CTG REVIEWS: THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER by SUSI HOLLIDAY

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Here’s the blurb: “It looks like a regular advent calendar. Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors… and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one. The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years. But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station? As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…”

I’ve never read a serial killer book set at Christmas time before, but there’s something creepily macabre and don’t-you-dare-look-away compelling about the combination of Christmas tunes, tinsel and blood splatter.

In The Deaths of December, Susi Holliday introduces a great new police pairing – DC Becky Greene and DS Eddie Carmine. Becky is fresh into the job and as enthusiastic as she is tenacious. Eddie has more experience, and is more measured, thorough – or at least he believes he always has been. They make for a great duo, not always seeing eye-to-eye, but getting on and recognizing each other’s strengths nonetheless. And that’s important, because the case they’ve been assigned is a tricky one.

How do you catch a serial killer who’s been killing for twenty years undetected? He doesn’t have a specific victim ‘type’ and he kills in different ways, in different towns, on different days. The only thing that seems to connect the crimes is the gruesome advent calendar he sent to the police – but why send it?

As Becky and Eddie investigate the case it takes them away from their loved ones just as the festive period is beginning in earnest. They’re focused on the case, on catching the killer before he strikes this Christmas. They assume that there’ll be able to spend time with their families afterwards. But will they? Because the closer they get to the killer, the closer he gets to the ones they love…

Peppered with sharply observed Christmas holiday and habit references, this is a sparkly and blood-splattered read. It’s the perfect antidote to too much turkey and Christmas pudding – creepy, tense and twisty-turny as hell. I loved it!

Fans of police procedurals are going to want to make sure they’ve got a copy of The Deaths of December in their Christmas socking.

THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER is out on 16th November.

You can pre-order it from Amazon HERE

And find out more about Susi Holliday and her books by hopping over to her website and blog HERE

Competition Alert: WIN a fabulous bundle of Quercus Crime Books!

The Prizes!

The Prizes!

Love crime fiction? Well, you’re in for a real treat. Those darling people over at Quercus have teamed up with the CTG blog to give away a gorgeous set of novels just perfect for the avid crime reader.

The lucky winner will receive a copy of the following 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.

How to enter
To enter all you need to do is send a tweet to @crimethrillgirl Your tweet must include the answer to this question: Where is Peter May’s novel ‘The Chessmen’ set? [hint, check out the prize descriptions below!] Your tweet must also include the hashtag #CTGQUERCUS. [You’ll also need to be follow us on Twitter, so that we can send you a direct message should you win].

If you’re not on Twitter don’t worry. You can also enter by emailing crimethrillergirl[at]gmail.com. Give your email the header CTGQUERCUS and be sure to include the answer to the question: Where is Peter May’s novel ‘The Chessmen’ set? [hint, check out the prize descriptions below!] plus your name and address.

Rules
(1) One entry per reader (2) UK residents only – due to postage costs – sorry! (3) We will draw the winner at random from the entries containing the correct answer (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 10pm GMT on Tuesday 24th December 2013 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN NOTIFIED

The prizes
Here’s the blurb for each of the fabulous books  …

THE CHESSMEN by Peter May

Fin Macleod, now head of security on a privately owned Isle of Lewis estate, is charged with investigating a spate of illegal game-hunting taking place on the island. This mission reunites him with Whistler Macaskill – a local poacher, Fin’s teenage intimate, and possessor of a long-buried secret. But when this reunion takes a violent, sinister turn and Fin puts together the fractured pieces of the past, he realises that revealing the truth could destroy the future.

ALEX by Pierre Lemaitre

In kidnapping cases, the first few hours are crucial. After that, the chances of being found alive go from slim to nearly none. Alex Prévost – beautiful, resourceful, tough – may be no ordinary victim, but her time is running out. Commandant Camille Verhœven and his detectives have nothing to go on: no suspect, no lead, rapidly diminishing hope. All they know is that a girl was snatched off the streets of Paris and bundled into a white van. The enigma that is the fate of Alex will keep Verhœven guessing until the bitter, bitter end. And before long, saving her life will be the least of his worries.

