Friday 12 October 2018

Dead End - Rachel Lynch

When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging from the rafters at Wasdale Hall, everyone assumes the aging, hard-partying aristocrat had finally had enough of chasing the glory of his youth. But when the coroner finds signs of foul play, DI Kelly Porter is swept into a luxurious world where secrets and lies dominate.
At the same time, two young hikers go missing and it’s up to Kelly to lead the search. But digging deeper reveals ties to two other unsolved disappearances and Kelly and her team find themselves in a race against time.
Now, as all roads of both investigations and Kelly’s own family secrets lead to Wasdale Hall it becomes more important than ever for Kelly to discover the devious truths hidden behind the walls of the Lake District’s most exclusive estate...

Having read and loved Rachel Lynch's first two Kelly Porter books, Dark Game and Deep Fear, I was very much looking forward to diving into Dead End. We return to the glorious setting of the Lake District for this nailbiting third installment and are plunged straight into the action. DI Kelly Porter is running two cases at once in Dead End, the supposed suicide of an elderly earl, and two missing hikers who disappeared from a local campsite in the middle of the night.

The earl was elderly and the pathologist, Ted Wallis, throws the suicide verdict into doubt because of his age and other factors. Whilst Kelly is trying to work out who may have wanted the earl dead, and didn't want to wait any longer for his death, she's also trying to find out exactly what has happened to the two missing hikers. The girls were being stalked by an ex-boyfriend and staying at a campsite run by an extremely repugnant manager.

When links are made to a third missing girl, eerily similar in appearance to the other two girls, alarm bells start to ring for Kelly and her team. When bones found by a local walker come up in the investigation and a body is found in the hills it's time to admit that something sinister is going on in one of the most beautiful places to live.

The Kelly Porter series gets better with every book and this latest one is full of tension, from all directions. Kelly's home life has not improved, her sister is as bitter as ever, and her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer, is caught in the middle of the warring sisters. Her romantic life is improving in leaps and bounds though, with her relationship with Johnny, a local mountain rescue worker, one of the only things keeping her grounded. The mix of personal and work lives is partly what makes these books so readable, it's rare to hear so much about a detective's home life in a series and considering the curveball that Kelly has just been thrown I can't wait to read the next one.

Incredibly well written and detailed, Dead End paints a picture of the more sinister side of the Lakes. It's a page-turner, albeit a slow burner of one, but this ratchets up the pressure on each and every page. There are red herrings by the dozen, I defy you to work out who is ultimately responsible and get it right on the first, second, even third attempt!

If you like female-focused police procedurals where the setting is as important as the characters then do check out this series. Dark Game was a fantastic start to the series and Dead End only builds on that, to make a superbly addictive crime novel.
Dead End (Kelly Porter #3) - Rachel Lynch
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - October 8th, 2018
About The Author
Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Find Rachel on Twitter

Many thanks to Ellie & Canelo for the review copy and the invitation to take part in the blog tour.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Deep Fear - Rachel Lynch

DI Kelly Porter is back. 

But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer's morning in the Lake District, a woman's body is discovered outside a church. She's been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. 

DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

Having enjoyed Rachel Lynch's first book, Dark Game, I was really looking forward to reading Deep Fear and, thankfully, it didn't disappoint. DI Kelly Porter returns, on a high after successfully solving one of the hardest crimes of her career. Little does she know what the immediate future holds for her. Backed up by her incredibly hardworking team, who know she likes to operate by now, they are stunned when a woman's body is found with a piece of poetry by a Lakes poet on her body. 

What follows is a frightening case, as more bodies turn up, and more poetry is located on each body. This case is getting the better of Kelly, and she doesn't like it. Frustrated at every turn, knowing she's missing something, her home life continues to deteriorate with her relationships with both her mother and sister hitting rock bottom. Her sister Nikki cannot get over her bitterness about Kelly having created a better life for herself, and her mother is in hospital.

The perpetrator of the latest series of crimes to hit the Lakes seems to be trying to teach people a lesson, each piece of poetry points to what could be considered a sin. Kelly can't help but think that she's missing something and when the case hits too close to home for comfort she's going to need all her strength to find the killer before it's too late.

