Saturday, 25 April 2015

Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody & Challenge Everything by Mike Craven

Out Now
Published by Caffeine Nights
Purchase from Amazon here

My Rating: 5 stars - a fab new crime writer

The Blurb:

Betrayals of trust, poker cheats, ambitious barristers, cyber bullies, lost diplomats and revenge are just some of the themes explored in this collection of short stories. As Mike Craven introduces Detective Inspector Avison Fluke and the rest of his characters from Cumbria’s Force Major Incident Team, in tales where little is at seems, the only thing you can do is Assume Nothing, Believe No One, Challenge Everything.

In F.I.I., Fluke is called to the bedside of a malnourished child. Why is she so thin? Why is her mother so keen to help? Is she ill or is something sinister happening? As Fluke gradually exposes a mother’s shocking secret, his belief in human nature is tested to the absolute limit. But even with a full admission the case might still have one last sting in the tail…

In Under the Gun, Fluke finds himself playing poker at the FMIT monthly get together. These social events are supposed to be fun, a way for the team to relax and enjoy each others company outside the pressures of work. So why is Fluke cheating? Will anyone find out, and more importantly, what will happen if they do? Because this isn’t about money, it’s about bragging rights and bragging rights are priceless…

Mot Juste sees Fluke giving evidence at court. Part and parcel of the job, Carlisle Crown Court is like a second home. The crimes FMIT investigate result in huge prison sentences so it’s no surprise they attract their fair share of not guilty pleas. Called to give evidence, Fluke is questioned by an ambitious barrister who will ask anything, and go anywhere to get his client off. Nothing unusual in that, if you’re facing fifteen years, why not throw the dice? But Fluke’s antenna is up. Because this time he’s been called as a witness for the defence. And he has no idea why…

Skuttlebutt is the new social media site kids are dying to immerse themselves in. Sometimes literally. A farmer, desperate for answers as to why his son killed himself, asks Fluke to investigate. Although he’s convinced the coroner’s verdict was correct, Fluke asks Jiao-long, the team’s resident computer genius, to give the boy’s laptop a cursory examination. But Jiao-long doesn’t do cursory examinations. He takes computers seriously and he finds something. On the other side of the Atlantic, in the middle of America’s bible belt, lives an evil so abhorrent Fluke has no choice but to do something, even if it costs him his job. But how do you stop someone who lives thousands of miles away, who can’t be extradited and hasn't even committed a crime?

In the Sudan, flown in to assist the search effort for a missing diplomat, in Lost and Found Fluke finds himself stranded in the middle of a civil war. The embassy has given him a map, a mobile phone, an old Land Rover and not much else. So far he’s driven over two hundred miles without picking up the scent of Olivia Stone and just wants to get back to the hotel for bath and a beer before starting again the next day. But this is Africa and nothing is ever straightforward. Fifty miles from the hotel, his Land Rover develops a mechanical fault and Fluke is about to find out there are things far worse than breaking down in the African bush at night…

With Fluke in hospital, Detective Sergeant Matt Towler investigates the brutal murder of Eleanor Hobbs. She has been kicked to death in the street. With all evidence pointing to two brothers from the notorious Bunney family, Towler moves quickly to arrest them. But he is too late and the family have escaped justice. They were last seen in the Port of Whitehaven getting on a fishing vessel bound for Ireland. But Towler isn’t convinced. He used to be a Para and he’s heard the name Hobbs before.

My Review:

Brilliant! What a fantastic collection of short stories to introduce the Cumbrian Major Force Incident team. And I think they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the crime writing genre! Gritty, compelling, and brilliantly written detectives combine to create a team that had me engrossed from first page til last. The title of the book is spot on. As I read I learnt to Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody and Challenge Everything. 5 action packed stories are crammed into just 144 pages so it was fast flowing, and certainly kept me interested. I like DI Fluke and his team. I imagine it's not always one big happy investigating team, and there are some large personalities to ruffle feathers. But they certainly intrigued me.  All five stories are interlinked and helped me as a reader get an insight into life in the team, as well as a glimpse out into their personal lives.

As a novella it feels quite hard to talk too much about the storyline without giving too much away and spoiling it for others. But the plots were meaty, particularly for short stories. In the first story it twists and I didn't see what was coming. My favourite was Scuttlebutt. It centres on the cyber world and is quite scary how much can be controlled online, and just how you can make or break someone. I was totally hooked.

Mike Craven is a brilliant writer, very clever and brings fiction to life for me. His words jumped off the page and grabbed me. I literally couldn't stop reading until I had finished, and was left wanting more. His descriptions and character building is really strong, and I could almost feel myself as part of the team...infact I would love to retrain and join them! I have a feeling that this is only a brief glimpse of what is to come. I hope we see lots more of DI Fluke and the Cumbrian Major Force Tram. I will definitely be waiting with baited breath for more!

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