Picture Not Perfect by DE Haggerty

Picture Not PerfectThis is the second book in the ‘Not So Reluctant Detective’ series set in a high school in Milwaukee. Melanie is the school guidance counselor and her friend, Terri, is the librarian. Although it can be read as a standalone, I think you would understand more about Mel’s behaviour if you read them in order (first book is Terri’s story).

Mel is accused of the murder of a teacher; although he was creepy, and kept asking her out, he was not stalking her as the police claim. Determined to prove her innocence before they lock her up, Mel‘s impulsive behaviour leads her friends into a lot of hilarious escapades, some more dangerous than others.

One thing that did seem over the top was the reaction of her police officer boyfriend, Owen, when she did something stupid and reckless (Terri’s boyfriend was the same in the first book). Mel’s impulsive behaviour is revealed to be because of ADHD; it is unusual to read about it in an adult though it is handled sensitively.

There is a lot of humour in this book, and we laugh and cringe in equal measure at the antics of Mel, Terri and their new friend, Pru. Although Mel can be exasperating it is hard not to like her. I enjoyed this short, light-hearted mystery and have already ordered the next one, Hide Not Seek.

Thanks to the author for a copy of Picture Not Perfect that I review as a member of Rosie Amber’s book review team #RBRT

The Red Cobra by Rob Sinclair

The Red CobraThe Red Cobra is a fast-paced thriller by Rob Sinclair featuring Carl Logan, the protagonist of Rob’s previous  ‘Enemy’ series, now living as James Ryker, having left his former  life behind – or so he thought. When he comes home from the local shop one day to find his old boss sitting in his living room, he realises that it’s not that easy to leave the past behind. They want his help to find out who is responsible for the murder of the ‘Red Cobra’, a female professional assassin he used to know very well, an invitation he cannot refuse.

It is well written, with convincing dialogue and a plot that keeps you guessing, marred only by a tendency to overexplain. The Spanish setting makes for a refreshing change of scenery; the violence is realistic with thoroughly nasty villains. The use of flashbacks to fill in the gaps in the story works really well, leading to some unexpected revelations.

I only gave this book four stars as I did not feel completely engaged with the characters. They were well-rounded and three-dimensional, so I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing. In the end it all comes down to personal taste.

Although this is a spin-off from the ‘Enemy’ series, it works just as well as a stand-alone thriller. I have read the first book in the series, but did not feel that I was missing any information by not having read them all. The ending points the way for a sequel (The Black Hornet) to follow later in the year.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of his book that I review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The One That I Want by Lynne Shelby

The One That I WantThe One That I Want tells the story of Lucy Ashford who lands a dream job with a London theatrical agency after an unexpected reunion with her childhood friend. Cassie is now the star of a children’s television programme and introduces Lucy to the world of celebrity. Lucy is looking for a fresh start, having just emerged from a toxic relationship, and this is just what she needs.

Through her work at the agency she gets involved with two very different men, but seems to enjoy the contrasting lifestyles of both – the glamourous life of a movie star with Daniel, and the ups and downs of a struggling young actor with Owen. Daniel is her boyfriend; Owen her first client who also becomes a friend. Lucy seems equally at home in the worlds of both of these men but which one does she really want?

This is a believable insight into the world of movies and the theatre, with a cast of well-written characters and a likeable heroine. I particularly liked Lucy’s unconventional family, and the extreme behaviour of Cassie’s personal assistant, Nadia. With an eye-catching cover and a plot that would make a great movie, I would definitely recommend that you give this a try; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It is the first book by Lynne Shelby that I have read but it won’t be the last.

Thanks to the author for a free copy in exchange for an independent review. #RBRT 

Shark Bait by Matt Walker

Shark BaitShark Bait is the story of John Steele, a licenced government assassin sent to take out drug dealers, the Carlucci brothers. He was on his way home, his job was done, when Jeremy Peters stumbled into his path, and the situation got very messy, very quickly.

The action moves at a breakneck pace (the whole story happens over a week-end) with no let-up as bad guys are coming after him from all directions. It is narrated in the first person by Steele with alternating chapters by Gary Brooker, small-time crook and loan shark. This lends immediacy to the action; the reader feels as if they are right in the middle of it. So now, not only are the remaining Carlucci gang after his blood, but Gary’s thuggish henchmen are hot on his trail as well. He can’t afford to let his guard down for a second.

I really enjoyed this debut by Matt Walker. John Steele is very likeable despite what he does for a living and that is not an easy thing to pull off convincingly; he is tough when he has to be but not unnecessarily so. I look forward to reading Devil’s Breath, the next one in the series.

Thanks to the author for a copy that I review as part of Rosie's Book Review Team.

The Trial by John Mayer

The Trial by John MayerI started reading The Trial partly because it was set in my home country of Scotland but it was not what I was expecting. I found it quite hard to get into as there were so many members of the legal profession introduced at the beginning it was difficult to distinguish them from each other.

Brogan McLane has been singled out because he’s not one of the Edinburgh elite; his working-class Glasgow background means he is looked down upon in these hallowed circles. I felt a visceral dislike of these judges and advocates whose sense of privilege and entitlement made them think they could get away with anything, even sending an innocent man to jail for a murder he did not commit – which is surely what the author intended!

But Brogan McLane has what they don’t – the staunch support of his friends and their belief in his innocence. While his enemies are stabbing each other in the back to protect their privileged positions, Commander Imrie and Brogan’s Glasgow friends are working away behind the scenes to find the real culprit and prove Brogan’s innocence. Once it gets going, this is a fast-paced thriller that whets your appetite for the further adventures of Brogan McLane.

Thanks to the author for a free copy of his book that I review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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