Thursday, 25 May 2017

No Place to Die by Clare Donoghue Book Review



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DS Jane Bennett takes charge of South London's Lewisham murder squad following the temporary suspension of her boss, DI Mike Lockyer. His involvement with a female witness resulted in her murder. Mike returns to work but he's a shadow of the detective he was a few months before.

Bennett gets a desperate call from an old friend to say that her husband, retired colleague Mark Leech, has gone missing. Blood spatters found at his home suggests that she doesn't have long to find him.

When Jane is sent to a site in Elmstead Woods she stumbles upon a sinister murder scene. A tomb has been created, and the body she finds is not Mark's - as she dreaded and suspected - but that of missing university student Maggie Hungerford. Her killer recorded her last moments, even providing an air supply which was only cut off when the game lost its thrill.

Two men admit to having a sexual relationship with Maggie. Both deny murder. Someone is lying. And Mark is still missing. When another tomb is discovered, an anonymous tip and mounting evidence suggest a disturbing link which threatens to derail both cases and let a murderer walk free.

Lockyer is shocked into supporting Bennett in a case which becomes ever more ominous and dangerous as the investigation deepens. They know their hunt is for a killer with a mind so twisted that he, or she, is likely to stop at nothing.


MY THOUGHTS

I’ve become a huge fan of Clare Donoghue’s writing since I read the first book in the DI Mike Lockyer and DS Jane Bennet series. No Place to Die is the second book. I thought what made this book interesting was that Clare chose to tell this story from DS Bennet’s perspective. It was great getting to know more about Jane and it was also interesting to see how she saw DI Lockyer from her point of view.

The novel opens with the mysterious disappearance of a former police officer, Mark Leech. The case is important to Jane as Mark’s wife Sue is an old friend of hers. But Mark’s disappearance has to come second when a grisly murder scene is discovered. A young girl has been found dead in a tomb in Elmstead Woods. After receiving a tip off from the public, Jane thinks she is a step closer to finding Mark, the girl is a surprise discovery. And when it is confirmed that the body is that of missing university student, Maggie Hungerford a fresh investigation is opened.

One of the things I really liked in this book was Jane and Mike’s relationship. It is a little bit rocky at the start of the novel, Mike is still reeling after the events that happened in book one and he is taking counselling sessions. The novels plot is strong and gripped me all the way through, I really liked how Clare weaved together a case which took place in the past and the current case they are facing in the present.


No Place to Die is top crime fiction and I’m sure it won’t be long before I read the next book in the series. I’m going to have to hurry up as the fourth novel comes out this year. Excellent writing and a great story. 


Publisher: Pan

Publication date: 12th March 2015

Print length: 400 pages


Friday, 19 May 2017

The Child by Fiona Barton Book Review



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When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it's impossible to ignore. 

For one woman, it's a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it's the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child's story will be told. 


MY THOUGHTS


I was thrilled to hear that Kate Waters would be returning in Fiona Barton’s next book after reading her debut novel, The Widow. I really liked Kate’s character, especially her strong and determined will to get to the truth and sometimes for Kate it isn’t always about getting a good story out of it, she wants to see justice done. I was also pleased that DI Bob Sparkes made an appearance as he was also a favourite character of mine in The Widow. 

The Child has an intriguing mystery. At the beginning of the novel, a baby’s body is discovered at a building site in Woolwich. The baby may have been buried there for decades and could be linked to the disappearance of a baby girl, Alice Irving. As Kate Waters investigates the case she uncovers a dark past and the case suddenly takes an unexpected, darker turn. Who is “the building site baby?”

The novel is told from the viewpoint of four of the main characters in this book: Kate, Emma, Angela and Jude. I really liked Fiona’s new cast of characters and I was keen to find out more about them as the novel progressed, particularly Emma and Jude. We are also introduced to Joe a trainee at the paper where Kate works, who Kate takes under her wing although she does this rather reluctantly at first. I really liked the friendship that grew between them over the course of the book and I hope that we’ll see more of them working together in the future. 

