CTG Reviews: RUTHLESS by Jessie Keane

RUTHLESS cover image

RUTHLESS cover image

What the blurb says: “After fighting her way out of East London’s criminal underworld, Annie Carter’s life appears to be perfect. She has all the trappings of a wealthy and successful existence. And her longstanding rivals the Delaneys are dead, out of her life for good …

But behind the gilded surface, Annie’s life is descending into chaos. Her marriage is in tatters, her relationship with her daughter is fraught and there are whispers on the streets of London; are the Delaney twins really dead? Perhaps Annie should have demanded to see their bodies lying on a slab in the morgue …

Once again Annie is being chased by those who want her dead. But this time, the stakes are even higher and her enemies are even more determined …”

This is the first book by Jessie Keane that I’ve read, but it most certainly won’t be the last. Tightly plotted, with a full cast of wonderfully larger-than-life characters, this novel had me gripped from the very first page.

The main protagonist, Annie Carter, seems to those around her a real woman-on-top, but beneath her glamorous appearance and no-nonsense business savvy, she’s in emotional turmoil. Still, she’s determined to pull her life back on track.

Then someone tries to abduct her daughter, blow up her car, and break into her home. Worse still, their description seems to match that of one of the Delaney twins, Annie’s arch enemies, who she believed to be long dead. Sending her daughter into hiding, Annie puts her personal problems aside and partners up with her ex-husband, Max Carter, and her youngest step-son, Mafia boss, Alberto Barolli, to find out who is behind the attacks, and whether the Delaney twins really died all those years ago.

The novel takes the reader on a journey from London, to New York, and across to rural Ireland. What I especially loved about this story was the way multiple story strands were woven together: a coming-of-age story for Annie’s daughter, Layla, and an explosive battle of wills (and sexual tension) for Annie as she tries to keep an uneasy truce with her ex-husband; all set within a deadly game of cat and mouse with a determined killer driven by revenge.

Intriguing, suspenseful and thrilling. A real page turner.

Highly Recommended.


[With thanks to Pan for my review copy of RUTHLESS]

AudioBook Addict reviews: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay

audio book cover

audio book cover

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Author: Malcolm Mackay

Narrated by: Angus King

Run time: 8 Hrs and 12 mins

Unabridged – released on audiobook 06/06/2013

What the blurb says: “An arresting, gripping novel of dark relationships and even darker moralities: introducing a remarkable new voice in crime fiction.

A 29-year-old man lives alone in his Glasgow flat. The telephone rings; a casual conversation, but behind this a job offer. The clues are there if you know to look for them. He is an expert. A loner. Freelance. Another job is another job, but what if this organisation wants more? A meeting at a club. An offer. A brief. A target: Lewis Winter. It’s hard to kill a man well. People who do it well know this. People who do it badly find out the hard way. The hard way has consequences.”

Ok – full disclosure – when I started this audiobook, I just didn’t like it at all! The style felt like head-hopping and when other reviewers said it was ‘different’ they weren’t kidding. BUT, boy am I glad I stuck with it. This debut novel by Malcolm Mackay follows a young freelance gunman as he is drawn deeper into working for a gangland organisation. The novel is written in a way that zooms out from the actions and dialogue and takes you into the mind and thought processes of the characters – I think, dredging up memories of my MA, that it actually verges on meta-fiction in parts.

Callum is a freelance gunman and is asked by Peter Jameson, the head of an ambitious criminal gang, to kill Lewis Winter; the man’s death is necessary. We follow Callum on the job, see him prepare and watch him interact with the characters that will assist him to complete the job, and those that will hunt him afterwards.

This novel is really well written. Any misgivings that I had in the beginning were only due to the fact that this is a genuinely different type of novel to those I normally read (or listen to). Mackay openly discusses the thought processes of the characters and this draws you into them even more as the story goes on. At a little over 8 hours, the length was good, although, as is often the case, I would have happily listened for longer. Angus King is a solid narrator.

I have already bought the next audiobook in the series, ‘How a Gunman says Goodbye,’ and that alone is testament to just how good this book is.

Highly recommended.

[AudioBook Addict bought his own copy of The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter]

CTG Reviews: Murder on Thames by Neil Richards and Matthew Costello

Murder on Thames cover image

Murder on Thames cover image

Murder on Thames is the first instalment of the new Cherringham Murder Mystery series, an eBook series that will see a new novella-length mystery solved every month. Published by Bastei Entertainment (an imprint of Germany’s Bastei Lübbe) the series by Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US) will be published both in English and German.

What the blurb says: Cherringham is a quiet and peaceful town in the Cotswolds. Time moves slowly here, and nothing out of the ordinary ever happens, until one morning a woman’s body is discovered in the river. Sarah Edwards has just returned to Cherringham with her two children following the breakdown of her marriage. Sarah had been friends with Sammi Jackson – the woman in the river – before they both moved to London and she’s certain there is more to her death than meets the eye. But juggling the school run and her job as a web designer doesn’t leave much time to solve murder mysteries.

After the death of his wife, former NYPD homicide detective Jack Brennan has retired to Cherringham hoping for a quiet life. He soon realises “peace and quiet” isn’t really him and, despite his misgivings, he’s persuaded by Sarah to help her look into Sammi’s death. It quickly becomes clear that the case isn’t as simple as the police hope. From her violent ex-boyfriend to her alcoholic father, it seems everyone has something to hide. Sarah and Jack will need to use all their wits to get to the bottom of this case.”

If you’re a fan of Midsomer Murders and other ‘cosy’ (or ‘cozy’) crime drama and novels then this eBook series is well worth checking out. It ticks all the right boxes: quaint English village – check, traditional pub – check. Traditional game of cricket – check. Nasty goings on, and murderous intentions, lurking beneath the picturesque and seemingly tranquil setting – check, check, check.

Narrowboat-dwelling, retired ex-NYPD detective, Jack Brennan, and recently returned to the village, divorced single-mum, Sarah Edwards, make a great double act. Although I did think that Sarah seemed to get over her friend’s death rather too quickly, the spark between the two main characters, and the pace at which they launch themselves into their ‘off the books’ investigation, carried me along with the story and kept me turning the pages.

A fun read. And, at this time of year, perfect for curling up by the fire with while the rain pours down outside!

Murder on Thames is out now, and the second episode in the series, Mystery at the Manor, will be published on 16th January 2014.

[Many thanks to Bastei Entertainment for my review copy of Murder on Thames]

And the Winner is …

Massive congratulations to ERICA PRICE who is the winner of the Quercus Crime Bundle giveaway.

Winging their way to Erica are copies of the following fabulous books: Alex by Pierre Lemaitre, The Chessmen by Peter May, Screams in the Dark by Anna Smith, The Gift of Darkness by V.M. Giambanco, and The Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini.

The Prizes!

The Prizes!