She knows she’s alone on an abandoned island with a killer on her trail. She knows that to get home to her children, she must survive long enough to understand why this is happening. She knows someone tried to kill her for a secret. What she doesn’t know is what that secret is . . .
Detective Frank Travis doesn’t know enough . . .
He doesn’t know where to find Louise Mason. He doesn’t know how and why she vanished into thin air three months ago. He doesn’t know the identity of the man last seen talking to her. Not yet. But what he does know it that he’s a week away from retirement — and if he doesn’t find out where Louise went, no one will.
What neither Rebekah nor Detective Travis realise is that each holds a missing piece from the same puzzle — and it will cost them everything they love to finally solve it . . .
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is story plays out like a never-ending nightmare, tinged with fantasy, horror.
Rebekah is marooned on an inhospitable, remote island. Can she survive? Why is she there? The reader experiences her ordeal intimately as the storyline, past and present, immerses you in her claustrophobic and sinister world. Frank is a cop about to retire, but he needs to solve one last missing person’s case. These two seemingly unconnected stories are full of clues and misinformation as somewhere within are the missing pieces to both mysteries.
The dual timelines from Rebekah’s viewpoint are complex and initially confusing. This is intentional to let the reader experience Rebekah’s disorientation and sense of hopelessness. The plot keeps its secrets and uses spurious information to keep the reader guessing. Rebekah is a flawed and unreliable protagonist, but despite this, she evokes empathy from the reader.
The mystery is well-plotted and largely plausible, the characters are relatable, and the suspense building is addictive.
Your daughter is missing. Did someone close to you take her?
Seven-year-old Beatrice has gone missing. Her mother Claire’s whole world has been turned upside down in just one moment and she can’t stop shaking. She’s desperate to find her precious daughter, but nothing about the day she disappeared makes sense…
The mother-in-law: Jill was meant to be looking after Beatrice. She says she didn’t take her eyes off the little girl but her version of events doesn’t add up… Claire has never got on with her, so why should she trust her now?
The husband: He should have been with their only child. Instead, he changed the plans without telling Claire. She didn’t think there were any secrets between them, but maybe she was wrong?
The first wife: Laurel has always been jealous of Claire’s family. Has her husband’s ex-wife taken her daughter?
Which one of them is lying? And who really knows where Beatrice is?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley in return for an honest review..
This is a compelling read. The author’s ability to take a traumatic incident and weave an ethos of menace and suspense is what makes her stories so addictive. Told from multi viewpoints, the reader gains insight into the two unreliable protagonists and the unknown antagonist.
The family unit is scrutinised, and the devastation a missing child causes is convincingly written. The believably written relationship dynamics immerse the reader into the characters’ traumatised world. The story keeps its secrets well, and although I did work out the antagonist, the author still has the final word.
I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric, intriguing fusion of psychological thriller and police procedural. Written from multi viewpoints, it allows the reader an omnipotent insight into events both past and present from the unreliable protagonists’ viewpoint and that of the detective leading the investigation into their disappearance.
Based on betrayal, deceit and secrets, most of the characters are hard to like as they exhibit the worst side of humanity. The suspense-building uses sensory imagery to immerse the reader into the barren and unforgiving setting. This allows the reader insight into what the characters perceive and how it feels. Even ordinary occurrences are disturbing in the right circumstances.
She’s determined to save a stolen son. But will that mean justice?
As a high-ranking woman in the Royal Military Police, Major Helen Scott gets the job done – no matter the task. So when she is pulled in to lead a NATO summit security team in Paris, it barely causes a ripple. Yet within hours she’s dispatched to Lyon on a new mission. One with a complex problem at its heart.
Kahlil Dalmani and Fawaz bin Nabil were close in childhood, growing up in the hubbub of Algiers. As men, they are both wildly successful. Yet their paths to fortune have caused a rift. Fawaz’s empire is built on illegal trade, and when his estranged friend refuses to grant a favour he seeks to change Kahlil’s mind the best way he knows how: kidnapping his son, Hakim.
Working out of the Interpol headquarters, Helen must unpick a web of deceit that spreads across borders and dates back years. Only by trusting those from her own painful past can she hope to return Hakim to his family. But with her focus on saving one life, she risks overlooking a plan that puts many others in grave danger.
An explosive and gripping crime thriller from one of the most brilliant British crime fiction authors of recent years.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo Crime via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a suspenseful international thriller from the author of the DI Kelly Porter series.
Set in France and North Africa, it features Major Helen Scott, a Royal Military Police officer. Helen, on first acquaintance, appears to be a career officer but this more by design than intention after a personal tragedy. The story is multi-viewpoint, and several sub-plots successfully dovetail into a climactic conclusion.
The contemporary plot is authentic and multilayered with a good balance of action and introspection. The detailed and vivid writing style makes the action and settings easy to visualise.
The reader gets to know the main characters and what motivates them well.Helen Scott has emotional strength and human flaws making her believable. The cast of characters are diverse and add to the story’s authenticity and depth of interest.
In conclusion, this is an exciting international political crime thriller.
