And Then There Were Five Trapped on a Creepy Island

‘Buried For Good’ by Alex Coombs

On a remote island, everyone is a suspect…

When Private Investigator Hanlon is hired to protect famous yoga instructor Camille Anderson on her Scottish island retreat, she thinks this may be her simplest job yet.


But when an attack on Camille’s life goes wrong, it soon becomes clear that there is a murderer on the island – and Hanlon will stop at nothing to track them down.

With only a small group of guests the suspects are clear, but as the body count rises Hanlon must step up to find out who the killer is before it’s too late…

A tense, atmospheric page-turner from Alex Coombs. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Lisa Regan.

Last year, I wrote that Alex Coombs’ first outing in the Hanlon series, ‘Missing for Good’ was “a rattling good read, sprinting along with enjoyable gusto and building to a satisfying crescendo.”

I liked the eye for detail that Coombs displayed and those tensions between areas – Hanlon’s Argyll base contrasting with the pretentions of Edinburgh’s art world and Glasgow’s rougher edges.

In ‘Buried for Good’ Hanlon is back in fine form. Some of the clunkier aspects of the dialogue are absent here (although all writers should immediately exorcise the phrase “as you know” from their work forthwith – you hear me Mercurio?)

Here Hanlon is on a mission to protect a yoga teacher-cum-social media influencer who has been receiving threatening messages and our fearless detective must join a retreat on a remote Scottish island.

So far, so Agatha Christie – remote, cut off location? Check. Limited cast of characters, to whom bad things are going to happen? Check. Storm clouds – literal and metaphorical – gathering? Check and double check.

It is not a sophisticated formula, but it is certainly an effective one. Coombs is a writer who moves things along making the readers cheer on our emotionally fragile heroine as she scraps away at the darker sides of life.

This is another fast, paced engaging read from a seriously talented storyteller. Once the elements are all lined up, Coombs lets the spiralling mayhem rip in accomplished fashion. Another highly recommended outing for Hanlon, PI.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3jQVGBS

Author Bio –

Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He is the author of the highly acclaimed DCI Hanlon series.

Social Media Links –

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/AlexCoombsNewsletter

Website – http://www.alexcoombs.co.uk/

Twitter https://twitter.com/AlexCoombsCrime

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlexCoombsCrime

Jumping for Jailbirds

Jailbird by Caro Savage

Detective Constable Bailey Morgan has been out of the undercover game since her last job went horribly wrong, leaving her with scars inside and out.
When her colleague Alice is found dead whilst working deep cover in a women’s prison, Bailey steps in to replace her.
Working alone, Bailey embarks on a dangerous journey through the murky underbelly of the prison and soon discovers that Alice’s death was part of a spate of brutal murders.

Surrounded by prison officers, criminals and lowlifes, the slightest mistake could cost Bailey her life.
Illicit drug trafficking, prison gangs and corruption are just some of the things she’s up against… and behind it all lurks a sinister and terrifying secret that will truly test her survival instincts.
Heart-stopping and gripping. Perfect for the fans of hit TV shows such as Line of Duty, Orange is the New Black and Bad Girls.

I’ve said it before and I’ve got to say it again, Boldwood Books are producing some top quality work. If you like your crime fiction on the gritty side – with splashes of gangster glamour and the grit in the oyster of, often, quite extreme violence, Boldwood is for you.

This novel is a little strange for me as I come to it having reviewed Caro Savage’s (still the best name in crime fiction, eat your heart out Karin Slaughter!) sequel to this novel, ‘Villain’.

This debut instalment sees DC Bailey Morgan returning to undercover work by tracking the killer of a fellow officer in a dilapidated women’s prison.

Whilst the character of Morgan is well drawn by Savage – she is already dealing with her scars both mental and emotional – for me, ‘Villain’ is the superior novel. That shell-shocked lingering horror and consequences of violence which was such an important part of ‘Villain’ is only at its beginning here and so packs less of a punch.

What does not lack punch are the vibrantly written scenes of violence and the characters in the women exuding menace. Some of these are terrifying and some of them – Bailey’s cellmate, for instance – memorably irritating. Savage has an eye for the telling detail in her characterisation and we long for Bailey to make it out as safely as possible.

A very decent crime novel from a writer of crunching action, punchy dialogue and characters you want to investigate with. Make sure you follow her in her further adventures – it is well worth it.

Purchase Link – https://bit.ly/JailbirdAudible

Author Bio –

Caro Savage knows all about bestselling thrillers having worked as a Waterstones bookseller for 12 years in a previous life. Now taking up the challenge personally and turning to hard-hitting crime thriller writing.

