My reading material recently seems to be full of borrowed crime novels (my latest book reviews of The Darkness, and HeadHunters) and this is another! This is how it ends was really popular around the summer of last year and was The Times Crime Book of the month and Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month and had rave reviews. I saw it in Tesco, quite a few times but didn’t get round to purchasing the book. So when my friend recommended the book, I added it to the pile.

The story starts with a man that has been murdered and is found by Ella Riordan. Ella is a social activist, blogger and PhD student researching social activism from Durham but living in London. The body was found at a party celebrating her Kickstarter project to help her fund a book on giving those residents that have been forced out of their homes a voice. Ella calls on her best friend, social activist Molly Fader as she is in shock and doesn’t know what to do. The story is about who is the murderer and becomes an interesting game as Molly becomes more suspicious as to who Ella Riordan really is and her involvement with the deceased man that night.

The story is told through two narratives, Molly’s and Ella’s. Molly is a seasoned campaigner, she used to be a teacher and still does teach occasionally to keep the money coming in. But she is also a photographer and campaigner and has been campaigning or photographing campaigns for decades. Molly meets Ella after a protest they both attended and Ella broke her arm after being hit with a police baton. Molly provides Ella with the contacts that she needs for her PhD and is Ella gets involved with a protest regarding Molly’s flat being pulled down.

The book honestly explores the negative effects of gentrification. Particularly in London how that property developers are ruthlessly developing London for their own gain. How families are having new flats, that they could never afford replace their homes and the social tension that this creates. For those of you reading that live in the UK. We all know the problems about London and other large parts of the UK being unaffordable for the majority of people that work in those areas, particularly if you are a first time buyer.

A quote which stood out for me regarding this was a family that was moving out the block of flats that Ella is campaigning to save. Molly speaks to the family and the young girl, Beth, is at a Russell group University in London which she will leave when she moves to her new area.

“She can take the points from her first year and transfer them to another college,’ Stacey says with the confidence of someone who doesn’t realise the huge gulf between the educational standards of a Russell Group University and whatever her new city has to offer…”

Molly really feels for Beth and young person growing up in the UK today and feels that she did have it slightly easier than young people today.

“My generation ‘stood on our own two feet’ thanks to generous grants and affordable rents and no security tags hidden in the back of expensive textbooks, jobs you could pick up and leave on a whim, knowing the place across the road would be hiring. It’s easy to forget how wide and well sprung our safety nets were.”

I found the narrative at times hard to follow, it didn’t help that I didn’t like either Ella or Molly. The ending did catch me by surprise and was not what I was expecting as I was constantly second guessing on what really happened. If you like a book that is quite a slow burner and an explosive ending than this book would suit.

Nordic noir books seem to be very popular at the moment (in case you were wondering what Nordic noir is (yes I had to google it too) it is a type of scandinavian crime fiction featuring bleak urban settings and dark storylines). I am a bit late jumping onto the bandwagon having unintentionally got on as my friend gave me a few books to read which happen to be from that genre. One book which landed in my lap and I love is The Darkness.

The Darkness is a story about Detective Inspector Hulda Hermansdottir. Hulda has been working for the Icelandic Police for most of her life. She is due to retire at the end of the year and although often she has been frustrated at work as she felt her talent has been overlooked and that she has never been popular at work. It is better than the alternative which is sitting in her flat alone.

Hulda finds from her boss Magnus (who like every other male has risen through the ranks quickly) that Hulda’s retirement is being brought forward to make way for another male high flyer. Hulda determined to finish the week out and to prove a point (more to herself than her boss) chooses a cold case where a russian refugee, Elena died. It was written down as a suspected suicide but Hulda wasn’t convinced. Especially as the person in charge of the case, Hulda felt was incapable.

Hulda opens the case and on discovering another young woman is missing. The reader finds themselves on a journey through Iceland, seeing how small and isolating it is. But also on a journey through Hulda’s life as we understand why she makes the decisions she makes.

The book has a really good plot and the ending is such a surprise but completely logical. I genuinely did not know who killed Elena until right at the end because there were potential suspects with possible motives.

The geographical descriptions of Iceland with me being a huge Geography geek, I really enjoyed and I felt that it easily transports the reader away from the train/chair/bed location of where they are reading the book to wherever Hulda is or where an unnamed narrator is in every other chapter of the book. Those descriptions are a very important part of the book and really help set the scene.

