Cover Image: The Mark

The Mark

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EXCERPT: They'd left the body in a place where it could be found. The man hadn't deserved to die. He was a warning - no more than that; his fate heralded her return. Whether or not the others understood that, she didn't care. They would find out soon enough.

And as for the branding itself.

She sucked in the hot air of the bar, reveling in the memory of lighting the iron and making that delicious mark.

Her mark.

ABOUT 'THE MARK': In the quiet seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, a man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol carved into his skin. The victim―a local drug addict―has no recollection of who attacked him or how he got there.

The sleepy coastal community is sent into shock. And when another victim branded with the same vicious mark dies from his wounds, DI Louise Blackwell realises she is dealing with a sadistic serial killer.

But why is the twisted attacker targeting Weston’s most vulnerable people? And what is the meaning behind the mysterious symbol? Still struggling to overcome her own demons in the wake of her brother’s death, Blackwell must stay one step ahead of both the killer and corrupt DCI Finch, whose meddling in the investigation makes her more determined than ever to bring him down for good.

As the body count rises, and her feud with Finch puts her own life in danger, Blackwell faces a race against time to discover the dark crime that unites the victims and put an end to the carnage―before someone puts an end to her.

MY THOUGHTS: I expected to like The Mark by Matt Brolly more than I did. It has been an interesting and exciting series to date and the plot of The Mark definitely continues in this vein. BUT, I felt the characters were a bit flat; they didn't 'speak' to me, and there was very little personal development.

I am glad that the feud with Finch is done and dusted; it was becoming wearing and had outlived its usefulness. It will be interesting to see how Louise develops without Finch's manipulations and interference.

There's a good mix of old and new characters in The Mark, and dare I hope that Louise is embarking on a new relationship? It may bring a little more balance to her life, although I doubt it. For Louise, her job will always come first.

I look forward to reading the next in this series. There are big changes ahead for Louise and her team, and I am sure that there will be some new characters introduced. I definitely look forward to Louise and Tracey working more closely together. They have always made a great team both in the workplace and as friends.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#TheMark #NetGalley

I: #brollymatt #amazonpublishing

T: @MattBrollyUK @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #policeprocedural #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Following his law degree, where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers, Dead Time and Dead Water and the Lynch and Rose thriller The Controller. In addition, he is the author of the acclaimed near-future crime novel Zero. The first novel in the Detective Louise Blackwell crime series, The Crossing, was published in 2020. Matt also writes children’s books as M. J. Brolly. His first children’s book is The Sleeping Bug. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Mark by Matt Brolly for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon,Instagram and my webpage
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“Brutal attacks. A sinister conspiracy. Time is running out.
In the quiet seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, a man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol carved into his skin. The victim—a local drug addict—has no recollection of who attacked him or how he got there.
The sleepy coastal community is sent into shock. And when another victim branded with the same vicious mark dies from his wounds, DI Louise Blackwell realises she is dealing with a sadistic serial killer.”
The plot also brings a conclusion to Louises long running feud with Tim Finch but you will have to read to find out if it is the ending the fans want.
The fourth novel in the DI Blackwell Series (the first for myself) and what a fantastic read it was, lots of twists and turns I really thought I had worked the ending out but no!! Thanks to skilful writing and superb character development Matt Brolly completely throws his readers in the wrong direction. One of the best detective books I have read in a long time and I cannot wait to go back and read the rest of the series!
A huge thanks to Amazon publishing, net galley and Matt Brolly for allowing my access to this ARC.
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D.I. Louise Blackwell and her CID team based in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, return in this fourth instalment in Matt Brolly's contemporary police procedural series.
There's quite a lot of darkness to the narrative of The Mark, as Louise and her colleagues attempt to solve a series of vicious assaults, in which the victims have each been branded with a mysterious mark. Their investigations lead them into the shady world of drug dealers, addicts and underfunded rehab facilities in Weston, and to a group suspected of grooming underage schoolgirls some years previously. Meanwhile, station newcomer Inspector Dan Baker is heading up an operation aimed at curbing antisocial activity by cracking down on illegal service of alcohol - an operation that's impinging on Blackwell's attempts to identify and locate suspects and witnesses. And to add to Louise's already busy workload and family life, another victim of nasty Bristol DCI Tim Finch approaches Louise, requesting her assistance to bring him down for good. Series readers will recall Finch as Louise's much-loathed personal and career nemesis from earlier instalments, a man long overdue for some serious consequences for his misogyny and threatening behaviour.
I found The Mark an engaging read, although I occasionally found Brolly's writing overly-convoluted and the dialogue sometimes unconvincing. My feeling is that The Mark could have been improved with some judicious editing, a phenomenon I've frequently encountered over the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, it's a solid police procedural with no glaring plot holes and a well-developed cast of characters. Brolly employs some clever misdirection associated with the body art and initials of several characters, keeping the reader guessing as to the identities of the perpetrators until a final dramatic showdown in Louise's own home.
The conclusion to The Mark foreshadows some changes for the central characters, and I look forward to reading future instalments in the series. I'd recommend The Mark to readers who enjoy well-conceived police procedural mysteries with added human interest.
My thanks to the author, Matt Brolly, publisher Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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I love all of Matt Brolly's work, and this book, The Mark, the fourth in the Louise Blackwell series, does not disappoint one iota.  Picking up where we left Louise, the is another rollicking good police procedural, and continues the life of our heroine Louise in her difficult family circumstances.

