Splitsville (Splitsville #1), by William Bernhardt

Seven stars

Eager to try the newest series by William Bernhardt, I turned to this debut novel. Always one to push the limits of the law, Bernhardt delivers something exciting and full of thought-provoking writing. Kenzi Rivera has something to prove, both to herself and those around her. When she was passed up for promotion within the family law firm, Kenzi uses that to propel herself into a worthwhile career. When she is approached by a young scientist to help win a custody battle, Kenzi puts her all into the case. Things take an interesting turn and Kenzi is soon defending her client in a murder trial, which will surely push everyone outside their comfort zones. It’s a trial like no other for Kenzi and her client. Bernhardt delivers a curious series debut that will have readers eager to forge onwards.

After being passed over for a promotion within the family law firm, Kenzi River is furious. She’s an established divorce attorney, used to fighting for her place as a lawyer and woman. She’s ready to make an impact, though Kenzi is never sure what’s waiting around the corner.

When Kenzi is hired by a young scientist who wants to win back custody of her daughter, the case proves more complicated than meets the eye. Kenzi’s client is involved in a religious group with some dubious stances, including tattoos and domineering hierarchies. Kenzi is ready for a challenge but this might be a little too much.

After a major fire in town leads to a woman dying in the blaze, all eyes turn to Kernzi’s client. It would have made things much easier for her, though Kenzi thinks that there is more to the story, including the possibility of being framed to smear the custody case. Kenzi has no experience in criminal law, but will have to learn swiftly, as she’s being pulled into the middle of a life or death case that could put everything Kenzi knows on trial as well. A great story that has more twists that the reader might expect at first glance.

Having long been a fan of William Bernhardt and his books, I was intrigued to see this latest series. There’s something alluring about the story and Bernhardt weaves a curious tale that is sure to pique the interest in the attentive reader. With a strong narrative and some unique characters, Bernhardt uses his strong abilities to keep the reader on their toes throughout this legal thriller that is more than it appears to be on the surface.

Kenzi Rivera is a great protagonist with a great deal to prove. She’s had a great run as a lawyer, but is not happy when her father overlooks her abilities and offers managing parter to someone else. Keen to prove herself, Kenzi uses her experience as a divorce attorney to help those seeking to fight for custody for their children. She’s a single mom as well, which helps Kenzi understand her clients’ need for clear answers throughout the process. When Kenzi is pushed to the limit, she does all she can to help a desperate client, which includes working parts of the law she’s never practiced. There is a lot more to learn about Kenzi, which may come out as the series progresses.

In this series debut, William Bernhardt finds new ways to tap into unique aspects of the law, pushing characters well outside their comfort zone. With a strong foundational narrative, things progress with ease, keeping the reader on their toes throughout. Decent characters flavour the story as well, leaving the reader to find some to whom they can relate as the story progresses. With a mix of chapter lengths. Bernhardt pushes the reader to forge ahead throughout the reading experience. Bernhardt has done well in the past to create wonderful stories with unique legal angles. I can only hope that, should I invest more time in the series, I will see the same things for myself.

Kudos, Mr. Bernhardt, for an intriguing series debut. I will have to look deeper into the series to see how I feel about it all.

Persist, by Elizabeth Warren

Nine stars

Often eager to exercise my grey cells with some political reading, I turned to this piece by Elizabeth Warren. Admittedly, I knew little about her, save that she ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 US Presidential Election, and sought to use this book to gain a better understanding. Warren admits that this is not a campaign memoir, but more a means of expressing some of the sentiments she expressed on the campaign trail, as well as using the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic to highlight some major issues America must face head-on. A great piece, full of great arguments about where America’s faults continue to lie and how the average American remains behind the political eight ball.

Warren has a great knack of being able to get to the heart of the matter, with numerous examples emerging throughout the book. She explores her early life in Oklahoma, as well as some of the struggles she faced as a school teacher, law student, and eventually a professor of law. Warren highlights the issues that women faced in the workplace, some of which were newly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These struggles have been apparent, never truly dormant, though many chose to turn away from them and pretend that America could not have slipped back into something so troublesome.

Warren uses her experience in bankruptcy law to highlight many of the financial issues that America faces, going so far as offering some simple (sounding) solutions about how small tax increases on the richest could benefit the masses. While there are times that her arguments sound like political stumping, there is no ignoring the effectiveness of their delivery. How opening the wallet of those who make ridiculously large sums of money could help everyone seems simple, but the pushback has been enormous, even within Congress. It truly forces the reader to wonder whose interests the elected representatives value most.

