Time’s running out for DCI Hunter.
His wife and child are missing, perhaps even dead. Unable to pursue those
responsible he’s transferred to the wild landscape of Cornwall where another
child has disappeared.
Alice Trevelyan’s father has his
own agenda and wants retribution for the loss of his little girl and metes out
his own violent justice.
Will Trevelyan help or hinder?
Hunter has to make his move if he
wants to save Starlight.
But can anyone in this remote location be trusted?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story begins with a dead child on the beach, as many police procedurals do, but this story is dark, focusing on organised child abuse. There are two main protagonists, one is a war veteran, whose daughter is missing, he seeks and achieves a level of vigilante justice, which is graphically described. Hunter the Detective Chief Inspector, is a mysterious man. Who he is working for in not clear until the conclusion.
The story portrays the depravity and scope of organised child abuse well, and the ending reflects this. It is not an easy book to read. The graphic descriptions make this story slip into the horror fiction genre. The ethos of conspiracy and evil is clear from the outset.
The plot is good, but the frenetic pacing and execution make the characters hard to identify and keep track of. Clearly, this is purposeful, the author wants you to be confused, who is guilty? Who can you trust? Is the protection and safety of the children the primary aim of the protagonists?
The ending is well thought out and realistic.
A dramatic interpretation of contemporary evil, which leaves you with little hope for a society that doesn’t protect the innocent and vulnerable.
David Pipe was born in 1949 in a small Essex village. He attended a local grammar school, then the University of Hull where he took a B.Sc in chemistry. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry in England and South Africa before studying for a PhD in organic chemistry at Imperial College. After spells at universities in Geneva and Mulhouse he joined the oil industry in Germany where, aged 53, he gratefully took a redundancy package. Following a period of self-employment he wound down his business, eventually giving it up to scratch the writing itch which has produced Sacrificing Starlight, a timely reminder of the risks our children face and Henry’s Tale, where ghostwriting for his furry friend he describes the emotional growth of a puppy on the rollercoaster of life, compressed into a few weeks because puppies learn faster than their staff.
When he’s not writing David spends his time travelling, reading, swimming and jogging. He is married and lives in Hamburg with his wife and their Border terrier Henry. TwitterFacebook
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books – Michael Joseph Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A curious medley of a creepy, suspenseful thriller and poignant sadness are my impressions of this complex, multi-layered story.
A little boy is missing, and the disapperance has echoes of serial killings years before, but ‘The Whisper Man was caught, so who has taken the little boy?
There are so many facets to this story, a crime to be investigated, a little boy who hears voices and talks to imaginary people. A troubled father and son relationship, in the wake of a family tragedy, and a policeman haunted by his past both personal and work.
The plot slips effortlessly between points of view and different genres. The police procedural is authentic and helps you keep past events and what is currently known in mind. The sadness experienced by Tom and Jake is profound and you empathise with their grief and loss. The killer is damaged and dangerous and the level of menace pervades the entire story. Finally, there is a supernatural element, hinted at, leaving the reader to decide if it is really there or not.
Everything is fused together cleverly, making this a suspenseful, shocking and often sad story. The ending is fast-paced and breathtaking and written packed with vivid imagery. You can see the events unfolding in your mind as you read.
A page-turning, absorbing read that makes this thriller stand out above the rest.
Detective Calladine and Bayliss hunt for a missing child in a mystery with a shocking ending. Sophie Alder is the three-year-old daughter of local factory owner, Richard Alder. Richard and his wife Annie are locals from the rough housing estate who’ve made it big. Plus, there’s a crime wave in Leesworth and the police can’t cope. One thief even dares to break into Calladine’s house. A number of local men have formed a vigilante group. On one of their patrols, they catch the burglar and he ends up dead. The investigation is complicated and the detectives keep hearing about a shadowy figure called “Street,” the mastermind behind the increase in drugs and theft. With two more murders and Calladine’s personal life in turmoil, the detectives’ race against time to find “Street” and the missing child. In an ending with a huge twist, the detectives find everything they believed is turned upside down.
