She had taken only one step towards the hotel when she heard the car door opening, and then something had her by the shoulders in a grip like steel. Penny tried to fight, but it was no good. The last thing she heard as consciousness drifted away was the whisper of a familiar song…
In a small town on Ireland’s west coast, a young woman named Penelope O’Dwyer leaves a restaurant. It should take five minutes to walk back to where she’s staying. In those five minutes she disappears without a trace.
It’s a few days before the tape arrives. The kidnapper’s face is masked, his voice distorted, but no one doubts for a second he will follow through on his threat: a ritual murder at the end of October – and after that, many more murders to come. Penelope has two weeks to live. And the police don’t have a single lead.
Detective Seamus Keneally insists they need help. Especially when imprisoned murderer Frederick Morgan offers vital information connecting this case to a series of historic murders. But he will only speak to one person: criminal behaviourist Jessie Boyle. Jessie is still grieving after a brutal tragedy that cut her career in London short – but right now, she’s the only chance Penelope has.
Morgan claims this is the work of a serial killer who’s been working in the shadows for longer than the police have ever realised. Now Jessie must use all her instincts and insight to get inside the mind of a criminal more ruthless than any she’s faced in her career – before the evil that has secretly stalked Ireland for decades is unleashed again.
A totally breathtaking and chilling crime thriller that will keep you gripped to the very last page.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is such an atmospheric crime thriller full of emotion and suspense. Vibrant characters Boyle and Keneally have a believable team dynamic. Set in Ireland, the setting adds to the suspenseful ethos with hints of the supernatural interwoven with Irish folklore.
There is an overriding menace in this story. It’s explored but not resolved in this story, making the reader want to know how it will develop. The fast pacing adds to the story’s addictive quality, and Jessie Boyle has secrets but is easy to like. Seamus Keneally seems to be more open with less to hide and is the perfect contrast for his partner.
Terri, the historical researcher and technical expert, has a poignant past. Dawn, the Police Commissioner, has a history with Jessie. Both have complex pasts that add depth to the story.
Authentic and well-paced, this is an immersive read that is hard to put down.
White Dog is a literary thriller set against the backdrop of the contemporary art world. It follows the fortunes of Ryder, a cynical art deal who aspires to the heights, yet despises the people who populate those realms.
On his way to the top, back down, and back up again, Ryder encounters a picaresque collection of characters and gets drawn into a web of intrigue that involves murder, money-laundering, and materialism. But can his new-found fame and fortune ever make up for the loss of the one thing he ever really valued in life?
White Dog will take you on a rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and art – of violence, blackmail, hedonism, and dark politics. Are you ready to face the wolves?
RUPERT WHEWELL was born in Buckinghamshire in 1969. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from Downing College, Cambridge, before working in advertising in Hong Kong and later as a recruitment consultant. He established his own firm, Bateman Gray – named after the respected protagonists of his two favourite novels – in London, specialising in placing bankers. A keen adventurer, Rupert loved hillwalking, climbing and skiing, counting skiing down Mont Blanc as one of his greatest triumphs.
With his fiftieth birthday looming, he joined a group setting out to climb peaks in the Nanda Devi area of India in May 2019. An avalanche brought about his early death in the Himalayas, together with the loss of his seven climbing companions. He is survived by his mother Elaine, brother Andrew and sister Lisa, having no children of his own.
White Dog is his first novel, published posthumously.
The only novel from budding author Rupert Whewell, who sadly lost his life in a tragic climbing accident in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas. At the time of his death, the manuscript of White Dog was left incomplete, with Rupert’s plans for the book’s ending remaining a mystery.
As a tribute to her brother and his love of words, Rupert’s sister Lisa Anson worked closely with renowned author John McDonald to complete White Dog, which allowed her to come to terms with his unexpected passing.
”This book has been a long time in the making. Rupert always loved writing and talked often about his desire to write a book. Distracted by a full life and being present with his friends and family, it remained in the background, referenced, and variously started without real progress. In his late forties, he started to put pen to paper in earnest and White Dog was born. Rupert was a very special person; not just to me – as a lifelong presence – but to his many friends. His tragic death is something I will never get over and will never forget.
