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.

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Posted in 7 Days of Books

7 Days of Books I #AmReading #Reviewing @Jolliffe03

To keep me on track and to let you know what’s going to be on the blog in the next 7 Days, these are the #books I #amreading and #reviewing #nextweek on #JaneHuntWriter

Jane x

Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Thriller

No Tomorrow #5*Review – Killing Eve #2 – Luke Jennings

In a hotel room in Venice, where she’s just completed a routine assassination, Villanelle receives a late-night call.

Eve Polastri has discovered that a senior MI5 officer is in the pay of the Twelve, and is about to debrief him. As Eve interrogates her subject, desperately trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, Villanelle moves in for the kill.

The duel between the two women intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary’s true identity.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Having enjoyed, if that’s the word, the TV series ‘Killing Eve’, I wanted to read the books that inspired the series.

The story is adrenaline-fuelled, clever, dark, fast-paced and rich in vivid imagery. Obviously, the characters assume the faces of the actors in the TV series I watched, but the settings, horrific killings and the continually intensifying relationship between Eve and Villanelle are perfectly executed in the book. The thrills, twists and terrible events are delivered at a fast pace, making this a page-turner, even if you haven’t seen the TV series.

Dark humour, multiple plot twists and characters who are larger than life, but remain believable make this story the perfect read, for lovers of spy thrillers, intense female relationships and hard-hitting action fiction.

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

Posted in Book Review

The Hunting Party – 4* #Review – Lucy Foley @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Escaping to the wild and wonderful Scottish Highlands seems like the ideal venue for a New Year’s celebration, but what if everyone has a secret? Their university days are long gone, but the pecking order and rivalries are intensified. The cracks in the party atmosphere begin on the train journey north.

This story begins with the tragedy and uses a series of chronological multi-point of view chapters to illuminate the current situation. The characters are complex and realistic, and in most cases not likeable. Everyone has something to hide but how far will they go to keep it under wraps? The setting and inclement weather makes this an atmospheric read that compels you to turn the pages to see what happens next.

This is more of a murder mystery than a psychological thriller because the story is told through the eyes of several characters, both in the group of friends and the two people who work at the venue where they are staying, rather than an individual unreliable protagonist.

The plot is convoluted and sinister, there are multiple suspects and the identity of the victim remains hidden until the final chapters.

The remote party setting and the toxicity of the relationships has parallels with Sue Fortin’s The Birthday Girl, which I also enjoyed. Perfect holiday reading.

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

Posted in Book Review

No Further Questions- Gillian McAllister – 4*Review

The police say she’s guilty.

She insists she’s innocent.

She’s your sister.

You love her.

You trust her.

But they say she killed the person you care about most.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

This is a well-written thriller, with authentic courtroom drama and a nightmare scenario for the family of characters.

It’s a story of two sisters and how their lives are irrevocably changed by a tragic event. Accident or intentional act is what the jury has to decide, but the effect on the two sisters their spouses’, parents and children is devastating.

For me, this was more family drama than thriller, although there is a mystery to solve. I guessed the outcome before the end, but there are plenty of twists and lies to explore. The ending makes the story so poignant, but ties up all the clues in a satisfactory way.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Dead End- Rachel Lynch – Guest Post – 5* Review

When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging from the rafters at Wasdale Hall, everyone assumes the ageing, hard-partying aristocrat had finally had enough of chasing the glory of his youth. But when the coroner finds signs of foul play, DI Kelly Porter is swept into a luxurious world where secrets and lies dominate.

At the same time, two young hikers go missing and it’s up to Kelly to lead the search. But digging deeper reveals ties to two other unsolved disappearances and Kelly and her team find themselves in a race against time.

Now, as all roads of both investigations and Kelly’s own family secrets lead to Wasdale Hall it becomes more important than ever for Kelly to discover the devious truths hidden behind the walls of the Lake District’s most exclusive estate…

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Guest Post: Developing characters over a trilogy – Rachel Lynch

As a reader of crime novels, I’m always smitten (and terrified) by the ways in which the writer can come up with dark deeds that have been committed for millennia, but in new and refreshing ways. As a writer of crime novels, I worry more about my characters convincing the reader, than the cases they pursue. I truly love creating baddies, and allowing them free reign to shock and awe, with their hideous behaviour. But when it comes to the core players chasing them, I’m constantly looking for ways to move them forward, in ways that are both believable and engaging.

Kelly is a straightforward woman, she’s got problems, she’s not perfect, and she makes mistakes. And, like most of us, she doesn’t have the ideal family. We’re all the sum parts of our relationships, and for Kelly to be convincing, she’s got to handle confrontation and disappointment. Driving those forward over three books has been satisfying and challenging. Her emerging relationship with Johnny, her changing perception of Ted, her tension with Nikki, and the tragedy of her mother’s illness, all need to weave inside and around the crimes she’s investigating. New characters always pop up too. It might be part of her job and the colleagues she works with, or it could be reconnecting with old pals; whatever the reason, she touches people and they touch her.