DEAD GUILTY is book nine of a new series of detective thrillers featuring D.S. Ruth Bayliss and D.I. Tom Calladine.
THE DETECTIVES Tom Calladine is a detective inspector who is devoted to his job. His personal life, however, is not so successful. Having been married and divorced before the age of twenty-one has set a pattern that he finds difficult to escape. Ruth Bayliss is in her mid-thirties, plain-speaking but loyal. She is balancing her professional life with looking after a small child.
THE SETTING: The fictional village of Leesdon on the outskirts of an industrial northern English city. There is little work and a lot of crime. The bane of Calladine’s life is the Hobfield housing estate, breeding ground to all that is wrong with the area that he calls home. DISCOVER YOUR NEXT FAVOURITE MYSTERY SERIES NOW THE CALLADINE & BAYLISS MYSTERY SERIES Book 1: DEAD WRONG Book 2: DEAD SILENT Book 3: DEAD LIST Book 4: DEAD LOST Book 5: DEAD & BURIED Book 6: DEAD NASTY Book 7: DEAD JEALOUS Book 8: DEAD BAD Book 9: DEAD GUILTY THE DCI GRECO BOOKS Book 1: DARK MURDER Book 2: DARK HOUSES Book 3: DARK TRADE Book 4: DARK ANGEL
I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
So, I’ve found this crime thriller late on into the series. ‘Dead Guilty’, is book nine in the Calladine and Bayliss set of novels, but it reads well as a standalone. The crime and detection are completed within this book, and the necessary backstory for the main characters is carefully woven into the story.
Calladine and Bayliss are a likeable detective team, Believable characters they both have flaws and personal lives that cause them problems, but they are clever, dedicated professionals and work well together with a small team of interesting characters. This story covers a wide range of topics; child abduction, drug trafficking, corruption and murder. The plot is easy to follow, but complex, with many suspects, lots of false leads and an authentic, menacing ethos, as crime escalates to unmanageable proportions.
Did I identify the antagonist? Yes, I did, but not immediately. Although this story deals with gritty crimes, it is an enjoyable easy read, something for a lazy afternoon in the garden or the beach.
A student kidnapped from the park. Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise, she will die.
An investigator running out of time. Sophie’s distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him.
A killer playing a dangerous game. Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder at a time…
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction – Harper Collins UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Gaming is a major theme of this detailed, fast-paced thriller. The book corresponds to levels in a video game, starting at level three, with a tense, action-filled, seemingly desperate rescue, and then moving back two days to level one, and the first disappearance.The story progresses through each level in the two days preceding the rescue, with pertinent flashbacks to level three, and historical interludes, to give the reader insight in Colter Shaw, his upbringing, and what motivates his constant restlessness.
Colter Shaw, a man of many talents, who sometimes searches for missing people, good or bad for the reward offered. Hehad a unique upbringing, off the grid, by loving parents. His parents choice of lifestyle to bring up their children is odd, given that they lived mainstream, and were respected academics, but as the story progresses you realise that they had their reasons.
Colter is searching for answers to his own personal dilemmas, and these are part of this first story, but although some clues are given, the mystery and questions remain, for the next books in the series.Colter is an intelligent investigator, who lives by a set of rules, drilled into him by his father. He is complex, compassionate, clever and easy to like.
The plot is pacy and has plenty of twists, there are political undertones to the story and a detailed understanding of the popularity of gaming and its impact on twenty-first-century society. Don’t be put off, if you are not a devotee of gaming, I’m not, but whilst it is integral to the story, it doesn’t take over, the mystery and the suspense are front and centre and these are addictive and engaging.
‘The Never Game’, is easy to read, with an enigmatic protagonist, and an exciting plot.
When Scarlett falls
asleep on a Caribbean beach she awakes to her worst nightmare – Katie is gone.
With all fingers pointed to her Scarlett must risk everything to clear her
As Scarlett begins to
unravel the complicated past of Katie’s mother she begins to think there’s more
to Katie’s disappearance than meets the eye. But who would want to steal a
child? And how did no-one see anything on the small island?
