UNSUB by Meg Gardiner #BookReview @DuttonBooks @MegGardiner1 #MustReads


Book description

A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?



First of a huge thank you to Janel over at Keeperofpages, whose fabulous review convinced me I needed to read UNSUB ASAP!

Hells bells if you consider yourself to be a crime thriller lover then you MUST read Unsub by Meg Gardiner, it’s not just good it’s a flipping fantastic book and I would go as far to say it’s probably one of the best crime books I’ve read EVER. I read so many crime thrillers it takes a lot to scare me but this book unnerved me to the extent I had to keep checking that the doors were locked and the lights were on. Unsub caused my heart to thump and my pulse to race pretty much throughout. Drawing inspiration from the Zodiac Killer, and likened to Se7en, and Silence of the Lambs this is one book you don’t want to miss if you like your crime thrillers graphic and disturbing.

As you can see this book comes with a pretty lengthy book description, so I don’t feel the need to rehash the plot in my review. I do enjoy a crime thriller with an intriguing serial killer at the heart of the plot, and Meg Gardiner has created a fascinating one, the Unsub aka The Prophet taunts law enforcement with his gruesome murders and his cryptic messages, he thrives on mind games and generating fear in a city where people are advised to be vigilant, no one knows who his next victim will be or why. I think The Prophet makes a very credible character I feel this is because as the reader you are aware the author drew inspiration from the very real Zodiac Killer, making him that much more terrifying and convincing.


Meg Gardiner has done a superb job with character development, building her grisly psychological thriller around detective Caitlin Hendrix, whose father failed to catch the killer decades earlier. Caitlin Hendrix is probably one of the most exciting protagonists I’ve come across in a long time the author has breathed life into her, you feel her frustration, her empathy for the victims and her complex relationship with her father make her someone that I WANT to know so much more about. Unsub is an unforgettable book, fast paced, chilling and downright frightening but I loved every page of this gripping crime thriller. Every scene, every word written is pivotal to the plot and the tension that radiates throughout definitely make this one of my top reads of 2018. Now I really can’t wait to read the sequel Into The Black Nowhere. In case you haven’t already guessed I would highly, highly recommended Unsub.

Buying links:     Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 420 pages

Publisher: Dutton Books; Reprint edition (2 Jan. 2018)

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to see I’m giving UNSUB the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page and plus this one gave me a #Major #BookHangover something I don’t suffer with very often!


The Photographer by Craig Robertson #BookReview @SimonschusterUK


Book description

The sergeant took some from each box and spread them around the floor so they could all see. Dozens upon dozens of them. DI Rachel Narey’s guess was that there were a few hundred in all.


Many of them were in crowd scenes, some just sitting on a park bench or walking a dog or waiting for a bus or working in shops. They seemed to have no idea they’d been photographed.

A dawn raid on the home of a suspected rapist leads to a chilling discovery, a disturbing collection hidden under floorboards. Narey is terrified at the potential scale of what they’ve found and of what brutalities it may signal.

When the photographs are ruled inadmissible as evidence and the man walks free from court, Narey knows she’s let down the victim she’d promised to protect and a monster is back on the streets.

Tony Winter’s young family is under threat from internet trolls and he is determined to protect them whatever the cost. He and Narey are in a race against time to find the unknown victims of the photographer’s lens – before he strikes again.


I have a BIG Confession to make “I have never read a book written by Craig Robertson” what a terrible book blogger I am! so my apologises to Mr Robertson in my defence I would say “I have so many books, but so little time”. Anyway I have now rectified the situation by reading The Photographer and I’m so glad I did! I loved it. I should mention this is the seventh book in the series, now I’m one of those readers that likes to start a series at the beginning as I always feel I’m at a disadvantage if I start a series midway, but strangely enough I didn’t feel like this reading The Photographer, so I would say it can easily be read as a standalone.

What a read The Photographer turned out to be, compelling, thought provoking and so well plotted, it’s a book that deals with some highly emotional and disturbing themes. I must mention that every scene, every description is relevant to the plot, and although uncomfortable at times the author writes with a great deal of sensitivity and insight.

