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Criminally Good Reads

Crime novel reviewer.

British. Dark. Disturbed.


Currently reading

Silent Scream: An edge of your seat serial killer thriller (Detective Kim Stone crime thriller series Book 1)
Angela Marsons
The Cuckoo's Calling (Large Print Edition)
Robert Galbraith

In Death - JD Robb

Fantasy in Death (In Death, #30) - J.D. Robb

I WISH publishers would put a little more detail on the back covers of their books sometimes. I had no idea this was a series set in the future, and a genre-merge with SF. Consequently I'm lost and need to abandon this one and get the first one in the series. No mention at all on the novel of SF or continuation. Had exactly the same issue recently with Rose's Die For Me, which had no mention of being part of an ongoing romance series rather than straight crime. Gargh! 

Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham

Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham

Detective Inspector Tom Thorne now knows that three murdered young women were a killer's mistakes -- and that Alison was his triumph. And unless Thorne can enter the mind of a brilliant madman -- a frighteningly elusive fiend who enjoys toying with the police as much as he savors his sick obsession -- Alison Willetts will not be the last victim consigned forever to a hideous waking hell.

Already an international bestseller, Mark Billingham's "Sleepyhead" is a chilling masterwork of crime fiction -- a boldly original experiment in terror that will beget dark dreams and sleepless nights.


What I loved about this one was the characterisation. Thorne, Anne, Jeremy, Rachel, and especially Alison, oh God Alison, are all beautifully written and fully three-dimensional - and not only that, they're original, and unique. OK maybe not so much Thorne when it comes to unique, to be be fair, but the supporting cast here are so strong that it doesn't matter. 


The terror of what he's setting out to do to these women is so unusual, and so unthinkable  - and Alison's reaction is illuminating and encouraging and heartbreaking all at the same time.


What didn't work too well for me was the ending, and the way in which the motivation behind everything was explained, which took away a lot from the experience. I also felt that the final actions of two incredibly strong women showed a sense of helplessness that detracted from the hope I felt whilst reading. The second point is a very personal one, and I can understand that many readers might have the very opposite reaction. The author's note at the end grated on me too. I'm pretty sure his NHS remarks were implicit and understood and needed no further explanation. But again that's just me.


Sleepyhead is a fast, thought-provoking read which for me lost out at the close, but I'd still be happy to read more in the series.

Reading progress update: I've read 35%.

Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham

Hooked. Having locked-in nightmares. 

Killing Floor - Lee Child

— feeling amazing
Killing Floor - Lee Child

Margrave is a no-account little town in Georgia. Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles in the rain, just passing through. An arbitrary decision, a tribute to a guitar player who died there decades before.

But Margrave has just had its first homicide in thirty years. And Reacher is the only stranger in town. So the murder is pinned on him. As nasty secrets leak out and the body count mounts, only one thing is for sure: They picked the wrong guy to take the fall.

Killing Floor introduces Jack Reacher, the tough ex-military cop of no fixed abode. Trained to think fast and act faster, with an eye for the women, he is truly every thinking reader’s perfect action hero.


What can I say about Jack Reacher? Everyone knows his name. 'Women want to sleep with him, men want to be him'. And if you can purge Tom Cruise from your mind, pretty much everyone loves him - and with good reason. 


I wanted to go right back to where it all started, and read through all the Reacher novels in publication order. When you first meet Jack is when you first start to love him. A tough, no-nonsense drifter with a ferocious set of values and a unique set of skills, he's great company. Killing Floor works so well because of Jack's uniqueness - you won't find another character anything like him in any other series - and in genre so densely packed that's pretty jaw-dropping in itself. With Reacher's background you get a nice mix of police-procedural with a heavy dose of off-the-grid action, which keeps things fresh and unpredictable - to a degree at least. We learn pretty early on that Jack's always going to come out on top, but we're in a genre where the 'good guys' always win, so, you know...that's kind of a given from the outset. The nice thing with Killing Floor, is that you might just find your definition of 'good guy' starting to shift slightly.....


There's romance here too, although it's back seat and fleeting in its own way. No tie-downs for our lonely hero. 


Killing Floor is arguably not the best in the series, but it's a great opener packed with the promise of plenty more to come.


One for anyone who enjoys a fast-paced thriller packed with action scenes and enough twists to keep things interesting. Should come with a warning regarding how many more of Child's books you're going to need to buy to keep up.

Die For Me - Karen Rose

Die For Me  - Karen Rose


The first victim is found in a snow-covered Philadelphia field. Detective Vito Ciccotelli enlists the aid of archaeologist Sophie Johannsen to determine exactly what lies beneath the frozen ground. Despite years of unearthing things long buried, nothing can prepare Sophie for the matrix of graves dug with chilling precision. The victims buried there haunt her. But the empty graves terrify her-the killer isn't done yet.


He is cold and calculating, the master of a twisted game. Even with Vito and Sophie hot on his trail, he will not stop. One more empty grave must be filled, and one last scream must be heard-the scream of an archaeologist who is too close for comfort and too near to resist...




Die For Me is exactly the kind of crime novel I should have, if not hated, then at least not enjoyed. There are plot holes, so many plot holes, and the romance aspect caught me totally unawares. There's no mention on the book itself of 'romantic suspense' - just a game-programming serial killer with a medieval fetish which caught my twisted imagination and sucked me in. Misleading in many respects, but so ridiculously readable that I couldn't put it down either way.


Flails, boiling oil and exploding villains, there's plenty going on here and although the plot is at times holier than the church used in the video game footage, it's a giant heap of fun nonetheless. Rose's writing is engaging and compelling, and I'll certainly be looking to add more of her titles to my TBR pile - although with a 'don't look too closely' memo to self. 


If you're hardcore crime - be warned - you may well find this lacking in both procedural and plot tightness; but if you just want a fast-paced bit of twisted fun with a side of romance, you're all set.