SCREAMS IN THE DARK by Anna Smith

Crime reporter Rosie Gilmour has learned to be tough … The places she’s been and the stories she’s covered, she’s had to be. Her experience stands her in good stead for a grisly new investigation: the body of a refugee in a Glasgow canal, missing limbs and vital organs. He’s not the first person to go missing – are there vigilantes at work or is there something far more sinister going on? It’s up to Rosie to find out – but will what she discovers leave her with murder on her hands?

THE GIFT OF DARKNESS by V.M. Giambanco

Twenty-five years ago in the woods near the Hoh River in Seattle, three boys were kidnapped. One did not come home. A quarter of a decade later, a family of four is found brutally murdered, the words thirteen days scratched near their lifeless bodies. To stop a psychopath, Detective Alice Madison must go into the woods and confront the unsolved mystery of the Hoh River Boys. She must forget her training and follow her instincts to the terrifying end …

THE DELIVERANCE OF EVIL by Robert Costantini

On 11 July 1982, Elisa Sordi was beautiful. Commissario Michele Balistreri was fearless. Italy was victorious. A killer was waiting … On 9 July 2006, with Sordi’s case twenty-four years old, and Balistreri haunted by guilt and regret, Italian victory returned. And so did Sordi’s killer … But this time Michele Balistreri would be ready. This time he would fear no evil.

To find out more about these fabulous novels hop on over to the Quercus Books website at http://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/blog/2013/11/30/for-the-crime-lover/

CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas (part 2): Action Thrillers

The holiday season is fast approaching, and along with it the search for the perfect gift. But there’s no need to panic. Hardback, paperback, audiobook or eBook, whatever your preferred format, books make a fabulous gift.

So, if you’re looking for a few ideas for the crime thriller lovers in your life (or you’re dropping a few hints about what you’d like in your Christmas stocking) here’s a recap of some of my favourite reads from 2013 …

Today’s picks: Action Thrillers

Action thrillers top my list of the many sub-genres within crime fiction. 2013 has been a great year for them, and some of my top picks are:

GHOSTMAN cover image

GHOSTMAN cover image

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

From the opening page this story hurtles along at a breathless pace. Jack is a mysterious character. Able to change his appearance, his voice and his persona in a moment, he is a true master of disguise.

At the start of the novel Jack reluctantly agrees to sort out the aftermath of a bungled casino heist as repayment of an old favour to the criminal mastermind Marcus. His brief is simple – find Marcus’ missing man and find the stolen cash.

This rapid paced, nail bitingly tense action thriller has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. This is a distinctive debut by 24-year-old novelist Roger Hobbs.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/02/10/review-ghostman-by-roger-hobbs/ 

The Blood Whisperer cover image

The Blood Whisperer cover image

The Blood Whisperer by Zoë Sharp

CSI Kelly Jacks has the skill and instinct to read a crime scene to rival that of Dexter Morgan (of the series, DEXTER) but without any of his serial killer tendencies. Having served her time for a crime that she still has no memory of committing, she’s picked up her life and has a job as a specialist crime scene cleaner, cleaning up the crime scenes that she once used to be working. Slowly she’s getting her life back.

But when Kelly and her work partner, Tyrone, are called in to clean a bathroom where a suicide has taken place, Kelly finds evidence to suggest foul play was involved. She questions whether the police should re-look at the scene. They don’t. But from then on bad things start to happen.

High on suspense and tightly plotted, the pace moves ever more rapidly as Kelly unravels a tangled web of lies, greed and deception that will take her from the streets of London to the world of horse racing via seedy warehouses, end-high escorts, plush offices and swanky apartments. I love this book for the pulse pounding action, the artfully woven conspiracy, and the fabulous characters.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/12/06/ctg-reviews-the-blood-whisperer-by-zoe-sharp/

NEVER GO BACK cover image

NEVER GO BACK cover image

Never Go Back by Lee Child

When I was halfway through this book I started to slow down, I was so enjoying the story that I wanted to make it last longer. Now that, to me, is a great book. In fact, I think this might just be my new favourite of the series – and that’s a tough call to make because they are all so good.

