individuals who are prepared to kill to stop the truth from coming out.

The book opens with a horrific prologue that has the reader hooked right away. The deeper the detectives dig, more secrets are uncovered, and witnesses start dying in suspicious circumstances before they can shed any light on what happened. Can DCI Bone and his team find the killer before anyone else has to die?

The characters are well drawn and easy to distinguish; they all bring different skills to the team. The humorous dialogue, which can occasionally be a bit clunky, offsets the grim nature of the crimes they encounter on a daily basis. There is just enough background about their home life to make them well rounded and believable. It’s good that Bone is getting help, as he is much calmer and easier to work with this time round.    The setting in the striking scenery of the Campsie Fells is unusual, and makes a change from the big towns and cities in other detective novels. When I was a child, in the 1960s, it was a favourite place for my family to go for a picnic in the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dead Man’s Stone, the third book in the series, and am looking forward to book four, The Killing Parade,  when it comes out later this year. This series just keeps on getting better.

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Some secrets are worth killling for…

When DCI Duncan Bone is contacted by a terminally-ill psychiatric patient and given clues linking a thirty-year-old unsolved murder to high-profile public figures, he finds himself locked into a conspiracy at the very heart of the Scottish criminal and political establishment.

With his bosses stonewalling the investigation, lives under threat, and his career on the line, Bone faces a race against time to hunt down a group of men who will stop at nothing to cover their murderous crime.

Can DCI Bone catch the killer before the killing starts again?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dead Man’s Stone is the third in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

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Is this a case of copy-cat crime? @CathyRy reviews #crimefiction Dark Is The Grave by T. G. Reid

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Dark Is The Grave by T.G. Reid

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Dark Is The Grave opens with a horrific prologue. PC Hazel Garvey has been abducted and buried alive, a crime which is reminiscent of the Peek-a-Boo serial killer who was killed in an explosion. Also caught in the explosion and seriously injured was DCI Duncan Bone. He was lucky to be alive. Left to cope with PTSD and a ruined home life, he was physically and mentally damaged, which probably accounts for his general irascibility.

When Bone receives a package, ostensibly from his colleagues at the Rural Crime Unit, and finds a video of a woman being murdered, he’s assailed by memories he’d rather not be reminded of. Given that Bone has detailed knowledge of the Peek-a-Boo case, and this appears to be a copycat crime, he is ordered back to lead the investigation.

‘“The digger’s been here.” She pointed at some tracks in the mud that led to a clearing between two or three pallets stacked high with concrete blocks. The trio clambered through the pallets and reached a ten-foot patch of freshly turned clay that stood out against the hard compacted surrounding soil.

“Oh shit. Looks like we’re going to need a warrant,” Walker said.’

“And forensics.” Bone sighed.

I’ll get the negatives out of the way first. My pet peeve. Non speech based dialogue tags such as sneered and smirked and especially those that are equivalent to animal sounds such as snarled and barked. They always pull me right out of a story and make the dialogue and speaker seem unnatural and forced.

Other than that the plot, although gruesome in parts, was good. I didn’t have the slightest idea of the perpetrator until well into the story which is always a bonus. There’s a diverse group of characters, both in Bone’s team and generally—most likeable, others not so much, so a good mix. And I always enjoy short chapters when they build tension and suspense.

3 stars.

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A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Set In The Campsie Fells just north of Glasgow. @SandraFirth3 Reviews #Crimefiction Dark Is The Grave by TG Reid @tom_gillespie

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Dark Is The Grave by T.G. Reid

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Dark is the Grave is the first book in a gripping new Scottish crime series featuring DCI Duncan Bone. Still on sick leave after having been seriously injured in an explosion that killed the Peek-a-Boo killer, DCI Bone receives a gruesome film of another killing, and has no choice but to return to active duty, even though he may not be quite ready. This has to be the work of a copycat killer, but the clock is ticking and DCI Bone and his team must stop them before any more police officers die.

The action is set in the area around the Campsie Fells just north of Glasgow which makes an unusual and interesting setting for a crime novel; I grew up not too far away and really enjoyed revisiting the area. It made a pleasant change from big-city settings and reminded me of JD Kirk’s crime novels in this respect.    The characterisation is convincing with each member of the team quite clearly defined, and humorous dialogue often used to offset the grimly dark storyline. DCI Bone is a flawed and troubled character, but this does not stop him being an excellent detective. The pace is fairly relentless as the killer could strike again at any time. The author makes it difficult for us to determine who the killer is by introducing several red herrings, but this is only to be expected. As usual, I was almost at the end of the book before I worked it out. I read a lot of crime fiction and was very impressed with Dark is the Grave; I have already pre-ordered the next one in the series – Blood Water Falls – and look forward to reading it later in the year.

