One for Sorrow (DI Callanach #7), by Helen Sarah Fields

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Helen Fields, and Avon Books UK for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Helen Fields returns with another great police procedural that pulls the reader into the middle of a chilling investigation with horrible outcomes. No one is safe and many characters in the series find themselves inadvertently in the crosshairs. After a tragic crime leaves DCI Ava Turner gutted, she has a hard time moving on. However, Turner forced to keep working as she tries to locate a bomber who appears keen to kill as many as possible with highly devastating weaponry. DCI Turner and her right-hand man, DI Luc Callanach, will have to crack the code before it’s too late, or face more bodies. Fields does a masterful job at pulling the reader into this fast paced thriller.

DCI Ava Turner has always considered herself one who can separate work from personal life, no matter how closely run. However, when a bomb explodes in the morgue and the chief pathologist is killed, DCI Turner has second thoughts. A life-long friend is dead and the bomb used was embedded inside a corpse ready for autopsy. When the call comes in to Police Scotland about another bomb set to go off, it’s a race to the scene.

While Turner and DI Luc Callanach prepare to handle the situation, a bomb inside a pregnant woman explodes, killing many of the emergency attendants in the area, including one of Turner’s team. This only spirals her deeper into despair with no leads to work the case and superiors ready to send her packing.

In a flashback sequence, a young woman begins a relationship with an elusive man, one who has been able to sweep her off her feet. When a video emerges to show that she was raped, an event she does not remember, things take a turn and the suspect goes on the defensive. With little hard evidence to tie him to the assault, he walks free, but there is a great deal of animosity towards Liam Cook.

As the bombings continue, DI Callanach tries to get inside the murderer’s head to see what they might use as motivation to commit these acts. It’s a dark and sinister pathway, one that is filled with twists. However, the truth is out there, with an explosive (pardon the pun) ending that ties it all together. Helen Fields has done so well with this series, keeping fans on the edge of their seat!

Helen Fields created this series with a great spin on it, using DI Luc Callanach to offset the typical Scottish flavour of the police procedural. She’s been able to effectively work through a number of issues, using the Scottish Frenchman effectively while pairing him alongside DCI Ava Turner, a one-time equal who has risen the ranks. The story turns more towards Turner and her personal angst with what is going on, while layering two time periods and crimes that are seemingly unrelated. With great plot building and decent characters that series fans have come to enjoy, Fields keeps the reader enthused and entertained without hesitation.

While much of the series has worked through the relationship, professional and personal, that DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have forged, it takes a backburner to some of the inner struggles that these murders have created. DCI Turner has been personally impacted by the bombings and is trying to piece her lifer together because of it, making little headway. Her issues are compounded when she has to function and lead, as well as keep her personal life in balance,. DI Callanach does play a role in this one, though it appears to be more secondary, at least for most of the novel. Still, there is something series fans will enjoy, should they pay close attention to what Fields is offering.

While police procedurals are plentiful, the genre is always looking for a unique take or interpretation. Fields has used Luc Callanach as her niche, embedding his French upbringing into every situation. Fields has tackled many topics within the book, using her narrative to push the story along effectively. The plots, while seemingly independent, have some threads left hanging for the reader to tie off, though it may take some attentive reading to do so. The two timelines work well in this piece, allowing the reader to appear as though there are two sets of crimes taking place throughout. While Fields has presented some great standalone thrillers, this series is where she blossoms and I cannot wait to see what’s next and how it will work with a broken and troubled DCI Turner!

Kudos, Madam Fields, for another series success! I hope others find it as exciting as I have.

Perfect Kill (D.I. Callanach #6), by Helen (Sarah) Fields

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Helen Fields and Avon Books UK for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Returning to this stellar police procedural series, I was eager to discover how Helen Fields would tackle some of the major cliffhangers she left for readers. She’s surely spun things around and developed a multi-pronged storyline that will keep series fans talking and the reader enjoying this one until the final page. With DI Luc Callanach on the outs with his boss at MIT Police Scotland, he has agreed to make his way to France and help out an old INTERPOL colleague. When they discover the remains of a body—its internal organs removed—Callanach is baffled about who or what might be lurking in the shadows. Some preliminary DNA traces it back to a missing Scottish boy, forcing Callanach to get on the phone with DCI Ava Turner, this aforementioned boss and past love interest. Turner takes the call and agrees to make the notification, but is working some cases of her own. Someone has discovered the body of a man, shot in the head. Found in a seedy part of Edinburgh, there are some obvious signs of trying to clean up the scene. Add to that, a young man has gone missing out of thin air and no one can make sense of it. While both cases progress, Callanach learns of an underground organ transplant ring and tries to infiltrate it, but must be extremely delicate, while DCI Turner’s leads send her on a few wild chases, including to a pig farm. Both Turner and Callanach must also tackle feelings from their recent amorous tiff and news of a friend that leaves them broken. With two additional underlying plots related to people in captivity, this book leaves little time to breathe or process. Fields has done it again, with a stellar piece of writing. Recommended to those who love this series and need another reason, as well as the reader who loves a police procedural that leaves it all out on the field (pun intended).

