Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Blissfully Dead - Mark Edwards and Louise Voss

"She couldn’t believe that he wanted to meet her. He was famous. She was a nobody. Finally, someone could see how special she was…
When the body of a teenage girl is found in a London hotel, DI Patrick Lennon is mystified. Nobody saw her or her killer enter the hotel, and there is no apparent motive—until a second teenager is found and Lennon realises somebody is targeting fans of the world’s biggest boy band.
As Lennon struggles with both his home life and his rivals on the force, the pressure to catch the killer before he strikes again reaches fever pitch. And when Lennon makes a terrible mistake that ends in disaster, he finds himself in a race to save not only the lives of more teenage girls but also his own career."

I don't know what it is about the combination of Mark Edwards and Louise Voss, but the pair always manage without fail to give me the fear, and this is no exception. They seem to take everyday occurrences and twist them into something terrifying - and this is what is so frightening about The Blissfully Dead - it could so easily happen in real life. 
Girls are being murdered - and when you read how they are being lured into a situation that they can never escape from, you realise quite how terrifying it is. Well written and fast paced, I was hooked from the first page, in which we meet the first victim. I raced through the pages, desperate to find out who the killer was, as every time I believed I knew who was the culprit, another curve ball was thrown and I was back to having no idea again.
Another corker of a read, one that I guarantee once you start it, you won't be able to put it down.

The Blissfully Dead is out now and you can get it here:

**MY thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Monday, 28 September 2015

Burnt Paper Sky - Gilly MacMillan

"Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.
But what really happened that fateful afternoon?
Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?
The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.

Oh, Gilly MacMillan what have you done to me? I started reading this late Saturday night, just one chapter, as I had been given my copy at Harrogate in July and it kept being prevented from reaching the top of the pile by all the other books that have arrived since. So far, so good. Sunday morning came and I thought I would have a bit of a lie-in, read my book in bed since it was windy and rainy. By the time I was ready to get up I was suckered in completely. Children went unwashed, dinner went uncooked, and I eventually collapsed on to my pillow VERY VERY LATE on Sunday night having devoured the entire novel. 
This is a stinkingly good read - packed full of tension, with believable characters that make your heartstrings tug and twang all over the place. It's an emotional read, one that is hard in places, as the reader experiences everything that Rachael is going through.
The ending is a shocker, and I never for a million years would have guessed it - either I am getting increasingly rubbish at guessing twists (never!) or writers are just getting better and better! 
A heart-wrenching, emotional read that will keep you up all night, but is TOTALLY worth the eye-bags in the morning. 

Burnt Paper Sky is out now and you can get it here:

*Thanks to the publisher and the lovely Harrogate team for my ARC*

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Dark Inside - Rod Reynolds

"1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders - young couples who've been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice - the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close. 
But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…"

This book is frighteningly good. Not only does it have a cracking story line, but Rod Reynolds evokes a feel of Southern small-town America that is so authentic it made me want to pull on my cowboy boots and eat grits (maybe not grits, they're actually pretty gross). I loved Charlie, an intrepid reporter damaged by a divorce, health issues and a boss that just doesn't want him around anymore, and he was far and away my favourite character. Set in the '40s, the whole book has a deliciously noir feel about it.

More importantly though - the plot. I just couldn't figure out for the life of me who was responsible for everything that was going on in the town. Like, no clue, AT ALL. And when all was revealed I was actually a bit gob-smacked, which is just how I like to be at the end of a bloody good crime read. The characters are brilliant - some of them brilliantly hideous, but even so, BRILLIANT. When everything is all combined, throw in the amazingly authentic feel of a small town in the South in the 1940s and it is a winner. An absolute delight and I will be recommending this one like crazy. 

The Dark Inside is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my review copy**

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Defenceless - Kati Hiekkapelto

"When an old man is found dead on the road - seemingly run over by a Hungarian au pair - police investigator Anna Fekete is certain that there is more to the incident than meets the eye. As she begins to unravel an increasingly complicated case, she's led on a deady trail where illegal immigration, drugs and ultimately murder threaten not only her beliefs, but her life. Anna's partner Esko is entrenched in a similarly dangerous investigation. As the two cases come together, it becomes clear that having the law on their side may not be enough."

I have to admit it, I am properly LOVING all of the nordic noir that is flying around at the moment, I honestly don't think it has EVER been as good as it has been lately. This is no exception - touching on the somewhat topical subject of immigration, alongside drugs, smuggling and a big dollop of murder this is a very, very good read.
With a brilliant narrative and some very believable characters, two seemingly unrelated investigations come together in an excellent storyline, one that kept me guessing all the way through - I liked the fact that the two investigations were cleverly woven together. I haven't read the first in this series, but it didn't detract from the storyline at all - I didn't feel as though any spoilers were given away, and I am definitely going to go back and read Anna's first outing. 
Kati Hiekkapelto is a very clever weaver of tales, and I was impressed with the way everything came together - another example of excellent Nordic Noir, and nothing less than what I have come to expect from Orenda Publishing! 

The Defenceless is out now and you can get it here:


**Thanks to the publisher for my review copy**

Friday, 18 September 2015

Liar Liar - M.J. Arlidge

"In the dead of night, three raging fires light up the city skies. It's more than a tragic coincidence. For DI Helen Grace the flames announce the arrival of an evil she has never encountered before.
Because this is no firestarter seeking sick thrills, but something more chilling: a series of careful, calculating acts of murder.
But why were the victims chosen? What's driving the killer? And who will be next?
A powder keg of fear, suspicion and dread has been laid. Now all it needs is a spark to set it off . . ."

I am a HUGE fan of M.J.Arlidge, so I was very excited to receive an ARC of Liar, Liar, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. The fourth in the Helen Grace series, it would be easy to think that Helen and her team might be getting a little old and tired now, as some characters and their series tend to after a few books, but this is not the case. The storyline is fast and well-written, Arlidge pulls the reader along on a tightrope of tension all the way through - just when you think you have it cracked, something else is thrown into the mix to head the reader off in another direction. 
With strong, believable characters I found myself investing emotionally in them, particularly in Callum and Naomie, and I am always intrigued to see how things are going between Charlie and Steve. This is a series, and I would advise reading them in order as it gives the reader a chance to see how each character has grown and developed into the characters they are now. Helen Grace has intrigued me as a character from the start and she gets more complex with every book. I really do hope we get to see more of her - I, for one, am definitely not tired of her just yet. 
Liar Liar is out now and you can get it here:
*My thanks for the publisher for my ARC*

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Time to Die - Caroline Mitchell

"Don’t ever cross his palm with silver. 
He will reveal your most shameful secrets. 
He will predict your death. 
He is hiding a secret. 
He is hiding a monster. 
And all his predictions come true. 

Investigating a series of chilling murders, Detective Jennifer Knight finds herself tracking a mysterious tarot card reader known only as The Raven

As the death toll rises, Jennifer and her team build a picture of a serial killer on the edge of sanity, driven by dark forces. But these are not random killings. And the method behind the madness could be the most terrifying thing of all … 

Especially when it seems the death of one of their own is on the cards."

Oh my - what a cracking read. I loved the first Jennifer Knight novel, a good juicy thriller with a paranormal twist but couldn't really see how Caroline Mitchell could better it. Well folks, she just did. If anything, Time to Die, the second in the Jennifer Knight series, is even more creepy. Focussing on the eerie tarot card/fortune telling side of the supernatural, Caroline has created some down-right spooky characters, ones that don't get left behind when you put the book down but follow you into your dreams.
Ravens, tarot cards, mean mothers and fortune tellers combine to create a story that draws you in and then keeps you up all night, (it's those bloody ravens!). Caroline's writing is pacy and I felt that the tension was perfectly drawn out throughout the novel, ensuring that I kept turning the pages long after I should have gone to bed. Top that off with a cracking twist that I didn't even spy until the last minute and you have a winner.
I also enjoyed the focus on Jennifer and Will's relationship - things are continuing down the line from the first novel, and it's like desperately cheering on two old friends to get together! 
In short, another brilliant read from Caroline. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series….but I might just have to leave the light on.

