A murder that shocks a city… Shots ring out on one of Savannah’s most famous streets. A beautiful law student lies dead.
A case full of secrets and lies… Three men close to the victim are questioned. All of them claim to love her. All of them say they are innocent of her murder.
An investigation that could prove deadly… As crime reporter Harper McClain unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy, the killer focuses on her. He’s already killed, one woman. Will he kill another?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Authentic, fast-paced, with an absorbing plot and a likeable protagonist, A Beautiful Corpse’ is the second book in the Harper McClain series, the crime reporter investigates the murder of someone she knows and uncovers a web of fear, lies and privilege.
This story works as a standalone read and there is enough backstory on the main characters and previous events for this to be enjoyable. However, it’s so good, you’ll want to read the first book too.
The setting is atmospheric and bought to life by the details of the buildings, people and the social ethos. The characters are vividly portrayed and their motivations and interactions with each other believable. The life of a crime reporter is intrinsic to the story and is expertly written.
I like Harper she is driven and skilled at her job and hides her vulnerability well. Her relationship with the police officers, whose cooperation she needs to succeed, is explored and provides some important conflict in the story.
There is an overriding theme to this story, the search for Harper’s mother’s murderer, more clues are discovered in this book but it ends with new questions that may lead the crime reporter into personal danger if she pursues the truth.
The exciting ending is ultimately satisfying, tieing up the plot, but posing further questions for Harper, presumably to be resolved in the next book.
Two desperate criminals. Something she never saw coming.
In Manchester, two hardened gang members on the run take Catherine Blake and her one-year-old son hostage at gunpoint. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Held in a Transit van, Catherine needs a plan fast. But it means diving into her captors’ risk-drenched world, and playing them at their own game.
Catherine has been through cancer, miscarriages and five draining years of IVF in order to have her son Ethan. He is the most precious thing in the world. She may be terrified out of her wits, but she’d do anything to protect him. Anything, no matter the cost…
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
From the first page, this suspenseful thriller is intriguing.
Primarily told from Catherine’s husband’s point of view. He assumes the role of the story’s narrator, a unique and unusual role in this type of thriller. His insight is uncanny and the reader has to accept this until the pieces of the puzzle start to reveal themselves. When it becomes clear why he has this unusual insight into her thoughts, it’s probably not what you think, and so becomes a more compelling viewpoint.
Catherine is in a nightmare scenario and as the story unfolds you can understand what motivates her behaviour. Like me, you may wonder what you would do in the same situation. Catherine’s husband’s admiration of her is apparent throughout. She is a clever, driven character, who has fought to bring her child into the world and will never relinquish him. You empathise with her strongly but then, as you think it’s all over, it isn’t.
Gangland crime is at the heart of this plot but there are no stereotypes, the antagonists are believable and have no redeeming features, you are very much on the side of Catherine and Ethan her innocent child.
The twist is masterful and unexpected and makes the final chapters of the story enthralling.
Contemporary crime, authentic police procedures, and an intense, original plot, make ‘Trapped’ one of my favourite thrillers this year.
Guest Post – Nick Louth – Inspiration for Trapped
The original spark of inspiration for Trapped came after I read the brilliant novel Room by Emma Donoghue. I asked myself, could I write something that is even more claustrophobic than that? A story where the walls close in even tighter, where the threats are not mere confinement, but death. That’s when I came upon the idea of a woman and her child being imprisoned in the back of a squalid Transit van, inside a multi-storey car park surrounded by armed police. I wanted a dark, gritty setting, where the odds of survival were low. The next stage was to build a collision of temperament and outlook between prisoners and captors, to create a cauldron of conflict. Catherine Blake is the ultimate risk-averse mother, having finally given birth after years of trying, enduring miscarriages and IVF. Her protective nature involves shielding this precious child from even the most remote risks, by planning and foresight. Fretwell and Cousins, the gangsters who capture her and her child, are two men for whom long-term planning is a few minutes or at most a few hours. They get a kick from risk, a thrill from danger. Normally, these contrasting types of people do not run into each other. The power of the book comes from throwing them together in a believable way, under massive external pressure when the police arrive.
