Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

The Evidence Against You – Gillian McAllister -5* #Review @MichaelJBooks @GillianMAuthor

Amazon UK

It’s the day Izzy English’s father will be released from jail.

She has every reason to feel conflicted – he’s the man who gave her a childhood filled with happy memories.

But he has also just served seventeen years for the murder of her mother.

Now, Izzy’s father sends her a letter. He wants to talk, to defend himself against each piece of evidence from his trial.

But should she give him the benefit of the doubt?

Or is her father guilty as charged, and luring her into a trap?


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

My Thoughts…

You experience a gamut of emotions, as you progress through this story. The plot grips you and makes you keep turning the pages, but amidst the solidly based thriller, are the poignant reminders of something lost, and an ethos of gut-wrenching sadness.

Essentially, this is a story of human frailty, and how one incident can alter lives irreparably. The thriller has a psychological element because of the main protagonist Izzy, who desperately wants to believe what she sees and hears from the important people in her life, but can she?

The plot is cleverly written and plausible, for those who like solving mysteries, the clues are gradually filtered into the story, and it is possible to work out who has done what, but not easily. The story is complex and emotional, you empathise with Izzy and more importantly Gabe, even though you are not sure if he is telling the truth.

The characters are believable and have real depth, the story concentrates primarily on Izzy and Gabe, with historical flashbacks, from their points of view, but for this reader, there is no lessening of interest or skipping over details, it is all-absorbing and heightens the reading pleasure.

A riveting, realistic read for lovers of cerebral thrillers and human behaviour.

Advertisements
Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Thriller

4* Review – Sue Fortin- Schoolgirl Missing @HarperFiction @suefortin1 @HarperCollinsUK

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL?

When fourteen-year-old Poppy vanishes on a family boating trip, suspicion soon turns close to home – to the two people who should do everything to keep her safe, her parents, Kit and Neve.

Neve has a secret. Kit is lying.
Everyone is watching.
Who do you believe? 

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I usually avoid reading stories on this subject, but I made an exception because I always enjoy reading Sue Fortin’s thrillers which inevitably have a strong family drama theme and unexpected twists.

School Girl Missing is not what the title suggests although a young girl does disappear, but has she run away, or been abducted? Neve and Kit’s marriage is not what it first appears, Neve is hiding secrets and Kit is blinded by emotional fear. When the marriage starts to crumble, how will they react and who will be the collateral damage?

Neve is an unreliable protagonist, you want to empathise with her but there’s something about her that makes this difficult. Kit’s fear of loss distances him from his family until he realises they mean everything to him and has to fight to keep them.

This story explores the extremes of human emotions and makes the reader wonder what if they were in these circumstances, how would they react?

Fast-paced, with a seemingly ordinary domestic setting, this story has sinister undertones and a disturbing ending.

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

Posted in Book Review

The Birthday Mystery- Faith Martin-5*#Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks

Jenny Starling is catering the twenty-first birthday party of a pair of posh twins, Alicia and Justin. But when she arrives at their parent’s country house, she is immediately met by the police. A young man has drowned in the pond. Was it an accident or murder? Then just after midnight, everyone gathers for a champagne toast. But one of the guests falls down dead. The police are baffled and there is a whole party full of suspects. But when it comes to someone adding the extra ingredient of poison to her own precious recipes, Jenny isn’t going to take it lying down. She has a reputation to protect. Jenny Starling won’t stop until the murderer is found. This is the first of a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page.

JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I’m so glad that this series of books has been released again, if you enjoy an English murder mystery with a strong emphasis on whodunnit, this book should meet your expectations.

Jenny Starling is a striking character, Amazonian-like in her stature and personality, she is a travelling cook but has an uncanny knack for Murder, solving it, that is. She has an uneasy relationship with the local police, rather like Miss Marple, but she is much younger.

The supporting casts of suspects are well-written and the plot is full of clues and misinformation. I did work out what happened but this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this very readable story, I can’t wait to read the next one.

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

Posted in Book Review

Down to the Woods-(D.I.Helen Grace)- M.J. Arlidge – 5* Review

 

If you go down to the woods today

The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…

When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – a serial killer is on the loose.

You better not go alone…

Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator before more blood is shed.

But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Catapulted into an adrenaline-fueled, suspenseful scenario that is packed full of vivid, often grisly imagery from the start, this story’s hook draws you into a complex case for DI Helen Grace. The reader’s first meeting with the main protagonist is thought-provoking and immediately demonstrates she has emotional issues, an independent spirit and a well-hidden vulnerability.

The ‘New Forest’ setting conjures up many hiding places for the killer, and such an ancient place must be haunted by past events, all of which add to the story’s chilling atmospheric quality. The plot cleverly acquaints you with several possible suspects as the body count rises.

Reeling from recent past events DI Grace and her team welcome a new member who has a profound effect on the case and Di Grace. The storyline hints but does not reveal all this new officer’s secrets.

