Tag Archives: Crime Fiction

A Whiff of Cyanide

11 Feb

‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ is the third in the Hampstead Murders series by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

Ann Durham is the head of the Crime Writer’s Association and has been for years. But now a challenge is being mounted, and she may be set to lose everything she has worked for.

So when Ann is poisoned with cyanide at the association’s dinner at their big convention in Hampstead, is it suicide…or murder?

The team from Hampstead nick have to find out.

As per the other books, this one is a lovely mix of crime and character stories. Those who have read the previous books will get a hell of a shock at what happens next in the Peter Collins/Karen Willis/Bob Metcalfe storyline. It packed a punch not unlike one from Mohammed Ali!

Sprinkled with the quirky observations and one-liners, ‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ is a delicious addition to the series.

I have the fourth book at home. I am hoarding it. Because once I’ve read it, they’re all gone!

Guy Fraser-Sampson is the finest addition to the UK’s crime writing fraternity in years.


Miss Christie Regrets

30 Jan

The crime team from Hampstead nick are back with a second interesting adventure in Guy Fraser-Sampson’s “Miss Christie Regrets”.

There is a murder in Burgh House in Hampstead, and around the same time a body is found stuffed in a cabin trunk in a walled off room in a nearby block of flats. This body however, isn’t fresh, but from prior to WW2. There can be no connection between the two cases. Can there?

Of course there can!

And off goes a wonderful romp through one of my favourite parts of London.

The plot is deliciously intricate, with a gorgeous woven seam of Cold War paranoia wound in that would delight John le Carre. Letters from Dame Agatha Christie herself add a touch of old world glamour to the plot.

“Miss Christie Regrets” is an excellent read, and builds nicely onto the foundations that the first book, “Death in Profile” erected.

Guy Fraser-Sampson writes wonderful stories that manage to meld the Golden Age of detective fiction with modern world police procedurals. If you haven’t read the series, do yourself a favour and track the books down.


Death in Profile

19 Mar

I find it very hard to resist a crime novel set in London, and when it’s set in one of my favourite parts of London, it’s doubly irresistible.

“Death in Profile” is the first of the Hampstead Murders series by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

There is a serial killer stalking London and the case team are working out of Hampstead nick.When Detective Chief Inspector Tom Allen is stood down and Detective Superintendent Simon Collison is put in his place, the scene is set for a complex and interesting story.  Especially as the most recent killing just doesn’t seem quite right.  Profiler Peter Collins is brought in to assist and things get interesting.

Guy seamlessly blends a modern police procedural with the Golden Age of detective fiction.

“Death in Profile” is an absorbing and entertaining read.  The characters are all well rounded and believable.  I hope we see more of Collison in future books.

Highly recommended.

Doors Open

23 Jan

“Doors Open” is an awesome stand alone novel from Ian Rankin.

Mike MacKenzie is a rich playboy with an interest in art.  Along with his friend Allan he gets drawn into an art heist, all the while being watched by Detective Inspector Ransome, who is interested in one of Mike’s old school pals.

Fast paced, action packed, and loaded with twists and turns, “Doors Open” is an excellent read.

Ian Rankin shows that he doesn’t need to write Rebus to create a brilliant story.  In fact, this one was better in some ways, because there was no character baggage.  There was, however, a sly reference to Rebus that made me chuckle.

Highly recommended.


21 Jun

Raymond Garvey was a serial killer, now deceased.  Someone, however, has started killing the children of Garvey’s victims.  Tom Thorne is racing against the clock to find all of the offspring and get them into safe custody before the killer can reach them.  But will he succeed?

“Bloodline” is one of Mark Billingham’s best works.  Well plotted, well written, and a massively enjoyable read.

The shocks keep coming.  You barely have time to draw breath before you’re broadsided again!  And the twist towards the end is a doozy.

Mark Billingham is one of the best crime/thriller writers around today, and “Bloodline” is one of his best books.

Cannot recommend highly enough.