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is not what I expected. The first few chapters make you think certain events have occurred, and following on from this, the list of suspects is few, but then you are transported back to 1997, and what you discover there changes your perception of what happened on the beach.
The flashbacks are in a series of photographs which trigger a specific set of memories of the unknown narrator. The introduction of new characters seemingly unrelated to the event on the Carribean island, and initially cause confusion for the reader, but gradually the connections can be made and the puzzle starts to form a coherent picture.
Scarlett is an unreliable protagonist, she has past secrets, which reinforce her unreliability. She is also immature and easily swayed by the stronger, more mature personalities she comes into contact with. Costa is an unconventional investigator, they make an unusual but effective investigating team.
The characters are complex and all are flawed, keeping secrets, behaving instinctively, rather than with caution. Can the reader trust any of them for a truthful account?
The plot is intriguing, there are plenty of clues but these are countered by misinformation, so when you think you know what happened you don’t.
Surprisingly, I did work out the ending but this didn’t detract from the story.
A compulsive, psychological thriller, with well-crafted suspense and some clever twists, and an overriding poignant ethos, worth reading.
Claire S. Lewis – Author Interview
What inspired you to write this story?
She’s Mine started as a little exercise that I wrote on ‘setting’ for a beginner’s online creative writing course. I chose a beach setting because I thought that would be a good way of using all the five senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell – in the description. You’re usually very engaged with your senses when lying on a beach! To make it more interesting, I added the plot element of a nanny falling asleep on the sand and waking up to find that the little girl she was supposed to be looking after had disappeared. When I later took the Faber Academy course on writing a novel, I used this piece as the opening chapter for my novel draft which became She’s Mine.
What is the first thing you decide when writing a story, the setting, the plot or characters? Why do you think this is?
When starting a story, the first thing that gets me writing is the plot. Sometimes a conversation or a news item or something I hear on the radio makes me think, ‘that would be a great starting point for a novel’, or ‘if you put that into a novel nobody would believe it’, and from that scene or idea, I develop a plot. Next, I imagine which characters would act out that plot and how they would interact with each other. And then I think about what would be an interesting or enticing setting or stage for those characters – usually, I like to pick locations that I know well and that I know I would love bringing to life in descriptions. So, in She’s Mine, much of the backstory is set in Oxford because I was a student there and it is a beautiful and atmospheric city that is still very vivid in my memory. I can easily wind back the clock and put myself in the place of my characters and imagine myself there, seeing and feeling it from inside their heads.
think the plot interests me the most because I like the idea of setting up a
puzzle and then gradually letting the readers into the mystery. The characters
are there to act out the plot. I am also really interested in exploring devices
such as the ‘unreliable narrator’ – like the nanny, Scarlett, in She’s Mine.
In addition, I enjoy playing around with changing narrative viewpoints so that
the reader sees parts of the puzzle or mystery through one character’s eyes but
has to read between the lines to work out the ‘truth’ that is eventually
revealed when the narrative perspective changes to another character. I use
this device a lot in my second novel. The plot is the starting point for all
Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?
My characters are mostly imaginary – which is lucky because they tend to be quite dark and complicated! Of course, in some cases, I draw on certain personality traits of people I know in real life, or perhaps not so much personality traits but ways of speaking and interacting with other people. After reading the first draft of She’s Mine, my teenage daughter said to me, ‘So Scarlett’s basically me!’ I wasn’t conscious of writing this (and they certainly don’t have the same characters!), but she recognised herself in Scarlett’s narrative voice! So far all of my male characters have been flawed – weak, vain, untrustworthy, and the like. I wouldn’t say this is a reflection of the men in my life! In She’s Mine, my anti-hero Damien was in part inspired by a particularly unpleasant man I spoke to very briefly at an event some years ago! Sometimes it doesn’t take much to light the spark of a character…
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
love reading all sorts of fiction books as long as they are not too heavy or
slow moving! Particular authors/books that I have loved since I was a teenager
include Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited), Scott Fitzgerald (The Great
Gatsby/Tender is the Night), Graham Greene (The Confidential Agent/The Power
and The Glory), Nancy Mitford (Love in a Cold Climate) and Patricia Highsmith (The
Talented Mr Ripley). I think these books are brilliant because they are so beautifully
written with such intriguing stories, charismatic characters and entrancing
settings. I also love modern psychological thrillers such as Gone Girl, Girl on
the Train, The Cry and You. My all-time favourite novel is Gone With The Wind
which I devoured when I was growing up.