The pacing is good, and the clues and misinformation are woven expertly into the story. Even though this is the only book I’ve read in the series, I connected with the main characters and understood their relationship with Di Grace. Don’t be afraid to read this as a standalone; it works well.

An exciting, driven police procedural with an intriguing, female detective.

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

Posted in Book Review

Her Name Was Rose – Claire Allan – 5* Review

Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything, Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Imagine you see someone die right in front of you.
It could be you.
What if you feel hunted, are always full of anxiety.
How would you react?

Emily, the protagonist in ‘Her Name, Was Rose’, is already labelled as a troublemaker, unstable even though she is the victim, is her Ex taking revenge, or is it all in her imagination? Emily wants someone to love, someone to care for, to be part of a family, that’s why she tries to step into Rose’s old life. She feels connected to Rose and longs to have the perfect life she enjoyed.

Emily is an unreliable protagonist, reliant on prescription medication and alcohol to keep her anxiety in check. Told from Emily’s point of view, the reader can’t be sure if Emily’s experiences are real or imagined.

Well-paced the plot adds additional characters and twists, throwing doubt on Rose’s life and the manner of her death. Cleverly built tension among the cast of characters, particularly at Rose’s former workplace increases the suspense. Emily’s vulnerability and lack of insight increase the story’s menace until the reader doesn’t know who to trust and realises appearances can be deceptive.

The ending is adrenaline-fuelled and has a surprising twist or two.

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

Posted in Book Review

the tall man – Phoebe Locke- 4*Review

A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.

1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.

2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.

2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.

Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.

He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…

YOU DON’T FIND HIM… HE FINDS YOU. 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

This story starts off sinister and creepy, and this urban myth should have held me spellbound, but it didn’t. There are numerous sub-plots most of which feed the main storyline. The story’s pacing is in the main fast, but there are areas mired in detail that make it drag.

The plot’s supernatural element alluded to in the blurb and title fades into the background, amidst the making of the documentary and Amber’s relationship with her parents. Well executed plot’s twists in an ethos that is undeniably chilling and sinister make the facts of the story when revealed genuinely horrific but the connection to ‘the tall man’ seems tenuous.

A good thriller with authentic characters, vivid setting and carefully built suspense, it just needs the supernatural element to be more prominent to be great.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Killing Time – Mark Roberts – 3* Review

 

 

Before night falls, someone will die…

A young Czech girl, missing for eight days, is found in a deserted playground. Starving and terrified, she may be alive, but the horrors she’s survived have left her mute.

DCI Eve Clay is on her way to try and interview the girl when another case is called in. Two Polish migrant workers have been found dead in their burnt out flat. But this is no normal house fire. The men’s bodies had been doused in petrol.

Then Clay uncovers a sinister message at the scene: killing time is here, embrace it. It’s clear this is only the beginning, but how long does Eve have before another life is taken?  

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IRYifS

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/killing-time-69

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2DVRBFW

iBooks: https://apple.co/2pD4sZm

My Thoughts…

Fast-paced with a likeable female protagonist this is a suspenseful crime thriller.

Extremism and racial hatred is the premise of this novel with graphically described psychotic delusions and racially motivated hate crimes. The characters are either good or evil, there is no middle ground in this story, and the authenticity suffers.

Probably because this is the fourth book in the detective series, there is minimal character description, making most of the characters difficult to empathise since I haven’t read the previous books in the series.

I enjoyed the suspense element.

 

Mark Roberts was born and raised in Liverpool. He was a teacher for twenty years and now works with children with severe learning difficulties. He is the author of What She Saw, which was longlisted for a CWA Gold Dagger.

Twitter: @MR_CrimeWriter

Facebook: Mark Roberts

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Murder at the Grand Raj Palace – Vaseem Kahn – (Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation #4) – 5* Review

For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj.

The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder…

When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.

Accompanied by his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesh, Chopra navigates his way through the palatial building, a journey that leads him steadily to a killer, and into the heart of darkness.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

If you’re looking for a 21st-century take on the cosy mystery, this is a must-read. I love Miss Marple, Poirot and Midsomer Murders and this series encompasses the best of these with an enthralling taste of life in India.

Chopra, a retired policeman, is an inherent crime solver and even ill health can’t prevent him from doing what he loves. He is an honest, loyal man who values truth and justice. Sometimes his personal life gets sidelined by his investigations, like this one, which threatens to rock his marriage after twenty-five years. Chopra is a surrogate parent to an orphaned baby elephant called Ganesh, with a talent for crime solving and a young boy who is inseparable from the young elephant. These young characters provide the light relief to Chopra’s often grisly investigations.

The plot plays out like an Agatha Christie with numerous suspects, misinformation and sub-plots. The steady pacing makes these easy to follow, but the storyline keeps its secrets well. Poppy, Chopra’s wife, has her investigation adding to the story’s diversity. Indian culture and society are intrinsic to this series, and there are also pertinent comments about politics, colonialism, religion, and multi-national corporations, which give the story its authenticity. 