Social Media Links –

Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/CaroSavageStory

https://www.instagram.com/carosavage/

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/CaroSavageNewsletter

Gangsters and Geezers Keep it in the Family

Family – might be the death of you…

The Glass family business is crime, and they’re good at what they do. Vengeance took Luke Glass behind bars – but now he’s free and he’s never going back. Luke wants out of the gangster life – all he has to do is convince his family to let him go.

His brother holds the reins of the South London underworld in his brutal hands – nobody tells Danny Glass no and expects to live – not even DCI Oliver Stanford, bent copper and one of the Met’s rising stars. The way Danny sees it, his younger brother and sister Nina owe him everything. The price he demands is loyalty, and a war with their arch enemy gives him the leverage he needs to tie Luke to the family once more.

Luke can’t see a way out, until Danny commits a crime so terrible it can’t be forgiven. Love turns to hate when secrets are unearthed which pit brother against brother. Left with no choice but to choose a side, Nina holds the fate of the family in her hands.

In the Glass family, Owen Mullen has created a crime dynasty to rival the Richardsons and the Krays. Heart-pounding, jaw-dropping with non-stop action, Family is perfect for fans of Martina Cole, Kimberley Chambers and Mandasue Heller.

The blog tour banner for Owen Mullen’s novel ‘Family’

“Family” is my first exposure to the work of Owen Mullen and, on this evidence, it won’t be my last trip to the world of the Glass family.

I’ve written elsewhere (and here) of how impressed I am by the work Boldwood Books are producing in the crime genre and Mullen is a very worthy addition to their stable of writers.

Here we have the crime family dynamic coming under strain as newly released Luke strains against the ties of his increasingly psychotic brother Danny while his Machiavellian sister Nina cooks up her own schemes.

So far, so ‘Lock Stock’. But what elevates this above the routine is the quality of the turns. It was Raymond Chandler who advised writers, “When in doubt, have a man with a gun come through the door (‘Trouble is My Business’) Mullen certainly likes to take advantage of this handy aphorism and there are geezers puffing into pubs with gats clapping like no ones business.

Author Owen Mullen

The real strength, however, lies in Mullen’s careful doling out of excitement. His protagonist, Luke, is an intelligent observer. His first person narration contrasts with the third person accounts throughout the rest of the tale. So we hear Luke’s thoughts, we hear his doubts, his fears, his rationalisations.

When the action explodes, it is over in seconds and gives a wide berth to the sort of sadistic, voyeurism of violence we experience in lesser writers.

Mullen is also no stranger to the odd Chandlerism. “I’d met him for less than thirty seconds and already would’ve liked to put his face up against a brick and throw a wall at it,” is Luke’s verdict on one shady character and this is worth the price of the novel alone.

We all know you can pick your friends, but not your family: however, I’d advise getting to know the Glass family very well and let Mullen propel you with his propulsive prose through the south London underworld.

Purchase Link – https://buff.ly/37rHomR

Author Bio –

When he was ten years old, Owen Mullen won a primary schools short story competition and didn’t write another word for four decades. One morning he announced he was going to write a book. He did. Since then he has written seven. Owen was born in Coatbridge, a few miles from Glasgow, where the Charlie Cameron stories take place, and where he ran a successful design and marketing business.

A late developer, he has a Masters degree from Strathclyde University which he got in his forties. In his earlier life he lived in London and worked as a musician and session singer. People tell him he enjoyed himself and he has no reason to doubt them.

The journey from rocker to writer has been a fascinating experience and the similarities between the music and book industries, never cease to amaze him. His passions are travel, food and Arsenal Football Club.

A gregarious recluse, he now splits his time between Scotland and the island of Crete, along with his wife, Christine.

Twitter https://twitter.com/OwenMullen6

Facebook https://m.facebook.com/OwenMullenAuthor

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/owenmullen6/

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCirKpr7Dzji0x-0teu2nhqw

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/owen-mullen

Blood on the Streets of Scotland – Blood of Brothers

Blood Brothers by Heather Atkinson

When you’re running the streets, loyalty is everything…

Gangs rule the streets of the rough Gallowburn Estate in Glasgow, but the deepest rivalry of all is between Jamie Gray and his friends, known as the Blood Brothers, and their enemies, the Lawsons.

The two gangs clash frequently, but when a phone containing incriminating evidence disappears after a particularly brutal run-in, the stakes are higher than ever.

Jamie’s mother Jackie is as hard as nails and is not going to let anyone hurt her boy – even if she has to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in. What she wants more than anything though, is to see Jamie turn his back on the street life. And when he meets spoilt rich-girl Allegra, who has a penchant for shoplifting, Jackie thinks she could be Jamie’s way out.

