I have had a fairly quiet week this week, no exertion and resting back which is now, fingers crossed, almost back to normal. I seem to have motored through five books in the last five days, one of which was a huge sprawling 500+ page historical saga, and the others are all of the crime/thriller genre.
Couple of these titles are all debut thrillers and have enjoyed every single one of them with a few minor reservations. First up is Tooth for a Tooth by T F Muir and is set in St Andrews, Scotland. A woman's skeleton is discovered in a shallow grave and is unearthed when the plot is dug over for a funeral. DCI Andy Gilchrist is the hero of our story and, naturally, is divorced and has a fractured relationship with his children. This is a given nowadays or so it seems to me anyway. He starts to investigate and to his horror realises that his brother Jack who was killed in a hit and run accident some 30+ years ago, and is the same age as the skeleton, might be involved. A colleague with whom he also has a fractured relationship picks up on this and the fact that Gilchrist might be concealing evidence and is determined to get him kicked off the case and, possibly, out of the force.
A good plot, if a trifle confusing at times as Gilchrist delves into the past relationships of the murder victim when they were young and at University, most of them with something to hide. A promising debut novel but I do have a reservation or two. An unlikely character who appears early on in the narrative is no real addition to the mystery and not quite sure while he/she is there. Ending a bit over the top but great fun. My other reservation is the use of what I have dubbed ''Grisham speak". In his novels cars never accelerate away from the kerb, they are always 'gunned'; a phone is never dialled or numbers pressed, they are always 'stabbed' and if you wish to take a right turn it is always 'hanging a right'. Now in American thrillers you can get away with it because it fits a genre, a style but put them in a BritTec and they do stick out. I have yet to meet a barman who 'gunned a smile' but we have it here. And one of the characters who lights up at the drop of a hat always draws hungrily or fiercely and even snarls on one or two occasions. BUT, nit picking aside an interesting book and I have a feeling this could be the start of a promising series.
The Wrong Man by Jason Dean. Former Marine James Bishop has been imprisoned on a charge of murder. He used to be the leader of an elite close protection team hired to guard a millionaire and his daughter who had been receiving death threats. After being attacked while on duty he regains consciousness to find not only his charges dead, but the rest of his team and all evidence points to him. While in prison Bishop plots to escape and track down who has set him up and it is clear that it must be one of his old team and that he has been betrayed by a friend. But who? An intricately plotted escape (very filmic I kept thinking of Russell Crowe in a film the Next three Days which covers a similar situation) and then a chase to track down the killer before he is caught and sent back to prison.
This is a very exciting and page turning thriller with an excellent plot with loads of twists and turns and subtleties. I could not put it down and stayed in bed late one morning until I had finished it. There is a second due in 2013 and I am already looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.
Eye Contact by Fergus McNeill. Another debut novel and another goodie. Robert Naysmith is a successful businessman, handsome and charming but he has a dark side and for years has been playing a deadly game. He is a murderer and he chooses his victims at random. He does not need a reason for his selection, he allows fate to decide. When the need to kill comes upon him he decides to kill the first person to make eye contact with him after he has decided to begin the 'game'. Once they do, their fate is sealed.
This plotline is intriguing because there is no connection, no reason for the murders and, therefore, almost no chance of tracking down the culprit. Enter stage right our hero - Detective Inspector Harland, not divorced or an alcoholic this time, but a widower grieving for the death of his wife a year earlier and just about coping. (Oh for a happy detective!)
The murderer is arrogant - he takes an item from each victim and leaves it on the body of the next as if taunting and defying the police. These actions trigger off a link in Harland's mind and tracking backwards he finds a trail of victims, but though he knows they are linked, they must be, he does not know the how or the why. This is another cracking story, set in and around the Winchester/Salisbury area and has a a cliff hanger ending which will, I hope, lead onto the next from this author. Great stuff.
And, finally - Deity by Steven Dunne. This is the third novel by this author but the first one I have read and this really kept me going all one day. Setting this time is Derbyshire, and a body is dragged out of the River Derwent, presumed drowned until the autopsy reveals he has no lungs. Another corpse turns up later and, once again, internal organs have been removed with the exception of the heart. Both the victims are homeless derelicts taken from the streets and it soon becomes clear that they have been snatched so that the murderer can practice his embalming and mummifying skills on their bodies. Clear also that there will be other deaths when his skill has been honed and it is down to DI Damen Brook of Derby CID to track him down before he selects his final victims. And then four college students are reported missing and a film is released on the internet which sugests they have ritually killed themselves. But have they and are the two cases linked?
Another nail biter - sorry to keep using that expression, but it really was - and finished it about half an hour ago. (Currently watching another scene of carnage as I am following the Test Match with England needing over 340 runs to win. At the moment they are 9 for 2 so looking rather unlikely...)
Sorry, back to Steven Dunne. I gather that he has written two other previous titles and with a back story given for DI Brook am assuming they feature him as well. I think I will seek these out now and give them a whirl. Oh and before I forget, DI Brook is divorced, has had a breakdown and has a fractured relationship with his daughter, in case you were wondering......
So four very very good books and they kept me happy while my back rested and healed. My thanks to all those lovely publishers who sent them to me.