In a narrative that mixes political, personal, and professional anecdotes, Warren effectively pushes for a change to the way things have been done in America. While she does not deny that the Trump Administration was a major blight, things were broken beforehand and have not been remedied since President Biden took office. Warren’s optimism remains strong, but she is not blinded by Democrat rhetoric that it is a work in progress. There is much that needs doing and it will only occur when the mentality of the electorate and their representatives care enough to take the plunge.

I am not ignorant to the fact that most political books seek to push a specific agenda, especially in an era where division is the only political speak known to American politicians. However, Warren’s arguments are also well-grounded and appear feasible. She has the education under her to show that the points have merit and seems clearly on the path to wanting solutions, rather than simply new ways of baking the same cake. An effective narrative pulls the reader in throughout, using a handful of clearly defined chapters to push key arguments about fixing the American social system. I found myself agreeing with her at various points, both aloud and in my mind, as she makes a great deal of sense without needing to tear others down to make her points. This book has me excited to explore more books of a political nature, which usually forces me to think outside the proverbial box to better understand the world around me. With hints that The Donald will try to steal another presidential election, it’s best to get into the mindset for more mud slinging.

Kudos, Madm Warren, for this enlightening piece of political writing. I will have to get back into the swing of things, as I always learn so much reading political non-fiction.

Shot to the Heart (DS Jack Lisbon #4), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Blair Denholm for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Having binge-read the DS Jack Lisbon series, I have finally reached the ARC that Blair Denholm requested I review. Things have been a whirlwind, allowing me to discover a little more about DS Lisbon, both as a police officer in Australia and the sordid past he left behind in the United Kingdom. Finally able to visit his daughter in the UK, Lisbon arrives and sets out on quite the adventure with Skye. When she is kidnapped in plain sight, Lisbon is distraught, but knows that he must be very careful. It’s likely that some of those he upset before fleeing to Australia have planned this and seek long-awaited retribution. Lisbon will have to work off the books, including getting some assistance from a colleague Down Under, in order to bring Skye back safely. Denholm does really well to add new layers to the series, exciting readers who have been waiting for a novel like this.

After many years away from his daughter, DS Jack Lisbon has finally returned to the United Kingdom. While his ex-wife is leery, she allows them out for a few days together. While in a park, Skye is kidnapped in plain sight and this leads Lisbon to panic. His sordid past has likely come back to haunt him, when he was suspected of killing a prominent member of the boxing community. Could this crime have been planned for years, simply awaiting Lisbon’s return?

Told not to contact the authorities, Lisbon is left with few options, but refuses to stand idly by. He reaches out to a few of his contacts from before he left the country to help him locate Skye quickly. With a ransom demand and a time limit, Lisbon will have to follow all the rules, while panicking on the inside. A few clues help get the ball rolling, but Lisbon will be some trusted assistance from a colleague back in Australia, well off the radar of the kidnappers.

Inching closer to a likely location for Skye, Lisbon and his ragtag team begin to formulate a plan, but have little guarantee that it will work. Skye’s life likely hangs in the balance, as these criminals have no morals and are willing to do whatever it takes to get what they need. Lisbon makes his move, fuelled by the love of a father, in hopes that it will be all that Skye needs to be returned to him safely. Denholm ups the ante once again and makes this the best novel in the series to date.

Blair Denholm has done a great deal with this series in short order. While I was not sure what to expect when I started the books a few days ago, I have seen a great deal of progress with the series and DS Jack Lisbon, specifically. Strong writing and great plot lines have helped create a captivating collection of novels sure to attract the attention of the curious reader who enjoys quick police procedurals.

DS Jack Lisbon has come full circle in this series. Those who have followed the novels from the start will know that Lisbon fled the UK under tense circumstances, but little has been fully hashed out about it, save some mention in a prequel novella. Now, Lisbon is back and able to spend time with his daughter, Skye, who has always been simply a passing reference in other books. Seeing a more personal side to his character, Lisbon exemplifies the love a father has for his child, stopping at nothing to bring balance once again. Denholm has built things up well and this novel was just what the series needed to add new depth to a tense collection.

