I received a copy of this audiobook from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story demonstrates the claustrophobic and immersive qualities of psychological suspense so well. It begins with a traumatic incident in Regi’s life. The reader knows this is important but not why. Regi’s painful past and mental health issues define her and make everyday life difficult. Her housemates are younger but supportive. The story believably depicts Regis’ OCD, but its repetitive nature is emotionally draining on the reader and slows the pace.
The narrator produces an excellent interpretation of the story and its nuances.
Regi is a complex character, an unreliable protagonist with secrets. The suspense building is good, there are menacing undertones, and some clever changes in plot direction that keep the listener guessing. The focus on social media gives this story an immediacy and relevance.
Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.
I received a copy of this book from Blackthorn Book Tours in return for an honest review.
This is a complex story set in the 1990s, but with historical references to Japan in WW2. It explores the fallout of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing and how it impacted on the inhabitants in a fictional context. It also reflects on the factors contributing to the bombing, focusing on horrific and secret war experiments and other forms of inhumanity dealt out under the auspices of war.
There are many characters, all damaged either emotionally or physically. Initially, their lives are unconnected, but their stories interweave in an impactful way in this noir story. This is disturbingly depraved and violent in parts with little light relief. The author uses intricate plotting, vividly portrayed characters and skilful use of sensory imagery, allowing the reader to experience Japanese culture and life in an immersive way.
The battle between traditional and modern and the obsession with power is a recurring theme. It is a difficult novel to read both in complexity, and because of the evil it exposes, but it absorbing and fascinating too.
Van Laerhoven is a 67-year-old Belgian/Flemish author who has published (traditionally) more than 45 books in Holland and Belgium. His cross-over oeuvre between literary and noir/suspense is published in French, English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese.
In Belgium, Laerhoven was a four-time finalist of the ‘Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year’ with the novels ‘Djinn’, ‘The Finger of God’, ‘Return to Hiroshima’, and ‘The Firehand Files’.
In 2007, he became the winner of the coveted Hercule Poirot Prize with ‘Baudelaire’s Revenge’, which, in English translation, also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category ‘mystery/suspense’.
His first collection of short stories ‘Dangerous Obsessions’, published in the USA in 2015, was chosen as the ‘best short story collection of 2015’ by the San Diego Book Review. The collection has been translated into Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.
‘Return to Hiroshima’, his second crime novel in English, was published in May 2018 by Crime Wave Press(Hong Kong). The British quality review blog Murder, Mayhem & More has chosen ‘Return to Hiroshima’ as one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018. MMM reviews around 200 novels annually by international authors.
Also in 2018, the Anaphora Literary Press published ‘Heart Fever’, his second collection of short stories. ‘Heart Fever’ was one of the five finalists of the American Silver Falchion Award. Laerhoven was the only non-American finalist. The collection has been translated into Italian and Spanish. A German translation is currently in production.
She’s learned too much, too young. Can she break free?
Emily’s dreams come true when her mother marries wealthy painter, David. Thanks to him, Emily’s artistic talents shine. Then he starts teaching her things a 14-year-old shouldn’t know. While Emily breaks free, she’s forced to sleep in a rat-infested alley.
Bad boy Jack has turned his life around. Working as a DJ with ambitions to open a club, he rescues Emily from the streets when he sees a woman in trouble. He doesn’t know she’s still only 15 – and trapped in a dark web of secrets and lies.
David must find Emily and silence her. As he closes in, Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he saves Emily, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a disturbing, intense psychological suspense, an insightful and sensitive exploration of domestic and child abuse and the resultant damage. The subject matter is difficult to read. Emily and Jack’s vulnerability and the perversions of David and his ilk are well-written without the need for an overly graphic description. This exploration of a contemporary issue is relatable and sinister because it parallels reality.
The characters are defined, and flawed some are easy to empathise because of their vulnerability. Others are despicable and easy to hate.
Although this more suspense than a thriller, the writing style and structure keep the momentum and make this a page-turner. The pacy plot keeps the reader on edge, the undercurrents of menace apparent and intensify as the story progresses.
This is noir crime creating a gritty, vice-ridden world that you want the protagonists to escape.
British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott (also known as Helen Blenkinsop) loves to escape with an exciting and emotional read, and that’s what she aims to write too. Based in Bristol, she’s also lived and worked in London and Birmingham. All three cities feature in her pacy suspense thrillers. Her latest psychological thriller, ‘Bright Lies’, begins in North Somerset with a posh art exhibition in Bath. Young Emily meets the man who will change her life and cause her to run away to a squat in Birmingham, work in a nightclub and get further entangled in a web of lies.
To write ‘Bright Lies’, Helen has had advice from thirty beta readers on subjects as varied as police procedure, drug abuse, grooming, art, music, DJing and clubbing. She’s grateful to them and to her editor, Katharine D’Souza, for making huge improvements to the story.
