Review of Holy Island by L.J. Ross (DCI Ryan #1) – 5 Stars

Holy Island (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #1)Holy Island by L.J. Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stumbled across this book by chance when it showed up rather cheaply on a Kindle titles sale and the outline sounded quirky and I must say I am very pleased with the find.

This is actually the first of the DCI Ryan detective mysteries series by L.J Ross and it starts the series off with a bang – especially the ending, great job on keeping us readers hooked for the next one in the series. I do think the writing in general was very good, not overly police procedural, plenty of characters to set it up for a series but not too many that you can’t figure out who is who, enough of an intriguing back story about the characters that I suspect may come back to haunt them at a later date. A very strong start to the series.

The plot mainly includes two interlinked storylines/character viewpoints. DCI Ryan has taken a sabbatical from his police duties after a traumatic experience during a murder investigation and temporarily moves to Lindisfarne. After several weeks of calm enjoying the peaceful island, his sabbatical is disrupted when the body of a young woman is found murdered at the priory. The murder looks staged with cult underlying’s and soon more murders in the small island follow. The murderer is smart, leaving very few clues and cleaning the sites so that the investigating team struggles to narrow it down. In the meantime, questioning becomes more and more difficult as the Islanders try to protect their own from outside police interference.

In the second storyline, we follow former local girl Anna who travels back to the island as an informant on the occult. When one of her own family members turns out to be the next murder victim Anna is removed from the case but fearing for her safety and his new-found feelings for her DCI Ryan insists she move into his small cottage that is doubling as police base on the island.

The storylines are very sharp, intricate and clever, but the book itself is not as dark as you would expect for a murder mystery, certainly, there is actually very little gore allowing you to sit back and enjoy the storyline.

I think Ross has done a great job, leaving plenty of room for the characters evolving, in this novel you really feel sorry for Ryan; his mental trauma from his past and how he is suffering trying to suppress those feelings to deal with the new case. I actually finished this book a little while ago but the story and characters still feel very vivid and I think that is a sign of how well the story has been told.

One of the real big highlights for me was the locations. I loved the rugged windswept island and it’s close knit community. The one pub that you need to visit to find out what is going on. Unless you want to risk speaking to the gossipy landlady of the local b&b. All great places and very easy to visualize.

For those that haven’t discovered the DCI Ryan collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to something like Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway Series – also very good if you haven’t read that). It is crime but not really dark gritty like rebus or anything, also not a Miss Marple cosy crime, something in the middle.

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Review of Hiss & Hers by M.C. Beaton – 3 Stars

Hiss and Hers (Agatha Raisin, #23)Hiss and Hers by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Agatha is a little too keen on gardener George (as are many of the woman in the village) but when his body is discovered in a compost heap with a bag over his head that has recently contained a poisonous snake, it is a little too late for the romance to kindle. Instead Agatha and her team through their efforts together to help track the killer.
I am always unsure whether to leave a neutral/negative review of a book or not. My reading interests are quite far and wide and often enjoyment of a book is down to personal taste but I thought I should leave this review for others as I feel as a fan of MC Beaton a little let down. I adore her Hamish series and although never quite as fond of the Agatha series they are normally still an enjoyable light read.

So…onto the negative(s)
The murderer was pretty obvious (to me) from the beginning and there was very little in the way of the usual plot twists and misdirects. It left me feeling a little flat instead of that usual intrigue to get to the end.
The actual writing/language within this book was often quite plain and boring, not as dynamic as it has been in the Hamish series or even earlier Agatha R books. I didn’t really feel as though I got swept up in the characters and their misdemeanours as I normally would.

However… there are still positives.
Some sections of the book are very humorous and very enjoyable.
The use of Agatha’s colleagues (Toni, Simon, Phil and Patrick) and their concern for her (and the trouble she gets herself into) is a lovely dynamic and it’s nice that these characters have featured a little bit more, especially the use of Toni’s sleuthing skills.

For those that haven’t read any MC Beaton, think a jollier version of Agatha Christie’s work. The Hamish series is far better, so I’d recommend you start there. But overall this book was enjoyable, just not as good as the others.