Blair Denholm has mastered the art of storytelling and uses this series to catapult DS Jack Denholm into a new realm. With a strong narrative that pushes forward, while using personal angst to flavour the writing, the story gains momentum as the hunt for a missing girl reaches new heights. Great characters leave the reader wanting more, while also complementing the protagonist throughout this piece. I have waited for this plot line, ever since early mention of Skye Lisbon appeared in the first novel. The inevitable heartache Lisbon feels with the kidnapping of his daughter is matched by the tension between the copper and those seeking to destroy him. Denholm impresses yet again and leaves the reader wanting even more. I can only hope DS Lisbon will be back soon for more suspenseful investigating.

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for adding new tensions to a great series. Thank you for having me read this series, which I devoured in short order.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot #4), by Agatha Christie

Eight stars

Back for more Agatha Christie, I turned to the forth novel in the Hercule Poirot series. Full of the same writing that Christie has made popular over the years, the book seeks to explore a murder like no other with a cast of suspects that only Poirot could analyze effectively. When the well-to-do gentleman, Roger Ackroyd, is found murdered in his home, all eyes turn to those who had seen him in his last hours. From maids to butlers and even a few family members, the list of suspects is high, as are the motives. It will take the keen observances of Hercule Poirot, retired Belgian detective, to piece it all together and come up with the guilty party. That revelation may be a surprise to many, as Agatha Christie proves why she is the Dame of Mystery.

King’s Abbot is a quaint English village, full of wonderful people. However, the locals are left aghast when the widow Ferrars takes an overdose of a drug and ends up dying. If that were not enough, a second body, that of Roger Ackroyd, is found murdered in his home not twenty-four hours later. While the local constabulary begins their investigation, nothing is coming together, leaving more questions than answers.

When someone suggests reaching out to Hercule Poirot, a retired Belgian detective, the police jump at the opportunity. Not only has Poirot made a name for himself, but his keen sense of detection is unlike anything many have seen. When Poirot arrives to examine the Ackroyd household, he begins developing some theories that might offer new leads. Roger Ackroyd was involved in many things, all of which could bode poorly for him and leads to a long list of suspects.

As Poirot whittles down the list to something more manageable, he makes a few key revelations that are not readily apparent from the outset. However, it will take some trickery and a little deception to coax the killer out of the woodwork and ensure justice is done for Roger Ackroyd and his family. Agatha Christie does a wonderful job in this, her most intense crime thriller to date. It’s sure to impress those who, like me, have come to enjoy the series.

When I began this series, I was not sure what to expect. Having surrounded myself with many mysteries over the years, I find myself to be somewhat of a expert reader on the subject. However, Agatha Christie takes things to a new level, creating pure and unadulterated stories that truly show crime thrillers as they were meant to be, without all the fluff and extemporaneous aspects to the story. Christie does well to delve deeply into the story and keeps the reader entertained throughout, without losing any of the momentum they would expect of a well-crafted tale.

While the story centres around the mystery of Roger Ackroyd and his murder, I did not feel that anyone stole the limelight in this piece. Poirot was ever-present, offering up his insights and ideas, but did not commandeer the narrative at any point. Rather, Christie offered a well-rounded collection of views and characters who flavoured the writing well and kept the reader informed of what was going on, which only made things better throughout the journey. I can only wonder if this will be the case for subsequent novels.

Those who seek a strong mystery at a time when the genre was just coming into its own will not be disappointed with this piece. Agatha Christie writes with such ease and makes the reader feel as though they are part of the action. She weaves her stories through a strong narrative and great plot lines. The attentive reader will pick up on some of the nuances embedded into the story, allowing them to enjoy things on a deeper level. Chapters are of a decent length and allow the reader to see how things play out effectively. I have read a few of the stories beforehand and so I am aware of how things develop, but I am still eager to see what is to come and how I will continue to enjoy all that Christie has to offer.

Kudos, Dame Christie, for another winner. Let’s keep going to see where it leads us!

Trick Shot (DS Jack Lisbon #3), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

As I delve deeper into Blair Denholm’s DS Jack Lisbon series, I am more impressed with what I have read. Denholm spins another masterful tale, where DS Jack Lisbon and his team must crack open a case, using few leads. When a man is discovered next to a pool table, murdered and gripping a locket with his ex-wife’s photo, Lisbon and the Cairns CID try to piece things together. It would seem many have a motive to see the victim dead, though this does not make the investigation any easier for Lisbon, who must chase things down before making a final arrest. Denholm adds more depth to the stories and offers up some personal development for his protagonist, long overdue.

Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon has waited long enough to see his daughter, Skye. It’s been four years since he left the UK for his new post in Australia. He’s got a ticket and is ready to fly, when the head of the Cairns Police calls him in on a personal favour. While Lisbon tries to weasel out of it, he is persuaded to stay a while longer and help with a pressing murder investigation.

Cameron Snyder was found murdered next to a pool table, clutching a locket with his ex-wife’s photo. He’s quite important and his murder cannot go unsolved for too long, especially with a Commonwealth meeting set to open in Cairns soon. DS Lisbon and his team are called in to help before things get out of hand and the press gets wind of the situation.

While DS Lisbon is keenly aware of the pressure that awaits him, leads are not forthcoming. He’s on a deadline, having changed his schedule by a few days, which pushes him to be as diligent as possible. It would seem that Snyder may have been popular in some circles, but also garnered many enemies. This leaves a long list of suspects and little time to cull them down to something that can be synthesized.

Working around the clock to solve the case, DS LIsbon and the Cairns CID follow a few key leads and determine a potential suspect, but nothing is quite as it seems. With Lisbon running out of time and patience, he’s determined to be seated on a flight to London by the end of the weekend, no excuses. Denholm does a wonderful job keeping series fans on the edge of their seats with this instalment, leaving readers hungering for more.

Blair Denholm has surely made a mark on my reading experience to date. After hearing much about him, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to read this series, which speeds along ad the reader becomes ensconced in everything that’s going on. Having not read any of his other series (though I have a standalone on my radar), I plunged in, not sure what to expect. Three novels and two novellas in has left me highly impressed and wanting more. The next is the ARC I was provided, which will bring this series full circle. I cannot wait to see what’s to come.

DS Jack Lisbon is back for another wonderful adventure, finally given more than a passing chance to develop his personal development. As a father who was forced to leave his young daughter behind in the UK, Lisbon finally has a plan to see her, though it is stymied by his superiors who value his detecting abilities. Character development is somewhat minimal, but the chance to see Skye has surely made a dent in trying to drum up some added opportunity to see more than the rough facade that Lisbon offers when working a case.

Blair Denholm has made the most of his writing opportunity, showing readers that he is the real deal. This story provides a narrative that is as fast-paced as the others and provides the reader with a strong foundation for the rest of the piece. Short chapters keep the reader forging on and makes ‘just another few pages’ turn into an hour-long binge read. Denholm again develops memorable characters, complementing the protagonist while linking the story’s numerous twists. A straightforward plot keeps things from getting too confusing, though there is a lot going on from one chapter to the next. I am ready for the ARC, feeling well-versed on all things DS Jack Lisbon. Someone said these could be standalone novels, though I dismiss this, as a series is meant to be enjoyed as a while, permitting the reader to feel the growth and development of everything as the books pile up.

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for another winner. Do keep writing and impressing readers worth your ideas.

Shot Clock (DS Jack Lisbon #2), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

Continuing my exploration of Blair Denholm’s DS Jack Lisbon series, I turned to the second full-length novel. This one was just as impactful as the series debut, with a similar dose of grit and suspense. When a man is struck by a passing vehicle, he is seriously injured and soon dies. What could have been an accident is soon ruled to be something more nefarious, as witnesses see the driver flee on foot to avoid being caught. Enter DS Jack Lisbon and his team, who soon realise that the man had ties to a local professional basketball league. Could someone have wanted him dead, or was this all a freak one-off by someone who is too scared to admit their mistake? Denholm piles on the mystery as he adds depth to the series throughout.

Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon has settled into Australia quite nicely, though there are times he still misses life back at the London Met. He’s adjusting well and making a name for himself amongst the moments of his team, but there is nothing like home around the holidays season. Such is the plight of a man who had to start afresh after some troubles on the home front.

When DS Lisbon and others are called to the scene of a hit and run, where the victim was a pedestrian who was apparently targeted by a driver, things do not look good. Witnesses say that the driver not only appeared to target the victim, but also fled on foot once everything went down. Lisbon cannot help but wonder if there’s more to the story than a panicked driver who made one fatal mistake.

The victim has ties to the professional basketball league in Australia, which is not only full of talent, but also full of those who are keen to place wagers on various games. DS Lisbon cannot help but wonder if there might be something to that, where betting and high-stakes gambling could play a sinister role in causing the death of someone. Revenge has never been far from Lisbon’s mind, but there could also be an easier explanation, though it will take more investigating and searching for clues before anything deemed a ‘slam dunk’. Blair Denholm does a wonderful job with this second novel in the series, attracting the attention of many readers with ease.

