**AUDIO BOOK REVIEW** ~ Perfectly Innocent, by Tamra Lassiter (also includes excerpt, and giveaway)

PerfectlyInnocentAudioTour

Perfectly Innocent
by Tamra Lassiter
Publication Date: October 14, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

Audio Tour: Perfectly Innocent by Tamra Lassiter

Ebook / Print: Amazon B&N iBooks Kobo Google Play

Audio: Spoken Word, Audible

Innocent or guilty—there’s nothing perfect about it.

Phoebe Davidson is a good girl who’s been through some bad times. Her life changed forever when she learned that her husband was living a secret life. Now, six years later, she’s just going through the motions of her life, afraid to let anyone in.

When a horrific crime occurs in her home, she meets Logan Matthews, a police detective working the case. When Phoebe herself is charged with the murder, can she trust Logan? Can she, and should she let him into her life?

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Excerpt

I step closer—only about a foot away now. He doesn’t move. I take another step until I’m inches from him, so close that I can smell his musky scent. I wish that I was dressed in something a little more alluring than my pajamas.

“Stay,” I say. The word is barely a whisper.

His lips take mine. Take is the word that comes to mind because he claims them so completely. My mouth surrenders to him, and I’m on fire. There’s nothing tentative about his tongue as it explores my mouth. His hands move to my shoulders and then my back as he pulls me tightly to him.

A moan echoes from deep inside me. I rake my hands through his dark hair. He pulls me even closer. The feel of his tight body brings sensations to places that have been dormant for way too long. One kiss, especially a first kiss, has never had this effect on me—from zero to sixty in five seconds flat.

He pulls back enough to break our kiss, but one hand still rests on my lower back, holding me close. His other hand caresses my cheek. His eyes hold an unmistakable fire that I’m sure are reflected in my own.

“I should apologize for that, but it wouldn’t be sincere.” The corners of my lips turn up to a smile that he returns. The hard lines of his face soften, the corners of his eyes wrinkle, and his eyes brighten. For a moment, all is right with the world. Until a hard punch of reality hits him, and his smile recedes. “Still, I shouldn’t have kissed you. I can’t believe that I came here.”

He begins to pull away, but I refuse to let go. “I’m glad that you’re here. Does that count for anything?”

My Review FIVE STARS *****

Fast Paced and Sexy!

Bravo to author Tamra Lassiter! Perfectly Innocent is a fast-paced romantic suspense with a heroine I immediately rooted for and a hero to swoon over! As someone who often listens to radio plays I thought that I would try my hand at reviewing an audio book and I loved it! It was great escapism  – the narrative being told through the contrasting POVs of the heroine Phoebe and the hero Logan. The voices of the characters were an excellent match to how I imagined the characters to look, act and feel. I feel that this would also make a great read too.

The story sucked me in from the first high impact scene, which does not skimp on the drama or the gore! When good girl Phoebe returns home to find a man dying from a fatal knife wound in her kitchen she is understandably both shocked and traumatized. These emotions slowly turn to mounting horror and incredulity as over the coming days it is clear that she is the Police’s main suspect and the finger of suspicion points ever closer…..

Detective Logan (serious hottie alert) has recently re-located from Miami to the sleepy town where Phoebe lives, intent of doing a good job and avoiding the corruption that was rife in the city. He is immediately drawn to the young woman who is at the murder scene, and not in a professional way. Is she as innocent as she appears to be or is it her game to entrap him to avoid paying the price for her crime? In helping her prove her innocence will he have to put his job on the line and/or risk losing his heart? Can Phoebe trust Detective Logan or is his concern a mere ruse to pin the crime on her?

As Logan finds out about Phoebe’s past and evidence against her mounts, he is torn over whether to trust his gut instincts or the apparent evidence. I will not reveal any more but suffice to say that there is some clever plotting and I was hooked on the mounting danger and suspense and invested in the relationship of the hero and heroine right up to the end!

I enjoyed the pacing of the tale and how the scenes switched from Phoebe’s and Logan’s POV. The sexual tension between the couple is sky high and there are some seriously hot scenes! One audio book you will not want the children around whilst you are listening to it!

