John Barnbrook

Books reviewed by John Barnbrook

Future Perfect

In the near future, software has been devised that predicts the future with surprising accuracy. The only problem is that being given the probability that you will die the next day is not necessarily what you want to hear. Nor do you want to discover that analytic software identifies you as a potential murderer.

Reviewed on 21 September 2021 by John Barnbrook

One Night, New York

Frances arrives in 1930s New York to join her brother, leaving her abusive father in rural Kansas. She quickly becomes embroiled in a world beyond her experience with glamorous people, corrupt politicians and violent mobsters.

Reviewed on 21 August 2021 by John Barnbrook

A Little London Scandal

London in the 1960s was a time of great social change but also a time where social mores resulted in a clandestine word of sexuality and corruption.

Reviewed on 25 June 2021 by John Barnbrook

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Kat has two daughters, Imogen and Jemima. She has a secret about the elder daughter, Imogen, that even Imogen does not know. One day Imogen disappears, and Kat is desperately worried that this is linked to what she knows.

Reviewed on 22 May 2021 by John Barnbrook

The Recovery of Rose Gold

Until she was eighteen Rose Gold was subjected to intensive unnecessary medical interventions by her abusive mother. After five years’ imprisonment for aggravated abuse her mother is being released but can the apparent reconciliation be real?

Reviewed on 24 April 2021 by John Barnbrook

One Eye Open

A car is found crashed deeply into trees off the A12. The two passengers may not survive. The car has fake plates and numbers and holds a large amount of cash but there are no signs as to who the occupants are.

Reviewed on 13 March 2021 by John Barnbrook

The Stitcher and the Mute

In the United Realms there are no elections, instead each year the leading group is chosen by picking which of them tells the most compelling story. As the election proceeds, Detective Cora Gorderheim becomes more embroiled in solving the crime and also resolving personal issues.

Reviewed on 16 January 2021 by John Barnbrook

The Trophy Taker

A murderer cuts off ring fingers, rips out hearts and discards them, replacing them with a token and leaves the bodies in graveyards in London. DC Charlie Stafford and her team are desperate to find this killer.

Reviewed on 21 November 2020 by John Barnbrook

False Prophet

An ex-detective-turned-lawyer and a cast of eccentric but charming characters work to prevent the end of the world and catch a serial killer.

Reviewed on 31 October 2020 by John Barnbrook

Lake Child

Eva Olsen cannot remember much about the last year of her life and is horrified that her parents are keeping her locked in an attic room with no contact with her old friends. And her parents are behaving oddly.

Reviewed on 19 September 2020 by John Barnbrook


Sara lives in a beautiful isolated house with an irrational abusive husband and two sons, one off to university and one autistic. Serious events cause dramatic changes to her life but dog walker Katie is always there to protect her.

Reviewed on 22 August 2020 by John Barnbrook

Machines Like Me

Charlie spends his large inheritance on Adam, a newly developed synthetic human, one of only 25 made. Adam integrates himself into the life of Charlie and his new girlfriend Miranda. But Miranda has secrets and Adam is limitlessly curious and well-equipped to solve problems.

Reviewed on 31 July 2020 by John Barnbrook

Witness X

Can you trust the memories of anyone, let alone an apparent serial killer, if you are able to enter their mind and see their memories for yourself? The inventor of such a machine is drawn into an investigation to help find a determined and unusual serial killer

Reviewed on 13 June 2020 by John Barnbrook

The Kingdom

The Kingdom is a fantasy theme park, home to hybrids, living creatures, some extinct, some rare and some human. The Fantasists are beautiful hybrid women, designed as perfect hosts but are they capable of murder?

Reviewed on 23 May 2020 by John Barnbrook

An Air That Kills

A rich sponsor is suspicious that there are problems in a high-security virus research institute. A skilled scientist is sent to investigate undercover and gets embroiled in a much more serious turn of events, events that could result in a pandemic.

Reviewed on 25 April 2020 by John Barnbrook

Perfect Kill

Bart wakes up in a pitch-dark container, with no idea where he is going or how he got there. DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach uncover sordid, violent and distasteful activities as they investigate this and an apparently unrelated crime.