I enjoy discovering new authors and was pleased when Blair Denholm crossed my radar. Having been recommended to me by another great author, I took the leap without much hesitation. Denholm cannot only write a wonderful novel, but he does so with apparent ease, keeping the reader entertained throughout as he spins a tale full of intrigue and just enough grit to keep the reader on their toes. I am eager to keep pushing ahead, as I cannot get enough of these novels and their protagonist, DS Jack Lisbon.

There is a great deal going on for DS Jack Lisbon, particularly as he tries to acclimate himself to life in Australia. Having left behind many dangers in the United Kiingdom—described in detail for those who read the two prequel novellas—Lisbon has put all his eggs into this basket, hoping for a fresh start on the other side of the world. I can only hope that Denholm will soon take the time to explore the connection between Lisbon and his daughter a little more, rather than simply using small parts of a chapter or two to acknowledge her presence in the United Kingdom and use that as an emotional thorn for the protagonist to remember. Surely, there could be something worthwhile by expanding on this, even if it is only a sub-plot throughout one of the upcoming novels.

Blair Denholm knows his craft and utilises all the tools at his disposal to develop a strong story worth the reader’s time. The narrative sets the momentum in the early chapters and this does not wane at any point thereafter. Denholm creates some memorable characters, who complement Lisbon in his protagonist role and serve to bridge the story through its various twists. A straightforward plot did the job and permitted the reader to forge onwards without getting too confused. Denholm shows that the series is well on its way to working effectively and I have enjoyed everything that has been published to date. Let’s see what else is in store for the reader with the coming novels, including the ARC, which led me on this journey.

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for developing such an easy to reader series. Let’s see what else is to come.

The Lightning Rod (Escape Artist #2), by Brad Meltzer

Eight stars

Always a fan of Brad Meltzer’s work, I was eager to get my hands on this latest book. Full of twists and turns, Meltzer does well with this second novel in a newer series. When mortician Jim ‘Zig’ Zigarowski begins working to prepare Archie Mint for his funeral, things soon take an interesting turn. Making his way to Dover Air Force Base, Zig soon learns that Mint has a connection to a secret military group, which opens many doors and creates some mysteries. Zig’s acquaintance, Nola Brown also appears to have a connection, but she flees before it can be established. How does Nola fit into the story and what does her troubled past bring to the table with this covert mission that is slowly revealed? Meltzer does well with this novel and adds an impactful second instalment to the stunning series., sure to impress many readers.

Loving his job, Jim ‘Zig’ Zigarowski does all he can to love the best life possible. A mortician by trade, Zig works closely with the US Military, providing help with military funerals for Dover Air Force Base. While working on the body of army vet Archie Mint, Zig finds something that confuses him. Mint was said to be a wholesome family man, but there’s something more to the story here.

Zig travels to Dover for some answers, hoping that his contact there, military artist Sergeant First Class Nola Brown, might have some answers. Nola is mum about Mint, though she appears highly troubled by Zig’s bringing him up. Furthermore, she disappears before long, leaving Zig to wonder what the connections might be and whether Nola is harbouring a secret of her own.

It would seem that Mint was involved with a covert military operation, one that only a few have been read into beforehand. Stockpiling a number of vaccines and preparatory items for some sort of attack, this group was getting ready for something highly sinister. It’s now that Zig realises how problematic things can get and want answers. Might Mint’s death not simply been a home invasion gone wrong?

As the story picks up its pace, much is revealed and Zig finds himself in the crosshairs. Working as best he can, Zig uses Nola’s long-estranged brother to lure her out. The race to learn the truth takes many twists before things come to light. All the while Nola has some secrets of her own with are aure to come out if she is not careful. These could sink her reputation and make her even more vulnerable, forcing her to make some tough decisions. With a killer on the loose and secrets piling up, Zig and Nola will have to be careful not to fall into a trap, or risk losing it all. Meltzer does well to keep the reader in the thick of it all, as he builds a strong foundation for this series.

I have come to really admire all that Brad Meltzer brings to his novels, which are full of mystery and duplicity. There’s something amazing to be found in the pages of this book, written in such a way that the reader cannot easily stop getting hooked with the plot lines. Strong writing and intriguing characters provide a decent platform for all to enjoy, particularly those familiar with Meltzer’s work.