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Review of Malevolent by E.H. Reinhard – 4.5 Stars

Malevolent (Lieutenant Kane, #1)Malevolent by E.H. Reinhard

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A woman arrives at an airport, the next time she is seen is when she is found dead in an alley in a dumpster wearing only green lingerie. Worse she has holes drilled into her head and a powerful drug in her system. Soon the press label the killer psycho surgeon and it’s easy to see why. Can Lieutenant Carl Kane and his partner hunt down this killer before more woman show up?

This book his pretty intense, certainly gory as other readers have pointed out in reviews, so if you’re a bit squeamish there will be a few chapters to skip over. I did get this book for free and although a fan of detective crime fiction was unsure what to expect from this new author in a field that is already pretty full with the likes of Mark Billingham, Ian Rankin, amongst countless others. That said I actually found myself really enjoying this book. It was very well written.
Not going to lie, the book is dark. That just makes you want the good guys to catch the bad guys, even more. Kane himself is quite likeable, with a good spark between him and his partner. Kane lives alone with his cat, he even finds time for a love interest.

The only real negative I would say is there are a few places that there is a lot of descriptions going on that’s purpose seems to be just to fill out the pages a little, especially in comparison to the mostly sharp action-filled pace of writing Reinhard seems to adopt for the majority of the book. Then again, this could be to give the book a bit of a relief from the fast pace.
All in all, a fabulous start to a great new series. Book works perfectly as a standalone novel but there is plenty of room for the character to grow and I expect this will be a long-running series. Not for the faint of heart, perfect for those that enjoy the grittier side of crime drama. Action heavy, fun, fast-paced novel.
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The Note #5 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

Welcome to “The Note – A Case for Sarah Bradley” serial, to catch up on the story so far click the links below:

The Note #1 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction.

The Note #2 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

The Note #3 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

The Note #4 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

I have never written in the detective/mystery genre before so just having a bit of a dabble. I hope people enjoy. Any feedback greatly appreciated. KL


10.15am

Sarah finally managed to get her sobbing under control. Jeff had walked around her car and climbed into the passenger seat. It made her a little nervous to be this close to him, his green eyes looked straight at her concern filled yet they still seemed to possess that mischievous glint that she adored. She looked away, trying to focus.

“I’m s…sorry Jeff. My little brother Danny’s in trouble.” She shuffled uncomfortably in the chair then looked back towards him.

“What do you mean in trouble Sarah? What kind of trouble?” He put his hand gently on top of hers. She took a big sigh and held the sob inside her that was desperately trying to escape again. Her lip trembled and her eyes glistened.

“That’s the thing, I don’t even know. Nothing is making sense. I’ve got to find him.” She turned the key in the ignition, silent tears now flooded her face.

“Sarah stop.” He leaned over her and turned the ignition back off. “You know I can’t let you leave don’t you? You can’t even see to drive, can you?” He shook his head, his hair swaying as he did it. “Look get yourself cleaned up, come into my car and we’ll see what we can do, okay?”

Sarah nodded and leaning over him opened the drawer of the glovebox. She stopped as she realised she was inches from his face. She smiled as much as she could muster, fighting back a wave of emotions.

“Sorry, I should have waited ‘til you got out. It’s a little tight isn’t it?” Sarah managed her voice now slightly husky from the crying.

Jeff lowered his head to reach the door handle but Sarah miss-reading the sign leaned in further closing her eyes she kissed him. Jeff realised her mistake and gently pushed her back.

“Sarah, no.” His low voice filled with concern. Finding the handle, he got out of the car. Before he closed the door, he turned back to face her. “Sarah, forget that happened. Come to my car and we’ll sort this. I’ll help you.”

Sarah nodded and watched Jeff retreat to his own car. How could she be so stupid? She had to focus on finding Danny.


 

This was originally written in response to Friday Fiction prompt brought to you by  ronovanwrites – Epic Fail prompt.

Ronovan also has a great post on GL & PSS to help improve your writing.
My stats for this post are: Word Count: 367 Words, GL: 3.1 and Passive: 0%

The Note #4 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

9.30

Sarah raced down the road. She had already been through a red light, her mind played a little warning reminder about the promotion she had been trying to get but she batted the fleeting thought away. Her little brother Danny was in that gold car up ahead and she had to get to him.

As another traffic light flickered from orange to red, Sarah put her foot down then glanced at the car about to cross her, an elderly couple sat in it, she would easily get past them. Just as she made midway across the junction, a cyclist appeared in front of her. It must have been down the side of the old couple’s car and Sarah hadn’t seen it. She stomped on the brake and swerved the car causing it lock into a spin. A lorry on the other side of the road stamped on his brakes as Sarah spun into his lane, the screeching sound of the brakes echoed across the buildings surrounding them and Sarah closed her eyes awaiting the impact.