Reviewed on 11 April 2020 by John Barnbrook

Widow's Welcome

In the United Realms there are no elections, and instead each year the leading group is chosen by picking which of them tells the most compelling story. This year, one of the storytellers is murdered and fear and suspicion grows.

Reviewed on 22 February 2020 by John Barnbrook

To Love and Be Wise

The impossibly good-looking Leslie Searle inveigles his way into the life of a wealthy and artistic family, and then he goes missing. DI Alan Grant is called in to determine if he has been murdered and by whom.

Reviewed on 21 December 2019 by John Barnbrook

Those People

All the neighbours are happy on their safe, secure suburban street in an up-and-coming area of London, until new neighbours move in who definitely don’t fit the mould.

Reviewed on 09 November 2019 by John Barnbrook

You Die Next

Some urban explorers break into an abandoned film studio and encounter an apparently horrific murder scene. They run, but then one by one they are found murdered.

Reviewed on 12 October 2019 by John Barnbrook

A Place to Lie

Joanna’s sister is stabbed in a London convenience store. Her death appears linked to a summer spent in the countryside when they were children, a time when sinister events happened.

Reviewed on 28 September 2019 by John Barnbrook

One More Lie

When she was ten she killed a boy and she and her friend spent their childhood in prison. Now she has a new identity and is living in a new community. She is scared and lonely.

Reviewed on 07 September 2019 by John Barnbrook

Sins of the Dead

In Glasgow a murderer is killing people in subtle ways, and leaving the signs of a sin eater. It appears that this killer is well informed in the ways of forensic science, probably attending a course part run by forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod

Reviewed on 24 August 2019 by John Barnbrook

You Let Me In

Elle is a successful author who lives in a beautiful house on a Cornish cliff. She is convinced that someone has access to her house and to her secrets.

Reviewed on 10 August 2019 by John Barnbrook


In an alternate reality, Karen Brown’s ordinary life is swept away as a series of incidents reveal her association with high-ranking families in Nova Roma and her life changes forever.

Reviewed on 27 July 2019 by John Barnbrook

Perfect Crime

It seems that there is a serial killer at work in Edinburgh who is specifically targeting people who have attempted suicide and murdering them with sophisticated cruelty. 

Reviewed on 13 July 2019 by John Barnbrook

Golden State

In Golden State the most serious offence is to lie – punishable by exile. Specially skilled Speculators are sensitive to lies and seek out liars. Such talents make it difficult for a Speculator who suspects that the State is lying.

Reviewed on 29 June 2019 by John Barnbrook

Perfect Silence

A serial killer is taking girls, skinning them alive and making dolls from their skin. DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach race against time to prevent the numbers of dead girls growing

Reviewed on 15 June 2019 by John Barnbrook


In a quintessential English village primal forces are stirring, incited by a charming, naive and unusual boy.

Reviewed on 11 May 2019 by John Barnbrook

Kiss of Death

The National Crime Group’s existence is at threat and so its members are instructed to hunt out a list of the most wanted criminals. DS ‘Heck’ Heckenberg is charged with finding one of the most wanted men in the UK.

Reviewed on 24 November 2018 by John Barnbrook


Britain in 1938 holds its breath as Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minster, negotiates with Adolf Hitler to resolve the crisis of Hitler’s intention to invade Czechoslovakia. Two friends from Oxford, one German and one British, are involved in the discussion that take place in Munich.

Reviewed on 10 November 2018 by John Barnbrook


Famous actress Julianne Bell is abducted in circumstances that are just like murders committed ten years earlier – a case that was believed to have been solved. Then a similar murder is reported in Sweden. Was the wrong man arrested or is there a new copycat killer on the loose.

Reviewed on 27 October 2018 by John Barnbrook

The Memory Chamber

In the not-too-distant future architects can design a heaven specifically for you but there are regulations and controls. Isobel is not supposed to fall in love with her client and the implications when his wife is murdered, are destructive.

Reviewed on 13 October 2018 by John Barnbrook

The Collector

The Bone Collector is a disturbed and sinister figure who abducted people with bone deformities to strip and display their skeletons. He had been caught by the police but escaped and now his earlier victims, together with new specimens, are at serious risk.