Zig and Nola are back for more fun, but neither is eager to take the limelight. There is a little more Zig backstory offered, though much of it can be found in the series debut. Still, Zig offers up some wonderful development as he probes deeper in tot the mysteries that are the US Military. Nola Brown has much to offer in this piece, full of the secrets she has kept for years, including a brother who has long been hiding in the shadows. The reader is taken on quite a ride throughout, allowing the protagonists to offer up tidbits while the plot takes off.

Meltzer’s work is something perfect for the reader who needs action to sustain themselves. His novels are always full of intrigue and keep the reader guessing with every page turn. The narrative moves along effectively and keeps the reader guessing what awaits them, using plot developments that are full of twists. Nothing is as it seems, which makes the novel all the more exciting. With a number of great characters throughout, Meltzer entertains the reader as they make their way through this strong piece. While the series can be a tad confusing, dedicated readers will lap it up and beg for more, as I am surely doing. Eager to see what’s next and how things will progress.

Kudos, Mr. Meltzer, for another smashing success. Don;t hold back, as your fans await more mind-tingling writing soon!

Take Down (Jack Lisbon #0.75), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

Having been offered the second prequel novella in Blair Denholm’s DC Jack Lisbon series, I chose to dive right in to get some context. While making his way to exchange some money, off-duty Jack Lisbon finds himself in the middle of a hostage situation. He has no weapon and only his wits, hoping to use this to help diffuse a tense situation. Denholm does well to set the tone for what I hope remains a strong series.

Since arriving in Australia a number of weeks ago, DC Jack Lisbon is still trying to get his life in order. Leaving behind the drama of the London Met, Lisbon has a few loose ends to tie off, including a large amount of money he smuggled into the country. Feeling he ought to do something with it, Lisbon travels across the city to use a currency exchange where no one knows him.

While things appear to be going smoothly, he is soon pulled into the middle fo a hostage taking. Being off-duty and with no weapon, Lisbon will have to play it cool, while trying to diffuse the situation at hand. It will take all his patience not to blow his cover and bring things to a peaceful ending. Does DC Jack Lisbon have the ability to be a hero without violence? Denholm does well to paint more of the Jack Lisbon picture here, effectively keeping the reader intrigued.

There is so much that I have come to learn about Jack Lisbon in the short time I have been reading about him. Blair Denholm does an effective job at filling some of the gaps left by the opening novel, yet still keeps things open for interpretation. With this quick story, Denholm provides more insight into his protagonist, while also keeping much unaddressed as of yet. I can only hope that the three novels yet to come will provide me with more about this complex man.

Blair Denholm knows how to write and pulls the reader into the middle of each story with ease. I can see how I will come to enjoy more of his work, as it flows well and keeps me on my toes. I am eager to see how things develop and what Denholm has for the reader into the coming novels, as well as where this will lead things. The series is sure to be a success, given the time to explore it a little more. Bring on more DC Jack Lisbon!

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for these novellas. Now, back to the meatier writing and more complex stories.

Fighting Dirty (Jack Lisbon #0.5), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

After Blair Denholm asked me to read his DS Jack Lisbon collection, I thought it best to begin at the start to see how it all came to fruition. This novella sets the tone for the series and provided great context for me, after I finished the first novel in the series. Lisbon is working as a DI in London, but has some series issues in his personal life, all of which come to the surface. Might it be time for him to look for new options to salvage his career, and his life?

Detective Inspector Jack Lisbon was once a prolific boxer, having made a name for himself around the United Kingdom. While he has a wonderful job with the Met, he is also saddled with many skeletons in his closet and chooses to work outside the law when it suits him.

After confronting someone at a local boxing gym, Lisbon’s attempted shakedown goes awry and his temper gets the best of him. Unable to juggle it all, he turns to booze, hoping to drown himself, rather than face the harsh realities that await him. This leads to even more trouble and leaves his superiors to scream lee for options. Might DI Lisbon use this fresh start to better himself? Denholm does well to offer some backstory, while leaving many threads dangling for future exploration.

Blair Denholm has crafted quite the series already, and I am only one novel and this novella in. I enjoy how it all comes together quickly, leaving the reader to keep pace or risk falling behind. There are some great nuggets revealed throughout, but Denholm forces the reader to keep forging ahead, as there is much more to come.

