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In February 2013, journalist Del Quentin Wilbur spent a month with the Homicide Squad in Prince George’s County, which borders Washington DC. PG County (as it is referred to in the book) is in a fairly deprived area with a high crime rate, especially gun crime.

Wilbur gives details of the cases that the detectives investigate during the month of February, with maybe extra focus on the particularly heinous and apparently unmotivated murder of a young female in her own home.

I loved this book. The descriptions of the crime scenes, and how they affected the detectives was so well described, and more than just giving details of the work that these incredible people do, it also demonstrated how it affected them personally. I did feel that it must have clearly been influenced by David Simon’s ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ (which for my money is one of the best non-fiction books ever written), and indeed, Wilbur does reference this book and explains that he wanted to see how the job of homicide detective had changed since Homicide was written in the late 80s.

This book made me thankful that I live in a country where gun crime is not prevalent – in PG County it’s basically part of life, and many innocent people get caught up in it – and made me wonder what it must be like to live your life constantly in fear.

Anyway, my review cannot do this book justice, but I do highly recommend it, especially for fans of true crime. There is no sensationalism here, just an interesting narrative of the facts, showing how the detectives go about their jobs, while trying to keep their own lives and minds intact.

Audiobook narrated by Megan Hilty.

Dannie Kohan lives her life according to rules and numbers. She has a five year plan, which is all coming together nicely when her boyfriend David proposes right on schedule, and on the same day that she lands her dream job at a top lawyers firm. However, that evening she falls asleep and when she wakes up, she is five years in the future, living at an apartment in a completely different part of town – and apparently with a gorgeous boyfriend named Aaron.

Dannie again falls asleep and wakes up back in her real world with David, and dismisses her experience as a vivid dream,. But she can’t forget about Aaron, the mysterious man from the future, and when she meets him in very unexpected circumstances, things start to get complicated.

I am in two minds about this book. I really enjoyed the first part of the book, and although I am not generally into fantasy or storylines which are entirely implausible, the dream/premonition part of the story was well done and did not bother me. I loved Dannie’s relationship with her impulsive and beautiful best friend Bella, and I also really liked her fiance David. Given that the book is narrated by Dannie, she is the character who we get to know best, and at times she irritated me, as she had such a controlling nature, but overall she was a good hearted and kind person.

The story does take a tragic turn which I won’t reveal here, and although it was very sad, it was well written. Everything that happened – apart from the dream at the beginning of course – seemed believable and I did get drawn into the lives of these fictional characters and was eager to know how the beginning of the story would tie into the end. And that was the problem for me. I liked most of the ending, but I did not like how those two particular parts of the story came together and it did spoil it somewhat for me.

There’s no doubt though that Rebecca Searle can write and can draw the reader/listener in, so although the ending left me with mixed feelings, I would try another book by her and would cautiously recommend this one.

A young boy is violated and murdered in the most horrific manner, and all the DNA, eyewitness and fingerprint evidence points to the culprit being much loved sports coach Terry Maitland. But Terry has a rock solid alibi. Detective Ralph Anderson is tasked with finding out the truth behind the matter, but one huge question confounds him at every turn – how can one man be in two places at exactly the same time?

As always with Stephen King (especially his more recent books), this novel is compulsively readable and hard to put down. The first part reads more like a straightforward murder mystery, but things take an even darker turn in the second half when evil forces outside of our realm come into play.

King has a knack for making his stories flow, and also for creating a ripple effect – the horrendous crime committed in the book is shown to affect those not in it’s direct trajectory, and has a knock-on effect upon the people living in the town, who are shocked that such a despicable person could live in their midst.

This does feature characters from the Mr Mercedes trilogy, which I have not read, but you certainly don’t need to have read those to enjoy this. The socially awkward investigator Holly is one of my favourite characters from this story, as well as police officer Yune Sablo, but all of the characters are distinctive and well drawn.

This novel has very much got Stephen King’s stamp on it, so if you like previous books of his, I would certainly recommend this one too.

I listened to this in audiobook format, and it was narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis.

Four years after the death of her husband Joel and her subsequent breakdown, Darcy Hilton is finally beginning to look to the future and plan a life with her two sons, Harrison and Kane.

When Kane suffers from an accident during a day out in the park, he is helped by a handsome doctor named George, who quickly becomes Darcy’s friend, and before long, coffee and a cake has turned to dating, and then into a full blown relationship. Joel’s family are not happy as they feel that Darcy is moving too fast with George, and they worry about losing their closeness with Harrison and Kane. But it seems that someone else is trying to cause trouble. A number of sinister incidents cause Darcy to wonder who has it in for them – is it someone from her own past, or maybe the obsessed ex-girlfriend of George? And why is George’s housekeeper Maria so cold towards Darcy?

