Guest Reviewer Johnny's round up to March 2017

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Guest Reviewer Johnny has been absent for a few months but he is finally back. It seems his usually scathing reviews are less harsh for the first quarter of 2017 and he actually rated 2 books with 4 stars, bearing in mind he has reviewed 150 plus books and only 4 of them rated as a 4 star)! SOme great sounding books on this list and some I will need to push further up the to read list!

Jane Casey Let The Dead SpeakLet The Dead Speak by Jane Casey


Johnny’s Rating: 4/5:


Johnny’s Review: Yes, it's the fourth 5 star review in over 2 years and 150+ reviews! Absolutely cracking police procedural that begins with the police processing a murder scene where they find all the evidence they need, in fact everything, except the requisite corpse. The story moves along at breakneck pace and there are a multiplicity of suspects to choose from, but still no body.


It would be remiss to outline the plot in detail but suffice to say that apart from the plethora of suspects there are multiple plot twists and a jaw dropping denoument. All the characters are very well drawn and the plot construction is perfect. At the risk of gushing, this is the best novel I've read in a long time and thoroughly recommended

Shallow End Brenda CHapmanShallow End by Brenda Chapman

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review : Second outing for Officers Stonechild and Gundersund who investigate the discovery of a body at the side of Lake Ontario. The complication is that the body is that of a boy who was the victim of abuse years earlier, and the female teacher convicted of the crime has just been released on parole.

Very accomplished novel, with a well thought out plot line, believable characters and a very well described sense of the somewhat bleak Canadian landscape. The story begins at a leisurely pace but picks up speed throughout as the story reaches its conclusion. Although a slow burner don’t be discouraged, this a very fine effort that will reward you with very engaging read.


Jacob Stone DerangedDeranged by Jacob Stone

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review A serial killer story that is elevated by black humour and mordant wit. Whilst this is, for the most part, standard fare, the story is peopled by some well-drawn characters and the plot progresses with pleasing rapidity. The actual killings are described in broad brush terms and the meat of the story concerns the serial killer and the man assisting the police, one Morris Brick, an ex L.A.P.D. cop now running his own detective agency.

Most of the plot devices are predictable and as there is no attempt to have a " whodunit " element, the main thrust is the battle of wits between Brick and the killer. So, a well-constructed story that will pass the time quite pleasantly.


P)assenger 19 Ward LarsenPassenger 19 by Ward Larsen

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review Fast paced thriller about an aircraft crash investigator who is dispatched to Colombia to look into the disappearance of a small jet. Apart from the difficulty of locating a missing jet in the mountains covered in dense forest, this task is complicated by the fact that his teenage daughter appears on the passenger manifest. Needless to say, our hero comes up against corrupt beurocrats, crooked cops and random drug dealers, all of whom are dealt with in summary fashion.

The first three quarters of the book are particularly impressive and the author reveals his expertise in the technicalities of aircraft and their failings whilst keeping the story racing along at breakneck pace. The last part strays into Jack Reacher territory and our hero proves equally indestructible and, whilst credulity is stretched to breaking point, the conclusion is undeniably exciting. A very good read and an ideal book to while away a few hours, especially if you're traveling by air.

Ragdoll Daniel ColeRagdoll by Daniel Cole

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review : Superior serial killer thriller. Beautifully written and plotted with a terrific cast of characters, lots of black humour and enough violence to fill more than one book. The plot involves a rugged, if slightly unhinged, detective's pursuit of a serial killer who has issued a hit list, complete with names and dates of predicted demise, to the detective's journalist ex - wife. Inevitably, the list enters the public domain and the story revolves around police efforts as they try to protect the intended victims. This is smart, funny and gruesome in equal measure and the author has some fun with sideswipes at the media, police bureaucracy and the British public's fascination with celebrity. So make the effort to read this book and yes, the conclusion is a bit lurid, but that's a small quibble about a terrific read.

Killing Jane Stacy GreenKilling Jane by Stacy Green

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review : Washington DC set police procedural featuring rookie Detective Erin Prince. Somewhat obtuse narrative as a copycat serial killer cuts a swathe through the city with the murders mirroring those carried out by Jack the Ripper! Really? Whilst the action and dialogue are well realised I did have a problem with the basic premise and a denoument that will stretch credulity to breaking point.

So by no means a brilliant book, but it will while away a few hours perfectly pleasantly.




The Girl Before J P DelaneyThe Girl Before by J P Delaney

Johnny’s Rating: 4/5

Johnny’s Review: Very well crafted thriller with a superb plotline and, for once, an alternate timeline narrative that actually works.

The story concerns an ultra-modern property rented initially by Emma and subsequently by Jane. The first tenant died in mysterious circumstances and the latter tenant's experiences seem to be charting a parallel course. How the story concludes is both interesting, intriguing .and quite moving. Unlike most offerings in this genre this is a treatise as much as a thriller and I would urge you to read it.



Behind Her Eyes Sarah PinboroughBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

Johnny’s Review: For the most part this would be regarded as a psychological thriller with a nod to the fantasy genre. Of its type this is a decent enough outing, although the build up to the big finish was very protracted. Another cavil is the alternate narrative style which, although unavoidable with this storyline, is a difficult trick to pull off and it doesn't succeed entirely in this case.

In essence a proficient enough "thriller" although I found the three main characters unlikeable so it was difficult to care about what happened to them. However, for many this will be a good read so if you like the exploration of psychosis interesting this could be for you.


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