Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Thriller

Mummy’s Favourite 5* #Review -Sarah Flint- Guest Post – Extract @SarahFlint19 @Aria_Fiction

He’s watching… He’s waiting… Who’s next?

Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.

As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person? Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong? Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim. like stories that keep you on the edge of your seat then this is for you’ ‘Kept me guessing right up to the end’

Paperback:

Amazon UK
Blackwells

eBook

Kobo

Google Play

iBooks

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

My Thoughts…

This is a powerful crime based thriller with a likeable female detective, and an authentic setting and details. The story features some unpalatable scenes, which I did not enjoy reading. They are however essential to the progression of the characters and the plot but be warned this is not an easy book to read.

The detail and the plot are well- written and the pacing fast and suspenseful. There are many criminals at work and a multitude of crimes for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues to solve. The characters are realistic, although as you would expect in this type of story not always likeable. The plot is well thought out and believable and it’s difficult to solve the crimes.

A suspenseful, menacing crime thriller with authentic police procedures and believable characters and plot, worth reading.

Guest Post – Sarah Flint:- The Power of Paperbacks

  As a child, one of my favourite trips was to the local library in Carshalton. It’s only a small village library and I was allowed to walk there alone from quite a young age. I would regularly take out my maximum four books to be read avidly in my allotted time. The children’s library was always fun and noisy with regular clubs and other activities – but the adult library was almost completely silent – and it was with wonderment and reverence that I was occasionally allowed to enter.

It opened up a whole new world to me, a world that looked, sounded and smelt different; one where adults would glide silently between rows of colourful, well-thumbed books, that in turn opened up the world to them.

It is a sphere that children still love to inhabit, if we, as adults give them the chance.

Physical books are visual, inviting, and appeal to the senses. If they are placed in shop windows, or at the entrance to transport hubs, you cannot help being drawn to them, wondering whether they can transport you to a place far away from the mundane.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle too, but there can be nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a glass of wine – or in bed with a mug of hot chocolate, or, even better, on a sun-lounger with a cocktail in hand – and starting to read the opening sentences of a new book.  The initial pages are turned rapidly, slowing slightly as the story ebbs and flows until the chunk of pages on the right-hand side grows thinner and thinner and the speed at which it disappears hastens to a sprint finish. When that final line is read and the covers of the book snap shut, the satisfaction is palpable. The book moves on, into the hands of the next person, on to the shelves of a hotel, a charity shop, a second-hand book shop. I’ve even seen old telephone kiosks decked out as ‘bring and borrow’ libraries.

It is hugely gratifying and addictive to hear about a great read and then actually have the means in your hands to share in its contents.

Technology is fantastic and has opened the doors, particularly for the younger generation, to so many different experiences – but nostalgia is still alive and kicking. People still love the feel of a book in their hands, the sight of a classic car trundling down the road, the crackling melody of an old 78 rpm record revolving on a deck.

I am a child of the 60s. I have watched the world change and develop beyond belief in the last fifty years and I embrace technology because it is the way forward, but sometimes it does feel a little insular. So many people are glued to their mini screens these days that communication becomes impossible. The back of a Kindle or laptop gives no insight into the world within it, whereas the cover of a book entices people to enter and devour its contents.

 I will never forget the sight of my sister’s paperback on the shelf of my local supermarket; how excited I was to see a customer pick it up! I wanted to shout out loud that my very own sister had written it. It was exactly the motivation I needed to try writing myself, and I have never looked back.  I love eBooks because they are so accessible, transferrable and straightforward, but my dream has always been to get on to a train or a bus, enter a cafe or station and see somebody reading one of my books. That is why it means so much to me, to be published in paperback.

With any luck, that wish might soon be granted!

dav

Extract

Judging by the latest development, maybe it hadn’t been going as well as he’d claimed.

Charlie checked which member of the office had dealt with the family. It was Colin. His desk was the other side of the room to hers. She got up to speak to him. He was the straight, white, middle-aged male member of their team, similar in age to Bet but as opposite, in every other way as was possible. He was divorced and now single, with barely any access to his two children, who had been taken off to Ireland by a vindictive ex-wife years ago. Thin, tight-lipped and sad, he had a dry sense of humour and made it his business to look after the rights of all fathers and their children. He worked tirelessly with social services, going above and beyond what was normally required to ensure each child could know both parents. Charlie fully expected to see him on TV one day, dressed up as Superman swinging from Big Ben. What he didn’t know about family law was not worth knowing.

