Posts Tagged ‘Crime’

The Real Town Murders by Adam Roberts

September 6, 2017 - 6:26 pm No Comments

The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

Published by Gollancz on 24th August 2017

230 pages

Reviewed by Chris Stocks

Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, where most people spend all their time in a fully immersive successor to the internet, known as Shine. However, Alma’s partner has been infected with a genetically-engineered lipid phage, which renders her bed-bound. Alma must treat her within a five-minute window every four hours or she will die. Consequently, Alma is one of the few people still living wholly in the real world.

Alma is assigned to a murder investigation at an automated car factory. A body has been found in the boot of a newly assembled car – though the CCTV footage shows there was no body present at any point in the assembly process.

She is then warned off the case by a government agent, who is subsequently killed. Now a suspect, Alma must go on the run, evade arrest, avoid the machinations of political conspirators and solve the impossible-seeming murder – as well as return home every four hours to treat her partner! This latter requirement adds an extra layer of dramatic tension to what might otherwise have turned into an extended series of chase sequences.

The near-future setting is convincing. The streets are almost deserted, as most people live in the Shine. Most pedestrians are somnambulant figures dressed in Mesh suits that take their bodies for walks to avoid muscular atrophy, whilst their minds are in the Shine – a high-tech version of The Wrong Trousers! AIs and nanotechnology are used to keep the country ticking over, but the overall impression is of decay. Indeed, the underlying political conspiracy involves different government factions who either want everyone to live permanently in the Shine or to tempt Shine users back to the real world.

This is an exciting, fast-paced and often darkly comic thriller, with all the twists and turns of an Alfred Hitchcock film, albeit in a futuristic setting. Indeed, there are deliberate nods to Hitchcock throughout. Some chapter titles allude to Hitchcock films – “Dial ‘C’ for Caring”, “Strangers on the Terrain”, for example. There are also more overt references. One passage features an attack by a swarm of small drones that could have come straight out of The Birds. Another is a tense chase scene set amongst the nanobot-sculpted faces of famous Britons (William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill etc.) that now adorn the White Cliffs of Dover – an allusion to the Mount Rushmore scene in North by North-West. The great director himself even makes a small cameo – as is only right and proper!

There are also numerous references to other works. Alma at one point gets into an amusing argument with the low-grade AI running her front door about whether it should admit her or not. This reminded me of a very similar scene from the Philip K. Dick novel, Ubik. I also spotted passing references to Catch 22, The Princess Bride and The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy amongst others – and I’m sure I missed many more.

In summary, I really enjoyed Adam Robert’s latest novel and can thoroughly recommend it. It is an intriguing thriller as well as referencing enough Hitchcock films and SF classics to satisfy the discerning fan of both genres.

By Any Means Necessary by Stephen Sayers

April 15, 2017 - 5:53 pm No Comments

By Any Means Necessary by Stephen Sayers

Published by Britain’s Next Seller on 9th December 2016

242 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

After losing his mom at an early age, Tommy Myers followed 3 simple rules: Don’t let fear rule his life, fight for those he cared about and never stop unless someone kills him. Knock him down and he would get up fighting. Everything with his life was going to plan, his boxing career was on the rise, he was best friends with his stepsister and he thought nothing could go wrong. However, fate had other plans and after a vicious attack on his sister, Tommy sticking to his rules ends up in prison. Set in Newcastle upon Tyne, we follow Tommy over 3 generations, and see what choices he makes.

The instant, I was introduced to Tommy, I took to him straightaway. A loveable rogue, he earnt respect because he had morals. Sticking to his rules gave him a sense of purpose and even though he was sometimes on the wrong side of the law, he was never greedy and only used violence if necessary. As family come first we get to know Tommy’s family really well. Donna the stepmom, held the family together at their darkest times and although it must have been hard stepping into Mary’s shoes, she always supported the family and never turned her back on them. Karen, Tommy stepsister vowed never to be the victim again and although she had bouts of depression, once she had a project to keep her busy, she put 100% effort into it, not afraid to inflict pain on the male population, she was the one that people under-estimated. Tommy’s nemesis from the moment he was locked up was Jack Hudson, ruling the criminal activity in Newcastle, with the help of bent police office Detective Patrick Campbell, he wants to get revenge on Tommy.