This book made for a topical and a very credible read, you only have to pick up a newspaper to see such crimes are very much part of the society we live in today, alongside that comes the ugly side of human nature, the need to judge someone else, form an opinion without the facts and then trolling their venom and inflammatory comments on social media. Craig Robertson has created an array of characters who are well developed, each has a different opinion on the crimes committed, but each and everyone of them brings something to this well told story.

The author has written a compelling crime thriller but this book has so much more to offer there are so many themes that are bought to light in this book which I would like to discuss in more detail but then I would definitely be entering spoil territory which is never my intention when writing a review. What I will say is the author raises many issues, thoughts and views which in turn evoked strong emotions in myself. As I read The Photographer the tension became unbearable I found myself desperate for justice to be served for the victims. This has to be one of the best crime books I’ve read this year gripping, horrific but so cleverly plotted, this is one book I will be highly recommending to anyone and everyone.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 448 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (25 Jan. 2018)

**Author interview** With Robert Bryndza #TheGirlInTheIce @RobertBryndza @TheCrimeVault


Today to celebrate the fact that the  The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza is available today in bookshops and supermarkets, I decided to share my author interview with Robert Bryndza and my review for The Girl In The Ice which I first published way back in 2016. My love affair with this crime series continues to grow and if you haven’t started the series yet, don’t forget to pick yourself up a copy when you’re out shopping.

Today I’m really excited to have Robert Bryndza popping by the book review cafe. The Girl In The Ice is Roberts crime debut and also his first book to be published with Bookouture. From the publishers that brought you No. 1 bestselling Angela Marsons and Kathryn Croft, comes an incredibly addictive new series introducing fearless Detective Erika Foster. Already a top 100 ebook bestseller on pre-orders alone. It’s an absolutely fantastic book and if you love a good crime thriller, then I suggest you pop to Amazon and pre order it (well after you’ve read my interview with Robert Bryndza and review of course)

Hello Robert I’m so excited to have you pop by the book review cafe to answer some questions, I hope you don’t find them to boring

Hello Lorraine, thanks for welcoming me here today.


For those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book The Girl In The Ice can you provide us with an introduction?

I’m fairly hopeless at explaining things myself, so here is the book description…

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

Where did the idea For The Girl In The Ice come from?

I had the idea, several years ago when I was listening to the Kate Bush album 50 Words For Snow. It’s a very hypnotic and evocative album and captures the loneliness and beauty of snow and ice in winter. An image came into my mind of standing on a frozen lake, scraping away the snow and seeing a girls face staring back at me from underneath the ice.

You are better known for your best selling romantic comedies, what made you decide to change genre, and write a thriller?

I’ve always wanted to write a crime thriller, and I realised that if I didn’t do it soon, I never would. For the past year the character of Erika Foster has been slowly taking shape in my mind, and I’ve been scribbling down notes and story ideas for the past few years.

The Girl In The Ice is your debut thriller, and also your first book with publishers Bookouture, how does that feel? 

I can honestly say it has been a great experience. Up until now I’ve self-published my romantic comedies and I vowed that if I ever signed with a publishing house, it would have to be right for me. Bookouture is run by an incredibly talented bunch, and I’ve loved working with them.

Did you consider changing your name when writing The Girl In The Ice, and if so why did you decide to go with your original name? 

Yes, at one point I wanted to be called James Artin. I like the name James and it’s the name of the town where I live, Nitra spelt backwards! But Oliver Rhodes the head of Bookouture pointed out that I have a very loyal readership and that many of them read and enjoy different genres, and would follow me over to the dark side – and so far many of them have, plus a whole new bunch of people have discovered me as a crime thriller writer.

How do you research material for your book?

First stop is Google and I tend to order a load of books. I also try to talk to people too

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I have a notebook by my bed, and before I go to sleep I jot down what I’m planning to write the next day. I’m not sure if that’s strange, it is a bit of a ritual,

Do you write an outline before you start writing? 

Yes, I do. When I first started writing I didn’t, and it’s very hard without a plan. Saying that I tend not to stick to it or it will veer off in unexpected ways.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

Three years – and that was when I had given up. Then someone told me about self-publishing, and I uploaded my first book in 2012.

