Review: KILLFILE and FLASHMOB by Christopher Farnsworth (William Morrow/Zaffre)

FarnsworthC-KillfileUSThe first two John Smith novels… which will make you terrified of the internet

John Smith possesses a special gift that seems more like a curse: he can access other people’s thoughts. He hears the songs stuck in their heads, knows their most private traumas and fears, and relives the painful memories they can’t let go of. The CIA honed his skills until he was one of their most powerful operatives, but John fled the Agency and now works as a private consultant, trying to keep the dark potentials of his gift in check — and himself out of trouble.

Unfortunately, John is unexpectedly plunged into dangerous waters when his latest client, billionaire software genius Everett Sloan, hires him to investigate a former employee — a tech whiz kid named Eli Preston — and search his thoughts for some very valuable intellectual property Sloan is convinced he’s stolen. But before John can probe Preston’s mind, his identity is compromised and he’s on the run for his life, along with Sloane’s young associate, Kelsey Foster.

Hunted by shadowy enemies with extensive resources and unknown motives, John and Kelsey must go off the grid. And John knows that using his powers to their fullest potential is their only hope for survival — even if it means putting his own sanity at risk.

In Killfile, we’re introduced to John Smith: the man you call if you need a situation handled quietly, and out of the eyes of the law. He’s also the one you contact if you need to extract information or discover others’ intentions. You see, from the opening pages, we learn that he is pretty unique: he is psychic — actually psychic, not a parlour magician who’s just very good at reading gullible tourists.

Killfile is a briskly-paced novel, and one that will pull the reader through from start to finish. I blitzed through this in just two sittings, and immediately began the sequel. A strong series opener, in a series that looks like it could have strong staying power. Continue reading

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Upcoming: FIND YOU IN THE DARK by Nathan Ripley (Simon & Schuster)

RipleyN-FindYouInTheDarkCAIn Find You In the Dark, Nathan Ripley‘s debut thriller, “a family man obsessed with digging up the undiscovered remains of serial killer victims catches the attention of a murderer prowling the streets of Seattle.” I first heard of this novel via a Tweet from the Atria Mystery Bus. I’m really looking forward to reading it. Pitched as “in the vein of Dexter and The Talented Mr. Ripley“, here’s the synopsis:

Martin Reese is obsessed with murder.

For years, he has been illegally buying police files on serial killers and studying them in depth, using them as guides to find missing bodies. He doesn’t take any souvenirs, just photos that he stores in an old laptop, and then he turns in the results to the police anonymously. Martin sees his work as a public service, a righting of wrongs that cops have continuously failed to do.

Detective Sandra Whittal sees it differently. On a meteoric rise in police ranks due to her case-closing efficiency, Whittal is suspicious of the mysterious caller — the Finder, she names him — leading the police to the bodies. Even if the Finder isn’t the one leaving bodies behind, who’s to say that he won’t start soon?

On his latest dig, Martin searches for the first kill of Jason Shurn, the early 1990s murderer who may have been responsible for the disappearance of his sister-in-law, whom he never met. But when he arrives at the site, he finds a freshly killed body — a young and recently disappeared Seattle woman — lying among remains that were left there decades ago. Someone else knew where Jason Shurn buried his victims… and that someone isn’t happy that Martin has been going around digging up his work.

When a crooked cop with a tenuous tie to Martin vanishes, Whittal begins to zero in on the Finder. Hunted by a real killer and by Whittal, Martin realizes that in order to escape the killer’s trap, he may have to go deeper into the world of murder than he ever thought.

Find You In the Dark is due to be published by Simon & Schuster, in March 2018.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Books on Film: THE SNOWMAN by Jo Nesbø

I haven’t read any of Jo Nesbø’s novels, yet — I did pick up Blood on Snow and Midnight Sun not so long ago, and I think I bought the first Harry Hole novel (The Bat) when it was a Kindle Daily Deal quite some time ago. Anyway, I saw the trailer for this movie, based on the seventh Harry Hole novel, and thought it looked excellent.

NesboJ-HH07-Snowman

Here’s the official book synopsis:

Soon the first snow will come

A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Outside, he sees her favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.

And then he will appear again

Detective Harry Hole soon discovers that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

And when the snow is gone…

When a second woman disappears, Harry’s worst suspicion is confirmed: a serial killer is operating on his home turf.

… he will have taken someone else

Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman is published by Vintage in the UK and US.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Excerpt: BLACK DAHLIA, RED ROSE by Piu Eatwell (Coronet)

EatwellP-BlackDahliaRedRoseUKPiu Eatwell’s latest book is a narrative history of the notorious Black Dahlia murder in Los Angeles. The inspiration for a number of novels and movies, it’s an interesting new account of the murder that gripped the headlines. Here’s the synopsis:

On 15th January 1947, the naked, dismembered body of a black-haired beauty, Elizabeth Short, was discovered lying next to a pavement in a Hollywood suburb. She was quickly nicknamed The Black Dahlia.

The homicide inquiry that followed consumed Los Angeles for years and the authorities blew millions of dollars of resources on an investigation that threw up dozens of suspects. But it never was solved.

Until now.

In this ground-breaking book, Piu Eatwell reveals compelling forensic and eye witness evidence for the first time, which finally points to the identity of the murderer. The case was immortalised in James Ellroy’s famous novel based on the case, in Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon and Brian de Palma’s movie The Black Dahlia.

This is a dark tale of sex, manipulation, obsession, psychopathy and one of the biggest police cover ups in history.

Now, read on for an excerpt from the first chapter…

Continue reading

Upcoming: FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper (Flatiron/Little, Brown)

HarperJ-2-ForceOfNature

Early next year, Jane Harper‘s eagerly-anticipated follow up to the critically-acclaimed The Dry will hit shelves! Force of Nature, which also stars Detective Aaron Falk, is due to be published in North America by Flatiron Books, and in the UK by Little, Brown. Here’s the synopsis:

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review: THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly (Little Brown/Orion)

Introducing an excellent new detective character

Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns everything over to the day shift. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two assignments she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.

I recently binge-watched the first three seasons of Bosch, the TV series based on Connelly’s main series. I absolutely loved it, and that gave me the necessary kick up the backside to start reading Connelly’s novels. As it happened, I received a review copy of The Late Show, so I decided to start here. This is a fantastic introduction of a new character, and a great crime novel. This is the first novel by Michael Connelly that I’ve read. It will not be my last. Continue reading

Review: THE FORCE by Don Winslow (Harper Collins/William Morrow)

WinslowD-TheForceUKPossibly the best thriller (or novel) of the year?

Everyone can be bought. At the right price…

Detective sergeant Denny Malone leads an elite unit to fight gangs, drugs and guns in New York. For eighteen years he’s been on the front lines, doing whatever it takes to survive in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Now he’s caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk a thin line of betrayal, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

Don Winslow’s latest novel is a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, and a searing portrait of a city on the edge of an abyss. Full of shocking twists, this is a morally complex and riveting dissection of the controversial issues confronting society today.

The Force is the first of Winslow’s novels that I’ve read. It will definitely not be the last. There was a lot of pre-publication buzz surrounding this novel, and I can certainly now see why: it’s superb. On almost every level, this novel is a triumph. Continue reading