Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Noir, Psychological Thriller

Have You Seen Her – Lisa Hall #BlogTour @HQStories @LisaHallAuthor 5* #Review #Extract #PsychologicalThriller

Bonfire Night. A missing girl.

Anna only takes her eyes off Laurel for a second. She thought Laurel was following her mum through the crowds. But in a heartbeat, Laurel is gone.

Laurel’s parents are frantic. As is Anna, their nanny. But as the hours pass, and Laurel isn’t found, suspicion grows.

Someone knows what happened to Laurel. And they’re not telling.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Everyone has secrets, in this fast-paced psychological thriller. Easy to read, it has a compelling plot, with many twists, and whilst there are clues, many of these just lead the reader astray, rather than focusing on the true antagonist.

A child abduction, has a profound effect on the parents, the child’s nanny and the community as a whole. This story is authentically written, with believable police procedures, and community involvement.

Against this setting, the story reveals two parents, who are riddled with guilt and secrets. A nanny, who is not what she seems to be, and three strangers whose behaviour is suspect.

Suspense is built up slowly and intertwined with an omnipresent sense of menace. There are no graphic descriptions in this, but the inference is there, and the reader fears for the child’s safety.

Anna is a well-written unreliable protagonist, she is hiding and keeping secrets, but she appears devoted to the child, so can her point of view be trusted? Fran and Dominic, the parents are career-driven and self-absorbed.

The final chapters have many revelations, and the ending is both, a moral dilemma and a triumph.

Extract from ‘Have You Seen Her’ – Lisa Hall

PROLOGUE

The fire crackles as the flames leap into the frigid November air, sending out showers of sparks. The wooden pallets that have been piled high by volunteering parents, eagerly giving up their Saturday afternoon, crumple and sag as they burn. The guy – the star of this cold, clear Bonfire Night – is long gone now, his newspaper-stuffed belly and papier mâché head only lasting a matter of seconds, the crowd cheering as his features catch alight, feeding the frenzy of the flames.

My breath steams out in front of me, thick plumes of white that match the smoke that rises from the bonfire, but I am not cold, my hands are warm and my cheeks flushed pink. The crowd of parents, teachers and children, five or six deep in some places, that gathers in the muddy field behind the school are transfixed as the first of the fireworks shoots into the sky, before sending a spectacular display of colours raining down through the night air. I watch as she keeps her gaze fixed onto the display, the heat of the bonfire casting an orange glow across her features, her hat pushed back on her head, so her view isn’t obstructed.

For a moment I feel a tiny twinge of guilt – after all, none of this is really her fault – before I remember why I’m doing this, and I bat it away impatiently. All I need to do now is wait. Wait for the realisation to dawn on her face, for the fear to grip her heart and make her stomach flip over as she realises what has happened. For her to realise that Laurel is gone.

CHAPTER 1

‘Here.’ Fran thrusts a polystyrene cup of mulled wine into my hand, fragrant steam curling into the cold November air. I don’t drink – not even cheap mulled wine with the alcohol boiled out of it – something I’ve told her repeatedly for the past three years that I’ve worked for her as a nanny, but she never takes any notice.

‘Thanks.’ I cup my hands around the warm plastic and let the feeble heat attempt to thaw out my cold fingers. Another firework shoots into the air, blue and white sparks showering across the sky, and a gasp rises from the crowd. Fran sips at her wine, grimacing slightly, before pushing her hat back on her head so she can see properly. She fumbles in her pocket, drawing out a slightly melted chocolate bar. ‘I got this for Laurel,’ she says, the foil wrapper glinting in the reflected glow from the giant bonfire behind the cordon in front of us.

‘Laurel?’ I say, frowning slightly. Laurel is a nightmare to get to bed if she has sweets this late in the evening, Fran knows that. Although, it’ll be my job to tussle Laurel into bed all hyped up on sugar, not Fran’s. I glance down, expecting to see her tiny frame in front of us, in the position she’s held all evening. She dragged us to the very edge of the cordon as soon as we arrived at the field behind the school, determined that we wouldn’t miss a second of the Oxbury Primary School bonfire and fireworks display.

‘Yes, for Laurel – you know, my daughter,’ Fran says impatiently, thrusting the chocolate towards me. She follows my gaze, and frowns slightly, biting down on her lip, before she opens her mouth to speak. ‘Where is she?’

I turn, anxiously scanning the crowds behind us, the faces of parents, family members and teachers that have all come out in their droves to watch the display. Laurel isn’t there. She isn’t in front of me, in the tiny pocket of space she carved out for herself, and she isn’t behind me either. I turn back to Fran, trying to ignore the tiny flutter in my chest.

