A Murder of Crows by Ian Skewis

I wouldn’t say that this is an appealing book, more an engaging one. The story centres on a group of people who hail from Hobbs Brae originally, some still remain, some are returners. And someone is killing them.
Jack Russell is the DCI who needs to solve the case before anyone else comes to harm. His colleague Colin Clements needs to learn to be less impatient for dead man’s shoes!
Jerome regrets the way he brought up his son Scott, and misses his deceased wife, as he struggles to run his farm.
Alice is struggling with fugues and forgetfulness brought on by her dementia. She doesn’t know that her son Alistair has gone missing, presumed dead.
Matthew White has his own secrets and is determined to come out on top, being a successful business man, he has no intention of failing.
And others in the village have their own agendas, good, bad and indifferent.
I enjoyed this book, but I don’t feel like it is finished, maybe the next book needs to be read straight after, to give that satisfied reader feeling!

“‘Have you had a good holiday?’ she asked him. ‘The best,’ he replied. ‘I don’t want it to end.’ ‘Nothing ever ends, not really,’ she explained. ‘Everything is a prelude, a prologue, to something else.’”

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A Murder of Crows

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The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the West Coast of Scotland.

A young couple take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again…

DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he agrees to undertake one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine.

But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer…

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Murders of Misfortune by Ian D Wright

A mother wants her missing daughter found and contacts an old acquaintance to seek assistance in finding her.

When Steve and Emily are tasked with that same duty they discover that said daughter went missing about 5 years ago and mother is trying to find her in time for a visit to England by her divorced husband.

The mother has very little information about her daughter (she hadn’t even noticed that she was missing straight away), so Emily and Steve interview the housekeeper for more information.

As each piece of information leads to another they build a picture of what has happened. Along the way they end up investigating an old high profile murder case and risk their own lives as they start to get close to the truth about both that and what happened to Felicity.

This is a fast paced story so you won’t get bored reading it. There are one or two bits that can be anticipated, but that doesn’t detract from it. And it doesn’t mean that you can work out what comes next. I did enjoy the book and would definitely read Ian D Wright’s work again.

“When rich perverts, like Threston, overstep the mark, they call her in to put things right. She cleans up the crime scene and gets rid of the evidence, and when all else fails, she will fix it by buying their way out of trouble.”

I received an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Murders of Misfortune: A gripping story of a missing daughter and a trail of lies, blackmail and murder. (Murders of Consequence, Necessity & Misfortune)

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Murders of Misfortune tells the story of a troubled girl, from a wealthy family, who becomes estranged from her parents and goes to live in 1960’s London. She is soon caught up with a wild set of celebrity party-goers in the drug-driven, anything goes atmosphere that was the swinging sixties.
Up and coming young stars of music, film, theatre and fashion, together with the off-springs of millionaires, politicians and royalty, create a high-octane, free-wheeling setting for this story of misadventure and murder.
Two up and coming young investigative journalists, Emily and Steve Moon, set out to discover what has happened to the lost girl and find themselves caught up in a conspiracy of lies, blackmail and deception. They are also under the spell of the atmosphere in London at that time but are determined to find out what has happened to the missing girl.
They follow a trail from London to Paris and then on to St Tropez. They discover a ring of wealthy, depraved men, who are using the new social freedoms of the time to pray on and exploit young girls in both England and France. Emily and Steve are determined to get to the heart of the ring and those who are organising these orgies of depravity. The tenacious pair stir up a hornet’s nest as they move closer to the powerful people behind the scenes. This leads to kidnapping and confirms that there are people involved at the highest levels of law enforcement and government.
Murders of Misfortune is an intriguing, complex and rapidly moving story, in which Emily and Steve receive support from unexpected sources.
This is the third book in a series of three featuring the investigative journalists Emily and Steve Moon. The other two, Murders of Consequence and Murders of Necessity and also available on Amazon Kindle.

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The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

“He can’t let her go by herself. And he won’t, because he’s a gentleman. A gentleman who doesn’t let young girls walk home alone from parties when they’ve been drinking enough to forget their coat, bag and– he lifts the flap on the little velvet envelope, checks inside– keys, college ID and phone too. And he wants to make sure Jen knows that. Mr Nice Guy, he calls himself. He hopes she will too.”

I really wanted to read Catherine’s second novel, her first one was so different to books I’ve tended to read and I enjoy her way of crafting her stories.