I discovered this series a while back and cannot get enough of it. The mix of Scottish and French beliefs adds depth to the story and a layer of humour I have not found elsewhere. Luc Callanach remains a wonderful protagonist, still smarting from some of his choices, but eager to help back in France. His police work is balanced nicely with an air of compassion, both for Ava, as well as those around him on the case. We do not get much more back story, or even processing what happened, but Callanach does well keeping things professional as best he can. Contrasting nicely with this is DCI Ava Turner, whose supervisory role has been violated again, but she is still trying to shake off the feelings she has for Callanach. Compartmentalising these is difficult, but she as a few major cases on her plate, let alone the news of a friend’s illness. Juggling all this, as well as professional interactions with Callanach begin the wear her down to the nub. Others make recurring or new appearances and keep the story fresh, from all angles. Fields has done well to develop some characters who pull the reader in, while others are surely repulsive enough that no one wants near them. The plot was strong and worked well for me, balancing a Scotland and France angle, tying things together effectively without muddying the waters too much. There is that ongoing Callanach-Turner strain that has kept the series on edge for a while, which does not dissipate here. As series fans scream for some resolution, they also bask in the awkwardness that continues throughout. I am eager to see where things are headed, as this series never disappoints.

Kudos, Madam Fields, for another stellar instalment in the series. I hope you have many more ideas for your crew!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Perfect Death (D.I. Callanach #3), by Helen Fields

Nine stars

Helen Fields is back with another instalment of her popular Police Scotland series, where DI Luc Callanach has a new case to handle that will challenge everything he knows about policing. Callanach continues to adjust to his position within Police Scotland, much different from his INTERPOL days. After his colleague’s recent promotion, Callanach is adjusting to a new professional relationship with DCI Ava Turner, who has been forced to learn the ropes swiftly. While Callanach’s attention is drawn to an apparent victim of hypothermia, Turner receives disturbing news that her Chief Inspector has taken his own life in an apparent act of suicide. Unable to see what signs she might have missed, Turner liaises with her superior’s family, only to make a number of disturbing discoveries. Callanach tries to piece together his own case, but nothing is adding up. Just as he is making some progress, he receives a personal visitor who comes with a pile of unsolicited news that rocks him to the core. Trying to make sense of what he’s come to learn, Callanach goes somewhat rogue and keeps Turner at arm’s length in the middle of an important part of the investigation, earning him some ire from his DCI. When a few more cases of unexplained illnesses show signs of outside interference, Callanach and Turner realise that there may be a serial killer lurking in the shadows, their victims varied to the point that no similarities exist. With Edinburgh abuzz, Police Scotland must make some headway to locate this killer while also trying to better understand the Chief Inspector’s drastic final act. Fields has not lost any of the momentum with this series and is sure to appease series fans and those who love intense police procedurals.

I am happy to be able to continue this high-impact series that almost fell into my lap not too long ago. Fields is able to pull on all aspects of a well-developed police procedural without getting bogged down by too much of the frivolous banter. Fields has developed her characters perfectly and brings life to them with her subtle development of their personal foibles alongside their abilities to solve cases. DI Callanach continues to show why he is the perfect fit for the Major Investigative Team, while remaining highly vulnerable as he struggles to piece together some personal travesties that have befallen him. He contrasts nicely with DCI Turner, who is not only still compartmentalising the horrors of her past traumas, but also seeking to make a name for herself in a male dominated industry. Fighting to show compassion while not being deemed incapable, Turner puts on a hard exterior and demands much of her team. The rest of the characters work well to build a strong foundation for the story, which gets better as it builds. This more unique aspect of a serial killer lurking in plain sight is sure to work well for the dedicated reader, who gets glimpses into their own struggles while also watches as the victim total grows. I have loved all three of the series novels and am eager to get my hands on the fourth, set for release this coming summer. Those who enjoy this type of book should make a little more space on their to be read shelf, for they will not be disappointed.

Kudos, Madam Fields, for keeping things intense and allowing readers to bask in a well written procedural.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: