Anne Bonny #BookReview Only The Dead Know by @verdandiweaves C.J. Dunford #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #NewSeries #Debut #DanielUneasyTruce @be_ebooks_com ‘Intriguing new addition to the crime fiction genre’

Only The Dead Know by C.J Dunford
Daniel ‘Uneasy’ Truce – Mystery #1
Review copy

After a traumatic military tour in the Middle East, Daniel “Uneasy” Truce returns home with PTSD. Something happened there. Something he never wants to come out.

A few hand shakes later, Truce lands a new job in a ragtag investigations unit. He may be emotionally awkward, but he’s got a knack for reading body language. Problem is, his boss hates him. Calls him mentally unsound. She gives Truce the dirty work. That’s how he ends up with “the crazy old bat” case.

At 11 a.m. every morning, June drops by her local police station to report a murder she witnessed. Initially the cops took her seriously. They visit the alleged victim’s home to find him very much alive. But June won’t give up, and her daily appearances become a nuisance. Truce is tasked to investigate. To shut her up. Soon June winds up dead-hit by a car. Was it really an accident? Truce thinks there’s more to the case. That maybe someone just doesn’t want the truth to come out …

Only the Dead Know is the first book in the Daniel ‘Uneasy’ Truce Mystery series.

My Review:

I am always intrigued by novels that feature military veterans. I am myself married to a veteran of 15yrs military service. I think even for myself, there is something fascinating about a protagonist who has been to war.

Daniel ‘uneasy’ Truce is an ex-military cop. He was orphaned at a young age and went from children’s home to military service. A situation not to unbelievable, if you’ve ever known any serving personnel. His only friend in the world is Leighton, who is what I’d call a sofa surfer. A close friend that hangs on Daniel’s every word, but actually contributes very little to the household.

Major Percival Bay managed to organise a role for Truce as a special advisor to combined special crimes task force – police Scotland. A role that is not what it seems. With a boos that hates him, he is often side-lined and given the uninteresting ‘crimes’. His boss Chief Superintendent Lydia Rose assigns him to the case of June Mills. An elderly lady who is reporting the same murder daily.
He is given specific instructions to ‘shut her up’.

‘You could talk to her: mental case to mental case’ – Chief Superintendent Lydia Rose

When Daniel meets June he actually really warms to her character. She assures him, she is not going senile. But when he digs a little deeper it would appear June is not lying. She leads a busy and happy lifestyle. She had met the victim previous to witnessing his alleged murder. The one problem is, the victim Davie Whiles, isn’t dead!

Despite their heart-to-heart and meeting of minds. When June fees she isn’t getting anywhere she goes to the press. Which brings a Lydia Rose sized storm upon Daniel.
Eventually Daniel relents and agrees to take June to the mortuary to ID any recent bodies. I wasn’t 100% this scene was very accurate.
But nevertheless, I ran with it. June ID’s no body.

‘There’s a mystery here. A mystery no one wants to solve. Yet everything about it is impossible’ – Truce

Days later Daniel spots a newspaper article, with a recent death of a woman that sounds a lot like June. The lady in question was knocked over and killed by a taxi driver. Daniel vows to investigate further.

‘There’s enough evil in this world without you making up more’ – Leighton

At June’s funeral, Daniel is introduced to her friends and learns more facts. Everything about June’s suicide contradicts itself. June’s death is a confusing case and nothing makes sense at all.

I did really enjoy the mystery element and found Daniel Truce a fantastic protagonist. There is a Q&A at the back of the novel which expands further upon his characters and themes. It is a brilliant addition and gives much food for thought. But obviously I cannot cover it within this review. There were elements I wasn’t so keen on, the police cast aside from Daniel were an array of stereotype cops. But it doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of this novel, as the main focus is mostly on Daniel.

Intriguing new addition to the crime fiction genre. 4*

C.J. Dunford

#BlogTour #BookReview #CauseOfDeath by Peter Ritchie @bwpublishing

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

Cover Spread Cause of Death.indd
Cause Of Death by Peter Ritchie

DCI Grace Macallan’s career has hit a serious roadblock. When a covert police operation in Northern Ireland goes badly wrong, she’s faced with a painful decision – lie to save a young officer’s career or tell the truth and ruin her own reputation. For Grace, there can be only one answer.