As the truth is revealed, Darcy starts to worry that she and her boys are heading towards danger.

I don’t like leaving negative reviews, but unfortunately this book did not really work for me on any level. The first problem is that the book is full of stupid women, making stupid decisions, and doing stupid things. Some of the things that happened to Darcy might as well have had flashing red lights spelling DANGER above them, but she still managed to convince herself that all was fine. And the ending was ludicrous and in no way believable – almost comically so. The writing was clunky in places with certain significant points being made, and then apparently forgotten about.

K L Slater certainly has many fans, judging by other reviews I have read of her books, so don’t let my review put you off if this book appeals to you. However, having read two of her books and reached the same conclusion with both, I am sorry to say that I don’t think she is an author I can enjoy.

This book is one of the Hogarth Shakespeare series – a set of modern retellings of some of Shakespeare’s plays, by various acclaimed authors. Hag-Seed is a modern re-telling of The Tempest, and in the capable hands of Margaret Atwood, it is a triumph.

Felix Phillips is artistic director at the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, but is usurped by his traitorous assistant Tony, just as Felix is planning a staging of The Tempest. After hiding away and licking his wounds, Felix takes up a job teaching Shakespeare in a prison, and staging plays with the prisoners as the cast, but all the time he is plotting his revenge upon Tony and others who treated him unfairly.

It’s not necessary to know The Tempest to enjoy this book – you can definitely read it as a novel in its own right – but it is interesting to see how the two stories run parallel to each other. I actually think that if you were studying The Tempest, this book might help you understand it (because The Tempest is one of the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult to understand of Shakespeare’s plays in my very humble opinion).

As always with Atwood, the writing flows beautifully and there is dark humour sprinkled throughout. I loved reading about the prisoners and who taking part in the play came to mean so much to them. It’s a quick and fairly undemanding read, and I throughout enjoyed it.

This is an audiobook narrated by Karen Cass, and is actually a collection of four books gathered into one.

The story starts with best friends Cat Garcia and Sadie Smart moving into their new business premises, Smart Cookies, in Castle Court, Chester. Castle Court is a three storey food court, where frankly I would be all the time if it were real and I lived nearby!

Sadie is recovering from a messy marriage break up and is moving on with her life, with daughter Lisa in tow. Cat meanwhile, was a top chef in a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris, but for personal reasons has moved back to England to start Smart Cookies with Sadie.

They soon become part of the community at Castle Court, making friends – and a few enemies – amongst the other business owners, and maybe a hint of romance too. As you would expect. they have ups and downs, sometimes man related, other times not, but through it all their friendship remains solid as they navigate some choppy waters.

As far as chick-lit goes, this is an enjoyable book, although it definitely left me craving a plate of biscuits every time I listened to it, as there is quite a lot about the cookie making. I do sometimes find it annoying that smart, intelligent and independent women still have to have lives revolving around men, and that sometimes these women do stupid things which are clearly written in to move the plot forward. (No, chick-lit is not my favourite genre, but it’s easy listening while I’m out running, which is why I will choose it sometimes.)

Having said that, it’s got some lovely characters, and Castle Court itself sounds like a dream. Some parts were predictable – like who would end up with who for example, which was clear from the first few pages – but it was nicely written and one of the few books to feature a small child who was actually very lovable and not irritating.

Excellent narration by Karen Cass too.

The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have been living among humans since the beginning of time, and they quite like it. And despite being theoretical enemies, they quite like each other too. So neither of them really wants the world to end, but yet it must – next Saturday in fact, starting in a little village named Tadfield. Aziraphale and Crowley need to try and stop it, and fast! All this was predicted centuries earlier by Agnes Nutter, a witch who wrote a book of her predictions, and which one of her many descendants lives her life by. That descendant, Anathema Device, decides that she needs to try and stop the oncoming apocalypse.

Meanwhile, due to a clerical mixup, the young anti-Christ has gone missing, which only makes stopping the apocalypse more difficult. Chuck in a Witchfinder General and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse – now riding motorcycles, and with Pollution replacing Pestilence who has becoming large obsolete, and the stage is set for a huge showdown.

Unfortunately this book was a big disappointment to me. Let me say that I am probably not the target audience – I don’t generally like fantasy novels, apart from Stephen King, who is a very different type of writer to either Gaiman or Pratchett. I’ve never ready anything else by either of these two authors, and was largely tempted to buy this book due to the TV adaptation starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen (which I haven’t watched, but was intending to). But I still had high hopes, due to the amount of love for this book, online and offline. Even the man who served me when I bought the book, told me it was his favourite book of all time.