‘I thought she went with you?’ I say, the cup of mulled wine now cooling quickly in the chilly night air, a waft of cinnamon rising from the cup and making my stomach heave. ‘With me?’ Fran’s eyes are wide as she glances past me, searching for Laurel.

‘Yes, with you.’ I have to stop myself from snapping at her, worry nipping at my insides. ‘You said you were going to get us a drink and pop to the loo, and Laurel said, “Hang on, Mummy, I’m coming with you.”’

‘She did? Are you sure?’

‘Well, reasonably sure,’ I say, a delicate twinge of frustration whispering at my breastbone. ‘I mean, I saw her follow after you because I shouted out to her to keep hold of your hand.’ There are hundreds, if not thousands of people here tonight, the display well known in the small patch of Surrey that we live in. It’s a regular annual event arranged by the PTA, and it’s well attended every year.

‘She didn’t,’ Fran whispers, her eyes meeting mine as the blood drains from her face. ‘She didn’t hold my hand. She didn’t catch up with me at all.’

Advertisements
Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

The Dare – Carol Wyer 5* #Review @bookouture @carolewyer #Crime #Thriller #Noir #PublicationDay #DINatalieWard #TheDare

Jane’s daughter is a good girl. What is she hiding?

When thirteen-year-old Savannah Hopkins doesn’t come straight home from school, as she always does, her mother Jane immediately raises the alarm.

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward whose daughter Leigh is the same age as Savannah. Soon Natalie’s worst fears are confirmed when the teenager’s broken body is found in nearby shrubland.

Evidence points towards a local recluse, but just as the net is closing around him, one of Savannah’s friends, Harriet, is reported missing.

As Natalie delves into the lives of both girls, she soon discovers a sinister video on their phones, daring the girls to disappear from their families for 48 hours.

But Natalie isn’t quick enough for this killer, and she is devastated to find Harriet’s body on a fly tip a day later.

Caught up in the case, she takes her eye off her own daughter and when Leigh goes missing after school she knows she must be in terrible danger. The clock is ticking for Natalie. Can she catch this killer before her little girl becomes the next victim?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is my first time reading the DI Natalie Ward series, but the story reads perfectly as a standalone. You soon become familiar with the recurrent characters and their motivations and hangups.

The story is easy to read and realistic. There is a killer in the town preying on young girls. The girls have secrets, hidden from their mothers and this duplicity makes them vulnerable and susceptible to the evil that surrounds them.

There are multiple suspects and sketchy alibis and each delay bring the possibility of another innocent life taken closer. DI Natalie Ward is a dedicated officer, trying to balance her demanding career with troubled home life. There are notable parallels between her teenagers and the victims, which leads to a dangerous collision of personal and professional life that could end in tragedy for the detective.

The fast pacing complements the relentless menace of the abductions and killings. There is a good balance of action and detection and the suspense builds with every incident making this an addictive story. The characterisation makes the protagonist and the minor characters come to life. You feel their emotions and empathise with them

This is a contemporary story, the issues raised face each parent of teenagers and pre-teens, the power and anonymity of social media and the internet is explored in a believable and thought-provoking way. There are no stereotypes here.

The clever plot has the killer playing a game of ‘cat and mouse’ with the detective team, with dangerous stakes and a rising body count. Enhanced with an authentic setting and a cast of realistically flawed characters, this is a riveting noir crime thriller.

Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Noir, Thriller

4* #Review -The Island – Ragnar Jonasson – Translator -Victoria Cribb @MichaelJBooks @ragnarjo #PublicationDay #Noir #Crime #Thriller #IcelandSeries #TheIsland

Four friends visit the island.

But only three return . . .

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords.

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her.

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?

Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.

Amazon UK
_

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

My Thoughts…

‘The Island’ is the second in the #HiddenIceland series of noir crime novels. I haven’t read the first book, but this reads well as a standalone. Hulda is a troubled detective and her personality and emotional pain, make her perfect for the ethos of this series. The story is sinister and suspenseful, but rather than relying on action scenes for its interest and impetus, it delves deep into the characters and their secrets to reveal the plot’s twists and turns.

Hulda is haunted by her past and elements of the crime resonate with her, making her more personally involved with the events at the island and its players than is wise.

The story flicks between different timelines, which demands concentration. You need to enjoy this deep, slow-paced, dark storytelling to get something from this book, but it is authentic and a good example of its genre.