I have taken on the task of finishing and publishing his book, which he left 80 percent complete. It was important to me to see his story through and share his writing. It brought me closer to Rupert, and I hope it will keep his memory alive for those that knew him and will entertain others who did not.”
Ever since she was adopted from an orphanage in Sri Lanka, Paloma has led a privileged Californian life: the best schools, a generous allowance and parents so perfect that Paloma fears she’ll never live up to them.
Now at thirty, Paloma has managed to disappoint her parents so thoroughly that their relationship will never recover. Unemployed and friendless, the only person still talking to her is Arun – the Indian man subletting her spare room. That is until Arun discovers Paloma’s darkest secret, one that could jeopardize her fragile place in this country, and the next day is found face down in a pool of blood.
On finding Arun’s body Paloma flees her apartment. But by the time the police arrive, there’s no body to be found or signs of struggle – and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place.
The police may be quick to dismiss everything, but Paloma knows what she saw. Is this tangled up in her childhood in Sri Lanka and the desperate actions she took to leave so many years ago? And did Paloma’s secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before?
I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An intense and twisty psychological thriller told in dual timelines. Present-day San Francisco finds Paloma’s life in a desperate freefall. The reasons why gradually emerge intricately tied to her childhood in an orphanage in Sri Lanka. Paloma is an unreliable protagonist, drinking too much alcohol whilst taking prescription drugs for her mental health issues. She is intelligent and likeable but is on a self-destructive path. There is a resonating, supernatural element in this story. Beginning in her past Sri Lankan life, becoming increasingly disturbing in her adult life. Delusional, a clever revengeful illusion, or something more menacing? The reader doesn’t know until the final revelations.
Relentless pacing keeps the reader turning the pages. It allows little time to peruse the evidence. The plot keeps its secrets well the reveals are few but impactful. Amidst the sinister and supernatural,` there is a poignant ethos surrounding the main protagonist. It shows her loneliness and vulnerability.
When Stina and Jack move to an old rural cottage, they’re hoping for a fresh start.
Their new home is run-down compared to their neighbour’s, but generous Mrs Barley quickly becomes a friend. Until Stina sees a mysterious figure in the widow’s garden, and her happy new life begins to unravel. And when she hears strange noises in the night, she is forced to question if Mrs Barley is what she seems.
Why do the other villagers whisper about her? Why is she so eager to help the couple? And what is she hiding in her picture-perfect home?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The opening chapter of this story takes the reader back to 1964 and a domestic scene, relatable yet with sinister implications. Time moves forward to 2012 when Stina and her partner move into Whisper Cottage. Stina’s unplanned pregnancy, the catalyst for the country move. Immediately there are echoes with the book’s beginning, and you wonder if they too will feel the pressures of raising a young child.
This is an atmospheric story with hints of supernatural events and the possibility of mental health issues for the young expectant mother. Stina is an unreliable protagonist. The reader is never sure if she sees what she thinks she does. The villagers’ archaic reaction to Stina’s neighbour is complex, disturbing and believable.
The intricate world-building slows the pace but is integral to the story’s authenticity. The plot twists are impactful. This is an intriguing gothic style mystery with hints of domestic noir and psychological suspense.
Anne Wyn Clark lives in the UK, in the Midlands, with her husband, son and a feisty chinchilla. She has three (now grown-up) children and five grandchildren. She is particularly partial to Italian food, decent red wine (or any coloured wine come to that…) and cake – and has been known to over-indulge in each on occasions. She is passionate about animals and their welfare. Whilst she has enjoyed writing for many years, a love of all things gothic inspired her to try her hand at producing something dark and twisty, culminating in the haunting Whisper Cottage.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review
A deliciously irreverent, multi-viewpoint novel that focuses on a disturbing teacher and his questionable methods. Witty humour mitigates the menacing ethos. Easily visualised, vivid characters have unreliable viewpoints that mar the reader’s omnipotent view. This is a story about control, power and wealth.
Gently paced and introspective but with humour, it delivers an addictive, page-turning read.