Alison has been living in the Netherlands for 10 year’s, only seeing her parents when they come to visit her. She hasn’t been back to visit Ireland in the interim and has no intention to either.

Then two Gardaí turn up at her home and ask them to accompany them back to Dublin to meet with a convicted murderer who will only speak to her, when a copycat murder takes place.

Packing the minimum needed for an overnight stopover, Alison relents and starts on a journey which will bring back everything that she has tried to bury deep in the recesses of her memory.

Will, her ex-lover and now languishing in a psychiatric hospital, pending transfer to full prison status, has something important to tell her in Ireland.

It’s when she gets to Dublin that she is pulled into something more. Things start to happen that drag her further into the ongoing investigation and ultimately put her in danger.

I was drawn into the story and enjoyed watching it unfold. The obvious endings and suspects weren’t quite as I expected, hooray! I like a different baddie and ending to the usual.

I predicted that Catherine would produce further quality novels – I wasn’t wrong! If you like suspenseful crime stories, I’d recommend you read this one.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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An unmissable, utterly compelling thriller from the bestselling author of Distress Signals.

Her first love confessed to five murders. But the truth was so much worse.

Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, Will Hurley, is ten years into his life sentence when the body of a young woman is fished out of the Grand Canal. Though detectives suspect they are dealing with a copycat, they turn to Will for help. He claims he has the information the police need, but will only give it to one person – the girl he was dating when he committed his horrific crimes.

Alison Smith has spent the last decade abroad, putting her shattered life in Ireland far behind her. But when she gets a request from Dublin imploring her to help prevent another senseless murder, she is pulled back to face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget.

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Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

“She is just hours from her first meeting with weird, cartilaginous Lönnrot, just over a week from her loss of faith in everything she has believed in her life.”

An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn’t taking big reading sessions.

It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith’s head as she works through the Gnomon case.

In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is able to view and experience the trawl in order to determine the guilt or otherwise (and in this instance it is not clear) of the subject.

The book has many protagonists, and sometimes I found it hard to work out when a switch between them took place. It is a complex story, probably because the brain is very complex. And somehow this complexity was necessary to the tale to give it its depth. At points I wondered where it was all going, but I think in the end it was proven appropriate. And the end is true!

I was able to get lost in the story, it was helpful during a time of duress for me. It gave me relief and I escaped into Mielikki’s life and the lives of those around and in her.

For some people this book may take a bit of getting into, but give it a chance, you may find it becomes quite compelling, and provokes quite a bit of thought.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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In a near-future Britain, a distributed surveillance-democracy called The System knows everything you, and can even spy on your mind. It’s a Panopticon country. But when state investigators then look into the head of a refusenik novelist named Diana Hunter, what they find there is not her life story but that of four other people, spread across thousands of years, all vibrantly real and each utterly impossible – and before they can unravel that puzzle, Diana Hunter, shockingly, dies as a result of the investigation, an unheard of result in a perfect system which protects everyone from harm.
That’s where Inspector Mielikki Neith comes in, a staunch believer in The System who is assigned to investigate the Hunter case. The only problem is that the teasing mysteries in the dead woman’s mind may change all that. And these are extraordinary memories, ranging from the life of a banker named Constantine Kyriakos, who finds himself pursued by a shark that may in fact be a god; and an Ethiopian retired pop artist, Berihun Bekele, who picks up his brushes to create a virtual world called The System at the behest of his games’ designer grand-daughter; and Athenaïs Karthagonensis, the jilted lover of one of the Church’s most beloved saints, who seeks to resurrect her dead son with the help of a non-existent miracle; and then finally GNOMON, the acerbic post-human who is plotting to assassinate the next iteration of the Universe . . .
The question is whether there is a truth hidden in the noise of all those lives, as Mielikki begins to suspect?
Or is all that unfolding experience and drama simply a cover for some kind of attack upon the fabric of the most democratic nation state ever constructed?
And the questions just keep coming. Who was Diana Hunter, and why are her books impossible to obtain? And above all, was Diana Hunter innocent all along – worse, could she have been correct to attempt to withstand a perfect, democratic system?

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“She fluttered briefly as her ghost shook loose, and then her hands relaxed, shedding fistfuls of freshly picked torch ginger buds.”

Warning: this book may make you weep. There is a lot of emotion wrung out of the characters and Laini crafts her story well. I still feel it now, even though I’ve finished the book and I’m telling you about it, it’s like a feeling of loss, almost.