What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?
I had children, I was an aviation lawyer for Virgin Atlantic, but I’ve always
loved reading and books, and always dreamt of writing a novel. So after having been at home with the
children for a few years, I finally took the plunge and signed up for some
creative writing courses – both novel and screenwriting – to see if I could do
it – then I got hooked. I love writing fiction because of the freedom it gives
you to escape and get lost in other worlds. And I love psychological suspense
because I find the psychological part fascinating – imagining what’s going on
in other people’s minds – and the suspense part is so much fun to create because
it’s what keeps us reading – the ‘what if?’ and ‘what next’ that makes us want
to keep turning the page!
What are you currently writing?
I’m currently writing another story in the genre of psychological suspense about a beautiful young florist with a tragedy in her past. It’s wonderful to write because I’m researching the world of floristry and flowers (as well as getting to grips with the workings of dating apps such as Tinder which I’ve never looked at before!). The plot revolves around stalking (no pun intended!) but it’s not clear who is the predator and who is the victim…
you so much, Jane, for giving me the opportunity to write for your lovely blog,
Jane Hunt Writer!
the truth, but not the whole truth. What I don’t reveal to her is an incident
that took place in Christina’s bedroom the week before we flew out to the
British Leeward Isles. I don’t disclose it because the incident doesn’t put me
in a good light either! On Tuesdays, Katie does a full day at kindergarten so I
have a little time to myself. I’ve got into the habit of using Christina’s
en-suite, luxurious, walk-in power shower and expensive beauty products
following the weekly hot yoga class that I go to after dropping off Katie. So
last Tuesday, I had just finished my shower and wrapped myself in Christina’s
bathrobe when I heard her bedroom door opening and then the sound of her
antique roll top desk being unlocked.
thought she must have come back early from work for some reason. There was
nothing else for it but to come clean (literally!) and apologise for taking the
liberty of using her bathroom without asking first. So I took off her bathrobe,
draped a towel around me and opened the door. But it wasn’t Christina. It was
Damien with his back to me, checking the contents of the desk. Caught in the
act. Hearing the catch he started and turned in alarm. He reddened but quickly
composed himself and went on the offensive.
a vision of beauty!’ he sneered as I stood there, my wet hair dripping onto the
carpet. ‘I didn’t realise you and Christina were so intimate.’
didn’t realise you made a habit of going through her private papers!’ I snapped
back. I know very well that the desk, an old family heirloom shipped over from
the UK, is a strictly no-go area that she keeps locked at all times. He just
laughed and then cool as a cucumber, he slipped some documents into a green
cardboard file under his arm, locked the desk, pocketed the key and marched out
of the room.
mind your own business and keep out of our affairs. Or you’ll be going the same
way as the previous nanny,’ was his parting shot.
understood this was no idle threat. Christina’s so possessive and distrustful
that I knew if she got wind of this brush with Damien, she would imagine the
worst and I’d be out of a job. So I said nothing to Christina in New York and I
say nothing to the police officer now as she converses with me in the hotel
to keep my suspicions about Damien to myself – for now.
that was supposed to have been a ‘friendly chat’ the questioning is intense.
