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July 25, 2015 / John Sheridan

Dee-fense, Dee-fense, Dee-fense

aka The Defence by Steve Cavanagh


Amazon US, Amazon UK

This book was everywhere locally when it was launched a few months back. I got my copy from the library and its a few weeks overdue so I better put down a few lines about it before I return it. Firstly, it has one of my favourite covers from the last few years – highly visible in black and yellow but I loved the split down the front showing the various aspects of Eddie Flynn’s personality and even better (which you can’t get from the picture above is) that the left hand side is hidden behind a flap bearing the legend “Meet Eddie Flynn” and only on lifting this do you get to see the dark side.

Well it reads very like a Michael Connelly book which is just about the highest praise you can give a debut author. Not derivative though it does contain a Harry who was a tunnel rat in Vietnam – no harm in including a nod to a master. [Lawrence Block namechecks quite a few authors in The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons which I’ve just finished recently].

Anyway back to The Defence and Eddie Flynn has gone straight but not without difficulties. Strong-armed into taking on a murder trial for the Russian Mob as they’ve kidnapped his daughter he has to use his skills from both sides of the law in order to survive the next few days and get his daughter back alive but what’s the world coming to when you can’t rely on the word of a mobster. Great courtroom drama but interspersed with action as well as he has to escape a frame-up and execute a double-cross while the only support he can call on is from the former tunnel-rat turned judge and his childhood pal who luckily has progressed up the ranks in the Italian mob. What’s a little mob war among friends?

I hope there’ll be another Eddie Flynn novel soon as I’m giving this one 10 out of 10.


January 28, 2015 / John Sheridan

Belated Best of 2014


Ok, having taken an extended leave of absence from updating the blog I’m back with my favourite books of 2014. 🙂

I didn’t manage to read as many books as in the previous couple of years due to personal circumstances but did manage to clear some books from the dreaded TBR pile that had been there for awhile so that was good. Name checks in particular in this instance go to: Jo Nesbo’s The Leopard, Laura Lippman’s Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan #1), Thomas B. Cavanagh’s Head Games and Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom’s Cell 8. Only the latter of these ultimately featured in my best of the year listing below but I was glad to sample my first Tess Monaghan and will read more eventually. Another first this year was finally reading my first Jack Reacher but Personal didn’t make the cut.

Jo Nesbo does feature with The Son which put his previous standalone Headhunters in the shade. Return visitors will know of my fondness for Messrs Connolly and Connelly but this year’s Harry Bosch misses out in favour of JC’s The Wolf in Winter which managed to make my jaw drop on at least one occasion (“….but you can’t do that to…”)!

Award for author of the year has to go Adrian McKinty as I read 5 of his books in 2014 including all 4 featuring RUC detective Sean Duffy and if you thought there were only 3 please catch up with the latest Gun Street Girl.

Anyway without further ado my favourite books in 2014 were:

Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom’s Cell 8
Jo Nesbo’s The Son
John Connolly’s The Wolf in Winter
Pierre Lemaitre’s Irene
Stephan Talty’s Hangman
Adrian McKinty’s The Cold Cold Ground, I Hear The Sirens In The Street & In The Morning I’ll Be Gone

Honourable mentions also go to:
Matteo Strukul’s The Ballad of Mila
Dan O’Shea for Penance and Greed.

August 6, 2014 / John Sheridan

Stuart Neville’s The Final Silence


Amazon UK, Kindle UK, Amazon US

July 17th 2014 (UK), October 28th 2014 (USA)

Read an excerpt on the author’s website here.

Amazon Description:
Rea Carlisle has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn’t take her long to clear out the dead man’s remaining possessions, but one room remains stubbornly locked. When Rea finally forces it open she discovers inside a chair, a table – and a leather-bound book. Inside its pages are locks of hair, fingernails: a catalogue of victims.

Horrified, Rea wants to go straight to the police but when her family intervene, Rea turns to the only person she can think of: DI Jack Lennon. But Lennon is facing his own problems. Suspended from the force and hounded by DCI Serena Flanagan, the toughest cop he’s ever faced, Lennon must unlock the secrets of a dead man’s terrifying journal.

