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.