Ragnar has two more books in his ‘Hidden Iceland’ series both of which I will get round to reading at some point! Have you read any Ragnar Jonasson books?

Image of the book Gallery of the Dead by Chris Carter

*Spoiler alert – this post may contain spoilers.

I am not a massive crime fan but I really love Chris Carter’s books. I have already reviewed two of them One by One and The Night Stalker but the Gallery of the Dead, released earlier this year, is by far I feel his best yet.

The Gallery of the Dead starts of with a model who is found skinned with blood everywhere and latin carved into her back by a knife. In a twist of events this time the FBI (Special Agent Fisher and Special Agent Williams) are involved as they have had similar discoveries and think it is a serial killer. In addition one of the murder victims happened to be a niece of one of the FBI’s members. This family link in return slowed the FBI investigation down because they were searching for somebody who they thought were killing in revenge but as the bodies pile up it is clear that it isn’t a revenge killing so the FBI and LAPD shift focus to thinking that the killer is creating masterpieces with the bodies.

It is really interesting reading about the relationship that the LAPD and FBI have, it is clear Hunter doesn’t really care and just wants to catch the killer. Garcia and Special Agent Fisher take an instant dislike to each other to the extent that when the FBI gives them the low down on the case so far Garcia nearly finds himself off the case with all the sarcasm he is dishing at Special Agent Fisher.

I found this part of the book harder to read as I really like Garcia and this how backwards and forwards tit for tat really makes him sound like ass. Special Agent Fisher sounds like ass too and this image builds up of her as being this ice queen. She answers her phone and Garcia spots that the image being of a teenager with down syndrome. We later discover that is her daughter. This theme of the LAPD and FBI not getting along as much runs through the book and I wonder (with me being a British reader) whether this is a common theme in American crime.

In this book you can see Hunter is dating a criminal Psychologist, Professor Tracey Adams from UCLA. Long time readers of the books you will know that Hunter keeps himself to himself which I think, and I feel indicated, is certainly due to the fact that his mother died of cancer when he was seven and his father died in a shooting. The relationship doesn’t develop much in this book as Hunter won’t let it. Hunter wants to run a few background checks. I definitely think this storyline will be explored on more detail in the next book.

As we move through the book, the chapters are interspersed with criminal killing the victims, these chapters really have lots of gruesome details and it makes you feel sick. Nearer the end, Hunter and Garcia find out that the killer is collecting body parts and via Fisher they have tracked down his whereabouts to a disused farm in the middle of nowhere. As Garcia and Hunter take the house and Fisher and Williams take the barn, shots are fired and we find that Agent Fisher has shot dead Agent Williams, Agent Fisher then turns on Hunter and Garcia and shoots them both (I won’ tell you why and if they survive, you will have to read the book!)

That plot twist was intense, certainly more than the other books I have read by Chris. The book is long at over 500 pages but it was enough to keep me going and entertained. The only things that are starting to annoy me about the book’s is repeating Garcia’s and Hunters back story to the extent that I am pretty certain Chris has copied it word from word from another of his books. To sum up, if you like a fast paced book with plenty of gore then this book is perfect.

Image of the book The Night Stalker by Chris Carter

I am not usually the one for crime stories or programmes but at the moment I seem to be loving anything crime related! I have read Chris Carters book’s before (read my review on One by One here) and my partner got given a couple of books for his Birthday – hence I stole them off him!

The Night Stalker is about a criminal who is going around killing women. Not only are women dying but the women’s mouth and vagina have been stitched shut. In another case Whitney Meyers a private investigator is investigating the disappearance of Katia Kudrov, a talented principal violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hunter’s and Whitney’s paths cross as Hunter thinks Katia could be the killer’s next victim.

I really enjoyed The Night Stalker, particularly the ending because there is such a twist that I really did not see coming at all. In the book Hunter come’s across many suspects that I found it really quite difficult to tell who it was which adds to the whole fun guessing who it is. Chris Carter as well as being a author is also a criminal psychologist and his knowledge helps make the crimes more realistic, you don’t feel as if the crime is unrealistic and this adds to this thriller.

Which Chris Carter book is your favourite?

 

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