This is Stuart Neville’s 5th book and the 3rd that I have read – the others being his debut (The Ghosts of Belfast aka The Twelve) and his preceding one Ratlines) but the first one that has featured DI Jack Lennon as the central character and the fact that I finished it in just under 24 hours which is the type of pace I normally reserve for Michael Connelly or John Connolly shows that it possesses the necessary ingredients to keep you enthralled. Whereas Ratlines was a historical novel featuring German Nazis in Ireland in the 1960’s, this book returns us to contemporary Belfast where Jack Lennon is under suspension from the PSNI.

Lennon is the archetypal flawed detective with both personal and professional issues and he faces a number of additional challenges here as one of the victims is a former girlfriend and when his fingerprints are found on the murder weapon he is forced to go on the run on top of his current relationship foundering, finding somewhere to live, encountering custody issues, medical problems, addiction challenges and being on suspension. He would appear to have a pretty full agenda without conducting an investigation from the sidelines but that may be the only avenue open to him in order to prove his innocence.

What elevates this book out of the ordinary for me are the little vignettes that portray the personal lives of the various characters in the book and the various demands each is facing in their own way from Lennon himself to his erstwhile partner Susan as well as the bond formed between the lead police investigator DCI Flanagan and Ida Carlisle, the mother of Rea Carlisle who finds the book which initiates events.

Suffice to say that although Lennon is the anti-hero and the reader is aware of his innocence despite the circumstantial evidence there are plenty of shady characters present that may have roles to play in the conclusion and the fact that he is under suspicion himself adds impetus to his investigation as there is a limited amount of time available to him before he gets arrested.

I’m sure that those of you who have read Collusion and/or Stolen Souls will want to continue with The Final Silence but I have to refrain from direct comparisons as I’ve skipped those but I would heartily recommend this. My rating is 9 out of 10. A quick word on the covers – I prefer the UK one shown above on the left despite it sharing the Lee Child quote and the “His New Breakneck Thriller” tag with his “Stolen Souls” book – inserted below for those of you who care about such things, maybe the publisher will change it for the next book.


July 26, 2014 / John Sheridan

Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta


Amazon UK, Kindle UK, Amazon US, Kindle US

Set in the Montana mountains, this is a world away from the Lincoln Perry novels that first brought Michael Koryta to my attention but also thankfully doesn’t reflect the horror novels that he has also written which, as I have mentioned before, didn’t do anything for me so basically closer in feel to his previous book “The Prophet”.

Jace Wilson is thirteen and a witness to a murder but rather than being part of a witness relocation program he is on his way to a wilderness survival camp run by Ethan Serbin and his wife Alison as nowhere should be safer than a mountainside in the Montana mountains but everyone had reckoned without the inexorable pursuit by the Blackwell brothers who he is set to testify against. The Blackwells wish him dead and are intent on cutting a swathe through anyone who gets in their way and approach their task with zeal which spells bad news for Ethan and his wife as well as the local law enforcement and fire services in the area.

They lack any sort of compunction and are quite willing to torture and kill by whatever means are necessary to move them closer to their prey and in so doing set a fire to cover their tracks which spreads out of control through the forest on the mountains. Fire isn’t easily controlled though and when they brace Ethan’s wife, Alison, while he is hiking in the mountains with a group of boys which includes Jace (under an assumed name so that not even Ethan knows which one of the group he is) they hospitalise her but at the same time are injured themselves. As Ethan heads back down the mountain to her side, Jace is forced to go solo to avoid the Blackwells but is ably assisted by a fire lookout, Hannah Faber, who is overcoming her own personal trauma which resulted in a family and a number of firefighters dying in a forest fire but if together they can overcome their fears of both the Blackwells and the fire that is spreading towards them they may just survive long enough to signal for help.

So we have adversaries that excel in killing but who are not in their natural environment which may just hand enough of an advantage to their quarry in order to give them an equal chance. This gives plenty of scope for Koryta to build toward a climax that features a surprising denouement.

Recommended. Rating 8 out of 10.

Related Posts:
The Prophet
The Silent Hour
Envy The Night
Tonight I Said Goodbye

May 6, 2014 / John Sheridan

Currently Reading: The Bayou Trilogy


I’ve read some great books lately including John Connolly’s “The Wolf in Winter”, Jo Nesbo’s “The Son” and Pierre Lemaitre’s “Irene” and as usual I’m way behind in actually posting reviews mainly as a result of watching series 1 thru 4 of Justified.