I recommend Perfectly Innocent to fans of romantic suspense and I will definitely read/listen to more of this author’s work in the future.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

This audio-book was given to me for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

 

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About Tamra Lassiter

I live outside Washington, D.C. with my wonderfully supportive husband and two daughters, one of which is approaching her teenage years. Help us all! If that isn’t enough, we have a Great Dane and an English Bulldog to keep us on our toes. It’s crazy around here and I love every minute of it!

Writing is my third career. I didn’t set out to be a writer, it was just meant to be. My Mechanical Engineering degree from Virginia Tech prepared me well for my first career as an Engineer/Program Manager. My second career was in Human Resources. Long story, but I figured it out. I believe the best start for a writing career is to be a reader first and I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. I’ve loved to read ever since I picked up my first Nancy Drew mystery in the fourth grade. Now I love reading just about everything, but I don’t read sad books and I don’t watch sad movies either for that matter, no matter how many awards they’ve won. Life’s too short and who needs all that strife to bring us down?

Many of my words have been penned late into the evening, which explains why I’ve never viewed whatever television show you recommend to me. I would, however, love to hear your recommendations for a great read!

 

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Exclusive short story: Cinderella Boy (A Tom Mariner festive short story) by Chris Collett

Tina and myself are absolutely over the moon to be able to share with you, Chris Collett’s short festive story, following DI Tom Mariner. Chris Collett is a local author from the Midlands, UK, and you may remember our post of her crime thriller/police procedural series of Detective Inspector, Tom Mariner, and that her series is also based in the area.

Chris Collett 7 Dead of NightHere is a link to our post, which includes an author post and bio, an excerpt of her latest novel, Dead of Night (DI Tom Mariner series #7), as well as the blurbs and covers for each book of the series:-

Chris Collett promo post of the DI Tom Mariner series

We hope that you enjoy this heartfelt festive short, Cinderella Boy, just as much as we did. And, we would like to thank Chris Collett for this fantastic opportunity!

Enjoy!

Caroline & Tina 🙂

CINDERELLA BOY by Chris Collett

It’s done in seconds and the sleight of hand makes DI Tom Mariner cough with surprise. The boy looks up and as his gaze meets Mariner’s, the brown eyes, unnaturally large for his face, widen for a second, before he swivels and bolts for the door.

Mariner had been watching the kid over the supermarket shelves for several minutes. On his way into work he’d felt a sudden craving for chewing gum, so had gone into a local convenience store, which at this time of the morning was busy with a steady influx of customers. It was cold for November, with grey skies shedding the odd flurry of snow. The boy caught Mariner’s attention in the first instance because of his size. No more than about six or seven he seemed young to be out on his own. He was also woefully underdressed for the time of year; jogging bottoms, the knees shiny with wear, oversized black trainers and a thin short-sleeved football shirt.

But perhaps the boy has dressed for a purpose. Standing in front of the dry goods shelves, he picks up a can of baked beans. Clutching it to his chest he holds out his other hand and frowns at the assorted coins there. Satisfied, he pockets the money before casually moving towards the end of the aisle and a display stand of cheap, blister-packed toys. He stares at one of the dangling packs for a good couple of minutes, occasionally reaching out to lift it with a fingertip and watch it swing back. He gets out the coins and checks them again. Then with a furtive glance to either side, he unhooks the pack, and tucking the can of beans under his arm, lifts his shirt to stuff the toy into the waistband of his trousers, dropping the shirt to conceal it. That’s when his eyes meet Mariner’s and, as the beans clatter to the floor, he turns and scarpers. Mariner keeps pace with him along the parallel aisle, but loses valuable seconds as he’s blocked by an elderly woman pushing a wheeled trolley. Rounding the end shelves he sees the door of the shop swing open and a blur of red as the boy pushes out past an incoming customer.

Grab him-!’ Mariner yells, but too late. The boy is already out and disappearing across the street. There follows a horrible squeal of brakes and the blare of a car horn. Bursting onto the pavement Mariner sees a people carrier, stationary, the female driver white-faced, knuckles gripping the steering wheel. Fearfully, his eyes drop to the road, but somehow the boy has escaped and is making off along the opposite pavement. ‘Stupid kid,’ Mariner breathes, half with relief. 