What is your least favourite part of the writing/publishing process?

First drafts are very hard, and always found writing the product description for the book a bit of a nightmare.

If you couldn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

I would be an actor

Describe your book in 5 words?

Can I have fourteen? Bookouture have come up with this tagline that I love; She’s fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes.

Describe yourself in 5 words?

Driven, insecure, likes to cook.

What authors/books do you like to read in your spare time?

Anything by Sue Townsend or Stephen King. I love Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone crime series and The Cormoran Strike books.

What book are you reading now?

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Are you able to tell me anything about your next book? 

Yes. I’m working on the next book in the DCI Erika Foster series. It’s called The Night Stalker, and it will be published later in the year.

During all the interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Is there anything you wish you could do, but can’t? I would love to be able to sing. In my head I sound amazing, but something happens between the thought and it coming out of my mouth… some kind of short circuit, and I sound awful!

And finally Kindle or Book?

Both. I love a proper book, but I live in Slovakia and it’s much easier to download to my Kindle.

Thank you Robert Bryndza  for stopping by the book review cafe, and answering my questions. I have a feeling this is going to be one hell of a series. 


About Robert Bryndza

Originally from the UK, Rob lives in Slovakia with his Slovak husband and their two crazy dogs. He originally trained as an actor, but was bitten by the writing bug in his mid-twenties and hasn’t looked back. His debut novel, The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard became an Amazon bestseller, and has grown to a best selling series of five books. In addition to his recent number one romantic comedy Miss Wrong and Mr Right, Rob is excited to embrace the darker side of life, writing his first crime thriller series. He is currently writing the second book in the series The Night Stalker which will be released in late Spring 2016.

You can find out more about the author here….

You can find out more about the author at http://www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to Robert Bryndza‘s New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

This is Robert Bryndza’s crime thriller debut, he is better known for writing romantic comedies, so I was interested to see if he managed to switch genres successfully. I’m a huge fan of crime thrillers, but the market is saturated with books of this genre, so for me a crime book, has to be of a high caliber, with a well written plot, good characterisation and above all else it has to keep me riveted. I’m so pleased to say the author does all this and more, he maybe a new author to this genre, but he certainly knows how to pack a punch!

From the prologue I was intrigued, as we are introduced to the victim minutes before she meets her death, and from there on in the pace picks up memento. From the start the tension is tangible, I found myself racing through the chapters, as I was intrigued to see where the plot led.

Robert Bryndza delivers a well plotted novel, which flows fluidly, his characters are well rounded, and very believable. Detective Erika Foster is the lead on the case, there is real depth to her character, she has a past which haunts her, she’s feisty, forthright and formidable, which provides for an intriguing protagonist. Erika has the makings of an excellent “serial” Detective, and I’m really curious to see how her character will develop in the authors next book.

The Girl In The Ice has all the elements needed to make a good crime thriller, it has plenty of twists and turns, with enough red herrings to keep the reader captivated to the very last page, it’s addictive, compulsive and much more. This is a very strong crime debut from Robert Bryndza and expertly told, he has now been firmly added to my list of “must read” authors. I will certainly be reading the next book in this series, and the one after that without hesitation.

Publishers: Bookouture 12th February 2016




The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd #Review.


Book description

A young schoolteacher falls for a man on Death Row whom she believes is falsely accused, only to begin wondering after their marriage – and his release.

Twenty years ago Dennis Danson was arrested for the brutal murder of Holly Michaels in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer-style true crime documentary that’s taking the world by storm – the filmmakers are whipping up a frenzy of coverage to uncover the truth and free the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Samantha may be thousands of miles away in Britain, but she is as invested in Dennis’s case as any of his lawyers. Perhaps even more so, as her letters to the convicted killer grow ever more intimate. Soon she is leaving her life behind to marry Danson and campaign, as his wife, for his release.

But when the campaign is successful, and Dennis is freed, events begin to suggest that he may not be so innocent after all. How many girls went missing in Red River, and what does Dennis really know?

