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Up the ladder and down again..

Snakes and Ladders Book Cover Snakes and Ladders
Ziba McKenzie 1-3 (2019)
Victoria Selman
crime, murder, serial killers, psychological suspense
Thomas & Mercer
(21 Nov. 2019)

Psycho meets The Silence of the Lambs

One killer on the loose. Another setting the rules. A profiler caught in the middle.

A serial killer is terrorising London, removing a body part from each victim and leaving in its place a single pink rose.

Dr Vernon Sange, a multiple murderer awaiting extradition, seems to know the culprit’s identity—but he’ll only talk to profiler Ziba MacKenzie, the woman responsible for putting him away. Though there’s something he wants in return from her. And time is running out.

With one killer whispering in her ear and another running rings around the police, Ziba must play a game in which only her opponent knows the rules, and the forfeit is death.

I re-read books 1 and 2 to get me up to speed for 3 as I had read them some time ago and loved them again. Now in Snakes and Ladders, Ziba, our damaged profiler references the Mind Hunter the TV series and the book that these stories are based on – and which I have been watching – and of course, the very current scandal with MPs and the supposed ring of paedophiles which has been in court and the person claiming the ring sentenced. But when book 2 was written we did not know that he had made it all up. And now of course we can all watch the series The Making of a Murderer which explains some of the reasons that some people kill. Multiple factors come into play from brain abnormalities born with or damage through fights etc; social environment eg growing up in an area rife with gangs; the ease of obtaining weapons and so on. And Ziba gives lectures at Quantico about this topic.

So this story and the previous ones, are based on real events and real insights into profiling and how murderers are made and act. And this gives them the grittiness needed and the author’s ability to take these and make a compelling story from them.

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Ghost or Hallucination?

Forgotten Bones Book Cover Forgotten Bones
Dead Remaining Book 1
Vivian Barz
Fiction. Mystery, Suspense, Murder, Female Sleuths, Ghosts
Thomas & Mercer
July 23, 2019
302

An unlikely pair teams up to investigate a brutal murder in a haunting thriller that walks the line between reality and impossibility. When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they're quick to pin the crime on a convicted criminal who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she's just getting started. Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia--or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan's instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI's closing in. Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric's hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?

Is this a ghost story or a murder mystery? It is up to the reader to decide but it encompasses both. We have a ghost – a very persistent and quite forceful ghost; but we also have a murder and mystery. Who is the ghost? And what happened to him? He was murdered, but how and by who, and where? Set in small town USA with a very small policeforce and not much money, we have female police officer with stickability and persistence and curiosity. All of which gets her into serious trouble as she tries to find out about the ghost boy. As she delves into his case, the FBI find a graveyard and that is where things begin to get strange for our heroine – and a professor (college lecturer) with his own mental issues that having a ghost visit doesn’t help I thought the suspense was well carried and it isn’t until the final stages of the last chapter that it all comes to be resolved and the final pieces of the puzzle fit together. The issues with schizophrenia were well narrated and explored and it was refreshing to find a character with these flaws who wasn’t a psychology expert as so many books seem to write them up as. The story is a little short and we should really have found out more about the other children –  the live ones as well as the dead ones. It would have helped fill out the story – perhaps someone could have list of lost children, ages, sexes; surely the FBI would be involved before the graves came to light?  What about the FBI officers? Could we know about them? This novel seems rather like a preliminary / prequel tale for a series that is  longer and more involved. It is good – as far as it goes. This is the first in a new series with our female detective and I look forward to reading further books.

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Lose Nothing

Nothing to lose Book Cover Nothing to lose
Ziba MacKenzie #2
Victoria Selman
police procedurals, psychological thrillers
Thomas & Mercer
26 Mar 2019

He’s looking for his next victim. She looks just like his last.