After I really enjoyed Fiona’s first novel, I couldn’t wait to start The Child. The book started off as a bit of a slow burner, however; it didn’t grab me like The Widow did from the very first page. For me I struggled to get into the book for about the first hundred pages, but once the police discover who the baby that has been found is, the story really picks up. I really liked that we got to know more about Kate’s character and her family life which was missing from the first book but that was Jean’s (The Widow’s) story.

There are some chilling characters as well and The Child touches on some dark themes. I found one character, Al Soames, particularly creepy. I loved the ending in this book which was very satisfying and I really didn’t expect that final twist. 

Fiona knows how to write a good story and you can see in both books the influence from her years working as a journalist which adds authenticity to the story. 

I found The Child an enjoyable read. I highly recommend it and I’m sure that it will follow up on the success of The Widow. Thank you to Becky Short at Transworld Books for sending me an advance reading copy.

Publisher: Bantam Press

Publication date: 29th June 2017

Print length: 368 pages


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Friend Request by Laura Marshall Book Review



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When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. 

Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers' party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria's disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she?

As Maria's messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress, to try to piece together exactly what happened that fateful night. But when another friend's body turns up in the woods outside their old school, Louise realises she can't trust anyone and that she must confront her own awful secret to discover the whole truth of what happened to Maria . . .


MY THOUGHTS

Friend Request by Laura Marshall has an intriguing premise: Louise Williams receives a friend request on Facebook from a girl she hasn't seen for twenty five years. But the girl is supposed to be dead, isn't she?

Wow, this was a really good read. I loved the idea behind it and I couldn't wait to start reading. You won't be disappointed by this one. I'm sure this is going to be one of THE thrillers of 2017.

Friend Request is told over two timelines. In 1989 and in the present day. In 1989 Louise is hovering on the outskirts of the popular crowd at school, she feels particularly attached to one girl, Sophie, who she is willing to do anything for to impress. In the present, Louise is a single mum to four year old, Henry. She is still trying to rebuild her life after she split from her husband, Sam. But she has never been able to forgive herself for something that she did when she was at school. And now the past is coming back to haunt her.

I really liked Laura's writing in this book. It is her debut novel and I'm sure that it'll go on to be a big hit. Her writing definitely has that addictive quality that will keep you reading well into the night. The book opens with lots of questions for the reader as a good book should: what did Louise do? What happened to Maria? Is she still alive or is this someone's idea of a sick joke? I couldn't wait to find out who was behind the messages and the twist at the end really did shock me.

Friend Request is perfect for fans of Camilla Way's Watching Edie and Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas. A really good novel, you won't be disappointed with this one. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read.


Publisher: Sphere

Publication date: 27th July 2017

Print length: 384 pages


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Thursday, 11 May 2017

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen Book Review



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YOU SEE THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH EVERY DAY.

BUT WHAT CAN'T YOU SEE?

Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years - they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in...

Now, there's something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?


MY THOUGHTS


I can't stop talking about how good this book is. I've had When She Was Bad on my reading list for some time and I was so excited when I finally got round to it. I loved First One Missing, Tammy's previous novel and When She Was Bad didn't disappoint, I was hooked from page one.

How well do we really know the people we work with? This was such an intriguing premise.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of eight people: Amira, Sarah, Paula, Charlie, Chloe, Ewan, Anne and Rachel. I thought it was great that we were able to get into the head of every character in this book and to discover what they all really thought of each other. The book is also told across two continents: America and the UK. In America, psychologist, Anne Carter is looking back at a time when she worked on a horrific child abuse case which rocked the continent. In the UK, Amira, Sarah, Paula, Charlie, Chloe and Ewan are coming to terms with a sudden shake up of their department and the arrival of their new boss, now it may seem that everyone's job in the department is at stake. Rachel is tough when it comes to her new team; it's clear that she wants the department to succeed but she also wants to leave her mark. Tensions quickly escalate and cracks in friendships soon begin to appear.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that Tammy really makes you think about each character. As I was reading I was trying to work out which one of them could eventually snap, which one of them would end up being the victim. Tammy through in plenty of red herrings and there were certainly times when I thought I had worked it out, only to be proved wrong. The ending was really dramatic.