Desc 1

A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview team #RBRT Scottish #Thriller THE HUNTED by @jo_mccready

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Hunted by Jo McCready

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I had never read anything by this author before, but I was intrigued by the description of the book, the setting (I love Scotland), and when I used the ‘look inside’ feature to check the beginning of the book, I knew I had to keep reading.

The above description gives enough details of the plot, and it is difficult to talk about it without revealing any spoilers.  I am not a big reader of spy novels and equivalents (the protagonists might not be spies per se, but there are big organisations running the show and sending their operatives to investigate people, places, or events, using fake identities, all over the world. Yes, you know what I’m talking about), but I am familiar with the formula and the tropes, and here we have a few: we have a rookie (RJ is only on her second mission), paired up with a much more experienced partner (Stuart Black, although we don’t get to know his real identity); there is a boss who keeps tracks of them; his secretary who is the one who really knows what’s going on; a fairly high-profile case that has not been officially investigated; international travel; risky situations and some twists and turns to keep the readers guessing. What I particularly enjoyed and found refreshing though, was the fact that although we might think we know where things are going (we’ve watched the movie or read the book before), the author manages to subvert our expectations without stepping out from the genre completely. Yes, RJ, the main character, has a background story that weighs on her, but she doesn’t allow it to stop her or even slow her down too much. She doesn’t spend an inordinate time reflecting upon it either. There are no big speeches or moments when the two main characters bear their souls, become “close friends”, and talk about their past or their lives. They don’t even get to share their real names. Stuart offers practical advice when required, but does not spend half of the book speechifying about his experience and previous cases. Although they both learn from each other in the process, this is not a book where RJ is inexperienced, shy, and doubts herself all the time, always deferring to Stuart. She is determined to prove she deserves to be there, and she is aware of what she does and does not know. She is prepared to take risks but can take a step back when needed and ask for help.

They are also neither superheroes nor superhuman. They have skills and are highly-trained, but they get hurt, make mistakes, trip, and get things wrong. And although the organisation can supply them with plenty of stuff and information, they don’t have incredible gadgets that can do impossible things. So, although this is a work of fiction and, as such, it requires a certain degree of suspension of disbelief, it is not in the realm of fantasy and wishful thinking. There are bumps in the road, and people don’t magically heal from wounds. The action is kept at a reasonable human-size, and I was grateful for it, as this is one of the aspects that tend to put me off these kinds of books.

There are secrets and lies, but not everybody is in the thick of it, and although most readers would suspect a big cover-up from the beginning, things are not as straightforward as they might appear. Let’s say, without revealing too much, that there are plenty of red herrings to keep people guessing, and although there is a baddie in the story we’ll all love to hate, many other characters are neither totally black nor white, and have more redeeming features and are more interesting than they might at first appear.

I have mentioned some of the themes before, and I can’t really talk about the real motivation behind the events they investigate without revealing too much, but let’s say I hadn’t read any stories set in that world before although it is all too real (as I said, I’m not a big reader of this genre, so there might be many books that have touched on that aspect before, but I haven’t heard of them). I found it fascinating and horrifying at the same time, and I am sure I won’t be the only one.

I liked RJ. The author gives us glimpses of her losses and the impact they have had but does not go into it in detail. There isn’t much time for navel-gazing or pondering. She hesitates at times, but she is a determined young woman, intelligent, knows her own mind and she has very clear priorities. She might work for a big organisation but will not blindly follow orders. We get to know little about Stuart, and he does not take charge of everything, while at times he demonstrates interesting and unexpected skills. We don’t get to know too much about the organisation (as it should be), but I liked both the boss and his secretary, and I imagine they will get to play important parts in the series as it develops. The author has a talent for creating recognisable local characters without going into so much detail that it distracts from the story. They are realistic enough and I particularly liked the owner of the pub/B&B, her little girl and her two young sons. Oh, and their cat! And Wullie Carstairs (and no, you’ll need to read the book if you want to know who he is).

The story is told in the third person, mostly from RJ’s point of view, but sometimes we get an insight into the organisation and its workings, and there is also another character whose point of view we share. And yes, the author is very clever in her use of point of view, as I must confess I was caught by surprise and didn’t see the main twist coming. I don’t know if the way the story is told will be to everybody’s taste, but I can reassure readers that despite the different points of view there is no head-hopping and no risk of getting confused. We know at all times where we are and through whose eyes we’re following the action.

The writing is sparse, and it manages to achieve a good sense of place and location without going into long detailed descriptions that would interrupt the flow of the story and the action. McCready’s writing has something cinematographic about it, as at times she will zoom into a small detail in a scene —a moth, the chewing of the inside of somebody’s cheek, a scab…— which makes it all more vivid and visual. The language is not complex or convoluted, and although some of the events investigated are violent, those are told rather than shown, and I don’t think squeamish readers or those who prefer no explicit violence in their books would have an issue with it. That doesn’t mean there are no dangers or risky situations, though, and although there are some quiet moments, the story moves at good pace and it keeps us turning the pages.

