Drop Shot (Detective Jack Lisbon #5), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

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

Happy to have the latest novel by Blair Denholm in hand, I eagerly devoured the book to see what Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon turned up. In a story that exemplifies not only Lisbon’s abilities, but also a great narrative surrounding a murder, Denholm captivates the reader from the outset and keeps the action high throughout this piece.

Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon has seen a great deal since he moved to Australia, but nothing has prepared him for the attitude that Roderick McAdam shows on the tennis court. A phenom who is tearing up the tennis world, McAdam makes short work of anyone who dares meet him on the court. However, after a particularly controversial win in a match Lisbon saw in person, many people begin to see the true side of McAdam.

The following day, McAdam is found murdered in a seedy hotel room, far from where he was staying. While his recent opponent is the prime suspect, DS Lisbon cannot help but wonder if there is more to it, particularly when McAdam was found in a compromising situation. Using the full force of the Yorkville Police, particularly forensics, DS Lisbon begins to peel back what truly happened to Roderick McAdam and who might be targeting him.

After travelling to the site of the upcoming Australian Open, DS LIsbon gets a clearer idea of McAdam as a player and person, as well as garnering some needed facts about who might have been holding a grudge against him. By the time he’s back in Yorkville, DS Lisbon has a clearer idea, but will need to work meticulously in order to properly target the potential killer. Denholm develops a wonderful mystery wrapped in some strong police procedural work to deliver a stellar new novel in the series.

Since first being contacted by Blair Denholm, I have been highly impressed with his Jack Lisbon series. Each novel offers a great look into the man and some of the cases he has come to face since fleeing the United Kingdom. Full of great character development and some strong narrative work, the story paces itself well until the final reveal. This is a great addition to a strong series and kept me flipping pages well into the night.

I enjoy police procedurals, particularly when there is a gritty cop at the helm. Blair Denholm has done well to develop Jack Lisbon throughout the series, offering insights into his personal life as well as progress working in Australia. The narrative proves strong in this piece and provides the reader with a great roadmap throughout the story. A number of great characters appear, some of the first time while others are repeats throughout the series. Plot twists abound and the reader is treated to something great without feeling as though they can predict things from the outset. While there is surely much to learn about Jack Lisbon, Blair Denholm continues to do well at adding depth and dimensions to his protagonist.

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, on another winner. I am excited to see what direction DS Lisbon may follow and the series progresses.

Revolution Day, by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

After recently discovering the work of Blair Denholm, I have not been able to get enough. Having devoured his Australian police procedural series, I turned to this standalone, with rumours that it is actually a series debut. A gritty procedural inside Soviet-era Russia, the story exemplifies the hold communism has over its people in the waning days of the ideology’s grip during the Cold War. It’s only a short time before the 70th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and the country is preparing for major celebrations. Captain Viktor Voloshin, working for Moscow’s Militsiya Police, has been called to the scene of a grisly murder. An African student at a local university has been found murdered. Voloshin and his team must not only find out what’s been going on, but also try to quell riots to what could be a repeat of a similar crime 24 years earlier. Working through leads and clues, Voloshin has a few potential persons of interest, but will need to lock it down before spooking anyone. Time is running out, as this needs to be solved and shelved before the big celebration, as pressure mounts. Denholm shows just how fabulous a writer he is with this piece, taking the. reader well behind the Iron Curtain!

In late October 1987, plans are being finalized for the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Bolshevik Revolution. Russia is abuzz, with Moscow sure to be the centre of worldwide attention before long. All the while, Captain Viktor Voloshin of the Moscow Militsiya Police is called out to a grisly scene. A man, soon identified as an African student at a local university, has been found hanging, his genitalia missing. As if this were a sign of some sort, Voloshin and his team begin investigating.

Early on, they cannot help but remember a similar case when another student of African descent was found in 1963, leaving some to wonder if this is a repeat offence to denote a similar struggle,. Voloshin probes deeper, only to discover that there are a few students who had issue with the young Nigerian. While the case is running up against the clock of the Revolution Day celebrations, Voloshin runs into numerous other hurdles, including someone who has taken the body away.

With a few suspects on Voloshin’s radar, one in particular is proving harder to find than the others. He may hold the clue to everything, but has been able to stay one step ahead of the investigation. With time running out and pressures mounting, Voloshin will have to risk it all to bring justice to a man who had only scholastic ties to Russia and has made a point of stirring up trouble. Denholm does a masterful job at taking the reader deep into Moscow’s Soviet underbelly in this procedural that screams for a series.

While this is not the first novel of Blair Denholm’s that I’ve read, it was supposed to be. Through a series of gaffes, I was not able to get my hands on the ARC for this book, after it was recommended to me by another stellar writer. Still, I knew I would return to find it and am pleased that I have. While I thoroughly enjoyed another of Denholm’s series, this book was much more complex and highly entertaining. It left me feeling as though I were on the streets of Moscow as well, trying to find a killer while the world waited for communist celebrations to occur. Anyone who has read any of Denholm’s work ought to give this a try, as it will blow your mind. For those who have not heard of the author or tried any of his writing, this is the place to start. However, be prepared to read for long stretches and be amazed!

Captain Viktor Voloshin offers much as the protagonist in this piece. His personal and professional lives literally cross over one another, making it all the more impactful. He is a hard-working police detective who wants nothing more than to make his way through each day, but he cannot shake the issues that his work has on the relationship he is seeking to create with his young daughter. Voloshin tries to balance things, foiling horribly, but that is also much like Denholm’s other protagonist from the Jack Lisbon series. There is a lot more to Voloshin that has yet to be revealed, leaving me to hope that this was not simply a standalone novel.

Blair Denholm is a master at his craft and has proven it yet again. While I enjoyed the Jack Lisbon novels, this was something deeper and even better. Pulling the reader into the heart of Moscow during the Soviet-era, the narrative exemplify just how dire things were. The story grows from there, with strong characters and a plausible plot to keep the reader engaged. Adding some foreign flavouring, the story takes many twists throughout until all comes crashing together against the backdrop of Russia’s largest celebration to date. Should more come of this book in the form of a series, I will be first in line to read them, as Blair Denholm has intrigued me once again!

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for another winner. I hope others take note and see what I have discovered. Stellar work worthy of much praise.

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.

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.

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!