Monday, 23 May 2016

Play Dead - Angela Marsons

Play Dead
by Angela Marsons

About the book...
The dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen. 

The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess. 

Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime. 

Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next? 

As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …? 

About the author...
Angela discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.

Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.

After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer's News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.

She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion - Crime.

After many, many submissions Angela was signed in a 4 book deal to as their first crime author.  Her first book SILENT SCREAM was published in February 2015 and was an #1 Amazon best seller.

My thoughts...
I was asked by Kim Nash at Bookouture - Angela Marson's publishers, if I'd like to be part of the blog tour for Angela's latest book Play Dead - absolutely, definitely was my reply.  I was given an ecopy of the book in exchange for an honest review, something I am more than happy to do.

Play Dead is the fourth book in the D.I. Kim Stone, detective, thriller series and is equally as gripping and terrifyingly, breathe holding as the first.  As ever, Kim is on the hunt for a serial killer, this time the case is discovered whilst visiting a body farm.  Kim identifies a newer body than those she's there to look at and so begins the hunt for the person who has brutally murdered a young girl, dumping her at a supposedly secret to the public location.  Westerley research facility is studying the decomposition of the human body by natural elements and insects - my stomach is still turning at the thoughts and images evoked whilst reading this book.  Yet, Angela has the knack of delivering just the right amount of detail to be realistic, stopping just short of the need to have me committed to a secure unit as a gibbering wreck.  

Play Dead is very similar to the rest of the series in that the main character is a constant.  Kim Stone is still the brash, matter of fact, hard nosed inspector hell bent on solving a crime - breaking the rules, yet knowing just how far she can push her boss and her team before pulling back.  She has the knack of shutting out the here and now and getting under the skins of the victims and everyone around her.  Despite the gruelling pace she expects her team to work under it's clear they have her back - working a mind numbing number of hours when necessity calls.

Angela Marsons, in Kim Stone drives the narrative at an alarming rate, I literally couldn't put this book down.  Just how many bodies were going to be discovered in the same shocking manner before the case was solved?  This had me reading faster and faster. If I read quicker and got to the end, perhaps I'll save a few people - shocking, unbelievable but it's how I felt.  She really does get under your skin, with characters that are flawed but likeable.

As ever when reading a crime book I like to second guess which character is the guilty one. In Play Dead I guessed, second guessed, third guessed and sat with just pages to go with my mouth open - totally shocked.  At one point I partially guessed but then dismissed the whole idea as ridiculous.  I didn't see that ending coming at all.  The characters are complex and all seem to have a side we as the reader are not privy to, hence questioning everyone's motives. 

I can't tell you how massively brilliant this book and whole series is.  Each could be read as stand alone books but by reading the whole series you'll get a greater insight into what makes D. I. Kim Stone tick.  She really is a multi-faceted, diamond of a character. Sharp, shiny and at the top of her game - four books into this series and there are a few smoothed edges, almost as if she's becoming comfortable with her readers so revealing more of herself.

I can only say if ever I had the need of a detective that would leave no stone unturned and rip the clues apart in pursuit of a serial killer - Kim Stone would be the first, in fat only person I'd call.  Thank you Angela for another book of escapism that is just that little bit too close to reality to ever be a comfortable read - I like the edge of seat, heart hammering experience you provide - until the next time. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

While My Eyes Were Closed - Linda Green

While My Eyes Were Closed
by Linda Green  

About the book...
One, two, three......

Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa's family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn't a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa's little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?

About the author...
Linda Green is an award-winning journalist and has written for the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and the Big Issue.  She has worked for the Birmingham Bureau of Children's Express, a national charity promoting learning through journalism and is a qualified creative writing tutor.  While My Eyes Were Closed is her seventh novel.  Linda lives in West Yorkshire with her husband and their son.

My thoughts...
Lisa Dale and Ella, her four year old daughter are enjoying an afternoon in the park.  Firstly, Ella wants to show her mum how she can climb to the top of the big slide on her own and secondly, to prolong the trip by playing her favourite game of hide and seek.

Lisa, like many mums is juggling a working life with that of being a mum.  Linda Green with very little text gives an inkling as to why Lisa is so driven to do well for herself and provide for her family.  Growing up on the wrong side of town, always feeling she needs to prove herself appears to be the driver behind her need to excel.  She gives two hundred percent to her job, sadly at the expense of spending lots of time with her children. It's this guilt that has her agreeing to just one more game, a decision she lives to regret.  Whilst taking a work call in the middle of the game her daughter disappears.

So begins the worst nightmare of every mothers life.

Linda Green has written a book that will make you think. Can there ever be a reason to kidnap a child? In this case, apparently so.  Her abductor took her to save her, thinking Ella would be better cared for than with her own family.  After all - what sort of mother chats on the phone whilst someone calming walks out of the park with their child - an unfit one that's what!!

I never thought I would feel pity and empathy for someone who abducted a child. But, somehow I do now!   Linda Green showed that there is always two sides to a story. In this sort of scenario we would normally only get to hear about the anguish of the family who have lost a child. In this book we get to hear from the side of the abductor too. There's always a reason for our actions, it doesn't make it right, but there is always a reason behind everything we think and do in life. 

In While My Eyes Were Closed, Linda Green proves there is no love like the love a parent feels for their child, it really is quite unique.  Most of us have said or thought we'd do anything to protect our children and throughout this book that premise is demonstrated over and over again by several characters, not just by Ella's mum Lisa. When a mother loses a child in any circumstances, grief and emotions run high.  Emotions can cause people to act out of character and behave in ways which are totally irrational and unthinkable in normal circumstances. 

The story switches back and forth between the kidnapper story and Ella's family.  Linda Green gives a really perceptive insight into the tensions and emotions from both sides. My inner voice firstly berated, then felt pity and sadness for both sides, alternatively throughout the whole novel.

I feel it's wrong to say I loved this book because as a mother the storyline is just unthinkable - only in my worst nightmare. But, I did. I loved this book. Because of Linda Green and her writing style.  She presented the facts without over dramatising or filling the pages with too much unnecessary detail in a balanced way that was more thought provoking than any book I've read for quite a while. Tensions run high on both sides. 

I fully engaged with all the characters and by the end of the book I wanted the best outcome for everyone.  Even the suspects.  Some crimes are never spent and the lives of those people trying to forge new beginnings can be almost impossible.  Sadly, we all form opinions and judge and we're not always right to do this.

I highly recommend this book and have personally recommended it to so many of my friends already. I can't wait for my next read by Linda Green.