Helen’s earlier 5 book Trail series is a lighter read focused on a vodka business. Snow Mountain is a premium vodka made in the former Soviet Union, and its owners have blood on their hands. The saga follows the fortunes of two families running the business and what happens when they fall out with each other and with a London gangster. Glamorous heroine Kat is the girl readers love to hate at the beginning of the series, but by the last book, she has won them over. Book research for the series included prison life, hotel research and vodka. Helen especially enjoyed a tour and tasting with the helpful folk at the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire.
Like 10% of us, many of Helen’s family are dyslexic. While she is not, she wants her books to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. She publishes her thrillers in a Large Print dyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. (You can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.) Audiobooks are definitely on the cards – watch this space!
Helen likes speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you’re a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, she’d love to hear from you.
Helen is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group, and Birmingham’s New Street Authors.
When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis?
On the home front, Archie’s marriage is rocky and his two teenage daughters are giving him all sorts of trouble. The frail but beautiful Helena Harper and her magnificent house offer an oasis of calm as Archie struggles to discover who is responsible for her husband’s disappearance. Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened?
Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time as the case descends into a bewildering morass of obsession, violence and murder.
Longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins Memorial Prize for an Unpublished Novel
Finalist in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best First Novel
I enjoy reading stories set in different locations, and this is a crime novel set in New Zealand. It has a small-town ethos with the sense of community and intrusiveness that defines them. The plot hinges on a missing person, a businessman with secrets and possibly a reason to disappear. Whilst this is a tried and tested plot trope, this one has the added complication of threatening emails and the implication of fraud against the background of a world financial meltdown.
The detective team is relatable, especially Archie, the detective sergeant, with a complex personal life which brings his character to life and makes him authentic. The characterisation is detailed and the plot twisty making this enjoyable read.
Christina is an author and proofreader living in the Waikato region of New Zealand. Several of her short stories have been published in anthologies, most recently in Fresh Ink: A Collection of Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand 2019. Into the Void is her first crime novel and was longlisted for the Michael Gifkins Memorial Prize in 2019. It is also a finalist in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best First Novel.
Do you value your mother’s health above peace in the Middle East? How about your career over global warming?
If a company runs the best graduate scheme in the world, then it can afford to be probing with its interview questions.
When Joe Massey is offered a role aboard Schelldhardt’s luxurious headquarters at sea, he discovers that the company mission is beyond anything he had ever imagined. Strange dreams disturb his sleep, and it soon becomes clear that nothing is quite as it seems.
Is he really the right man for the job? And if not, then why is he there at all?
Steve is a writer of contemporary fiction, who enjoys reading books of many different genres.
Originally from Southend in Essex, Steve now lives on the South Coast of England with his family, after a few happy years spent in New Zealand. The Path of Good Response is his first novel. He has spent most of his working life in the IT industry, but writing is his real passion.
The workplace has changed a great deal during Steve’s career. He started writing The Path of Good Response back in 2016, and the fictional company in the novel, Schelldhardt, seems less of an exaggeration by the year. It appears that reality is fast catching up with dystopian writing, and in many ways overtaking it.
He hopes that you enjoy reading his book, and welcomes any feedback.
The Lawrence’s were the perfect family; successful, beautiful, and happy until one night their whole world was ripped apart. Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan is called to investigate the suspected arson attack and death of the Lawrence family at the charred remains of their stunning home, Kimble Hall. The case takes a sinister turn as the body count fails to tally. Suspecting that someone may have survived the inferno, DS Morgan and her team need to discover whether they have a witness, or someone far more dangerous. Who set the fire? Who wanted this family extinguished beyond recognition? As the case progresses, DS Morgan realises she has a calculating, cold-blooded killer on her hands, and the race is on to track them down before they kill again.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Another gripping blend of investigation and psychological suspense. There a dramatic beginning, and then the painstaking police procedural begins. The ending is fast-paced and adrenaline-inducing as DS Morgan tries to stop the killer.
This is an authentic detective thriller, and the pacing is part of this, slower where the investigation is struggling. The level of menace is high, and the psychological suspense keeps you guessing and on tenterhooks.
Jenna is a complex character, and we learn more about her as the series progresses. The police team dynamic is well-researched and believable.
Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to writing psychological crime. Find Her Alive was her first novel in this genre and introduced series character DS Jemma Morgan. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.
Japan 1985 – a young English woman battles her conscience. A page-turning suspense novel…
Money blows across a field, the notes slapping against the stubble of dry rice stalks. Mr Ito walks towards the irrigation ditch at the end of his field, his rubber boots kicking up dust.
Standing at the ditch, he remembers the rumour; the one about the missing English woman.
But this is Mari’s story. She knows it’s her fault that her sister died, and trying to move on, she takes a dream job teaching English in small-town Japan. It turns into a nightmare when Mari learns that she’s employed by the yakuza (Japanese mafia), and that the man she loves has his own dark secrets. When the yakuza play their final hand, Mari believes that once again, it’s all her fault.
If you like a novel that builds suspense, is set in an exotic location, has a strong female lead, and a pinch of romance; then this book is for you.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
You get a definite sense of time and place in this story. The descriptions are detailed and vivid and immerse the reader into Mari and Kate’s world. Two young women travel to Japan to teach English, Mari is running from her secrets, but they form a friendship and become flatmates. Not everything is as it seems, and the suspense builds as they try to escape their predicament.