The ending is satisfying, although I found it slightly rushed in execution (perhaps because there had been quite a build-up). I liked the fact that the trial is included, and the epilogue is a nice touch, for sure.

In summary, this is a solid start to a new series that will appeal to those who enjoy investigations and adventures ran by a big secret organisation. The central character is capable and likeable, and there is plenty we don’t know about her yet, so there is more to explore in the future. I think this would also appeal to young adult readers and to learners of the language as it is not too convoluted and the action keeps it interesting and engaging. It might not be sufficiently detailed for readers who love to get into all the details of the investigation (I wouldn’t recommend it to people who like hard police procedurals), but it is a fast-moving novel, in a great setting, and it explores a criminal world not usually the subject of these kinds of stories. A solid first-novel and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Book description

On the vast Buchanan Estate in the wilds of Scotland, tech billionaire James Sullivan dies a suspicious death. Rookie agent RJ Rox is drawn back to a homeland to which she’d sworn she’d never return. She soon realizes the present is far more threatening than her past as she hunts the killers and the powers that unleashed them.

The close-knit community surrounding the estate is the perfect place to hide secrets and lies. RJ finds herself searching for the weakest link that will allow her access into Buchanan’s sinister world.

Thrown together with a partner who clearly hates her makes RJ even more determined to prove herself to the elusive Kingfisher organization.

Remote, desolate, and beautiful, the hills hide a killer lying in wait. Can RJ close the case before anyone else is subject to the same fate as Sullivan? Before she is hunted herself?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s ARC #Bookreview Of Edinburgh #Thriller THE SHADOW MAN by @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK #TuesdayBookBlog

The Shadow ManThe Shadow Man by Helen Fields

4.5 stars

The Shadow Man is a thriller set in Edinburgh. We are introduced to Dr Connie Woodwine, an American forensic psychologist and crime profiler. She’s been asked to work with DI Brodie Baarda on a kidnapping case. Connie is also interested in a recent murder case, and she adds her own unusual investigation methods into the mix.

When more kidnappings occur, the pressure to solve the case shifts gears; Connie offers a theory which seems bizarre, and which she just has to prove before time runs out for the victims.

I liked Connie, with her flaws and her brazen personality; she acted unexpectedly and it worked well with the story. The narrative goes back and forth between the police investigation and the kidnapped characters.  Some of these parts were particularly brutal, but no more so than what has come to be expected in this genre of fiction. The story moves at a good pace, and the build up to the ending had a twist which I hadn’t seen coming.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and I am still able to say that I can happily recommend her to readers of police crime fiction, or those who like books set in Edinburgh and who don’t mind a bit of  gruesome content.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

Due out 4th February 2021 AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #crimefiction The Trial by @johnmayerauthor #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Karen B, she blogs here http://sassyredheadbookreviews.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading The Trial by John Mayer

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Brogan McLane, a young man who had a rough start to life has turned his life around and is now a Member of the Faculty of Advocates in the Scottish Supreme Court, he became a lawyer. He had a beautiful wife that he loved very much, a very good, long time friend who was on the wrong side of the law, but he would do anything for, and a career that he was very proud of. Until everything went wrong. A judge was murdered and Brogan McLane has been arrested for the murder.

Judge Aldounhill, a man who is power hungry, and a has a lot of secrets, is murdered in his home late at night after a rather sketchy party. He is a judge who got his position by telling his friends that if they put his name in to be judge, he would do the same for them in the next go round. However, he never helped anyone else out but himself. He made a lot of enemies by being a man who lied, cheated, and did what he could to get further in life in an unorthodox way.

Big Joe Malarky, a man who has been arrested a few times, but nothing has ever stuck. He is a big man who has a lot of loyal friends. His son is arrested and convicted of a crime he did not commit. Wee Joe Malarky will pay the price that his father has never had to pay. He is sentenced and put in jail with no luck of parole or appeal for the conviction. Big Joe’s wife is beside herself when they receive the second letter telling them that their son will not be able to appeal.

This story was very well written and really drew me in. As I read it, I wanted to know more of the story and couldn’t wait to find out the truth of the murder. The characters were very well developed and made me want to scream at some and shake the hands of others. The story has a lot of twists, detail and the connections to crimes and convictions is well hidden and developed.

I give this story a 5 star review. I look forward to reading more of this series and more from Mr. Mayers. Great job!