My review

When I read the book description for The Innocent Wife I knew it was one I had to read. I’ve often wondered about the woman and men who write to prisoners on death row, and then go on to fall in love with them. I’m sure the reasons are complex and way beyond my comprehension, but intriguing never the less. If you are a fan of true crime documentaries then this is a book you won’t want to miss, as it’s a story which reads very much like a true crime story.

As you will see from the book description The Innocent Wife is a thriller about Samantha who strikes up a friendship with Dennis a prisoner on death row. What start’s out as a relationship based wholly on writing to each other, soon escalates into something far more intense. The author has created a very intriguing but flawed set of characters, I found myself sympathetic to Dennis’s predicament one minute, and then a couple of chapters later I found myself questioning his innocence and his motives for marrying Sam.You would think a character who has spent twenty years on death row would be the only flawed character, but no Sam is just as flawed, she’s obsessive with HUGE trust issues, not a good combination and doesn’t bode well for “a happy ever after”.

The Innocent Wife is told mostly in a documentary style, eye witness accounts and documents which gives the reader an in depth look into Dennis life and his personality. The plot is very much based on did he do it? Or not? So throughout the book has a sinister and threatening feel to it. I did think this book lacked any real drama or excitement, but then the focus is very much on the did he or didn’t he? conundrum. The author kept me guessing right up until the last few chapters, which is always a bonus and guaranteed to heighten my enjoyment of a book. Twisted and compelling The Innocent Wife is well worth a read if your looking for an original thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the final chapter.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 356 pages

Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (6 Oct. 2017)

The book reviews cafés #BookOfTheMonth **October 2017**



Hello November, oh how I hate the darker nights, the cold mornings, the rain I could go on and on! Anyway it’s the first of a new month which means it’s time to choose my Book of the month for October 2017. The Book Of The Month is chosen by myself at the beginning of every month, for the previous month. It goes to the author/book that I found outstanding for that month, and I may have given a higher rating than a 5 star review if I actually star rated books on my blog.

You all know by now I’m indecisive and very often choose more than one book. Yes I’ve chosen two books again this month! but I loved them both so much it was hard to choose between them, so without further ado here they are………

The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst


I do love a creepy and disturbing psychological thriller and The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst fits the bill perfectly. When a child is portrayed in a book as someone evil and not to be trusted I always find the read somewhat more creepy, I think it’s because children are seen as sweet and innocent you never expect them to scare the life out of you, but Jenny Blackhurst has created a character who gave me the heebie-jeebies. From the start this book made for a chilling and genuinely disturbing read that took me by surprise at every twisted turn. Full review can be read here The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst #BookReview @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite


This isn’t a fast paced book by any means, but I’m glad it wasn’t as Barbara Copperthwaite spends time intricately unravelling the mysteries of this family, which in turn heightens the suspense of what’s to come, you know it’s going to be bad, but to the why and wherefore’s, well let’s just say they were definitely worth the wait. I do enjoy a book that challenges me to guess the outcome, just when I thought I had it all figured out Barbara Copperthwaite threw an almighty curveball that left me reeling. Shocking, sad and very twisted this is definitely a book I would highly recommend. You can read my full review here……Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite #BookReview @BCopperthwait @Bookouture



Broken Bones by Angela Marsons 

Broken Bones by Angela Marsons #BookReview @WriteAngie @Bookouture

All The Colours In Between by Eva Jordan

All The Colours In Between by Eva Jordan #BookReview @EvaJordanAuthor @urbanebooks

November’s reads

These are some of the books I’m hoping to read during November I’ve decided by doing this I might actually keep to some sort of reading schedule or that’s my plan. As long as I keep away from NetGalley or don’t receive any “read me now because you know you want too” book post.

I do think I might be being a tad over optimistic as I’ve listed eight books, and as some of you may well know some weeks I struggle to read one 😂😂😂 Watch out for my Sunday catch up posts to see how I’m getting on or more likely not getting on.


