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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

‘Something Evil Comes’ by A.J.Cross

Published by Severn House Publishers Ltd,
1 December 2017
978-072788739-9 (PB)

Dr. Kate Hanson is a forensic psychologist who lectures at a Birmingham university and also collaborates with the city’s police service as a member of their Unsolved Crime Unit (UCU).  Hanson shares her home with Charlie, her de facto, if not biological, father, and her talented, but typically tormented, teenage daughter Maisie.  Hanson’s responsibilities, as she juggles these demanding roles, create interest and tension within the police procedural.

When a community police officer witnesses two burglars running away from St. Bartholomew’s Church, he retraces their steps and discovers that they have broken into its dank, dreary crypt, which comes complete with tomb and mutilated body.  UTU officers, Lieutenant Joseph Corrigan and his partner Detective Sergeant Bernard Watts, attend the scene, where they find police pathologist, Dr Connie Chong, is already examining the corpse.  The well-preserved cadaver, it transpires, is likely to be that of Matthew Flynn, a young man who disappeared just over a year before.  Having established that this is indeed a cold case, Professor Hanson is called in to assist with the investigation as the team begin to focus on why he was murdered and who killed him.

Father Delaney the priest in charge at St. Bartholomew’s, Flynn’s dysfunctional family, and Matthew's former roommates, are all possible suspects, but the investigators struggle to discover a motive that will provide a plausible link between any of them and the grisly murder.  The need to find out why Matthew died, becomes more urgent when a suspicious suicide and another murder transform past evil into a very present threat.  Whilst the detectives pursue their enquiries, Hanson’s professional observations and instincts steer her perilously close to the killer.  The narrative accelerates as the accuracy of her findings puts her life in danger.

Something Evil Comes is infused with the professional expertise which A.J. Cross, herself a forensic psychologist, brings to the tale.  The author uses her knowledge and combines it with impeccable storytelling, to weave a plot that teases, excites and thrills.  The book is entertaining and compelling, it keeps the reader guessing from beginning to unexpected end.

This is the fourth novel in the Kate Hanson series, it can be read as the latest in the series, or on its own.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

A J Cross is a Forensic Psychologist and frequent court-appointed expert witness. She obtained her Masters Degree and PhD at the University of Birmingham, the latter relating to children as witnesses within the criminal court system.  Anne's professional experience has included consultancy work for the Probation Service in her home city. Anne currently lives in Birmingham with her jazz-musician husband.  

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

‘The Anthill Murders’ by Hans Olav Lahlum

Translated by Kari Dickson
Published by Mantle,
28 September 2017. 
ISBN 978-1-5098-0952-3

The Golden Age merges with Scandinavian Crime to produce this book.   It is set in 1972 in Oslo and starts with Inspector K2 investigating the strangulation of a young, attractive, female theology student.   She was killed when she was walking a short distance to her home at night.    The Inspector finds it a difficult case since it seems to be a random event.   Interviews with friends, relatives and acquaintances of the girl suggest that she has a fundamentally cold personality - she was very good looking and seemed to enjoy leading men on then rejecting them.

The title The Anthill Murders refers to the discovery of a small drawing of an ant in the victim’s handbag.  A second murder soon follows - this time of a different sort of woman - a promiscuous, heavy drinking jazz singer.     The ant motif re-occurs in this and further murders.  We are privy to the murderer’s thoughts, conveyed to the reader in short sections written in italics.    Tension builds up as the murderer works to carry out his plans. 

Inspector K2 discusses this case with Patricia, his friend and ally in previous cases.  She is another attractive young woman but has a disability that forces her to use a wheelchair.   They find it difficult to proceed, especially as their own relationship develops some problems.   

The Agatha Christie similarity suggested by one of the policemen proves interesting in reaching final onclusions.  This is a cleverly crafted mystery with several unexpected twists.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Hans Olaf Lahlum has written 4 previous crime novels featuring K2 and Patricia.

Hans Olav Lahlum born 12 September 1973, is a Norwegian historian, crime author, chess player and organizer, and politician. He has written biographies on Oscar Torp and Haakon Lie, and a history book about all the Presidents of the United States.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

‘Sugar and Spice’ by M. C. Dutton

Published by Matador,
28 May 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-78803553-8

This story is the third in this series which features Detective Sergeant Jaswinder (‘Jazz’) Singh who is stationed in an East London police station serving Barking and Dagenham. Jazz is only just hanging on to his job since, in the previous story, although he and his team – Detective Sergeant Boomer and Detective Constable Ashiv Kumar along with his tame informer Mad Pete – had solved the crime in question, it seems to also have created absolute mayhem. So, Jazz has been downgraded to dealing with feuds between local old ladies and the occasional outbreak of gang violence. It is an episode of the latter that leads him to Dionne Osei, aunt of one of the boys involved. But what concerns Jazz is that Dionne’s ‘gentleman friend’, Peter Grimshaw, is suspiciously attentive to Nekisha, Dionne’s six-year-old daughter. Jazz begins to look into Peter Grimshaw, what his background is, who are his associates, and what are they up to. That turns out to be a paedophile ring with some very establishment figures involved and Jazz and his team find themselves in a very perilous position.

This book is written in a very lively style with entertaining characters and a considerable knowledge of detailed police procedure.
Reviewer: Radmila May

M C Dutton has come across criminality through her career and her voluntary work as a Witness Care Officer for the CPS and as a Youth Offending Referral Panel Member, and mentored young people through the Probation Office. Through her work she has met many people, from the awesomely heroic to the sad, mad and seriously bad. She is the author of the 'Singhing Detective' series.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.