Reassigned to the newly formed Lothian & Borders Major Crime Team, Grace Macallan is forced to rebuild her career and her reputation. But when a brutal attack on a prostitute turns into a series of murders, the Major Crime Team is under serious pressure. The tabloid headlines are lurid and the team badly needs a result.

With a new life to build in a new city, a new boss as smooth as an 18-year-old malt and a very high profile lawyer as the chief suspect, Grace soon begins to wonder if telling the truth is always the right thing to do.

My review:

This is a cracking new series that has an incredibly complex debut! DCI Grace Macallan is the protagonist, a woman with a background that reaches all the way to the troubles of Northern Ireland. The novel starts out detailing both her recent move to the new major crime team in Scotland and her past in NI. So it is difficult to keep up with all the characters and the location/time frame shifting mid-chapter.
But it is very well done by the author.

We learn that Macallan’s time in NI was far from rosy and she was deployed in an operation that went badly wrong. It resulted in a death and the finger of suspicion pointed firmly at a police officer. I don’t want to go into too much detail on the NI conflict described in the novel. As the author has done a fantastic job himself.
But it is does detail all side of the conflict and that there truly were ‘no clean hands’.

“That was what she hated most – the deceit practised on all sides of the conflict and at every level from politicians down”.

We go on to learn more about Macallan and her background and how the conflict and resulting consequences of her actions in NI haunts her. Having witness deaths and lost the love of her life. She is a broken woman, seeking a new life, in a new unit, a fresh start. She is desperate to be liked and respected by the team. It isn’t long until her hard work, intelligence and detective skills show and she is a solid member of the team.
She is partnered with DS Harkins, a renowned drinker but good copper!

It isn’t long until the team have their first case when a local ex-military thug, puts together a team to rob Chinese restaurants owners. However, knowing the suspect is guilty as sin and proving it are two different things all together! The team have to act quick to outwit the team and gather evidence. I felt this was a fantastic portrayal of how the police actually work!
With my bestie being a Met detective, it was reminiscent of cases she has told me about.

Prostitute Pauline Johnson is a working girl with a smack habit. Her whole life had been on track for success until at just 16yrs old. She was preyed upon by a man who got her into the drug/prostitution lifestyle. When she is stacked and left for dead, the team are made aware of the case. Pauline is in a very bad way, she faces a future of life-ling disfigurement and possible brain damage. O’Connor, Macallan’s boss references a pattern of cases against other young working girls across parts of the country.
Is this a pattern? Who is attacking these women? Will is escalate to murder?

There are some eerie chapters from the killers, point of view. They do not give away whom he is. But detail his thoughts and intentions. They are not for the faint hearted!

Macallan and Harkins bond over drinks at a local bar. She tells his about NI and he in turn shares war stories from his policing days. When a second body is found Prostitute Helen Stevenson, the team is called in! Only this victim is dead and it is a murder scene. The murder carries similarities between this and the attack on Pauline. Someone is targeting the working girls with violently savage beatings!

Macallan decides to visit the first victim Pauline in the ICU and see if she can gather any evidence. Communicating solely through blinks and for yes/no. Macallan manages to gather some information. But is it enough to solve the case?
Then the killer pays Pauline a visit in the hospital…….

The media swarm the case and the bodies begin to start piling up! The team think they have the perfect suspect. But he isn’t just any suspect he is slick anti-police advocate Jonathan Barclay QC.

