Category Archives: Thriller

Review of BERLIN: Caught in the Mousetrap (The Schultz family story Book 1) by Paul Grant

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An amazing debut

Paul Grant’s debut book is set in Berlin just as the wall is built in 1961 and realistically captures the febrile atmosphere within the city as the political tensions ramp up in both halves of the city.

We’re quickly introduced to a variety of characters including American reporter Jack, his girlfriend Eva who resides in East Berlin, as well as Colonel Hans Erdmann of the People’s Army and KGB spymasters, Burzin and Dobrovsky.

Grant has clearly done his research and fleshes out details of the city and his characters with easy to read, but punchy prose. He doesn’t put a foot wrong with his knowledge of the history and his eye for descriptive detail.

I’m sometimes wary of self-published work, but this is real quality with characters you care about and a pacey plot that keep you turning the pages. This is a well crafted thriller that delivers great insight into the creation of the Berlin Wall alongside a compelling story.

I’m looking forward to reading the prequel “reaping the Whirlwind”

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Review of A Divided Spy (Thomas Kell #3) by Charles Cumming

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Intelligent and well paced thriller

Kell is a former MI6 officer retired from the service and damaged by personal tragedy. In this book he’s tracking down a Russian agent he believes to be behind the murder of his girlfriend.

Now this might sound like the start of whizz bang all action thriller, but Charles Cumming’s style is much more thoughtful with rich depth to his characters and a slow burn. The story has loads of tradecraft detail for the espionage fan and Kell is a likeable and believable character.

I won’t giveaway the plot, but suffice to say there’s some twists and turns that keep your interest just when you think you ‘ve got the plotline sussed.

All in all an entertaining read that makes you want to read more of the Cummings canon.

I was given a copy of this book to review by the publisher, but wasn’t obliged to provide a positive review.

Review of A Darker State (Karin Müller #3) by David Young

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Excellent and compelling crime novel with the added bonus of being set in the former East Germany.

This is episode 3 of this fascinating police procedural, however each book works as a standalone.

What sets it apart from others is the unusual location, combined with the ideology, bureaucracy and secrecy that Oberleutnant Karin Müller and her team have to deal with

In this story Müller has been promoted to run a serious crimes unit and quickly has a difficult case on the border with Poland.

This story lives up to its title, showing a darker side of the GDR that challenges Karin’s belief in the GDR and her personal loyalties as well as the looming influence of the Stasi blocking enquiries and influencing the investigation. There’s various different timelines at play here, so you need to keep your wits about you, but I found this a real page turner.

David Young knows East Germany well. There’s some great details that would appear insignificant to many not familiar with the period or the politics. As a result the book portrays a fascinating landscape where David Young’s research captures well the feel (and the smell!) of 1970’s East Germany. It’s well worth reading his notes at the end about how the book developed and his research.

However, it’s worth not losing sight that it’s also a great crime novel with a richly detailed and complex female lead. According to David he’s contracted for another two books and I’m very much looking forward to the further adventures of Karin Müller.

If you like police procedurals, strong female characters, along with an Orwellian landscape then I recommend this.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.

Review of The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #3) by Elly Griffiths

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Another solid very readable atmospheric crime thriller from Elly Griffiths

This is the third outing of the “Magic Men” and I’m really enjoying the characters.

It is May 1953 and England is on the cusp of crowning a new Queen. The murder of a gypsy fortune and the stabbing of their old boss from the Magic Men days are linked as DI Edgar Stephens investigates.

Loads of strong characters here and excellent period details that provide and enjoyable and compelling British whodunit.

Elly Griffiths continues to capture the seedy, down at heel feel of the English South Coast expertly creating another highly readable atmospheric crime thriller, with a great sense of time and place. I can’t wait for the fourth instalment of the “Magic Men”.

My thanks go to NetGalley and the Publisher for the chance to read an advance copy of this book.

Review of The Wall Between by Jesper Bugge Kold

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A gripping and moving story of the former East Germany.

Andreas lives in Copenhagen and receives a letter informing him that his father who he has never met has been stabbed to death in Berlin, and that he has inherited his flat. Keen to understand more about the father that his mother wouldn’t speak of he travels to Berlin to discover more.

Jesper Bugge Kold combines multiple timelines and characters to produce a brilliant story of the GDR, the Stasi and relationships. This book reminded somewhat of the film “Life of Others” and anyone who liked the film or is interested to the former East Germany should read this.

It’s tautly written but with some almost cinematic descriptions of Berlin. I found it an absolute page turner and read it within a day which is unusual for me.

Highly recommended.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.

Review of ” The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway, #8)” by Elly Griffiths

Another great labyrinthine Norfolk murder mystery.

Book 8 in the Ruth Galloway series and this centres around Walsingham, site of a popular religious pilgrimage & shrine. A young woman is found dead in a ditch and as always archaeology and history play a significant part in the story.

Having read previous books in the series this is like a comfortable pair of shoes as I’m already familiar with the great cast of characters and their complicated personal lives. New readers will find it easy to pick up, but best to start from the 1st book in the series.

The character of Ruth works really well. She’s strong, but with the human frailties we all have and prefer to keep hidden and the book captures the beautiful Norfolk coast well with a blend of fictional and real locations sprinkled through the story.

There are plenty of twists to keep you guessing and I for one didn’t guess the culprit at all!

I’d recommend the whole series for fans of Midsomer Murders, Morse, Endeavour, etc.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of ” Stasi Child (Karin Müller #1)” by David Young

Excellent and unusually located police procedural set in the former East Germany.

I can’t think of many English language detective novels set in the former East Germany and David Young has created a fascinating character in the damaged but tenacious Oberleutnant Karin Müller.

In most countries she’d be just a regular cop in charge of the murder team, however this is communist ruled East Germany and she’s a card carrying party member believing in “real and existing socialism”.

Investigating a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the Berlin wall Karin has to walk a political tightrope that adds an extra frisson to the story as she deals with her superiors and the Stasi, the East German secret police.

Whilst many police procedurals have conflict with superiors in East Germany conflict with superiors can mean at best dismissal then demotion to a menial job or at worst death.

David Young’s research is impeccable with fantastic attention to detail from the procedures in the Stasi remand prisons to the uniqueness of Volvo tyre tracks as well as capturing well the feel of 1970’s East Germany.

If you like police procedurals, strong female characters, along with an Orwellian landscape then read “Stasi Child”.