Old Blood (DI Jamie Johansson #3), by Morgan Greene

Nine stars

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

Picking up immediately after the last novel came to a screeching halt, Morgan Greene provides readers with an explosive continuation to this stunning series. DI Jamie Johansson has grown so much in the past two novels (as well as her prequel trilogy) that series fans can only wonder what she will do with some of the news she garnered while almost dying in the middle of the ocean. Greene writes so fluidly that it is hard to believe that he’s not Scandinavian himself. A chilling piece series fans have come to expect!

DI Jamie Johansson has so many questions after almost dying, many of them related to a powerful and secretive organisation that may be responsible for killing her father. As Johansson prepares her next move, she must come to terms that Imperium Holdings will stop at nothing to remain in the shadows, even if that means killing those who pose a risk.

Forced to take on a new partner, DI Johansson struggles with this, as well as the apparent suicide of her superior officer, something that stinks of Imperium intervention. While she appears indifferent, Johansson wants nothing more than to race out and pull back the curtain on this group.

After losing her position within Stockholm Polis, Johansson begins her covert mission, travelling to other parts of Scandinavia. She’s immediately targeted, but it only lights a new fire under her to get answers before she can be snuffed out as well. Working an angle in Norway, Johansson pairs up with some unlikely individuals to try getting to the core of the Imperium organisation. It is only then that Jamie Johansson learns how deep and wide the group has become and what secrets they hold in their possession.

I remember stumbling upon the first novel in the prequel series, hoping that Morgan Greene would be as talented an author as some of the early hype led me to believe. I could not get enough of Jamie Johansson, who was working within the Met, and I soon became addicted to the series. When things moved to Sweden, as newly-promoted DI Jamie Johansson was seconded while she looked into her father’s apparent suicide, I became even more obsessed and Morgan Greene was one of my newest favourite authors. His writing moves from being well-crafted police procedurals to ranking right up there with some of the great Scandinavian noir authors I have had the pleasure to read. This guy is the real deal for sure!

DI Jamie Johansson has come a long way in these three books (as well as the prequel trilogy), both on a personal and professional level. Her attention to detail is matched with a grittiness that will not permit her to ignore a lead. Able to hold her own, Johansson sometimes has a difficult time following direction, but it is usually because she is determined not to let evil win again. I can only imagine where this series will take her, or what else Greene has in store for his protagonist, but I am eager to be a part of the journey.

For those who have read a number of Scandinavian noir novels, especially those that have been translated, there is a sense of fluidity to the narrative. I often comment that I am baffled that the likes of Jo Nesbø, Søren and Lotte Hammer, and Jørn Lier Horst can write so easily in another language and have their translated work come across as smoothly. Greene follows in their footsteps, without the need for a translator, telling complex stories in plot-heavy novels and keeping the reader thoroughly captivated until the final page turn. Not only is the narrative strong, but there are great characters, a strong sense of forward momentum, and powerful story arcs that do not fizzle at the end of the novel. Greene can tell a story but always leave the reader thirsty for more, something that I have found since discovering his work in October 2020. This is one author worthy of putting on your radar, if you have not already.

Kudos, Mr. Greene, for another stunning novel. It’s only been a year, but I am eager to see what the next twelve months of reading your work will do to me!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Rising Tide (DI Jamie Johansson #2), by Morgan Greene

Eight stars

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

I have been following Morgan Greene since his fist novel caught my attention. It seems that Greene has a knack for writing that keeps getting better with each story he produces. While Jamie Johansson has evolved, she has never turned into a predictable character, finding strength and grit in every situation. This book takes the story out of the ‘traditional’ police venue and places DI Johansson and her partner in survival mode. When aa murder on a Swedish oil rig requires some investigation, DI Johansson and Kriminalinspektör Wiik are chosen to take the trip over 500 kms off the Norwegian coast to find the killer. What begins as a simple investigation takes a turn for the worse quickly. As no one can get on or off the rig, the killer must be there, but who could it be? Johansson and Wiik become hunted prey as they try to survive until help can arrive, hindered by stormy weather. As the body count mounts, it will be a race to reveal the killer before Johansson and Wiik become victims themselves. Series fans will be eager to get their hands on this novel, as Morgan Greene dazzles throughout.

