*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

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Locked Up by GB Williams
Synopsis:

An unmissable crime thriller

A prison officer and a convicted killer must work together to solve a brutal murder and expose conspiracy inside a prison.

Ariadne Teddington is surrounded by people who lie but that is to be expected when you work in prison where every man claims to be innocent.

Charlie Bell, an ex Detective, now finds himself in that prison serving time for murder after having taken the law into his own hands.

When a fellow inmate is killed Charlie is asked to investigate the case from the inside. Soon Charlie finds himself working with Ariande but she is a guard, he is an inmate and some lines should never be crossed…

Can two people on different sides of the law come together to solve the case?

And do the answers lie closer to home than anyone ever imagined?

My review:

Wow! What a rollercoaster of a read! A thoroughly in-depth prison set, crime fiction read! I was gripped and read the majority of the book in ¾ hours!
It firmly had me hooked!

The novel centres around two main protagonists. Prison officer Ariadne Teddington and inmate Charlie Bell. Charlie is an ex-detective serving time for a murder. Teddington is a seasoned prison officer, with great experience of being surrounded, by what some may call savage like men. Initially the relationship that plays out between the two, I felt was bizarre and I was keen on the whole idea. But I think that is the beauty of this read, their reactions to the situations around them and how it impacts their relationship etc.

When inmate Tommy Walters is found dead, it is officially ruled as a suicide. However, Teddington has her suspicions. She reluctantly asks for Charlie’s help. Firstly, via a series of cryptic notes and later they work closer together. It all starts with a note…. “Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark. Need your help”

As the plot develops we learn more about Charlie’s background. The son he has that he never sees and the crime he committed that landed him in jail. We also learn more about Teddington, how she came to be divorced and a serving prison officer. I love the way the author drip fed their pasts into the story line. It was very cleverly done and kept my interest the entire journey of the novel.

Teddington trusts Charlie and he regards her as one of the only officers, who treats him as a human. Some of the other officers such as Robbins and Sanchez are not so kind. The power struggle between inmate/officer or screw/con is fully explored. Life at HMP Blackmarch is far from easy for all involved.

The top dogs of the prison are Keen and Winehouse. Both of who swear they had no involvement in the ‘suicide’ of Tommy and want Charlie to uncover the truth. Tommy was a low end drug supplier. In prison for possession with intent to supply. Keen is the source of the main prison drug supply, but does that give him motive for murder? Why has it been hushed up so quickly, is it a corrupt officer? Keen refers to himself as the prison ‘offical channels’ stating how he controls the work details of inmates etc.

Detective chief inspector Piper and Detective sergeant Carlise are brought into to investigate as protocol requires. The wing where Tommy lived is C wing it hold 163 male inmates in for a variety of crimes, mostly violent crimes. When the police show little interest in the case and prefer to go down the route of suicide. Teddington and Charlie know they must do more to investigate and solve the case.
But who is the killer? Why did they target Tommy?

There are a wide-range of characters amongst both the prisoners and the officers. Which I felt made for intriguing reading! I was fascinated by the inmate nicknames and crimes. I have real many real-life prison memoirs, such as Charles Bronson’s book and books about the Kray twins etc. I have also known someone who spent his entire career in the prison service and retired from the local prison here, what was HMP Parkhurst.
I think this was very accurate of its portrayal of the prison system and the lives prisoners lead.

When inmate Jack Perkins takes a new officer Dyer hostage and demands the rape of Teddington and Dyer. Charlie manages to save the her and get Dyer the medical help he needs. But how will the inmates react to this? When he has put screw before con. Prison life is day in and day out boredom. Which leads to accusations, gossip and speculation. What else to do when you have nothing else to do but observe each other all day………..

Teddington delves into Charlie’s private life further. Even visiting the home of his son. What she finds there will shock most readers to the core! This plot twist has huge repercussions for Charlie and his mental state. With new inmates arriving probation officer Rebecca Fry is keen to push for Charlie’s early release due to good behaviour. But why is she so keen for Charlie to leave? Why is she so pally with prison guvnor Peter James? When rumours leads Charlie and Teddington to a clue a name. Teddington searches the prison database and there is no known inmate/officer. So who is the mysterious and elusive Leo? Just as the pair get close to unmasking the killer, a riot breaks out. A prison riot means it is every man and woman for themselves.
Can Charlie and Teddington survive the riot……..

This novel is extremely complex and grows darker and darker as you turn each and every page. There are wide-range of themes, mostly related to prison life and the struggles that brings. But also themes of personal struggles and the demons we all battle. I think the author has done a phenomenal job of covering so many aspect of prison life in the plot. I also think she has handled several sensitive issues very well.
A cracking read 4.5*

Gail Wiliams
GB Williams
Authors links:
Twitter: @GailBWilliams
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/GB-Williams-261748000603425/
via publisher: http://www.bloodhoundbooks.com/gb-williams

Author Bio:

After being made redundant in 2012, GB started taking her life-long passion for writing more seriously and looking to sell her work. Specialising in complex, fast-paced crime novels, she started writing the Locked Series in 2014, and has been working to polish and perfect since – not to mention – sell.

GB was shortlisted for the 2014 CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition with the story Last Shakes, now available in Last Cut Casebook. She is also a feature writer and comic book reviewer on http://www.warpedfactor.com. Crime novels are her stock in trade, but she has had success with short stories in various genres including steampunk, horror, erotica and general fiction.

With bills to pay, she’s back working as a systems architect by day, a freelance fiction editor and keen writer of an evening and weekend. GB really needs to learn to sleep.

Originally from Kent, GB moved to South Wales as a supposed first step on a year around the world.  Then she met a guy.  Kept the guy, kissed the travel goodbye. Knowing that the best way to travel is by book anyway, she has always read, always written. GB now has two grown-up children, the world’s most imperious cat, a house full of books and a hard drive full of manuscripts (though some will never be allowed out of a locked basement).

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