But with the Lawsons closing in, and everyone taking sides, there is only one way out for Jamie, and to triumph he must take out his biggest enemy…

If you love Martina Cole, Kimberley Chambers, and Jessie Keane, you’ll love Heather Atkinson. Discover the bestselling author Heather Atkinson, her crackling plots, unforgettable characters and page-turning pace and you’ll never look back…

I’ve lived in Scotland over 20 years now. It is a country which has changed immensely in the near quarter of a century since I first arrived.

Additionally, I have lived in isolated rural splendour of tourist trap mountains and charming wee fishing villages as well as in crowded, post-industrial towns where men are hard and drugs rife.

It is a country of contrasts.

The area Heather Atkinson is writing about here – Gallowburn – is fictional. Except, it isn’t. it’s an amalgamation of a whole bunch of places most Scottish readers can piece together without too much difficulty.

Atkinson clearly has an unpatronising affection for her street level protagonists. The characters are rendered as fully rounded humans with clear motivations and driving ambitions.

She also is an accomplished writer of dialogue. Having published over 50 novels, it would appear that she is well attuned to her surroundings, picking up the language of the Scheme and playing it back to readers to create an atmosphere of intense verisimilitude.

Even as her protagonists are sucked further into their worlds of violence and chaos, Heather Atkinson keeps them grounded as the plot runs away outwith their control to the natural end of violence. It is a climax moving, horrifying, engaging and entertaining.

Boldwood Books are an interesting independent publisher who have selected some exciting authors to work with (Alex Coombs, who I enjoyed immeasurably for one) https://pajnewman.com/2020/09/24/missing-for-good-by-alex-coombs/

With authors of the quality of coombs and Atkinson, they will be well worth following in future.

Purchase Link –  https://amzn.to/32GYs5H

Author Bio –

Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime fiction genre. Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family, including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. Her new gangland series for Boldwood, set on the fictional Gallowburn estate in Glasgow begins with Blood Brothers which will be published in December 2020.

Social Media Links –

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/booksofheatheratkinson/

Website https://www.heatheratkinsonbooks.com/

Twitter @ https://twitter.com/HeatherAtkinso1

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/heathercrimeauthor/

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-atkinson

PTSD in the land of the Villains

Detective Constable Bailey Morgan is back doing what she does best – working undercover.

This time she has to infiltrate the inner circle of a notorious underworld family. Posing as a fellow villain, she is on a one-woman mission to bring the family to their knees.

But things are never that simple. Bailey finds that she is forced to confront shadowy wraiths from her past and will come face-to-face with a set of devastating revelations that will shatter her world and threaten her very existence.

With only herself to trust, Bailey is on her own and the stakes are higher than ever.

Heart-stopping and gripping. Perfect for the fans of hit TV shows such as Line of Duty and Gangs of London.

The cover of Caro Savage’s second novel, ‘Villain’

Caro Savage is a new writer to me. I had missed her debut, Jailbird published in October 2019, but I liked the sound of her latest effort, Villain.

The fact that she has the best name for a crime writer since Karen Slaughter, only interested me further!

The atmospheric author portrait of the mysterious Caro Savage

I am happy to report that she lives up to her name: this novel is top notch. Savage manages to sprinkle the consequences of her protagonist’s previous undercover exploits through the novel with a light touch as well create a plucky, highly skilled detective who you want to go on the ride with.

It is not often that we see the far reaching results of exposure to violence and the effect that has on those that undergo it. Here, Bailey is on beta-blockers after a diagnosis of PTSD courtesy of the horrors she has previous undergone. 

Dainty Dialogue

A bugbear of mine in crime fiction is that convincing, flowing dialogue can often be the casualty of action but Savage manages the trick of making her characters distinct, recognisable and also realistic.

The other thing that Savage manages to do is ramp up the tension. Bailey’s interactions whilst undercover make your palms sweat as the threat of violence and trauma hangs over every encounter and keeps you hooked from first to last.

Black Humour

I have to be honest, the seam of black humour which runs through the novel – a severed arm torn asunder by a car bomb landing with a splat in front of a homeless man in the opening pages is a particular treat – keeps this novel from the potential of all thrillers to topple towards melodrama and is like a palate cleanser from the tension and thrills.

Caro Savage has announced her arrival as a writer to take note of with this thrilling follow up to her debut and I can’t wait to come across Bailey again.

Purchase Link

https://amzn.to/2V9uUKH

Author Bio

Caro Savage knows all about bestselling thrillers having worked as a Waterstones bookseller for 12 years in a previous life. Now taking up the challenge personally and turning to hard-hitting crime thriller writing, Jailbird was published by Boldwood in October 2019.

Social Media Links

Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/CaroSavageStory

https://www.instagram.com/carosavage/

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/CaroSavageNewsletter

The blog tour banner celebrating the publication of Caro Savage’s new novel, ‘Villain’