Anne Bonny #BookReview You were Gone by @TimWeaverBooks 5* Genius #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #DavidRaker @PenguinUKBooks ‘A story of secrets and obsession. Denial and delusions’

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You Were Gone by Tim Weaver
Review copy
Synopsis:

I buried you.
I mourned you . . .
But now you’re back.

A woman walks into a police station.
She has no phone and no ID, just a piece of paper that reads ‘David Raker’.
She says she’s his wife.
She looks just like her.
She knows everything about him.
But David buried his wife eight years ago.

Is this really the woman he loved?
Did he really say goodbye?
Or is he losing his mind?

My Review:

I have to say, I am a huge fan of Tim Weaver and the David Raker series.
I think this is the best one yet!!!!!
The case has to be the most personal and we learn the most intimate details of Raker and his life with his now deceased wife (or is she?) Derryn. The twists and turns kept me guessing and at one point, I decided I didn’t even trust Raker anymore!!!!!
There is a brilliant bread crumb trail of clues, cleverly woven through each chapter of the novel. I was engrossed and stayed up until 4am to finish the book!

The novel opens with Raker spending the Christmas period at his daughter Annabel’s, in Devon. On the 28th December he receives a shocking phone call from DS Catherine Field, that shakes him to his core.
‘She says she’s your wife’
Raker is informed that a distressed young woman entered Charing Cross police station claiming to be lost. With her she carried a note with Raker’s name on it and asked the desk Sgt for help. The only issue with this woman’s story is that Raker’s wife Derryn has been dead 8yrs. So, who is this mystery woman? And why is she claiming to be Derryn?

‘It wasn’t Derryn
It wasn’t my wife’ – Raker

When Raker arrives at the police station, he is ushered into a separate room. The woman is bearing an injury and the police are reluctant to allow the two to physically meet just yet. Raker is allowed to watch the woman via CCTV cameras and he is baffled. She looks like Derryn, she talks like Derryn and she has all the shared memories. Yet he knows in his heart of hearts, this woman is not his wife.

Due to the nature of the woman’s claims, Raker is forced to relive his wife’s last few days as he painfully watched her pass away from breast cancer. He recites this to DS Field, who appears moved by his circumstances, but she can’t help wonder why someone would claim to be his dead wife.

‘I’d never loved another woman like I’d loved Derryn’ – Raker

As the conversation progresses, The woman claiming to be Derryn becomes more and more convincing, Raker realises he is now a potential suspect in the eyes of the law.

The woman insists she wants Raker to take her to their home, she refers to him as Derryn once did calling him ‘D’. Raker questions her mental health and urges DS Field to find one piece of evidence to back up this woman’s claims. We also become aware Derryn’s parents have since passed away and her brother died in Basra in 2004. There is no immediate family to back-up Raker’s Claims either.

“That woman in there, she’s a fantasist, or she’s ill, or she’s just a pathological liar. She’s not Derryn” – Raker

On 26th November 2009 Derryn passed away at home after a lengthy battle with cancer. Raker was present with her during her final months/weeks and even at the time of her passing. He watched her body be taken from the house. Yet still this woman persists.

‘All I know for sure is that one of you is lying to me’ – DS Field

Not only does this woman claim to be Derryn but she also claims Raker is the one that is mentally unstable. Citing a Dr Erik McMillan who can back up her claims. Which he does, leaving Raker questioning his own sanity. . .

‘My emotional state would make me easy to manipulate’ – Raker

Having lost some one I know and love through cancer. I know what an emotionally and physically draining time it can be. It also leaves permanent scars on your memory and the emotional pain can be felt for many years later. I really empathised with Raker’s character. I imagined myself in his position, trying to convince people who weren’t there, that I know what I saw etc. I knew that at times like this the person telling the truth, can appear the liar, as they desperately try to convince people of the truth.

DS Field warns Raker not to investigate further, to leave this to the police to deal with. But the Raker we all know, and love is never going to sit idlily by as his life is torn apart. He begins his own investigations into not only this mystery woman, but his own life. What follows is a case full of twists and turns.

The clues unravel slow and steady, to reveal a story of secrets and obsession. Denial and delusions. But who is in denial? Who has secrets? And who is suffering delusions?
That is what makes this a great edition to the Raker series.
5* Genius

TM
Tim Weaver
Website
Twitter

My review and Q&A of, I Am Missing, also by Tim Weaver

 

Anne Bonny #BookReview In The Hush Of The night by @RaymondBenson 5* #AmericanNoir #CrimeFiction #Thriller #NewRelease @skyhorsepub ‘an insight into the seedy, sleazy and lucrative world of human trafficking and sexual slavery’

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In The Hush Of The Night by Raymond Benson
Review copy
Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author comes a gritty, riveting tale of modern crime, featuring a female FBI agent embroiled in a Russian human trafficking case.