When nothing but car horns and a strange silence filled her ears Sarah opened her eyes. The elderly couple and the lorry driver were both climbing out their vehicles. Sarah followed. Her heart pounding as she noticed the young man on the bike laid on the middle of the road. As Sarah walked towards him, she noticed his backpack laid in front of her car, she lifted it from the ground surprised at its weight. She took her phone from her pocket and dialled an ambulance, her mind on automatic pilot the police procedure for reporting the accident to the emergency services took over. As she hung up, she noticed the lorry driver on the phone too. Sarah gulped as she stood in front of the young man, her heart began to pound as he began to move. A mumbling sound came from his throat.

“I am PC Sarah Bradley, you have been in a car accident try not to move. An ambulance will be here soon.” She looked down at the blood coming from his head. Another noise came from his throat.

“Can you tell me your name?” She asked looking around. The lorry driver and couple were now making their way towards her. The young man lifted himself up a little and the startling blue eyes that stared back at her took Sarah aback.

“Crazy Bitch”. The words came out in a slur but it was clear what he said.

“I…I’m so sorry.” Sarah began to stand back up as the couple came towards her.

“Hey, stay away from him.” The old man shouted towards her.

“It’s okay. I’m a police officer… It was just an accident…” Sarah began but the old man was already shaking his head at her.

“You’re a looney, that’s what you are. Driving like that.” Before the old man, finished sirens seemed to fill the hostile air.

“Come to lock you up.” The old man said snarling and pointing his finger at her. His other arm wrapped protectively around his wife.

Sarah turned and made her way to her car, climbing into the driving seat. She couldn’t catch Danny now. She would need a miracle to find the gold car. She didn’t have time to hang around here either. Not while someone was after Danny. Sarah glanced around at the young man now sitting up. His blood smeared face visible to her. The ambulance was seconds away for him and there was nothing she could do to help him now.

Her mind made up she put the key in the accelerator turning the ignition. As Sarah moved into gear, a police car pulled across the lane in front of her, stopping abruptly. As the police officer began climbing out the car, Sarah’s heart was pounding in her chest. Her mind replaying all she could lose, her job, her life but most important her brother. When the officer turned towards her Sarah sighed. It was Jeff one of the few male officers at the station who actually had the time of day for her. Behind them, the ambulance had parked up and the crew were loading the young man onto a stretcher.

“So, what do we have here, Sarah?” Jeff said as Sarah stepped out of the car.

“You honestly don’t want to know, Jeff!” Sarah managed to say and then burst into tears.


This is a continued short story from:

The Note #1 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction.

The Note #2 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

The Note #3 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

I have never written in the detective/mystery genre before so just having a bit of a dabble. I hope people enjoy. Any feedback greatly appreciated. KL

To Continue Reading Sarah’s Story – CLICK HERE

A Friend Shows Up – This was written in response to Friday Fiction prompt brought to you by  ronovanwrites

Ronovan also has a great post on GL & PSS to help improve your writing.
My stats for this post are: Word Count: 734 Words, GL: 4.7 and Passive: 0%

The Note #3 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

9.05

“Dammit,” Sarah got out the car outside the college gates. The thought that she may have been quicker walking niggled away at her, she tried to push it to one side, as her eyes shot back and forth across the car park. Danny was nowhere to be seen. Where is he?

Slamming the door shut, Sarah began walking around the benches and picnic areas. Student’s eyes seemed to follow her every step which wasn’t helping the feeling she was being followed. Giving up her search amongst the students, Sarah hurdled the steps into the college’s grand entrance and made her way towards the reception desks.

Waiting patiently Sarah couldn’t help glancing around. This place was impressive, much better than the evening college she had attended. It made her feel sentimental, without their parents around she wanted to give Danny all the chances of a good life that she could. Eventually, the older receptionist waved her over.

“Can I help you, Dearie?”

“Yeah, I’m here for my little brother Danny. Sorry, Daniel Bradley. I need to see him.” Sarah paused and under the watchful gaze of the receptionist realised it didn’t sound right. “We’ve got a family emergency.”