Skirting around the car he gives chase, the icy air searing into his throat, but the boy is fast and has opened up a gap. Ten metres away, Mariner sees him stumble and hop a couple of steps. There’s a flash of bare foot before the lad darts into a tunnel cutting between the terraced houses. Turning into the passage and palming the wall for traction, Mariner feels the ripping of cloth as his jacket sleeve snags on an exposed nail. Ignoring it he keeps moving, but when he emerges at the other end, breathless, into the alley that runs along the back of the houses, the boy is gone and all that’s left is the discarded blister-pack containing a ninja turtle mask and black, plastic rectangle moulded to look like a cell-phone. Mariner strains his ears for footsteps or the slamming of a door, but when all that echoes back at him is silence, he bends down to retrieve the toy and retraces his steps to the street. At the entrance to the passageway he comes across the black oversized trainer lying on the ground and picks that up too. A cheap brand, it’s scuffed and worn to holes in places. A teenage mutant turtle logo grins up at him from the side panel. The laces, brown and frayed, are much too short for the lace holes and obviously recycled from elsewhere. It’s why the shoe had slipped off.

Mariner goes back to the shop to return the toy. ‘Sorry, he was too quick for me,’ he tells the young Asian man serving behind the counter.

The man shrugs. ‘Don’t worry about it. Probably not the first time, or the last. Little bugger.’

Not really knowing why, Mariner takes the shoe with him when he climbs the stairs to his office at Granville Lane. He lays it ceremonially on top of the filing cabinet, and is still dwelling on the incident when his sergeant, Vicky Jesson arrives. They’re a man down while DS Charlie Glover is off on some kind of pre-Christmas religious pilgrimage, and there’s a lot to get through.

‘What happened to you?’ Jesson asks, immediately noticing Mariner’s torn jacket sleeve. ‘Bit early in the day for fisticuffs, isn’t it?’

He tells her what happened.

‘Cheeky little sod,’ she says. 

‘I don’t know,’ says Mariner.

Jesson waits expectantly.

‘Well, what kid that age is out at eight o’clock in the morning buying baked beans?’ Mariner continues. ‘He should have been at home having his breakfast or on his way to school with his mum.’

‘You’re feeling sorry for him? I thought you said he was pilfering stuff.’

‘Only because he didn’t have the money. You should have seen the state of him. When he lifted up his shirt I could have counted his ribs; played a tune on them. It’s been snowing for Christ sake, and he’s wearing a football shirt; no socks. When he ran away his shoes were so big for him, one fell off.’ He indicates the trainer.

Jesson frowns. ‘Some kids are just skinny,’ she says. ‘And don’t feel the cold.’

‘He was more than skinny,’ says Mariner. He looks up at Jesson, the ice-chip eyes bluer than ever. ‘There was bruising.’

‘Where?’

‘On his torso; where no one would see it.’

Jesson is staring at him, trying to figure it out. ‘Why has this got to you?’

‘It’s happened before.’

‘When?’

‘Years ago, back when I was in uniform. I’d forgotten all about it till now. One weekend I was patrolling the high street. There were a handful of market stalls strung out. I saw the same thing – a scruffy kid pinched a pasty. I didn’t do anything about it that time. He looked like he needed it, so I just let him go. A couple of weeks later I saw him again, his face splashed all over the papers. Samuel Wright.’

Jesson frowns. ‘I know that name.’

‘He was beaten to death by his step father. Everyone told me I was mistaken. It couldn’t have been him; my mind playing tricks. But I know what I saw. This kid today; when our eyes met he was terrified.’

He’d been caught red handed,’ Vicky reminds him.

But he didn’t know I’m a copper. It was fear of an adult male. And he was going home empty handed.’

​’So what do you propose to do?’ asks Jesson, reasonably. ‘Knock on every house in the area to see who the trainer fits?’ She’s right; it is hopeless. Vicky Jesson, forty-something mum of three, has always had a slight crush on her boss. He’s not bad looking and she likes that, but mostly it’s because of the way he responds to situations like this.

On his way to work the following morning Mariner can’t resist going back to the supermarket, even though he knows it will be futile. Over the next few days he develops a serious chewing gum habit, but he doesn’t see the boy. At the weekend he takes one of his customary early morning walks; it just happens to be in that area.

‘You want to watch yourself,’ Jesson warns him on Monday when he tells her. ‘Hanging around the streets looking for small boys could get you arrested.’

Mariner phones the PPU. ‘Anyone on your radar?’ he asks. But the description he gives them doesn’t match anyone they know, which just makes him feel worse.

