Tag Archives: British

Deadly Secrets – Robert Bryndza

Deadly  Secrets  – Robert Bryndza published by Bookouture in 201? I read this on my kindle. This is the sixth in the DCI Erika Foster series. It’s a brilliant British police procedural mystery set in contemporary London.  I’ve really enjoyed following this series. I’ve been taken with how well developed the entire cast of characters and how those characters have deepened and developed over the course of the novels.

This sixth novel starts up right where the fifth novel finished up… almost immediately. It’s the Christmas right after the Marsh twins were rescued by Erika and she’s been invited over for Christmas lunch. Apprehensive about the situation Erika is relieved when she encounters a crime scene on her way there. So, she stopes and takes charge of a situation unfolding where a burlesque dancer has been slashed to death just outside her door apparently as she arrived home where she lived with her mother.

Well, as the investigation unfolds,  a local young peeping Tom flees the scene with his camera as he’s been hiding up a tree. Erika and Mc pursue him as he flees home where he lives with his parents, one of which is a retired barrister.

It seems this young mam has a somewhat unhealth fascination with his exotic neighbor. Ha and his camera are later taken into custody. After some intense questioning about photos found on that camera he commits suicide in his cell.

But he isn’t the only man, or woman that had crossed paths with the statuesque victim. They’re were at least two married men with whom she’s had relations with in her neighborhood. There’s also the dotty old lady that she made money caring for. Seems their is an issue of stolen diamond earing, or is there… and then there is her son who seems to be skulking around.

But all that’s really known from the CCYV footage is that the perpetrator was wearing a long coat and… a gas mask!

I enjoyed this novel so much because it’s a return to the first novel. The previous novels to this one were straight forward police procedural mysteries where the action was the story. In this book, we see Erika returning as the detective. This really is more of a whodunit mystery and there are some clues to follow along. Things are always what they seem and the solution comes down to Erika seeing certain inconsistencies and working past appear to answers to get to the real solution…

Marissa Lewis’s body lying in the snow. A crime scene always tells a story, and the small front garden in Coniston Road told of a violent struggle. The sheer volume of blood, caking Marissa’s body and the surrounding snow. Her shoe, left lying close by; her vanity case, broken on its side, the contents spilling out into the snow. Her keys still dangling in the lock of the front door. If Marissa had reached her door a few seconds earlier, would she have been able to turn the key and get safely inside?
Erika found it a struggle, the balance between feeling sorrow for a murder victim, and shutting it out. To stay sane, it was easier to dehumanise a dead body, and think of the person as an object: a thing, or a piece of evidence. Erika could never do that, though, any more than she could come home from work and live a normal life.

Last Breath – Robert Bryndza

Last Breath – Robert Bryndza I’ve read the kindle edition of this thrilling British police procedural. This is the forth in the DCI Erika Foster series.

As this story begins, a body has been uncovered in a trash bin in London. DI Peterson is called to the scene. Erika tags along on this snowy evening despite the fact that she is no longer part of the Murder Investigation Team. Peterson reports to DCI Marion Hudson, who though not on the scene, is still in charge of this investigation. Erika in her fashion ‘crashes’ in on the scene. Her current duties have her compiling administrative reports in Bromley. But being at the murder scene, and seeing it run poorly, gets Erika’s inner detective sparked, that, and Superintendent Sparks chasing her off probably had as much to do with her motivations. But a behind the scenes police investigation and an unforeseen circumstance align in such a way as to promote DCI Hudson to Acting Superintendent and DCI Forster can work the investigation.

While investigating this killing, Erik, through her connection with the pathologist Isaac, finds out that sloppy police work caused a killing with the same signature markings from going unnoticed, these are slow killings where the murderer seems to torture his victim a few days before killing them. So, now there are two brutal homicides. The killer has both luck and skill in hiding his identity as well as his crime and a third killing takes place. But as clues turn up and connections are made, Erika and her team get closer to the truth… As news that a third victim has been taken. With an increasing sense of urgency and a ticking clock until this next victim is killed the pace of this story really starts to race. And luck won’t be on the killer’s side for long…

This story certainty has Erika at her most introspective. As a reader of this series we’re starting to see much more growth in Erika, especially in her interactions with her various superiors up the chain of command. She still shows her indignation at police ‘perception’ motivations. When called in by the Assistant Commissioner she stands her ground while not getting much support from Acting Superintendent Hudson. But through her outside interactions with former Assistant Commissioner Marsh and her nemesis Superintendent Sparks, she begins to see things from their perspective. Which is one of those areas we see Erika becoming more forgiving of those around her.