While DI Jamie Johansson remains seconded to Stockholm Polis, she is eager to keep working leads on who might have killed her father. However, her time to do so is short lived when summoned to begin a daring investigation. There’s been a murder on a Swedish oil rig off the Norwegian coast. Bolstad has called on Stockholm’s best homicide detectives to take the lead and catch the killer, thereby saving their teetering reputation. When Johansson and her partner, Kriminalinspektör Anders Wiik, are shuttled 500 kilometres out to sea, they can only hope it will take a few hours to find a killer, who must be among the crew.

However, arriving on the rig is the easy part, as DI Johansson and Wiik find themselves not welcomed by the crew from the outset. As the detectives try to get a handle on what’s happened, Johansson and Wiik find themselves targeted by someone who wants to snub out the investigation before it gains any momentum. However, with a strong intuitive sense, Johansson and Wiik are ale to dodge a few bullets—literally—while others are not so lucky.

Once DI Johansson learns that there may have been some tampering with the rig, it’s a matter of determining who hatched the plan and how the secret’s been kept. All the while, gale-force winds and stormy seas keep Johansson and Woiok from being able to receive any additional backup. It does, however, permit them a little time to discuss another matter, that being the impetus to see them take the case and how it connects to Johnasson’s own investigation into her father’s death. However, all that will be moot if they cannot make it back to land, something that becomes more unlikely with each passing hour. A chilling story where the hunters become the hunted and police work turns to pure survival!

There is something to be said of an author who can push outside their usual confines and still create a story that matches past publications. It would seem that Morgan Greene can do both with ease, keeping his fans flipping pages well into the night. There is much to learn and even more that remains hidden within these books, though each piece offers some crumbs that point the way to the larger picture. Greene is masterful and anyone curious about a unique take on police procedurals need look no further than this series with a strong protagonist in Jamie Johansson.

Series fans will see the growth that DI Jamie Johansson has made throughout, even if it is incremental. She has her eye on the prize and never strays from finding the truth. While policework is her primary interest, solving the cold case that is her father’s murder (covered up to appear like a suicide) proves to be the added momentum needed to keep the young detective on track. Greene has done well to craft her as both unique and intriguing, with just enough grit to keep her ready to push the boundaries of all that is set out before her. There’s so much more to learn, which I hope Greene will reveal in time.

As with most of Greene’s other works, the supporting cast makes the book come to life, complementing and contrasting with Johansson in equal measure. This is a story unlike many of the others, where the killer is right there, though their identity remains unknown. With nowhere to hide, it becomes a game of cat and mouse, forcing the reader to find clues in all those who grace the pages of this procedural. That adds depth and much intrigue to an already great story.

As Greene admits in his author’s note, the story seeks to reinvent the police procedural by moving the setting away from what many might expect. Like an isolated island or even a moving train, the setting forces the reader to examine all those in the confined space and posit who might be acting and for what reason. Turning the investigators into prey themselves, the dramatic approach is heightened and I am pleased to see Greene has done this so well. The narrative moved along well and there were few moments I felt it lag. Strong characters, witty dialogue, and a plot that kept me guessing are all parts of the overall story that will have me coming back for more. The story arc of the suicide that was murder has me wondering who is hiding something, particularly with that stunning epilogue that left the reader seeing new pieces of the puzzle emerge and fall into place in the closing sentences. Brilliant work… with another novel soon to come!

Kudos, Mr. Greene, for another winner. You have the gift and I enjoy how you pass it along to your readers with such apparent ease.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Angel Maker (DI Jamie Johansson #1), by Morgan Greene

Eight stars

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

Morgan Greene made a name for himself with a strong prequel series, with Jamie Johansson taking centre stage. Now, moving things deeper into her career with the London Metropolitan Police, Greene pushes his protagonist into darker areas of her life and work, which can only provide the reader with more on which to feast. In this new Johansson series, the reader sees a new and much more troubled Jamie, one who doubts herself at every turn. When a case her father handled has a new victim, Jamie makes her way to Sweden to help, unravelling much of what her father discovered years ago and a new twist that could flavour the case significantly. Those who loved the early Jamie Johansson novels will want to move along to these ones and see how masterful Greene remains!

With a recent promotion under her belt, DI Jamie Johansson should be flying high. However, the elevation within London’s Metropolitan Police came at a cost, when she shot a suspect to protect herself. Muddled with the guilt, Johansson takes a leave to clear her head and reset things once and for all.

It’s during this time that Johansson receives an odd phone call. One of her father’s old cases, where they put away a serial killer, has resurfaced with a new victim. The original killer has been locked away in a Swedish prison for years, opening up new questions. Johansson rushes to join the Swedish police and help fill the boots her father left those years ago.

When she arrives, it’s like old home week for Jamie, as she recollects her early years in Sweden before being whisked away by her mother. Connecting with her father’s former colleagues, DI Johansson is able to join the team as a consultant and piece a few things together with ease. The first thing she discovers is the uncanny similarities between the former killings by the Angel Maker and the latest victim. Another young woman who appears to have been raped, tortured, and murdered, before tree boughs are inserted into her back to create makeshift wings.

While revising old crime scenes and interviewing witnesses seems tedious, it does provide some intriguing insight into a possible copycat killer. DI Johansson does not let this deter her, as some of the evidence points to a strong case of mistaken identity, or at least railroading someone into confessing to a crime they may not have committed.

Saddled with helping solve the Angle Maker case once and for all, DI Jamie Johansson must also face the truth about a father she only saw through the eyes of a child many years ago. His interactions with others and the notes he took during the investigation leads DI Johansson to come up with some truths of her own, all before she realises a stunning truth that everyone kept from her for many years.

I devoured the prequel trilogy in this series, loving how Morgan Greene presented his protagonist. Now, with a better understanding of Jamie Johansson, I am able to hash out the nuances of this more established cop in a series that is sure to offer some twists the foe dedicated reader. Greene continues to write effectively and has me begging for more at every turn.

DI Jamie Johansson is a wonderful protagonist in this piece, offering up some of her saltiness for which she became known in the past series. Her past in both the UK and Sweden emerges throughout the book, though the reader sees how ‘childhood blinders’ forced Jamie to see her father in only one light. Now, she is reader to face the truth, even if it is raw and gritty. DI Johansson uses her policing skills throughout the uncover pieces of the puzzle that were lightly glossed over b the Swedish authorities all those years ago, discovering what works for her and offers a much-needed voice for the victims of these horrible crimes.

Greene does well to keep the supporting cast strong throughout this piece, developing a decent connection with all the characters. There are revelation moments throughout this piece, mainly for Johansson, but also as it relates to the Angle Maker case. Juggling the two truths helps enrich the story and those who grace the pages of this book do well to make this an even more intriguing read.

As I have said about the other books in the prequel series, Morgan Greene can surely write and pull the reader into the middle of the story. There is always so I much going on that I cannot get enough of what Greene has to say. With a strong narrative and short chapters, the story flows with ease and keeps me wanting to devour just a little more to understand what’s going on. The reality of the Swedish experiences is heightened by use of the native language throughout, permitting the reader to get that feeling of being right there. Greene does well to balance it out and offers translation moments when needed to allow the reader to stay with the story. If this is what is to come, I am fully committed to this series and cannot wait to see what’s next. With a strong cliffhanger at the end of this book, I can surmise it will be a rough ride in the next publication.

Kudos, Mr. Greene, for a stunning series opener. You never cease to amaze me.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Idle Hands (DS Jamie Johansson #3), by Morgan Greene

Eight stars

Having devoured the opening two novel in this series, I was eager to get my hands on the third, deemed the final of the ‘prequel trilogy’ by Morgan Greene. This book matches the others with a strong story and more captivating characters. Working on threads from the past books and a new case, Greene is able to pull readers in with more from DS Jamie Johansson.