He was poring over his computer screen, his face serious.

‘Colin, have you got a minute?’

He looked up and nodded.

‘Do you remember dealing with a family called the Hubbards? Quite recently?’

He leant back frowning, before rubbing his chin with thin fingers.

‘Yes, I do. It was a couple of months ago.’ He scratched his chin again. ‘If I remember rightly, Julie Hubbard, the wife, had her wrist broken by her husband. She said she’d tripped and broken it in a fall but then refused to co-operate any further. One of their sons, Richard, said that his father had done it.’

‘I think I know who I’d believe.’

He shrugged. ‘Everyone thought the same, but what can you do? Richard phoned the police each time. He wanted to give evidence but Julie refused to let him and he did everything his mother asked. With just the one juvenile son as a possible witness, it was pretty much impossible to prove. Why do you ask?’

Charlie thought about what Colin had just said. For a young boy, Richard had certainly been brave, going up against his dad like that. The kid was protecting his mother in whatever way he could. Maybe Keith had started bullying him too because he resented the way he defended his mum. Maybe that was why Julie left and had only taken him. Ryan was certainly less vocal. Maybe Ryan was safe and she’d only had the time and resources to take one? There were too many maybes.

‘Because Julie and Richard Hubbard are the mother and son that have gone missing.’

Colin frowned and shook his head.

‘Really? Though I have to say I’m not surprised. I always thought there was something strange going on. The boy would plead with his mum to leave his father, but she just wouldn’t; it was as if she had another agenda. On the last occasion I saw them, Richard was literally begging her to leave Keith, but she whispered something to him that I couldn’t hear and he shut up straight away and seemed happier. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’d been waiting until the time was right.’

‘But why not take the other son, Ryan, too?’

‘He kept out of it really. Didn’t want to get involved. I think he sided with his father a bit more.’

‘So did he have a good relationship with Keith then?’

‘He probably had to because he didn’t have as close a relationship with his mother as Richard did.’

‘So what would be your gut feeling? Do you think Keith Hubbard could be responsible for Julie and Richard’s disappearance?’

Colin pursed his lips and looked straight up at Charlie.

‘I wouldn’t like to say. He is a nasty bastard and could easily have done something, but you know what some women are like. It wouldn’t surprise me if Julie Hubbard hadn’t been planning this all along.’

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.

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Posted in 7 Days of Books

7 Days of Books I #AmReading #Reviewing @Jolliffe03

To keep me on track and to let you know what’s going to be on the blog in the next 7 Days, these are the #books I #amreading and #reviewing #nextweek on #JaneHuntWriter

Jane x

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Karin Slaughter – Pieces of Her – 5* Review – Extract

Andrea Oliver is celebrating her birthday over lunch with her mother, Laura when they find themselves in the middle of a deadly shooting.  Terrified, Andy is frozen. But Laura – calm, cool and collected – jumps into action and stops the killer in his tracks. No one can understand how a quiet, middle-aged speech pathologist could possibly have the knowledge or ability to stop a shooter on the rampage.  The fallout and widespread media coverage quickly unravel the carefully curated life Laura has built for herself and her daughter. And Andy discovers that the person who she thought she knew best in the world is a total stranger. The bigger problem though is that someone wants them both dead. As two intersecting timelines – 1986 and the present – gradually converge, Pieces of Her begs the question: can you ever truly escape your past?

Amazon UK

Amazon

Extract

PROLOGUE

For years, even while she’d loved him, part of her had hated him in that childish way that you hate something you can’t control. He was headstrong and stupid, and handsome, which gave him cover for a hell of a lot of the mistakes he continually made—the same mistakes, over and over again, because why try new ones when the old ones worked so well in his favor?

He was charming, too. That was the problem. He would charm her. He would make her furious. Then he would charm her back again so that she did not know if he was the snake or she was the snake and he was the handler.

So he sailed along on his charm, and his fury, and he hurt people, and he found new things that interested him more, and the old things were left broken in his wake.

Then, quite suddenly, his charm had stopped working. A trolley car off the tracks. A train without a conductor. The mistakes could not be forgiven, and eventually, the second same mistake would not be overlooked, and the third same mistake had dire consequences that had ended with a life being taken, a death sentence being passed, then—almost—resulted in the loss of another life, her life.