Highly recommended.  Loved it.  A real page turner.  Roll on number 5
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The mark by Matt Brolly. 
Detective Louise Blackwell Book 4.
In the quiet seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, a man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol carved into his skin. The victim—a local drug addict—has no recollection of who attacked him or how he got there. 
DI Louise Blackwell is on the case. 
I really really enjoyed this book. I liked Louise. I really did not like DCI Finch at all. Great story.  4*.
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This was my first book by this author, but it will not be my last.  

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was not only a mystery./police procedural, but we saw some character development.    How many books have we read where the lead detective is all business and we dont know that much about them?   I loved seeing the bits of the DI's personal life and would have liked to see more.  I found her really interesting.  

This is apparently the 4th in a series.  I did not need to read the previous 3 to enjoy this one - however, I think it might have enhanced it.    I would have known DI Blackwell and her friends/family a little better.   I am going to go back and start this series from the beginning.  

A solid 3.5 stars.   No reason to round it down, so I will give it 4.  

I want to thank the author, the publisher and #netgalley for the ARC which did not impact my review.
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I like how unique the cases in each book are. They aren’t the usual, there are secrets and twists that slowly unravel. This book seemed a bit like the end of the series and I am not sure if it is. Some of the personal problems of the detectives’ wrapped up and I am not sure if that is it or they are going to get more personal problems. I’d be interested to read another series by this author with different characters. I liked the characters in this series, but I didn’t’t love them. I think there is room to improve them. I like the pacing of each book, you do not know things too soon.
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Matt Brolly has developed two series based on police procedures, one featuring DCI Lambert, the other Louise Blackwell, the central character in this book.  Both series are well written.

Brolly has created and developed the Blackwell character, detailing her problems with her brother Paul and her fall from grace when stitched up by her colleague, Finch, and Blackwell comes through these.  As a reader, we are lucky to ride along with her and see how she develops, always alongside a strong crime investigation that is well paced and intelligently delivered.  

Personally, I prefer reading books in series order, but this book does not need the previous stories to be known, although if this is your first Matt Brolly book, you are going to read through the entire back catalogue as well.

This is a book that is a pleasure to read and shines a light in an albeit fictitious police officer's life.

As an aside, Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding areas  carry some of the book load.
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Louise is back with another grisly case!

People in Weston-super-Mare are ending up being branded but why them, and who the hell is doing it??? Her search for answers leads her down some dark alleys indeed and it is just as well that she has an amazing team around her (sans Finch, of course, who continues to give her trouble). 

She is continuing to share a house with her parents and her little niece Emily, plus their adorable puppy, Molly, but that arrangement is a bit of a mixed bag too. Then there is the situation with Thomas, her colleague. 

All in all, this book had all the elements you can expect from this author - intense scenes, good characterisations, red herrings and a very solid story indeed. 

I enjoyed this novel very much.

4.5 stars from me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer.
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The Detective Louise Blackwell reaches book number 4 with The Mark which is an enjoyable and well paced police procedural from Matt Brolly that keeps the pages turning.

No previous knowledge from the other books is required and the ending leaves the author with a number of interesting options.
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The fourth in the DI Louise Blackwell series sees the detective on the trail of a sadistic individual who brands their victims with a strange symbol.

When the first victim is revealed to be a local drug addict, Louise is plunged into the world of tattoos and addiction. As more attacks occur, a link emerges to a teenage gang cautioned by police some years earlier. The investigations finally lead to the perpetrator and place both Louise and her family in danger.

I found this an excellent addition to the series, with the continuing narrative of Louise's home life with her parents and young niece providing a contrast to the ongoing investigation. Louise is dedicated to her job, often at the expense of her family and personal life, so it was good to see this situation potentially changing by the end of the story.