I received a copy of this book from the author via Midas PR in return for an honest review.
This is an excellent sequel to the impactful and intriguing Number 10, which I enjoyed despite being considerably older than the Teen/Young Adult audience this series is aimed at.
Gray, target for the paparazzi, and terrorists is a resident at an exclusive boarding school renowned for keeping dependants of VIPS safe and secure. This book explores her adventures and relationships and the conspiracy that threatens the prime minister her mother.
It’s a balance of coming of age and political thriller that delivers an intriguing, insightful story.
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
Reading this story is like opening Pandora’s box, compelling, creepy and full of unexpected consequences.
In an attempt to rescue their marriage after ten years, Amelia and Adam head to the remote Scottish Highlands. It’s clear from the beginning both have secrets and that they dislike each other. The setting is atmospheric and claustrophobic, and the writer’s excellent use of sensory imagery immerses the reader in the gothic setting.
Told from Amelia, Adam and later Robin’s viewpoints, the reader has an omnipotent view of the character’s motivations, but all three are unreliable, so who can you trust? There is also a series of secret letters which give the reader something to think about.
As the story progresses, the twists intensify. This story keeps you gripped until the very last word. You unravel part of the truth, but there is always more to discover. The characters are complex, damaged by their pasts, and have many unlikeable traits. Despite these, this story has a poignant ethos drawing the reader’s empathy.
The ending is believable, impactful and thought-provoking.
Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.
A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth
Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.
A hunt for a killer ready to strike again
When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.
If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has many elements which make it absorbing and addictive reading.
Heatherreturns to her childhood home after her mother’s death. She is not in a good place in her life and struggles to accept her mother’s apparent suicide. Heather, an unreliable protagonist, finds copious correspondence between her mother and a serial killer, ‘The Red Wolf’. Unsure what to make of it, and in the light of similar recent murders, she sends them to the police and begins an unorthodox investigation of the past and present crimes.
Atmospheric, and horrifically graphic in parts, it intertwines fantasy, folklore, horror and psychological suspense. The settings are cleverly crafted and provide a menacing ethos. It uses folklore and fairytales, drawing out their darkness, fusing them with psychological suspense and noir characters. It’s about good and evil, but the lines are blurred.
This story delivers the shocks of horror fiction, with the illusions and secrets of folklore, making this a creepy, disturbing and often grisly read.
Grace, Meg and Daphne, all in their seventies, are minding their own business while enjoying a cup of tea in a café, when seventeen-year-old Nina stumbles in. She’s clearly distraught and running from someone, so the three women think nothing of hiding her when a suspicious-looking man starts asking if they’ve seen her.
Once alone, Nina tells the women a little of what she’s running from. The need to protect her is immediate, and Grace, Meg and Daphne vow to do just this. But how? They soon realise there really is only one answer: murder.
And so begins the tale of the three most unlikely murderers-in-the-making, and may hell protect anyone who underestimates them.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story contains a powerful commentary on society’s view of older women and young women who are let down by those who should care for them. The issues are disturbing, but whilst the reader is provoked to think about them, it’s delivered in an engaging way that resonates.
The story follows the lives of three women in their seventies and a young woman of seventeen. They are virtually strangers, but a fatalistic meeting draws them together into a world of darkness and depravity. The women have secrets that are revealed to each other and the reader as the story progresses. They are not what they outwardly seem, an important point this story explores for all the women. All have courage and hidden strengths that help secure safety for the vulnerable young woman who asks for their help.
The thriller is well-written with twists and is full of satirical noir humour, but it’s the believable characters, their brave actions and poignant stories that make this such a good read.
Published by Head of Zeus 8th July 2021 | Paperback Currently £7.19
Ambition can be deadly…
Ruthless Women takes readers on a wild ride behind the scenes of beloved TV drama Falcon Bay, beamed globally to millions three days a week from its picturesque location in the Channel Islands. But even in this beautiful coastal spot, tensions swirl. Once one of the world’s most popular soap operas, but now with ratings and syndication at an all-time low, the production has been sold to an American business woman, beautiful and malevolent Madeline Kane, the new network owner who arrives on the tiny island just off Jersey, determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to number one.