I think one of my favourite scenes from the book had to be when the team were on their team building weekend, particularly when they were all getting drunk at dinner, I can imagine that this must've been fun to write. I also found the scenes featuring Anne really interesting and I really liked how Tammy wove the two stories together.

What I love about Tammy's writing is the depth that she gives to every single one of her characters. I really wanted to know more about them and I didn't want the story to end. Tammy Cohen is fast becoming a favourite author of mine and I can't wait to read what she writes next. If you love a twisty, psychological thriller, this is a book for you. Five stars from me.

Publisher: Black Swan

Publication date; 21st April 2016

Print length: 384 pages


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Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker Book Review




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See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil ... Do No Evil

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorised the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realise he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive.

As the lead investigator Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unravelling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.

With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer's identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller.

MY THOUGHTS


I was lucky enough to read an early copy of The Fourth Monkey by J. D Barker. I tend not to read too much American crime; I do read a lot of British detective series, however. But The Fourth Monkey may have just changed that. The Fourth Monkey is terrifying, creepy and surprisingly funny in places, a real corker of a read and one that I highly recommend for thriller fans.

The police in Chicago are hunting a dangerous criminal who has been murdering people over the past decade and has so far evaded justice. And now they may have had a breakthrough, I don’t want to say too much about what happens from here as I don’t want to spoil it for readers but what follows is a tense, gripping read that will keep you reading well into the night.

The serial killer in this book is very twisted and there are some gruesome scenes, it isn’t for the faint hearted, particularly if you don't like rats. I also thought that some of the ideas in the book were very original, I really liked the fact that there was a lot of dialogue, particularly in the scenes featuring the detectives working on the case. I also really liked the diary extracts, and the voice that the author gave the Four Monkey Killer felt very authentic, and the author drew me into his murky world. 

This is the first novel by J.D. Barker which I have read and I will definitely be reading more from him in the future. The writing is pacy and it didn’t take me long to finish. The final scenes in this novel are explosive and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m sure a lot of people are going to be talking about this book come the summer. Thank you to Lucy Richardson at Harper Collins and Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read. 

Verdict: Five Stars 

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 27th June 2017

Print length: 480 pages


Saturday, 29 April 2017

My Sister by Michelle Adams Book Review



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My name is Irini. I was given away.

My name is Elle. I was kept.

All her life Irini thought she was given away because her family didn't want her. What if the truth is something worse?

Two sisters. Two separate lives.

One family bound by a harrowing secret. 


MY THOUGHTS


I really enjoyed this book by Michelle Adams. A taut, frightening tale about two sisters and the poisoned relationship that binds them.

Irini and Elle are two very different sisters. Irini is shy and she is still trying to work out who she is; Elle is confident, bold, outgoing and dangerous. But something is not right in their relationship. When Irini was three her parents decided to give her up but decided to keep Elle. Irini desperately wants to know why her parents abandoned her when she was only a baby. Why did they choose to keep Elle and not her?

I found My Sister impossible to put down once I had started. Michelle’s writing is hugely addictive and she draws you into her characters world. There was some really nice description in her writing. I loved the depth that she explored in the two sisters’ and she made me want to get to the bottom of it all and what started their spiky relationship.

The novel begins with Irini receiving a call from her sister in the middle of the night. Elle tells her that their mother has died and asks if she will be coming to the funeral. For Irini this is her chance to find out why she was given away as a baby, maybe she can finally get to the bottom of it all.

There are some unsettling scenes in this book and I found Elle a really dislikeable character, but this was great in adding to the tension and it kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next. You can sense a storm looming on every single page of this book and the revelations towards the end really did surprise me.


If you start reading this book, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have any plans for the rest of the day because you’ll want to get it finished. A great debut! Five stars from me. Thank you to Millie Seward at Headline for sending me a copy to review. 

Publisher: Headline

Publication date: 20th April 2017

Print length: 384 pages 


Friday, 28 April 2017

My Sister by Michelle Adams Blog Tour


Today I'm thrilled to be taking part in the My Sister blog tour. As part of the blog tour you can read the first chapter on my blog.

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MY NAME IS IRINI
I WAS GIVEN AWAY

MY NAME IS ELLE
I WAS KEPT

All her life Irini thought she was given away because her family didn't want her. What if the truth is something far worse? 

TWO SISTERS. TWO SEPARATE LIVES. ONE FAMILY BOUND BY A HARROWING SECRET 


CHAPTER ONE


The buzzing of my telephone is like the scuttling of a cockroach underneath the bed. No real danger, yet still I am terrified. The same fear that a knock on the door just before bedtime brings, always bad news, or a murderer there to live out a fantasy. I look back and see Antonio sleeping by my side, naked save for a white sheet draped over his hip like an unfastened toga. His breath glides in and out, comfortable, at peace. I know the dreams that come to him are good, because he smacks his lips and his muscles twitch like a contented baby. I glance at the red numbers glowing on the alarm clock: 2.02 a.m., a warning sign.

I reach for the phone, my movements slow, and glance at the screen. Unknown number. I press the green button to answer the call and hear the bright, cheerful voice. But it’s a lie, designed to fool or blind. ‘Hi, it’s me. Hello?’ It waits for an answer. ‘Can you hear me?’

I pull the sheet higher, protecting myself as a chill spreads across my skin. I cover my breasts, the left of which hangs just a bit lower than the right. The beauty of fifteen degrees of scoliosis. It is Elle’s voice I hear, the one I knew it would be. The last remaining connection to a past I have tried to forget. Yet still, even after six years of absence she has managed to scramble up the walls of the chasm I have gouged between us, wriggle her way back in like a worm through mud and find me.

I reach up, turn on the lamp, illuminating the darkest monster-filled corners of the room. When I raise the phone to my ear I can still hear her breathing, creeping out of the shadows, waiting for me to speak.

I roll away from Antonio, wince as my hip throbs with the movement. ‘What do you want?’ I ask, trying to sound confident. I have learnt not to be polite, not to engage. It helps not to encourage her.

‘To talk to you, so don’t you dare hang up. Why are you whispering?’ I hear her giggle, like we are friends, like this is just a normal conversation between silly teenage girls. But it isn’t. We both know it. I should hang up despite her threat, but I can’t. It’s already too late for that.

‘It’s the middle of the night.’ I can hear the quiver in my voice. I’m shivering. I swallow hard.

There’s a rustle as she checks the clock. Where is she now? What does she want this time? ‘Actually, it’s the early hours of the morning, but whatever.’

 ‘What do you want?’ I ask again, aware that she is picking at my skin, creeping under the layers.

Elle is my sister. My only sister from a previous life from which I have kept few memories. The memories I do have are blurry, as if I am looking back through a window drenched in heavy rain. I’m not even sure if they represent reality any more. Twenty-nine years is a long time for them to morph, transform into something else.

My second life, the one I am stuck in now, began when I was three years old. It was a bright spring day; the frosts of winter had melted and the animals in the nearby woods were venturing from their dens for the first time. I was wrapped in a thick woollen coat, so many layers of clothes that my joints were immobile. The woman who had given birth to me pulled red woollen mittens on to my hands without saying a word. What a three-year-old remembers.

She carried me along a dry, muddy path intersected by grass until we arrived at a waiting car up ahead. I was a late developer, and parts of me, like my hip (a poorly formed socket held together by loose, stringy tendons),hadn’t really developed at all. I hadn’t managed the whole walking thing. I didn’t put up a fight when she pushed me into the back seat and strapped me in. At least I don’t think I did. Maybe I don’t really remember anything, and this is all just a trick of the mind, to make me feel that I have a past. A life where I had parents. A past with somebody other than Elle.

