#BookReview Gallowstree Lane (Collins and Griffiths #3) by Kate London @CorvusBooks

Gallowstree LaneAbout the Book

Please don’t let me die. Please don’t. The final words of teenager Spencer Cardoso as he bleeds out on a London street, his life cut short in a single moment of rage.

Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw’s not interested in the infantry. Shaw likes the proper criminals, the ones who can plan things.  For two years he’s been painstakingly building evidence against an organized network, the Eardsley Bluds. Operation Perseus is about to make its arrests.

So when a low-level Bluds member is stabbed to death on Gallowstree Lane, Shaw’s priority is to protect his operation. An investigation into one of London’s tit-for-tat killings can’t be allowed to derail Perseus and let the master criminals go free.

But there’s a witness to the murder, fifteen-year-old Ryan Kennedy. Already caught up in Perseus and with the Bluds, Ryan’s got his own demons and his own ideas about what’s important. As loyalties collide and priorities clash, a chain of events is triggered that draws in Shaw’s old adversary DI Sarah Collins and threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane…

Format: Hardcover (368 pages)         Publisher: Corvus
Publication date: 7th February 2019 Genre: Crime

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My Review

I haven’t read either of the previous two books in the series – Post Mortem and Death Message – but Gallowstree Lane worked perfectly well as a standalone, although when I get the chance I’d like to go back and read the first two.

Given the series title, I assumed (Sarah) Collins and (Lizzie) Griffiths were a team but in fact it turns out their paths have crossed only briefly in the course of previous cases. However, through different routes they find themselves both involved in finding the murderer of Spencer Cardoso: Sarah as Senior Investigating Officer on the case and Lizzie through the arrest of Spencer’s friend, Ryan, for a seemingly unrelated crime. The trail leads to a gang leader who is the subject of a major organized crime investigation led by Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw.

The book provides a vivid picture of gang culture and how young men, often from deprived backgrounds, can be drawn into drugs, petty crime and violence by manipulative individuals, with often tragic outcomes. Sadly, the latter can just become one more statistic, or a brief mention in a newspaper. As Sarah observes, ‘The specifics of the dead boys did not generally capture the public’s imagination. These were, in the main one-act dramas and not very good ones either; no complication, no twist to make them interesting, no learning for the persons involved.’ In some respects, Detective Inspector Shaw shares this view but only because he is single-mindedly focused on the major operation he is running. ‘His business was to catch the proper bad guys.’

I think it shows the skill of the author to make Ryan, the witness to the murder of his friend, in any way a sympathetic character. He’s a young man traumatised by what he saw and plagued with guilt for running away.  He finds himself in a situation he can’t control and is pitifully loyal to those who view him in reality as no more than a useful tool in their criminal enterprises.

The book contains meticulous detail about police procedure, no doubt gleaned from the author’s time in the Metropolitan Police Service: the extensive paperwork, the often repetitive tasks, the painstaking attention to detail, the frustration when progress is slow, the black humour, and the adrenaline rush of the sudden breakthrough when ‘the trance of assessment and action that every police officer learns’ takes over. I liked the way the book shows the impact of the role on officers’ personal lives, whether that’s the long shifts, the unsocial hours or the traumatic scenes that linger long in the memory. And, as the story progresses we see just how much of a multi-disciplinary effort an investigation can be and what impact the use of modern technology can make (although it may make you more on the look out for CCTV cameras as you stroll down your local street).

I thought Gallowstree Lane was a cracking police procedural. It kept me hooked until the final pages and I’m only sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to reading it.

My thanks to Corvus for my review copy via Readers First. Gallowstree Lane is the final book in my 20 Books of Summer 2021. Phew, made it!

In three words: Gritty, compelling, authentic

Try something similar: Payback (DI Charley Mann #1) by R.C. Bridgestock

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Kate London 1 credit Tim FlachAbout the Author

Kate joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 2006. She finished her career working as part of a Major Investigation Team on the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide Command. She now writes full time. (Photo credit: Publisher author page)

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#BookReview Three Little Truths by Eithne Shorthall @CorvusBooks @ReadersFirst1

Three Little TruthsAbout the Book

On the idyllic Pine Road, three women are looking for a fresh start…

Martha was a force of nature, but since moving to Dublin under mysterious circumstances, she can’t seem to find her footing.

Robin was the ‘it’ girl in school. Now she’s back at her parents’ with her four-year-old, vowing that her ex is out of the picture for good.

Edie has the perfect life, but she longs for a baby, the acceptance of her neighbours, and to find out why her dream husband is avoiding their dream future.

The friendships of these women will change their lives forever, revealing the secrets, rivalries and scandals that hide behind every door…

Format: Paperback (400 pages)        Publisher: Corvus Books
Publication date: 3rd October 2019 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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My Review

I enjoyed Eithne’s previous book Grace After Henry so I’ve been looking forward to finding time to read Three Little Truths. To provide additional motivation I included it in my list for the 20 Books of Summer 2021 reading challenge hosted once again by Cathy at 746 Books.

Well, all I can say is that it’s hard work being a newcomer to Pine Road because, based on Martha’s experience, the female residents of the road will be all over you like a rash before you’ve even finished unpacking.  Or they’ll be exchanging snippets of information about you and your family in the Pine Road WhatsApp group.  As one of the characters remarks, ‘Pine Road makes the Spanish Inquisition look like an amateur operation’.

Speaking of which, the sections showing the messages exchanged between group members were a lot of fun to read with some real laugh out loud moments.  For example, when the subject matter of the “groundbreaking” newspaper column by Bernie, self-appointed matriarch of Pine Road, is revealed. Or the discussion about the precise specifications for an item to be procured for a planned street party which includes the instruction to ‘avoid gender specific shades’ of wrapping paper.  And who knew that arguments over parking could illicit comparisons with the Middle East conflict.

Before long it becomes clear that amongst the residents of Pine Road it’s not so much three little truths as a plethora of big lies, some of a more serious nature than others.

Of the three main characters, Martha’s story was the one I found most compelling and it was her I found myself rooting for as more about her family’s experiences before moving to Pine Road is revealed.  The author cleverly found a way to give the reader a direct insight into Martha’s thoughts and feelings about an event which was clearly traumatic for both her and her family, and has left her confused and uncertain about how to deal with it.

And this is where I began to have some reservations about the book. Although I enjoyed the humour, it made me slightly uneasy to be laughing at WhatsApp messages about stolen newspapers one minute and the next experiencing Martha’s obvious mental anguish or witnessing the curve balls life can throw for other residents.

Having said that, although I’d never want to live there, I did enjoy being introduced to the residents of Pine Road. ‘A curved row of twenty-one houses. Stacks of red bricks divided by iron gates. A collection of lives where the only automatic connection was a postcode. A place where families explanded, imploded and renewed. A place where people lived in company, alone and often, if they lasted long enough, both.’ 

I received an advance review copy courtesy of Atlantic Books and Readers First.

In three words: Witty, amiable, engaging

Try something similar: The Secrets of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll

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EithneShortallAbout the Author

Eithne Shortall studied journalism at Dublin City University and has lived in London, France and America. Now based in Dublin, she is chief arts writer for the Sunday Times Ireland. Her debut novel, Love in Row 27, published in 2017, was a major Irish bestseller, and her second novel, Grace After Henry, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and won Best Page Turner at the UK’s Big Book Awards. (Bio/photo credit: Publisher author page)

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