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Vileness, Rowan Waters

Vileness, Rowan Waters

Vileness (Samantha Brooks Thrillers Book 1)

In a twisty tale of betrayal and good intentions gone bad, Vileness follows Samantha Brooks as she begins to work as an agent for her brother’s network, working with victims of domestic violence to help them disappear and escape their abusers. However, when Sam moves to small-town USA, she starts to break one of the rules of the network…she starts to get involved. And once involved, she can’t help but realise that the details of the escapes she facilitates simply don’t match up…

With a compelling plot and characters, Vileness made a very strong start to the Samantha Brooks Thriller series. Personally, I would have chopped the opening chapter, where the past of a journalist you barely hear of again in the rest of the book is covered, but the main story more than compensated. Sam is a particularly refreshing heroine to read about: she doesn’t expect a knight on a white horse to ride to her rescue, and she’s not afraid to chase down unpleasant facts. The romance is a pleasant side-line to the main plot, without any attempted take-over of the storyline, and the action is reasonably plausible and well-paced. I also found that the writing was, with a few exceptions, well-edited, which allowed me to focus on the story rather than wrestling down my inner editor. I’ll definitely be watching for more releases from this author – this was a really enjoyable crime / thriller read.

Beacon Hill, Colin Campbell

Beacon Hill, Colin Campbell

Beacon Hill: A Resurrection Man thriller

If someone were to refuse to file charges for six bullet holes in their house in Yorkshire, people would start asking questions. When the same thing happens in Boston, Jim Grant, the ‘Resurrection Man’, is the only one willing to buck the system and keep digging, especially given the non-complainant’s ties with the Boston police force. What Grant uncovers is a tangled mess that looks fair to drag him into his own past – and may add another colourful layer to his story.

Beacon Hill is a detective thriller, featuring a Yorkshire cop transplanted to the gun-toting New World. Jim Grant is an interesting character who portrays himself as far more stupid than he actually is, with a past that’s hinted at but about which not a lot is revealed. While this book is clearly a sequel, the story stands strongly alone, even if some of the references might be clearer with knowledge of previous book or books. The action is well-written and relatively plausible, and the plot benefited from detailed development. I found that in places the minutiae of the Boston locations didn’t really add to the storyline, but the author restrained it from getting to any level that would impact the pacing. Certainly something for fans of the genre.

Watching You, J A Schneider

Watching You, J A Schneider

Watching You, J. A. Schneider

A dead girl from a rich family, a menacing text message, and a taunt tacked to the still-warm corpse with a hatpin. With an ever-expanding list of suspects and very little hard evidence, Detective Kerri Blasco and her partner are front and centre in the hunt for a killer, under the unforgiving glare of both a media spotlight and their superiors. With the case rousing spectres from Kerri’s past, the stress is beginning to tell, and it’s open to debate if the case will crack first – or if Kerri will.

Watching You is a gritty, fast-paced sequel in the Kerri Blasco detective series, for the first time with a plot focussing on Detective Blasco herself. J. A. Schneider’s outstanding characters and trademark twisty plotting are a combination guaranteed to pull you into the story from the first page; trying to figure out whodunnit will keep you there. This series offers an outstanding combination of mystery, psychology, and realism, and the third in the series is no exception. The desperation of the case permeates the writing, dragging you into the characters’ desperate race against time to find and stop a killer, and the character development is stellar from the protagonists right through to the smallest roles. This is a book that any readers of crime mysteries are guaranteed to fall in love with.

Becoming the Wolf, R H Neil

Becoming the Wolf, R H Neil

Becoming the Wolf: A White Wolf Justice Thriller

JD Ward is ex-military, currently working as a police officer in the outskirts of Cincinnati. With a chief who respects him enough to assign him the nasty cases, a partner who gives him hell on a regular basis, and a young family, JD’s time is pretty much fully spoken for, and that’s before the local motorcycle gang starts gunning for him. After that, it’s going to take all the tricks JD knows to keep himself alive and his family safe…especially with the military reaching out to reclaim their own.

Becoming the Wolf is an interesting take on the crime thriller genre, where the lines between upholding the law and applying military training and tactics to dispense summary justice on the streets become increasingly blurred. JD starts out as a clean-cut young officer trying to make something of his career in a small-town department, but he quickly escalates to sawn-off shotguns and execution killings in the sewers and schools of his town. The argument for whether upholding the letter of the law, or enforcing what an individual perceives as its intent with force, is one of the primary threads of this novel.

Unfortunately, while the ethical points being raised are well worth the read, the writing style of the book as a whole didn’t draw me in. There’s definitely a strong argument for dialect in dialogue, but the incidence of American slang usage in the narrative kept pulling my attention off the storyline, and a certain tendency to tell rather than show in some areas didn’t really help. However, the dialogue often came to the rescue, well-written and frequently entertaining.

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Serenity, Craig A Hart

Serenity, Craig A Hart

Serenity: A Shelby Alexander thriller

It’s been a long time since Shelby Alexander was a prize fighter. In the years since, he’s drifted back to small-town America: the small town of Serenity, to be exact. Divorced from his wife, he enjoys the local pub, the fishing, and the peace of the woods—not to mention the occasional shootouts with the local drug dealers. The Ellis family has been the lynch-pin for trouble in the area since the trouble was running alcohol around the Prohibition, and now they’re facing competition, and they’re desperate. It’s not a good combination, any way you look at it.

Craig A. Hart’s Serenity is a solid action thriller, set in backwoods Michigan where the brutality spatters across pristine wilderness. Shelby makes a credible, relatable anti-hero; aging and trying to ignore it, with trouble with the law in his past and a drinking problem in the present that he doesn’t try very hard to hide. Shelby isn’t the only character worth talking about—the secondary characters are convincing, fun, and detailed. The action is largely credible, and the plot is well-paced, with the insertion of a classic twist to clinch the storyline. The writing was also refreshingly well-edited, making the book a pleasure to read. This story will definitely make fans of classic action very happy—I recommend it.