Lazlo Strange is the main character in the book. We join him as a child at the monastery where he has been placed as an orphan. His play is beaten out of him, but his love of stories and dreams is not. As he grows up he is sent on an errand to a library and so instead of becoming a monk he becomes a librarian, feeding his love of stories.

It is that love of stories that helps to set him on the biggest adventure of his life. The one about Strange the Dreamer.

I suggest you read the book to find out about Weep and its inhabitants, about Lazlo Strange and about the blue skinned goddesses and god who live in a mesarthium citadel, abiding by The Rule that they set for themselves.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

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Sometimes I Lie By Alice Feeney

“Stars cannot shine without darkness, whispers the little girl.”

I went into this book completely open-minded, based on the opening lines of the book.
“My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me any more.
3. Sometimes I lie.”

For the size of the book, I actually read it very quickly, I was in one of my immersive moods. This was a good book for escaping the world in, in that the main character is escaping to different places in her mind while trapped in a coma.

The plot unfolds via flashbacks, diary entries and ‘here and now’ happenings. Sometimes Amber lies, but you cannot necessarily tell! Her sister, Claire, and Amber’s husband, Paul, are regular visitors at her bedside, sometimes at the same time. There are lots of undercurrents between the two of them, and it is hard to work out whether there is something going on or not, particularly as Amber doesn’t always tell the truth.
I admit to being tripped up between the two main female characters a time or two, so that meant I had to do a little backtracking, but it was worth it.
Alice Feeney manages to pack a lot of detail into her telling, which really helps you engage with the story, I could see it in my mind’s eye so vividly.
There are lots of plot twists cleverly woven into the tapestry of the story, the way they are revealed keeps you continually turning the pages as the different elements of the story come together and then something else comes to the fore as Amber’s mind whisks her down another tunnel.
I will of course have to read the entire book again to get the most from the twists and turns and tiny little bits that are there but you don’t notice and then think, Oh!
Even though I know how it ends and it ends really well let me tell you, it is definitely one to read twice and to recommend. So go read it, won’t you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Sometimes I Lie

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Official description:
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.
Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors,The Girl on the Train and The Widow.

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Let The Dead Speak: A Maeve Kerrigan crime thriller by Jane Casey

“‘Mr Norris,’ Chloe said, very calmly, because the alternative was screaming. ‘Where’s Mum?’”

I quite like crime novels and I was anticipating that this one might be a little different

It wasn’t totally different than other detective style books, the main character leads a lonely life, there is friction with colleagues, the story has some obvious elements to it.

The plot is a good one, I did work out some parts of it, at the same time there were some complete surprises too. The characters were well written and the description of the environment worked well for me.

It follows the story of Chloe who comes home to her Mums, from her Fathers (Chloe’s parents are divorced). On arriving back in town, it is teeming with rain, her neighbour spots her and gives her a lift home. Chloe forgets her bag in his car and he brings it round. When he see inside Chloe’s mums house, he rings the police and take Chloe over to his place.

The story then shifts to the perspective of the Detective Sergeant involved in the case and how she and her colleagues gather the evidence and sift through all the clues to try to solve the case before anyone else disappears, or dies.

I would specifically recommend this book to both my Father and my Mother-in-Law. I do know that they both would enjoy this tale as they both like(d) crime novels, so I will see about finding a paperback copy for my Mother-in-Law.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The chilling new crime novel from award-winning author, Jane Casey. When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth… When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else.

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Distress Signals A Novel by Catherine Ryan Howard

“She found red blotches on her neck and chest, blooming purple bruises on her arms. Her hair was thin and wispy, her eyes dull. Dead already—that was how she looked. She had found him just in the nick of time.”

I was waiting for this book to be released. Catherine blogged about her experience of writing this book and I found it very engaging. I don’t know how she found the time. Anyway on to the story… I followed Catherine’s blog as she was writing this book, so of course I was dead keen to read it. I started with a sample, so I knew how the book started and that convinced me that the book would be a good read.

Adam loves Sarah and after many years of trying has got a movie deal for a script, meaning he is no longer dependent on the woman he loves. He needs to do a rewrite and then the money is his. Sarah is off to Barcelona for a work trip so it is the ideal opportunity to get stuck into work. The deal is that they won’t contact each other, so that Adam can focus!