From the prologue, you know that this is going to be an intense story. Set in the criminal world, you expect scenes that are dark and graphic, but each scene is relevant to the story. The author has not just written the scenes for shock sake. The author has your emotions on a rollercoaster, the twists he adds to the story makes it a page turner and you do not know where the author will take you next. I enjoyed reading about the 80s as being a teenager in that decade reminded me about the fashion and music that was around and with some of the comments Tommy made, made me smile to myself.

I was shocked to find that this was his novel as it was written so well. For lovers of the true gritty thrillers, then this is the book for you.  Martina Cole needs to watch out as there is a new author close on her heels.

Death Stalks Kettle Street by John Bowen

November 22, 2016 - 8:14 pm No Comments

Death Stalks Kettle Street by  John Bowen
Page Count: 374
Release date: 9th December 2016
Reviewed by Chris Amies

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Greg Unsworth has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Massive, almost-crippling OCD that makes it difficult for him to get out of the house and he has to count backwards from 100 before he can cross the road. His world is circumscribed by drawing comic-book characters, making trips to the local shop, and occasional excursions to the city.
Beth Grue is an aspiring writer. She has Cerebral Palsy but doesn’t let that stand in her way. More of an issue for her at the moment is that the teacher of her Creative Writing class assumes wrongly she’ll be an easy catch.
And in the town they live in, the suburban peace is about to get broken by a series of inexplicable and vicious murders.
I enjoyed this novel. I felt the narrative bowled along. The murders are intriguing and Bowen sets us up from the first to expect what is known as a ‘cosy’ … but then there is nothing cosy about murder, and it has ramifications, not least in this case where Greg seems to be being set up to take the blame. Teaming up with Beth the two of them set off to find out what is going on. There are suitable blind alleys and red herrings and characters who could easily have done it, but did they? The reader has to read and find out.
The two protagonists having respectively OCD and CP was intriguing and convincing especially about the question which all must be asked, without actually saying it: What’s wrong with you? Both are tough characters in their way and their relationship develops interestingly. The secondary characters are well-rounded: throughout there is a theme of people not being reducible to a word or an adjective: that one story tends to become the only story. Your adjective is not your definition or your limitation. A similar lack of definition extends to the novel’s setting: the characters’ home town (‘Northcroft’) is likely Northfield, a southern suburb of Birmingham, and the ‘city’ is clearly Brum, including a good description of the new Library. They aren’t named as such though which allows the writer to take liberties with their geography.
There is no supernatural element to the story, unlike some of John Bowen’s other work. Instead “Death Stalks Kettle Street” marks a strong and confident turn towards the detective genre.

Stake-Out (Paranormal Detectives Series Book 1) by Lily Luchesi

August 27, 2016 - 10:37 am No Comments

Stake-Out (Paranormal Detectives Series Book 1) by Lily Luchesi

Published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly publishing on 17th May 2015

128 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Detective Daniel Mancini has to go into early retirement due a stake out that goes horribly wrong. He is tracking a serial killer who turns out to be a vampire the trouble is nobody believes him and thinks he is crazy due to his injuries.

Two years later he gets a knock on the door and a beautiful agent Angelica Cross invites him to join a secret part of the FBI who investigates paranormal activity. She wants him to help her catch the vampire serial killer and as he knows the case he is the best man for the job. Whilst he gets trained in how to fight all things paranormal a close friend gets killed by the vampire causing Daniel to have an unhealthy hatred of all things vampires. Both Angelica and Daniel has their secrets but can they work together to solve the crime.

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great start to the series. I liked how the relationship between Angelica and Daniel was going and the prejudices they both faced. I love the idea of a human working with a paranormal and can’t wait to see how the series progresses. Angelica is one feisty lady and you can tell that she does not taking any nonsense. Daniel is your typical cop, always questioning everything and wants to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I am interested in finding out where their relationship will go but I don’t have to wait long as book 2 is already out