Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Without A Trace – Carissa Ann Lynch – 5* #Review @KillerReads @carissaannlynch #Thriller #DomesticThriller #Suspense #Mystery #PsychologicalThriller

Lily’s gone. 
Someone took her. 
Unless she was she never there…

A little girl has gone missing.

Lily was last seen being tucked into bed by her adoring mother, Nova. But the next morning, the bed is empty except for a creepy toy rabbit.

Has Nova’s abusive ex stolen his “little bunny” back for good?

At first, Officer Ellie James assumes this is a clear custody battle. Until she discovers that there are no pictures of the girl and her drawers are full of unused toys and brand new clothes that have never been worn…

Is Ellie searching for a missing child who doesn’t actually exist?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I’ve read quite a few of this author’s stories and they usually involve domestic settings, with a mystery, and cleverly built suspense. The stories are dark and the characters are believable, but usually have secrets, which lead to outcomes most readers wouldn’t foresee.

‘Without A Trace’ is creepy and sinister, told from three main, first-person points of view. The psychological thriller is characterised by an unreliable protagonist. This story has three and accompanied by a plot full of twists, and misinformation. It is difficult for the reader to decide who to believe. What is the truth? What is fiction? Are the answers somewhere in between?

Domestic abuse is the primary theme of this story, it is the reason Nova runs. The twisty plot is always coherent, you can see where this story is going, but you don’t know what you will find when you get there.

The short chapters, providing viewpoints from the three main female protagonists, work well with this suspense led story. The reader has to wait to see what happens next to the character, whilst they are given additional facts and motivations from the other characters.

Poignant and dark this story has important messages, and the final events and resolution of the mystery are realistic and memorable.

Advertisements
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, Crime, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Greenway – 4* #Review – Jane Adams #mystery #crime #psychological #suspense #detective @JoffeBooks @janeadamsauthor

AUGUST 1975: Cassie Maltham’s life changes forever one scorching day. She and her twelve-year-old cousin Suzie take a shortcut through the Greenway, an ancient pathway steeped in Norfolk legend. Somewhere along this path Suzie simply vanishes . . .

TWENTY YEARS LATER: Cassie is still tormented by nightmares, parts of her memory completely erased. With her husband Fergus and friends Anna and Simon, she returns to Norfolk, determined to confront her fears and solve a mystery that won’t let her rest.

Then another young girl goes missing at the entrance to the Greenway, and Cassie is pushed once more into the darkest recesses of her mind.

John Tynan, the retired detective who’d been in charge of Suzie’s case, is still haunted by her disappearance. He offers his help to Detective Inspector Mike Croft who is leading the increasingly frantic search for the missing child. Has evil returned? And what really happened all those years ago and who can be believed?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A well-written retro, psychological suspense mystery set in Norfolk.

Cassie is the link between two disappearances of young girls. Her cousin Suzie in 1975 and Sara in 1995, whilst Cassie is revisiting the area after twenty years, as part of her mental health rehabilitation.

There is a multi-layered plot, which encompasses many themes; myths and legends, supernatural occurrences, crime, mental health and police procedural. Some of these are explored in detail, like the day to day police activity surrounding the missing child, others like the supernatural elements, and Cassie’s mental state are hinted at but left to the reader’s imagination to decide what to believe.

Mike Croft the SIO in the case is an interesting character, he has a tragic past, which threatens to impinge on his decision-making capacity in the case. John Tynan, a retired detective who was SIO on the previous missing girl case in 1975, sees the similarities between the two cases, and he supports Mike and his team with the new case. His involvement ties up the historical, and present day elements of the story in a realistic way.

The plot twists are good and the final resolution solves the mystery. Some questions remain but, this is intentional, making this an authentic story, as in real life not every aspect of a crime or mystery can be solved in entirety.

I like the retro ethos of the story, it adds to the plot’s level of menace and the mystery. The complex characters, especially Cassie who is the unreliable protagonist in the story are believable.

Overall this fusion of genres works well and makes the story a compelling read.

Posted in Book Review, Psychological Thriller

The Guilty Party – 4* #Review – Mel McGrath @HQstories @mcgrathmj

You did nothing. That doesn’t mean you’re innocent.

On a night out, four friends witness a stranger in trouble. They decide to do nothing to help.

Later, a body washes up on the banks of the Thames – and the group realises that ignoring the woman has left blood on their hands.

But why did each of them refuse to step in? Why did none of them want to be noticed that night? Who is really responsible? And is it possible that the victim was not really a stranger at all?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Four old friends witness a terrible crime, individually and finally, collectively, there are numerous opportunities where they can make a difference to the outcome, but they don’t.

The story moves forward to a different group gathering when they inadvertently find out the outcome of that night. Should they have acted differently? Are they guilty? Why did they react in the way they did?

Switching between timelines and different points of view the dilemma is revealed and painstakingly unravelled This complex story is suspenseful, intense and dark. Delving into the dark secrets people keep hidden from the world, their friends, and the way we lie, even to ourselves.

There are many plot twists and the ending maintains the story’s dark ethos. Don’t expect to like the characters, they have few redeeming features. Maybe they are a reflection of a contemporary society that focuses on self and the individual whilst promoting a blame culture? It makes you think, and the question posed is what would you do?

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Revenge Fiction, Family Drama, Suspense

The Stranger Inside – 4* #Review @laurabenedict @mullhollandbooks @HodderBooks

When Kimber Hannon returns home from a work trip, she’s ready to kick back and relax on the sofa. But on reaching the front door, she is shocked to discover that her key no longer works and there’s a man in the bedroom window.

Kimber calls the police, but the intruder tells them he’s renting the house. Her neighbour corroborates his story and it is Kimber who is forced to leave. But before she does, the stranger whispers ‘I was there. I saw what you did.’

