No one deserves to be taken before their time. Do they?
Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon.
But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.
As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him…
A gripping suspense novel about deadly secrets and lies.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
There’s a claustrophobic vibe to the story from the beginning. It impacts intensifies, as the plot reveals its secrets. The suspense builds steadily to a shattering conclusion, as all the dark secrets are revealed, but will justice prevail?
A dark story of abuse, and unforgivable betrayal of trust. Joe is dying and he wants his family with him, but why are they so reluctant to come? Why does he want them to? Is it to share what time he has left? Or to ensure their continued silence?
Heidi and Ciara are both emotionally damaged, they share a bond of hate, mostly directed at each other. As the story progresses they have more in common than they realise. Told from multi-points of view, in the past and the present day. Mostly from Heidi and Ciara’s but also Joe, Alex and Kathleen’s. The reader becomes immersed in their anger and pain. The setting is beautifully described and the culture and traditions add an extra layer of tension in an already fraught and intense environment.
The plot is not overly complex, what draws the reader into this story is their empathy and in some cases disgust for the characters, who are both authentic and relatable. I guessed the twist, but the sense of dramatic irony, of knowing something the characters in the story didn’t, gave the story an added twist, rather than spoiling it.
The last chapters are both emotionally draining and satisfying. It’s not a story you enjoy but is one that you can believe in.
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.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This the second book I have read in the ‘Edinburgh crime mysteries’ and ‘Hunter’s Blood’ is a cleverly written, vividly characterised story. The fourth book in the series it reads well as a standalone.
The story begins with an episode of dangerous driving that is witnessed by all the main protagonists, all react but none follow up their actions. There are numerous, distinct plot threads, all seem unconnected but as the story progresses they are weaved together to reveal, a tapestry of crime and death.
Hunter has direct connections to some of the incidents and becomes involved in a professional capacity in others. The team dynamic is strong among the detectives. this aids the investigation, even though they are diversified and investigating different elements.
Written in an immersive, vivid style that draws you into the plot, it lets you experience everything, bad and good. Some of the story’s characters are linked through previous crimes, falling on either side of the law. There are many grey areas too. Making the story authentic and realistic.
Hunter is likeable and easy to relate to, he is described using visual imagery making it easy to imagine him and his actions as you read. Connecting you to the story and the main character.
The story captures the ethos of its setting, and even if you are unfamiliar with the area, it speaks to you, and grounds the actions, increasing the impact.
A solid police procedural with a cleverly linked plot, complex characters, who are relatable and a believable ending. Another chilling, riveting crime mystery with the enigmatic Hunter.
Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, is out now.
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I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
From the blurb, the reader knows that this is not the idyllic holiday you’d expect, but nothing prepares you for the twists and turns that appear with increasing alacrity as the story progresses.
Cora and Jonathan are on a dream holiday, Cora seems unsure whether she wants to be there. Jonathan is full of surprises, and it seems that life is on track. Until, their exclusive holiday retreat becomes crowded, with another couple, and they can’t fail to see the resemblance to themselves.
The story has a strong technological theme, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.
Progressing, through Cora’s point of view, things start to spiral in an increasingly uncomfortable way. The characters are believable and complex. They are not what they appear to be on the surface.
Cora is an unreliable narrator, and as the story progresses, she presents a hidden side to her character. Flashbacks to incidents in her past illuminate and reinforce her present actions. The last part of the story is an adrenaline rush, and at times full of confusion.
Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure I’d understood everything, but that’s what you want from a psychological thriller.
An absorbing, addictive read.
Guest Post : Smiling assassins By Pat Black
The psychopathic, murderous villains in my new novel The Beach House drew inspiration from a lovely couple we met on holiday.
When I’m on holiday I tend to stick to my own pen. I wouldn’t say I was unfriendly, but I am guarded. I realise this doesn’t reflect well on me, but bitter experience has taught me to be wary.
I remember one couple I got to know on holiday years ago who passed out business cards and tried to flog their home renovation business at every opportunity. This was odd enough – before the boorish male in that pairing then made some utterly jaw-dropping comments about the looks of a woman as part of a third couple who joined the group. I was astounded at the cheek, and the fact the woman just smiled and laughed at these comments, instead of absolutely battering him. “People like that actually exist! In the real world!”
Another couple on an overnight boat trip didn’t realise I was joking when I was… making jokes. It’s not like any of the daft comments and dad-on-holiday patter were certificate X, either. It was a bit like explaining that, you know, it doesn’t really matter why the chicken wanted to cross the road, or what might have awaited it on the other side. Now imagine that sort of scrutiny after every utterance. “It’s your accent,” the woman explained later, as if that explained anything.
So, I’ve learned. I’m happy enough drinking cocktails in our own group of two, reading a stack of books on my tod, worrying about sharks while we go for a swim in a pair, and forming our own pub quiz team.
Then one night (a while ago now, mind you; pre-kids anyway), we were approached by this cracking couple from the South West. The shutters went up immediately, but then something strange happened: I lightened up, and we… Well. We made friends. They were loads of fun. They didn’t want anything from us. They got my jokes, and I got theirs. Importantly, they also knew not to crowd us – I looked forward to having a drink with them at night back at the hotel, and was genuinely sorry to see them go home, a couple of days before we did.
