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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Official description:
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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End State (The Stefan Mendoza Trilogy Book 3) by P R Adams

Stefan is ‘retired’, at least he likes to think so, but readers all know that that is never the case in stories!
Stefan is recruited for a job, but wants to use his own team, to do that he needs to locate and recruit them. Not an easy job, he hasn’t been in touch for a while and doesn’t know where any of them are! And he doesn’t really know what his new employers actually want him to do.
After tracking his team, Stefan needs to persuade them to come on board with him. The money stakes are enormous and this should be their final hurrah before each of them retires. Can Stefan persuade his new employers to stump up the huge pay-out for the team?
PR Adams writes a really good story. This is the final one in the three part cyberpunk series. You definitely want to read all three, starting with ‘Into Twilight (The Stefan Mendoza Trilogy Book 1)‘, then through ‘Gone Dark (The Stefan Mendoza Trilogy Book 2)‘ and then this book ‘End State (The Stefan Mendoza Trilogy Book 3)‘.

““Twelve million, and a quarter million per egghead after Marshall. And I want fifty thousand now. This mess has cost me a lot more than it should have.””

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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End State (The Stefan Mendoza Trilogy Book 3)

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In espionage, there are only two types of agents: active and dead.

Stefan Mendoza tried to walk away from the business, but the Agency wouldn’t let him. The Metacorporate Initiative has changed the world, and his bitter enemy has thrown in with one of the biggest of the new corporate powers. The race to rebuild the recently destroyed AI has put a premium on elite software architects.

If Mendoza can wrangle the most coveted architect team, he’ll make enough to disappear forever. But can he allow someone to recreate the AI that wants him dead?

Pick up End State (The Stefan Mendoza Trilogy Book 3) to see the thrilling conclusion to this cyberpunk trilogy!

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Lightning Blade by D N Erikson

Ruby Callaway is in prison, in a time loop. She keeps re-living the same day, where an FBI agent releases her from prison in order for her to assist with the removal of a Necromancer. But Ruby and the Necromancer are the only ones that know about the time loop and every time she relives the day she has to convince the FBI agent that she is the one who can do this, but that they need to work together.

Despite being in a time loop, Ruby is in a race against time. The longer the time loop exists, the harder it is to break out. So she must find a way before she is stuck forever. She needs to break out of the time loop, in order to break out of her prison.

A really enjoyable story, it grabbed my attention from the opening lines. There were no blocks to the reading and I did find myself reading late into the night because I didn’t want to put it down. On finishing this book I went straight on to reading the short Novella which gave the prequel information on Ruby’s life prior to ending up in prison. I look forward to reading the next story in the series very soon.

“Words from two hundred years past echoed in my mind as the completed form streamed into the data cube. You’re a hunter, Rebecca Callaway. A killer.”

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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Lightning Blade (The Ruby Callaway Trilogy Book 1)

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When the FBI releases supernatural bounty hunter Ruby Callaway after 20 years, the terms are simple: kill the necromancer killing public officials in return for amnesty. But then the necromancer plunges a blade through her heart, and Ruby reawakens at midnight, back in jail. Alive.

Which means one thing: the necromancer has thrust the world into an endless time loop that only he and Ruby can see. And Ruby is the only one capable of stopping him before the world burns. But as she unravels the necromancer’s sinister plan, two questions repeat in Ruby’s mind: Just how dangerous is a vengeful serial killer with nothing but time?

And what if the necromancer isn’t the worst thing lurking in the shadows of this brave new world?

Lightning Blade is the first book in the Ruby Callaway Trilogy, mixing dark, gritty urban fantasy with a sprinkling of futuristic sci-fi & cyberpunk. Not your typical bounty hunter. Not your typical urban fantasy.

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Enigma Key by Barnes and Wearmouth

This is a really great book if you grew up with the birth of computing and computer gaming (as I did), it really brings back the memories.

Eddie York is the main character of the book, his grandfather Brigham York also plays a lead role, but he is dead. Brigham has left Eddie a trail of clues which he must solve and follow in order to find the Enigma Key and save the world.

The clues need knowledge of the world of Flux, which was a computer game and also a comic that Brigham wrote for Eddie when he was a child.

Eddie’s adventure starts at the point of receiving a letter advising him to visit his grandfather’s grave prior to visiting the solicitors for the reading of his grandfather’s final will. Even getting to the solicitors requires Eddie to have his wits about him. The true race for the prize starts from then on.

Eddie meets up with various individuals during the quest set by his grandfather, some are friendly allies, some are yet to show their true colours and some are outright evil ‘so and so’s’. Some of the allies join up with Eddie to help him move forward with his time critical quest to save the world. Of those, Sol and Gert are two who are with him from the start, while others join him as he goes along (don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say who).

The only thing that mildly irritated me was the ‘love interest’ at the very end. It wasn’t really needed, it was so formulaic really, as if pandering to the masses. It is one of the things that really irritates me in stories – people don’t have to ‘fall in love’!

“A wave hit them. Eddie’s head sank below the freezing water. He kicked his legs, bursting back to the surface as fast as he could.”

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

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

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The Enigma Key : A Gripping Adventure Thriller

 

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Official description:
THE FATE OF THE WORLD HANGS IN THE BALANCE.

ONE MAN IS THRUST INTO AN INTERNATIONAL RACE AGAINST TIME TO SECURE THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON: THE ENIGMA KEY

Eddie York—manhunter, codebreaker—is set on a dangerous mission by the last wishes of his deceased grandfather, a prominent member of the Guardian Group, a secret agency designed to protect the world from dangerous new technologies falling into the wrong hands.

Eddie is tasked to recover the Enigma Key, an object that holds the balance of worldly power. Using information from an old computer game that his grandfather had created to hide the key’s location, and working with unlikely allies, he must fight his way through a sequence of challenges for an answer that reaches into history.

If Eddie and his team don’t recover the Enigma Key before their enemies, then nobody or nothing will be safe again.

Enigma Key is the first book in an exciting new series from Colin F. Barnes and Darren Wearmouth. Written for fans of thriller and action fiction who love fast-paced twists and turns. Mixing history and cutting-edge technology, Barnes and Wearmouth invite you into a new world of fast-paced, exciting adventures.

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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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Official description:
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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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

“When my mother, Ella, got the letter, a violent shudder ran through her. That was before she opened it. The envelope was creamy green, printed with her name and the address of the place we were staying. We’d arrived the night before, and I wondered how it found us.”

I felt like I was running as fast as I could to read this. It never let up. It was very enthralling to read and while I thought that I knew what direction the plot would take, it didn’t and I was wrong.

I don’t know what I would liken it to. I think it’s a bit of a one off.

Alice is growing up with her mum Ella, they are always moving on. If they stay put too long, bad luck seems to reach out and spoil what they have.

When a letter arrives one day, Ella tells Alice that they are now free to settle down and build a life. That life involves Alice going to a school where she meets Ellery Finch. Finch is the one person whom she seems to be able to link up with. And it is Finch that she turns to when Ella goes missing.

Then the two of them, Alice and Finch, set off to find The Hazel Wood, so that Alice can rescue her mum.

Which all sounds very mundane, but it isn’t because there are strange beings abroad, right out of the pages of a horrific fairy story. They seem to be after Alice!

So rather than spoil a good story, which is Alice, I suggest you read the book for yourself.

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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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.
To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

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A Man of Shadows by Jeff Noon

“The lantern glowed with a silver and blue prismatic light which, seen through the lens of the kaleidoscope, appeared to be a wheel of knives, ever turning.”

John Henry Nyquist is a private investigator living in Nocturna and working (mostly) in Dayzone. Like most PI’s he has a cash-flow situation to manage and has to take what jobs he can to pay his way.

This latest job involves find a rich girl who has run away from home, her powerful father wants her back.

Somehow the case gets more complicated – the Quicksilver murders start to have an impact on things, and for the life of him, Nyquist can’t quite remember why!

His continual switching across time zones begins to affect him and he starts to think he is becoming to suffer from chronostasis.

Yet he continues on, driven, with his inner clock, tick, tick, ticking, keeping him moving onwards. Exploring Dayzone, the Dusk and Nocturna. Moving closer to his moment.

If anything, this book make me edgy, anxious and from time to time I paused in my reading. It was a complex story, fantastic and ghostly. I enjoyed it, yet as I said, I had to keep pausing and coming back to it. I didn’t settle in to it as I would have liked.

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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The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionaries

Below the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.

As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city’s fate. In the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.

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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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Elmet by Fiona Mozley

“The beads of water on his face and hair glistened in the crude light from an oil lamp that sat upon the kitchen table and a kind of halo emerged around him as he relaxed each muscle in his body save those in his cheeks that tempted a satisfied smile from his plumped lips. I selected and unfolded a towel from the pile we aired near the stove and rubbed the crisp fabric against Daddy’s wet skin. He moaned with sedate pleasure.”

This book is a well written descriptive of the lives of three individuals who reside in an area called Elmet. They do not own the land on which they have built their home, but feel a connection to the land on which they live.
Daniel, Cathy and their Daddy are free spirits living a natural life in tune with nature.
But there are those that want something from them and those people intend to ensure that they get their own way.
Daniel is narrating the tale so everything is from his view. He describes his relationship with both his father and his sister, as well as the people in the surrounding area.
Some locals want to get all that they can from the small family and Daniel tells the story of how they all interact with each other. Finally coming to the end, where his story started. Full of sadness, violence, love, hope and despair.
This was a very detailed, involving story and I did get very engrossed with it. However, I did find that it was somewhat skimpy in how it portrayed some aspects of the tale and felt it left me wanting, particularly in the ‘italics’ part of the story. Nonetheless, overall I enjoyed reading it and read it very quickly and intensively, as it was an engaging read.
A good first novel and happy to see a local author nominated for the man booker prize.

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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Official description:
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.

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