I’m currently reading The Bayou Trilogy from the critically acclaimed Daniel Woodrell and while some of the settings and dialogue would be at home in Justified, the book hasn’t really grabbed me as of yet but I am just over 100 pages into the first book “Under the Bright Lights” so I’m hopeful but on the possible downside I’ve ordered “Don’t Ever Look Back” by Daniel Friedman which is the sequel to one of my favourite books of 2012 so it’s quite likely that I will put this one aside in favour of that if it is delivered in the next couple of days.

March 29, 2014 / John Sheridan

Absalom Kearney series from Stephan Talty



Black Irish: Amazon UK, Kindle UK, Amazon US, Kindle US

Hangman: Amazon UK, Kindle UK, Amazon US, Kindle US

Stephan Talty is an Irish-American author primarily of non-fiction and probably his highest profile work is “A Captain’s Duty” which formed the basis for the recent Tom Hanks movie “Captain Phillips”. Over the last couple of years he has published two crime fiction novels featuring Detective Absalom Kearney of the Buffalo PD who shares the author’s Irish-American background and accordingly gives a slightly different perspective to Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy Troubles trilogy that I wrote about recently. The second book in the series, Hangman, is due to be published May.

Book #1 “Black Irish” is set in “The County” – an Irish-American stronghold in Buffalo and features the activities of Clan na Gael prominently which was an organisation that supported the activities of the IRA in Northern Ireland via fundraising and smuggling IRA members into the USA to safe houses and the provision of new identities. All of these actions were aided by the close links between the Irish-American community and the PD and in particular Absalom Kearney’s famous detective (and adoptive) father. Within “The County” there is a code resembling omertĂ  so that despite their strong ethnic representation in the police department many issues are resolved without recourse to official channels but at the same time if you are not hooked into this network it can make your life and your job as an investigator that much harder and so it proves to be for Det. Kearney as she struggles to penetrate the wall of silence even as she pursues the murderer currently stalking the residents of “The County”. To these residents though she will always be an outsider regardless of her father.

But a little half-Irish girl from outside the neighbourhood could never have been at home here, even if she’d been adopted and raised by a legendary Irish cop, the great and terrible John Kearney.

Opening with the first victim, Jimmy Ryan, tied to a chair at knifepoint we soon realise that this isn’t a random killing – it is vengeance but even before the body is found his family seem strangely reluctant to cooperate fully with the police. It is not until more bodies turn up that they can connect the killer’s signature but even those people who are willing to talk to her clam up pretty quickly either intimidated or incentivised to keep quiet and solve things another way but between the mementos at the crime scenes and old arrest records the evidence points to a killer motivated by something dating back years but even her own father won’t share what he knows. Tempted into an isolated meeting by a promise of information she is lucky to escape alive but even worse circumstances conspire to place her under suspicion but there are more familial connections to the case than even she could possibly suspect. If you have done a deal with the devil don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you.

So however good Black Irish is book #2 Hangman is even better though. The Hangman of the title is Marcus Flynn a serial killer that escapes custody while being transported but the manner of the escape raises many questions as to the role of the correction officers escorting him and also potential accomplices. A strong opening which leaves you with the sensation that there is much more to this than meets the eye especially as Hangman sustained a brain injury from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head when he was captured some years previously and the escape leaves one prison officer dead at a location overlooking the same motel where he was caught. Rather than being tasked with being part of the search, Det. Kearney is assigned the job of reviewing the prior cases in case Hangman avoids the dragnet and makes it back to his old hunting ground in Buffalo….And make it back he does and then there are new victims matching his modus operandi. There is plenty of avenues for Kearney to explore between those connected to the original investigations and those involved with Flynn since he was incarcerated – both staff and prisoners but to solve this case she’ll have to step on some toes and compromise her ideals. The tension associated with trying to find Flynn before he kills again keeps you on edge throughout and the resolution is not as straightforward at all.

While the two books form a series they can be read independently of each other without any adverse impact. I preferred Hangman (10/10) but rated both of them highly (8/10 for Black Irish).