I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but this one reads well as a standalone. However, it’s addictive reading, and  I’m sure I will read the other books in the series soon. If you like whodunnit mysteries, charismatic characters and charming animals, this is a book you’re sure to enjoy.

I received a copy of this book from Mulholland Books, Hodder& Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

The Earth Bleeds Red – Jackson Paul Baer – 4* Review

Scott Miller has everything he’s ever hoped for. He has a successful marriage to Jessie, a stunningly beautiful, creative woman. His seventeen-year-old daughter, Ashley, is both gorgeous and intelligent and has just been accepted to the University of Notre Dame, where Scott received his PhD. He has a comforting home in the woods, and a fulfilling career as a college professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis. He’s blissful, and at peace, until it all comes shattering down. 

Ashley is kidnapped. The scene of the abduction is horrific and bloody, and the police are convinced she couldn’t have survived. They accuse her boyfriend, Brandon, of Ashley’s murder. He declares his innocence and claims that a masked man who entered his house and overwhelmed them both took Ashley. No one believes Brandon. 

Then the bodies of three other missing girls are discovered, all bearing the mark of a known serial killer the FBI has been hunting for years. Evidence mounts. As Special Agent James Duncan tracks the Hail Mary Killer, Scott and Jessie try to move on with their lives. But they can’t shake the feeling that Ashley may still be alive, and that the time for saving their only daughter is quickly running out. 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

From reading the blurb, I expected a psychological thriller following the exploits of a serial killer. While true in part, the major themes of this story focus on the missing girl’s parents and how they deal with the abduction and possible murder of their only child. Faith, relationships and surviving such a catastrophic event are all explored in great detail. Although absorbing, it does detract from the pursuit of the serial killer and finding the missing girl.

Predominately, the father Scott tells the story. The early chapters set the scene, recalling family events with his wife and daughter. Slow-paced these chapters seem overly detailed. When the abduction happens, it is shocking amidst the everyday family events, but a shorter first section would give the same result. I did re-read the blurb halfway through this early section, to check I was reading a serial killer novel. The crime procedural part of this story is appropriately paced and informative, the law enforcement characters are realistic.

Mainly though, this is a story of family and faith, in the face of every parents’ nightmare of losing a child. Beautifully portrayed in this story are the sense of loss, the guilt and the fear of not knowing. You feel the Scott and Jessie’s pain and wonder if you would react similarly in the given circumstances. Through the father’s relationship with the family priest, they explore faith in detail, again this is sensitively written and adds depth to the story.

The latter part of the story reveals the serial killer’s life and thoughts and those of his victim. From a third person point of view, this is written as a narrative making it hard for the reader to engage with them. Showing rather than narrating what the characters are feeling would have made them easier to empathise. The plot has many twists, not all of which are realistic, however, they do keep you guessing for the most part and have a definite graphic horror factor.

This story is a dichotomy. The central theme of a family’s emotional journey in the face of a tragic loss against a fast-paced, graphic illustration of abduction and murder. It does work for the most part and keeps you turning the pages. This a good mystery crime story with well-written suspenseful scenes and a believable serial killer.

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

Posted in Book Review

Time Is A Killer 4* Review – Michel Bussi

It is summer 1989, and fifteen-year-old Clotilde is on holiday with her parents in Corsica. On a twisty mountain road, their car comes off at a curve and plunges into a ravine. Only Clotilde survives.

Twenty-seven years later, she returns to Corsica with her husband and their sulky teenage daughter. Clotilde wants the trip to do two things – to help exorcise her past, and to build a bridge between her and her daughter. But in the very place where she spent that summer all those years ago, she receives a letter. From her mother. As if she were still alive.

As fragments of memory come back, Clotilde begins to question the past. And yet it all seems impossible – she saw the corpses of her mother, her father, her brother. She has lived with their ghosts. But then who sent this letter – and why?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

There are lots of intelligent components in this international thriller; The backstory in the form of a real-time teenage diary. Corsica’s way of life that is often at odds with the legal system and government that allows illegality to go unpunished and the parallels between the family in August 1989 and the family in 2016.

The characterisation is convincing and compelling, through Clotilde’s eyes they come alive both in the past and present. The twisty plot takes away as many clues as it gives and to truly understand it you must accept the Corsican culture’s uniqueness.

Compelling and detailed it’s a page-turning read but a very long story. The repetition is necessary for the story as Clotilde’s memories return but this adversely affects the pacing and reduces the impact of the revelations.

There is an overriding sadness to this story of loss and, so many lives blighted but the ending is adrenaline-fueled and suspenseful, and the balance of good and evil returns.

I received a copy of this book from the Orion Publishing Group W&N via NetGalley in return for an honest review.