Monday, 4 December 2017

Three Weeks Dead: A DC Sally Poynter Novella (DI Hannah Robbins Prequel Novella) by Rebecca Bradley


How far would you go if someone took your wife? Especially, if you buried her a week ago. When Jason Wells is faced with this scenario, he is confronted with the prospect of committing a crime that will have far-reaching consequences. Can young get through to him before he crosses that line, or does a desperate husband prove to be the case she won’t ever forget? A prequel novella, set before Shallow Waters, the first in the DI Hannah Robbins series.

My review

I am always looking for a good detective story or, better still, a good series. I chose this novella as an introduction to DI Hannah Robbins who features in the Detective Hannah Robbins Crime Series. (Shallow Waters and Made to be Broken)

I don’t read other reviews (except for scanning the ratings) before selecting/agreeing to a book for review. I did not realise that this story, although a prequel to the series, is about DC Sally Poynter not DI Hannah Robbins. Initially, this was a disappointment to me. After drafting up my review then reading other reviews, I realised that Sally Poynter, as a member of Robbins team, is a character in the two books of the series. Yes, I need to pay more attention in the future.

Having said that, while I didn’t get a strong impression of the main character of the series, I did get an insight into the quality of Ms Bradley’s writing and very much liked what I read. She certainly has imagination and her experience as a police officer brings reality to her story.

The story starts immediately with an unusual crime and moves smoothly and consistently; essential for a novella. It is an absorbing and interesting story line, well-paced, with short chapters and building tension at the end.

The characters are well developed and demonstrate not only good detecting skills but very much life as a police officer.

DC Sally Poynter is the newest team member and wants to show she can do a good job. She has the support of her boss and the other team members with one exception who is a misogynistic bully. She is capable but insecure with a willingness to try hard and learn while trying to balance her marriage.

I felt for Jason Wells, the young man who has recently lost his wife and now finds her body has been stolen. To get her back he has to commit a crime.

My heart went out to Lewis, who was Jason’s wife devoted dog. He is a totally loveable, if four-legged, character in the story. I kept hoping nothing would happen to him. One point that amused me was when Jason explained to Sally why he was named Lewis. He was named after the offsider of Morse from the television series. Sally explains that she doesn’t watch police crime shows because they are not realistic “they never do any paperwork.” It made me smile and wonder if this was a personal view of Ms Bradley’s.

My rating 3*. I will certainly be getting copies of the other two book in the series.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Nefarious (The Blackwell Files #1) by Steven F. Freeman

Steven F. Freeman has written nine books in The Blackwell Files series. I had already read Tears of God and The Dig (books 7 and 9) and enjoyed them so much I wanted to start at the beginning. That brought me to Nefarious. (The precis is below this review)

I am not usually a reader of war stories and although Nefarious begins during the war in Afghanistan I would not class it as a war story. I think it would be described better as action, mystery, thriller and intrigue, sweetened with just a touch of romance. 

The story starts in Afghanistan then switches to what appears to be an unrelated story back in the USA. Having read two of Mr Freeman’s other Blackwell Files stories I trusted he would bring these together. He did and he did it skilfully.

The combination of alternating locations and stories with short chapters has the reader turning the pages to read “just one more chapter”. 

There is never a dull moment. Mr Freeman is a skilled writer able to combine effective descriptive passages with conciseness.

The greatest appreciation I had of Mr Freeman’s writing was when it came to military terminology and jargon. Being totally ignorant in this field I did not struggle with the war zone or military descriptors.  Any acronyms used are explained and don’t have the reader running to Google to find out what it is about.

Although the first of a series, like Mr Freeman’s other Blackwell Files, it can be read as a stand-alone. You won’t want to stop at one though; his stories and characters are addictive and will have you coming back for more.

The characters are strong and very likeable (well, the goodies are anyway).

Having read later books in the series, I was familiar with the main characters and already liked their personalities, intelligence and compassion. I was particularly interested in how the relationship came about between Alton and Mallory and also how they met Mastana. I wasn’t disappointed and look forward to their personalities and relationships developing as I read the other stories. The other characters are also well developed and easy to like or dislike according to their actions and beliefs in the story.

My rating 4*


When Army Communications Captain Alton Blackwell takes a hit to the leg while on active duty in Afghanistan, his self-confidence and leg are equally shattered in the explosion. Assigned to a desk job while recovering, Blackwell nonetheless manages to prove his resourcefulness as he matches wits with Al-Qaeda operatives in the dangerous regions of Kabul. Unable to fully heal, he resigns himself to the abrupt end of his military career as well as any hope to win the affections of the beautiful and intelligent Lieutenant Mallory Wilson.

Upon returning state-side, the quiet civilian life is quickly left far behind when Blackwell’s colleague Zach Lambert calls him from a weekend camping trip in the throes of a devastating illness with forbidding implications.

In a story out of today’s headlines, Blackwell and now-FBI Agent Wilson explore the possible diversion of a biotech’s project to develop an improved vaccine, scouring leads at the CDC and biotec company, putting their Army and professional skills to the test, and narrowly escaping agents with a murderous agenda at every turn. The closer they come to the truth, the quicker the bodies pile up, along with the suspects. To get to the bottom of the sinister scheme, can Blackwell still use wits when his body has failed him? And will he survive long enough to tell his colleague of the feelings for her he has long kept secret?