I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
‘The Final Trail’, is book five in ‘The Trail Series’ set predominately in Birmingham. I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but I enjoyed this one, as the characters are well written and there is sufficient back story.
The immersive, intense writing style makes it easy to connect with the characters and work out their motivations and relationships. The short chapters each from a main characters point of view, lets the reader see developments from several points of view.
Business, family and politics are the points of conflict. The suspense building is good, especially around the political aspects involving Erik. This story explores many areas of life. Business crime, family, love and politics, are all fused into an adrenaline-packed story.
Reading this book makes me want to read the whole series.
Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.
At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.
Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.
Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a chilling, complex and curious thriller, with psychological and technological themes. Told from three points of view. The reader lives the complete story. Whilst, it keeps you turning the pages, it starts your mind thinking too, what if?
The story has many strands. The unusual skill of the female protagonist, as a superrecogniser, which now lost, has left her unsure and vulnerable. The secret world of the new man in her life, and his attitude towards her that makes their interactions often claustrophobic. The themes of doppelgangers, and his apparent obsession with his.
The story is full of underlying detail, which sets the scene convincingly, and evidences the author’s copious research. There are many twists, and the ending is memorable.
If you’ve read this author’s psychological thrillers before, you may be waiting for something to happen that you don’t expect. It does, but its impact is more powerful than you may imagine.
Clever writing, intense suspense, and originality make this a must-read for those who like to explore the darkness and vastness of the human mind.
Guest Post – Super recognisers, by J.S.Monroe
There are some unlucky people in this world who cannot remember a face. Try as they might, they can’t recognise the most familiar people in their lives: relatives, friends, even their own reflection. The condition is known as facial blindness, or prosopagnosia, and it’s estimated that about two per cent of us are sufferers. In 2009, Richard Russell, a Harvard psychologist, wondered if these people were on a spectrum and, if they were, what happened at the other end? Were there those who cannot forget a face? Enter the “super recognisers”, a term coined by Russell for the one per cent of us who indeed have a preternatural gift for remembering the human face. A super recogniser might only have seen someone for a split second at a bus stop five years ago, but if he walked passed them again tomorrow, he would remember them.
In my new thriller, The Other You, my main female character, Kate, is a former super recogniser. She used to work as a civilian for the police, studying mug shots and then identifying criminals on CCTV footage, or working in the field at large public events, spotting known troublemakers in crowds. I spent a lot of time reading up on the subject, as I found it increasingly fascinating. The part of the brain where human faces are processed, for example, is called the fusiform gyrus and it appears to be a lot more active in super recognisers than the rest of us.
My research eventually took me to Essex, where I met a super recogniser called Emma. She only discovered her ability in her thirties, but she’d always had a good memory for faces, recognising someone in the swimming pool who had served her in Tesco’s years earlier, or spotting extras who kept on cropping up in different films. “It’s a bit embarrassing when you go up to someone familiar and smile and they look at you blankly because they don’t remember your face,” she says. Emma used to be in the Metropolitan Police but she now works a super recogniser for a private security firm. After a shift of spotting people, she’s mentally drained. “Your brain’s working overtime, taking screenshots all the time, scanning faces like a robot.”
Talking of robots, super recognisers are proving more than a match for facial recognition software, which is currently experiencing a global boom. The artificial intelligence algorithms deployed to identify faces, matching people in live situations to databases of criminals, are getting better, but it remains a far from exact science. When South Wales Police deployed facial recognition software at the Champions League Final in Cardiff in 2017, more than 2,000 people were wrongly identified as criminals – a failure rate of 92%.
Compare that with the success of super recognisers working for the Metropolitan Police. After the London riots in 2011, the Met amassed 200,000 hours of CCTV footage, but software managed to identify one criminal. One! The Met’s team of super recognisers, by contrast, identified more than 600. One extraordinary individual, PC Gary Collins, identified 180 alone, including a man who had concealed his face with a bandana and beanie. Collins recognised him from just his eyes – he’d last seen him two years ago.
“Algorithms will get better, but people change appearance and we as humans are primed to see through those changes,” says Josh Davis, professor of Applied Psychology at the University of Greenwich, who works closely with super recognisers and police forces around the world.