“Okay, Dear. Let me have a look where he’s at.” The old woman began typing away at the pc, but the more she clicked, the more her greying eyebrows began to furrow. Sarah began to feel nervous as the receptionist glanced towards her. The receptionist stepped away and mumbled something to the woman next to her. The woman leant over, checked the screen and nodded sharply once.

“I’m sorry. It appears Daniel is no longer with the college. He withdrew from the course over a month ago.”

“A month ago…” Sarah’s mouth hung open, the little gasp of air escaping seemed to be the only function her body could do while her brain processed this. A month ago? Why would he lie? Where was he now?

“Okay, thanks.” Sarah managed to get the words out. Although the effort seemed to take all her body had to offer. She sucked in a deep breath and headed back to the car. Once inside she hit her steering well with her fists several times “Dammit Danny.” She shrieked to herself, then laying her head on her hands she let out the hollow sob that shook her whole body. She had no idea where deep inside her the noise came from but knew she had to release it.

When the noise turned into tiny snuffling sounds, Sarah sat up and searching in her handbag produced some tissues. Pulling the visor down she cleared the residual makeup from her eyes and blew her red nose. God did she look a mess. Rummaging back in the bag, she pulled the few make-up pieces she had with her out, concealer and mascara, it wasn’t much but it would do. Leaning closer to the visor she sorted her mascara first then just as she was dabbing the concealer under her eyes, a reflection in the mirror caught her attention. It was Danny’s bag, she was sure of it. Turning around she was just in time to see the bag and Danny’s dark hair disappear into a grey car. Sarah threw open the door and jumped up shouting Danny at the top of her voice, but the head didn’t turn and the car pulled away from the kerb.

Getting back into the car Sarah slammed the door and putting in the key she stomped her foot on the pedal, her mind focussed on one thing, she had to get to Danny now.



This is a continued short story from:

The Note #1 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction.

The Note #2 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

I have never written in the detective/mystery genre before so just having a bit of a dabble. I hope people enjoy. Any feedback greatly appreciated. KL

To Continue Reading Sarah’s StoryCLICK HERE


A lie is told – This was written in response to Friday Fiction prompt brought to you by  ronovanwrites

Ronovan has a great post on GL & PSS to help improve your writing and aim it towards the right groups (all of which can be achieved in word – who knew!). Hopefully I have set that up correctly, if so, my stats for this week are:
Word Count: 601 Words
GL: 5.3
Passive Sentences: 2%

 

 

The Note #2 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction

 

8.30

Sarah walked through the back door into the kitchen. Her heart immediately sank when she saw the wet shine on the laminated floor. Where had it spilled from? Please, not Danny. The lump in her throat continued to grow. She flickered on the light and could spilled milksee that a milk cartoon laid on its side.

“Danny?”

No Answer

“DANNY?” Louder this time but still no answer. She glanced at the clock. He shouldn’t have set off for college yet.

Sarah glanced around the kitchen searching for any clues. She carefully stepped through the doorway into the living room. Nothing looked out of place. She ran up the stairs and into hers and Danny’s room. Sarah’s heart picked up the pace to match the unnerving voice in her head. Normally she relied upon her inner voice but today she just wanted it to shut up, she didn’t want to hear what it was saying. In Danny’s room despite the mess, nothing seemed out of place. Sarah walked to the computer; she could see the power was on. Moving the mouse the bright background shone to life and Sarah could see a chat box open. Sarah’s heart leaped into her throat as the words “Meet you outside the college,” flickered at her over the bright lights of the screen.

Hurdling the stairs two at a time she made her way to the front door as she reached it she could see a piece of paper sticking through the letterbox. As I pulled it out, I could see it was just like the first, my name appearing with no surname. My heart now pounding so loudly it echoed around in my head. I unfolded the paper, mockingly a single sentence in bold black type stared back at me.

“GO AHEAD WITH THE INTERVIEW & THERE WILL BE MORE THAN MILK SPILLED”


 

This is a continued short story from: The Note #1 – A Case for Sarah Bradley – Fiction. I have never written in the detective/mystery genre before so just having a bit of a dabble. I hope people enjoy. Any feedback greatly appreciated. KL ❤

To Continue Reading Sarah’s StoryCLICK HERE

A spill occurs, what do you do next? Use your imagination for what a spill is.

This was written in response to Friday Fiction prompt brought to you by  ronovanwrites