Tuesday 28 May 2019

The Body In The Mist - Nick Louth

A brutal murder hints at a terrifying mystery, and this time it’s personal.
A body is found on a quiet lane in Exmoor, victim of a hit and run. He has no ID, no wallet, no phone, and – after being dragged along the road – no recognisable face.
Meanwhile, fresh from his last case, DCI Craig Gillard is unexpectedly called away to Devon on family business.
Gillard is soon embroiled when the car in question is traced to his aunt. As he delves deeper, a dark mystery reveals itself, haunted by family secrets, with repercussions Gillard could never have imagined.  
The past has never been deadlier.
Welcome to the third instalment of the DCI Gillard series by Nick Louth, and what an instalment it is! Gillard is now happily married to Sam, still puzzling over why such a beautiful woman would want a grizzly workaholic like him, when everything is threatened by one phone call. A deadly hit and run has taken place in Devon, the victim is unidentifiable but the car belongs to one of Gillard's aunts and he is summoned to Devon to sort out the whole sorry mess.

The story is told from two different sides, from Gillard's point of view as the one who's family is being investigated, and from DI Jan Talantire's as the official investigating officer determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. It's clear from the start that Gillard is highly uncomfortable being back in his aunts company, and the two women couldn't be more different. Trish is a former teacher, living in the house she shared with her ex-husband, Howie, who ran away to Thailand and Barbara, large in both stature and personality, running the family farm and struggling to make ends meet. Thrown in to complicate the situation further is Podge, or Uncle Phillip, a former reverend well known for his social injustice campaigning and now living in a nursing home, suffering from Alzheimer's and unable to walk.

It soon becomes clear that there is far more going on than what has already happened, and Gillard is dragged back into the nightmares of his childhood. Trying to deal with his abusive and abused aunts is more than he can bear but trying to distance himself is impossible and he's drawn back in almost against his will, bombarded with constant phone calls, having to drive back and forth to Devon, and discovering long buried family secrets, some of which are shocking even to Gillard as a serving police officer.

The Body In The Mist manages to be a well-written police procedural with multi-strand storylines converging together to make one of my favorite crime novels in a long time. Far from feeling spread out the various elements all weave together, forming a tight-knit tale which is impossible to put down, and impossible to predict who did it. Murders both old and new, a court case, and a sheep-killing beast are the main focus point of the book but it's the characters who balance out the story perfectly. Every single character, whether they're mentioned on every page or only appear once, is larger than life and not forgotten once you turn the last page. 

I'm exceedingly pleased that this is not my family but the person you have to feel sorry for throughout the entire novel is Sam, Gillard's wife. Deeply unsettled by his entire family, and especially the lecherous Podge, she starts to wonder just how well she knows her husband but stands by him and supports him through the whole case. I'm just not sure how supportive she'll continue to be given the twist in the tale, on the very last page, which will make you rethink and/or doubt everything you've just read. Brilliant! This series gets better with every book but you could also read this one without having read the first two as each is a separate story. I guarantee though, that you will want to go back to the beginning and read The Body In The Marsh anyway! Now starts the wait for book four...

Tuesday 21 May 2019

The Body On The Shore - Nick Louth

A killer is at work in the supposedly-safe commuter belt.  DCI Gillard needs answers, fast...
Promising architect Peter Young is shot dead at his desk. DCI Craig Gillard is quickly on the scene, looking at what appears to be a brutal and highly professional hit: two bullets, fired with ice-cold calm.
Gillard knows that the most crucial question in solving the crime is one word: Why? Two weeks later, on the Lincolnshire coast, another body is found on a windswept beach. In this case, there is no identity for the young man, just a curious brand burned into his neck….
As the mystery deepens Gillard is plunged into a case without answers, finding himself up against dark forces, people who believe in only two things: blood and a warped code of honour. This time lives are on the line, children's lives - and his own.
Having loved Nick Louth's first DCI Gillard book, The Body In The Marsh, I was very much looking forward to book two in the series. The Body On The Shore arrived a year after Marsh, and it was worth the wait.
Gillard's life has changed and he's now happy and in a relationship with Sam, the PCSO he encountered in book one. His new case could be about to change all that though, as its not just the victims who may lose their lives. An architect has been murdered, and it looks like a professional hit. When they discover that the man was Albanian and came over from Kosovo as a teenager, the team are even more stumped. Gillard also gets a call from someone he's helped in the past, Sophie Lund, seemingly unconnected except for the that the woman's two children are adopted orphans from Albania.

When another body is found shot to death, on the Lincolnshire shore, bearing all the hallmarks of the architect's murder except for one thing - a strange brand burnt into his neck, Gillard and his team are becoming ever more desperate to find answers. What happens next though, nobody could have predicted... Sophie's children are kidnapped and the brand on the body turns out to be the mark of one of the most feared branches of the Albanian Mafia.

The Body On The Shore is definitely darker than anything I've read previously by Nick Louth. This book somehow seemed more real, and much grittier but I suspect that it was all the tiny details that painted a portrait of our killers, the (fictional) Albanian Mafia and their long history of blood feuds, wiping out entire families over the smallest of slights. As with all his books, I was completely engrossed from start to finish and unable to stop reading until I had turned the last page. There's no obvious culprit for the murders that take place, only a slightly uneasy feeling that they might not be who you're expecting it to be, and when the killer is finally revealed? Almost complete disbelief but also somehow not unexpected thanks to the background of the story. It's sad to think that in this day and age it is completely plausible that the killer is who it is and I admire Nick Louth for writing the story this way. It certainly amped up the tension and made for a great read into the wee, small hours!

Other Books In The Series

The Body In The Marsh
The Body In The Mist

Thursday 16 May 2019

Breaking The Lore - Andy Redsmith

A magical, mischievous mystery perfect for fans of Douglas Adams and Ben Aaronovitch
How do you stop a demon invasion... when you don’t believe in magic?
Inspector Nick Paris is a man of logic and whisky. So staring down at the crucified form of a murder victim who is fifteen centimetres tall leaves the seasoned detective at a loss… and the dead fairy is only the beginning.

Suddenly the inspector is offering political asylum to dwarves, consulting with witches, getting tactical advice from elves and taking orders from a chain-smoking talking crow who, technically, outranks him.

With the fate of both the human and magic worlds in his hands, Nick will have to leave logic behind and embrace his inner mystic to solve the crime and stop an army of demons from invading Manchester!

Oh this book! It's been a while since a book has made me snigger whilst reading and Breaking The Lore succeeded more than once. I was reading this on the train and I'm pretty sure this is why people were giving me odd looks...

Compared to Ben Aaronovitch and Douglas Adams, Breaking The Lore is the story of Inspector Nick Paris, or Mr. Parrots if you're a dwarf, Nipparis if you're a (friendly) demon, who would like us to think he's a tough, hard-drinking, Northern police officer but when faced with the execution of a fifteen centimetre tall fairy, he's anything but. Confronted by the fact that magic does indeed exist, the inspector's investigation team soon consists of some interesting characters including his sergeant, Bonetti, not the brightest spark in the box but you have to admire someone who thinks Finding Nemo is a documentary! There's Cassandra, their 'magical' expert and human, a chivalrous elf, a troll princess, a demon Knight, and a talking crow with a penchant for cigarettes!

Breaking The Lore is a pun-filled, fantastical detective novel with plenty to recommend it. At 321 pages it was the perfect length to get to know our motley collection of characters, to be introduced to a side of Manchester that we never knew we wanted to exist, and to get completely absorbed by centaurs and the king & queen of the fairies. The queen, by the way, is not called Titania but Gladys, short for Gladioli! The mystery has plenty of magic filled twists and turns which will keep you guessing until the very end, the whole explanation for the existence of magic is almost completely plausible, and while this first adventure is all wrapped up by the end of the story I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Mr. Parrots does next.

Huge thanks to Andy Redsmith and Canelo via Netgalley for a copy of the book!

Breaking The Lore - Andy Redsmith
Publisher - Canelo
Release date - April 15th, 2019

About The Author

Andy Redsmith was born in Liverpool and grew up in Runcorn. For university, he moved the enormous distance to Salford and has lived in Manchester ever since. He says the people there are great, but we don’t talk about football.

He worked for many years as a project manager in the computing industry, a job which really is every bit as exciting as it sounds. Eventually, the call of writing became too hard to ignore and he went off to do that instead. Over the years in IT he worked with some very clever people and some complete weirdos, none of whom bear any resemblance to the characters in his books. Honest...

He has a wonderful wife, a great son, and a loft full of old Marvel comics. One day he’ll get round to selling them. That’s the comics, not the family.

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