Christmas approaches. The toy shop where he goes to buy a Christmas present for DC Millie Khatoon’s baby is loud and chaotic, and at the checkout he stands in a queue behind parents and their demanding kids, who, judging from the stacks of boxes and packages, will have all their wishes, and more, fulfilled. He thinks of the boy, and knows that he won’t. Helping Suzy to put up her Christmas tree the boy seems to watch over him from the corner of the room, reminding him that not every child gets the cosy Christmas of the TV ads. Sometimes Mariner’s job is too much information. He carries the numbers in his head; fifty-five children a year die at the hands of their carers through abuse or neglect. Samuel Wright begins to creep back into his dreams.

Two weeks before Christmas Charlie Glover returns from leave. Coming into Mariner’s office his first morning back, his eyes are level with the top of the filing cabinet where the trainer still sits. ‘Where did you get that?’ Glover asks.

‘Don’t worry,’ Mariner reassures him. ‘I’m not planning to wear it; not my size.’

‘It’s not that,’ says Charlie. ‘I’ve seen it before; the laces-’

‘Where?’ He wants to grab Charlie by the lapels.

‘Our church runs a food bank. Back in the summer Helen and I helped out a few weekends when they were short of volunteers. We’d set up a couple of jumble sale stalls too, clothes and stuff. There was a pair of trainers exactly like them, in a similar condition. Some little lad kept pestering his dad for them. We were only asking a couple of quid, but the bloke wasn’t interested. He started to lose it, though he calmed down when he saw me watching. Helen intervened, said they could have the shoes. The kid had bruises, but the dad said he’d fallen off his bike.’

The lump of stone grows in Mariner’s stomach. ‘Did you believe him?’

‘Honestly? He didn’t look the sort of kid to even own a bike.’ Charlie shrugs. ‘But what could we do? There was nothing physical, just his dad’s tone of voice and the boy’s demeanour. You know.’

Mariner does. Charlie’s an experienced copper too. You developed a feel for these things. ‘Did you get a name, an address for the family?’

‘It’s not the way it works,’ says Charlie. ‘They have the vouchers, they take the food. It’s humiliating enough for most of them that they have to do it in the first place.’

But the next morning Charlie comes back to Mariner’s office. ‘I talked to Helen last night about that kid. She remembered him. She reckons he was wearing one of those school polo shirts. It was grubby and didn’t fit him properly, but she’s pretty sure it was for St Martin’s.’

Mariner sees a glimmer of light. He has a contact at St Martin’s; a teacher he came across during a case earlier in the year. He phones and asks to speak to Sam McBride.

Don’t know if you’d remember me-?’ he begins.

Of course I do,’ said Sam. And by lunchtime, having run the gauntlet of two hundred kids careering around the playground, Mariner is standing in the school foyer clutching the trainer. Sam takes it along the staff room, returning a few minutes later. ‘Sorry.’ Her disappointment is tangible. ‘No one recognises it. The kids are meant to wear plain black school shoes. Occasionally they don’t, but no one remembers seeing this before. I could take it and-.’

But while she’s talking, Mariner is distracted by the hordes of young children running around the compound outside. A face he’s seen before flashes across his line of vision, almost unrecognisable; grinning in delight as he runs with a gang of other boys. ‘That’s him!’ Mariner practically shouts. But he’s vanished into the crowd again and doubts kick in. Seething with frustration, Mariner stands beside Sam, straining his eyes to pick out that familiar face and hoping he wasn’t mistaken. But no: ‘There he is, there he is; brown hair; shirt hanging out!’ He tracks the child with his finger.

Milo,’ Sam says, eventually. She seems surprised. ‘Milo’s fine.’

He’s not at risk?’ That anxiety won’t let him go.

Not in the way that you think,’ says Sam. ‘He’s a much-loved little boy.’

But the bruises.’

Sam shakes her head. ‘Milo’s always got bruises; invariably acquired on this playground. He’s on intimate terms with our accident book,’ she says. ‘Mostly because he thinks he really is a ninja turtle. Sorry, I should have made that connection.’ She sees that he’s unconvinced. ‘Children in Need day he came in dressed as Leonardo; his hero. There’s a picture here, I’m sure.’ Sam walks Mariner over to a display board of colour photos and they scan them. After a moment he spots Milo standing in the middle of a group of kids. The others, without exception, are wearing perfect, commercially produced, replica outfits; Snow White, Spiderman, Robin Hood. Milo’s costume is improvised; a scarf tied round his forehead for a bandana, what looks like a woman’s shawl held with some sort of brooch for his cloak. ‘Shortly after that was taken, he hurled himself off the climbing frame and treated his TA to yet another unscheduled trip to A&E,’ says Sam.