And towards the end of this story, through her interactions with Isaac, Peterson and Hudson, Erika is really starting to take stock of her life. The choices she herself has made, as well as the circumstances that life has dealt to her. It seems that a certain amount of healing is taken place within her, and I look forward to seeing her in the next thrilling case!

   She went on: ‘Getting over the loss, that bit people can sympathize with and understand, but moving on, trying to fill the gap the loss has left, is impossible… You know I’ve been seeing Peterson – James – since before Christmas.’

Isaac nodded. ‘You like him, don’t you?’

Erica nodded and got p, grabbing the box of tissues from the desk opposite.

‘He just wants to be with me, and I keep pushing him away. He’s such a good guy… Like Mark, he was the one everyone loved. I just don’t know why Mark had to die and I’m still here. He was a great guy. I’m just a bitch.’

Isaac laughed.

‘I am, it’s not funny.’

‘You’re not a bitch, but you have to act like one sometimes. It helps you get the job done.’

Erika laughed. ‘No, thank you, but I just want to be alone.’

‘No, you don’t… Every day I have to do post-mortems on people, and so many of them had their hole lives ahead of them. They probably died wishing they could have done things differently, wishing they has been nicer, loved more, not stressed so much. Go and see James. You could be dead tomorrow and lying on that slab in there.’

‘Brutal, but true,’ said Erika. ‘You should give advice more.’

‘I do, but most of the people I see at work can’t do anything with it. They’re dead.’

Dark Water – Robert Bryndza

Dark Water – I’ve read the kindle edition and found that the third installment of this series is better that the first two, and the first two were great too. I can’t wait to get to the forth Erika Foster novel!

Dredging a flooded quarry for evidence in a drug bust that DCI Erika Foster has overseen, human remain from an unsolved abduction of a seven year old girl 26 years earlier. Currently Erika has been assigned to the Bromley department as part of a special projects team that mostly takes down drug dealers. Erika is dissatisfied with this as it just seems that as soon as they put one dealer away, another pops up to take his place. She does not feel a sense of completion, of a final justice, that she does when she solves homicide cases.

Erika needs to go around her current Superintendent Yale to get an audience with the new Assistant Commissioner Brace-Cosworthy. Erika recruits her former commander Mash to make this happen, and become the Senior Investigating Office (SIO) for the Jessica Collins case.

Once this administrative coupe has been accomplished, Erika is able to recruit two DI’s from her former station, DI Moss and DI Peterson to help her on this case. Together they hit the ground running with boxes and boxes of records from the previous abduction investigation.

The family is interviewed, and Erika gets the rundown from the retired former head of the case DCI Amanda Baker, whose career path nose-dived after her failing on the high profile flawed abduction investigation.

It takes Erika and her team a lot of leg work to get through the muddle and find the right questions to ask before coming to a great climax. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure is shadowing the investigation, and Erika’s sister and her kids drop by quite unexpectedly…

This is a wonderful page-turnning read and in this third installment, Erika seems to be much more comfortable in her investigation and spends less time fighting departmental battles which made reading this third novel better in my opinion. I can see her growing as a character…

But now, lets talk Moss and Peterson. They have appeared with Erika in this her third story and it’s about time that we should really get a more rounded view of these characters . I would really like to know more about them as people… there is a lot of information about their personality and such as it relates to Erika, but I would like to see more of them away from Erika… see what they are like… I’d like to see Peterson order a round of drinks for non work related friends down at the pub.. what does he like what’s his drink of choice… and moss, maybe fiddling with her Playlist as she works out at the gym, what’s on her Playlist what does she do at the gym… does she like the gym?

I’m not one for comparing one author to another too often but I’m currently reading Stuart Kaminsky inspector Rostnikov series, and the way he fleshes out Tkach and Karpo is a really good example of what I’m thinking about. Now I’m sure that Kaminsky does this to also showcase more of Soviet Moscow into his story… but certainly Brydnza could do something along those same lines fleshing out Moss and Peterson while giving us non brits more of scenic London.

