In Bitter Chill



In Bitter Chill

by Sarah Ward


Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.

Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.


When Yvonne Jenkins commits suicide, rachel Jones is tossed back to her childhood when herself and her friend were kidnapped. Rachel made it back while Sophie was never seen again. The case is re-opened and D.I. Francis Sadler and his colleagues D. S. Damian Palmer and D.C. Connie Childs are charged with finding the answers.

Although the book is part police procedural, it is mainly Rachel’s story and it is such an interesting and complex story. As a character she is beautifully drawn. She is a genealogist and her past melds with her present turning her life upside down. Rachel needs to know what happened back in 1978.

Rural Derbyshire is a character in itself; the wild bleakness combined with the bitter chill of Winter really brings the setting to life.

I found this a really assured debut novel. I enjoyed the characters who were all fully-rounded and felt real. The detectives had enough of a personal life to bring them to life but not too much that it was a distraction from the main story. D.C. Sadler and D.C. Childs complimented each other well, their different personalities suiting each other.

The story was well-paced with plenty of twists and turns along the way and a complexity that made you think.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to A Deadly Thaw, the second novel to feature Francis Sadler and Connie Childs, which is out in paperback on 2nd Feb 2017


Sarah Ward will be appearing at Urmston Bookshop on 2nd Feb2017. To buy tickets tel:0161 747 7442 or email:




The Girl In The Ice

the girl in the ice


The Girl In The Ice

by Robert Bryndza


Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?


A wealthy socialite is found dead under the ice in the depths of winter. When DCI Erika Foster is called in to investigate, she discovers a seedy side to Andrea Douglas-Brown’s life. Erika’s investigation is somewhat hampered by Andrea’s powerful family who seem to have the police in their back pockets. Nor is she helped by the obnoxious DCI Sparks who feels he should be heading the investigation.

After a series of events, Sparks gets his way and Erika is kicked off the investigation but she won’t lie down. Digging deeper she finds connections with three dead prostitutes and she soon finds herself hurtling towards more danger than she ever thought possible.

This book is the most enjoyable police procedural that I have read in a while. the author keeps the pace of the story going throughout the book. The tension that builds is almost palpable as we race towards a denouement that is perfectly weighted.

I loved the character of Erika Foster, a Slovakian, who has been in England since she was 18 yrs old. She is riddled with guilt and grief; on her last case five people were killed including her beloved husband, Mark. Despite this she has got back on her feet and is determined to find the killer before he strikes again. Erika is a strong, intelligent, forceful,determined lady and I look forward to meeting her again.

I enjoyed the other characters in the book as well. Whether they are awful or eccentric they are all well written and believable.

I think the author, who is better known as a writer of romantic comedies, has turned his hand to crime writing with aplomb and I am very much looking  forward to his next crime novel and meeting Erika and her colleagues again.

Many thanks to publishers Bookouture for sending me a copy via Netgalley



The Corpse Role

the corpse role

The Corpse Role
by Keith Nixon

Not everything that gets buried stays buried… sometimes things have a nasty habit of resurfacing…

When the body of a security van driver implicated in an unsolved £1.2 million heist turns up in a shallow grave two years later it’s just the beginning for Detective Inspector Charlotte Granger.

She embarks on an investigation that takes her into dangerous territory – a world of dirty cops, dodgy private investigators, local villains and nosy journalists. Meanwhile events from Granger’s own past are threatening to come back and haunt her…

As people are killed to silence them and vital information vanishes from files, can DI Granger get to the truth? And if she does, what will that truth reveal?

Paul Wheeler, a man implicated in a robbery two years earlier, is found murdered. A business card belonging to Chris White, an ex-policeman now a private detective, is found on his corpse.
D.I. Granger is in charge of the investigation, but before she gets very far Chris White is also murdered when it becomes apparent that he knows who was behind the unsolved robbery.

This is Keith Nixon’s first foray into the police procedural genre; his previous books being historical fiction, humour and crime. This is also my first fix of Keith Nixon and to say I was pleased is an understatement.

The story very cleverly jumps back and forth between the time of the heist and the present day murder investigation. There is much going on between the two timescales and it is enthralling but somehow never confusing: the sign of a master at work.

This is a wonderful book peopled with fabulous characters, many of them on the wrong side of the law, whether that be gangsters from the underworld or ex and serving police officers.

The twist at the end is one of the most jaw-dropping moments I have had reading crime thrillers. For hours afterwards I was going back over everything in the book and the clues are all there, but I did not see it coming at all. Love that!

Credit should also go to Jim Divine, who designed the cover. It is fabulous and goes perfectly with this book. I shall be purchasing a paperback copy just so I can have that cover on my shelf.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Angels Bleed

angels bleed

Angels Bleed
by Max Hardy

24 Hours

A remote country house.
A dead body in a blood spattered drawing room.
A 6ft square container next to the body.

24 hours

A padded cell.
A single chair bolted to the floor.
A woman bound hand and foot to the chair.

DI Saul has just 24 hours to find out who the killer of the dead body is.
24 Hours to work out how the woman in the cell is linked with the murder.
24 hours in which at every turn, his own life seems to be inextricably linked with the events that unfold.
24 hours before the container in the room explodes….

Warning: Adult Content and Sexually Explicit Material.

D.I. Saul is sent to a murder scene that turns out to be a set-up. There is also a box containing a person unknown, which is wired and primed to explode in 24 hours if Saul cannot find the true murderer.

The characters are excellent, real characters with plenty of background who you instantly want to know more about, D.I. John Saul especially. His personal life is a mess and now he finds he has been chosen by the ‘unknown caller’ to find the murderer.

Rebecca is already serving time in a psychiatric unit for the murder, to which she freely confessed. Her story is appalling; a debauched tale of sexual voyeurism and sadomasochism. The ‘unknown caller’ insists she is innocent and wants the true murderer found.

Angels Bleed is a crime thriller but it is extremely dark and edgy. There are lots of twists and turns which keep you guessing. The ending was unexpected and may not be to everyone’s liking, but I enjoyed it and thought it was fitting. Some of the sex scenes, however, are stomach churning in their subject matter, but they are a necessary part of the story. If you can handle the dark and sordid telling of that part of human nature, this book is well worthwhile.

I have one quibble, and it is quite a big one, although it has nothing to do with the story or the writing style. This book desperately needs a proof-reader. The mistakes were never-ending and often quite basic, and, for me anyway, detracted from what is a fine book.