After asking about my relations with Christina and Damien she embarks on a list
of questions clearly aimed at working out a timeline for my movements this
afternoon. What time did I arrive at the beach with Katie? Did I speak to
anyone? Did anyone approach me or Katie? Did I notice anyone watching her? What
time did I fall asleep? What time did I wake up? When did I become aware Katie
was missing? What did I do next? Did I see anyone on the beach when I was
looking for her? How long did I spend searching the beach before raising the
alarm? What time did I tell Christina her little girl was missing?
is pounding and I feel like a criminal by the time the family liaison officer
finally puts her notepad away.
‘These questions are nothing to worry about,’ she assures me. ‘We just need to establish the timeline for the disappearance of the little girl.’ She ends the conversation by encouraging me to contact her ‘any time, any place’ if I need support or if I ‘remember’ anything else that may be relevant to the investigation. I half expect her to clap me in handcuffs and announce that she’s putting me under arrest when at last she says that I’m at liberty to go.
In a waking
nightmare, we struggle on through the grief-stricken hours of the day making
calls, badgering the search team for any new scrap of information and giving
interviews to reporters in the belief that getting Katie’s story out there
might somehow help in her rescue.
worst moment comes just after midnight when the operation is called to a halt.
I collapse onto a chair in a quivering heap. All the strength has gone from my
legs. Christina appears distraught, begging members of the police and emergency
services to go on searching.
nothing more we can do tonight. We’ll resume at dawn. You should get some
sleep,’ says the commander sternly. Holding our despair at bay and unable to
contemplate the thought of sleep, we pace the beaches and the rocky headland
for the next two hours, tripping over stones in the darkness, our steps lit
only by the moon and stars in the cloudless black sky and the light from our
lightheaded with exhaustion by the time I accompany Christina to her room in
the early hours of the morning. We sit out on the balcony mesmerised by the
sound of waves rolling on to sand. We are too tired to speak. I make tea and
give her three sleeping tablets from a packet I find in her wash bag. Once the
tablets take effect, I steer her to bed, her expression vacant and confused, as
she lets me pull the covers over her. It’s not until I shut Christina’s door
and go down the corridor to the room I’m sharing with Katie that it strikes me
again. Where the fuck is Damien? I haven’t seen him all day, not since he
handed me the cocktail at the pool.
open the door, there is Katie’s blue bunny, propped up on her newly-made bed.
The tears stream down my face. The bedtime story I was reading to her last
night is still open at the page we got to when her eyes finally closed. It’s a
beautifully illustrated copy of Peter Pan that Christina discovered in a
quaint little bookshop called the Book Cellar, one of her favourite haunts for
second-hand books. I glance down at the page. ‘The Mermaids’ Lagoon’ – Katie’s
favourite chapter. She loves the colour illustrations of the mermaids diving in
the waves. The doors to the balcony are open. I shiver in the sea breeze and
step out through billowing curtains.
stand there for a few moments still clutching Katie’s bucket.
Claire Simone Lewis studied philosophy, French literature and international relations at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge before starting her career in aviation law with a City law firm and later as an in-house lawyer at Virgin Atlantic Airways. More recently, she turned to writing psychological suspense, taking courses at the Faber Academy. She’s Mine is her first novel. Born in Paris, she’s bilingual and lives in Surrey with her family. Twitter Facebook
When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they will ever see them again. The community in the surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.
But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or set on revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know that one little boy, in particular, is fighting for his life.
It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure that someone close to them is lying…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Another interesting female detective with a past that threatens her professionalism. Anna is a likeable protagonist and her dilemmas are both realistic and relatable. She is the Senior Investigating Officer on a mass abduction case. She knows from personal experience what the parents are going through but can she be focused and objective enough to bring a successful outcome to a such a devastating event?
Having your children abducted at gunpoint is every parents’ nightmare and this is uncomfortable reading at times. The stories of the children and their parents help to set the crime in context and present many possible motives and suspects. The characters’ flaws make them believable and many of the parents are not easy to empathise.
Generally, this is a fast-paced story, which produces an authentic kidnap scenario. The suspense is created well and sustained throughout and the ending is satisfactory, although there are questions left for Anna that will no doubt be revisited in subsequent stories.
I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.