How could she still love someone who had tried to destroy her?

When she had been with him—and she was decidedly with him during his long fall from grace—they had raged against the system: The group homes. The emergency departments. The loony bin. The mental hospital. The squalor. The staff who neglected their patients. The orderlies who ratcheted tight the straight jackets. The nurses who looked the other way. The doctors who doled out the pills. The urine on the floor. The faeces on the walls. The inmates, the fellow prisoners, taunting, wanting, beating, biting.

The spark of rage, not the injustice, was what had excited him the most. The novelty of a new cause. The chance to annihilate. The dangerous game. The threat of violence. The promise of fame. Their names in lights. Their righteous deeds on the tongues of schoolchildren who were taught the lessons of change.

A penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, a dollar bill . . .

What she had kept hidden, the one sin that she could never confess to, was that she had ignited that first spark.

She had always believed—vehemently, with great conviction— that the only way to change the world was to destroy it.

CHAPTER 1

 “Andrea,” her mother said. Then, in concession to a request made roughly one thousand times before, “Andy.”

“Mom—”

“Let me speak, darling.” Laura paused. “Please.”

Andy nodded, preparing for a long-awaited lecture. She was officially thirty-one years old today. Her life was stagnating. She had to start making decisions rather than having life make decisions for her.

Laura said, “This is my fault.”

Andy felt her chapped lips peel apart in surprise. “What’s your fault?”

“You’re being here. Trapped here.”

Andy held out her arms, indicating the restaurant. “At the Rise-n-Dine?”

Her mother’s eyes traveled the distance from the top of Andy’s head to her hands, which fluttered nervously back to the table. Dirty brown hair thrown into a careless ponytail. Dark circles under her tired eyes. Nails bitten down to the quick. The bones of her wrists like the promontory of a ship. Her skin, normally pale, had taken on the pallor of hot dog water.

The catalog of flaws didn’t even include her work outfit. The navy-blue uniform hung off Andy like a paper sack. The stitched silver badge on her breast pocket was stiff, the Belle Isle palm tree logo surrounded by the words police dispatch division. Like a police officer, but not actually. Like an adult, but not really. Five nights a week, Andy sat in a dark, dank room with four other women answering 911 calls, running license plate and driver’s license checks, and assigning case numbers. Then, around six in the morning, she slinked back to her mother’s house and spent the majority of what should’ve been her waking hours asleep.

Laura said, “I never should have let you come back here.”

Andy pressed together her lips. She stared down at the last bits of yellow eggs on her plate.

“My sweet girl.” Laura reached across the table for her hand, waited for her to look up. “I pulled you away from your life. I was scared, and I was selfish.” Tears rimmed her mother’s eyes. “I shouldn’t have needed you so much. I shouldn’t have asked for so much.”

Andy shook her head. She looked back down at her plate. “Darling.”

Andy kept shaking her head because the alternative was to speak, and if she spoke, she would have to tell the truth.

Her mother had not asked her to do anything.

Three years ago, Andy had been walking to her shitty Lower East Side fourth-floor walk-up, dreading the thought of another night in the one-bedroom hovel she shared with three other girls, none of whom she particularly liked, all of whom were younger, prettier and more accomplished when Laura had called. “Breast cancer,” Laura had said, not whispering or hedging but coming straight out with it in her usual calm way. “Stage three. The surgeon will remove the tumor, then while I’m under,

he’ll biopsy the lymph nodes to evaluate—”

Laura had said more, detailing what was to come with a degree of detached, scientific specificity that was lost on Andy, whose language-processing skills had momentarily evaporated. She had heard the word “breast” more than “cancer,” and thought instantly of her mother’s generous bosom. Tucked beneath her modest one-piece swimsuit at the beach. Peeking over the neckline of her Regency dress for Andy’s Netherfield- themed sixteenth birthday party. Strapped under the padded cups and gouging underwires of her LadyComfort Bras as she sat on the couch in her office and worked with her speech therapy patients.

Laura Oliver was not a bombshell, but she had always been what men called very well put together. Or maybe it was women who called it that, probably back in the last century. Laura wasn’t the type for heavy make-up and pearls, but she never left the house without her short gray hair neatly styled, her linen pants crisply starched, her underwear clean and still elasticized.

Andy barely made it out of the apartment most days. She was constantly having to double back for something she had forgotten like her phone or her ID badge for work or, one time, her sneakers because she’d walked out of the building wearing her bedroom slippers.