I think of all the Kelly Porter novels this one is probably my favorite. I loved the literary twists and turns Deep Fear took and how it added to the storyline. Because of the poetry angle, I can only assume that everyone who reads it will leap to the same conclusions I did, that the culprit is somebody immersed in the academic world, or at least on the periphery. The red herrings from book one make a welcome return, follow the clues that Rachel plants and you'll be second-guessing yourself on every page. I spectacularly failed to guess who the killer was right up until the very last moment but this is something she does incredibly well.

Deep Fear is another fantastically written police procedural, the background of the Lakes adds to the sense of menace throughout the book, and as always, the character of Kelly is ably supported by well fleshed out colleagues, friends, and family.

Deep Fear (Kelly Porter #2) - Rachel Lynch
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - May 14th, 2018

Friday 5 October 2018

Review and Q&A: The Secrets You Hide - Kate Helm

In her eyes, no-one is innocent...

A knock-out read for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Anatomy of a Scandal and Apple Tree Yard.

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist, she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realizes her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Slater family, something happens that threatens not only her career - but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying...

THE SECRETS YOU HIDE is an ambitious rocket of a novel. Every layer, every twist, every revelation makes you question the very characters you thought you could trust, and rethink a plot you thought you were beginning to unravel...

Kate Helm is also known as Kate Harrison and has published numerous books both fiction and non-fiction, including the YA trilogy that started with Soul Beach which I loved. This is her crime fiction debut, hence the name change, and it's a corker of a crime debut!

Georgia Sage is one of a dying breed in this digital age, a court artist. The person who draws the sketches you see on television, of the judges and jury, the defendants and other people of interest - all brilliantly brought to life in pencil and pastel.

But Georgia wasn't always Georgia and she knows the horrors and brutality all too well. It's this legacy that leads her to believe she can 'sense' good or evil in a defendant. When Georgia starts to see things, people that can't possibly be there, she believes her past is catching up with her and that she is going mad.

Blaming what turns out to be a desperately sad medical diagnosis on stress, insomnia, and even too much alcohol, Georgia carries on with her life.  Despite everything, she signs up for a new book project which takes her back to one of her most memorable cases of her court artist career. When she starts to jump to conclusions about what really may have happened, she ends up neck deep in trouble and with her life in danger.

The Secrets You Hide is a character-driven novel, all the way through, and has some of the most fleshed out characters I've read in a long time. Georgia is a simply wonderful character. Realizing she's about to lose everything that means something she throws herself into her work, knowing that what she's doing is driven by purely selfish reasons. Also standing out is Georgia's former fiance, Oliver, a barrister who is now married with a child on the way. Even though Georgia pushed him away he never gives up on her and is determined to remain in her life which is quite easy considering he is a barrister!

The Secrets You Hide is a page-turner from start to finish. I started reading it the minute I downloaded it and didn't put it down until I had finished, a couple of hours later.  It's a slow-burner of a novel but it builds up the tension perfectly, leading to what was an excellent confrontation with the real villain of the piece. I very much enjoyed Secrets and am certainly hoping that we'll be hearing more from Kate in her crime writing persona.

The Secrets You Hide - Kate Helm
Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre
Release date - October 4th, 2018

Q & A With Kate Helm

1. What inspired The Secrets You Hide?

KH - It came from hearing a podcast while I was at the gym about a courtroom artist in America who described what her job was like: I worked as a court reporter when I was a very young journalist, and I realized this was a way to write about justice and guilt and the secrets about ourselves that we all try to keep hidden.

2. What drew you to thriller writing specifically?

KH - I love reading thrillers but I hadn’t planned to write one until I had this idea – now I have been completely bitten by the crime-writing bug and spend an awful lot of time thinking about deadly scenarios, high emotions, and twists. It’s really cathartic and the thriller writing and reading community is just so welcoming too.

3. The book is about the world of the court artist. Are you artistic?

KH - I would love to be artistic but I can’t draw or paint to save my life (except walls: I am quite good at decorating!). I failed Art at school when I was going through a bit of a monochrome Gothic phase, but I love colour, especially the names of all the different shades, which are like a palette to paint word pictures with. It was fascinating to research how sketch artists work, and I share Georgia’s fascination with faces and portraits, but I will leave creating art to the people with a talent for it!

4. How would you describe the main character Georgia in five words?

KH - Damaged, vengeful, loyal, compassionate, courageous.

5. What is the best thing about being an author?

KH - So many things to choose from but I think it’s a huge privilege to be able to create characters and invent stories that become so real in readers’ minds that they want to talk about their decisions and disasters!

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