DI Jack Lisbon is surely not the same man readers met in the series’ debut novel, but that is the joy of having this novella to use as comparison. There is a lot that took place before he ended up in Queensland, which only adds to the allure of the overall depth of Lisbon and his character. I will keep reading to see if more of the holes left with this novella can be filled, helping me to discover more about the man and his struggled to keep it together. There is still the question of his daughter to address, but I will leave that for readers to order on their own.

The thing about novellas is that they serve to bridge the gap between two novels, but also have little time to gain momentum. Denholm delovers from the opening pages and provides the reader with something amazing to help put it all into context. There is a great deal of character development here, permitting the reader to see how things went so horribly wrong in the UK, leading Lisbon to arrive in Queensland for a fresh start. While not overly deep in its storyline, it tells of Jack Lisbon’s struggles and provides the context needed for the attentive reader to look for more in this series, which has started off so well. There’s another novella awaiting me, which I hope offers more, as well as some great novels I am eager to try. Bring them on!

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for making me want to learn more about DS Jack Lisbon.

Kill Shot (Jack Lisbon #1), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

Having been asked by Blair Denholm to read the latest in the Jack Lisbon series, I thought it best to acquaint myself with the previous works. A feisty detective who is trying to make a life for himself in Australia, DS Jack Lisbon has a great deal going on, including some intense casework. When an abandoned vehicle turns up, it appears to belong to a gritty MMA fighter. With no body, DS Lisbon and his team must scour the area for clues and leads. What they discover is a far more complex situation, involving a handful of other fighters and revenge on the menu. Denholm begins things well with this series, sure to pack a punch as things progress.

Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon has been through a great deal wince arriving in Australia. Having been a decent detective for the London Met, life came crashing down when he refused to ‘colour in the lines’, costing him most everything, including a relationship and little girl. Now he’s relocated to the other side of the world and is trying to make a name for himself, alongside a strong group of detectives.

When Lisbon is alerted to an abandoned vehicle with significant amounts of blood, he is unsure what to expect. Registered to a gritty MMA fighter, the vehicle is full of forensic clues, but no body. As Lisbon and his team commence an investigation, they discover that life in the world of MMA fighters is more than just train and brawl. There is a much darker side and one worth exploring a little more.

When a body turns up, having been a buffet for the crocs, Lisbon hopes that they ha cracked the case wide open and found their purported victim. However, DNA results are not as promising and the case opens up with new leads and some clues that relate more confusion. While Lisbon tries to stay on the straight and narrow, he cannot help but want to venture a little outside of his superior’s orders, if it will help solve the case.

When aspects of the darker side of MMA fighting come to the surface, Lisbon cannot help but push a little more, discovering many who would love to exact revenge on their opponents. Lisbon must narrow the suspect list quickly if he is to close the case, but cannot help wondering if he is missing something important. Denholm does well with this series debut, leaving the reader wondering about Lisbon’s abilities.

I always enjoy new authors and their strong series, Blair Denholm came recommended to me by another author whose work is stellar and so I was eager to give this series a try. Denholm does well to set the scene and keep the reader engaged, revealing just enough to keep the story moving along, yet adding degrees of suspense to keep everyone on their toes. I can see things going well with this series, so I will surely rush to read more, if only to discover some of the inner workings of DS Jack Lisbon.

DS Jack Lisbon has a great deal going on, even with only a single book done in the series. He is a keen detective, but not one to follow orders with any regularity. This is surely how he ended up on the other side of the world, away from his family and the job he loved with the Met. Still, Lisbon works his cases effectively and has a knack for making sense of the smallest clue, turning it into a larger lead that could open a case wide. I am eager to learn more about the man, and notice that Blair Denholm has a prequel short story on offer that could assist there. As the series progresses, this will surely be more about Lisbon that comes to light, just what I need to whet my appetite for another great police procedural series.

Blair Denholm has all the ingredients to create a strong series and puts them on offer here. I was pleased to see how the narrative set the pace early on and left me wanting to know more, as I forged ahead. Strong characters and a well-defined protagonist kept me connected to the story with each page flip. The plot was easy to decipher and worked well, without getting too bogged down in police work or tangents. I like a series that flows well and keeps a good pace, something Denholm does effectively here. I will rush to read the prequel short story and keep pushing ahead to learn more about this copper who’s sure to use much of his experience to solve more crimes.

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for a great series debut. Bring on more DS Jack Lisbon and his rebellious ways!