- Published: 03 September 2023 03 September 2023
In this fifth book in the series, set in the Middle East in 2016, we get a glimpse into Tom Keeler’s past life before he retired from the Air Force. Berserker works really well as a standalone, though I definitely recommend reading all the others as this series just keeps going from strength to strength. In the previous books Tom Keeler is a loner with an impressive range of skills, but the comparison ends there. Here we find out just what he is capable of, as he searches for a missing girl he promised to protect. There are a lot of different US government agencies involved in this plot, as well as foreign interests, so it is difficult to know who can be trusted, and this only adds to the tension. Jack Lively really puts his main character through the wringer. At one point, I was literally on the edge of my seat, chewing on my fingernails. The relentless non-stop action would make a great plot for a film – I would definitely watch it.
The writing is superb, the characters well defined and believable, and the barren middle-eastern landscape adds to the atmosphere. I don’t pretend to understand the political situation in this region, and found all the military acronyms very confusing, but this did not affect my enjoyment. I also found the meaning behind the title quite fascinating. I like the character of Tom Keeler and look forward to many more books in this series. Thanks to Jack Lively for a pre-publication ARC.
- Published: 11 August 2023 11 August 2023
Fast Cash is the fourth book in the Reluctant Hustler series by J Gregory Smith. I have read and enjoyed them all, and while you could read it as a standalone you would get much more out of it by going back to the beginning and finding out how it all started. Kyle and his fellow team members all bring different skills to the table, and work well together to help those most in need in return for the promise of a favour in the future if required.
Here they are up against criminals on two different continents, and this is where computer expert VP comes into her own. Phone scammers in Kolkata are stealing money from vulnerable elderly victims worldwide, including locally in Philadelphia, and with the help of an Indian contact they set out to trace the source and shut them down – not an easy task when they are so far away and can’t intervene. At home, they come up against a project called Sweat Equity, a kind of pyramid scheme, whose main aim is to defraud local government of multi-million-dollar grants. Fuelled by sheer greed, they will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. Can Kyle, Rollie, VP, Steve and Sandy stop them before they get clean away?
The best thing about this series is how well developed the characters are – the black humour and witty banter helps to offset the danger they face on a daily basis. Fast Cash is a gripping thriller, dealing with very real contemporary problems, and it kept me reading long into the night. I look forward to catching up with Kyle and his friends in the next book. Thanks to J Gregory Smith for a copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT
- Published: 02 August 2023 02 August 2023
Roisin meets up with a group of friends for a luxury weekend to celebrate Dev and Anita’s engagement, Gina’s birthday and the TV launch of her partner Joe’s new crime drama Hunted; also in the group are Meredith and Matt. They originally met while working in Waterstones in Manchester, but undercurrents and secrets now threaten their longstanding friendship.
Roisin and Joe’s relationship has been strained of late since his screenwriting career took off, but she is deeply shocked when secrets she had meant him to keep ‘between us’ are laid bare in the TV drama, and breaks up with him. She starts to wonder if other elements of the show are true as well, and turns detective to find out if her suspicions are correct.
I am a big fan of Mhairi McFarlane’s books and have read and enjoyed them all. There is so much more to them than the average romantic comedy. The focus is on relationships of all kinds,not just romantic ones, and this gives the narrative more depth. Believable characters, realistic dialogue and humour are what make her books so enjoyable. In that vein, I particularly enjoyed the scenes in the classroom where Roisin was trying to interest her class in reading Dickens. Thanks to HarperCollins UK and NetGalley for the digital copy to review.
- Published: 07 August 2023 07 August 2023
Tom Lewis’s parents were brutally murdered when he was twelve, and he was shot in the head and left for dead. Miraculously he survived, and now twenty years later his alter ego, Jimmy Blue, is taking his revenge on the people responsible – a criminal called Winter and his vicious henchmen. By necessity there is a high level of violence, but somehow it all seems justified. I was very impressed with the writing and totally gripped by cinematic quality of the story.
I chose to read Winter Falls after reading the blurb and discovering that the main character was called Jimmy Blue – ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’ is one of my favourite songs by Scottish band Del Amitri. It was too much of a coincidence to ignore, and I was not disappointed. Winter Falls is an excellent addition to the vigilante revenge thriller genre despite the unusual premise, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series and learning more of the backstory.
- Published: 26 July 2023 26 July 2023
The Institution is a tense thriller set entirely inside a secure psychiatric facility. Nurse Tara Cameron has been murdered, her baby forcibly removed by caesarian section and a ransom demand made to the family. Desperate situations call for desperate measures, so Connie Woolwine goes in undercover to try and find baby Aurora before it is too late. Having previously met Connie in The Shadow Man, her unorthodox methods are just what is required here if she is to have any chance of success. Ex-Met detective Brodie Baarda is also there posing as a military prisoner that Connie has to evaluate. Unfortunately, this means he is restricted in what he can do to help her. All the staff and inmates are under suspicion. Connie is also triggered by an incident from her past and has to do battle with her inner demons.
The characters are well drawn but thoroughly devious and unlikeable, even the staff. There is the constant pressure of the clock ticking and time running out. The writing is superb and this variation on the ‘locked room’ mystery scared me half to death. I would suggest you don’t read this just before you go to sleep or you might not be able to. I have now read several books by Helen Fields and would not hesitate to recommend them. Thanks to Avon Books and NetGalley for a digital copy of The Institution to review.