Book Review – After He’s Gone by @JaneIsaacAuthor #AfterHesGone

Happy publication day to Jane Isaac for her new book After He’s Gone. This is a new series for Jane featuring Family Liaison Officer DC Beth Chamberlain. But before I tell you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.


The Blurb

A refreshing female protagonist with guts and a heart…I was gripped.’- Ruth Dugdall

‘The safety catch on the Glock snapped as it was released. Her stomach curdled as she watched the face of death stretch and curve. Listened to the words drip from his mouth, ‘Right. Let’s begin, shall we?’

You think you know him. Until he’s dead. When Cameron Swift is gunned down outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer: a dual role that requires her to support the family, and also investigate them. As the case unfolds and the body count climbs, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Even the dead…

After He's Gone

The Review

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Jane Isaac quite a few times now and I can honestly say, she’s one of the loveliest Crime writers (I mean, they’re all lovely) that I’ve met. She’s kind, friendly and very encouraging to wannabe writers like myself. But now that I’ve read the Prologue for After He’s Gone, I’m wondering if I got Jane all wrong. It’s one of the scariest and gripping prologues I’ve ever read. The wonderful phrase from the blurb above is from the prologue – ‘Her stomach curdled as she watched the face of death stretch and curve’ – stunning.

Jane has written two other police procedural series – DCI Helen Lavery and DI Will Jackman. I enjoyed both of those, especially DI Jackman. Has Jane managed to produce another great fictional cop? In a nutshell, yes. I loved DC Beth Chamberlain. She’s new to being a FLO and clearly has a lot to learn still. She’s got plenty of enthusiasm and throws herself into her work – quite literally on several occasions. She has an interesting back story with her sister and niece and then there’s her relationship with DS Nick Geary that she needs to keep quiet. Lots to build on in the future.

As well as seeing the story from Beth’s viewpoint, there are two other women who are connected to the murder victim – Monika and Sara. The story twists between the three women as secrets are revealed.

As I said, I’ve always enjoyed Jane Isaac’s novels but this one is a little bit different somehow. I’m still trying to put my finger on it but it feels as though Jane has stepped up a gear with this book. Maybe it’s because Beth is a DC and they tend to see more of the action and less of budget spreadsheets than a DI or a DCI. I do hope that Jane has more stories for Beth (and also for Will Jackman – perhaps they could meet?). A fantastic start to a new series.

You can buy After He’s Gone here.


About the author


Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective (very helpful for research!). They live in rural Northamptonshire, UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane’s debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014′.

Jane’ s sixth novel, After He’s Gone, features Family Liaison Officer, DC Beth Chamberlain and will be released in June 2018. The second Beth Chamberlain novel will follow later in 2018.

Jane loves to hear from readers and writers. You can reach her via her website at


Blog tour – First to Die by @alexcaanwriter @BonnierZaffre #FirstToDie


First to Die blog tour 2

It’s my turn today on the blog tour for First to Die by Alex Caan! Alex’s debut novel, Cut to the Bone, was in my top reads of 2016 so I was very excited to read his next book featuring DCI Kate Riley and DS Zain Harris. So what’s it all about?


The Blurb



Bonfire Night and St James’s Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner’s office are called in.

The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. Why would anyone want him dead?


As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus scramble to discover an antidote, first one, then another pharmacist goes missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members.


With thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?

First to Die

My review

Wow! This is a book that hits the ground running from the very first chapter. DS Zain Harris is in the middle of an Anonymous protest, attempting to blend in while finding potential trouble makers. However trouble has a habit of finding Zain and he’s near a car that is firebombed and explodes. Chaos ensues. The next morning, a body is found nearby in St James’ Park and DCI Kate Riley quickly realises that something is terribly wrong. This isn’t a straightforward murder.

If you’ve read Cut to the Bone then you’ll know that Alex Caan is a master at twists and turns. First to Die is no different and is a rollercoaster of a read. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the story, it flips around and nothing is as it seems. As well as the main narrative, the back stories of DCI Kate Riley and DS Zain Harris continue and the ominous ‘Watcher’ is introduced. Both officers are deeply affected by their pasts and without giving too much away, both are left in a slightly perilous state at the end. I do hope there’ll be a third novel as they can’t be left this way!

I like the fact that Alex Caan also pays attention to his supporting cast of characters. Fellow officers, Stevie, Rob and Michelle get a look-in on the action as well as a new DS – Joy Goldman. I have no idea where Alex gets the inspiration for his characters’ names!