The ongoing stand-off between Louise and her nemesis, the narcissistic and seedy Tim Finch, reaches its conclusion in this story. Louise finds an ally in a young female officer who is determined to bring Finch to book for his harassment and misogynistic behaviour. Matters escalate, leading to a dramatic stand-off at Finch's house, with Louise having to use all her wits and training to keep one step ahead.

Matt Brolly's writing manages to maintain a level of tension and suspense throughout, with the central relationships well-drawn and realistic. As always, we get an insight into the mind of the perpetrator, who proves to be a damaged and psychotic individual with obsessive tendencies, including towards Louise.

This book can be read on its own, but I would recommend reading the other three books in the series - The Crossing, The Descent, and The Gorge - to get the full back story on Louise and, in particular, the relationship with Finch.

I was sent an advance review copy of this book by Amazon Publishing UK, in return for an honest appraisal.
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Another episode in the Detective Louise Blackwell series this time set in Weston Super Mare. A series of bizarre human brandings sets it all off. The investigation eventually concentrates on a group of youngsters meeting on the beach a few years ago and when an older individual is murdered after being branded a connection emerges with a young girl victim it all gets very dark. A parallel storyline with her corrupt colleague DCI Finch serves to conclude a previous tale. Somewhat bloodthirsty and the branding scenes make one shiver it all rolls along to a satisfactory conclusion. More to come I hope.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.   I have enjoyed all this authors books and this was no exception.   Fast paced, great storyline and would recommend to other readers.
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Detective Louise Blackwell #4

In the quiet seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare, a man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol carved into his skin. The victim = a local drug addict - has no recollection of who attacked him or how he got there. When another victim branded with the same vicious mark dies from his wounds, DI Louise Blackwell realises she is dealing with a sadistic serial killer.

DI Louise Blackwell will leave no stone unturned when the investigates and this time the victims seem random. Then it looks like Weston has a twisted attacker walking the streets. The plotline is intriguing and complex. There's also her nemesis DCI Tim Finch. This is a gripping and addictive read. We also learn more of their backstories. This is another great addition to the series.

I would like to thank #NetGalley #AmazonPublishingUK and the author #MattBrolly for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the fourth book in the DI Louise Blackwell series, but it can easily be read as a standalone without feeling you’ve missed something. However, it’s such a great series that I recommend you read them all!

The series is set in and around the Weston-super-Mare area. A drug addict is found unconscious on the beach, with a strange mark branded on him. When he comes round, he has no idea how he got there or what happened to him. Then a body is found, also with the same mark recently branded on him, so the case moves up a notch to murder.

At the same time as working on the case, DI Blackwell is also on the receiving end of messages and threats from bent copper DCI Finch. Both are giving her grave cause for concern, especially as she now shares a home with her parents and young orphaned niece, Emily.

This is one of those books that you read in a short space of time because you can’t put it down, then get to the last page and wish there was more!  A fantastic read that I highly recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for an advance reader copy in return for an honest review.
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The Mark by Matt Brolly is a highly recommended police procedural and the 4th novel in the Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell series.

DI Louise Blackwell of the Weston-super-Mare police force is called to investigate a man who is found unconscious with a symbol branded on his arm. The victim, Sam Carrington, who is unconscious at the hospital, was staying at a local drug rehab house. The next night a second victim, Poppy Westfield, is found branded on her thigh with the same symbol. Then Andrew Thorpe is found dead, branded on his forehead, and Louise knows she has someone who is targeting people to brand them for some reason and she must find the connection and stop the perpetrator.

While Louise is giving her whole attention to the case, she is also dealing with several other personal issues. After the death of her brother, she is caring for her niece along with her parents. Also returning is her nemesis the corrupt and scheming DCI Finch, whose ongoing bad behavior may be catching up to him, unless he can bring Louise and others down first.

Even though this is the 4th novel featuring Louise Blackwell, The Mark can be enjoyed as a stand alone police procedural. There is enough back story given to easily follow the pertinent facts that matter in this current novel, and this is a compelling and engaging investigation. The opening scene will immediately horrify you and grab your attention. The pace continues to move quickly throughout the novel, as clues are provided along with several twists.