February 21, 2014 / John Sheridan

2014 Releases I’m Looking Forward To

The Competition by Marcia Clark

Amazon UK, Amazon
Los Angeles DA Rachel Knight investigates a diabolical high school massacre. A Columbine-style massacre at a high school in the San Fernando Valley has left a community shaken to its core. Two students are identified as the killers. Both are dead, believed to have committed a mutual suicide. But in the aftermath of the shooting, as LA Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight and Detective Bailey Keller dig deeper, they realize that the pieces don’t add up. Could it be that the two “killers” were themselves victims? And if so, does that mean that the real killers are still on the loose? When someone starts dropping clues that another horrific crime is in the works, Rachel and Bailey scramble desperately to profile their suspect and prevent another killing–before it’s too late.

Any Other Name by Craig Johnson

Amazon UK, Amazon
Sheriff Walt Longmire had already rounded up a sizable posse of devoted readers when the A&E television series Longmire sent the Wyoming lawman’s popularity skyrocketing. Now, with three consecutive New York Times bestsellers to his name and the second season of Longmire reaching an average of 5.4 million viewers per episode, Craig Johnson is reaching a fan base that is both fiercely loyal and ever growing. In Any Other Name, Walt is sinking into high-plains winter discontent when his former boss, Lucian Conally, asks him to take on a mercy case in an adjacent county. Detective Gerald Holman is dead and Lucian wants to know what drove his old friend to take his own life. With the clock ticking on the birth of his first grandchild, Walt learns that the by-the-book detective might have suppressed evidence concerning three missing women. Digging deeper, Walt uncovers an incriminating secret so dark that it threatens to claim other lives even before the sheriff can serve justice—Wyoming style.

The Wolf In Winter by John Connolly

Amazon UK, Amazon
The community of Prosperous, Maine has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children’s future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of the Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town… But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous. Parker is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, by rage, and by the desire for vengeance. In him the town and its protectors sense a threat graver than any they have faced in their long history, and in the comfortable, sheltered inhabitants of a small Maine town, Parker will encounter his most vicious opponents yet. Charlie Parker has been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive. Prosperous, and the secret that it hides beneath its ruins…

Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan

Amazon UK, Amazon
It’s everyday business when Wattles, the San Fernando Valley’s top “executive crook,” sets up a hit. He establishes a chain of criminals to pass along the instructions and the money, thereby ensuring that the hitter doesn’t know who hired him. Then one day Wattles finds his office safe open and a single item missing: the piece of paper on which he has written the names of the crooks in the chain. When people associated with the chain begin to pop up dead, the only person Wattles can turn to to solve his problem is Junior Bender, professional burglar and begrudging private eye for crooks. But Junior already knows exactly who took Wattles’s list: the signature is too obvious. It was Herbie Mott, Junior’s burglar mentor and second father-and when Junior seeks him out to discuss the missing list, he finds Herbie very unpleasantly murdered. Junior follows the links in the chain back toward the killer, and as he does, he learns disturbing things about Herbie’s hidden past. He has to ask himself how much of the life he’s lived for the past twenty years has been of his own making, and how much of it was actually Herbie’s game.

Face Off (Anthology)

Amazon UK, Amazon
Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci and including stories by Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, and more, this one-of-a-kind anthology pulls together the most beloved characters from the best and most popular thriller series today. Worlds collide!
In an unprecedented collaboration, twenty-three of the world’s bestselling and critically acclaimed thriller writers have paired their series characters—such as Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, and Lincoln Rhyme—in an eleven-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers (ITW). All of the contributors to FaceOff are ITW members and the stories feature these dynamic duos:

· Harry Bosch vs. Patrick Kenzie in “Red Eye,” by Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly
· John Rebus vs. Roy Grace in “In the Nick of Time,” by Ian Rankin and Peter James
· Lincoln Rhyme vs. Lucas Davenport in “Rhymes With Prey,” by Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford
· Wyatt Hunt vs. Joe Trona in “Silent Hunt,” by John Lescroart and T. Jefferson Parker
· Jack Reacher vs. Nick Heller in “Good and Valuable Consideration,” by Lee Child and Joseph Finder

Don’t Ever Look Back by Daniel Friedman

Amazon UK, Amazon
The sequel to Don’t Ever Get Old, which garnered four starred advance reviews, a spectacular movie deal with a major Hollywood producer, and an Edgar Award nomination for Best First Novel. Daniel Friedman’s debut hit novel, Don’t Ever Get Old, was a huge critical and word-of-mouth success and was nominated for the Edgar, Thriller, Anthony, and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel. Friedman’s unforgettable 88-year-old protagonist Buck Schatz is back, and living at a retirement home; he’s downright miserable being treated like the elderly person he is. But soon, a man from his past, pays Buck a visit and offers Buck a tidy sum for a favor. Buck agrees. Alas, things go rapidly downhill from there. Way downhill. Written in Buck’s signature voice and featuring a mystery that will knock your socks off, Don’t Ever Look Back is another home run by an author with a long and star-studded career ahead of him.