These words reveal a connection to Kimber’s distant past, and dark secrets she’d long ago left buried. Her trespasser isn’t after anything as simple as her money or her home. He wants to move into her carefully orchestrated life – and destroy it.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story starts off with a past tragic event and then switches to the present day, where Kimber returns home from a weekend away to find her locks have been changed and someone is in her house. It seems her past has returned to haunt her. Whilst there are many suspenseful scenes and some mind games, this doesn’t have the impact and underlying menace of a true psychological thriller.

It does have an unreliable protagonist, who is so flawed it’s difficult to find her redeeming features. As the story progresses and her secrets are revealed, her motivations are clearer and you realise she hates herself, and all her subsequent actions stem from this.

As a family drama, this is cleverly crafted with dysfunctional relationships, guilt and secrets everywhere, but despite the comparisons, this isn’t like ‘The Girl Before’ or ‘ You Let Me In’. They are menacing to read. This is suspenseful and tangled, but not as difficult to unravel.

If you are looking for a suspenseful read with layers of family and friendship drama, this is worth reading.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

 

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK


I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK

I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects.
The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Horror Fiction, Indie

The Demon Seeds- 4*Review-Derek Muk

Taylor and Jan have an edgy, exhilarating and dangerous occupation: they’re monster hunters. While they’ve endured many strange adventures in their Southern California/Los Angeles area turf, their latest is as harrowing as it gets….for they are about to encounter the nefarious bubog, the demonic offspring of the cult leader Bubog, an entity carrying the seed of the Dark Prince himself, and he is trying to impregnate as many human women he could lay his hands on. While the intrepid monster hunters track the bubog down in an attempt to put an end to their evil scourge, Jan learns that her best friend, Carol, has been initiated into their cult and the two must save her before she too gives birth to one of these abominations. But can they save her? And can they rid our world forever of these diabolical Demon Seeds before it’s too late? 

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

This is a short read, it took me about half an hour to complete, and so it’s the perfect book for reading on your phone. I haven’t read any of ‘The Occult Files of Albert Taylor’ but it is easy to get into, so important for short stories.

There is an interesting relationship between Taylor and his graduate student Jan,  who is clever but full of youthful innocence. There is a sense of Taylor studying her because a couple of times he talks about capturing her actions or expression in a photograph.

The writing is atmospheric and image-driven. It reads, like a graphic novel without the pictures, and its fast pace builds tension and enhances the action sequences. The monster hunters are akin to the demon hunters in the ‘Supernatural’ series and will appeal to readers who enjoy this type of fiction. 

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

 

Derek Muk is a writer and social worker from California. His short stories have appeared in various online and small press magazines, including New Realm, Cheapjack Pulp, Ink Stains Anthology, Nebula Rift, 9 Tales, Story of the Month Club, Cranial Leakage, The Haunted Academy (Novella-Midnight Frost Books), Fiction On The Web, Whispers From The Past: Fright and Fear (anthology), Dark Eclipse, The Dead Walk (anthology), 13 Magazine, Diabolic Tales 3, Both Barrels of Legends of the Monster Hunter I and II, The Trigger Reflex: Legends of the Monster Hunter II (anthology), Suffer the Little Children (anthology), Splatter: An Anthology of Horror, Death Rattle, Dark Things II (Anthology), Anthology of Ichor: Hearts of Darkness, Twisted Tongue Magazine, Static Movement, Sex and Murder Magazine,  Sinister Tales, Night to Dawn, M-Brane SF, Sonar4 E-Zine, The Ethereal Gazette, 7th Dimension Magazine, Switchblade Magazine, ESC! Magazine, Scorched Wings Magazine, Hardboiled, Masque Noir, Detective Mystery Stories, Dawnsky, The Pinehurst Journal, Mystery Forum Magazine, The Green Queen, Kracked Mirror Mysteries, Golden Visions Magazine, Crossroads Magic, The Street Corner Magazine, Calliope Magazine, Unspoken Water, Space and Time Magazine, Infernal Ink Magazine, Tales of the Talisman Magazine, Aurora Wolf, The Horror Zine Magazine, Disturbed Digest, and Parabnormal Digest.
 
He has three chapbooks published: Three Parts, The Sacrifice and Other Stories, and Sin After Sin. In addition to writing, he enjoys reading, travelling, museums, art, dining out, and meeting new people. He has a bachelors and masters degree in social work. 
 
“The Occult Files of Albert Taylor” is his first full-length collection of short stories.

Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

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

Mine – J.L.Butler – 4*Review

My CLIENT
My LOVER

Francine Day is a high flying lawyer about to apply for silk, ambitious and brilliant. She just needs one headline-grabbing client to seal her place as queen’s counsel … Martin Joy. The attraction is instant. Obsessive.

They embark on a secret affair, and Francine thinks she can hold it together. But then Martin’s wife goes missing. And Martin is the prime suspect. Francine is now his lawyer, lover and the last person to see Donna Joy alive.

As the case unravels so does Francine.

Her HUSBAND
My OBSESSION

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

‘Mine’ is an enjoyable read. The legal setting is interesting. The professional trust between a lawyer and client broken by the protagonist pushes her into the unreliable protagonist territory. Her mental health issues may also make her observations and perceptions questionable from the reader’s point of view.

A well written psychological thriller, regarding mystery, menace, pacing and suspense. The themes are well tried in this type of novel as are the characters; the mentally unstable obsessive mistress, the ruthless businessman for whom reputation and money is everything, but if you enjoy psychological thrillers the polished presentation of this one will please.

The mental disintegration of the Fran, the main protagonist, is realistic as are her actions, many of the choices she makes are bad, but they are understandable and therefore believable. The final chapters are atmospheric and suspenseful, aided by a wonderfully gothic setting and inclement weather.

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