NO CROSSED WIRES HERE FOR CARVER’S GOOD SAMARITANS, IT’S A BLOODY GOOD READ.

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GOOD SAMARITANS AW PR1.inddWe’ve come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell summoned his assistant via a early telephone from the next room. Data from the GSMA, the body representing worldwide mobile network operators, shows Two-thirds of the world’s population are connected by mobile devices. By 2020, almost 75% of the global population will be connected by mobile phones. But with the development of the smart phone, there are a few draw backs, for one we are less reliant on our memory to recall important numbers. I can still remember life without a mobile and think it strange how our life seems to fall apart nowadays if we misplace it. As well as that, there’s  another thing the development of the smart phone hasn’t managed to over come, the miss-dialed number. This easily done thing is the catalyst for this months book. Its Good Samaritans by will Carver and published by Orenda books (www.orendabooks.co.uk) on the 10th November.

I read this book without looking at any surrounding blurb or reviews so I maybe came to it with preconceptions based on the title. The story introduces you to five main characters. Maeve and Seth are a married couple going through a bad patch. They don’t talk much and spend their evenings on the sofa watching reality shows. Maeve drinks a little and Seth is an insomniac. They enjoy sly digs and do things to irritate each other. Seth is bullied at work by his boss. He phones random strangers late at night hoping to talk and make a connection. They may represent a familiar picture to many couples. In fact Carver points out a couple of times that they are just like you. Ant, a young man who hasn’t recovered from the tragic death of a friend, tries to make himself feel better by helping others at a Samaritans call centre.

A lonely suicidal young woman makes a call to the Samaritans at the exact time Seth dials her number and a connection is made. Consider that the final main character is Detective Sergeant Pace, who is on the hunt for a serial killer and you might expect that something nasty is about to happen. And from this point It gets really hard to review this novel with giving too much away and spoiling it for potential readers. I can’t talk further about the plot but will just say, wow!

Mobile-phones

I read the book in a day and that was because it got me hooked. All I can say is expect to be surprised and shocked. The story starts off at a slow pace. Everything is quite dull, every day and mildly depressing but then suddenly it’s turned on its head. There’s a dramatic change of gear. The story becomes depraved and sexy. Be prepared for full on sex and violence. There is however, humour too, although it’s very dark.

At infant school, in the 70’s, our weekly assembly included a bible story, read to us by one of the teachers. A selection of story books were stored in the bookcase in one corner of the room and I always yearned to hear of Jonah getting eaten by a whale but usually, in fact, almost every week it seemed, the teacher picked the story of the good Samaritan. I suppose they wanted to instill in us the value of caring for others and that sometimes the most unexpected person comes to your aid. I guess their plan worked as despite being agnostic, the story and it values stayed with me.

 

This is English author Will Carver’s (@willcarver) fourth book, his other three are Girl

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Will Carver

Four (2011), The Two (2011) and Dead Set (2013), which all feature his police detective DI January David. He spent his early years in Germany before returning to the UK aged eleven. There turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television and went on to set up a successful theatre company in Winchester. He currently lives in Reading with his family where he runs a fitness and nutrition company while writing his next thriller.

Part of the joy of this rollercoaster of a read was that Carver does his ground work. The characters are fully conceived with their flaws and desires and you really buy into them.

The book makes you think about how well you really know your colleagues and neighbours. Could there be a serial killer amongst them? According to the FBI a serial killer is defined as someone who has killed three or more victims. Thomas Hargrove a homicide archivist and founder of the not for profit Murder Accountability Project, estimates that there are 2000 undetected serial killers operating in the states. Suddenly the odds are shrinking! Will Carver’s book may be titled, ‘Good Samaritans’ but it seems there’s a big predator waiting to get you inside. Maybe I should have got to listen to Jonah instead? Now where’s my bleach?….

This book was reviewed as part of the Random Things  blog tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below and see if we agree.