Reviewed on 15 September 2018 by John Barnbrook

Perfect Death

A naked girl is found dead on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh in midwinter in mysterious circumstances. DI Callanach and newly promoted DCI Ava Turner investigate.

Reviewed on 01 September 2018 by John Barnbrook

The Story Keeper

Audrey Hart leaves London and her unhappy family home to work as a researcher of folk tales with the solitary Miss Buchanan in her fading stately home on Skye. She is drawn into the investigation of several missing girls, whose disappearance is treated with superstitious dread by the locals.

Reviewed on 18 August 2018 by John Barnbrook

The Parentations

In Iceland there is a secret pool from which, if you drink, you gain immortality. In London, two elderly sisters have their lives changed permanently by contact with a family who are protecting a baby born of immortal parents.

Reviewed on 04 August 2018 by John Barnbrook

Trust No One

Jerry Grey, a successful author of crime fiction, has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. Now that he has trouble remembering, he has apparently started to confess to the murders from his novels. Other women are being murdered too.

Reviewed on 07 July 2018 by John Barnbrook


DC Lucy Clayburn’s father is a key figure in organised crime in the North West. Her career will be in trouble if this gets out.

Reviewed on 23 June 2018 by John Barnbrook


After being made redundant from her commercial research job, Emma Lilton is desperately seeking new employment. She capitalises on her secret research into subliminal imprinting and gets employment with an advertising agency, leading to dire implications for Britain.

Reviewed on 09 June 2018 by John Barnbrook

A Stranger in the House

Karen drives her car into a lamppost, late at night, in a seedy part of town, but she cannot remember why she was there. The police are suspicious, her husband disbelieving, and her best friend is behaving oddly.

Reviewed on 26 May 2018 by John Barnbrook

Blood Tide

Paula Maguire is a forensic psychologist. She is sent to investigate the disappearance of a young couple on the isolated Bone Island. When she arrives she quickly discovers that the locals do not welcome investigation from outsiders

Reviewed on 12 May 2018 by John Barnbrook

Secrets in Death

Lieutenant Eve Dallas witnesses the murder of the glamorous, but poisonous, journalist Larinda Mars. In order to find the killer, Dallas leads the investigation into the web of unpleasant interactions that is Larinda’s life.

Reviewed on 28 April 2018 by John Barnbrook

Fools and Mortals

Richard Shakespeare, brother of William, longs to play male parts in the theatre. He turns down the offer of advancement in a new company who want him to steal his brother’s new play, and as a result becomes the object of suspect, arrest and betrayal.

Reviewed on 14 April 2018 by John Barnbrook

The Boneyard

A suspected murderer is returned from the US to the UK after his confession was found to be suspect. Attention turns immediately to him when similar killings start up again near where he is living.

Reviewed on 31 March 2018 by John Barnbrook

Shattered Minds

In a future world, virtual reality is used to modify experience but a company plans a new program to control the emotions of the whole population. The Trust, a group of like-minded individuals, are determined to stop them.

Reviewed on 17 March 2018 by John Barnbrook

Echoes In Death

A chance encounter with a naked woman staggering through snowy streets leads Lieutenant Eve Dallas into an investigation of a series of cases where wealthy couples are targeted for brutal ritualistic assaults.

Reviewed on 03 March 2018 by John Barnbrook

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

Life is pleasant and uneventful for Malcolm Polstead until, by chance, he becomes embroiled in a power struggle between the competing worlds of religion, politics and academic study. He also becomes inextricably linked to a baby called Lyra.

Reviewed on 17 February 2018 by John Barnbrook

Lincoln in the Bardo

President Lincoln’s son is dead, existing in a place between life and death. His father can’t stop visiting his body, but others are conspiring to enable Willie Lincoln to pass on.

Reviewed on 03 February 2018 by John Barnbrook

Beyond the Wall

Cassia is the slave of a wealthy Roman living in Roman Britain. She escapes the attention of her master and runs to Roman London and then on up beyond Hadrian’s Wall, saving her brother and meeting Marcus, who she is not sure she can trust.