When Sainsbury’s had a book website, I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to highlight my top summer read. I chose Cut to the Bone. I have no qualms in recommending First to Die as another great summer read. If you like your police procedurals to be fast and furious with plenty of twists then this is the book to read.

You can buy First to Die here.


About the author

Alex Caan

Alex Caan has spent over a decade working in information systems security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in terrorism studies. A lifetime passion for writing was sparked by the encouraging words of an English teacher in school, and eventually led to Alex successfully completing an MA in Creative Writing and writing his debut novel Cut to the Bone.


First Monday Crime – June 2018 @1stMondayCrime @SarahPinborough @hesutton @LisaHallAuthor @MartynWaites @JakeKerridge

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Well, we’ve finally reached blooming June or bloomin’ June as the weather’s not exactly summery. But that didn’t stop us turning up for the last First Monday Crime for the season or academic year. It was a cracker of a panel with Martyn Waites, Sarah Pinborough, Lisa Hall and Harry Brett aka Henry Sutton. Jake Kerridge asked the questions.

First up, those all important books.

Sarah Pinborough’s latest book is Cross Her Heart. Sarah doesn’t particularly like talking about her books so she condensed it down to – three women, all have secrets, stuff happens, people die, very twisty. I think that sums it up pretty well! (You can read my review here.)

Martyn Waites’ new novel is The Old Religion. His one-line pitch was ‘Brexit Noir meets The Wicker Man‘. Martyn moved to the West Country a few years ago after being in London, and for him it felt as though he was in witness protection, the contrast was so different. So the protagonist in The Old Religion is in witness protection. Martyn wanted to explore a closed community and how easy it would be to take it over with a malevolent spirit and hijack it. As the character is in WP, his real name is hidden. After writing many years under the name of Tania Carver, Martyn has had to find his own voice again for this book.

Lisa Hall must be one of the kindest Crime writers as she hasn’t killed anyone in her books (and not in real life either!). Her main character in The  Party is Rachel who wakes up bruised and hurt after a party the night before. She can’t remember anything so tries to find out what happened from her friends. However, she gets different accounts from different people – who’s telling the truth?

Henry Sutton feels as though he’s finally found his true crime voice writing under the name Harry Brett. Red Hot Front is the second book in The Goodwins series following the story of Tatiana Goodwin who takes over her husband’s criminal empire after his death. Ian Rankin has described it as ‘The Godfather in Great Yarmouth’. Having grown up in a strong matriarchal household, Harry found it easy to write a strong female character. There aren’t many books that are told from a criminal viewpoint, especially women, and Harry was keen to convey this. Two main criticisms of his books are – why is the weather always bad in Great Yarmouth and why is there so much swearing? His answer – have you been to Great Yarmouth and have you ever met a criminal who doesn’t swear?

FM June 18.1

Jake Kerridge asked the panel about the Staunch Prize which is still proving to be a hot potato’ in the Crime genre world. What did the panel think?

Martyn Waites didn’t think it was a good idea. It’s been set up by people who haven’t had much to do with Crime writing and books need to reflect real life.

Harry Brett agreed. We can’t ignore the real-life trend of violence against women. However, we can look to see who has the power in a novel. His example was Gone Girl.

Sarah Pinborough had more issue with the £20 entry fee. She thought it was well-intentioned but handled badly.

Lisa Hall thought the same. Good on paper but not well-executed. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!

Fm June 18.2

A question from the audience – one thing you enjoy about writing?

Lisa Hall – the community! All the panel agreed this was a good thing. Harry thought it was great to be able to chat to other authors. Sarah and Martyn both said alcohol! Crime writers are great to party with as they get all their hateful urges out on the page!

Sarah Pinborough likes the idea of wearing comfy joggers all day. Martyn agreed with that too.

Martyn Waites – the actual day-to-day job of making up stuff is hard so he loves it when he gets a good day that then becomes brilliant.

Harry Brett had something similar – hitting that phrase or sentence that keeps you going.


Well, the June First Monday Crime will have to keep us going until the autumn when it returns in September! You can the books at Big Green Bookshop or click on the authors’ names below.

Martyn Waites

Sarah Pinborough

Lisa Hall

Harry Brett

And make sure you keep an eye on First Monday Crime  for news for the autumn.