Still reeling from the fallout in the last book, DS Johansson is left with an injured partner and many questions about who could have tipped off the smugglers to the intended raid. While there are some whispers about an inside job, it is hard to finger members of the London Met without major blowback.

If this were not enough to keep her busy, Jamie has decided to move, worried that her stalker—serial killer, Elliot Day—may return to cause her more havoc. Working during off-hours, she and a few helpful hands are able to secretly put her into a new abode, hopefully that no one will be the wiser.

DS Johansson is soon called to the scene of a crime, with her interim partner, Captain Nasir Hassan. They discover the body of a young woman whose hands have been severed. She appears to have been busking on the London streets, though this is no dime store violin in a case. It is antique and has been kept up. Witnesses mention having seen someone in passing, though no one saw the murder.

Using some of the added resources within the Met, Johansson and Hassan learn that the victim is none other than Alyssa Doran, who sits as first chair in her college orchestra. Her abilities with the violin sound magical, though she does not come across as anyone worthy of murder, or having her hands removed. A little digging helps Johnasson and Hassan learn more about the cut throat world of orchestras, though the primary suspect cannot be located, the new first chair.

When not only the aforementioned first chair goes missing, but the orchestra’s conductor is found murdered, Johansson and Hassan discover that there is more to the story they do not yet know. It appears the crime may not be victim specific, but more to do with the sanctity of her hands. Are there other murder victims out there with missing hands? Could this, perhaps, provide some needed clues?

Just as things are getting heated at work, Johnasson is visited by none other than Elliot Day. He brings a message and proof that no amount of secrecy will keep him from her. Jamie is walking a fine line and has yet to tell anyone that he’s back, which only furthers the sense of danger that envelops her.

A killer’s on the loose, Day lurks in the shadows with an ongoing obsession to help her in his own, sick way. Will this be one killer who can lull more victims into a sense of protection, or can he be plucked up before the vibrations of his kills resonate with the general public?

Morgan Greene remains a natural storyteller, using strong writing alongside some well-developed characters to provide an addictive read. All novels in this prequel series served to keep me pushing ahead and reading well into the night, leaving me wanting even more

DS Jamie Johansson remains a powerful protagonist, blossoming throughout the story. She remains a young detective, but Johansson has great passion her father passed along. The attentive reader will see how she struggles to handle the three plots that have come up in this story, leaving her little time for personal growth. Greene effectively shapes her into a character many will want to see grow as the novels continue. If rumours I have heard prove true, there is a lot to come for Johansson in the coming years!

Greene develops his supporting cast effectively, pulling on many walks fo life to keep the reader highly entertained. This police procedural blends some of the unresolved cases from the past with a new and equally horrible one, mixing people from all three novels. With a focus on music and its dark underbelly, Greene develops some characters specific to the genre, some of whom work well with Johansson, as others clash in the best possible way.

This was a great third novel, tying off some of the ‘prequel threads’ Greene presented. An author worth noting, Greene shows much confidence as the story builds. There is great action and a well-balanced set of cases. Exploring London from yet another angle, Greene offers something not soon forgotten. Longer chapters pull the reader in with much plot development, alongside a few teasers to keep the reader forging ahead. I have high hopes that some of the less developed aspects of the story emerge later in Greene’s work, as his ability to offer a cliffhanger or two has me wanting to rush back as soon as I can.

Kudos, Mr. Greene, for another winner. Where will you take DS Jamie Johansson next, is surely all the buzz amongst your fans!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Fresh Meat (DS Jamie Johansson #2), by Morgan Greene

Nine stars

Having devoured the opening novel in this series, I was eager to get back to it, particularly because Morgan Green left things so wide open with a cliffhanger. This second book is just as good, using another gritty story and spicing it up with strong character development. A dual plot line that keeps DS Jamie Johansson busier than she could imagine helps to propel the piece forward. I was highly impressed with the novel and hope others will take the time to read the series to date. Recommended to those who love a good police procedural where the action never takes a breather.

