Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Revenge Fiction, Horror Fiction, International Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

The Family -P.R.Black – 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @PatBlack9 #Thriller #Horror #Guest Post #BlogTour

The best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait.

Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’.

The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.

Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed.

Will Becky avenge her family or join them?

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a deep and dark novel, with noir themes, and graphically described violence. The written imagery is vivid, and the suspense, and level of menace, this story engenders is intense.

Becky is the sole survivor of a horrific, ritualistic murder that robbed her of her close family, and left her, unsurprisingly, traumatised and emotionally damaged. Twenty years on, she is still suffering, despite therapy, and the comfort, sought from the bottom of a bottle. She needs closure and revenge. Spurred on by a cold case investigation, she is determined to find the person who destroyed her family and her chance of a happy life.

So many contemporary themes are covered in this detailed thriller, the dark web, hacking, institutional conspiracy, abuse and murder. Becky is a well-constructed protagonist, flawed because of her emotional damage and reliance on alcohol. She is unreliable but if you accept her faults, you have to admire her determination and strength, to find the killer and expose those who have allowed the killer to remain at large.

The first chapter sets the scene and tone of the book exquisitely. What follows is a detailed investigation to find out the players in the murderous game, and then the pursuit, which is adrenaline-fueled, fast-paced and violent. There are parts of this story that seem unrealistic, but it is fiction, and as such the author is allowed to bend reality a little.

Merging the horror and thriller genres, with a suspenseful mystery, this story will make you think, keep you turning the pages, and lock your doors.

Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize. Twitter Facebook

Avenging Angels – Pat Black

In The Family, we meet an avenger in the journalist Becky Morgan. She’s hell-bent on finding the maniac who killed her mother, father, sister and brother and left her for dead when she was just a girl.

Becky’s tenacious, she’s smarter than the average bear, and she can kick you in the face from a standing position.

She follows on from a proud literary tradition of avenging – and revenging – angels. Let’s take a look at a few ruthless ladies you don’t want to mess with…  

Lisbeth Salander

Stieg Larsson’s Salander is the ground zero for modern tough women. The star of the Millennium Trilogy will almost certainly help to define our times for future generations.

She’s slightly built and looks like an insecure teenager hiding behind piercings and outlandish haircuts. This assessment would be a mistake, and making it to her face might be a painful one for you.

Salander has been the victim of some terrible crimes, but she never lets this define her. She’s constantly moving forward, and whatever damage she’s suffered has not interfered with a strong sense of justice. In order to attain that, she will cut any corner necessary.

She’s no blunt instrument, though – Salander is a genius, a computer hacker who can break into anything, the equivalent of an ultra-creepy sleight of hand trickster who has your purse in his pocket before you can finish shuffling the pack.

The end justifies the means for Salander, whether that’s using her skills to expose the most intimate details of some sleazebag’s life and stripping them of all their money, or employing eye-watering levels of violence. You might not exactly warm to Salander or her methods, but you’re always rooting for the girl with the dragon tattoo.

Salander has a whole double album’s worth of greatest hits, but the punishment she metes out to her repellent legal guardian, Bjurman, is perhaps the most memorable.

“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?”

“…Squeak!

The stranger, “Charles Augustus Milverton”

Adultery and its consequences are the drivers of several plots in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes tales, and this is particularly true of “Charles Augustus Milverton”.

The guy in the title is a blackmailer, and he loves his job. He doesn’t make idle threats – if people can’t pay up, he will expose their sins, both great and small. Perhaps even more than Moriarty, Holmes despises this villain.

That’s why he doesn’t lift a finger to stop one woman who – spoilers – enters stage left and turns Charles Augustus Milverton into Swiss cheese with a revolver… then stamps on his face for good measure. The old goat had hustled her husband into an early grave after exposing her secrets.

“Take that!” this sister yells, unloading on the fool again and again. “And that!”  

I never forgot that savagery after first reading the story as a kid. The woman goes nameless, with Watson being a gentleman to the last following an injunction by Holmes, who places natural justice above written laws.

But what an impact she had. Several of them, in fact, at point blank range.

“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?”

No, he definitely will not.  

Carrie

Goodness me, everyone gets it in this novel. People who only half-deserve it get it. Even one or two who maybe only smirked a little bit get it. This isn’t payback. It’s a biblical disaster, visited upon an entire town through one odd girl’s unique psychic abilities.