Primrose Hill, London. Offender Profiler Ziba MacKenzie arrives at the scene of a gruesome murder with a disturbing sense of déjà vu. Nine days earlier, another woman’s body was found: same location, same MO, same physical appearance. For the police, it’s clear a new serial killer is on the loose. But for Ziba, it’s even more sinister—because the victims look just like her.

Ziba has been the focus of a killer’s interest before, and knows that if she gets too close again this case could be her last. Still, she’s not one to play by the rules—especially when her secret investigation into her husband’s murder begins to attract unwanted attention.

With someone watching her every step, can Ziba uncover what connects the two victims before she becomes one herself?

This is number 2 in this series about a profiler looking for her husband’s murderer and the reason why he was murdered. Even going so far as to bring in Wolfie for extra help.

Our profiler is still grieving and as such is perhaps not as clear-headed as she should be and so makes mistakes. Ones she should know better than …

For me, the writing style had improved over book 1 and so was the story-telling. As with all these genre of books, red herrings abound and there is a great twist to the ending.

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Profiling gets nasty

Blood for blood Book Cover Blood for blood
Ziba Mackenzie #1
Victoria Selman
Serial Killers, Profiling, Psychological,
Thomas & Mercer
(1 Feb. 2019)

Ziba Mackenzie profiles killers. Now one is profiling her.

Rush hour, London. A packed commuter train is torn apart in a collision. Picking through the carnage, ex-special forces profiler Ziba MacKenzie helps a dying woman who passes on a cryptic message: He did it. You have to tell someone.

When a corpse is found bearing the gruesome signature of a serial killer dormant for twenty-five years, Ziba is pulled into the hunt for the perpetrator. As the body count rises it becomes clear he’s on a new spree. But what’s brought the London Lacerator back after such a long hiatus? And does his sudden return have anything to do with the woman on the train?

Ziba scrambles to profile the killer in the hope of predicting his next move. But time is running out. And the closer she gets to uncovering his identity, the closer he gets to destroying hers.

What happens when a profiler gets profiled? And when her profile of a serial killer leads her to suspect a co-worker who seems to fit this profile only too well?

But not everything is what it seems to be, or what seems to her to be connected is, which skews her profile.

Engrossing reading with a heroine you empathise with, not snarky but nonetheless capable of being kickass if she needs to be.

Good style and plotting.

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Don’t run in the sun!






See Her Run Book Cover




See Her Run




Aloa Snow #1





Peggy Townsend





Fiction, crime, female sleuth




Thomas & Mercer




2018-06




268



Running for her life could leave her breathless. A former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Aloa Snow knows what it means to be down and out. Once highly respected, she's now blackballed, in debt, and dealing with the echoes of an eating disorder. Until she gets one more shot to prove that she has what it takes--with a story some would die for... After the body of a promising young athlete, Hayley Poole, is recovered in the Nevada desert, authorities rule it a suicide. But when Aloa discovers that the girl's boyfriend died in a similar accident only months before, her investigative instincts are on high alert. It turns out the girl was on the run from secrets that could kill. This case is murder for Aloa, and Hayley won't be the last one to suffer. Someone very powerful forced Hayley to run for her life. Now Aloa must do the same.

A story that draws you into a complex web of connections and proves conspiracy theorists are right! Some capitalists don’t care. Except for money.

The story also explores what character trait makes people undertake extreme sports whether it is walking, running or climbing. i  wish I knew the answer to that definitively as our son is determined to run the Marathon des Sables, one of the top ultra marathons in the world – across the desert in searing heat! Heb has already run the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall in one day… So I do get some of this desire to compete with yourself not just with others and to go faster and further than before. he seems such a normal person our son, until you mention marathons!

In this intriguing novel we meet a large number of the world’s misfits – of all types and varieties, and yet it is these very misfits, who because of their very belief in conspiracy theories, uncover a real one…

I am giving it a 5 for the story line, but the writing style was somewhat confusing at times and the story was perhaps over complicated? So 4 for the style. Although this is the start of a series i shall not follow up the remainder as Aloa didn’t ‘attract’ me enough.

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