While the partner pairing of Detective Sergeants Jamie Johansson and Paul Roper is the talk of the London Metropolitan Police, the oddity has been diluted somewhat. DS Johansson is young, lithe, and health conscious, while DS Roper smokes like a chimney, but has curbed his love of drink. The age gap is also quite significant, but somehow they make it work and find a form symbiosis. After a somewhat rocky start in the first novel, they have found their stride and the ever-present sobriety of them both appears to be one factor.

After letting serial killer and illegal organ donor, Elliot Day, slip through their fingers, Johansson and Roper have tried to earn some credibility back. When postcards from around the world begin turning up in Johansson’s personal mailbox, she is curious. Is Day simply mocking her as he galavants all over, killing Interpol agents at will? When Day begins offering Johansson clues as to where she might find some local criminals, she undertakes the missions with much success, but keeps the news from her partner and the police brass.

A postcard arrives with a vague description of a victim, one that Johansson cannot pass up. She discovers the Jane Doe, a young Asian woman who was pregnant and shot in the back. After reading some of the preliminary reports, Johansson convinces Roper that they ought to work the case. However, it’s been assigned to a senior pair of homicide detectives and they have no way of explaining how they came to know of it. Working her magic, Johansson convinces the senior detectives to let her in on the case, though she is to take no credit for anything and must keep it from her superiors. She’s in and ready to ruffle a few feathers.

After learning a little more about the victim, based on a tattoo located on her wrist, Johansson enters the world of underground Chinese casinos. It would seem the victim worked at one called Jade Circle and was used to service clients when requested. Asking too many questions leaves Roper in the hospital and Johansson on the wrong side of the beat down, though she refuses to stand down, wanting to give the victim the justice she deserves. When Johansson discovers a name for the victim, Qiang, it gets the ball rolling and makes the investigation all the more real!

When Elliot Day re-emerges at Johnasson’s apartment, he shares some news that could put the Qiang case into better perspective. Jade Circle is surely much more difficult than it appears on the surface and surely must be stopped. Human trafficking and the abyss that emerges with it will impact Johansson greatly, but she cannot relent, needing to make a difference as only she knows how. Qiang may only be a single woman, but there are so many others who need saving, if only to justify keeping Elliot on the lam and defying every rule the Met has for DS Jamie Johansson. This is where the action picks up and the case gets even more dangerous, with Elliot lurking in the shadows as well.

Morgan Greene is a natural storyteller and lures the reader in with great writing alongside some well-developed characters. Both novels served to keep me pushing ahead and reading well into the night, so as to finish and learn a little more about what was to come!

DS Jamie Johansson is a wonderful protagonist yet again, as her character continues to blossom throughout the story. With a little more backstory about her father, a detective in Sweden before he took his own life, keeps the reader eager to learn more. While she is a young detective, Johansson has the passion her father instilled in her, though she is still fairly wet behind the ears when it comes to certain aspects of policing. When she’s not in the middle of a case, Johansson uses her personal time to burn a little energy with mixed-martial arts, something Greene explores in breakaway moments of the narrative.

The cast of secondary characters remained intriguing for me. Greene develops his supporting cast effectively in this police procedural, mixing people from all walks of life to complement our protagonist. Some are one-offs, which is to be expected, while there are a few who returned for this second adventure. I hope to see more of these characters as the series moves forward, seemingly with at least two more books.

This was a great follow-up novel and Morgan Greene is surely an author worth noting, as his confidence builds. The piece gains momentum throughout with great action and a well-paced set of cases. Exploring more of the darker underbelly of London, Greene offers his readers a piece they will not soon forget. Longer chapters pull the reader in with much plot development, alongside a few teasers to keep the reader forging ahead. There is still a lot to go in the series, as Elliot Day remains on the loose and Johansson cannot simply let that leave her memory. Two more books await the reader, according to the author’s note, which will surely make for some wonderful reading in the coming months.