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

Final Good Samaritans BT Poster

GUSTAWSSON LAYS THE FIRST BLOCK IN NEW CRIME SERIES

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BLOCK 46 COVER AW.inddGreat things come in pairs they say, hands, eyes, ears. More practical things include comfy shoes; or slippers that you yearn to slip into after work and the soft white pillows which take you to the land of nod each evening. Then there are things that you wished didn’t come in pairs, but usually have a habit of doing so, such as buses and taxis.

Great detectives usually come in pairs as well. There have been some great partnerships in crime fiction down through the years, such as The Hardy Boys, Agatha Christies Poirot and Hastings and Tommy and Tuppence as well as more recently Morse and Lewis. These have been male dominated. There have been a few female duo’s: take Rizzoli and Isles for example and  not forgetting eighties TV cop duo Cagney and Lacey. This brings us to this month’s  second book review, which sees the introduction of a brand new all-female crimefighting partnership. It’s Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson, published by Orenda Books (www.orendabooks.com) in May of this year.

 

When the mutilated body of a talented jewelry designer is found in a bleak snow swept marina in Sweden, her friends and family travel from London to recover the body. Among them is her close friend, French true crime writer Alexis Castells. She starts to do some digging of her own into the case. In the local police station she bumps into an old associate, Emily Roy  (a profiler for the RCMP Royal Canadian Mounted Police) who is on loan to Scotland Yard. Her reason for being in the same place at the same time? The body of a boy was found on Hampstead Heath in London with the same wounds. Is this the work of a serial killer or a weird coincidence? The two women team up and work the case hopping back and forth across the North Sea. As they do, they discover a link to a World War Two concentration camp. Can the two women get to the bottom of this mystery before the killer strikes again or before culprit turns from pursued to pursuer?
Of the two world wars, the WW2 and the Holocaust has provided writers with a vast and rich vein of material with which to blame the evil deeds of criminals on. Block 46 is no exception. What Gustawsson does is mix the bloody reality of Schindler’s list with Scandi Noir and in doing so produces a very enjoyable and original novel.

 

Johanna Gustawsson

Johanna Gustawsson

What first excited me about this book when it landed on my hall floor was the dramatic picture on the cover. The silhouette of a lone figure in hat and coat walking between two barbed wire fences, all too familiar as those of a concentration camp. But also, combined with the title, they recall images seen on the numerous grainy news reels of that period.
The two main characters are hardly strangers and have some history which is easily explained, thus allowing the story to flow seamlessly, without having to go through a long-winded and roundabout introduction which in some instances distracts from a story. They are also different in their own way, just like Holmes and Watson, Castells is the grounded one who keeps the Canadian Roy, with her unique investigative techniques and strange habits, grounded. It will be interesting to see how the two characters develop over the coming books.

 
I’m a little bemused as to why the author needed a translator of the book as it seems she has been living and working in the UK for many years. So, if you can walk into Sainsbury’s and buy a pint of milk or order a drink at a bar or even a meal from a menu. Why do you feel you need to have a translator rewrite your book? OK, there are a few easy explanations, she finds it easier to write in her native French or possibly that the book was originally written in French.

 
Another thing that did get me was the sudden wrapping up of things at the end. It seemed unrealistically quick. Suddenly one of our heroine’s is in mortal danger and next the cavalry rides in out of nowhere. It’s as if Johanna got tired near the end of the story and just decided to save them and neatly wrap it up.
This is French born Gustawsson’s second book, her first “On Se Retrouvera” which means We will meet each other again.Was adapted for French television in 2015 and watched by over 7 million viewers. She has worked previously for the French press and television, before moving to her adopted home of England with her Swedish husband. She is currently writing the second book in the Roy & Castells series.
So, if you are looking for a new twist on Scandi Noir and the creation of a new crime fighting double act with a very international flair to it, then this is right up your street. I will with wait with bated breath for the next instalment in this series. Meanwhile you can stop off at your local book shop and get it or download it.