What books will you be reading in November? What book did you read in October that would be your book of the month? I’m so nosey I would love to know, so please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

**Blog Tour** Dead To Me by Stephen Edger @StephenEdger @Bookouture 


Today I’m thrilled to be one of the two stops on the Dead To Me by Stephen Edger blog tour, you can read my partner in crime (excuse the rubbish pun) Amy’s review over at http://novelgossip.com. Stephen Edger has been on my #ToRead authors for a while now so when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Dead To Me I literally jumped at the chance.

Dead To Me is published by one of my favourite publishers on the planet Bookouture and they never fail to amaze me with their fabulous books, authors and covers and Dead To Me is a worthy addition to the Bookouture family along with Stephen Edger of course! You don’t even have to wait to get a copy of this thrilling read as it’s already been published, but before you pop over to Amazon and click the “buy” button you may like to read my review first or maybe not 😂

Book description

How do you catch a killer who knows your every move?

The woman lay flat on the table, her face to one side, her wrists bound with thick tape. Deep scratches marked the wood beneath her fingers, now resting cold and still…

When a woman’s body is found in an abandoned bar near the Southampton docks, Detective Kate Matthews is called in to lead the investigation. She must solve this case to prove she is coping with the death of a close colleague.

Kate knows a pile of ripped up newspaper cuttings discovered at the victim’s house must be a piece of the puzzle, but her team keep hitting dead-ends… Until she finds a disturbing clue that convinces her of three things: The murder is linked to the body of a man found hanging in a warehouse, she is on the hunt for a calculated serial killer, and the killer is watching her every move.

Kate realises there will be another victim soon, and that her own life is in grave danger, but no one else believes her theory. Can she find and stop the most twisted killer of her career, before another life is lost?

An absolutely NAIL-BITING thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, James Patterson and MJ Arlidge.


IMG_2357Dead To Me  is the first book in a new crime series featuring Detective Kate Matthews, I throughly enjoyed reading this book although for some reason I did expect it to be darker and possibly far more gruesome. I’m not sure if that’s because most of the books I read from Bookouture veer towards the darker side of crime, but although there were a couple of fairly grim scenes there werent any truly shocking scenes, so if you dislike to much “gruesome” in your crime thrillers I may have found just the book for you. Dead To Me has a compelling plot, with plenty of twists and turns, a MUST in a crime book.

When a torso turns up in a burned down warehouse Detective Kate Matthews is assigned the case, but it’s not long before she releases someone is watching her and taunting her, invading both her home and personal life, what follows is a suspense filled read. Stephen Edger has written a well plotted story that’s keeps the reader guessing right up until the last couple of “heart in your mouth” chapters. The author does a brilliant job in keeping the Serial Killers identity hidden, I thought I had the killer “sussed” about halfway through, but I got it spectacularly wrong I’m glad to say, I love it when an author misdirects you at every turn as it helps to maintain the tension.

Detective Kate Matthews now here’s an interesting but very flawed character, I’m sure many readers will struggle to “gel” with her, to be fair she doesn’t have very many likeable qualities, here’s a woman who abandoned her child to put her career first, although on the plus side she’s driven, feisty and reckless, that said I’m intrigued to see how Kate will develop as the series progresses. I think the author has taken a bold step in producing a character that has so many flaws, but it works as Kate’s a character I certainly won’t forget in a hurry, the author proves to me you don’t have to feel a measure of affinity towards a character to still enjoy a book.

Dead To Me is a promising start to a new crime series, it certainly made for an exciting and intensely twisted read. I’m sure crime thriller lovers who don’t like their books to be too dark or gruesome will really enjoy this one. Personally I found it a refreshing change to read a crime thriller that didn’t add gruesome scenes just for the shock value. I think the author has written a book that promises to be the first in a great crime series and I would happily pick up the next book in the series by the very talented Stephen Edger.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 353 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (17 Aug. 2017)



Stephen Edger is a British crime writer, who has been writing since 2010. In that time he has written and published eleven novels, and five short stories. He writes mysteries and thrillers focused on crime.

Stephen was born in the north-east of England, grew up in London, but has lived in Southampton since attending university in the year 2000. Stephen works in the financial industry, and uses his insider knowledge to create the plots of his books. He also has a law degree, which gives him a good understanding of the inner workings of the UK justice system.