Moss and Peterson, what can I say… I’d like to know them better.

Erika couldn’t seem to summon up any feelings of triumph about finding the case of heroin. All she could think about was the tiny skeleton. During her time in the force, she’d spent several years heading up anti-drug squads. The names seemed to change – Central Drug Unit, Drug and Organized Crime Prevention, the Projects Team – but the war on drugs rumbled on, and it would never be won. The moment one supplier was taken out there was another ready and waiting to take his place; filling a vacuum with even more skill and cunning. Jason Tyler had filled a vacuum, and in short space of time someone would take his place. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Murderers, however, were different; you could catch them and lock them up.

The Oxford Murders – Guillermo Martinez

 The Oxford Murders – I’ve read the Penguin Press 2005 paperback edition translated from Spanish to English.

This is the third novel by Argentinian mathematician Guillermo Martinez. The story is a nice, compact (197 pages) page turner on a classic mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel. I enjoyed this story, its narration was clear and to the point, no barrel of red herrings that you would get from Colin Dexter.

Our narrator, an Argentinian mathematics student come to Oxford to further his studies, tells this tale of events that happened in the past… it unfolds nicely at a leisurely pace on the bucolic suburb of Oxford. Shortly after settling into a room he lets from an elderly lady, she is murdered, and a mathematical clue is left with his mentor Professor Seldom, who discovers the body with our narrator.

I like the opening to this story. Its narrated in a journal or a diary tone that seems somewhat intimate and old fashioned… I can picture the then young, now older man reflecting back a what would probably be one of the most memorable highlights of his life. A grand adventure!

The story touches on several mathematical topics and theories, as well as several philosophical themes as the two gentlemen work to solve what may be a series of murders, each laid out in a mathematical sequence. As I finished this book, there was something that I had remembered from somewhere else… the best place to hide a murder, is in a series of murders.

One of the draw backs to this book being so brief, is that although we are taken to several different locations within Oxford while taking this pursuit, we never really get to stop and admire our surrounding all that much. Surely Kaminsky would have shown us more of the sights.

Now that the years have passed and everything’s been forgotten, and now that I’ve received a terse e-mail from Scotland with the sad news of Seldom’s death, I feel I can break my silence (which he never asked for anyway) and tell the truth about the events that reached the British papers in the summer of ’93 with macabre and sensationalist headlines, but to which Seldom and I always referred – perhaps due to the mathematical connotation – simply as the series, or Oxford Series. Indeed, the deaths all occurred in Oxfordshire, at the beginning of my stay in England, and I had te dubious privilege of seeing first at close range.

Crooked House – Agatha Christie

Crooked House – A classic British mystery first published in 1949

Charles, a young man striking out on a career in the diplomatic service returns home to England after the war to look up a young woman he knew in Cairo and ask for her hand. But, as is the fashion in a Christie novel, a corpse stands in the way. Well, that’s the lead into Crooked House a mystery of a well-heeled immigrant family three generations living at the family estate Three Gables in Swinly Dean, whose patriarch Aristide Leonides has died in rather uncertain circumstances.

Sophia, Aristide’s granddaughter, whose hand it is being sought, invites Charles to the house to meet her family and discretely see if he can assist the police, lead by Chief Inspector Traverner, as Charles’s father is an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard and perhaps he may be able to see into the heart of the matter as the inspector appears stymied in his efforts to delve into the family secrets.

Of the characters in residence at the estate are Aristide’s two sons Philip (Sophia’s father) and Richard, their wives Magda and Clemence respectively, and Sophia’s younger brother Eustice and her younger sister Josephine. Also, there is Sophia’s great-aunt Edith de Haviland, sister to Aristide’s first wife, and his second wife Brenda Leonides (fifty years his junior).

The story moves at a slow pace… leisurely taking the reader through a series of interactions and interviews with family. Charles tagging along with the inspector on his questioning of the family and their various motives. The real insight into the case come from Charles’s conversations with his father at his home. The old detective offering his insights into murder and murderers. From here the reader can gain a good perspective and a toehold as to the crooked solution to this puzzle.

Although I enjoyed the story (and the movie BTW), it did lag somewhat in its pacing. It was slow to unfold and even as the story’s climax was approaching the pace never really picked up. There really didn’t seem to be any sense of ‘urgency’ to this drama…

“Dad, what are murderers like?”

“Yes, I’ve never met a murderer who wasn’t vain … It’s their vanity that leads to their undoing, nine times out of ten. They may be frightened of being caught, but they can’t help strutting and boasting and usually they’re sure they’ve been far too cleaver to be caught.” He added: “And here’s another thing, a murderer wants to talk.”

The Night Stalker – Robert Bryndza

The Night Stalker – A police procedural mystery published by Bookouture, 2016 running 382 pages

This is the second novel in the DCI Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza. During a sweltering summer in London Erika’s homicide group is dispatched to the home of a well-to-do physician where his naked corpse lies strapped in bed with a plastic bag over his head. As Erika’s team begins to investigate, elements of the crime lead senior leadership of the precinct to wrap up what evidence her team has and turn the case over to a group specializing in sex crime. But Erika has suspicions that the case isn’t a crime of passion… that this murder is homicide.

Once again Erika has issues with the senior supervisor Marsh and the rest of the ‘chain of command’ as well… as she is written she is a “direct, driven and brilliant officer who didn’t suffer fools” and this story remains true to that. But she is also shown to be blunt, stubborn and won’t tolerate suck-ups.

In one exchange Marsh tells her not to pursue a person he knows had an alibi for the initial murder being investigated. But Erika keeps pushing him on that and tells him, “You know this kind of thing doesn’t work with me. Keep me in the dark and I’ll find a light switch”

And she also has an issue dealing with people in general. She puts forth her theory of solving crime “Often you have to piss people off to get to the truth,” and at the rate that Erika pisses off people in this novel, she should be up to her ass in truth.

As the heat wave draws on, the bodies stack up. From the initial physician, to a talk-show host, then an author of sadistic fiction… Erika continues to stubbornly pursue the Night Owl regardless of whose toes she’s trampling on.

Witch Way To Spellbinder Bay – Sam Short

Amazon – Kindle – Witch Way To Spellbinder Bay

This whole paranormal-YA-cozy mystery genre appears to be quite the rage these days, if my kindle recommendation feed has any say about it. So I bought a copy of this book as it’s a first in a series and gave it a quick read.

It starts with the introduction of our main character a down-on-her-luck young lady, Millie, living in a basement flat in London. She is the victim of an employment scam and has been conned out of her money but unwilling to accept defeat and set sail for Australia where she would go back to living with her aunt and uncle. She comes off as likeable, plucky and somewhat skeptical about the turn her life is about to take.

But curiosity wins and the story progresses as Millie begins taking steps to explore her new position in life, and the mysterious town of Spellbinder Bay. This is where she encounters many quirky denizens, a taxi driver, an elderly lady, a policeman and the sharp witted cockatiel, who assure her that things going on there will be explained to her later, and later, and later… which fortunately they do over time as the story progresses.

As Millie settles in to her first day here in town she is introduced to an elderly neighbor. Its his tragic accident that Millie witnesses. An accident? Or is it something more? And that is where the mystery is afoot! As Millie helps the policeman with his investigation she comes to learn more and more about herself, and her past, and her place in this strange new town.

The mystery ends in a well conceived way. I was left with a sense of completion as far as that goes, but then there are other levels to this story which help to sell me on the sequel to come… So, I do look forward to consuming the next of these sweet confections.

As George started the engine, he shouted to Millie. “Enjoy the walk back. I’ll see you around.”
“I’m not sure how long I’ll be around,” said Millie, her voice competing with the engine’s grumble. “I don’t think I’ll be staying.”

“Wait until the Board of Governors have spoken to you before you decide to leave,” said George. “They’ll explain the things you want to know.”

“The Board of Governors?” yelled Millie, as George pulled away in a spray of gravel and sand. “What’s that?”

“You’ll find out!” shouted George, speeding away in a cloud of dust.

Millie frowned. What on earth was going on? The day before she’d been living in a basement flat, unsure of how she was going to pay the rent, and now she was about to take a scenic walk from a lighthouse, back to a beautiful seafront cottage which she’d been told she owned. She pinched her thigh. The sharp pain told her that she was indeed awake.