Reviewed on 20 January 2018 by John Barnbrook

Darkest Thoughts

Craig McIntyre has an ability that he does not want and that he cannot control. He has the power to drive people into dark and violent attacks on each other. Unfortunately for Craig his power has been noticed by sinister and powerful men.

Reviewed on 06 January 2018 by John Barnbrook


In an alternative Victorian Britain all people have developed a trait wherein thick black smoke emits from their body whenever they experience anger, lust, hatred or envy. Two boys who meet at a boarding school become embroiled in plots to uncover the nature and possible cure for this affliction.

Reviewed on 06 January 2018 by John Barnbrook

The Butterfly Tattoo

Chris Marshall has a part-time job working for the Oxford Entertainment Company, in the town where he lives. As a result, while working at a college ball, he encounters and helps a beautiful girl and their lives become interlinked

Reviewed on 16 December 2017 by John Barnbrook

Days Without End

Two young men meet after they sign up for the US Army in the 1850s. Together they go through the Indian Wars and the Civil War, experiencing the horrors of battle, imprisonment and loss.

Reviewed on 25 November 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Best Kind of People

George Woodbury is a respected and much-loved teacher who saved his school from the attack of a gunman. He is a pillar of the small community of Avalon until the day he is arrested and accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour with several of his students.

Reviewed on 11 November 2017 by John Barnbrook

False Hearts

Tila and Taema are sisters who used to be conjoined twins. They moved from an isolated cult to live in San Francisco, and here they were separated and given new artificial hearts. Tila is in serious trouble and Taema agrees to go under cover to save her.

Reviewed on 11 November 2017 by John Barnbrook

A Game of Ghosts

Mysterious ghost-like figures appear to certain people, and then those people are killed. They are the Brethren and they and their descendants will do anything to protect themselves from the consequences of their dreadful past.

Reviewed on 28 October 2017 by John Barnbrook

Ashes To Ashes

A killer has a caravan kitted out as a torture chamber, and he has moved to Bradburn, home of DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenberg. In the same town, there is another monstrous killer who, armed with a flame thrower, is burning his victims to death

Reviewed on 14 October 2017 by John Barnbrook

Strange Magic

Rosie Strange has inherited the Essex Witch Museum from her estranged grandfather. She doesn't want it and is determined to sell it but her first visit catapults her into the hunt for the bones of a buried witch, a crusade to save the life of a young boy and the uncovering of satanic worship.

Reviewed on 30 September 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Damselfly

In a small town in Scotland, a gifted girl is found murdered. And the townspeople are determined to take matters into their own hands.

Reviewed on 16 September 2017 by John Barnbrook


There are two types of people in an alternative reality: Monos, who can only remember yesterday, and Duos, who can remember the last two days. In a taboo marriage, Mono Claire marries the famous Duo author, Mark. When a body is discovered in the River Cam, their life is torn apart by the ensuing investigation.

Reviewed on 16 September 2017 by John Barnbrook


From a young age, Scarlett has longed to go to Caraval, a magical event run by the famous Master Legend. Scarlett wants her and her sister to escape from her cruel father. Eventually she gets her wish but things do not happen as she expects.

Reviewed on 10 August 2017 by John Barnbrook

Jack the Ripper: Case Closed

Oscar Wilde has a close friendship with Arthur Conan Doyle and encourages him to join him in the search for the identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper.

Reviewed on 05 August 2017 by John Barnbrook

None But The Dead

The discovery of symbolic muslin roses and the unearthing of a human skull are the forerunners of a series of events that will rock the community of far-flung Sanday in the Orkneys and will lead to the arrival of Dr Rhona MacLeod, a forensic expert and other mainland police officers.

Reviewed on 28 July 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Cleaner

Judith Kepler cleans up crime scenes. Called upon to clean the house of a murdered woman, she is dragged back to her unhappy past.

Reviewed on 22 July 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Marsh King's Daughter

Helena was raised in isolation, schooled in woodcraft and knew no different until the day she and her mother escaped. Now her father has escaped from prison and she needs all her childhood skills to catch him.

Reviewed on 22 July 2017 by John Barnbrook

Apprentice In Death

A sniper targets skaters at the ice ring in Central Park. And it is likely that more deaths will follow.