Then Sarah’s parents contact Adam because they unable to raise Sarah on her mobile, so they try the home number. Adam reassures them initially, then begins to wonder if something is wrong.

From this point on Adam is on a journey of discovery about Sarah’s life and what has happened to her and others over the years.

It is a book worth reading, it seems well researched and reads true. There are other threads running through the story which add a pique to the novel, to keep the mystery going.

I enjoyed reading it and anticipate that Catherine will be producing further quality novels in the future, so add her to your watch list.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
A MISSING GIRL.

A TRAIL OF SECRETS.

A KILLER WHO’S FOUND THE PERFECT HUNTING GROUND.

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Holding by Graham Norton

“…her small hand pushing open the heavy wooden door with its flaking paint, the shadow on the floor moving slowly from side to side, the work boots with dirty soles and one lace untied, the hands that had patted her on the head that very morning, now hanging limply. The creaking of the rope. That was where her memories ended. She could never see his face.”

Life in the Irish village of Duneen is very quiet until a body is discovered. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but liked the idea of reading about Irish village life, so decided to give this novel a go.

The story centres mainly around PJ Collins the sargeant who works in the village. He is overweight and just longing to make prove that he is good at something. So when a body is discovered at the new housing estate being built in the village, he thinks this could possibly be his opportunity. Brid O’Riorden and Evelyn Ross are shaken up badly when it is said that the body could possibly be that of Tommy Burke, who they both loved when they were younger. Before he left the village for good.

But then everything changes. It isn’t Tommy and the body remains unidentified. Public interest wanes and life continues in the village. PJ continues to struggle with his work and his weight, Evelyn continues to struggle with her acceptance of how life has turned out and Brid continues to try and find a way to resolve her drinking problems and sort out her marriage and family circumstances. Until further information twist events in the villagers lives again and more drama unfolds.

It was an interesting novel, with lots of depth and intrigue, some sadness and grief, and a bit of mystery, which you would expect from a crime novel.
If you like to read mystery crime thrillers, then I am sure that you will like this.

I particularly liked the bit when a sickly Abigail responded to a question, she “stuck her arm up in the air and waved her fingers from side to side as if an invisible sock puppet was saying ‘no’.” It nearly made me laugh out loud, particularly as I have been caught doing exactly that!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother-of-two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Holding is a masterful debut. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

A Note From the Publisher
HOLDING is not the novel I planned to write, at least, not at first. But following the old adage to write about what you know, Ireland seemed a good place to start, especially rural Ireland. I did have in mind a cast of characters living in and around a small village where their lives would reflect the priorities and concerns – land, marriage, religion – that are so present in that area still.

I found as I wrote more about the characters of Duneen that each of them had in some way become suspended in time – due to grief, due to unhappiness, due to fear of failure – and that they were all holding on to their own secrets.

I am hugely excited that HOLDING is now heading out into the world, and would love to hear what you think. Please do let me know on Twitter @Grahnort using the hashtag #readholding. I will be watching!

Best

Graham

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Poison City by Paul Crilley

Don’t fear the reaper . . .’ ‘Nice song,’ mutters the dog. ‘Appropriate.’

I couldn’t resist a book that has a dog like a border terrier in it, especially one that drinks and talks. I liked the sound of the story too.

This is the story of Gideon Tao, also known as “London” and his magic spirit guide “dog” who looks a lot like a border terrier. London works for Delphic Division in Durban, South Africa. He is on a case when it takes a turn that puts him in a dilemma.

One of the suspects is the one who murdered his daughter and he means to see justice done, but what if it costs him his job or his life (or even destroys the world as we know it!).

The story is fast paced, intense and engaging. I felt like I was in Durban itself as it fell under the influence of the orisha and their plans to change the world.

There was no telegraphing of what was to come and I was ‘reading like a demon’ towards the end. I have already recommended this book to my friends and would extend that recommendation to you as you read this. Get this book and read this story. I am sure that you will enjoy it.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things – finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him.

I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk.

Life is pretty routine – I solve crimes, I search for my daughter’s killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I’m called out to the murder of a ramanga – a low-key vampire – basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There’s even CCTV footage of the killer.

Except… the face on the CCTV footage? It’s the face of the man who killed my daughter. I’m about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can’t do both.

It’s not looking good for the world.

Poison City is the first in a fantastical new series for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz and Stephen King.

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