Stephen is married, and has two children, and two dogs. He is passionate about reading and writing, and cites Simon Kernick and John Grisham as major influences on his writing style.

My thanks to Kim and Noelle over at Bookouture for my ARC, and allowing me to be part of this fabulous blog tour. 

You can follow the rest of the tour and catch up on other bloggers reviews….


#GuestPost by David Videcette @DavidVidecette


Today I’m thrilled to have David Videcette author of the highly gripping crime thrillers, The Theseus Paradox and The Detriment appear on the book review café, both books are based on true events, and are books I would highly recommend if you are looking for a highly original crime thriller

David Videcette has very kindly written a special guest post for me to share with you all, and what an intriguing post it is too. So without further ado…….



I’ve been in the book writing world for two years now, having come from life as a detective. I really enjoy it and I’ve met some truly fantastic people. But, standing in a room with readers, book bloggers, other authors and publishers, as I often do, I always have the same uneasy question buzzing around in my head: Why are all these people obsessed with murder and killing?

When you pick up pretty much any crime fiction novel, it’s full of death and murder. Crime fiction authors are obsessed with body count – the more cadavers and the more gruesome the death, the better.

Watch the average detective series on TV or pick up one of the hottest new paperbacks and you’d be forgiven for thinking that slaughtered corpses of murder victims were as numerous as pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
I have often wondered whether we should just rename it murder fiction. Why bother with the ‘crime’ prefix at all?

Murder capital of the UK?

One of my old favourites is the television series, ‘Midsomer Murders,’ based on Caroline Graham’s novels. Tally up the show’s total body count and it’s currently running at around 265. That’s almost four-and-a-half murders per episode in one tiny, rural area. And that’s not even including the twelve accidental deaths, eleven suicides and eight deaths from natural causes…

I write Crime thrillers based on truth events, so it got me thinking – do we ever stop to wonder how common these incidents are in real life? Or do we simply want to be entertained in a fantasy world of murder fiction?
Let’s start with some basics. (I’ll use the UK crime figures from 2015 for this bit.)

Murder is extremely rare – there were six and a half million crimes recorded in the UK in 2015 – just 573 of those were murders; that’s less than 0.01% of the overall total. 

If we delve further into those figures, we find that crime fiction not only over-represents murder, it also blurs the reality of who the victims are and how they are killed.

Who gets it?

In real life, most murder victims are men (64%) – and 2015 was an unusual year for male homicides, they normally make up nearly 70% of a year’s overall total. Men are mostly either stabbed or beaten to death. They are as likely to be killed by a stranger, as they are to be killed by someone they know. I think this underscores how lots of men end up dead. It’s mainly spontaneous violence by other men that kills them. Unplanned, messy, screaming, beating-each-other-up violence. In 2015, just five men were shot dead in the UK.

Women always make up the minority of homicide victims. They represent around 30% of the victims normally, but in 2015, this figure was running slightly higher at 36%. And if you’re a woman, again, in real life, the most common form of murder is to be stabbed. You are very unlikely to be beaten to death, unlike your male counterparts. Asphyxiation also features highly amongst female murder victims, perhaps demonstrating that many women are most likely to be killed by their partners in fits of rage following years of domestic abuse.

So crime fiction tends to major on women being the victims, which is far from the truth – as you can see from the figures. A juicy murder yarn also tends to depict women being killed by strangers. But in real life this is very unlikely – just twelve of the 186 victims that year were killed by strangers. Just 6.5% of all female murders are by strangers, a tiny proportion.

When we look at crime fiction books published over recent years, many of the most high-profile releases were big on serial killings perpetrated by one individual, but how many of these feature in the year’s crime stats? None. You’d have to go backwards some way to find statistics on any real life serial killers – male or female.

And here we find another difference between real life and ‘murder fiction’. The terms serial killer and mass murderer are often used interchangeably in fiction, but in real life, they are two distinct, separate things.

Mass murder is when the killing of more than one person takes place at the same time, with little or no passage of time between the killings. This might be an act of terrorism or people killing their own family all in one place.