It’s not difficult to build scary gangsters, but what is hard is to steer away from the many cliches and stereotypes which infest the genre of crime fiction. In this case, I started with the names, courtesy of my own late father who used to tell me stories when I was a child of his national service in the 1950s. Amongst the many memorable characters, were the fearsome London hooligans Fretwell and Cousins, who intimidated even the sergeant major in my father’s regiment. The characters are completely different from those he described, but the names have a marvellous rhythm and are grafted onto two new characters. We spend very little time in the gangsters’ heads, but their actions reflect their impulsiveness. Our view into Catherine’s head is far more detailed and comes through her husband, who has a special all-seeing viewpoint that becomes ever clearer as the narrative progresses. His love for her and the ominous portents that he reveals are designed to create a shadow of foreboding right from the beginning. I’m very pleased with the reception that this unusual narrative voice has received from reviewers.
Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992 while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies and been translated into six languages.
The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror Mirror, subtitled ‘When evil and beauty collide’ was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, is being published by Canelo in September 2017. Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.
When nine children are snatched from a nursery school in South London, their distressed parents have no idea if they will ever see them again. The community in the surrounding area in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.
But DCI Anna Tate knows that nothing is impossible, and she also knows that time is quickly running out. It’s unclear if the kidnappers are desperate for money or set on revenge, but the ransom is going up by £1million daily. And they know that one little boy, in particular, is fighting for his life.
It’s one of the most disturbing cases DCI Anna Tate has ever worked on – not only because nine children are being held hostage, but because she’s pretty sure that someone close to them is lying…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Another interesting female detective with a past that threatens her professionalism. Anna is a likeable protagonist and her dilemmas are both realistic and relatable. She is the Senior Investigating Officer on a mass abduction case. She knows from personal experience what the parents are going through but can she be focused and objective enough to bring a successful outcome to a such a devastating event?
Having your children abducted at gunpoint is every parents’ nightmare and this is uncomfortable reading at times. The stories of the children and their parents help to set the crime in context and present many possible motives and suspects. The characters’ flaws make them believable and many of the parents are not easy to empathise.
Generally, this is a fast-paced story, which produces an authentic kidnap scenario. The suspense is created well and sustained throughout and the ending is satisfactory, although there are questions left for Anna that will no doubt be revisited in subsequent stories.
An eye for an eye. Cabhan Morton wants to leave the Russo crime family for good and live in peace with his daughter, Alice Rose. But the Russos won’t let him walk away without a fight.
A tooth for a tooth. Franny Doyle would do anything for Cabhan and Alice, but helping them escape the vindictive Russo brothers won’t be easy. The only place they’ll be safe is back in Essex with Alfie Jennings.
A daughter for a daughter… Franny knows she won’t be welcomed by Alfie with open arms – but she doesn’t have a choice. The Russos are out for blood and they won’t stop until Alice is dead…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books, and so this affects my review of Fatal. As a standalone, the story works, but the characters don’t, you need to know their stories before the events in Fatal, and so to fully appreciate this story read Toxic first.
The story is fast- paced, violent and focused on the seedier side of life. This gives it the necessary authenticity for a gangland novel. Believable characters and a realistic plot make this an adrenaline packed read.
If you are a fan of gritty, organised crime based thrillers this will excite you.
He knows the man is guilty. And he will do anything to prove it…
PC Gareth Bell watches the psychopath who stabbed Bell’s partner stroll out of court a free man. Somebody on the inside tampered with the evidence, and now one of Brighton’s most dangerous criminals is back on the streets again.
Bell’s personal mission for revenge takes him onto the other side of the law and into the dark, violent underworld of the glamorous seaside city. Soon he faces a horrifying choice: risk everything he holds dear, or let the man who tried to kill his partner walk free.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins- Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Brighton, popular holiday destination since the Regency times. Known for its cafes, bars and the fabulous shopping, but beneath the surface is a criminal world that preys on the vulnerable.
Gareth Bell is a policeman with a mission, to bring to justice the man who almost killed his partner, but how far will he go and what is he prepared to risk to achieve his aim?
One event leads Gareth Bell, the protagonist on a path that blurs the line between right and wrong. Gareth’s actions and motivations are realistic. Violent scenes are common in this novel and a little repetitive, probably as it is all seen from Gareth’s point of view.
This is a fast-paced, authentic police procedural. It is full of action but there are also details of police procedurals, which are an intrinsic part of the job and often hamper the capture of criminals, in the main protagonist’s opinion.
If you enjoy police procedurals this has lots of it, which should appeal. The dilemma and its fallout makes for an interesting plot and provides insight into PC Gareth Bell’s character, and I look forward to the next book in the series.
I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric tale, with a small town setting, twisty plot and well-crafted characters. Excellent pacing and flow make this such an absorbing and easy read.
Told from Emily’s point of view, as she answers her sister’s request to return to her home town after many years of absence, you discover that Emily is not keen to return, but the reasons why only become clear as the story progresses.
Ordinary events take on sinister connations and everyone has secrets. Emily’s fear and not knowing who to trust comes across well in this story. She feels alone and vulnerable, but this is what makes her determined to solve her sister’s disappearance, whatever the personal cost.
A good domestic suspense novel, that draws the reader in, from the first page.
Best friends Tommy Boyle and Scratch always had each other’s backs. Dragged up in care, and cruelly betrayed by everyone they trusted, they made a pact to fight their way out of the gutter – together.
TWO SIDES OF THE LAW
Old loyalties die hard on the streets of London. Tommy throws his lot in with the notorious Darling family – even if it means leaving Scratch to the wolves. She’s destined for a different path, reinventing herself as copper Kim Regan.
ONE DEADLY SHOWDOWN
Now they’re on opposite sides of the law. Running Operation Sting, Kim will rip the heart out of the Darling’s empire – and only her old pal Tommy stands in her way.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction- Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What I love about this story is the author lets you live your characters’ lives, and find out what made them the people they are, before launching into the present day story.
Set in the seventies and eighties, Tommy and Scratch’s lives are full of tragedy, finding each other is the only light in their dark, young lives. Then events take over and instead of them against the world, they find they’re pitted against each other.
The characters are believable but not always likeable. The motivation for their actions is always clear. This story does highlight the horror of child abuse, which is never an easy subject to read, but it is dealt with sensitively. The abuse the two main characters suffer is integral to their future character development and initially defines the adults they become.
‘The Sting’ is cleverly written, with a unique mix of poignancy and violence. Tommy is an anti-hero and a victim of abuse. The story doesn’t end well, it couldn’t with such a believable plot, but there is hope for some and a lovely twist at the end.
Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her
child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her
boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where
mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.
As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person? Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong? Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim. like stories that keep you on the edge of your seat then this is for you’ ‘Kept me guessing right up to the end’
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a powerful crime based thriller with a likeable female detective, and an authentic setting and details. The story features some unpalatable scenes, which I did not enjoy reading. They are however essential to the progression of the characters and the plot but be warned this is not an easy book to read.
The detail and the plot are well- written and the pacing fast and suspenseful. There are many criminals at work and a multitude of crimes for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues to solve. The characters are realistic, although as you would expect in this type of story not always likeable. The plot is well thought out and believable and it’s difficult to solve the crimes.
A suspenseful, menacing crime thriller with authentic police procedures and believable characters and plot, worth reading.
Guest Post – Sarah Flint:- The Power of Paperbacks
As a child,
one of my favourite trips was to the local library in Carshalton. It’s only a
small village library and I was allowed to walk there alone from quite a young
age. I would regularly take out my maximum four books to be read avidly in my
allotted time. The children’s library was always fun and noisy with regular
clubs and other activities – but the adult library was almost completely silent
– and it was with wonderment and reverence that I was occasionally allowed to
It opened up a whole new world to me, a world that
looked, sounded and smelt different; one where adults would glide silently between
rows of colourful, well-thumbed books, that in turn opened up the world to
It is a sphere that children still love to inhabit, if
we, as adults give them the chance.
Physical books are visual, inviting, and appeal to the
senses. If they are placed in shop windows, or at the entrance to transport
hubs, you cannot help being drawn to them, wondering whether they can transport
you to a place far away from the mundane.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle too, but there can be nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a glass of wine – or in bed with a mug of hot chocolate, or, even better, on a sun-lounger with a cocktail in hand – and starting to read the opening sentences of a new book. The initial pages are turned rapidly, slowing slightly as the story ebbs and flows until the chunk of pages on the right-hand side grows thinner and thinner and the speed at which it disappears hastens to a sprint finish. When that final line is read and the covers of the book snap shut, the satisfaction is palpable. The book moves on, into the hands of the next person, on to the shelves of a hotel, a charity shop, a second-hand book shop. I’ve even seen old telephone kiosks decked out as ‘bring and borrow’ libraries.
It is hugely gratifying and addictive to hear about a
great read and then actually have the means in your hands to share in its
Technology is fantastic and has opened the doors,
particularly for the younger generation, to so many different experiences – but
nostalgia is still alive and kicking. People still love the feel of a book in
their hands, the sight of a classic car trundling down the road, the crackling
melody of an old 78 rpm record revolving on a deck.
I am a child of the 60s. I have watched the world change and develop beyond belief in the last fifty years and I embrace technology because it is the way forward, but sometimes it does feel a little insular. So many people are glued to their mini screens these days that communication becomes impossible. The back of a Kindle or laptop gives no insight into the world within it, whereas the cover of a book entices people to enter and devour its contents.
I will never forget the sight of my sister’s paperback on the shelf of my local supermarket; how excited I was to see a customer pick it up! I wanted to shout out loud that my very own sister had written it. It was exactly the motivation I needed to try writing myself, and I have never looked back. I love eBooks because they are so accessible, transferrable and straightforward, but my dream has always been to get on to a train or a bus, enter a cafe or station and see somebody reading one of my books. That is why it means so much to me, to be published in paperback.
With any luck, that wish might soon be granted!
Judging by the latest
development, maybe it hadn’t been going as well as he’d claimed.
Charlie checked which member of the office had dealt with the family. It was Colin. His desk was the other side of the room to hers. She got up to speak to him. He was the straight, white, middle-aged male member of their team, similar in age to Bet but as opposite, in every other way as was possible. He was divorced and now single, with barely any access to his two children, who had been taken off to Ireland by a vindictive ex-wife years ago. Thin, tight-lipped and sad, he had a dry sense of humour and made it his business to look after the rights of all fathers and their children. He worked tirelessly with social services, going above and beyond what was normally required to ensure each child could know both parents. Charlie fully expected to see him on TV one day, dressed up as Superman swinging from Big Ben. What he didn’t know about family law was not worth knowing.
He was poring over his
computer screen, his face serious.
‘Colin, have you got a
He looked up and nodded.
‘Do you remember dealing
with a family called the Hubbards? Quite recently?’
He leant back frowning,
before rubbing his chin with thin fingers.
‘Yes, I do. It was a
couple of months ago.’ He scratched his chin again. ‘If I remember rightly,
Julie Hubbard, the wife, had her wrist broken by her husband. She said she’d
tripped and broken it in a fall but then refused to co-operate any further. One
of their sons, Richard, said that his father had done it.’
‘I think I know who I’d
He shrugged. ‘Everyone
thought the same, but what can you do? Richard phoned the police each time. He
wanted to give evidence but Julie refused to let him and he did everything his
mother asked. With just the one juvenile son as a possible witness, it was
pretty much impossible to prove. Why do you ask?’
Charlie thought about
what Colin had just said. For a young boy, Richard had certainly been brave,
going up against his dad like that. The kid was protecting his mother in
whatever way he could. Maybe Keith had started bullying him too because he
resented the way he defended his mum. Maybe that was why Julie left and had
only taken him. Ryan was certainly less vocal. Maybe Ryan was safe and she’d
only had the time and resources to take one? There were too many maybes.
‘Because Julie and
Richard Hubbard are the mother and son that have gone missing.’
Colin frowned and shook
‘Really? Though I have
to say I’m not surprised. I always thought there was something strange going
on. The boy would plead with his mum to leave his father, but she just
wouldn’t; it was as if she had another agenda. On the last occasion I saw them,
Richard was literally begging her to leave Keith, but she whispered something
to him that I couldn’t hear and he shut up straight away and seemed happier. I
wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’d been waiting until the time was right.’
‘But why not take the
other son, Ryan, too?’
‘He kept out of it
really. Didn’t want to get involved. I think he sided with his father a bit
‘So did he have a good
relationship with Keith then?’
‘He probably had to
because he didn’t have as close a relationship with his mother as Richard did.’
‘So what would be your
gut feeling? Do you think Keith Hubbard could be responsible for Julie and
Colin pursed his lips
and looked straight up at Charlie.
‘I wouldn’t like to say.
He is a nasty bastard and could easily have done something, but you know what
some women are like. It wouldn’t surprise me if Julie Hubbard hadn’t been
planning this all along.’
With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.
I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.