Kevin Flint is a young man on the cusp of adulthood and something of a misfit. He has no friends and a reputation of being odd. At home he lives in fear of his cruel, controlling father. Kevin starts spending time at an abandoned church with an ancient graveyard, and learns couples also go there to have sex. He becomes obsessed with watching them. Soon, one of the women who he has followed is reported missing.
DI Kelly Porter investigates the disappearance and knows that the adolescent boy is hiding something. Kevin is culpable, but to what degree? The evidence against him begins to stack up and Kelly is torn between instinct and facts. Distracted by a looming crisis in her personal life, can she preserve what she loves and still uphold the laws she lives by?
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is another addictive book in the DI Kelly Porter series set in Cumbria. It’s an intriguing medley of noir crime, police investigation, and the personal lives of the detective team.
Kelly is a likeable detective who is motivated by the need to seek justice for crime victims. Although career-driven, she does have an increasingly important personal life which shows another side to her and sometimes makes her professionally vulnerable.
Although the violent crimes featured are disturbing to read about, the detailed descriptions are necessary to the story. There’s an authentic team dynamic with a good mix of personal and professional interactions.
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
Botswana in the late 1990s, this story introduces the reader to Kubu as he embarks on his career as a police detective. The story is multi-viewpoint and written in a police procedural style with a keen insight into the culture and politics of the Botswanan setting.
This is an atmospheric noir story with multiple murders. Kubu proves to be worthy of his fast-track appointment, as he gradually wins around those opposed to his detective status. He is an intuitive, intelligent investigator. His relative youth makes him impulsive in following leads despite the personal risk, but this is also what makes him effective.
This is an absorbing story with a likeable detective.
Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialised in image processing and remote sensing and taught at the University of the Witwatersrand.
On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger.
The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original mystery and was shortlisted for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award. They have also written a thriller, Dead of Night, following the investigative journalist, Crystal Nguyen, who gets caught up in the war against rhino poaching and rhino-horn smuggling.
When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.
Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place.
During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe’s walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.
But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi – his cousin’s daughter – Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes.
After the Storm is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series – the much awaited sequel to Crossing the Line. Grab your copy today and enjoy the intrigue of traditional English mystery, cleverly combined with a continental twist.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is the second book in the Guiseppe Bianchi mysteries set in Bexhill on Sea. The mystery is complete but reading the first book gives the reader insight into the main character, his family and his secrets. The setting in the nineteen sixties is atmospheric and authentic. The gently paced investigation is in keeping with the historical period and encompasses different threads interwoven into the main investigation.
Guiseppe is an enigmatic character, intuitive, likeable and a little mysterious. The investigative partnership with journalist Christina works well. Their different skills complement the other. The family is central to the story and valued by Guiseppe.
If you are looking for a gently paced, well-written mystery, this is worth reading.
Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of the 1960s. Researching all aspects of family life back then formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. Isabella rediscovered her love of writing fiction during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing and since then she has gone on to publish six novels, three novellas and two short story collections.
Her latest novel, After the Storm, is the second novel in a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.
Her first Sussex Crime Mystery series features young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. As well as three novels, there are three novellas in the series, which explore some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.
Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
The Therapist is an addictive blend of cleverly crafted characters, nail-biting psychological suspense and a puzzling plot. Alice and Leo move into the exclusive gated development in London to begin their lives together. Alice is unsure if London life will suit her, but Leo wants to live in London, and she wants to see more of him.
Told exclusively from Alice’s perspective, she soon reveals herself as an unreliable protagonist. A past family tragedy still defines her life, and she sees the change of lifestyle as a way of living again. Alice dislikes The Circle’s sinister ethos. A series of unexpected revelations intensify her emotional vulnerability to breaking point. Everyone has secrets, and Alice isn’t sure who she can trust. The house’s tragic history immerses Alice until her life starts to unravel, pushing her relentlessly towards danger.
Short passages from the past with undefinable characters intensify the sense of menace and suspense towards the climactic, twisted conclusion. The final shocking twist is well disguised. This is a book you won’t want to put down. It will have you checking you’ve locked the doors.
Eve Mallow’s stay at the luxurious Abbey Hotel takes a turn for the suspicious when the owner is murdered – leaving Eve surrounded by suspects!
Saxford St Peter is Eve Mallow’s beloved home, but she can’t resist the chance to spend a weekend in the nearby Abbey Hotel, famed for its glamorous owner Debra Moran and an array of celebrity guests. For a confirmed people-watcher like Eve, it’s perfect: she can observe the rich and famous while sipping tea in the gardens, her faithful dachshund Gus by her side.
But her relaxing break takes a shocking turn when Debra is found lying dead in the shadowy woods around the hotel. One of Eve’s fellow guests didn’t come to the Abbey for fine food and delightful décor – but to kill.
When the investigation gets underway, Eve finds herself trapped with a wide range of suspects. Could it be Debra’s new friend Harper, who inherits everything? Her ex-husband Chester, still seething over their messy divorce? Or her estranged sister Amelia, who came hoping for reconciliation, only for Debra to shut the door in her face?
As Eve roams the hotel, searching for clues and hunting down alibis, she uncovers a whole host of secrets. But can she find the truth before the killer brings her holiday to a deadly end?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Eve takes a well-earned break at a luxury hotel in a nearby location in this mystery. The change of location is glamorous and promises to be a feast of delicious food and people watching. An unexpected death makes Eve realise, the veiled animosity she sensed between some of the guests and employees may be clues to solving a murder.
This is an addictive cosy mystery with eccentric characters, clever clues and an atmospheric setting. I have read most of this series, and it continues to engage me.
Read my 4*Review of Mystery at the Old Mill (Book4)
I’ve read two of the three previous books in the Eve Mallow Mystery series, and it keeps getting better. It’s good to return to the picturesque village and its vividly described inhabitants. Eve investigates a death after an arson attack and soon finds the victim has hidden depths and secrets.
The plot is full of twists, and the list of suspects is vast, but Eve’s tenacious investigative techniques and willingness to put herself in danger draw the guilty party into the open in an exciting finale.
With a mother unfit for purpose and a brother who despises her, working girl Amber can rely on no one but herself – until the meanest pimp in Manchester, Kevin Pike, offers her his protection. Unfortunately, this attracts the fury of Cora, a prostitute no one wants to get on the wrong side of…
NOWHERE TO HIDE
When Cora is found strangled to death, the late-night city streets feel increasingly exposed with a killer on the loose. And as Amber grows closer to Kevin, she realises his security comes at a price she might not be willing to pay…
NOTHING TO LOSE
Amber is frozen in fear, knowing one wrong move will risk her life. But then she discovers a horrifying secret that forces her to choose: stay or run?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria and Aries via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Book four in The Working Girls series is a haunting and tragic story.
All the books in this series are a unique mix of gritty and poignant, but as Amber is a victim of child abuse and child sexual abuse, this is difficult to read and hard to forget. Sensitively written with a focus on the emotional damage abuse causes, this book focuses on the victims.
The dual timeline story moves from the early 1990s when Amy is a little girl through to her teenage years and closer to the present day when Amber is a working girl. The plot is fast-paced as Amy’s life gradually becomes Amber’s. The characters, some new, and a few familiar faces are relatable, and after a climactic conclusion, there is a positive ending.
This is an edgy and poignant series that explores urban crime in Manchester.
Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels.
After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.
Amy wanted to run through the rooms just one more time. She loved their home in Cheadle. It was big and cosy with a garden that went all the way round. Her grandparents said that was because it was detached, and it was in a good area too. She’d spent many happy hours in the playroom with her friends or in the sprawling back garden on the swing, slide and climbing frame.
She was going to miss it, but her mother had promised her that the house they were moving to was also very nice. It wasn’t as big as this one and they would only have room for the swing in the garden but nevertheless her mother was going to make sure that it was just as cosy.
She had also told Amy and Nathan that their friends could come and visit them in the new house, and that they’d probably make new friends too. Amy enjoyed playing with her friends and knew that she was going to miss them, but she felt better knowing that they would be welcome anytime.
At the top of the stairs she turned and walked into her old bedroom, clutching her favourite teddy bear, Barney. Her bedroom was at the back of the house and overlooked the garden with its neat lawns and pretty flowers. Amy caught a glimpse of the slide and the climbing frame that would be left behind, and she felt sad. But she tried not to cry, knowing she had promised her mother she would be a brave girl when they had to leave their nice home.
‘Come on, Barney,’ she said, addressing her teddy bear. ‘Don’t cry. We’ve got to be brave for Mummy. The men have put my bed in the van, and I’ll tuck you up nice and warm in it when we get to the new house.’
The garden was now devoid of the picturesque planters that her mother had lovingly nurtured. They were inside the big van that was parked outside the front of their house. Many of their belongings were also inside and as Amy walked through the empty bedrooms, she could hear the echo of her footsteps.
Next, she walked into her mother’s bedroom and looked out of the window at the men who were busy carrying boxes from the kitchen. She spotted her friend, Maisie, with her mother, hovering at the edge of the garden, and Amy let out an excited squeal. She ran down the stairs, eager to see Maisie one last time before she had to leave.
‘Maisie,’ she shouted enthusiastically as she sped out of the front door, dodging one of the men who was carrying a box full of kitchen utensils. ‘We’re going to our new house today.’
Maisie smiled. ‘I know. My mummy told me. She said we can come to see you off.’
Amy held up her teddy bear. ‘Barney’s coming too. He’s really happy.’ She held up her teddy bear and addressed him. ‘Aren’t you, Barney?’ She moved his head to indicate a nod.
‘What other toys are you taking?’ asked Maisie and for a few minutes they chatted animatedly until Amy’s mother, Loretta, drew their attention. ‘Come on, Amy. It’s time to go.’
‘Aw, Mummy,’ complained Amy. ‘Can I stay for a bit longer? Can Maisie come and play in the garden for a bit? The slide and climbing frame are still there.’
‘No, Amy,’ said her mother. ‘The men are finished now. We need to go.