Anyway, this book sees Reacher finally getting to Virginia. Only Major Susan Turner isn’t there and Reacher is recalled back into the army to face an old homicide charge (and another, more personal relationship-based, legal situation). But does Reacher quit? Of course not, he’s going to find out why both he and Susan Turner are being held on trumped-up charges, and ensure that justice is served.

Classic Reacher. Unputdownable.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/11/01/ctg-reviews-never-go-back-by-lee-child/

UK cover image

UK cover image

DOWNFALL by Jeff Abbott

DOWNFALL is the third book in the Sam Capra series and begins with ex-CIA agent, Sam, living in relative peace, working for The Round Table and enjoying his cover life as owner of a chain of bars across the States. He wants a normal life, and this is as close to it as he’s had in a long while. But his peace is shattered when a young woman fleeing two male attackers rushes into the bar and begs for his help. Sam leaps to her aid, and in the process kills one of the men. As well as bringing him unwanted attention from the police and the media, this brings Sam to the attention of Balias – a master criminal who can make a person’s dreams come true, for a price.

As readers of the series will have come to expect, the story charges along at a breakneck pace. The stakes are high and the constant raising of the tension makes the story compulsive reading. A real page-turner of a story.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/08/01/downfall-by-jeff-abbott/

[Watch out for the next installment of CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas: Crime in Colder Climates]

CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas (part 1): Psychological Thrillers

The holiday season is fast approaching, and along with it the search for the perfect gift. But there’s no need to panic. Hardback, paperback, audiobook or eBook, whatever your preferred format, books make a fabulous gift.

So, if you’re looking for a few ideas for the crime thriller lovers in your life (or you’re dropping a few hints about what you’d like in your Christmas stocking) here’s a recap of some of my favourite reads from 2013 …

Today’s picks: Psychological Thrillers

There have been some cracking psychological thrillers out this year, a few of my favourites are:

THE NEVER LIST cover image

THE NEVER LIST cover image

The Never List by Koethi Zan

From the very first page, no, the very first paragraph, this story had me hooked. I don’t know if it was the terrifying premise – three women imprisoned in a cellar by a man they thought that they could trust; the unwavering loyalty to her friend Jennifer that the protagonist, Sarah, maintains despite the danger that in puts her in; or the three women’s determination, against all odds and all that had happened to them, to succeed in their quest for justice and uncover the shocking truth. Whatever it was, I just couldn’t put it down.

A chilling, page-turner of a psychological thriller with one hell of a twist at the end: a real must-read for all fans of the genre.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/09/04/the-never-list-by-koethi-zan/

Rush of Blood cover image

Rush of Blood cover image

Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Holiday friendships: sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t. But they’re usually fun while they last, and don’t usually involve murder, unlike the holiday friendships made in Mark Billingham’s standalone thriller RUSH OF BLOOD.

A cross between a police procedural and a psychological thriller, this high-tension, fast paced, character driven story is masterfully plotted and flawlessly told. It’ll also make you think twice about striking up a conversation with the people sitting round the pool or beside you on the beach next time you’re on holiday! Fabulous.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/09/12/rush-of-blood-by-mark-billingham/

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Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

“She’s gone and it’s your fault. You were supposed to be watching your best friend’s 13-year-old daughter, and now she’s missing.”

Lisa’s life is beyond hectic. With her family, her job at the animal shelter, and the demands of her friends she rarely has a minute to herself. It’s easy to empathize with her, and it’s easy to understand how she might overlook the odd detail. An odd detail that leads to her worst nightmare coming true.

I finished this book in 24 hours, unable to put it down until it was finished. It also made me want to go and adopt another animal from the local shelter. If you (or the person you’re buying a gift for) enjoy fast-paced psychological thrillers with an emotional kick, then this is for you.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/05/02/review-just-what-kind-of-mother-are-you-by-paula-daly/

Coming next in CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas [part 2] – Action Thrillers …