The Silk Stocking Murders by Anthony Berkeley

The Silk Stocking Murders by Anthony Berkeley

The Silk Stocking Murders by Anthony Berkeley

The Silk Stocking Murders by Anthony Berkeley, was first published in 1928 and is one of Berkeley’s earliest novels.

Born, Anthony Berkeley Cox in Watford in 1893 he attended Sherborne School and University College in Oxford. Like many of his contemporaries he served in the Army during World War I. He honed his writing skills working as a journalist for magazines such as Punch and The Humorist among others. In 1930 the Detection Club was founded in London by various popular mystery writers such as Berkeley, Freeman Wills Crofts and the great Agatha Christie.

From the 1940s onwards, he wrote for several of the major newspapers including The Guardian, The Sunday Times and the Manchester Guardian.

Anthony Berkeley Cox wrote under various pseudonyms, including Anthony Berkeley, Francis Iles and A. Monmouth Platts.

His novel, the Layton Court Mystery which was published in 1925 was his first novel. The amateur detective, Roger Sheringham, features here first and appeared in many later novels.

His novel ‘Before the Fact’ hit the silver screen as the 1941 classic film Suspicion. It starred Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

The Silk Stocking Murders novel is a masterpiece and unusual for it’s time to involve a serial killer.

Roger Sheringham, though a heavy drinker, was a superb, though flawed, detective. Frequently putting his trust, wrongly, in individuals and making repeated mistakes he had a knack of meandering his way to the truth.

The Silk Stocking Murders sees him trying to solve the disappearance of a vicar’s daughter in London. Sheringham is horrified to find that the young woman is dead. The girl was found hanging, her own silk stocking around her neck. Though her death has the appearance of a suicide, Sheringham knows of other deaths throughout London and he sees a pattern developing. He is convinced that it is the work of a crazed madman.

For it’s time this must have been a quite shocking and horrific tale of a psychotic killer lose on the streets of London. The use of lingerie, Ground-breaking and still enthralling after all of these years, the story of a rather unusually flawed sleuth is well worth the read. The Silk Stocking Murders is published by HarperCollins and is available on Amazon or at good bookstores.

Ripper – The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

Ripper The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

Ripper The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

The enigmatic and eccentric painter, Walter Sickert, had an air of mystery about him. In more recent times the accusatory finger of suspicion has been levelled at him. It is now widely believed that he may have been either, Jack the Ripper or his accomplice.

The New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell spent millions researching the case and has uncovered important new evidence. Her book Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert, is a detailed account of the Ripper atrocities and the failure of the Victorian police force to solve this dastardly series of crimes.

Sickert’s art had a strange quality about it, verging on the ghoulish. He had a deep interest in the Jack’s crimes and claimed to have lodged in a boarding house where the landlady said she believed the Ripper had also lodged previously. Sickert even painted a picture depicting the Rippers room.

Patricia Cornwell’s research has been tirelessly executed and she has brought forth archival material which has not been seen before.

Ripper, The Secret Life of Walter Sickert follows on from Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper further expanding the depth of research and knowledge.

Patricia Cornwell has greatly added to this most gruesome of mysteries and her book is a must read for any sleuths among us.

Along Came A Spider by James Patterson

Along Came A Spider by James Patterson

Along Came A Spider by James Patterson

The novel Along Came a Spider written by James Patterson is a great introduction to this prolific and hugely successful writers work.

This book by Patterson introduced us all to Alex Cross and the series which followed. A great thriller which is well plotted and the Alex Cross books have dominated the detective novel lists for years.

Washington, D.C. Alex Cross, the renowned Washington D.C. forensic psychologist and homicide investigator, is tasked with looking in to the violent murder of two black prostitutes and a child in the projects.

Cross is furious when he is removed from the case to investigate a kidnapping of two white children at an expensive private school. He feels that there is a sense that the colour determines which case is the more important. The kidnapper is Gary Soneji, the school maths teacher.

The evil Soneji, buries Maggie Rose Dunne and Michael Goldberg alive, in a coffin made for the task, at a remote farmhouse.

Alex Cross and the FBI make a detailed search of Soneji’s apartment. They find a wealth of information about kidnappings and master criminals. In particular it appears that Soneji has a more than passing obsession with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping of 1932.

Soanji clearly has a warped desire to become infamous.

Cross hooks up with Jezzie Flanagan, the first female supervisor of the Secret Service and the head of the Secret Service investigative team, in a secret liaison which complicates matters.

During the investigation Roger Graham, an FBI agent, is killed by Soneji who disguises himself as a reporter.

A missing little girl named Maggie Rose . . . a family of three brutally murdered in the projects of Washington, D.C. . . . the thrill-killing of a beautiful elementary school teacher . . . a psychopathic serial kidnapper/murderer who is so terrifying that the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police cannot outsmart him – even after he’s been captured.

The police, FBI and the Secret Service are pitted against a true adversary in the guise of the violent psychopath, Soanji.

I don’t want to ruin the plot for you in this cleverly plotted and intricate game of cat and mouse where the stakes are the very highest.

Other authors have spoken very highly of James Pattersons work:

“An incredibly suspenseful read with a one-of-a-kind killer who is as terrifying as he is intriguing. One of the best thrillers of the year.”
Clive Cussler

“The best thriller I’ve come across in many a year. It deserves to be this season’s NO.1 best-seller.
Nelson  DeMille

Along Came A Spider by James Patterson is a superb read.

The Perfect Murder by Peter James

The perfect murder by peter james

The perfect murder by Peter James

The Perfect Murder is a novella by Peter James the bestselling author of the Roy Grace series. Committing the perfect murder and getting away with it is a recurring theme in the crime genre.

Victor Smiley is an unhappy man. His wife, Joan, passes her time ridiculing him and he has for years had no love for her.  He sees a local prostitute, called Kamila, to bring some excitement into his otherwise increasingly pointless life. He has no interest in his work at a factory and dreams only of escape. Joan has her own issues, the marriage is falling apart. She hardly sleeps with the grating sound of Victor’s snoring. Victor is oblivious to the fact that Joan is frittering away large sums of money building up credit card debt. She has her own secret amour, Don and she likes to impress him in constantly evolving sexy outfits.
Victor loses his job and riddled with debt he begins to formulate an escape route to a better life with Kamila. Joan, who he now loathes, has to be removed from his life, permanently. Victor is about to get a shock as he finds murder is also on someone else’s mind.

The Perfect Murder is a top notch novel that is tightly plotted and keeps the reader glued to the page.

Peter James is a very popular novelist who has had several of his novels made into films. He was educated and Charterhouse school and followed this with film school. Born in the UK Peter James lived for several years in North America where he worked as a film producer and screenwriter. He now lives in the UK.  His Roy Grace series was a Sunday Times number one bestseller.

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Die Trying by Lee Child

Die Trying by Lee Child

Die Trying, a novel featuring Major Jack Reacher, written by Lee Child.

 

Lee Child’s second novel, Die Trying, was published in 1998 featured Jack Reacher, centre stage, once more.

Whilst working as a doorman in Chicago Reacher becomes caught-up in the kidnapping of Holly Johnson, an FBI agent. She is also the daughter of a US Army general who is serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  They are both bundled into a truck and driven across the States for a reason and to a location unknown to them. Holly’s FBI colleagues take some time to notice her missing but then begin to try to piece together her movements and what has happened to her.

Reacher and Holly find on arrival in a remote part of Montana that they are being held by  the Montana Militia, whose leader is Beau Borken.

The intricate plot involves not only an FBI mole in the militia who has infiltrated them, but also a traitor within the FBI who supplies Borken information.

The President, fearful of another Waco type media catastrophe, does not want an outright assault and wishes the matter to be handled sensitively and carefully by the FBI and Army.

The novel is very well plotted and has the ability to keep the reader hooked and guessing. Lee Child is a true master of his craft. I found the novel immensely difficult to put down.

The Jack Reacher character, first introduced by Lee Child in Killing Floor, is sure to become an enduring hero in the mould of James Bond.

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Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon, was a bestseller when it was published in 1969 and who among us will not remember the Hollywood film of the same title which starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. Papillon, the French for butterfly, was a nickname that was given to Charrière and it also referred to his tattoo. It is a novel about the recollections of Henri Charrière and it describes his conviction, incarceration on and subsequent escape from a prison on Devil’s Island, which was a French penal colony off the coast of French Guiana.

The author, Charrière claimed that all of the events that he wrote of were true but this was later called into question. Though some of it clearly is true it is thought that some of the scenarios and adventures may have been distilled from the lives of his fellow inmates.

The book opens with Charrières conviction in France for murder of a pimp named Roland Le Petit and following a period in prison in Caen he was sent by ship to South America and onward to the notorious Devils Island. Papillon met a fellow inmate Louis Dega who had previously been a banker prior to conviction for counterfeiting. Papillon liked Dega and protected him from other inmates. The book spans a period of fourteen years of Papillon’s life up to 1945 and covers his hardships and various escape attempts.

Papillon a fascinating tale, particularly if it was all true, and gives a real insight into the brutalities of the time and the incredible tenacity and will power of Charrière. Well worth reading, even if you have seen the film which differs in part.

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Killing Floor by Lee Child

Killing Floor by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher novel.

Killing Floor by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher novel.

I decided to read the debut novel by Lee Child, Killing Floor, as I had heard so many people speak of this writer in good terms. I am glad I did. The book was utterly unputdownable….is that a word – who cares, it is certainly an experience!

Bieng a first novel it is all the more remarkable, very engaging and great character development.

Killing Floor follows the exploits of one Jack Reacher and it cuts straight to the action. Reacher is a wanderer and a former Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps.

He gets off a Greyhound bus and walks many miles into the town of Margrave in Georgia, USA. He is interested in the death of a musician named Blind Blake who died there many years before. In a diner, shortly after arriving he’s arrested for murder. He is interviewed by a detective called Finlay and he tries to prove he was not the murderer. A phone number is found in the dead man’s shoe and Finlay calls it and cons a man into telling him his name, that of a Mr. Hubble. Hubble is brought into the police station for questioning and he  cracks, confessing to the murder. Reacher, however, is sceptical. Reacher and Hubble are then sent to the state prison. Reacher averts an attempt on his life, which was intended for Hubble. two days later, Roscoe, a police woman to whom Reacher is attracted, proves……

Well if you want the rest you will just have to read Killing Floor. But don’t just believe me…this really is top fiction from Lee Child and here is a list of the awards it has won already:
Awards and nominations
1998 Dilys Award nominee
1998 Anthony Award winner, Best First Novel
1998 Barry Award winner, Best First Novel
1998 Macavity Award nominee, Best First Mystery Novel
2000 Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize winner, Best Translated Novel

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Happy reading!

The Racketeer by John Grisham

The Racketeer

The Racketeer

The Racketeer by John Grisham tell the story of the life of Federal Judge Raymond Fogletree and his sudden and mysterious death. It’s surprising that these Judges don’t run into more difficulties when considering the enormity of the cases they deal with and the, sometimes, severe sentences they have to hand down to very dangerous individuals and organisations.

John Grisham states that in the USA only four active Federal Judges had previously been murdered, someone had just increased it to five.

The Judge’s body, along with that of his young secretary had been found in his lakeside cabin in the basement. The FBI had found the bodies after being alerted to the Judges disappearance by his law clerk. The clerk had become worried when the Judge didn’t turn up for Court on the previous Monday morning. The FBI checked the crime scene and found no forced entry and no indication of a struggle. Only the bodies showed evidence of a crime and the FBI felt it was someone close who had committed it.

The storyteller did not know the Judge but he did know why he was killed and who had done killed him. The only problem, a fellow lawyer, he now languished in prison.

The Racketeer is a piece of murder, mystery fiction which has a dark Noir feel to it. As always a tense and clever plot which has strong currents flowing through it. Well worth a read. Well done Grisham!

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