The Son by Jo Nesbo

Amazon UK, Amazon
The author of the internationally best-selling Harry Hole series now gives us an electrifying stand-alone novel set amid Oslo’s hierarchy of corruption, from which one very unusual young man is about to propel himself into a mission of brutal revenge. Sonny Lofthus, in his early thirties, has been in prison for the last dozen years: serving time for crimes he didn’t commit. In exchange, he gets an uninterrupted supply of heroin-and the unexpected stream of fellow prisoners seeking out his uncanny abilities to soothe and absolve. His addiction started when his father committed suicide rather than be exposed as a corrupt cop, and now Sonny is the center of a vortex of corruption: prison staff, police, lawyers, a desperate priest-all of them focused on keeping him stoned and jailed, and all of them under the thumb of Oslo’s crime overlord, the Twin. When Sonny learns some long-hidden truths about his father he makes a brilliant escape, and begins hunting down the people responsible for the hideous crimes he’s paid for. But he’s also being hunted, by the Twin, the cops, and the only person who knows the ultimate truth that Sonny is seeking. The question is, what will he do when they’ve cornered him?

Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen

Amazon UK, Amazon
The new Stevens and Windermere novel from one of the most dazzlingly acclaimed new writers in crime fiction. The billionaire picked a heck of a way to die. On a beautiful Saturday in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, state investigator Kirk Stevens and his occasional colleague FBI special agent Carla Windermere witness the assassination of one of the state’s wealthiest men. The shooter is a young man, utterly unremarkable—except in his eyes. There is something very wrong in his eyes. And it’s only the beginning. The events of that sunny springtime day will lead Stevens and Windermere across the country, down countless blind alleys, and finally to a very flourishing twenty-first-century enterprise: a high-tech murder-for-hire social media website. But just who has the dead-eyed shooter targeted next . . . and who’s choosing his victims? That’s where things get complicated.

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

Amazon UK, Amazon
When 13-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare. The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains. The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.

Bravo by Greg Rucka

Amazon UK, Amazon
The thrilling follow-up to Alpha continues the Jad Bell series from New York Times bestselling author Greg Rucka. Still recovering from traumas both physical and emotional, Jad Bell is tasked with bringing in the Uzbek, principal organizer of the terrorist attack that nearly cost Bell his ex-wife and daughter. But the Uzbek’s just the beginning: his employer, the Architect, has already set in motion another, even more devastating attack. At the center of it all are two women under deep cover. One, as beautiful as she is deadly, has just been dispatched on American soil to execute the Architect’s deadly plans. The other is an American just emerging from a complex web of lies, whose intel may be the only hope Bell has to stop the assault before it begins. But after years of pretending to be somebody else, can she be trusted?

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

Amazon UK, Amazon
In the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Harry Bosch catches a case in which the body is fresh but any other evidence is virtually nonexistent. Now Bosch and his new partner, rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case. Starting with the bullet that’s been lodged for years in the victim’s spine, they must pull new leads from years-old information, which soon reveals that this shooting may have been anything but random.

Irene by Pierre Lemaitre

Amazon UK,
For Commandant Verhoeven life is beautiful: he is happily married, expecting his first child with the lovely Irène. But his blissful existence is punctured by a murder of unprecedented savagery. Worse still, the press seem to have it in for him – his every move is headline news. When he discovers that the killer has killed before – that each murder is a homage to a classic crime novel – the fourth estate are quick to coin a nickname… The Novelist… With both men in the public eye, the case develops into a personal duel, each hell-bent on outsmarting the other. There can only be one winner – whoever has the least to lose… Irène is the second volume in the Dagger award-winning Commandant Verhoeven Trilogy.

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