Louise is a determined, intelligent and interesting character. Her flaws are also presented in the plot, which makes her a realistic and sympathetic character who will elicit your support as she handles the investigation.  Along the way there is further character development as the novel progresses. There is a surprising twist at the end that will put the next novel by Brolly featuring Louise Blackwell on your reading list.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley.
The review will be published on Barnes & Noble, Edelweiss, Google Books, and Amazon.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Amazon Publishing UK for an advance copy of The Mark, the fourth novel to feature DI Louise Blackwell of the Weston-super-Mare police.

Sam Carrington is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol branded on his arm. Louise and the team aren’t sure what to make of it, but with more victims and a murder she realises she is dealing with a twisted mind. At the same time she is dealing with the aftermath of her brother’s murder and interference from her nemesis, the sociopathic DCI Tim Finch.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Mark, which is a compulsive procedural with a good line in misdirection. By about half way through the novel I was sure I had it all worked out and it was just a matter of reading on to have this confirmed. How wrong can you be? In my case, totally. I was gobsmacked when the solution appeared. The Tim Finch thing reaches a crescendo and, again, I was gobsmacked for different reasons. His actions seem out of character, but it was still exciting stuff, so why quibble over a few iffy moments?

The main plot, the hunt for the attacker, is well done. The narrative is split between some justification by the unidentified attacker and Louise’s investigation. I’m not always a big fan of perpetrator participation in novels, but it worked well here as there is enough information to suggest revenge as a motive, but revenge for what is never spelled out, making it intriguing. Louise’s investigation is quite slow, but a steady stream of reveals maintains interest and gradually fills in the blanks. It held my interest throughout.

I like this Louise. She seems less bitter and more settled into her life and self. This allows her to make sensible, balanced decisions and the reader to enjoy a top notch investigation.

The Mark is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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This is the fourth book in the DI Louise Blackwell series set in Weston Super Mare and is just as good as the previous novels. D I Blackwell is a strong lead character and is entirely believable. The town of Weston is vividly described and we see the good parts of the holiday resort as well as the negative side. Part of the story is told from the point of view of the perpetrator and we get quite a chilling look inside their thoughts. The plot is extremely well thought out as always and the different threads of the story are all resolved brilliantly at the end. I found the descriptions of the branding to be quite graphic and unpleasant but that is very much a personal opinion. 
Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Matt Brolly brings plenty of suspense and some action, as well as an edginess, to the fourth book in the Detective Inspector (DI) Louise Blackwell series set in and near the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare in England. While the tale occasionally switches points of view, it is primarily that of Louise with a few sections from a criminal. A man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol branded on his arm and he can’t recall who attacked him or how he got there. As other victims show up, Louise and her team are relentlessly pursuing the criminals. What is the symbol and how are the criminals targeting people? As usual, Louise’s nemesis, DCI Finch, puts in an appearance.

Louise is a hard-working, resilient, and fascinating individual who has trouble delegating. However, she is respected by many, and her fighting for what is right inspires loyalty in her co-workers. Despite this, networking is an aspect of her career that she has never been great at. Her flaws make her feel more realistic as does her struggle for work/life balance. The other characters are a mix of new and familiar faces and are well-drawn.

A strong, intriguing, and memorable opening scene immediately will pull most readers into the story. That scene is vivid and horrifying. The narrative is suspenseful, and readers will wonder what the criminals’ motivations are. A creative, absorbing, complex, and well-paced plot with some twists will keep a reader guessing. High stakes kept me engaged throughout the story. As Louise and her team working to find connections and working through the clues, there are also shocking actions scenes, and disturbing insights into the criminal’s mind. The people in the story came to life, and I was cheering on the police as they searched desperately for the criminals. Themes include work relationships, the drive to succeed, loyalty, family, alcoholism, self-harm, assault, bullying, and much more.

Overall, this was a gripping and chilling story with complex characters. It’s intense and dramatic and kept this reader turning the pages. While there is some background given in this book, the series is best read in order. Louise’s full background is shared in book one and helps shed light on her situation and mind-frame in the following books. I would recommend it to those who enjoy police procedurals and British crime dramas. I hope there will be another book in this series and want to check out this author’s DCI Michael Lambert series.

Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and Matt Brolly for a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley and the opportunity to provide an honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for November 23, 2021. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.
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Fabulous instalment in this great crime series, although I’m worried that’s the end of books about Louise? I really hope not as I’ve become so involved in her story. Really nice red herrings in here too. Loved that the Finch storyline has been put to rest; it was brilliant, but there is nothing worse than an ongoing story lingering for too long. Have really enjoyed everything Mr Brolly has written, so will be eagerly anticipating his next book;  whoever the protagonist is. Would be a shame not to hear more about Louise, Thomas and Emily though. A total five star read.
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