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A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole #18) @robertcrais @SimonSchusterUK @jessbarratt88 #ADangerousMan

Source: Review copy
Publication: 18 July 2019 from Simon & Schuster
PP: 352
ISBN-13: 978-1471157615

Joe Pike didn’t want to run into trouble that day – he was just going to the bank. But when Isabel, a young teller, is forced into a car by two men, he has no choice but to step in. After chasing them down, he retrieves the terrified woman and the men are arrested.

Not long after they are released on bail, the men are found dead, each with a single gunshot wound to the head, and Isabel is missing. After his handling of the men, Pike is a prime suspect, along with Izzy – was this an abduction gone wrong, or did it go exactly how she planned?

Pike, convinced that her life is in danger, involves Elvis Cole in a search for the truth, and for Izzy. But they’re not the only ones desperate to find her – and desperate men are dangerous.

Robert Crais never lets you down. His Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series is a masterclass in how to write fast paced and classy P.I. action fiction. With a luscious L.A./ SoCal backdrop, A Dangerous Man sizzles with life from the opening paragraph.

Joe Pike, with his muscular arms and red arrow tattoos marking him out as distinctive, is the object of some admiration when he makes a routine stop at his bank. Isabel Rowland, his teller, has thought Joe attractive since she first saw him at the bank. Joe, however, doesn’t like being the object of anyone’s attention, which is probably why he’s paying her slightly more attention than usual when she comes out the bank on a break.

He sees her being bundled into a car and sure that something is off, follows it, only to have to forcibly rescue her from her two abductors. The police arrest them, but they are later freed on bail. Isobel is frantic with worry and contacts Joe. Matters then proceed swiftly as Joe determines that Isobel is still a target and he calls in Elvis Cole to help him investigate why.

Isobel’s two abductors turn up dead, only complicating matters further. Someone wants Isobel, and they are prepared to go to any lengths to get her. When the US Marshall service turns up, deeply suspicious of Pike, he discovers that Isobel’s ‘Uncle’ Ted has been brutally murdered. Ted Kemps was a retired Marshall and the service is pulling out all the stops to hunt the killers of one of their own.

Soon Joe and Elvis are piecing together the clues and realise that Isobel may be connected to an old case, though she disclaims any knowledge of it.

Crais draws in the reader from the beginning and reels that hook in at a relentless pace, all the while deepening his characterisation as his plot develops.

Verdict: Beautifully written, action packed, compelling and propulsive, A Dangerous Man is a delightful must read addition to the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike canon.

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Robert Crais is the author of the bestselling Cole & Pike novels. A native of Louisiana, Crais moved to Hollywood in the late 70s where he began a successful career in television, writing scripts for such major series as Cagney & Lacey, Miami Vice and Hill Street Blues. In the mid 80s, following his success with the TV buddy genre, Crais created a series of crime novels based around the characters Cole & Pike. In addition, Crais has also written several bestselling standalone thrillers. Robert Crais lives in LA with his wife and family.

Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Reykjavík Noir #3) trs by Quentin Bates @Lilja Sigurðardóttir @orendabooks @graskeggur @annecater #Cage #blogtour

Source: Review copy
Publication: Out now in e-book: Paperback 17th October 2019 from Orenda Books
PP: 276
ISBN-13: 978-1912374496

Drugs, smuggling, big money and political intrigue in Iceland rally with love, passion, murder and betrayal until the winner takes all … in the masterful, explosive conclusion to the award-winning Reykjavík Noir trilogy…

The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.

As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.

Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.

At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.

I adored Snare and Trap  and could not wait to read the final book in this excellent trilogy about drug smuggling and financial crime.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir writes with forensic precision about these crimes which destroy lives without compunction. All of Sigurðardóttir’s characters are indeed caged in one way or another. Agla is in jail, finally serving her sentence for the role she played in Iceland’s financial crash. As a bankster, she is despised but this will not stop her from resuming her business even before she is released. White collar crime is just as evil as drugs, yet those in authority view it as fair game; ‘there but for the grace of God’ is the maxim.

Sonja, Agla’s former lover, is now a major player in Iceland’s drug smuggling business. Now living in the London apartment of Mr Jose, the man whose empire she took over, she lives a haunted life in which she can trust no-one. She is constantly close bodyguard protected and spends most of her time plotting routes to bring her son, Tomas to her from his boarding school where he lives so that he can be protected from Sonja’s enemies.

María, meanwhile has gone from a well-paid job with a good marriage to living from hand to mouth. Her marriage imploded; she lost her job at the Public Prosecutor’s office and is now eking out a meagre living running an online investigative journalism site. Based in the run-down offices of Radio Edda, a poisonous, racist talk radio station which spews vileness over the airwaves, Maria simply can’t afford to go anywhere else.

Sigurðardóttir adds in a new layer to her list of crimes, that of the impact on young minds of constant exposure to racist ideology. Ingimar, still plotting and deeply involved in dodgy dealings, has a son who is in love with Júlía, a classmate. Anton is determined to protect and defend Júlía, and his plans will have a devastating impact on some of the key characters in this book.

Agla and Maria join forces to find out how Inigmar is conducting his hugely rewarding fraud involving the storage of aluminium. They have very different motives, but for once it makes sense to them to be on the same side – at least for now.

Cage is primarily Agla and Maria’s story. After years of being unsure, ashamed and finally head over heels in love with Sonja, Agla has embraced her sexuality, just in time to be cruelly cast off by Sonja. An encounter with a young drug addict awakens Agla’s first stirrings in a long time, but what, if any, are her chances of happiness?

Sigurðardóttir weaves a terrific story in which all these women, faced with terrifying adversity, manage to hold their own in world’s traditionally dominated by men. In some instances that makes them better criminals, but even then we see the devastating impact on their lives though we should not forget the victims of these crimes, too.

These characters are all in cages, some gilded, others not so much, but cages just the same.

As ever, the translation from Quentin Bates is sure footed and never loses that sense of Iceland as a clear character in this fascinating drama.

Verdict: Sigurðardóttir cleverly brings together all the threads of her trilogy in a beautifully woven tapestry that is testament to her excellent characterisation and forensic plotting skills. Fast paced action and danger abound in a satisfying conclusion to this excellent trilogy.

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Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes
in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning
playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the
first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists
worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California.
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Bad Memory by Lisa Gray (Jessica Shaw #2) @lisagraywriter @amazonpub #BadMemory

Source: Review copy
Publication: 24 October 2019 from Thomas & Mercer
PP: 315
ISBN-13: 978-1542092326

Quiet towns keep big secrets.

Private investigator Jessica Shaw is leading a quiet life in a Californian desert community, where she spends her days working low-level cases. But when a former resident asks Jessica to help her sister, Rue Hunter—a convicted murderer whose execution is days away—Jessica can’t resist the offer.

Rue doesn’t remember what happened the night two high school students were killed thirty years ago, but everybody in town is certain she’s guilty. As Jessica looks for answers, she finds that local rumors point one way and evidence points another. And nobody wants to face the truth. Meanwhile, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking her—now more than ever, she knows she can’t trust anyone.

As Jessica digs deeper, she encounters local secrets in unlikely places—including the police department itself. But the clock is ticking, and Jessica must find the truth fast—or Rue’s bad memory may be the death of them both.

I was a big fan of Thin Air, the first Jessica Shaw book and so jumped at the chance to review the second in the series. Easily read as a stand-alone, I really loved the follow up, Bad Memory.

Jessica is drifting as she moves around California, stopping in the desert community of Hundred Acres to work for a while in a PI’s office in order to secure her California Investigator’s licence. She has hooked up with the local diner owner and son of the local Sheriff, Dylan, which at least ensures she isn’t overpaying for her burgers.

Most of her work is domestic, as befits a small town, but then one day she is hired by Rose, the sister of a woman who used to live in the town; a woman whose execution is scheduled in 10 days time. California has not executed a prisoner since 2006, and no woman has been executed since 1964, so Rue Hunter is making the news for all the wrong reasons.

Rue Hunter confessed to murdering her two best friends Megan and Lucas some 30 years ago at Devil’s Point, a local spot used by teens to make out. Rue and Lucas had been dating and the town is convinced that Rue killed the teens in a fit of jealousy. But Rue has never been able to remember what happened; she only knows that she was found covered in blood and clutching the murder weapon.

Now there is one last chance to find the truth and it’s up to Jessica to do the digging.

Told in two timelines and from different P.O.V.’s Bad Memory is a quick read as Gray’s short chapters and fast pace keep the rhythm going, switching between current events and flashbacks to 1987 with an easy flow.

There are two investigations here running in parallel. One is Jessica’s digging into the murders; the second is that of the murder of Det. Holten, former partner of her cop friend, Det. Pryce, also a cold case that has never been satisfactorily resolved.

The small town backdrop works well and the rumours and theories that abound are all grist to the mill that condemned Rue Hunter even before her trial. Rue and Rose had not come from the best of homes and everyone knew that Rue just had to take after her mother, about whom no-one has a good word to say.

As Jessica looks into the case, she begins to find disturbing things that should have come into light but never have. Has someone been suppressing evidence that doesn’t fit?

Gray creates a strong and convincing atmosphere and her protagonist Jessica shows yet again that she is no-one’s patsy and will get to the truth whatever the personal cost. The trail that the clues lead to do offer the reader a good chance of working out the solution, though the twisty narrative works hard to prevent that, and so this doesn’t detract from the pleasure of reading this highly entertaining work of detective fiction.

Verdict: Bad Memory is a fantastic and enjoyable read. Gray brings the intrigue and drama around a crime investigation alive. Her depiction of scandal and secrets in small-town community life adds to the thrilling action and suspense in this investigation. I like protagonist P.I. Jessica Shaw more with every book and am already looking forward to Book Three!

Hive Books                       Amazon                            Waterstones

Lisa Gray has been writing professionally for years, serving as the chief Scottish soccer writer at the Press Association and the books editor at the Daily Record Saturday Magazine. Lisa recently left her journalism job as a reporter for The Daily Record and Sunday Mail to concentrate on full time writing. Learn more at

Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham @AlisonBelsham @TrapezeBooks @alexxlayt #HerLastBreath

Source: Review copy
Publication: Available now in ebook and in paperback from Trapeze on 6th February 2020
PP: 416
ISBN-13:   978-1409182672

The body count is rising…and the clock is ticking.

When a young woman is attacked and left fighting to survive in hospital, the police are pulled into a race against time to save her life. But just 24 hours later, she dies and a deadly tattoo is discovered on her body.

And when another young woman disappears, Detective Francis Sullivan and his team fear a serial killer walks the streets of Brighton.

His team identify a suspect, Alex Mullins, son of Francis’s lover, Marni. Can Francis forget their shared past and save the next victim before it is too late?

Her Last Breath is the Brighton set sequel to The Tattoo Thief featuring D.I. Francis Sullivan and tattoo artist Marni Mullins. Though it’s not completely necessary to read The Tattoo Thief first, I’d recommend doing so as the reader will get more from the book as a result.

I left The Tattoo Thief thinking that Francis and Marni made something of an odd couple and so it wasn’t entirely surprising when I discovered that as Her Last Breath begins, the two are not together. That’s one of the things I like about Alison Belsham’s books; her characters are not predictable or cliched.

Marni has gone back to her ex, Thierry, and is preparing to give evidence at the trial of the nasty perpetrator of the Tattoo Thief killings; not something she is looking forward to. Then Tash Bradley, the girlfriend of Marni’s son, Alex is found murdered – and Alex is squarely in the frame. When the police discover that tattoos have a role to play in this and then in subsequent murders, things do not look good for Marni or her family.

Francis, meanwhile, is dealing with family issues, or rather failing to deal with them. His work ethic is enabling him to keep an emotional distance from everyone he cares about, including his sister and yet he is still finding himself at odds with his boss and one or two of his colleagues.

Francis is unconvinced that Alex is the serial killer the police are seeking; lack of evidence has something to do with that, but his boss is concerned that they make a fast arrest and Francis is out on a limb as he refuses to arrest Alex without corroborating evidence. Additionally, he needs Marni to turn up for her court testimony and he’s pretty sure she’s not going to do that if he locks Alex up.

All of this is impacting negatively on Marni who has worries of her own. Not only is she concerned about Alex, but she suspects Thierry is cheating on her again and there’s another serious thorn in her flesh that she can’t deal with easily.

Told from multiple points of view this is a gripping read that holds the attention. Alison Belsham quickly draws the reader into the pages of the book and she wastes no time in getting to the action. Well plotted and with a deftly concealed perpetrator, Her Last Breath offers an opportunity to get to know the central protagonists better; though Francis wrestles with the personal and does his best to remain a closed book. As a reader, you really do want to help him to unbutton a little, but he is slow to trust and is his own worst enemy.

It is Belsham’s distinctive voices and excellent characterisation that really make her books work for me. These are fully fleshed, well-drawn people that I can visualise and whose actions always run true to their character. So, while I’m not sure I like Marni Mullins, I know what she’s been through and where her heart lies and why Francis is drawn to her.

The murders themselves are suitably fiendish and grisly and there’s more than one surprise in store as this fast-paced and thrilling police procedural progresses.

Verdict: Excellent storytelling, with a well-defined sense of place and a beautifully creepy atmosphere. Some very twisted moments create a real sense of tension and some well laid surprises really hit their mark.

Hive Books                       Waterstones                    Amazon

Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter—and in 2000 was commended for her visual story telling in the Orange Prize for screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. The Tattoo Thief is out now, Her Last Breath is the sequel and she’s currently working on the third book in the Francis Sullivan trilogy, Death’s Needle. Alison lives in Edinburgh, and when she’s not writing she spends her time visiting tattoo conventions.

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder @LondonBessie @PushkinPress @EmmaFinnigan #Bearmouth

Source: Review copy
Publication: 19th September 2019 from Pushkin Press
PP: 320
ISBN-13: 978-1782692423

It only taykes one person to start a revolushun

Life in Bearmouth is one of hard labour, the sunlit world above the mine a distant memory. Reward will come in the next life with the benevolence of the Mayker. New accepts everything – that is, until the mysterious Devlin arrives. Suddenly, Newt starts to look at Bearmouth with a fresh perspective, questioning the system, and setting in motion a chain of events that could destroy their entire world.

In this powerful and brilliantly original debut novel, friendship creates strength, courage is hard-won and hope is the path to freedom.

First things first. Bearmouth is a gem of a book and I really loved it. Secondly it is aimed at a Y/A audience, for whom it would clearly be perfect, but I wouldn’t worry about classifications overmuch because there’s something in this book for everyone from mid –teens upwards to love.

Our protagonist is Newt Coombes, a ‘young’. Newt has worked down the mines for as long as time; or at least since Newt turned 4 years old. Not yet an adult, but expected to work like one, Newt is a fast and conscientious worker, not that there’s much reward to show for it at the end of the week. Conditions are terrible and the health of all the workers is poor. They eat, live and sleep underground, because going ‘up top’ costs more than they can afford. Even the pit ponies are forced to live in this subterranean hell.

Newt is looked after by Thomas; theirs is a relationship where Thomas is both teacher and protector, with a seam of genuine paternal affection running through. Workers in this claustrophobic hell-hole are kept subdued by a combination of beer and fear and the promise that ‘the Makyr’ will see them right in the next world, if certainly not in this one.

Into this nightmare existence Devlin arrives.  He starts to ask questions that cause Newt to fear that he and by proximity, Newt, will be classed as ‘awkward’, meaning even fewer privileges, worse conditions and more opportunities for accidents. In Bearmouth you must obey the rules must or suffer the consequences.

But then, as Newt begins to come of age, something happens that changes Newt’s perspective and soon Newt is looking at Bearmouth with new eyes; eyes that feel as if they are freshly opened and which do not like what they see.

Liz Hyder’s Newt is a compelling and convincing character; a distinctive voice that speaks loudly and clearly of the desire for a better existence. Newt speaks phonetically and that feels absolutely right, though Thomas has been teaching spelling and this is recognised in the corrections Newt makes when thinking about what’s just been said.

Bearmouth is an intense, highly memorable and absolutely gripping debut novel. It offers a harrowing tale of children working down mines, but there is so much in it that has resonance for today. Not only are there children working down mines elsewhere in the world but we are conditioning young people to the gig economy with zero hours contracts and no employment rights. Getting them to consider the power of asking questions is the very least we can do for them.

Verdict: Bearmouth is a spell-binding, haunting and original novel, deserving of a wide readership. It is a tale of friendship, of social injustice and above all it is both a raw and an inspiring tale of how just one voice lifted above the noise can be the catalyst for change.  Unmissable.

Hive Books                       Waterstones                    Amazon

Liz Hyder is a writer, creative workshop leader and freelance arts PR Consultant.
She has been part of Writing West Midlands’s Room 204 writer development
programme since 2016. In early 2018, she won The Bridge Award/Moniack
Mhor’s Emerging Writer Award. Bearmouth is her first novel.

A past member of the National Youth Theatre, Liz has a BA in Drama from
the University of Bristol and is on the board of Wales Arts Review. Previously, she’s developed a pilot series with Channel 4 Scotland, collaborated with theE17 Shadow Puppet Theatre for the Cultural Olympiad and been runner-up of the Roy W Dean Writers’ Grant (International Writing Award).
She worked in BBC publicity for six years on everything from EastEnders, Holby and Casualty to Radio 4 and arts TV. Since going freelance, she has been shortlisted for and won various PPC (Publishers’ Publicity Circle) Awards. Since 2016, she has been the Film Programme Coordinator at Hay Festival.

Deadly Secrecy by Andrew Scott @AndyMurrayScott

Source: Review copy
Publication: 18 January 2019 from Twa Corbies Publishing
PP: 284
ISBN-13: 978-0993384028

Cross-border relations between Westminster and Holyrood are tense over nuclear policy as journalist Willie Morton investigates the death of anti-nuclear activist Angus McBain and begins to suspect he was killed for what he knew.

Was there UK Government collusion in the murder of McBain and conspiracy over illegal radioactive convoys heading to Dounreay?  And can Morton keep clear of the sinister, deadly forces in headlong pursuit from Loch Ness to Arisaig and Oban, and across the treacherous Sound of Kerrera in the dark…? Trapped in a remote distillery at Bridge of Orchy, as bullets dent the copper stills, surely Morton’s time is up…?

A Scottish political thriller is always going to be a draw for me and so when I was offered the opportunity to read Deadly Secrecy by Andrew Scott, I jumped at the chance.

As I began reading I had the feeling that some of this story was familiar and it soon dawned on me that the core of this story is drawn from a real life mystery; that of Scottish lawyer, anti-nuclear activist and prominent SNP member Willie McRae.

McRae was found unconscious in his crashed car off the A87 near Invergarry on 6 April, 1985. He died after being taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where it was found that the cause of death had been a gunshot wound to the head. This case, officially recorded as suicide, had a number of bizarre aspects which led many to claim that he was murdered and to speculate at length about the reasons why that may have been the case.  I won’t go into the theories here, suffice it so say that many thought that McRae had been under surveillance from MI5 at the time.

Now Deadly Secrecy is a work of fiction, but it’s not hard to find the points where inspiration has been drawn from real life events and that makes this book especially interesting from a political perspective.

Willie Morton is the central protagonist. An Edinburgh based freelance journalist, he begins investigating the strange death of Angus McBain, an anti-nuclear activist in the Scottish Highlands.  The death appears suspicious, but no Fatal Accident Inquiry is called and his closest relative won’t press for one. Willie ploughs on regardless, seeing an unexplained mystery that just doesn’t feel right. Soon it becomes clear that there are people who are not keen on Willie’s investigation and he finds that some of them are more than willing to put something rather worse than a spoke in his wheels.

Travelling across the Scottish landscape, Morton is trailed by Daniel McGinlay, a shadowy figure with ties to the British Government that he doesn’t want anyone to know about.

As Willie pursues his quest, he will come up against some fierce opposition and his suspicions about government collusion in McBain’s death are reinforced as he has to flee across the Highlands and Islands from sinister forces determined that their deadly convoys will make it to Douneray unannounced.

Soon it is his life that is at stake. A deadly conspiracy is afoot and those behind it are not prepared to let one down at heel journalist stand in the way of the success of their operation.

In a fast paced read, Scott ramps up the excitement, with lots of action, plenty of thrills and a beezer of a conspiracy theory to pull the whole story together.

Verdict: Set in the turbulent world of contemporary British politics and a nascent Scottish nation, this is a thriller that captures the political upheaval of today. Whether you’re YES or NO, you’ll find something to keep your attention in this contemporary Scottish thriller.

Hive Books                       Waterstones                    Amazon

Andrew Scott is a novelist, poet and non-fiction book writer (as Andrew Murray Scott). A former freelance journalist and press officer who worked for more than ten years for politicians at Westminster and Holyrood, he has had several brushes with ‘spooks’. In 1982, his then 22 year old girlfriend was recruited by MI6. He visited her in Geneva but she’d been advised by her ‘handler’ to drop him. In 1990, while writing a non-fiction book titled Britain’s Secret War: Tartan Terrorism and the Anglo-American State, which investigated the murky world of nationalist extremists and MI5 spooks and agent-provocateurs, he had several brief encounters with MI5 employees and support agents in Scotland.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver @will_carver @orendabooks #NothingImportantHappenedToday #Orentober

Source: Review copy
Publication: e-book 14 September 2019 from Orenda Books. Paperback 14 November 2019
PP: 287
ISBN-13: 978-1912374830

Nine suicides

One Cult

No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Will Carver has a messed up head, there can be no other explanation. But inside that head is a razor sharp mind; a brilliant and clever wit and a genius writing gene that shines through with sparkling brilliance.

Nothing Important Happened Today is unlike anything else I have read – and all the better for it. Dark, intriguing, packed full of pertinent observations, Carver’s book is literary fiction for crime enthusiasts.

Written in the third person, and from the perspective of the perpetrator of this devilish scheme, Nothing Important Happened Today is a train of thought, rapid railroad ride across the cults and serial killers of the 21st century.  Carver’s words are formed like bullets, shot with deadly accuracy by a man with ice cold rage in his heart.

Part satire on societal norms, part scathing condemnation of the sheep mentality of social media interaction, Nothing Important Happened Today is about a cult called The People of Choice. This cult is different. No-one knows they are a member, until they receive their ‘trigger’. Then they know exactly what to do and how to do it.  Thus nine people leap to their deaths from Chelsea Bridge. Then two more. And so begins a trend. Some are cult members; members of a cult whose existence they didn’t know of and who never even joined. Some are copycats – does it make a difference? The People of Choice have begun, even if they didn’t choose to do so.

These are nameless people, just numbers. They are the woman who runs up the till in the supermarket, the man who delivers your post. They are No 231 – Ungrateful or N0 232 – Poet. They seem to have nothing in common except for a desire to throw themselves off a bridge.

Yet we do learn things about them; to us they become more than just a number as we learn small details about their lives. Tiny things which mark them out as individuals, living unique lives. Lives that matter to someone, even if that someone is their uncle or their dog.

Det. Sergeant Pace is recovering slowly from PTSD. The People of Choice is not his case, because he is still going through the motions of visiting a psychiatrist so that he can get signed off to go back to work. It’s a process where he tries hard to divulge as little as possible about how he is feeling and the psychiatrist pretends he is co-operating. Their relationship is entirely false, but both go through the motions.

Yet Pace is drawn to this case, perhaps because it chimes with the dark flames and shadows he has encroaching on his well-being at inopportune moments.

As the Police chase their tails trying to work out what is happening and who is behind this global suicidal epidemic, the Leader of the People of Choice, of the people who have no choice, is quietly getting on with planning the next mass murder.

Carver pulls this work together with a deft hand and provides a conclusion that is as twisted as his premise, and along the way he has stunned, frazzled the brain and made this reader think hard about how she sees the world.

Verdict: Original, stark and compelling, this is a beautifully written, coruscating book whose pages dazzle with acute observation and scathing wit. Nothing Important Happened Today is as black as Newgate’s knocker; it is both disturbing and insightful. It is scary and sometimes so black that you can feel it beckoning you to the dark side, but mostly it is a dazzling work of literary fiction that should be on everyone’s reading list.

Orenda Books                 Hive Books                       Waterstones                    Amazon

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

This review is part of #Orentober, a fabulous initiative from Kelly Van Damme of From Belgium With Book Love and Danielle of The Reading Closet. I love their enthusiasm and am delighted to be a small part of a terrific idea.

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