There’s something about the human face, it seems, that can’t be analysed solely by metrics. When we see someone, we imbue their face with meaning. He reminds me of my father; she looks like my old English teacher. The distance between our ears, or our mouth and nose, only tells half the story. Faces are uniquely human and humans – the super recognisers – remain, for the time being, the best at identifying them.
J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer. Monroe is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller, Find Me.
The grieving widow. The other woman. Which one is which?
When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family – and investigate them.
Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron.
Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.
Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years…
Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed.
As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The beginning is intense and shocking. It raises questions, when did this happen? Before the story yet to unfold? After? During?
It sets the scene for an intricately woven plot of danger, deceit and desire.
The characters play out their roles in an authentic way, the knowledge of police procedures is evident and makes that part of the story realistic and readable. The main theme of the story is the web of lies that one man lived, only revealed after his demise. The two families, the anger, anguish and anonymity they feel. Are they as ignorant as they seem? Do they know more? Are they in danger too?
Beth Chamberlain, as a new family liaison officer, brings a fresh perspective. She has her problems, some of which impinge on the investigation, but her empathy and intelligence make her role pivotal.
The suspense builds well, the plot has enough twists to make it page-turning, but plausible. An engaging story with significant psychological suspense played out against a well-written police procedural setting.
Guest Post – Jane Isaacs – Embracing the New
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Jane. I’m delighted to be here!
I originally wrote the DC Beth Chamberlain series as a self-publishing project, and the first two titles, After He’s Gone and Presumed Guilty, were released under the banner of police procedurals, with a third waiting in the wings. As a traditionally published author of five books, I did find it extremely helpful to learn more about the other side of the publishing business. I employed editors and cover artists and took the books through all the same processes as my traditional novels and was pleased when the reviews started to roll in. However, while I enjoyed the process immensely, I also gained a greater appreciation how much work actually goes into getting the books we write out there!
Needless to say, all these additional tasks took me away from writing new material, which will always be my first love. So, I was delighted to sign the series over to Aria Fiction to take it forward and re-launch it, along with a brand-new title in 2020.
I’m very excited about this new partnership, not least because Aria feel these books are more domestic noir/psychological thriller than police procedurals – a new area for me – and will be marketing as such. They’ve done a great job with the first novel, changing it from After He’s Gone to The Other Woman and I’m thrilled at the cover they’ve come up with!
Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.
Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.
And now she’s back. Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.
Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.
Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.
Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.
I received a copy of this book from bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is my second psychological thriller by this author, and like her previous book ‘The Marriage Betrayal’ this story explores a family tragedy, with two main points of view, and lots of plot twists that make reading it, a mind-blowing experience.
The story begins with Catriona in the past. She is emotionally distraught, something terrible has happened, she finds herself at a shopping mall, and after a while, a young child catches her attention.
Rachel tells her story in the present, she meets a new mother at school, their children become instant friends, but when she meets the older sibling, she cannot believe her eyes. She resembles the child she lost eight years previously.
This is a story of secrets, obsession and tragedy. Neither viewpoint is reliable, and whilst most of the information relayed from the two points of view seems plausible, you are constantly waiting for the twist that says you are wrong.
The characters have many flaws, Rachel is hard to like, even though you empathise with her situation. She trusts no one, and you wonder why she has kept her secrets for so long.
This is an emotionally gripping story, with relentless suspense, that draws you in and keeps you reading. There are some less plausible parts to the story, but this is a psychological thriller, told by unreliable protagonists, you cannot expect events to be conventional.
The twists are well constructed and keep you guessing, and the trademark ending makes you gasp, even though you knew it was coming.
Not to be missed if you love the twisty turns of a good psychological thriller, with a seemingly normal domestic setting.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
This book explores how isolated we all are. Even though, many of us live in overpopulated cities, how many people do we interact with face to face in a meaningful way?
Lexie and Harriet live next door to each other, Lexie lives with Tom and is desperately trying to get pregnant. Harriet lives alone, but often has noisy parties, Lexie never goes to. Both can hear muffled sounds of life through their apartment wall, and they both envy each other’s life to a degree. Told from both of the women’s points of view, a story of deceit, obsession and deteriorating mental health unfolds.