Reviewed on 08 July 2017 by John Barnbrook


Kay Scarpetta is called to investigate the death of a young woman during an intolerable heatwave. The data appears to be inexplicable and yet she feels that it may have consequences beyond what is apparent.

Reviewed on 24 June 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Night Visitor

Professor Olivia Sweetman, a noted historian, has used a Victorian diary to write the biography of one of the earliest women to become a doctor. But in the background is the ominous presence of the woman who gave her the diary, who could destroy her hard-earned reputation.

Reviewed on 24 June 2017 by John Barnbrook

Little Bones

Zoë Grant is an aspiring artist on the verge of a breakthrough with a local gallery. Garda Detective Cathy Connolly is called to investigate a break in at Zoë’s home and discovers an old wedding dress, ripped open, with baby’s bones hidden in the hem.

Reviewed on 24 June 2017 by John Barnbrook


Clémence is asked by her aged great aunt to look after an old friend, an octogenarian, who has lost his memory in a fall and is living in an isolated cottage in the Scottish Highlands. Helping him find his lost memories opens many unwelcome doors.

Reviewed on 10 June 2017 by John Barnbrook

Her Darkest Nightmare

As a teenager, Evelyn Talbot was abducted, tortured and left for dead by her psychopathic boyfriend. Now, as an adult she has established a mental health facility in Alaska, specifically to research psychopaths. When the murders start suspicions and fear grow in the isolated community.

Reviewed on 10 June 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Missing Hours

Selena Cole disappears leaving her two young daughters alone in a playground. Meanwhile, on an isolated mountain road, the body of a young man is found. Against a background of commercial kidnap and rescue work, the police investigation leads to some surprising connections.

Reviewed on 27 May 2017 by John Barnbrook

Truth Will Out

Professor Nick Fennimore will need more than just his forensic gifts when a mother and daughter are abducted in circumstances shockingly similar to his own wife and daughter’s kidnap.

Reviewed on 13 May 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Special Girls

DI Grace Fisher is called in to investigate a violent death in a camp for anorexic girls, only to then find herself investigating historical allegations of child abuse by the man running the programme.

Reviewed on 13 May 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Book of Lost Things

David desperately misses his dead mother, despises his new stepmother and detests his new half brother. These emotions attract the attention the Crooked Man who draws David into a dark and disturbing land where he must grow in strength and determination in order to survive.

Reviewed on 29 April 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Fifth Gospel

When Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Orthodox priest, finds the body of Ugolina Nogara in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo, the retreat of the Pope, he becomes party to machinations within the Vatican that will rock the whole establishment of the Catholic Church.

Reviewed on 14 April 2017 by John Barnbrook

Close Your Eyes

Clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is drawn unwillingly to help solve a double murder - a mother and daughter found in odd circumstances in a remote farmhouse. This involvement leads to Joe’s family becoming endangered by the attention of the damaged murderer.

Reviewed on 01 April 2017 by John Barnbrook

Brotherhood in Death

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has a dear friend, Dennis, who is injured when he walks in on the abduction of his cousin, Senator Edward Mira. Investigation uncovers darks sordid secrets that involve not only the senator but also a circle of his friends, a group bonded by ritual and cruelty.

Reviewed on 18 March 2017 by John Barnbrook

The Prometheus Man

CIA Agent Tom Blake is on the trail of a man with enhanced physical abilities, intending to revenge himself on the people who killed his brother.

Reviewed on 04 March 2017 by John Barnbrook

My Sister's Bones

Kate Rafter is a successful war correspondent who returns to her childhood home in Herne Bay. Something had gone wrong in her past and her helpful brother-in-law seems to be the most likely person to help.

Reviewed on 18 February 2017 by John Barnbrook

The House of Fame

Nick Belsey is a disgraced policeman, living in a recently closed police station. An insistent knocking at the door introduces him to a woman who is searching for him by name, to help her to find her missing son. Helping her leads Nick into the world of celebrity, obsessive adoration and corruption. 

Reviewed on 04 February 2017 by John Barnbrook

Perfect Remains

Hikers find the remains of a body in a deserted Scottish bothy. There are clues to the identity of the victim but in reality she is screaming in fear in a locked Edinburgh basement.

Reviewed on 21 January 2017 by John Barnbrook


There is a sinister, thin man who collects abnormal skeletons by harvesting people, particularly children. There is a family with a child with a serious bone disease. The sinister man is hunting.

Reviewed on 07 January 2017 by John Barnbrook

Night Shift

Something old and dangerous is stirring under the crossroads in Midnight, a town populated by vampires, witches, angels and even some normal people. Fortunately the community works together to overcome the threat to their existence.

Reviewed on 24 December 2016 by John Barnbrook

The Damned

Danny Orchard is famous because he was still born and then had another near-death experience and published a successful memoir. Danny also used to have a twin sister, Ash, but she was not someone you would have wanted to meet. Now Ash is trying to ruin Danny’s life again.

Reviewed on 10 December 2016 by John Barnbrook

Falling Suns

Rachel has given up her job as detective inspector to raise her son. Her son is murdered and Rachel’s cousin is convicted for his murder and placed in a secure psychiatric unit. When it becomes clear that he is likely to be freed, Rachel is driven into a determined and elaborate plan for revenge.

Reviewed on 26 November 2016 by John Barnbrook

A Time of Torment

Charlie Parker and his two sidekicks, Angel and Louis, appear to have the power to know and intervene in deviant criminal behaviour. They are an unusual force for good. This power serves them well as they investigate cases of missing young girls and pit themselves against the insidious power of The Cut.

Reviewed on 12 November 2016 by John Barnbrook

Dark Matter

Jason Dessen could have been a famous scientist but instead he chose to marry his pregnant girlfriend and live a life of domestic bliss. This life is shattered when Jason is assaulted and finds himself in a parallel world.

Reviewed on 29 October 2016 by John Barnbrook

A Climate of Fear

A woman is thought to have committed suicide in her bath but Commissaire Adamsberg refuses to be convinced. Further apparent suicides, linked by the drawing of a strange symbol convince the investigating team that they are pursuing a serial killer.

Reviewed on 15 October 2016 by John Barnbrook

Black Arts

Jack lives in Tudor London, in a secluded alley with his mother, until, on the verge of entering life of organised crime, he encounters a world he did not know existed, a world of red-handed priests, demons and magic. As a result he finds himself fighting for his life, encountering allies in surprising places and meeting the famous Dr Dee.

Reviewed on 01 October 2016 by John Barnbrook


A woman, is murdering men in public pick-up spots. PC Lucy Clayburn forms part of the undercover team seeking to find the killer. As a result she unpacks much more about her life than she expected.

Reviewed on 17 September 2016 by John Barnbrook

The House of Eyes

Reports of a missing model and the subsequent murder of her father lead DI Wesley Peterson into an investigation which throws suspicion onto many of the residents of the rural Devonshire town. The causes of the crime appear to have historical origins.

Reviewed on 20 August 2016 by John Barnbrook

The Widow

Jean is newly widowed. Her husband, killed in a traffic accident, had been the object of an investigation into child kidnapping. His death leads to a resurgence in press and police interest and a renewed investigation ensues.

Reviewed on 06 August 2016 by John Barnbrook

City of the Lost

Detective Casey Duncan has a dark secret and when her abused best friend also finds herself in serious risk the two of them decide to disappear to a town where people go to vanish. The trouble is that the past does not leave you alone.

Reviewed on 03 August 2016 by John Barnbrook

The Primrose Path

Rachel has moved to a small Welsh community to escape her past life. Unfortunately her past is not keen to let her go and not all is as it appears on first encounter

Reviewed on 23 July 2016 by John Barnbrook

The Insect Farm

Jonathan Maguire is devoted to Roger, his special brother, and is obsessed with his unusual and charismatic wife. Roger is absorbed in his intense world of insect breeding. Things change when violent death wrecks their status quo.

Reviewed on 09 July 2016 by John Barnbrook

A Very English Scandal

The secret life of of Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the Liberal Party in the 1970s, builds up to a shocking scandal and a court case which rocked the British establishment.

Reviewed on 28 May 2016 by John Barnbrook