Like the surgical scenes in The Exorcist movie, the most harrowing parts of Stephen King’s debut novel for me aren’t so much the supernatural elements or the gore, but the heartless abuse poor Carrie receives from her teenage peers. It strikes home for most readers, even before Carrie lashes out.

Telekinesis aside, the dark plot which ensnares Carrie is believably put together and executed. King, who taught in a high school, imbues his tragic heroine with believable qualities – so too for the bullies, both male and female. Hauntingly, King revealed in On Writing that there were true-life individuals who inspired Carrie White, with their own tragic fates. 

Worst of all, Carrie is almost redeemed. It’s so agonisingly close to a fairytale ending. There’s a sign of the woman she might have become, free of the small town shackles, paroled from her evil mother’s closet. The ugly duckling, become a gorgeous swan. There’s even a heartbreaking hint that against all odds, she might just have found her prince. But one jealous, bitter, angry person simply cannot allow that.

And then… Blood and fire.

“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?” No. No-one will.

But, you notice something here? These were all written by men. So…

The She-Devil

Fay Weldon wrote one of the most horrifying short stories I’ve ever read. “Weekend” looks at a hard-working wife and mother, keeping all the plates spinning for her unappreciative family. Her husband has invited a friend to stay for the weekend. This guy has dumped his own loyal, loving wife for a younger woman. The writing appears on the wall.

There’s no catharsis in this story. That might be the worst thing about it. No verbal explosions, not one slapped cheek, no soup tureens upended. The wife and mother in “Weekend” simply accept her deal, the tiredness, the sarcasm, the appalling imbalances and injustices of her marriage. She is a doormat. No-one respects her. It’s a hard read, but a necessary one.

There is plenty of catharsis in Weldon’s The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil. Ruth is cut from the same cloth as the main character in “Weekend”, but she strikes back, taking a full English breakfast of revenge on her cheating husband Bobbo and his mistress, Mary Fisher.

In Ruth’s journey from dumped and dumpy wife to glamourous usurper and emasculator, she must surrender her identity and take on new ones, physically as well as mentally, in order to destroy her rival and get even with Bobbo.

There is no bill left unpaid by the end of this book.

Weldon has stated that She-Devil is not about revenge, but envy. You could have fooled me.

“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?” (Terrified silence)

Susie Salmon

Is Susie Salmon an avenger? Not in the sense that she’s out for blood. She certainly hopes to expose the man who killed her – her creepy serial killer neighbour, Harvey. There’s just that slight inconvenience of being dead.

The main character in Alice Sebold’s troubling The Lovely Bones is a ghostly presence after Harvey kills her, more of an observer than an actor, but she does her best to guide her family towards where her remains are being kept.

Harvey does get his comeuppance – a strange, unspectacular, unmarked fate. But Susie’s heavenly mission is one of healing rather than destruction, as she tries to bring her family back together after the trauma of her disappearance. Maybe this act of repair, much more than one of violence, is the best revenge.

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Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Noir, Thriller

4* #Review -The Island – Ragnar Jonasson – Translator -Victoria Cribb @MichaelJBooks @ragnarjo #PublicationDay #Noir #Crime #Thriller #IcelandSeries #TheIsland

Four friends visit the island.

But only three return . . .

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords.

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her.

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?

Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.

Amazon UK
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I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘The Island’ is the second in the #HiddenIceland series of noir crime novels. I haven’t read the first book, but this reads well as a standalone. Hulda is a troubled detective and her personality and emotional pain, make her perfect for the ethos of this series. The story is sinister and suspenseful, but rather than relying on action scenes for its interest and impetus, it delves deep into the characters and their secrets to reveal the plot’s twists and turns.

Hulda is haunted by her past and elements of the crime resonate with her, making her more personally involved with the events at the island and its players than is wise.

The story flicks between different timelines, which demands concentration. You need to enjoy this deep, slow-paced, dark storytelling to get something from this book, but it is authentic and a good example of its genre.

Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Political Thriller

4*#Review – Robert Hedley- Interlude in Kosovo – @hedley_robert

Dr Claire Peters flees her unfaithful husband, James, to work for The World Health Organisation in post-war Kosovo. Her husband follows, hoping for reconciliation.
Both take lovers, she a French Captain in KFOR (Kosovo Force), part of UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) he a beautiful Kosovar, wife of a senior member of the KLA (Kosova Liberation Army), catapulting both into a mix of Kosovo politics and criminality. 
Intimidation and murder in the mountains and then threats on the life of Claire climax in the capital, Pristina. 

This book is a novel. It is a love story and a mystery. All the characters are fictitious but the description of war-torn Kosovo as seen through their eyes and the background to the events described are true. 
Robert Hedley was recruited by the World Health Organisation as a consultant on medical education and health service development in 2000. For ten years before the war, Albanian Kosovars were treated as second-class citizens, encouraged to emigrate, denied access to the University for Law, Medicine and other careers. In Medicine, a ‘Parallel System’ was established where Albanian Kosovar students were taught Medicine in private houses with no access to the University Medical School. 
WHO fast-tracked a new medical education system, upgrading the training of Kosovar doctors, including medical education techniques to train future doctors, using experienced doctors from across Europe and other parts of the world. A new system of Primary Care was developed with a new curriculum for Family Doctors as well as a new curriculum for some Secondary Care Specialists at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Eventually, several years later, The Royal College of General Practitioners in London recognised the postgraduate training and examination for Family Doctors in Kosovo as equivalent to the diploma of MRCGP INTERNATIONAL. 

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I received a paperback copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story scores highly for originality and factual detail. It’s clear from reading this book that the author has first-hand knowledge of the political climate at the time, the setting and the ethos of Kosovo. This is an atmospheric, tense novel with vivid but not overly graphic imagery.

It’s a tale of two doctors, married but estranged through the actions of the husband. When his wife decides to leave the country and make a new start, he follows. His motivations for this are not entirely clear since he professes to love her but starts an affair whilst in Kosovo. Claire is easier to empathise, but neither character’s emotional states and motivation are fully explored.

The story is suspenseful and there are some passionate moments, but this story’s strength is in the authentic, detailed setting, action scenes and realistic plot.

dav
Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Political Thriller

To The Lions- Holly Watt – 3*#Review @BloomsburyRaven @Holly_Watt

A journalist must follow the clues, no matter how far that takes her.

Casey Benedict, star reporter at the Post, has infiltrated the lives and exposed the lies of countless politicians and power players. Using her network of contacts, Casey is always on the search for the next big story, no matter how much danger this might place her in, no matter what cost emotionally. 

Tipped off by an overheard conversation at an exclusive London nightclub, she begins to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy young British man, whose death has left his fiancée and family devastated. 

Casey’s hunt for the truth will take her from the glitz of St Tropez to the deserts of Libya and on to the very darkest corners of the human mind

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing -Raven Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A young investigative journalist follows a lead that suggests some unscrupulous rich people are hunting the forgotten humans – refugees, for kicks. The trail leads Casey and her fellow journalist Miranda to North Africa, to discover the truth.

This is a high octane, political thriller full of action and violence. The investigative journalist aspect of the story is realistic. The events Casey uncovers are disturbing.

The writing style is factual. The first part of the book is hard to read, but the second half is more dynamic and faster paced.

This story authentically explores the human cost of this tragedy and poses the journalist with believable moral dilemmas.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

 

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
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On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK


I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK

I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects.
The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Thriller

No Tomorrow #5*Review – Killing Eve #2 – Luke Jennings

In a hotel room in Venice, where she’s just completed a routine assassination, Villanelle receives a late-night call.

Eve Polastri has discovered that a senior MI5 officer is in the pay of the Twelve, and is about to debrief him. As Eve interrogates her subject, desperately trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, Villanelle moves in for the kill.

The duel between the two women intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary’s true identity.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Having enjoyed, if that’s the word, the TV series ‘Killing Eve’, I wanted to read the books that inspired the series.

The story is adrenaline-fuelled, clever, dark, fast-paced and rich in vivid imagery. Obviously, the characters assume the faces of the actors in the TV series I watched, but the settings, horrific killings and the continually intensifying relationship between Eve and Villanelle are perfectly executed in the book. The thrills, twists and terrible events are delivered at a fast pace, making this a page-turner, even if you haven’t seen the TV series.

Dark humour, multiple plot twists and characters who are larger than life, but remain believable make this story the perfect read, for lovers of spy thrillers, intense female relationships and hard-hitting action fiction.

I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.