Whenever people in New York asked Andy what her mother was like, she always thought of something Laura had said about her own mother: She always knew where all the tops were to her Tupperware.

Andy couldn’t be bothered to close a Ziploc bag.

On the phone, eight hundred miles away, Laura’s stuttered intake of breath was the only sign that this was difficult for her. “Andrea?”

Andy’s ears, buzzing with New York sounds, had zeroed back in on her mother’s voice.

Cancer.

Andy tried to grunt. She could not make the noise. This was shock. This was fear. This was unfettered terror because the world had suddenly stopped spinning and everything—the failures, the disappointments, the horror of Andy’s New York existence for the last six years—receded like the drawback wave of a tsunami. Things that should’ve never been uncovered were suddenly out in the open.

Her mother had cancer. She could be dying.

She could die.

Laura had said, “So, there’s chemo, which will by all accounts be very difficult.” She was used to filling Andy’s protracted silences, had learned long ago that confronting her on them was more likely to end up in a fight than a resumption of civil conversation. “Then I’ll take a pill every day, and that’s that. The five-year survival rate is over seventy percent, so there’s not a lot to worry about except for getting through it.” A pause for breath, or maybe in hopes that Andy was ready to speak. “It’s very treatable, darling. I don’t want you to worry. Just stay where you are. There’s nothing you can do.”

A car horn had blared. Andy had looked up. She was standing statue-like in the middle of a crosswalk. She struggled to move. The phone was hot against her ear. It was past midnight. Sweat rolled down her back and leached from her armpits like melted butter. She could hear the canned laughter of a sitcom, bottles clinking, and an anonymous piercing scream for help, the likes of which she had learned to tune out her first month living in the city.

Too much silence on her end of the phone. Finally, her mother had prompted, “Andrea?”

Andy had opened her mouth without considering what words should come out.

“Darling?” her mother had said, still patient, still generously nice in the way that her mother was to everyone she met. “I can hear the street noises, otherwise I’d think we’d lost the connection.” She paused again. “Andrea, I really need you to acknowledge what I’m telling you. It’s important.”

Her mouth was still hanging open. The sewer smell that was endemic to her neighborhood had stuck to the back of her nasal passages like a piece of overcooked spaghetti slapped onto a kitchen cabinet. Another car horn blared. Another woman screamed for help. Another ball of sweat rolled down Andy’s back and pooled in the waistband of her underwear. The elastic was torn where her thumb went when she pulled them down.

Andy still could not recall how she’d managed to force herself out of her stupor, but she remembered the words she had finally said to her mother: “I’m coming home.”

My Thoughts…

Andrea is still looking for her role in life, easily influenced she takes the road of least resistance. Not the most likeable of characters until she is the victim of a violent shooting attack, which shows a different side to her mother and leads Andrea(Andy) on a life-endangering journey of discovery. Laura is well-respected in her small community, but she has a secret past, one she has hidden from her daughter and now threatens their lives.

The beginning is atmospheric and shocking, as is Laura’s reaction to the danger in the mall. The story reveals Laura’s story in 1986 as her daughter Andy discovers it in the present day in the aftermath of the mall incident. The detailed plot portrays the late eighties ethos and prejudices accurately. Urban terrorism is a predominant theme, and again this is realistic and reminiscent of actual events in the late 1970s and1980s.

The mother-daughter dynamic is the foundation of this crime thriller, and it gives the story depth and poignancy that would otherwise be missing. Andy finds out she knows little about her mother but their bond is strong, finding out about her mother’s past frees Andy to be herself and her character development is extensive. She is far more empathic and likeable by the story’s end.

The action is intense and realistic, and necessarily horrific, the language is often crude, but again this adds to the plot’s authenticity. The vivid descriptions make it easy to visualise the action and the characters although sometimes difficult to understand are complex and believable.

A crime thriller with intrinsic suspense and an absorbing family mystery.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction – Harper Collins UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Karin Slaughter has sold over 35 million books, making her one of the most popular crime writers today. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestsellers Cop Town and Pretty Girls. Her previous novel, The Good Daughter, was a no.1 Sunday Times bestseller in paperback. She is passionate, no-nonsense, provocative, and is one of suspense fiction’s most articulate ambassadors. Her Will Trent Series, Grant County Series, and stand-alone novel Cop Town are all in development for film & television. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.