The reception Kelly has received so far is phenomenal, and she really has become a fully dimensional person for me. I like being in her company. She’s feisty and strong, but also vulnerable and incomplete. She’s looking for what we all look for, in the sense that she’s searching for peace, but it doesn’t take over, and she’s a committed woman with an important job to do. She genuinely cares for those she champions in her cases, and won’t stop until she finds answers, even if she puts herself in danger. That’s my favourite trait of hers: she puts the truth first, and everything else is secondary. She’s a fighter but she’s not arrogant or dogmatic. She’s driven but still encourages her colleagues. She carries within her an energy that makes this all possible, and I’d like to spend time with her.

Her life over the course of Dark Game, Deep fear and Dead End has changed over a time span of almost three years, and she’s learned a lot about herself and her family. She’d avoided this in London, like a lot of us do when we’re forging our careers, but now she is trying to make sense of it and make amends at the same time. She and Johnny are great partners because he’s an outsider too, and he’s growing on me with every book. He’s still got a lot more to give, even if he and Kelly were to split up. I have massive affection for Ted and I admire his wisdom, and I think he brings much structure to Kelly’s world.

All of these things connections have to move forward, book by book, and they have to be real. Writing a sequel was a steep learning curve for me, as this is my first series, it was also incredibly rewarding. Getting to number three, and working out how these people still interacted was another journey, and I’m thrilled with the reception so far for this web of characters, who never cease to surprise, but also remain reassuringly familiar. It’s also interesting for me, as a mother, to write about a woman with no children, and I’m jealous of how much time she has on her hands, though she doesn’t necessarily appreciate it!

There’s a lot more in store for Kelly, and I’m sure she’ll continue to surprise me, as well as, I hope, you too.

My Thoughts…

The third instalment of the DI Kelly Porter series has two separate storylines that appear unconnected but are intricately woven together to produce an absorbing mystery, detailed police procedural and riveting thriller.

Kelly Porter is such an exciting character, driven, caring, yet vulnerable, and your empathy with her grows with every story. The cast of characters both antagonists and protagonists are complex, and the storytelling draws you in, deepening the mystery with every clue it reveals.

I hope there’s another one as I’m hooked and set in the lovely English Lake District the dichotomy between its raw beauty and the ugliness of the crimes it conceals is what makes this addictive.

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

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Ian Rankin- 5* Review – In a House of Lies

IN A HOUSE OF LIES…

Everyone has something to hide
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still – both for his family and the police – is that his body was in an area that had already been searched.

Everyone has secrets
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now – after a decade without answers – it’s time for the truth.

Nobody is innocent
Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

‘In a ‘House of Lies’ is a polished police procedural with iconic characters, especially Rebus. Even ailing and in retirement, he remains an intelligent, tenacious detective.

DI Clarke is on the Murder Investigation Team (MIT) investigating a murder of a victim from Rebus’ time. Opening this cold case lets out old secrets, and no one is safe especially Rebus. Someone is leaking information to the press, and internal affairs suspect Clarke, who is still smarting from their previous investigation. Corruption, murder and poor policing are all exposed in this fascinating crime novel, and Rebus finds himself with a case that reveals some poignant facts and showcases the best and worst of humanity.

The characters are complex, flawed and realistic, whether they be criminals or police. The tension and suspense increase with each page making it hard to put down. The setting is authentic and the background information cleverly woven into the story, making it an easy standalone read.

Police procedural at its best, whether you are a fan of Rebus or not.

I received a copy of this book from Orion 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

You Let Me In- 5* Review- Lucy Clarke

Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . .

I’M IN YOUR HOUSE

There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.

I’M IN YOUR HEAD

Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.

AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET

As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

I’ve read so many ‘psychological thrillers this year, but this is one of the best.

What I like about it is authenticity, I believe in Elle, the situations she finds herself and the ending, while surprisingly is entirely believable.

The story moves from Elle in the present and then to a past time when her life changes irrevocably, this is where you are sure you know who her present tormentor is but are you right? The third voice in the story is the person who once let into Elle’s life won’t let go.

The novel abounds with paranoia, as Elle appears to become increasingly irrational, even to herself. There are many blind alleys, and part reveals before the dramatic conclusion. The atmosphere is key to this book’s impact, and it builds to a crescendo of menace. The setting is vivid and a character in itself, emphasising the storyline, to significant effect.

If you think you’re tired of this genre, this story may change your mind.

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

Posted in Book Review

Betty Rowlands – 5*Review Murder at Hawthorn Cottage

Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective? 

Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.

But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown into the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.

Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed? 

Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…

The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

The quintessential cosy mystery a beautiful rural setting, a village full of quirky, nosy characters and female crime writer who courts danger and trouble in the same way the characters in her books do.

Melissa seems much older than her mid-forties, I have to admit I imagine Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher when I visualise her but apart from this misconception, she is the perfect protagonist for a cosy mystery. Initially published under a different title in the twentieth century, the book is only dated by its philosophy on relationships and women living on their own.

The storyline is fast-paced and engaging. Melissa’s independent character and mindset come across well in the story, and the plot twists are just the right side of believable. The suspense in the final chapters builds to adrenaline fuelled ending, full of action and powerful imagery.

An enjoyable, escapist read that I suspect may become my secret addiction.

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