‘So what’s his story?’ Mariner asks.

‘Milo’s mum’s got rheumatoid arthritis,’ says Sam. ‘It’s just the two of them and on the days when it’s bad she’s very disabled, so Milo is essentially her carer.’

Jesus; at his age?’ But even as he speaks, he knows he’s being naïve.

He’s got people looking out for him,’ Sam says. ‘You know how it is with these things though.., My guess is that when your friend at the church saw him, Milo was giving his harassed social worker a hard time. He has a tough life and sometimes it shows.’

‘It explains why he was out buying beans at eight in the morning. How will they get on at Christmas?’

‘Like I said, they have some help,’ Sam tells him. ‘Mary, our family support worker is brilliant. She’ll make sure that Milo gets presents, though given the budget cuts it won’t be much this year. Anyway,’ says Sam. ‘You can see that our Milo is very much alive and kicking.’

‘Yes.’ It was a relief. ‘Will you give him that?’ Mariner gestures towards the trainer.

‘Of course.’

After leaving the school Mariner takes the afternoon off. Bracing himself he braves the toyshop once again. A couple of days later he stops off at the school and seeks out Mary.

Christmas is far from peace on earth for Tom Mariner. In the early hours of 25th December he is called to a fatal stabbing outside a city pub; business as usual. Ten days later and into the New Year he is still in the throes of the investigation when an envelope lands on his desk. He opens it. Inside is a child’s drawing, a stick figure leaping through the air, with eyes peering out from a bandana, bright red cloak billowing out behind him. The caption underneath in bold, crooked letters reads: Milo Beckett my best presnt ever. It’s the first child’s picture Mariner has ever received. He tacks it to the wall above his filing cabinet, where the trainer had sat. He reads the accompanying note: To Tom, from one crime fighter to another. Thank you. Sam x

For more info on Chris Collett, here are her author links:-

Website: www.chriscollettcrime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrimeCrow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Collett/585943991417531

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=128351834&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

And, please take a peek at our promo post, with lots of info on her DI Tom Mariner series:- PROMO POST

Chris Collett 1 Worm in the BudChris Collett 2 Blood of the InnocentsChris Collett 3 Written in BloodChris Collett 4 Blood of MoneyChris Collett 5 Stalked by ShadowsChris Collett 6 Blood and StoneChris Collett 7 Dead of Night

Chris Collett 7 Dead of Night

The Purple Haze, a short story by Gary Richardson

The Purple HazeIf you are a fan of the movie ‘Dawn of the Dead’ or a fan of the tv series ‘The Walking Dead’ then this is certainly a novel for you to read. I find it even more intriguing, being English, as it is set in England.

This short story is very exciting from the very beginning. If you imagine a bank robbery scene from ‘The Sweeney’ tv series, this is how the novel begins. However, a few chapters into the book and it completely changes into a horror/zombie type novel. It actually reminds me a little of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’.  One moment it is a crime/thriller and the next it is some action-packed horror. I found this to be an exciting, fast-paced read with well written characters and a well thought-out plot.

Also, because of the turn of events, it forces characters to work together when they should be opposed to each other, i.e. bank robbers working with civilians and the police, etc. This adds another layer of tension amid the main story.

Some could say a negative about this novel is that similar stories have been written, but if you are interested in this type of story I would urge people to read it.

I also like the fact that the author, Gary Richardson, has written a couple of pages at the end explaining where the idea came from for the novel and how it became a part of his life.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

I have been meaning to post this review on A Reader’s Review Blog for a while. Written prior to our blog being created, I have decided to post my original review as it is written with the feelings I had at the time of reading ‘The Purple Haze’ and this short story is one I haven’t been able to forget!!! You can find ‘The Purple Haze’ on Amazon UK for 99p or on Amazon US for $1.54!