Writer Farrah, star Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who keep the show on the road. But Farrah is losing episodes to the network’s lead male rival, Catherine is terrified of the public falling out of love with her and Amanda’s evil husband Jake, vice president of the network, is plotting to get his own wife kicked off the show.
As the dawn of a new era begins, cast and crew turn against each other with loyalty, decency, and trust, replaced by scandal, betrayal, and an outrageous ambition to survive.
In a true battle of the sexes, these women will do anything to stay on top. But can they team up to bring down their male rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge tear their long held friendships apart?
As the story reaches a climax so shocking readers will be talking about it for decades, one thing is certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive…
Over 25 million people in the UK watch soaps a week and now they’ll get a true glimpse of what really goes on behind the scenes of TV’s most popular shows, and examples of the desperate trade off’s their beloved leading ladies go through to survive the very game they are in. Ruthless Women shows that what takes place behind the cameras is way more juicy than on….
Even the actresses, who Melanie was worried would be angry about what she’s written, are raving about Ruthless Women too. Well, some of them are….
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via Midas PR in return for an honest review.
Scandalous, sexy thrillers based on real experiences and personalities are always addictive. Ruthless Women’s vibrant characters and vivid scenarios make guessing the inspiration behind them a must. The abuse of authority and prejudice are relatable, and the intelligent way the women fight against them believable. The female characters are flawed but easy to empathise. Hidden agendas and twists make this an intriguing read.
Scandal, secrets and sex underpin the story of a ruthless boss determined to make a once top-rated show great again. The dynamic between Farrah, Catherine, Amanda and Sheena is insightful and the force behind the story. It is both their strength and weakness, which Madeline exploits to her advantage.
This story has a poignant side which gives it depth and immerses the reader into the characters lives. The noir world simmering below the surface of television’s glamorous facade is the perfect setting for this story of ambition, friendship, revenge and scandal.
The suspense builds coupled with striking sensory imagery, as the story develops and the final chapters are full of twists, with a climactic ending.
I can’t wait for the next book.
At 15 Melanie Blake dreamed of being a writer, but was told by her English teacher that the only thing she’d ever write were labels for factory boxes. Severely dyslexic, and desperate to escape a childhood of poverty and religious extremism in Stockport, she left school with no qualifications and ran away from home.
Against all odds, Melanie managed to blag her way onto the lowest rung of the showbiz ladders, working as an extra on Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders and a camera assistant on Top Of The Pops. It was during this time that she got her first big break aged 21, when soap icon Claire King chose Melanie to be her agent. Her agency was an immediate success, and she would go on to represent the likes of Patsy Kensit, Michelle Collins, Stephanie Beacham, Emily Lloyd, Denise Welch, Jennie McAlpine, Laila Morse, Daniella Westbrook, Amanda Barrie, Gillian Taylforth and Nadia Sawalha; earning herself the tag ‘Queen of Soaps’.
Melanie wrote her first book The Thunder Girls when she was working in the music industry as a young woman. She was told no one wanted to read a book about middle aged female singers on a comeback tour and so it wasn’t until 2019, twenty years after she first put pen to paper, that The Thunder Girls was finally published by Pan Macmillan, becoming an Amazon number one bestseller. She adapted it for the stage herself and it went on to break box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre.
Her second novel, Ruthless Women has been an even bigger success, going straight into the Sunday Times hardback fiction chart at number four, staying in the top ten for a month, and also charting in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as foreign language translation rights being picked up by Russia, Romania and Hungary; meaning Melanie Blake is going global. Ruthless Women is inspired by Melanie’s behind-the-scenes knowledge of British soap operas. In the UK alone, over 25 million people a week currently tune in to watch the very stars Melanie represents in their globally syndicated shows. They say write about what you know, and in Ruthless Women, Melanie certainly has.
Melanie still represents some of the best-known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a columnist, producer, author and playwright. She lives in London and is available for interview and to write features, and this woman has got a lot of stories!