Piece of My Heart

16 Jun

“Piece of my Heart” by Peter Robinson is an excellent DCI Alan Banks novel.

This one swings between a murder in 1969 and one in about 2006.  In 1969 a young woman is found murdered in the aftermath of a music festival.  In 2006 a male music journalist is founded murdered in a Yorkshire holiday cottage.  Slowly, the threads of the two murders, separated by nearly four decades, begin to twine together.

The past and present are carefully separated in the book, not always as clearly as they could’ve been.  However, it isn’t too hard to keep track of the time strands.

The most interesting juxtaposition is that between the policing methods of the late 1960s and those of the 21st century.  The contrast weaves an interesting spell through the book.

Not the greatest Alan Banks novel by far, but an absorbing and delightful read.

Highly recommended.

Lady Killer

8 Jul

I picked “Lady Killer” by David Krae up on Kindle because I had read and enjoyed David’s historical novel “Lucretia”.

I have to admit that at first I was dubious, as the first chapter was a little too graphic for my liking, but I persevered, and was rewarded, because this really is a little gem of a book.  It’s a short book, not much longer than a novella, but it doesn’t suffer for it.

Female television news reporters are being abducted, raped, and murdered.  There are no clues and forensic testing comes up blank every time.  Detective Victoria Scott is partnered with FBI Special Agent Tom Gracie to solve the crimes.  Susanne Amanti is a female reporter, hoping to work on television.  She’s an old friend of both Victoria and Tom.  As the clock ticks down it becomes apparent that Susanne is central to all that is happening.

Well written, fast paced, and the ending is a mind blower.

Special Agent Tom Gracie is an unusual character.  I do hope David considers writing more books about him.  He would definitely be worth a revisit.

I DID NOT see the reveal of the killer coming. In fact, I was genuinely shocked at the killer’s identity.  Kudos to David for that.  I usually work it out long before the reveal.

I recommend “Lady Killer” to anyone who enjoys good quality crime fiction.

Buried Prey

28 Apr

Every so often you come across a book that every time you pick it up, triggers memories of the first time you read it.

“Buried Prey” by John Sandford is one of those books for me.  I bought my copy at a book shop at Venice Beach in Los Angeles when I was visiting in July 2011.  I bought the shop’s very last copy and took it back to my hotel.  One of my closest friends was flying in from South Carolina that afternoon, and I had several hours until she arrived.  So I snuggled down with a pile of snacks and “Buried Prey”.  I had read it from cover to cover before her plane even touched down.  It is very rare for me to find a book I don’t want to put down on first reading.

Even on subsequent re-reads, like yesterday, “Buried Prey” still sinks its claws into my mind and holds on for dear life.

In this book the very first crime Lucas Davenport dealt with as a police detective comes back to haunt him, as the bodies of two little girls abducted in 1985 are discovered.

The early part of the book is an interesting departure for John Sandford, as it is written, not as flashbacks, but as if Lucas was back reliving his past.  We learn how Lucas met his friends Harrison Sloan and Del Capslock.

The book then surges back into the present like a tsunami.  The death of a major series character hits the reader with the force of a sledgehammer.  Every time I read the book, I know the death is coming, but every time it still hits me in the gut.

Fast paced, exciting, as much thriller as crime fiction, “Buried Prey” is probably one of John Sandford’s best novels.  It is certainly one of the very best in the Lucas Davenport series.

I think the Davenport series would have to be my favorite.  Not because it has the most books, but because of how the character has grown and changed from the almost psychopath of “Rules of Prey” to the loving family man of “Buried Prey” and beyond.

I also love John Sandford’s sense of humor.  Very dark cop humor.  Be warned though, John Sandford doesn’t pull any punches in the language department.  You are not going to find hard arsed homicide cops saying “Oh dearie me,” or similar mildly expressed sentiments.

You often go to the dark side of the human psyche with the Lucas Davenport books, and “Buried Prey” is darker than some of the more recent novels.  Just how far will Lucas go to avenge to death of a good friend?  Read “Buried Prey” and find out.

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