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy by LR Potter

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy - All 3 BooksWhat a brilliant and carefully written dark, dark crime thriller? Poor Tess!!! Tess Champion is a police detective in Colarado, and we begin the first novel, ‘Dwindling Sands’, with Tess being subjected to a violent, torturous, sexual attack in her own home. As she returns to work, alongside her partner, Anthony Delgado, they are faced with a murder of a woman with similar scenarios that Tess found herself in. Is she going mad? Is she scared after what happened to her? Is she adding two and two together and coming up with five? However, over time there are more murders, each with a possible link to her ordeal.

Tess, although now feeling vulnerable and weak, is actually one of the strongest heroine’s that I have read about. Mentally, she has been teased and taunted, confused and, after the third book, ‘Cascading Sands’, in that much despair that it is a wonder that she doesn’t end her own pain. However, she keeps on going. She is a fighter deep down and her inner strength helps her to survive.

As Tess’ attacker knew her by name, it is believed throughout that it must be somebody that she knew. There are five main characters to keep you guessing; Anthony Delgado, her partner; Carter, her twin brother (even though unlikely, you can’t rule anyone out!); Thom Wyndom, her new love interest; Dominic Wyndom, Thom’s brother and an acquaintance to Tess, and finally; Dane Carver, the first and only true love from Tess’ past. I kept an open mind as different areas of the story led me to believe that each of these characters were capable and had the opportunity but as the story unfolded there were so many possible scenarios that the reader simply cannot determine the culprit until it is all made clear at the end.

Due to the motivation, the obsession, of the murderer and their perseverance it does feel very personal. Therefore, each event that happens with Tess is very believable and horrific. He, the murderer, is referred to as ‘The Angry Man’ and, in the prologue, he is the first character the reader encounters. We learn of his obsession, his need for control and throughout the book we know how he despises those he deems vulnerable and weak. These can be disposed of, as far as he is concerned, as there is no real need for them.

Initially, I was planning to read ‘Dwindling Sands (Book 1)’ of The Hourglass Killer Trilogy and separate each book with another of my choice in between. However, I was hooked! Each book of this trilogy is carefully interwoven with the next that I just had to simply carry on reading. The stories, settings, characters, etc, are so fluent that it felt like I was reading only one novel. ‘The Hourglass Trilogy’ is absolutely gripping, with so many twists and turns and unexpected turn of events. Just when the reader thinks that there are no more ordeals for Tess – bam! – another hits you right in the face.

There are many adult themes in these novels, such as abduction, rape and murder. Hence the strongly recommended 18+ year age warning. LR Potter’s style of writing these horrific scenes is amazing. The reader feels so tense in parts and there are some scenes that are creepy and yet the writing of these scenes is not over-exaggerated. LR Potter displays her sensitivity towards these scenes when she describes Tess at her worst, after each ordeal. It would be so nice just to pick Tess up from the book and pop her in your pocket to keep her safe! She is in trouble, without even realising it at times, and, working for the police department, she feels like she should be able to protect herself. It is so upsetting, knowing that she is vulnerable and a possible target/link to this monster.

I am disappointed to let Tess go – although to be fair she has been through enough. However, the whole setting and characters of these books make me want to read more about her. If you are interested in crime thrillers this is a must-read. If you would like to try a crime thriller for the first time, ‘The Hourglass Killer Trilogy’ will blow you away, at the same time as keeping you on your toes. After this absolutely brilliant introduction to LR Potter’s work , I am definitely looking forward to reading more of her novels.

‘The Hourglass Killer Trilogy’ was sent to me for the purpose of a honest and just review. Received gratefully, with thanks, from the copyeditor, Carolyn Pinard.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

A Presence in Russell County (The Organization #1) by SJ Sprague

16150880[1]After reading many paranormal novels, I decided to take a break and read another of my favourite genres. ‘A Presence in Russell County’ is a crime thriller that is generally a full and interesting novel that is easy to read and has a nice collection of characters. As I wasn’t sure what to read I chose this book for the title and because the description of the story sounded like it was just right up my street. I love crime thrillers and this appealed to me as after watching programmes such as ‘The Shield’ and ‘The Unit’ this book combines the two for me. It’s almost like sending in the ‘The Unit’ guys to crack down on the Strike Team from ‘The Shield’, with an extra twist of the Organization.

The police are corrupt. Stealing, drug running and murder are only some of their crimes. And after being harrassed by one of them in particular, Samantha Biggers opens up to a man that she has only knew online but for a couple of years. He happens to be ex-military and when times become more intense for Sam she leans on him for support. As he realises the extent of the corruption surrounding the police in Russell County with the help of the Organization, of which he is part of, they begin to obtain as much evidence as they can against the police.