The gently paced story written in a literary rather than commercial fiction style engages the readers’ senses with its vibrant imagery and relatable characters. The plot has surprises, and the impactful ending resonates.
Gigi has spent most of her life living and working in countries all over the world. Her big passion is travel, especially in Asia, and India is a favourite destination. Giving up a career in tourism, she qualified as a holistic therapist and worked in yoga retreats in the Mediterranean for twelve years. Currently, Gigi lives in Wiltshire with Isabella, the cat she rescued from the streets of Fethiye, in southern Turkey.
A new beginning. A house with a past. A man with secrets.
It was a dream come true…that turned into a nightmare.
Kate Wilson thinks moving back to Cornwall might be the answer to her prayers. But it isn’t long before she begins to have doubts. Is the house she inherited from her godmother haunted? Or is she going out of her mind? With a stalker, threats, and attempted break-ins, Kate’s troubles multiply.
Then there’s her enigmatic neighbour, the brooding Tom Carbis; a man with secrets he doesn’t wish to share. Can she trust him when he says he wants to help?
In her quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding her, will Kate uncover more than she bargains for?
Set in beautiful Cornwall, The Unquiet Spirit is a gripping suspense with paranormal and romantic elements.
I received a copy of this book from Darkstroke Books and the author in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric story that is full of historical detail that adds to its authenticity. Kate unexpectedly inherits an old house from her godmother in Cornwall. Eager for a new start, she travels to Cornwall to claim her inheritance. A house with secrets.
Mystery, paranormal, romance and suspense are weaved into the well-paced plot. Engaging characters and detailed imagery makes this an enjoyable reading experience. The suspense building and paranormal twists immerse the reader in Kate’s world with an interesting conflicted, but romantic relationship with Tom, a man with secrets.
This is an engaging read with a wide reader appeal because of its cross-genre approach.
Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.
Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a historical mystery/romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.
But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.
Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).
In a quiet corner of Edinburgh, Cat Thomas is going through hell.
She’s tried everything. He respects nothing.
If your neighbour was making your life hell …
Would you call upon the devil?
Cat Thomas, a brilliant fraud investigator, has just relocated from Florida to a dreamy flat in historic Edinburgh. Everything seems perfect. Everything seems serene. Except for the unbelievably noisy wannabe rockstar upstairs.
Soon Cat’s blissful new life is in ruins. Desperate, she’s willing to try anything. When all else fails, she makes an appeal … to Satan.
And suddenly everything is eerily quiet. But her nightmare has only just begun …
I received a copy of this book from Black and White Publishing in return for an honest review.
This story is not what it first seems to be, and that’s its charm. Told from Cat’s point of view the story follows her moving from Florida to Edinburgh after a dangerous case in the world of financial fraud. She is a likeable character and relatable, but she has secrets as everyone does.
The real story begins when Cat’s idyllic new start is ruined by and a noisy and obnoxious neighbour. This story remains credible because Cat’s feelings are recognisable and make her easy to empathise. Her meeting with Agnes and the strange encounter at the castle change Cat’s life.
The plot is a mix of noir crime, noir humour and suspense with paranormal elements. Cat isn’t sure whether she is losing her mind, a victim of organised crime or something less quantifiable. The final twist will be unexpected for most and gives the story a powerful conclusion.
ANTHONY O NEILL is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer. He was born in Melbourne and now lives in Edinburgh. He is the author of seven novels including The Dark Side and Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek, recommended by Ian Rankin as ‘clever, gripping and reverent’.
Three tells the stories of three women: Orna, a divorced single-mother looking for a new relationship; Emilia, a Latvian immigrant on a spiritual search; and Ella, married and mother of three, returning to University to write her thesis. All of them will meet the same man. His name is Gil. He won’t tell them the whole truth about himself – but they don’t tell him everything either.
Tense, twisted and surprising, Three is a daring new form of psychological thriller. It is a declaration of war against the normalisation of death and violence. Slowly but surely, you see the danger each woman walks into. What you won’t see is the trap being laid – until it snaps shut.
I received a copy of this book from Hachette Audio UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story works well, as an audiobook, the writing style is very descriptive and detailed. Told from the viewpoints of three women all with secrets and less than perfect lives it develops into an addictive thriller and you empathise with the victims.
The reader gets to know the three women intimately, but little is known about the antagonist, only what he chooses to share. The conclusion of the first part is shocking. The second part begins and appears to have little connection to what precedes it. When the common link emerges, the reader knows what will happen next, but not how or when increasing the intensity and suspensefulness.
The narrator voices the characters well, although some of the accents are confusing. The setting in Israel gives the story its uniqueness, and the translation captures the story’s essence. The plot twists are well-written, and there is a satisfying end to the story.
The vulnerability of the victims and the underlying menace of the seemingly ordinary antagonist make this a chilling and compulsive audiobook.