Monday, March 05, 2007

Orion New Blood - John Connor

I realise I never did get round to finishing a recap on the Orion New Blood authors so the next one is John Connor.

He doesn't appear to have a website but I found a small amount of information:
The author is a barrister with the Crown Prosecution Service, based in West Yorkshire. During 14 years with the CPS he has been involved in the prosecution of over 40 homicide cases, many undercover drugs enquiries, massive child abuse investigations and, of course, run of the mill volume crime. Most recently, he led a team prosecuting organised and major crime in the Leeds area. He lives in West Yorkshire and Belgium.
This experience stood him in good stead for his writing career which will soon number four books all featuring maverick policewoman, Karen Sharpe.

'Phoenix' was the first book and I've reviewed the audio version for Euro Crime.

Synopsis from
The 8th April 1996 was a bad day for Karen Sharpe, the eighth anniversary of something so deeply buried she had hoped to forget it ever happened. Each year, she tries to cope in whatever way she can. Most years she turns to booze. But, this year that wasn't going to work. Sometime after midnight Phil Leech, her DS and partner, is executed in a military style killing, whilst Fiona Mitchell, his pretty 21-year-old informant, ends up on a South Pennine moor with bullets through her face and chest. Karen had been due to meet both when drink and memories intervened, preventing her from getting there. As the investigation begins, odd details keep forcing Karen to examine her own unclear memories. As she follows her instincts, and some very disturbing clues embedded in her own secret history, she must confront her past and act quickly if she is to prevent the seed of destruction planted eight years before from wreaking devastating and brutal consequences.

This was followed in 2004 with 'The Playroom'.

Synopsis from
On her thirteenth birthday the daughter of a Bradford judge is kidnapped in West Yorkshire, sparking Operation Shade - a massive fifty-strong detective investigation working against the clock to try to locate and save her. Knowing the chances of Sophie Kenyon surviving will diminish dramatically after the first twenty-four hours, Detective Chief Superintendent John Munro begins to crack under the pressure of holding together an enquiry swamped with leads. Meanwhile, left off the Shade investigation because of her past encounters with Munro, DC Karen Sharpe is pursuing her own single-handed enquiry into historic child abuse allegations. Twenty-three-year-old Pamela Mathews says a local MP raped her ten years before. The task of finding corroboration looks hopeless, but Sharpe keeps at it. Anything rather than face up to her own tangled personal life. She lives with a lawyer she doesn't love and is trying to care for a child who thinks she is her aunt. The truth is more complex and frightening, leading back to still unresolved events from a year before. Karen's enquiry uncovers connections with the present day disappearance of Sophie Kenyon. As the true nature and extent of the conspiracy are uncovered, Karen realises that there are powerful interests at work - men who have plotted for ten years to conceal the truth. Her investigation becomes a race to find clues that will save Sophie's life. But violence interrupts. Events spiral out of control and drag her towards a terrifying confrontation with a man who will stop at nothing to keep the past hidden. In an explosion of violence and bloodshed, she is left fighting not just to locate Sophie Kenyon, but to save herself.

'A Child's Game' came out in 2006.

Synopsis from

Friday 31 December, 1999. During the early hours of the morning in a luxury central Leeds penthouse, intruders douse a terrified victim with petrol, set him alight and throw him burning from the ninth floor roof garden. DS Pete Bains is on night duty with CID when the call comes in. The body is quickly identified as Nicholas Hanley, a wealthy property developer, but Bains' attempts to pull together an enquiry stall when he cannot locate Hanley's lover, Anna Hart. Unknown to Bains, Hart and her daughter are less than five miles away, kidnapped at gunpoint and struggling to stay alive. Meanwhile, the security services are looking for DC Karen Sharpe. Eighteen months ago she walked out on Bains without a word of explanation. Now she has disappeared for real. What Sharpe has been doing not only connects her to Hanley's death, but has placed her at the disposal of men for whom human life means nothing. The danger is greater than anything she has faced before. If she cannot pull her shattered personality together, the last day of the millennium will be the last day of her life.

The fourth Karen Sharpe, 'Falling', will be out in November 2007.

Synopsis from

Terror is only a footstep away... DC Karen Sharpe is on an emotional precipice. A year and a half ago she was the victim of a terrifying crime. Desperately trying to shelter from its effects she has been working simple fraud and theft cases in West Yorkshire CID. But the brutal murder of a young pregnant woman threatens the precarious wall she has built around herself. Drafted onto the squad to deal with the victim's six-year-old child, Karen finds herself overwhelmed by the devastating nature of the attack. As nightmares from her past start to reoccur, her relationships with those closest to her - her partner, Pete Bains, and her thirteen year old daughter, Mairead - begin to crack under the strain. An illicit relationship with her boss promises excitement and escape - a new beginning without the trappings of past horrors and guilt. But life has a savage lesson in store for her. As West Yorkshire erupts in a summer of explosive race riots, events tip Karen into the depths of the very world she has been fleeing.

My reading group recently discussed 'Phoenix' and the book really polarised opinion. More people loved it, including me, than loathed it and the audio version is marvellous. I'm scratching round for my next audio book so maybe I should order 'The Playroom'?


Maxine said...

Thanks, Karen - I've read the first two of these (discovered by that Orion crime "first author" imprint) and enjoyed them. I look forward to reading the next two, "one day" (by which time he will probably have written several more...and so it goes).Karen Sharpe is a strong, attractive character, I think.

MaxCady said...

John Connor, has got to be one of the best new authors about.Each book that he delivers is first rate.Karen Sharpe is also a great chatacter