Review of Deadlands by Lloyd Otis Written by Daniel Stubbings

Book Synoposis

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy.

My Review

This is a gripping and gritty crime thriller, that will have you on the edge of your seat from the first page. The book opens with the brutal murder of a woman told from the perspective of the murderer simply known as the messenger.

As a reader straight away your trying to put together the clues. Who is the messenger, and why does he want this woman dead.  The language used by Lloyd is bone chilling, and puts you as a reader in the mind of both the murderer, and victim in a unique way completely submerging you in this violent act.

Fast forward to the investigation, and this is where we met the dynamic duo of Arlo Breck and Patricia Kearns. Two detectives part of the sensitive case unit (SCU) with a number of their own issues, to add to a plot which already has you wondering what on earth is going to happen next.

Lloyd has been very clever in how he has presented both characters to his audience. Giving us deep insights into both their backgrounds, but his style of writing his enabled to him to do it in a way were you don’t feel bombarded with information. Therefore allowing the reader to gradually form their own feelings on both characters. For example in the case of Breck, Lloyd slowly gives us parts of his life. His guilt over the unsolved attack on his girlfriend, his constant fight with his feelings for his coworker Beatrice, and his suspicions over his partner Kearns, make for an intriguing character who feels more human with every sentence. Helping us explore his motivations as well as make us begin to question whether he will be able to solve the case.

I found Kearns to be my favourite character. I just felt drawn to her in ways I usually don’t in crime thrillers with female characters. I loved her back story how her loyalty was constantly been thrown into question. What was she hiding, what was her involvement with the case as she harbored a deep secret from her past. Could she potentially carry out the ultimate betrayal, and what secret from her past haunts her from this case. These questions are all posed, and I loved how her chapters were written, they gave nothing away making for an ending which you are just not expecting. Therefore allowing for more development of her character in future cases.

When the first murder scene is investigated, it seems like an open and shut case, due to a credit card and a written note with the name Alexander Troy being found at the scene by Breck.  However when two Alexander Troy’s are discovered. The race is on to discover who is the real Alexander Troy, and why would he carry out two brutal murders.

Another element which adds a different dimension to the story is it set in 1970s London. When policing was different, racial tension was at an all time high, and police corruption was front page news. The book is played out against the backdrop of an anti fascist march, and introduces another strand of characters which further heightened a plot with so many subplots, that your adrenaline doesn’t get a moment’s peace. I just loved the old-fashioned ways, no mobile phones, no laptops. Just good old knocking down doors and taking names. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys Martina Cole, and Mark Billingham. It is both darkness and light, and I cant wait to see what Lloyd comes up with next it is a 5 star read.

Thanks to Urbane Publications for my copy for an honest review. This does not effect my thoughts.

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Review of Life Assistance Agency By Tom Hocknell Written by Daniel Stubbings

First of all I must apologise to Tom for the length of time it has taken me to write this review. As I have been promising to do it for months, but due to other writing projects it got delayed however I hope you enjoy it Tom.

Synopsis

Do you want to live forever? is THE question facing anyone pursuing immortality. But what happens when eternal life is disappointing, and everyone around you keeps dying? Ben Ferguson-Cripps, a struggling writer with a surname that gets more attention than his creative endeavours, sets aside his literary ambitions to join the mysterious Life Assistance Agency. Their first case is to trace a missing person with links to the Elizabethan angel-caller Dr John Dee. Pursued by a shadowy organisation – and the ghosts of Ben’s past – the trail leads through Europe into the historic streets of Prague, where the long-buried secrets of Dr Dee’s achievements are finally revealed, and Ben discovers there is far more to life than simply living…

My Review

This book introduces us to two amateur detectives. Ben Ferguson- Cripps a struggling writer who is down on his luck, who is about to be dropped by his publisher after dreadful sales.  He is in need of a job and picks up a business card of the mysterious Life Assistance Agency run by his old friend Scott Wildblood. Who is delighted to see him when he walks into his office.  When Ben asks what they do Scott replies “It a detective agency without the detectives.” From this moment on you know you’re in for a wild ride.

Their first case catapults them on a journey across Europe. From London to the streets of Prague. In search of a missing person known as Mr Foxe, as their investigation unfolds they discover that Mr Foxe was entangled in research carried by the Elizabethan occultist Dr John Dee who believed he could contact angels.

As their quest continues they are pursued by a secret organisation known as The Society. A group of hooligans who wish to uncover Dr Dee’s secrets and contact higher beings, but also wish to protect the world from their otherworldly activities. This allows for some thrilling car chases, night-time flits, and scenes were your just not quite sure what will happen next.

I found this book to be a delicious mix of past and present. Blending old London with new in such detail that you feel you are tasting every breath, feeling every footstep, and picturing the world in which Dr John Dee would have experienced. Allowing for a stunning backdrop of Medieval Europe where ancient secrets lurked, and beliefs within the church were challenged. Dr Dee was a character that you would easily believe came from fiction if not for the painstaking research Tom has undertaken.

I just loved how Jayne Dee diaries entries were embedded into this book. Allowing us as readers to really understand what drove this extraordinary man, and become hooked on what Ben and Scott begin to experience.

My only problem is the interaction with the creatures known as angels. I would have liked to of seen more depth given to these creatures. Allowing us to explore their motivations, why they want to talk to our characters, and just a little bit more magic, as I felt these scenes could have been even stronger than they already are.

Overall this book is a delightful mix of supernatural meets crime thrillers. I think of it as Dan Browns Angels and Demons meets John Constantine. Characters are engaging and keep you guessing right until its end each one not as they seem. I recommend you read this book as it is one bonkers ride and had me laughing throughout. I would give it 4.5 stars.

If you read this book let me know what you enjoyed? and what you are hoping Tom publishes next.

 

 

 

Review of The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes Written by Daniel

Why should you read the Gift Maker? What sets it apart from all the other fantasy/fairy-tale stories you have read either as a child or adult. Well that just it. This book isn’t just a fantasy novel it is able to cross a number of genres from romance to mystery to puzzle solving this book has something for everyone.

Making for a very interesting debut. The story is told through the eyes of three main characters Thomas, Liselotte, and Jo. Their journey begins after Thomas and Liselotte receive two mysterious small blue boxes in the dead of night. Catapulting them into a quest where everything is not as it seems, and into a world that brings new meaning to the world of fantasy and folklore. Sometimes a dream, sometimes a nightmare, and at other times you’re not quite sure. Each aspect crafted by the deliciously dark Reynard who I have to say is one of my favourite villains if you can call him that but that would be giving too much away.

The world in which Mark has constructed is so vividly written that you cant help but be absorbed into its pages. A great mix of hunters, mythical creatures, and magic that seems to have no end. It does however have elements that seem familiar snow-covered mountains, a mastermind orchestrating a quest for people to complete. At times it could have been mistaken for a mixture of Stardust and Lord of the Rings but I loved it. Mark has been able to breathe new life into old tales, and create characters that you can’t help but care for.

The only criticism I have is the ending. Yes everything is resolved and keeps you on the edge of your seat right until the end, but I wanted to see more of this world, I wanted to know everything about the characters, I wanted to go deeper into the language, and wanted to see more of the dark undertones which lurk in the background.

This however takes nothing away from how well written this book is. It is a stunning debut and I guess me wanting to find out more about this world only furthers my point. It is quite simply a must read for any reader.

If you have read this book tell me what you enjoyed and what you didn’t?

If you have any feedback? Do please comment I really do take your opinions into account.

And also why don’t you follow Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mark_J_Mayes

You can also follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dan_stubbings

Review of Waves by Jared A Carnie Written by Daniel

Waves is the debut novel from British author Jared A Carnie. It is a book I have read a couple of times. The story is centred around a young man called Alex. He is in that stage of life that we have all experienced where we feel everyone around us is having a better time than we are, and we begin to question why ours is not the same.

The opening chapter brings us into his life, a job he hates, still living with his parents, and a relationship on the rocks with his girlfriend called Kim. When his life is turned upside down he calls his long suffering friend James, who I have to say is my favourite character in the whole book. Yes  I can hear you ask why is this, well to be honest he just reminds me of that mate we all have who you know if you ever need them they will be there for you no matter what. So when Alex calls him asking if he can visit him at university in Bristol. He instead invites him on a road trip to his parents house in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.

This takes the reader on a journey of self discovery for both Alex and yourself asking you to look at your own life. Asking you are you just settling because you are comfortable or whether you should take a leap of faith and change your life to the way you want it. As the book continues you find Alex put in situations where he really begins to question his current status within life. Whether this is James giving him some home truths, or from having conversations with Isobel a girl he meets along his journey.

Another aspect of the book that for me is a character in it own right, is the incredible scenery and surroundings that are described in breathtaking detail from the castle grounds in Stornoway, to the sea itself which as the story develops seems to gain a voice speaking to Alex drawing him in. Giving him both a sense of calm, but at the same time making both Alex and you as the reader realise how small we really are in the grand scheme of the world.

For me this book was a story of hope, about how no matter what is happening in our lives. There is always a way out, and like the book says there’s no set route after all. No straight road. No one path. For me this book is for anyone who has wanted to escape, wanted to forget their problems, and wanted to start again.

Now if your looking for blood, guts and dramatic twists, then this book is not for you, but if your looking for a book that you can curl up with on a Sunday morning with a bacon sandwich in one hand, and a black coffee in the other, as howling winds batter your windows and pull you into a world where you can hear the waves pounding in your ears, and taste the salt in the air, but also get you to think as the pages fall away then you couldn’t go further then waves a delightful 220 paged adventure.

If you read this novel which aspects did you enjoy? Let me know and please give feedback on whether you enjoyed this review or what you like to see improved thank you.