Harriet’s past life is gradually revealed and you realise what an unreliable protagonist she is. Her story is heartbreakingly sad, and as you understand what motivates her behaviour, the sense of menace and suspense builds.
Lexie is also in the grip of an obsession, she wants a baby to exclusion of all else, this puts a strain on her relationship with Tom, and makes her wonder what it would be like to be Harriet, someone she knows little about.
The story is slow-paced and detailed, and probably slightly longer than it needs to be, but the characters are complex, flawed and relatable, and the plot has many subtle twists. However, what you see, is actually what you get. Whilst this story lacks the big reveal, the delivery has a relentlessness about it, that makes you dread, what is going to happen next. You know it isn’t going to end well for someone.
I received a copy of this book from SilverWood Books in return for an honest review.
Based on a true crime, although ‘The Birthday House’. is a fictional interpretation of the events before, during and after the tragedy. The characters too are fictional, although the author did know the young girl who was murdered.
This is a short story, but it has depth and impact, more so because this is based upon a real, historical crime. Told from the viewpoints of the people involved it paints a picture, which is both poignant and inevitable. The housekeeper, who made the discovery, and its aftereffects on her. The wife, the child, the friend, the child’s best friend, the husband, who committed such a grievous atrocity, and the grandmother left only with her memories and regrets.
The story reads well, drawing you into the 1950s Dartmouth community. There is something fatalistic about it, so many opportunities to circumvent the eventual tragedy, but still, it happened. A well-written thought-provoking story,
I started writing in a red shiny exercise book
when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’
activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt
able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a
writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was
it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because
I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get
miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of
Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved but left because I could no longer cope with the system.
This led to a freelance career as an
independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the
work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as
well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects
concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child
abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.
All these experiences feed into the process of
writing fiction, while my non-fiction book ‘The Wise Woman Within’ resulted indirectly from the consultancy
work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable
Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the
University of Bath.
I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently
and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further
invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups
locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can.
I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus
and discipline achieved among others in a group.
I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing-course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and
enjoy being involved in a lively local community.
is not the man everyone believes him to be. And Emelia is not the woman he
wants her to be.
was a whirlwind romance, Anthony was the doting boyfriend, the charismatic and
successful career man who swept her off her feet. But now Emelia is trapped in
a marriage of dark secrets and obsession. She is no more than something Anthony
wants to ‘fix’, one of his pet projects.
has no escape from the life that Anthony insists on controlling, so she shares
her story through the only means she can – her blog. Yet Anthony can never find
out. Forced to hide behind a false name, Emelia knows the only way that Anthony
will allow her to leave him, is death.
Trapped with a man she knows is trying to kill her, Emelia is determined that someone will hear her story and Anthony will meet his ends. That everyone will discover the truth.
I received a copy of this book from the Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A story of two halves as many psychological thrillers are.
The story begins with a blog post, Emelia has a life-limiting condition and wondered if she would have the chance of a normal marriage. Anthony was more than she thought possible until he wasn’t. Once married, things change and the doting man becomes increasingly controlling. Limiting her life, even more than her physical state does.
This is a domestic thriller, claustrophobic and dark, and you wonder if she has it in her to escape. Then there’s a twist that turns this into a noir psychological thriller, where you doubt what you read, and don’t know who to believe, and wonder if anything that came before is ‘The Truth’?
The ending has another twist and leaves ‘normal’ minds with more questions. Based on a collection of real events, this is chilling, claustrophobic and clever, something different.
Guest Post – Naomi Joy – The Truth –Notes on Inspiration
If you ask authors where they get their inspiration, you’ll receive a range of answers. It might be an amazing location that’s captured their imagination – I think of Mandy Baggot’s Greek settings or Pat Black’s dark forests. They could have picked up on trends in our society – how more and more people are meeting one another online (Click, L.Smyth). It could have been a big change in their own lives – a new baby, a new job, a new man on the train (The Note, Z.Folbigg) – that sparked their creative fuse. I read about an author whose grandparent had lived through the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and written a diary about the day – inspiration indeed. It could be other worlds, imagined worlds, or a hypothetical question they’re keen to explore. But for me, my interest is usually piqued by a real-life person, most often a fascinating female case-study who’s done something terrible. I love to start from that point and imagine what’s come before: how did this evil emerge? What made this person who they are? Why?
Before I started writing The Truth, I was inspired by a collection of real people who’ve all committed the same sociopathic crime and, though I can’t go into detail about the specifics, as soon as I heard about them I couldn’t do anything else until I’d written a version of their stories myself.
The Liars, inspiration came from a number of toxic women I’d worked with, but, more interesting than their devious and despicable behaviour, was what made them that way. I read about how modern office culture favours competition and actively encourages employees to cut-down their competitors rather than collaborate, and thus the office-culture at the heart of the story was born.
As I sit down to work on my third novel for Aria Fiction, I will follow the same process, so, if you hear about any deranged and dastardly women: send them my way!
Naomi Joy is the pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at prestigious Storm Communications. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.
My ears prick, and I tune into the crescendo of footsteps, the turn of a lock, the twist of a doorknob. I push my laptop under the bed, determined to keep my blog a secret. It’s not that I don’t trust him, I just… It thuds as it hits the damask rug beneath and I recoil my arm quickly, pulling the covers back over my body and up around my neck to make it looks as though I’ve been sleeping rather than typing, but this sudden movement throws fistfuls of confetti-dust into the splinters of light in the room and I worry he’ll suspect that I’ve been up to something.
in,’ I reply.
dressing gown fans as the door opens, the gust catching the silk sleeve and
part of the body, transforming it, for a second, from inanimate object to
darling. How are you feeling?’
He peers at me through full-moon black-rimmed spectacles, the paper-thin skin beneath his eyes tinged purple – not enough sleep – his long fingers curled around the door handle. His carefully groomed moustache quivers above his top lip flicked up at the ends. He’s excited about something.
better?’ he asks.
I croak from my resting place. ‘I still feel like death.’
walks towards me, eyebrows crooked, wedding ring flashing as he passes through
the bursts of sunlight. He dabs the sweat slathering my brow and folds back the
duvet gently, eager to help, but the movement releases the smell of my own
stench into the otherwise beautiful room. His lips pucker in response. He tries
not to gag.
want to take you somewhere today,’ he says, bitter coffee on his breath.
my head fully towards him and we lock eyes.
I ask too quickly, too eagerly, droplets pooling anew in the curve of my lower
excavation. I thought it might make you feel better.’
smile, elated for a moment, then look away, my eyes on the opposite wall. There
are a couple of problems with this suggestion. The first: he’s promised this
before. I must not get my hopes up. The second: I am sick, deathly unwell, and,
though I have the will to leave, I’m not sure there’s any possible way that I
can. My stomach twists and jealousy rumbles in its pit. He is well. He can go
wherever he likes. He can work and, better still, he loves his job. Anthony’s a
famous archaeologist and, although that might sound oxymoronic, to those in the
industry he’s a rock star. Literally.
love to,’ I answer.
Despite my reservations, I am hopeful that I will go outside today. In fact, it is imperative that I do; Anthony is nothing but kind and patient with me and yet my brain is turning me against him, doubting his intentions. If I could just find the strength to ignore the searing pain in my abdomen, the tightness in my chest, the raging sweats, the all-consuming itch of my skin, the fire beneath, things would start to improve, we’d get back to who we were before. I know we would. My heart thumps, already exhausted, as I heave my reluctant body up to a seated position and swing my feet to the floor. I balance on the edge of the mattress, letting the black spots from my headrush pass, and, just as I’m about to stand, my toes hit the edge of my laptop hidden beneath the bed, making me jump. I glance behind me, hoping he won’t have noticed.
then,’ he says softly, taking my hand. ‘Time for your medicine.’
pills land in my palm – Antriptophene – and for once I stutter at what he’s given
me: I don’t recognise this brand and I’m immediately suspicious of it. I look
at the long drink of lukewarm water left on the bedside table overnight, coated
now with a thin film of dust. Something doesn’t feel right.
doctor’s recommended them, they’re supposed to be excellent.’
at the pills again, at the blocky red writing atop bright orange casing and
make a decision.
not taking these.’
face breaks with lines, lips curling at my refusal, shocked that I would even
question what he’s giving me. Taken aback, he stalls, then relents, folding
them into his hand and leaving the room without another word, his tall frame
pausing momentarily in the light of the doorway.