The relationships between the coppers intensifies and it makes for a great plot! The character of Macallan develops throughout the novel. I think she is a cracking new protagonist in the crime fiction series! Mixing Macallan’s past and present displays a depth usually seen in an experienced writer! Making this one hell of a debut!
This novel will take you right into the depths of the killers hatred. 4*  

IMG_0697 copy cmyk 
Peter Ritchie
Authors links:
via Publisher:

Q&A with @anthonynsmith #Author of #CastleDanger #WomanOnIce #NewSeries #CrimeFiction

Castle Danger by Anthony Neil Smith

“Hey, Manny here. I’m a cop in Duluth, Minnesota. Vacation paradise in the summer, but some of the longest, coldest winters in the USA, with more snow and ice in one blizzard than most people see in a lifetime. And we all know what happens to people during long, cold winters. They die. They commit suicide or start fights out of pure boredom or because they’re depressed, worried that the sun will never return. Or they get killed. If you want to make sure the person you’ve killed won’t be found, just drop them under the ice of Lake Superior. Not much ever floats up from its depths again. Well, except this one morning …”

When a dead woman is fished out of Lake Superior, Manny Jahnke is there to discover the baffling truth: The “woman” in the ice is biologically a man. Before he can learn more, the corpse sinks back into the water, pulling Manny’s partner along with it. Both disappear under the ice, never to be seen again. Now Manny has a missing victim, a new partner he likes even less than the old one, and a case no one wants solved. Or so it seems. Manny grows obsessed with the “woman on ice” whose secrets prove to be as vast as the Great Lake itself – and whose enemies turn out to be powerful enough to keep those secrets hidden. Only one thing is certain: if Manny survives, he’ll never be the same man again.


Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, stayed long enough to get a PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi, then moved to Minnesota, where I’m a Creative Writing professor. But I’ve always loved the crime genre first.

CASTLE DANGER: WOMAN ON ICE follows a young cop named Manny as he pursues the truth about a frozen transwoman found in Lake Superior. It seems no one wants him to find out who she is, and they’re willing to deal him some serious damage to keep him off the case. His obsession is also due to some personal issues, as he has already begun to question his own gender identity.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) It always starts with a character. In this case, Manny, an angry cop sitting at his computer fuming over porn. But what took a long time to figure out was why? I knew he was going to find a transwoman on the iced-over lake, but what was it that got to him? My editor and I discussed possibilities, and he suggested that Manny had injured his genitals somehow, which led to me thinking he did it to himself “accidentally”, or maybe not so much, because he wasn’t sure he should be a man.

I told my editor at the time, and he was interested, but thought it wasn’t necessarily a “commercial” novel, but it kept his attention enough to ask to see the pitch again to show it to the folks at BE Ebooks. They loved it, and that led to two books (so far) about Manny and his partner Joel.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I read so much, all the time, and the list is pretty long. My “big three” are James Ellroy, Flannery O’Connor, and Chester Himes (although James Crumley is as close a fourth as possible). They really bring the “gonzo” (absurdity). White Jazz was the first crime novel I really saw as art. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Parker’s Back” are brutal and funny simultaneously. And any of the Coffin Ed and Gravedigger novels open up a world that feels barely hang on to sanity.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Very early on, I discovered The Hardy Boys, but then quickly found the even better Three Investigators series, which featured Alfred Hitchcock, for some reason (who gave the boys a free limo service), and Jupiter Jones, former child star turned boy detective. These guys had a clubhouse in a junkyard.

I also really like Encyclopedia Brown, even though I could never actually solve those goddamned mysteries.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) I was invited to Italy for a conference! Back in 2011, my novel YELLOW MEDICINE was translated into Italian, and I attended a festival in Northern Italy—Piacenza—that combined blues music and crime fiction. It was really wonderful. I also got to meet Tim Willocks, RJ Ellory, and Joe Lansdale, in addition to the owners of Dust to Digital record label, the Ledbetters, who do some really neat work.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) In addition to my wife, Brandy, who loves my work but thinks all my endings are terrible, my core “crew” has been longtime friends Victor Gischler and Sean Doolittle, who I’ve known for nearly twenty years. We share the good times and the shitty times in our writing lives. I also would not be where I am today without Allan Guthrie, who has been, at various points, my agent, my publisher, and my editor (and friend, of course) for over ten years now. He’s the one person in publishing who has championed and believed in my work more than anyone else.

Anthony Neil Smith
Authors links:
Twitter: @anthonynsmith

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.