Posted in Book Review

The Forbidden Place – Susanne Jansson – 3* Review

In the remote Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.

Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned, at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.

Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…

Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I find Scandinavian Noir mystery thrillers difficult. I enjoy the atmospheric settings and the underlying menace, but I find the pacing inexorably slow and the characters hard to empathise and understand.

All these things are true of ‘The Forbidden Place’, so from that point of view it fits well into this genre, the ending is good, and the author’s ability to create suspense is not in doubt, it’s just for me the slow pace, and the characters’ insular, inherent coldness negate this.

Nathalie, a biologist, returns to her childhood town to finish her PhD dissertation. She is troubled and eventually, you find out why. The bog steeped in folklore and tragedy is part of her study but when someone is attacked, and the bodies start appearing she is forced to relive her past, face her demons to ensure she has a happier future.

It is suspenseful, and the mystery throws up lots of false suspects, if you are happy with a slow-paced read and accept the characters lack vivacity, this is worth reading.

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

Posted in Book Review

You Were Made For This – 3* Review – Michelle Sacks

Adult Themes

Posted in Book Review

Body and Soul John Harvey – 5*Review

‘The heavy manacles around the girl’s wrists, perhaps not surprisingly, looked very much like the ones that had been found on the studio floor. For a moment, she had a vision of the chain to which they were attached being swung through the air, taking on force and speed before striking home.Then swung again.’

When his estranged daughter Katherine appears on his doorstep, ex-Detective Frank Elder knows that something is wrong.

Katherine has long been troubled, and Elder has always felt powerless to help her.

But now Katherine has begun to self-destruct.

The breakdown of her affair with a controversial artist has sent her into a tailspin which culminates in murder.

And as Elder struggles to protect his daughter and prove her innocence, the terrors of the past threaten them both once more … 

Amazon UK

Amazon 

My Thoughts…

Frank Elder is a realistic, haunted protagonist. A failed marriage, an estranged daughter and crippling guilt make him easy to empathise and vividly believable.

The plot is twisty and involved, there are several storylines, some past, some present which intertwine and inform. The pacing is perfect; slow and deliberate to begin with revealing the story’s themes, and disseminating the necessary backstory. Then, as storylines merge and character’s reach breaking point the pace quickens, and the action and clues are relentless. Despite being the final book in the series, it is a viable standalone read.

Although flawed Elder comes across as a well-motivated person, not perfect but always doing his best for those he loves and those he serves. His quick temper is almost his undoing, but it doesn’t detract from his likeability, just makes him human and realistic.

Being Nottingham born and bred, I enjoyed the action that took place there. The characters are well-developed and believable, and each of them enrichens and deepen the story. The ending is poignant, powerful and both hopeful and sad.

I received a copy of this book from Cornerstone, Penguin Random House William Heinemann via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

4* Review : The Studio Kill – Charles Fleming

22888076

Blurb -2John McClellan, head of security for Continental Pictures. An ex-cop for the LAPD, he spends his days and nights hushing up the sexual peccadilloes of actors and studio honchos, not to mention their rampant use of drugs and booze. Now our hero has his hands full with a Red-baiting Congressman who want to bring the studio down, the murder of a famous director’s wife, a columnist who will do anything for his next big story, and a sexy girl screenwriter who might be the love of his life—or the death of him.

Buy Links -2Amazon UK

Amazon

My Review -1

The Studio KillThis book is a step back in time to the golden age of Hollywood, a time where political correctness was an unheard of concept. This book is full of the prejudice and discrimination of the time but it is essential to draw the reader into the Noir world of the 1940’s. This is an atmospheric, realistic thriller with characters who mirror the players in Hollywood and Washington at the time.
The character of John McClellan, the head of studio security is easy to identify with as he calmly fixes the various scandals the film stars’ embroil themselves in. The story has plenty of twists with vivid dialogue and characters to hold your interest. The secondary characters are well written and believable, notably the ambitious journalist and the ruthless moving moguls. There is even a sprinkle of romance, an essential ingredient of a 1940’s film.
There is an unpleasant scene in a slaughter house which upset me; I understand why it was included but it was too graphic for me.
If you fancy something different, with a definite air of authenticity then this is for you.
I received a copy of this book from Asahina & Wallace Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Studio Kill by Charles Fleming

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Studio Kill by Charles Fleming

Charles Fleming

Jane Hunt Writer First Steps

Jane Hunt Writer Book Reviews Facebook

Jane Hunt Writer Book Reviews Google+

View all my reviews