Chicago Special Agent Annie Marino examines the case of a dead young woman who possesses a tattoo Annie has come across before—that of bloody bear claws. Several deceased women with the tattoo have turned up over the past few years, all suspected of being involved in a vast human trafficking operation.

Annie’s neighborhood friend, Jason Ward, is a young writer engaged to be married into an upper-class family from a posh Chicago suburb. Jason believes his future brother-in-law, a war veteran, is definitely a bully—but does he also have ties to the Russian mob?

Yana Kravec, a woman from St. Petersburg, Russia, has been fraudulently lured into a trafficking scheme and thrown into a horrid and seemingly hopeless situation. She is, however, determined to fight back and escape her captors.

Annie’s investigation eventually uncovers a sordid plot of procuring slaves overseas and marketing them in the US. Her interests soon coincide with those of Jason and Yana, bringing the trio together to fight against a deadly network of criminals. As the separate lives of these characters collide, their paths ultimately converge in a night of terror and survival in a Michigan forest, where they become the prey of evil men who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

My Review:

This novel is exceptionally dark and focuses mostly around human trafficking and the modern-day sex slavery trade. So be warned, it is not for those who are easily offended by scenes of violence against women. That being said, it is incredibly factually accurate. The author has researched the statistics and plight of such women, before he has tackled such a hard-hitting issue. For that I fully applaud him.

You may guess the beginning, middle and the end early on. I know I did. But that wasn’t what the story was about for me. For me, it was about two things, firstly bearing witness to the victims and the violence and degradation they endure. Which in turn would highlight how to spot signs of abuse/oppression. Secondly, it was about how government bodies seek to take down and dismantle the trafficking networks.
It delivers on both accounts, massively!

In the opening scenes we meet 20yr old Yana Kravec. Yana is a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life. She lives in St Petersburg and longs for a life outside of Russia. When she meets Nikolai Babikov. . .

‘The world was about to change for Yana Kravec. Everything would be better in America’

Sold a dream of a better life in the US, Yana Is trafficked across the country and straight into the arms of sexual sadists.

Annie Marino is a Chicago special agent within the civil right department. She deals with a wide-range of cases regarding abuses of civil-rights, from the relatively minor to the case that has plagued her entire career. The ‘Bear Claws’ case.
Annie receives a call from Detroit special agent Harrid Caruthers regarding another body, another victim bearing the tattoo of bear claws.

The victim is found inside the trunk of a vehicle, with the driver having crashed after consuming too much alcohol. The driver, Vladimir Markov is dead and can offer no insight or clues. The female victim show clear signs of sexual violence and possible torture. The police believe Markov was either disposing of her corpse or moving her from one location to another.

We then learn more about the background of the case. The previous victims and why Annie is determined to get justice for the innocent women caught up in modern-day slavery. We also meet Annie’s friend/neighbour Jason.
Jason is quite the unique character himself, he is completely different to anyone else in the entire novel. He is a young graduate, dreaming of being a writer, he longs for a bohemian lifestyle. He is due to be married into the Paley family. A local family of considerable wealth and reputation. His fiancé Natalia absolutely dotes on Jason. But there is something about her family Jason, just can’t get past.

Annie attend the post mortem for the recent victim found in the trunk of the car. It is here we learn the true extent of her injuries and suffering prior to her death. The team track down Markov’s ex-wife, but she hasn’t seen him for 2yrs. Since he left her dirt poor, choosing a life of strip joints and alcohol. The links to the strip clubs throws up a clue to the case.
Are the strip clubs tied into the trafficking network? If so which ones? And how?

The novel then reflects back, via alternative chapters, to Yana. We witness her journey to the US and what happens the moment she arrives. It does not make for pleasant reading at all. I spent the entire time, cringing in horror. But it is the reality for these young women, trafficked all over the globe.

‘The psychological damage that trafficking inflicted on a victim was, in a way, often worse than the physical torment’

Yana arrives in the US.
‘From now on, you are the property of The bear. You will obey orders. You will do whatever we say. If you try to escape, we will kill you’ – Bobby

When a young runaway teen, makes a vague phone call to her mother in Memphis. With her location being in Chicago, the team are able to assemble a rescue mission, that might not only rescue this young woman, but others out there trapped in the living nightmare too.