Kudos, Mr. Greene, for another stellar piece. Keep them coming and let Jamie find her wings!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Bare Skin (DS Jamie Johansson #1), by Morgan Greene

Nine stars

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

Approached by the author to review his debut police procedural, I entered the experience with an open mind and high hopes. As soon as DS Jamie Johansson made herself known, I could tell that this would be a gritty story with significant character development and a plot that would propel the piece forward. I was not disappointed with Morgan Greene’s work and hope others will take the time to read it. That being said, you’ll want to block off some time, as this novel will surely pull you in!

Of all the partner pairings within the London Metropolitan Police, that of Detective Sergeants Jamie Johansson and Paul Roper is surely the least likely. DS Johansson is young, lithe, and health conscious, while DS Roper smokes like a chimney and loves his drink. The age gap is also quite significant, but somehow they make it work and find a form symbiosis.

When they are called to investigate the death of a young, homeless man, Johansson and Roper can only suspect it will be another case that adds to the statistics. However, Oliver ‘Ollie’ Hammond presents as a long-time heroin user who appears to have drowned in the river, with a significant amount of torture to his body. Might it have been self-inflicted from years of drug use? That’s the question that no one seems able to answer.

When DS Johansson tracks Ollie back to a shelter, she discovers that he has a girlfriend, Grace, who has been living on the streets with him, battling the same heroin addiction. While there are few leads, once DS Johansson finds Grace, she is in bad shape. Rushed to the hospital with an overdose, she will be of no help to anyone for the time being.

DS Roper takes him job seriously, but is also realistic about the chance that a pair of homeless people will be top priority for the Met. His pig-headedness clashes greatly with his partner, as DS Johansson refuses to give up. She’s sure there is a drug angle here, as many of the dealers and drug kingpins likely have Grace and Ollie on their radars. Working every angle they can, Johansson and Roper discover a possible suspect, though they try to handle things on their own, much to their own demise.

Suspended for putting themselves and other cases in jeopardy, Johansson and Roper go their own ways for the time being. Johansson uses her time away to reflect on some of her own personal problems, including a budding connection to one of the witnesses that has helped shape the case. It’s only when a substantial lead comes to fruition that DSs Johansson and Roper will be called on assist in bringing a ‘big fish’ down. However, not everything caught in the net proves helpful, and this leads to a stunning cliffhanger as the last chapter comes to an end.

Morgan Greene not only has a way with storytelling, but can lure the reader in with a strong plot and some well-developed characters. There was no point during my reading that I was lulled into a sense of boredom, as I was always wanting a little more, turning pages well into the night.

DS Jamie Johansson is a wonderful protagonist and her character is hashed out effectively throughout the story. A transplant from Sweden in her teens, she idolises her father, who was also a detective before he took his own life. The animosity between her parents left Johansson with a gaping hole in her life, something serving on the Met only hopes to fill. While she is a young detective, she has a knack like few others. Her mix of workplace professionalism and desire to better herself through diet and exercise make her a well-rounded character that Greene explores in breakaway moments of the narrative. There is still much to learn about her, making the fact that this is a series with some momentum all the more exciting.

The cast of secondary characters kept me intrigued throughout as well. Greene is able to paint a wonderful picture in this police procedural with strong supporting characters from all walks of life. The police, drug world, and medical folk are all presented in a believable fashion and help to hash out the multi-faceted plot that never seems to lag. With the cliffhanger at the end of the novel, we’ll likely see many of these faces again in the sequel, though how they will impact the story is left to be seen.

This was a great debut novel and Morgan Greene is surely an author worth noting. A strong plot gains momentum throughout with a strong setting on the gritty streets of London. Using some of the darker underbelly of the city, Greene offers the reader something well worth their while. The use of longer chapters pulls the reader in with much plot development, only to be countered with a few short, teasing chapters to keep the ‘a few more pages’ mantra on the lips of many. With a cliffhanger, I have no choice but to reach for the sequel to see how things resolve themselves. In truth, Greene writes so well that I’d be happy to rush to find another DS Jamie Johansson novel no matter the topic!

Kudos, Mr. Greene, for a great beginning to what looks like a gritty series. I hope others stumble upon your work and see just how addictive it can be.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons