The Binding Song by Elodie Harper

the binding songJanet has her work cut out for her at HMP Halvergate. A series of suicides has rocked the prison and it doesn’t seem as if they are going to stop any time soon.

Not only does she have to deal with the insidious nature of her clients crimes and their questionable characters, she also has to cope with staff members with ulterior motives. Inmates seem convinced that a ghost, a spirit or perhaps even a demon is killing fellow inmates.

The real question is whether the evil spirit is real or is it just mass hysteria. Mass hysteria spreading through the prison from inmate to inmate and also to the staff. The power of suggestion is strong, especially in a somewhat solitary environment.

At the same time Janet is trying to deal with the disintegration of her relationship. It seems impossible to fit two ambitious careers under one roof.

I have to be honest Arun was a bit of a toad and Janet should have used some of that tough guy attitude on him. Take no mercy, instead of being a simpering weakling afraid of being alone. There are plenty more fish in the sea.

What Harper does quite well is to portray the prisoners as vulnerable men, and in the same breath she reminds the reader that they are criminals and some of them are sexual deviants. The type of men who wouldn’t think twice about committing an act of brutality upon an innocent person, and yet still want the support, comfort and safety they secretly crave.

Personally I do think Janet should have been more diligent about her own safety, which was put at risk quite a few times. A prison isn’t a playground for the pseudo intellectual to practice their theoretical knowledge in.

The story has a gothic feel to it, which is mixed with a plain old crime scenario. The creepier element could have been drawn out more and given more depth. Harper brings the crime and the ghostly together to create a tense and often worrying read.

Buy The Binding Song at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Street Soldier by Andy McNab

street soldierSean has chosen the path of least resistance by joining and being part of the criminal gang on his housing estate. He takes the rap and a prison sentence to ensure his brothers in arms go free.

It is quite easy to forget that Sean and his fellow prisoners are in a detention centre or prison for juveniles. They are all hardened by their upbringing and tend to put on a dog-eat-dog facade to maintain some semblance of authority amongst their peers.

They are not quite adults and yet have ended up in an environment that isn’t suitable for the meek, the depressed or the faint of heart. When Sean is presented with an opportunity to change his luck and his future he doesn’t hesitate to grab the chance

On a more positive note this scenario is a way of rehabilitating teens with no other alternative than gang-life or a life of crime. A chance to teach them skills and responsibility instead of them spending a lifetime in and out of prison.

The question is whether you can teach an old dog new tricks or will Sean automatically slide back into a life of crime and end up back on the easy path.

It is a YA read, and aside from a few swearwords it is also suitable for older teens. The whole premise is supposed to be the subliminal message that even if you make a serious mistake there is always a way forward. You just have to choose to make a more positive impact in life. Sometimes you have to pick the road with the bigger obstacles instead of walking down the easy road.

Buy Street Soldier at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

That Night by Chevy Stevens

that nightToni hasn’t had the luxury of building a career or a life. She and her boyfriend have been stuck behind bars for over 15 years for the vicious murder of her younger sister.

After the two of them are released Ryan decides he wants revenge, which ruffles quite a few feathers. Suddenly every crime in town is being laid at their feet.

Ryan and Toni have a target on their backs yet again. Knowing the truth about what happened isn’t the same as being able to prove it.

One of the things that really annoyed me was the reaction of the parents. No compassion for Toni at all. Not an inkling of doubt about the fact she has become a vicious killer overnight.

I’m sure there are quite a few readers who have grown up in a situation where the youngest daughter is treated like a ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ princess.

Fact is Toni tried to warn her parents, especially her mother, but she wouldn’t listen. It’s easier to presume the guilt of the elder daughter than question that of the supposedly innocent younger daughter.

The other issue was the way Toni reacted to them being in her house and her room. Seriously? Come on now. They would have been flying out backwards if it had been me, and the sister would have experienced my wrath. Don’t ever mess with the inner sanctum.

The plot is fine, a bit predicable perhaps, but the writing is a bit on the amateur side. Way too she said, he said.

Buy That Night at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Redemption Road by John Hart

frontpage-redemption1Hart is the personified storyteller with a talent for words. His writing is excellent. The premise also needs a certain insight, expertise and research to get the reactions just right when it comes to the rape. His description of the Channing and Liz’s experience in the basement, and their emotional and physical reactions, is realistic and on point.

The flashbacks, the denial and the whispers in the ear, the smell of his breath and the nightmares are all part of the daily torture. Channing and Liz are connected on a level no one else can understand. They survived the basement together.

The truth may set one of them free, but it may make the other seek deeper into the quagmire of her feelings of shame. Powerless instead of powerful, no control and ultimately becoming the victim instead of being the saviour.

Ask yourself whether you would kill, if you found a young woman, man or child being brutally assaulted. If given the opportunity and weapon in hand would the anger blind you and take over? Vigilante justice instead of legal recourse?

Liz finds herself applauded by some, whilst others just see her as a liability. A dangerous cop, who kills instead of bringing in the suspects. Not everything is black and white in the grey shades of daylight.

Simultaneously an old case has reared it’s head again, because the killer is being released. Not everyone believed he was a shoe-in for the brutal killing but the new bodies piling up since his release seem to suggest otherwise.

Hart writes a compelling plot with plenty of twists and turns. Regardless of which crime he focuses on, the other one never sinks below the surface. They are both given equal attention and run smoothly alongside each other.

I really liked the way the author dealt with the abuse and assault element of the story.The reactions of the women, the parents and the colleagues. The shame, blame and the guilt.

Buy Redemption Road at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.