‘Her spirit was broken. She had nothing to live or. It was hopeless. She would never escape’ – Yana

The novel doesn’t just focus upon the victim’s it also focuses on the man that buy into this ‘trade’. There is on specific case, where as it unfolds, you can imagine the shocked family saying “they never suspected” or “he never seemed they type”. What is the type? What type of man abuses women? If this was so easy to categorise, the cases would be far easier to solve.

‘It was the ultimate humiliation, to be branded as someone’s property’

The novel is without a doubt a shocking thriller. It offers an insight into the seedy, sleazy and lucrative world of human trafficking and sexual slavery. How it operates and most importantly, what the police can do to save victims. 5*
Don’t read late at night, alone!

RB
Raymond Benson
Website
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My Review of, The Secrets On Chicory Lane also by Raymond Benson

 

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Brighton Mermaid by @DorothyKoomson #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Mystery @penguinrandom ‘Edgy crime fiction, with a journey into the 1990s’ #TheBrightonMermaid

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The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson
Review copy
Synopsis:

Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you.

My Review:

This author is a new author to me. I saw the cover revealed on social media and instantly knew I wanted to review it. The cover is amazing and combined with the synopsis, gives the book its crime fiction edge. The mystery surrounding the Brighton mermaid; a murdered woman from 1993 and the young woman who found her body, now determined to get justice.

26th June 1993 Nell and her bestie Jude, having sneaked out in the night. Stumble across the dead body of a young woman. Nell feels the urge to help the dead woman and is in almost disbelief at what she is seeing before her. She can’t take her eyes from the detailed mermaid tattoo and it is this that will go on, to give the victim her name in the media.

‘She was still; tranquil, lifeless’

The novel then jumps to the present day 25yrs later. Nell has been working as a supermarket assistant manager for 8yrs, saving her every penny, to take a year off. A year off to pursue her own investigation into the Brighton mermaid case and the disappearance of Jude. I admired her dedication to the victims and you witness this throughout the novel.

Nell and Jude were severely mistreated in the 1990s, on the discovery of the victim. They weren’t treated as the child witnesses they were, but as potential suspects themselves. The racist policing in the 1990s is fully explored and the scenes are vividly played out before your eyes.

‘I looked into the faces of the police officers, saw how angry they were that we were wasting their time like this, and knew our lives were never going to be the same again’ – Nell

The scenes really got me thinking about 1990s policing. An era not only affected by institutional racism within the police force. But an era, where children/teenagers feared the authority of the police much more than they do now. An era where young people did not see the police as a figure of help or support.
I was also becoming addicted to the case of the Brighton mermaid.
What happened to the woman on the beach?
And why did Jude disappear?

In the present day, Nell has the support of her sister Macy, her partner Shane and children Clara, Willow and Aubrey. This is her little family and where she feels accepted. There are complications, due to the fact that Shane was originally Nell’s first teenage boyfriend. But her sister urges them both to put the past behind them. Nell and her sister Macy are very close.
But they Both have secrets.
Don’t we all?

In the past, after the discovery of the Brighton mermaid’s body. Enelle (Nell) and Judana (Jude) discuss the victim and their role in the case. Jude stole the victim’s charm bracelet as a keepsake and feels an attachment to the victim.

‘She looks like us Nell. That could be me or you strangled – and probably raped – on the beach and no one would care after a couple of weeks. It’s not right’ – Jude

Just a few weeks later, Jude goes missing, leaving Nell devastated and alone. Not only that the police circle in on Nell’s father, claiming him as a suspect due to his appearance as a “big. . . black fella”. Nell’s father faces on-going police and community harassment. That will not only change the way Nell views the police but in one way destroy her entire family. . . .

After the discovery of the Brighton mermaid and disappearance of Jude. Several other bodies were discovered and labelled as ‘mermaid’ victims also. It is then that Nell, begins to wonder is Jude a mermaid? Is that why she has never heard from her?

In the present day, the cop who harassed Nell’s father relentlessly pleads for her help. John Pope claims to have new evidence and possible links to the case. Can Nell trust him? How do you trust the man that destroyed your family?
They may make the most unlikely of pairings, but together could they solve the case?

I really enjoyed this novel. I found Nell to be daring, brave and driven. She is central to the plot and its unravelling throughout and this works extremely well. Nell is likeable, and I really enjoyed the time I spent with her, on her quest for justice. The tension within her surrounding relationships with others, creates a gripping ending!

Edgy crime fiction, with a journey into the 1990s 4*

DK
Dorothy Koomson
Website
Twitter