The Organization is generally unheard of by the public, however if in any way corruption is brought to their attention they seek out the culprits and with evidence, are able to carry out a proper trial in which the defendant could be found guilty and detained very quickly. Without the evidence there is little they can do and if the defendant is found innocent they are free to go. It works almost identical to the system already in place, however it is quick. Within days a defendant could be imprisoned if found guilty. The people that make up The Organization are from all walks of life, however they appear to mostly be retired military.

An interesting character of the book is a journalist, Cap Finch. He becomes involved early on when a policeman is shot and he arrives at the hospital ready to make notes for a story. However, whilst there he begins to find reactions a little strange. There are hardly any police there, the ones that are present are walking down the corridor laughing and joking amongst themselves, not acting in the least bit bothered that one of their fellow officers has been shot and could probably die at any moment. The officers’ wife is sitting alone, waiting for doctors to let her know how her husband is doing – there is no one comforting her. This is unbelievable to Cap Finch.

As the story unfolds Cap Finch finds other odd actions of the police, however his editor has told him he cannot publish these stories. He knows deep down that something isn’t right and as he comes across other stories and people that have been affected he almost falls into the lap of the Organization. Towards the end of the book we are left wondering whether he will go on to work for them and whether he will write a novel based on what he has been a part of. The idea passed through my mind whether this was the case in SJ Sprague. Has the author came across information in which they could not act upon and therefore used it loosely for the novel? Is Cap Finch another side of SJ Sprague?

The whole novel was quite exciting. When it comes to Sam’s lovelife however, I was a little confused towards the end. After becoming a widow she had been online with John Hollingsworth and over two years she had a very close on-line relationship. This seemed to grow naturally and when meeting him in person and becoming more intimate with him I thought that it was happily ever after for them. However, the last few chapters see her engage a little more with Crogan, John’s closest friend. I’m not quite sure what the reader is to make of this.

Also, during the last few chapters I felt that the story was a little rushed. The trial seemed to end abruptly. I was reading intensely and then the following chapter moved on completely and I wondered whether I’d missed something out. I was a little disappointed about this. However, the story and characters in general were really good. If it wasn’t for the ending I would have given this book five stars. I will be reading the following novels and I am hoping the series goes from strength to strength.

I apologise now for a scatty review. This novel is one I would have loved to have read in one go. However, other priorities came up and therefore I read this book very sporadically. I am hoping to read the sequels much more quickly than this. I cannot wait to read ‘Mulberry: The Organization Book 2’. If you would like to contact SJ Sprague you can e-mail the author at sjsprague01@gmail.com.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Vampire Shift (Kiera Hudson Series One #1) by Tim O’Rourke

Vampire Shift is a fascinating read. Set in a small, remote town in England with the main buildings being an inn, a police station and a church. It is surrounded by fields, cliffs and the sea. For some reason when visualising the fields and the inn I imagined the setting to be similar of that in ‘An American Werewolf in London’. The only difference being is that this novel is about vampires.

Keira was an interesting character from the beginning, having become a police officer so young and with high ambitions. When she decided to take on the murder cases and those of missing people in the Ragged Cove one of the first places for her to visit was, of course, the police station. With a very limited workforce and the sergeant sitting smoking a pipe and wearing slippers in this remote town, I couldn’t help but imagine ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Hamish Macbeth’.

As the story unfolds it covers many readers favourite genres. For me, it began as a drama, turning into a thriller, horror, part romance and throughout is quite adventurous with a few action scenes in there too. It is an exciting read at a nice pace. There is always something interesting happening.

Tim O’Rourke’s love of modern music really shows as he mentions some songs and artists, including Adele.  This gives the story a more current feel to it. However, with phone lines down, population low, and the remote setting it also feels quite eerie, with an older feel to the story too. The difference between the setting feeling older, but with modern characters and music is exciting.

Initially, I would have rated this novel four stars but towards the end something happened that I didn’t expect and I thought that it was slightly too much for the story. This may be ignorant on my part as there are more stories in this series and it could be that what I am referring to will pick up in the next book. Maybe I have been harsh and should have given this novel four stars as was intended.

I will be reading the sequel, ‘Vampire Wake’, next.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker