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Finding out who dun-it

Where The Innocent Die Book Cover Where The Innocent Die
Detective Ridpath #4
M J Lee
Fiction
Canelo
March 2020
300

The case was closed. Until people started dying... DI Thomas Ridpath was on the up in the Manchester CID: a promising detective who captured a notorious serial killer. But ten years later he’s recovering from a serious illness and on the brink of being forced out of the police. Then the murders began, in an uncanny echo of his first case. As the death count grows, old records, and bodies, go missing. Caught in a turf war between the police and the coroner’s office, Ridpath is in a race against time. A race to save his career, his marriage, and innocent lives. When a detective disappears everything is on the line. Can Ridpath save his colleague? A nail-biting crime thriller, perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and D. S. Butler.

So this is Detective Ridpath again in the Coroner’s Office and there is a death in a Detainee Centre and he is asked to investigate it and confirm the findings as the Inquest was due – the parents had flown over from China to take their daughter’s body home. The Coroner did not want to postpone the inquest because of this.

The pathologist had identified the death as suicide but there was one factor that confused Ridpath. Despite all the doors to the rooms being locked by 9.15pm and the inmates being unable to unlock them, the girl’s door was unlocked – which was why her death had been discovered in the wee hours of the morning as the ‘officer’ made his rounds. And then the camera outside her room had been disabled – as had 5 others in the facility.

 Ridpath has to work fast to discover the truth of the death which turns out, as one could expect, to be rather more complicated than the initial findings.

The story proceeds – and Manchester is portrayed in its grimy, grey self accurately – and yes, people retiring wanted to get away to somewhere warmer – it drove our daughter, once she had lived there a few months, to Australia!

 I like these stories and hope Ridpath stays with the Coroner’s Office as it makes a definite change of storyline from the usual major incident squads.

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Medieval Forensics?

Centaur of the Crime Book Cover Centaur of the Crime
Fantasy and Forensics #1
Michael Angel
fantasy, crime, forensics, murder, mystery
Banty Hen Publishing
(17 Jan. 2014)

C.S. Lewis meets CSI...when Michael Angel presents a new series mixing magic, mystery, and forensic science - 'Fantasy & Forensics'!

She's the LAPD's best corpse-kicker. Dayna Chrissie, LAPD's leading Crime Scene Analyst, relishes finding the one clue that can solve a crime. When she finds a golden medallion on a body that's been dumped at a downtown construction site, she doesn't think it's all that unusual. Until that medallion's enchantment brings her to the magical world of Andeluvia.

She must find a killer in time to stop a war. Dayna discovers that she's been summoned to solve the murder of the realm's king before war breaks out between Andeluvia and the Centaur Realm. But no one wants peace when war offers chances for riches and glory. So Dayna ends up with a team of cast-offs: a centaur wizard with father issues, a brash griffin warrior, and the world's unluckiest magical deer.

And the trail leads where she least expects it...back home! When the trail of evidence brings Dayna and her new friends back from Andeluvia to Los Angeles, she must use all of her forensic knowledge in order to solve the case.

The price of failure? A war that will kill millions and devastate Andeluvia.

Hope she works best under pressure.

Books in the 'Fantasy & Forensics' Series:
Centaur of the Crime
The Deer Prince's Murder
Grand Theft Griffin
A Perjury of Owls
Forgery of the Phoenix
Assault in the Wizard Degree
Trafficking in Demons
A Warrant of Wyverns
The Conspiracy of Unicorns
Dragon with a Deadly Weapon

This is a 10 book series – and yes, I did read them all in one great reading splurge…

Important characters:

Dayna – the forensics expert; Grimshaw – a griffin; Liam a type of deer but not; Abbess Thea – an owl; Perrin , Holly and Destiny,

 Not to mention Fitzwilliam, Shelley and Esteban – Dayna’s boyfriend in the police.

A large cast of characters, all of whom manage to speak English, though they may have their own languages as well and also magical or ancient languages. After all, we are not on Earth are we?

Dayna is (accidentally) called into this fantasy land by a gold coin she finds in a cavity in the body she is examining at a crime scene. The coin could have been picked up by anyone, but was aimed at someone with forensics knowledge as the world she was called into was still operating as a Medieval society.  So no mechanical items, no science, but poisons and other mysterious happenings including murder that was difficult for them to find out who-dunnit.

Rather reminiscent of the Cadfael TV series (and Ellis Peters books,) with Derek Jacobi – as the monk who solved murders with medieval herbs and elementary forensics, I immediately saw the TV episodes in my mind, once I started reading these books! I liked both…

If you are going to live in a medieval palace/tower with only a fire to keep you warm and are going to spend a lot of the time riding around in cold weather, she clearly needed to think more practically.

I thought Dayna was being less than practical. Once she discovered that she could take a knapsack to and fro, I would have packed the following for her:

Caffetiere

Metal kettle for a fire

Coffee grounds

Aspirin and ibuprofen

Arnica gel and tablets

Plasters and needles and thread

Other over the counter medicines as suitable including anti-diarrhoea meds,

Other instant / dried drinks eg milk, chocolate etc

Chocolate bars

Protein bars

Apples – fresh plus assorted dried fruit

Packets of soup – instant (and other instant foods)

Lemons and limes

Fleeces

Long Johns and silk underwear

Padded riding knickers and saddle pads (fleece lined and waterproof jodhpurs)

Fleece lined wooly hat.

Thermal socks.

Neck gaiter

Waterproofs and hiking trousers that were fleece lined

Ski wear

and look at these lined riding boots – who wouldn’t want to wear them?

I enjoyed these books and binge read all 10.

5 stars for something new in the fantasy genre.

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Breeding a champion

Guarding Cat Book Cover Guarding Cat
(The McKenna Curse Book 5)
by Patricia Rosemoor
Mystery & Thrillers, Romance
Dangerous Love Publishing
Pub Date 7 Jul 2020

Horse trainer Aidan McKenna has the ability to glimpse into the future. So when the dreams begin—searing, erotic dreams about his new partner, Cat Clarke—he knows the dangers of ever falling in love again. Aidan and the beautiful horse breeder had staked everything on their racing venture. But when Cat's missing stable manager turns up dead, it becomes clear they have more to lose than races. Aidan knows he has to find a way to defeat the curse to save the woman of his dreams.

Cat owns a horse breeding farm. Now I knew very little about this aspect of horses so I researched it. I found an article in the Horse magazine which was informative of how a large breeding facility operates.

What they are attempting to do is to provide a controlled environment for the breeding. Artificial insemination is not used, so they use live stallions for the breeding. It is a high cost business. As well as the controller- to keep track of ins and outs, there is the agronomist whose job it is to produce pastures that are both balanced in their nutrients and palatable to the horses. There are the vet and their technician, who take bloods, ultrasounds and check on the health and ovulation of the mares. Including palpating/ultrasounding mares for breeding soundness and estrous cycle timing; using that information to plan breedings; checking for pregnancies and problems; administering treatments; and monitoring stallion fertility. They also handle preventative care such as plasma administration for foals; deworming; vaccinations; and caring for sick animals; confirming ejaculation occurred; evaluating sperm motility via dismount semen samples after every breeding; and evaluating sperm morphology (physical shape).  Mares will undergo uterine bacterial culturing prior to the breeding season. This allows time to treat any infection present and avoids “wasted” breedings. Mares are also cultured if they don’t get pregnant on the first cycle; the samples are evaluated at the farm, as are foals’ immunoglobulin levels. Amazingly technical and complicated work to ensure a successful pregnancy that will produce a foal that can win races and then – if male – earn lots of dosh at stud.

Then there is the barn manager who looks after the mares and foals general care; and marketing – of the stallions and facilities available; plus someone for all the following roles: assistant controller; stallion administrator; certified public accountant; farm manager; seeding of pastures; projects coordinator; landscape architect; director of bloodstock services; insurance; sales coordinator; and transport.

So compared to all these staff we can see that Cat’s farm is very small ‘fry’.

This story is a romance with horses, mystery and suspense, and some murder thrown in for good luck. We are not privy to the police side of things, but we do have a horse whisperer from Ireland, who also has second sight, who needs to get his colt to race and win well so that he can be used for stud – at exorbitant charges.

 Quite an insight into also just how many staff there are at a race course to look after the horses all of whom have a separate job – grooming; stall work; walking a ‘hot’ horse after racing; riding a horse to train him and so on. No wonder it costs so much to race horses! And to buy a Thoroughbred horse.

All the English classics are for three-year-olds, and are designed to establish which horses are the best of that generation, so they can then be bred from. As breeding has become more commercialised, with powerful studs such as Darley and the mighty Coolmore in Ireland, so racing has in some respects become secondary, a means to the end of producing commercial stallions. According to the Guardian newspaper, 2009 :

A really good stud could impregnate least 100 mares a year; the owner of each mare is likely to pay around £75,000 for the privilege; he thus stands to make at least £7.5m a year. He could cover 400 mares if the owners wanted to work him really hard.  And this happens for around 20 years!

Sea and Sand earned  $250,000 per mare! – or pregnancy in 2009. This is Uncle Mo- in 2017: The champion American juvenile of 2010, he has established himself as the dominant stallion of his generation.

His first two-year-olds earned $3,675,294 in 2015, a record figure for a North American first-crop sire that eclipsed the previous benchmark of $2.8 million set by Tapit in 2009. 

The most expensive stud – Galileo – in 2008 was reputed to earn over $600,000 per pregnancy!

So 4 stars for learning about thoroughbreds..

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Grimy Manchester and Murder

Where the Innocent Die Book Cover Where the Innocent Die
DI Ridpath Book Four
M J Lee
Fiction
Canelo
March 23, 2020
320

Nowhere is safe. No one can be trusted. A bloodied body is found in a Manchester Immigrant Removal Centre. The investigating officer and the pathologist seem certain: a suicide. But for DI Ridpath something doesn’t add up. As the evidence starts to unravel, and with few leads, the pressure is on to find answers before the Inquest is closed. Caught between the police, the coroner and a system that doesn’t care, Ridpath isn’t making any friends. And at the centre of the case Ridpath will find a heart of darkness. Innocent people are suffering. How many more will die before Ridpath discovers the truth? The fourth instalment of the unputdownable DI Ridpath series is perfect fans of Mark Billingham and Patricia Gibney.

So this is Detective Ridpath again in the Coroner’s Office and there is a death in a Detainee Centre and he is asked to investigate it and confirm the findings as the Inquest was due – the parents had flown over from China to take their daughter’s body home. The Coroner did not want to postpone the inquest because of this.

The pathologist had identified the death as suicide but there was one factor that confused Ridpath. Despite all the doors to the rooms being locked by 9.15pm and the inmates being unable to unlock them, the girl’s door was unlocked – which was why her death had been discovered in the wee hours of the morning as the ‘officer’ made his rounds. And then the camera outside her room had been disabled – as had 5 others in the facility.

 Ridpath has to work fast to discover the truth of the death which turns out, as one could expect, to be rather more complicated than the initial findings.

The story proceeds – and Manchester is portrayed in its grimy, grey self accurately – and yes, people retiring wanted to get away to somewhere warmer – it drove our daughter, once she had lived there a few months, to Australia!

 I like these stories and hope Ridpath stays with the Coroner’s Office as it makes a definite change of storyline from the usual major incident squads.

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How to Fall Properly

Falling Into Right Book Cover Falling Into Right
A Redemption County Novel
Sharon Kay
Crime Fiction, Police Dogs
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
October 24, 2017
292

How do you recover when life kick-boxes your soul? Becca Gable is fighting to stay on her feet after a series of crushing losses. She's always been the good girl until the events of the past year push her to make a mistake she can't take back. Now, her corporate finance job and her fiancé are gone thanks to her newly-acquired criminal record. Shane Marlow survived an IED blast during his service in Iraq-but half his team did not. Physically healed, he returns to his home county as a K9 officer. The scars of loss run deep and though local folks admire him, no one truly gets him-until Becca literally lands in front of him. Their bond of shared tragedy evolves into a connection both fiery and healing. But a stalker decides that Becca's crime should stay front and center. As the unsettling episodes reveal that no part of her life is secret, Shane is all that stands between her and the enemy.

Shane Marlow and Denver – yes please – especially Denver. I haven’t read the previous book in this series so this was my introduction to this pair – but what novel doesn’t like a hero with a working dog?

I know that a lot of soldiers have come back from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the US with PTSD and that many of them have really struggled with it as they have not had the right treatment, for whatever reason. And this leads to problems in their working and personal life. A dog can be an emotional support as well as useful partner in work and they have been recognised as such worldwide – though quite how a turkey could be I am not sure –  Now I could also get pot bellied pigs, monkeys and miniature horses, but bearded dragons, kangaroos, peacocks – lots of birds including ducks too – rodents, spiders, reptiles, ferrets  – and the list continues have all been claimed as emotional support – especially to get them on a plane! See https://bestlifeonline.com/emotional-support-animals/ for 30 of the weirdest claims.

 But despite the wide variety of animals being used for emotional support these days – myself I prefer the cat variety! And have 2 Maine Coons now to provide me with some love.. and stroking soothes both of us.

There is also, of course, the story of Becca and how she breaks the law – for a good reason – but this where we have problems.

I saw a discussion on how TV makes law breaking ‘for the right reason’ become a justifiable crime and people shouldn’t be punished for it. This is also a prevalent them in many novels. It makes for a good story of course – especially if the criminal either gets punished and comes out to help other prisoners onto the ‘right’ road; or the criminal finds the right path for themselves and gets forgiven or – well you know what I mean. Sometimes they continue to break the law and as readers we cheer for them – as they are ‘doing good’ and the law is wrong. But who are we to judge? And when are ‘we’ the right ‘we’ to judge? And then we start getting onto a very sticky wicket indeed and we can talk about the societal contract and how society can judge right from wrong. But what if the majority agree with a law that you personally don’t?

I’m not going further into this, but I am beginning to wonder if society’s fiction, whether on a screen or in a book/written form, is, in some way, mind washing us to a moral code that makes it difficult for us to judge right from wrong.

All the above notwithstanding. I enjoyed reading this story and liked it enough to give it 3 stars. I’m detracting 1 star for my above discussion on law.

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