Hey – maybe for them, we were the weirdos?
It was a nice, human experience. So of course my imagination twisted this into something unpleasant for The Beach House.
I wondered what would happen if you had genuinely evil people try to befriend you on holiday – evil people with an evil purpose. And you couldn’t easily extricate yourself from the situation. When your own sense of manners and social skills over-ride your instincts, which might have to scream at you in order for you to protect yourself and your partner.
One of my favourite parts of any modern thriller is in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, when Mikael Blomkvist confronts the novel’s villain. He has a chance to get away, but he refuses, because of good manners. The villain reflects on this with some astonishment. “All I had to do was offer you a cup of coffee.”
All my baddies had to do was order my heroine a pina colada. And it could happen to you. Of course it could. They’re out there. They walk among us. They go on holiday. They sit beside you on a train. They seem nice. They know exactly what to say to people. They see a person or a situation, and their minds instantly move onto how they can strip it to the bone.
Have you seen my business card, incidentally? Maybe we could swap? Hey, networking is networking, after all. No sense in ignoring the business angle, hey? We’ve all got to eat. Fancy a cocktail? Maybe we could go to the pub quiz…
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.
One beautiful summer’s evening, thirteen-year-old twins Ivy and Erin Westmore snuggle down in a tent in their back garden, giggling and sharing secrets.
When their mother goes to wake the girls the next morning, their tent is empty.
The alarm is raised and Detective Natalie Ward is put onto the case. When the twins’ bodies are discovered on nearby marshland, covered with deep pink petals, an icy shiver travels down Natalie’s spine. Everything about the girls’ deaths reminds her of a horrifying case she worked on earlier in her career, which saw a killer of the worst kind placed behind bars.
The next day, that feeling is heightened when she receives a chilling note saying ‘I’m back’. Is this killer a copycat or did Natalie put the wrong person in prison all those years ago? In a small town, where no stranger goes unnoticed, what is Natalie missing?
Consumed by the case, determined to prevent more deaths, Natalie misses the fact that it is her attention the killer wants. And to get it, he has his sights set firmly on her precious daughter Leigh…
Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will keep you flying through the pages long into the night.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An addictive mix of crime fiction and family drama makes the Detective Natalie Ward, series a must-read. for me. This one is particularly harrowing. Child abduction and murder are every persons’ nightmare, but you are immediately invested in the investigation and want the perpetrator to be found before anyone else goes missing or dies.
The story is immersive, from the first abduction to the journey into the past, and the return to the hell of the present. The emotions are close to the surface and so realistic. Natalie has lost part of herself, with every murder she’s investigated and solved, but these bring back guilty feelings from the past. Coupled with her dramatic home life, she is on the edge and struggles with the objectivity she needs to be effective.
The team of detectives are authentically written and familiar from past books. All the characters are complex and relatable. The plot undulates between high adrenaline, and slow-paced frustration, as the workload increases and the dead ends mount up.
The dramatic but plausible ending brings an emotionally draining story to a realistic, but shocking, unexpected conclusion.
A vicious serial killer roams the Irish Midlands… with his sights set on the next victim. A successful businessman has found the perfect recipe for getting away with murder. No bodies, no evidence.No evidence, no suspect. High art and low morals collide when graduate Sharona Waters discovers a multi-million euro art scam in play. She delves in, unwittingly putting herself on a direct trajectory with danger as the killer accelerates his murder spree. When Sharona gets drawn into the killer’s orbit, she peels away his public persona and exposes the psychopath underneath. Suddenly, the small town has no hiding place…
A native of Co. Roscommon, Eoghan studied Computer Programming in college, works in Sales Management & Marketing, but his passion for reading and writing remains.
Eoghan’s work got shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Short Story Prize, and Listowel’s 2019 Bryan McMahon Short Story Award Competition. His novel was a contender in literary agent David Headley’s opening chapter Pitch Competition, and during March 2019, Eoghan’s entry won Litopia’s Pop-Up Submission.
A graduate of Maynooth University’s Creative Writing Curriculum, and Curtis Brown’s Edit & Pitch Your Novel Course, Eoghan’s novel Hiding in Plain Sight – the first in a crime fiction trilogy based around the Irish Midlands – will be available in paperback and audio on January 11th 2020.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16-year-old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
I received a copy of this book from Viking Books UK – Penguin Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
At the heart of this story is a battle of good against evil, but this is not a fantasy epic, but a believable, contemporary, real-time story, of horrific events and humanity at its best and worst.
The coastal, countryside setting intensifies the events, no one would expect this to happen in a rural idyll, but it does. Written, in an adrenaline-fueled intense style, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages. The characters are complex and relatable, you find out a great deal about them in a short space of time and most cases, they are easy to empathise. The story manages to fuse action with deep characterisation perfectly, and the underlying research makes the story authentic.
The plot twists several times to increase the suspense and awfulness of what unfolds. The poignancy of what occurs makes this immersive, the waste of life and opportunity resonates. This is a quality story, thought-provoking and topical.