A serial killer is someone who repeatedly kills, normally three or more people, and there is space between the killings. The space might be several hours, days, months or years, but it is often multi-site, rather than all in one place – and the case will often hinge on premeditation, rather than a split-second act in a mist of rage.


If we compare our 2015 real life stats with fictional events in Midsomer during 2015, sadly there were only four episodes of the show made that year. But don’t let that disappoint you, because in just those four episodes, we saw 12 locals strangled, 13 poisoned, 16 drowned – including one in a vat of soup – four killed by bow and arrow attack, and six decapitated. That’s 52 gruesome deaths in four episodes!

So, why the obsession with death and killing in crime fiction? Why is it that screenwriters and authors keep churning out book-after-book that doesn’t represent what is actually happening in real life? 

Maybe we see murder as the ultimate crime? It does after all have the most serious penalties. Perhaps as readers, we want to escape, to explore our darkest fears in a safe and secure environment?

Supply and demand

Perhaps it is easier to ask: Who creates the market for killing, in the world of crime fiction? Is it what the reader wants, or is it that there is nothing else on offer?

One thing I’ve found since being in the book business, is that it is dominated by women. The agents are mainly women, the editors are mainly women, the publishers are mainly women and the book buyers and bloggers are mainly women. And as authors, many of us are bound to write what our agents and publishers tell us that they believe the market wants.

As any large publisher will tell you, as many told me – ‘Most of our readers are middle-aged women who are married with children. Remember that’s who you’re writing books for.’

Industry figures back this up, showing that around 70 to 80 per cent of crime fiction readers are women, and 80 per cent of those signing up for writing workshops to become aspiring crime writers are also women.

So why is it that mainly middle-aged women with children who love to read and write about murder and serial killers – the blood thirstier the better?
Various people have hypothesised that women, many of whom see themselves as vulnerable, want to explore the darkest depths of the human mind, and that crime fiction is a metaphor through which they see themselves.

So, how do we explain the rise in novels which depict women as the killers themselves? And how likely is that?


Women do kill, of course, but again it’s rare. Female serial killers are even rarer. There are currently just three women in the UK who have been given life imprisonment without parole for this crime.

When women do kill, it’s mostly domestic-related killing of partners.

Women adore murder

Germaine Greer once wrote that, ‘Women have very little idea how much men hate them.’ Although I do not agree with her, I do wonder if this rise in the popularity of the female killer in crime fiction, is down to women seeing the world as male dominated and wanting to explore ways of killing the men that they hate and that they believe hate them – metaphorically speaking? Or are there just a whole bunch of women who do secretly hate men and want to kill as many of them as possible?


I don’t have the answers. But you can see why I worry at these book events, surrounded by these women, hungry for blood…

Perhaps for both women and men, crime fiction gives us all an outlet for our hidden sides; the vindictive avengers within us who hold angry and bitter grudges against those who’ve wronged us in the past.

In real life, murder is rare, most often perpetrated by a partner and over in an instant. But because of its rarity and shock factor – murder in fiction is a simple hook to cling to. In other words, it’s an ‘easy sell’.

But when I look at some of the most harrowing crimes I’ve investigated as a detective in real life, murder has featured very little. Where are the books about getting into the depraved mind of a serial male rapist who drugs and rapes other men?

How many books have you read that look at the effects of serious fraud perpetrated on a female victim who then has to turn to a haunting and tragic life of prostitution to survive? How many books look at drug addiction and what twisted and degenerate acts mothers will do in front of their children, just to be sure of their next fix. 

But these would be far harder to write, and far harder to sell.

So maybe we should just stick with the slaughter.

After all… everybody loves a good body count?


IMG_2187David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator with twenty years’ policing experience, including counter-terror operations and organised crime.

He is the author of detective thrillers The Theseus Paradox and The Detriment. Based on true events, David’s books are perfect for readers who like their crime fiction as close to real crime as it gets.

He loves to interact with fans of all crime fiction genres. Readers can chat to him on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. For the chance to win a signed copy of David’s latest thriller, pop in your Email address here


My thanks to David Videcette for the fabulous guest post and the images shown on this post.