Book description

An urban legal/crime novel set in the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh.
Part I of The Parliament House book series

When Glaswegian Brogan McLane completes many years of university education and legal training he crosses that great divide from Glasgow to Edinburgh. ‘Called’ to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court, he becomes a member of the most prestigious club in Scotland; The Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House.

When High Court Judge, Lord Aldounhill, is found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home, those who know the killer close ranks and need a scapegoat – who better than ‘outsider’ Brogan McLane?

Out on bail with his career on hold, McLane and his band of blood brothers in the Calton Bar in Glasgow need to get ahead of their enemies or McLane will go down for life after Trial. But every time they discover a piece of evidence, it seems there is a mirror image to contradict it.

Through the murky world of Russian controlled transvestite hotels and with some unexpected police and judicial help, McLane battles against ‘Low Life in High Places in the Old Town’ until the killer is found.

But well protected and knowing all the tricks, will the killer ever stand trial in Parliament House.

About the author

John Mayer would love to be a top-flight blues guitar player and have dated Jennifer Aniston. But what he did achieve, amongst other things was to be a 1970s Indie Record Producer before becoming a top-flight Advocate in the Supreme Court of Scotland where he specialised in international child abduction: rescuing the children, not abducting them, of course.

In his youth, John was shot! Twice! Once in Glasgow, Scotland and once in New York City. John attacks everything he does with passion. And that’s what he brings to his writing.

John Mayer

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Urban #Scottish #crimefiction The Trial by @johnmayerauthor

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Trial by John Mayer

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The author of The Trial was an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and he made good use of his knowledge of the Scottish legal system in this, his first book in the Parliament House Series.

Glaswegian Brogan McLane is a member of the Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House after being called to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court. He is an outsider, having spent years of university education and legal training to reach his position, rather than being handed his judicial office from his father. The other members of the Faculty of Advocates come from a rich and entitled tight-knit community, having grown up in each other’s company from an early age. Brogan, by contrast, comes from a murky background. So who better to frame for the death of High Court Judge Lord Aldounhill, found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home.  Brogan is the perfect scapegoat to set up to take the fall, hiding the real killer.

The author takes us skillfully through the trumped-up charges, the holes in the rigged investigation, and the trial, which with a bad outcome can send Brogan away for life. The investigation is continually thwarted by corruption and evil within the Supreme Court.  It is not enough that the police officer leading the investigation, Commander Imrie, and Jimmy Robertson, the oldest Queen’s court officer in Parliament House and the provider of inside information, both believe Brogan is innocent. It is up to Brogan’s friends, who live largely on the other side of the law, to provide him with the help he needs to face the power of the nefarious forces within the Court.

I had a great time reading The Trial. It offered a unique setting for a crime novel, and the author provided plenty of twists and turns to keep me turning pages. The treacherous connivance of the members of ‘the system’ set my blood to boil in this good vs evil tale. The characters were enjoyable – even the vilest of the characters were limned in three-dimensions. The steaminess of the crime was presented tastefully as was the (limited) sex. I particularly enjoyed being educated on the Scottish legal system, although I had to refer frequently to the Glossary of Terms and am still not sure I understand the court organization.  I also had to read the Scottish dialect carefully – it added to the richness of the story, but not being familiar with it, I found some of it confusing. None of this detracted from a darned good ride. Great story, excellent plot – I recommend The Trial.

Book description

An urban legal/crime novel set in the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh.
Part I of The Parliament House book series

When Glaswegian Brogan McLane completes many years of university education and legal training he crosses that great divide from Glasgow to Edinburgh. ‘Called’ to the Bar of the Scottish Supreme Court, he becomes a member of the most prestigious club in Scotland; The Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House.

When High Court Judge, Lord Aldounhill, is found dead after a transvestite party in his sumptuous home, those who know the killer close ranks and need a scapegoat – who better than ‘outsider’ Brogan McLane?

Out on bail with his career on hold, McLane and his band of blood brothers in the Calton Bar in Glasgow need to get ahead of their enemies or McLane will go down for life after Trial. But every time they discover a piece of evidence, it seems there is a mirror image to contradict it.

Through the murky world of Russian controlled transvestite hotels and with some unexpected police and judicial help, McLane battles against ‘Low Life in High Places in the Old Town’ until the killer is found.

But well protected and knowing all the tricks, will the killer ever stand trial in Parliament House.

About the author

John Mayer would love to be a top-flight blues guitar player and have dated Jennifer Aniston. But what he did achieve, amongst other things was to be a 1970s Indie Record Producer before becoming a top-flight Advocate in the Supreme Court of Scotland where he specialised in international child abduction: rescuing the children, not abducting them, of course.

In his youth, John was shot! Twice! Once in Glasgow, Scotland and once in New York City. John attacks everything he does with passion. And that’s what he brings to his writing.

John Mayer

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter