23 Nov 2020

A QUARTET OF CRIME NOVELS.

Given that I shall be sharing my thoughts on not one but four novels today I shall not be sharing the Back Cover Blurbs, the First Sentence nor my Memorable Moment. For the synopsis please click on the book title.


TENNISON by LYNDA LA PLANTE.

The first book in the Tennison series. Tennison tells the back story of DCI Jane Tennison who featured in the TV programme Prime Suspect

With murdered teenagers in the first part and a bank robbery in the second (both tenuously connected), though fairly average as far as police procedurals go, Tennison proved an enjoyable enough read. For me however, perhaps the most interesting (if slightly predictable) thing about the book was the insight it gave into how difficult it was for women to rise through the male dominated ranks of the police force at that time (1973) and the amount of, juvenile pranks sexism that went on; that the author reiterated this time and time again however did become a bit tiresome. That it also gave a glimpse into the fashions, music and price of everything from a bacon buttie to a packet of cigarettes (both of which the young Jane Tennison was of course expected to fetch for her male colleagues) provided an amusing historical aspect. 


NOW YOU SEE ME by SHARON BOLTON.

The first book in the Lacey Flint series. With a Jack the Ripper aspect to the book I fully expected to enjoy Now You See Me, however ...

I found Lacey unrealistic as a police officer; like the archetypical school boy who pulls the hair of the girl he actually likes, so Lacey is rude to/shows distaste of a fellow officer until, yeah, it turns out she actually loves him. As for the crimes and motives? Daft is the first word that comes to mind. And as for the Gay, beautiful Tulloch ... talk about stereotypical; that he is 'not entirely white' ... (shaking head incredulously) What!!!


THE CUTTING CREW by STEVE MOSBY.

If ever there was a book in which there were two principle characters The Cutting Crew is it. Nothing original about that you might be thinking but what if I were to tell you that, the narrative dominated by these two factors, the two principle characters were main protagonist, Martin, and the city (a city split into districts, each named after an animal no less), its geography and history? 

A slow starter, without a doubt. Confusing, yes. A poor internal dialogue to action ratio with way too much of the former and not enough of the latter for my liking, most definitely. Weird/offbeat, certainly. And yet, quirky and intriguing with more of what I thought a futuristic vibe than a Sci-fi one, oddly enough, I did kind of enjoy it.

THE LAST PRECINCT by PATRICIA CORNWELL.

What turned out to be the 11th book in the Kay Scarpetta series. It could be said that these are books best read in order and, yes, there is something in that as though able to be read as a standalone novel, there is obviously some back story lost in joining a well established story so far in though in all honesty I did feel there was sufficient that this wasn't a huge problem.

OK so strong in forensic and pathological detail, I'll give the author that, BUT ...

With the first half of the book given over to a therapy session, whilst I'm up for character's baring their deepest, darkest thoughts and fears, dear me, this was something else. That everyone seems to fall into one of two groups; those that adore Kaye, thinking her, well, the best thing since sliced bread, OR those who hate her mainly because they are jealous of her knowledge or good looks or both. Then there were all those descriptions (Oh! Those never ending descriptions) that seemed to serve no other purpose other than to fill up pages/make up the word count. And that just wasn't the descriptions either for much the same could be said of the endless pages of conversation between only two characters.

Whilst I can't say I'll never pick up another book in the series/another of the author's books if this is a prime example of her writing I can't say I'm impressed.


17 Nov 2020

REPROBATION, CONSUMING FIRE & SOUND TRILOGY.


 A bit of a Book Tour with a difference, today I'm participating in a tour (see below for the whole schedule) organised by Rachel's Random Resources in which each stop on the tour will feature one, two or three books.

Me? I'm delighted to be sharing my thoughts on not just one of the books, not just two of the book but all three of the books.



Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery. ... Synopsis

Across grey waters, where the river Mersey meets the Irish Sea, wind turbines puncture the dawn horizon like spinning crucifixes. ... First Sentence, Chapter 1

Outside in the crepuscule, this grey stone house is almost camouflaged against the moorland behind it. In the dawn light, unkindnesses of raven will congregate on its roof and chimney. Their cawing will be drowned out by the roar of traffic, as will the screams from within. Above the front door of this cottage is affixed a small wooden crucifix. ... Memorable Moment, Page 38


​Liverpool is in the grip of an intense heatwave, and strange things are happening.


A woman dies in an apparent case of Spontaneous Human Combustion; a truck explodes on the dock road; the charred corpses of pets litter the city; forest fires ravage the pinewoods…and there are birds everywhere, silent flocks drawing in ominously.

Detective Inspector Darren Swift thinks there are connections, and his investigation delves into the worlds of football, nightclubs and organised crime. But is he imagining things?

Dr. Helen Hope doesn’t think so. And she believes the key lies in a mysterious seventeenth-century occult book which has gone missing from Liverpool Library.

In the blistering sequel to Reprobation, DI Swift is forced to confront some inconvenient ghosts from his past, as a terrifying shadow lies over his city’s future… ... Synopsis


It is with far more trepidation than pride that I present, to whomsoever it may concern, this modern English translation of the Ars Adramelechum. ... First Sentence, Preface to the 1879 translation of the Adramelechum


She scrolled through these legions of chthonic deities, enjoying the elaborate, beautiful, shudderingly horrible drawings. This theriomorphy - the manifestation of gods or spirits as animals - was as old as time itself and as new as the werewolves and vampire bats of modern horror stories. ... Memorable Moment, Page 117



Can you hear it?


A professor of psychoacoustics is found dead in his office. It appears to be a heart attack, until a second acoustician dies a few days later in similar circumstances.