Sometimes I think I can remember my mother’s face: like mine, only older, redder, wrinkles like a spider’s web weaving around her lips. Other times I’m not so sure. But I’m sure that she didn’t offer any last-minute advice to be a good girl, no quick kiss on the cheek to tide me over. I would have remembered that, wouldn’t I? She slammed the car door, stepped back, and my aunt and uncle drove me away from her like it was the most normal thing in the world. And even then I knew something was over. I had been given away, cast out, dumped.

‘Are you listening to me, Irini? I told you I want to talk to you.’ Her sharp voice comes through quick as a blade, wrenching me back to the present.

‘What about?’ I whisper, knowing that it has already begun again. I can feel her on me, slithering back into place.

I listen as she draws in a breath, trying to calm herself. ‘How long is it since we spoke?’

I edge further away from Antonio. I don’t want to wake him up. ‘Elle, it’s two in the morning. I have work tomorrow. I don’t have time for this now.’ It’s a pathetic attempt, but I have to try. One last effort to keep her away.

‘Liar,’ she spits. And I know that’s it, I’ve done it. I have made her angry. I throw the covers off, swing my feet out of the bed and brush my fringe from my eyes. My pulse is racing as I grip the phone to my ear. ‘It’s Sunday tomorrow. You don’t have work.’

‘Please, just tell me what you want.’

‘It’s Mum.’ The word jars me when she uses it so casually. Drops it like a friend might use a nickname. It feels alien, makes me feel exposed. Mum, she says. As if I know her. As if somehow she belongs to me.

‘What about her?’ I whisper.

‘She died.’

Moments pass before I breathe. She’s gone, I think. I’ve lost her again. I cover my mouth with a sweaty palm. Elle waits for a response, but when I offer nothing she eventually asks, ‘Well, are you going to come to the funeral?’

It’s a reasonable question, but one for which I have no answer. Because to me, mother is nothing more than an idea, a childish hope. A dream. But my nagging curiosity spurs me on. There are things I need to know.

‘I guess,’ I stutter.

‘Don’t force yourself. It’s not like they’d miss you if you didn’t.’

I wish that didn’t hurt, but the knowledge that my presence would not be missed is a painful reminder of reality even after all these years. ‘So why ask me to come?’ I say, aware that my mask of confidence is slipping.

‘Because I need you there.’ She speaks as if she is surprised I don’t already understand, as if she doesn’t know that I dodge her phone calls, or that I’ve changed my number twenty-three times, and moved house, just to stop her from finding me. Six years I have kept the distance, my best run yet. But she weakens me, and to be needed by her makes me limp. Pliable. ‘And you still owe me, Irini. Or have you forgotten the things I’ve done for you?’

She’s right. I do owe her. How could I have forgotten? Our parents might have given me away, but Elle never accepted it. She has spent her life clawing her way back to me, her presence littering my past like debris after a storm. ‘No, I haven’t forgotten,’ I admit, as I turn and take a look at Antonio still fast asleep. I squeeze my eyes shut, as if I can make it all go away. I’m not here. You can’t see me. Childish. A tear sneaks out as I clench the sheet tight in my fist. I want to ask her how she got my number this time. Somebody must have it. Maybe Aunt Jemima, the only mother figure I have ever known. If she was still taking my calls I could contact her to ask. Let her know what I think of this latest familial betrayal.


‘Call me tomorrow if you are coming,’ Elle says. ‘I hope you can. Don’t make me come to London to find you myself.’ She hangs up the phone before I have a chance to answer.


ABOUT MICHELLE 

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MICHELLE ADAMS grew up in the UK and now lives in Cyprus, where she works as a part-time scientist. She read her first Stephen King novel at the tender age of nine, and has been addicted to suspense fiction ever since. MY SISTER is her first novel. Follow Michelle at @MAdamswriter 


Thank you to Millie Seaward at Headline for sending me a copy of the book and for a place on the blog tour. 




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