It started off quite well, and there is no doubt that one or both of these authors has a great sense of comedy – I laughed out loud a few times near the beginning and everything seemed to bode well. However, I think it got a bit too convoluted with too many characters, and too much going on, plus it kept jumping around a lot. This is also not the kind of comedy I enjoy – it’s like Monty Python on paper (even Monty Python’s The Life of Brian left me cold), and largely just daft.

So overall, definitely not for me. But if you are thinking of reading it, don’t be put off. This is a widely loved book by two very acclaimed authors, so you might absolutely love it.

This was an audiobook narrated by Lisa Coleman, and is the seventh book in the DCI Tom Douglas series. I have previously listened to another book which is later in the series than this one, and while there are personal aspects of Tom’s life included in the storyline, it is easy enough to follow as a standalone novel, or if you do the same as me and read/listen out of order.

Tom and his team are called in to investigate when a young woman is found dead at a frozen lonely scene. Who is she, and how did she get there? Did she commit suicide or was she murdered? None of these questions are easily answerable.

Meanwhile, a young woman named Callie is trapped in a miserable relationship with an abusive and parasitic boyfriend. When she decides to travel to Myanmar to honour a promise to her grandfather, she befriends an older couple who take her under her wing, and help her realise that she needs to end things with Ian. But when she tries to do so, things take a sinister turn.

And in a lonely kitchen, two women sit and eat their meals in almost complete silence, trapped as they are in a prison of their own making. What are their stories and how did they arrive at this low point?

Slowly all the threads of the stories come together…

I’ll start with the good parts of this audiobook, including the narration. Lisa Coleman did an excellent job, and managed to distinctly voice all of the characters.

I also really like the character of Tom and all of his colleagues. They are believable and likeable – and deserve a better storyline than the one they had here.

Unfortunately the twists and turns in this book were so well signposted that the characters – Callie mainly as large parts of the book are told from her point of view – just end up coming across as unutterably stupid and naive. Without giving anything away, I wanted to shake her for putting up with her awful boyfriend, and then for her subsequent actions, which I won’t reveal here. Many of the characters apart from the officers – and maybe this is because the police characters have had several books through which to develop their characters – were like cardboard cut outs, and never easy to invest in. And there was a huge dollop of coincidence, which never rang true. I did listen to the end, but found myself underwhelmed by the conclusion, which left some strands of storyline hanging.

Despite all of the above, I would consider listening to more in the series, because the investigators were great, and according to other reviewers who have read the whole series, this is a particularly weak book compared to others. So maybe at some point I will pay another visit to Tom Douglas and co.

I read this play in one sitting, which is not a difficult task, as it isn’t a long book. There are just four characters, and it takes place in real time – both of these points appealed to me.

George and Martha are a middle aged couple who live on a New England university campus. George is a history lecturer and Martha is the Dean’s daughter. Although they have been married for years, and seem like they would be lost without each other, they also despise each other and both take pleasure in taunting the other.

Things take a sinister turn – although you suspect not for the first time – when a young Biology lecturer named Nick, who is new to the university visits them after a party one night, bringing his naive wife Honey with him. Nick and Honey become drawn into the older couple’s private war, and become pawns in their game.

In the third act, a secret is revealed about George and Martha which goes some way towards explaining their antagonism towards each other (no spoilers here).

It’s a bleak read, and somewhat dated now. Still, I am glad I read it, and would recommend it, but I actually prefer the film version with excellent performances from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Brian Bilston has been hailed the poet laureate of Twitter – a 21st century title if ever there was one! – and while I generally struggle with poetry, I have found his poems delightful, amusing, and utterly relatable. Here, he writes as a fictional version of himself, having decided that he is going to write a poem every day of the year, while also keeping a diary of his year. (The poems are all included in his diary, and while there are a minority of days when he doesn’t write one, he more or less keeps his resolution.)

The Brian Bilston of this story is a likeable character, with a sharp eye for life’s minutiae, and while he often writes about the mundanity of life, he always makes it highly enjoyable. He is also a genius at wordplay!

Brian and his wife Sophie have broken up and she has fallen for a new, indefatigably enthusiastic man; his relationship with his teenage son is strained; work is boring to Brian and he has no interest in it; the insufferable fellow poet Toby Salt is finding fame and fortune, much to Brian’s disgust – in fact the only bright spots in his life are his cat and Liz, the new lady at his poetry club, but he can’t seem to get things going with her.

As we follow Brian through his calamitous existence, there is a smile or laugh to be had on every page, even though much of the story is actually quite poignant, and there is a mystery element thrown in which was enjoyable, although probably not necessary. I found myself rooting for Brian throughout, although I sometimes wanted to give him a good shake as well.

Overall I would certainly recommend this book and I do hope that Mr Bilston releases another novel before too long.