Meanwhile, there’s an outbreak of mysterious illnesses on a council estate, and outbursts of unexplained violence in a city centre nightclub. Not to mention strange noises coming from the tunnels underneath Liverpool. Can it really be a coincidence that death metal band Total Depravity are back in the city, waging their own form of sonic warfare?


​Detective Inspector Darren Swift is convinced there are connections. Still grieving his fiancĂ©’s death and sworn to revenge, he is thrown back into action on the trail of a murderer with a terrifying and undetectable weapon.


​But this case cannot be solved using conventional detective work, and D.I. Swift will need to put the rulebook aside and seek the occult expertise of Dr. Helen Hope and her unlikely sidekick, guitarist Mikko Kristensen. ... Synopsis


Close your eyes, stand still, don't breathe. ... First Sentence, Chapter One


And then the music began, in waves and assaults of blastbeats and droning riffs. Any suggestion of melody that emerged were rapidly taken away. Only the memory of silence gave them any relief. ... Memorable Moment, Page 70


MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOKS ... Wow! Despite the fact that in my opinion two of the books were stronger, the best trilogy I've read for some time.


Each featuring a different crime, its fair to say each of the three books could be read as a standalone novel (at a push) but, their plots loosely intertwining, you really don't want to miss a moment of the journey these amazing characters find themselves on; books that really should be read from the beginning.


What happens when you take a Calvanist nun who it just so happens also lectures on Eschatology (the study of death and afterlife), the singer from a dead metal band, a newly promoted DI and a crazy geneticist who is obsessed - and I mean obsessed - with issues of pre-destination, original sin, genetics and the afterlife?


What happens is you have Reprobation (one of my favourite books this year). 


Original, clever and decidedly dark; a gruesome police procedural with theological/philosophical overtones, a perfect combination of science and religion ... to say nothing of an interesting homage to the different types of Metal bands out there. 


Sister Helen and Death Metal singerMikko, the most unlikely of pairings ever, combine them with newly appointed DI Darren Swift (who, not unlike sister Helen herself, is having something of a conscious of faith) and you have the perfect team.


The second and, in my opinion, the less strong of the three books, Consuming Fire, a story of people trafficking and, how could I forget, human combustion, takes place mere months after the events of the previous novel and my how things have changed.


Still lecturing at the universe, former nun Helen (yes, you read correctly, former nun Helen) is researching demonology which is just as well because, well, you never know when your knowledge of such things might prove useful ... like for instance when, hmm! the next case you find yourself assisting with involves the occult, demons, angels and, oh yes, an ancient book coated in human skin.


That's right, a book coated in human skin written by a Victorian scholar (some of it the translation of a holy book which tells of a fallen angel who becomes a fire demon) of which there are only two known copies ... one of them missing, but of course.


Whilst the investigation that saw Helen and Matt off to a remote Swiss village was fascinating; that the narrative was interspersed with excerpts from this unholy book, hmm, whilst it made for interesting reading and cleverly tied in with the main story, for me personally it proved something of a distraction; that it was written in italics proving something of a headache, literally. And then, of course whilst it was engaging to see the developing relationship between Helen and DI Darren Swift and Darren and his fireman fiancĂ© Matt I admit to missing Mikko and the motley crew of Total Depravity.


Given that the author does characters with a difference so well, I shouldn't really have been surprised that Sound features a professor in psychoacoustics (who it just so happens has synesthesi) who on discovering a new frequency is being transmitted dies a somewhat horrible death. 


Could it be that this in any way connects the unexplained illnesses that are felling the residents of the Napier housing estate, the eerie sounds being heard beneath the tunnels of Liverpool and the masses who, zombie like, feel compelled to head towards the city's nightclubs? And could it be that criminal-turned-businessman-turned-all round good guy, Shawn Forrest, is behind it all?


Like the other books in the series featuring criminality, religion, mythology, psychology and the occult, we see the team; Helen Mikko (yay!) and Matt back together again, only this time Total Depravity aren't the most, hmm, depraved metal band to feature ...


Meet Vox Inferi, a black metal band who, headed by The Messiah, only performs live in locations that are kept secret to all but a few of their fans.


With the reading of every sentence and the turning of every page books I came closer to finishing; its hardly any wonder that  at the same time I wanted to keep reading them I didn't want to read at all.


With thanks to Rachel for organising the tour but most of all with thanks to Catherine Fearnes herself for such great a great trilogy, I only hope that with Sound we never hear of Helen, Mikko and Matt again.



INFORMATION ABOUT REPROBATION ... ~ Genre: Crime thriller ~ Publication Date: 16th October 2018 ~ First book in a trilogy ~ Publisher: Darkstroke ~ Estimated Page Count: 220 ~ Potential Trigger Warning: Strong language, violence and some sexual content ~


INFORMATION ABOUT CONSUMING FIRE ... Genre: Crime thriller ~ Publication Date: 6th February 2019 ~ Second book in a trilogy Publisher: Darkstroke ~ Estimated Page Count: 220 ~ Potential Trigger Warning: Strong language, violence and some sexual content ~


INFORMATION ABOUT SOUND ... ~ Genre: Crime thriller ~ Publication Date: 24th September 2019 ~ 

Third book in a trilogy ~ Publisher: Darkstroke ~

Estimated Page Count: 220 ~ Potential Trigger Warning: Strong language, violence and some sexual content ~


ABOUT CATHERINE FEARNES ... Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool. Her novels Reprobation (2018) and Consuming Fire (2019) are published by Crooked Cat and are both Amazon bestsellers. As a music journalist Catherine has written for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone, Offshoots and Metal Music Studies. She lives in Geneva with her husband and four children, and when she’s not writing or parenting, she plays guitar in a heavy metal band.


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