Time to Die is out on 24th September and you can get it here:

Also - if you love a good, chilling read make sure you pick up a copy of Caroline's first book, Paranormal Intruder, in which Caroline tells the true story of her family's experiences with ghostly goings-on. You can get a copy here:

*My thanks to lovely Kim Nash at Bookouture for my ARC*

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Summer of Secrets - Sarah Jasmon

"The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen's lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong…"

This was a slow burner for me - I picked it up, didn't think I would be able to get into it despite reading the blurb and thinking it was right up my street, and then before I knew it, it had hooked me completely and I couldn't put it down. 
Although a fairly slow, what I would call "quiet" story line, in which not a lot really seems to happen until THE THING - the main point of the plot - it was the characters that drew me in, rather than the storyline. Helen is quiet, shy, a bit of a loner, dealing with the departure of her mother, whereas Victoria appears to be the complete opposite. I felt a bit sorry for Helen, as in the beginning she is the kind of girl that no girl wants to be as a teenager, but she seems to blossom under Victoria's guidance until THE THING happens, and it all goes terribly wrong. 
There didn't seem to be much alluding to the terrible thing, or as much build up of tension as I was expecting, but I enjoyed the book and any story that keeps me thinking about it, and then going back for more can't be a bad thing. 

The Summer of Secrets is out now and you can get it here:

**Thanks to lovely Ben Willis at Transworld for my ARC**

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Behind Closed Doors - Elizabeth Haynes

"Ten years ago, fourteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished without a trace during a family holiday to Greece. Not being able to find Scarlett was one of the biggest regrets of DCI Louisa Smith's career and when Scarlett is discovered back in her home town after all this time, Lou is determined to find out what happened to her and why she remained hidden for so long. Was she abducted or did she run away? 
As Lou and her team delve deeper into Scarlett's past, their investigation throws up more questions than it answers. But as they edge closer to the truth about what really went on behind closed doors, it is more sinister and disturbing than they had ever imagined."

I really loved Elizabeth Haynes' first Louisa Smith novel, so I was excited to receive a copy of this, the second in the series. 
Louisa is still a bit prickly, still a workaholic and trying to find her way through her relationship with Jason and I loved the fact that she hasn't just settled down and got on with things - I love it when things are never easy! This is probably Elizabeth Haynes' best book since Into the Darkest Corner (bloody brilliant read) - I found the characters believable and found myself empathising with some of them, while others I just couldn't fathom out. There's an underlying sense of tension which tells the reader that SOMETHING is not quite right, it's just impossible for the reader to actually figure what that SOMETHING might be. I love a story that keeps me on the back foot all the way through and this definitely did.
If you love a psychologic thriller, in the vein of Sophie Hannah or Tamar Cohen, you won't go wrong with this one.
Behind Closed Doors is out now and you can get it here:
And if you haven't read Elizabeth's first book Into the Darkest Corner I suggest you click below and grab yourself a copy:
**Thanks to the publisher for my review copy**

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Silenced - Anne Randall

"He buried his victim alive. And now he's escaped from prison and is on the run in the city.
Fiona Henderson, the daughter of the victim who'd descended into a world of silence following her mother's murder, has gone missing. Her sister Annabelle scours the city in a desperate attempt to find her. And then the body of a homeless person if found among the rubbish in a deserted alleyway.
As DIs Wheeler and Ross investigate, more suspicious deaths occur and a pattern emerges: the victims are all homeless. And so the police are pitched against a killer who is hellbent on a mission to rid the streets of the vulnerable and dispossessed.
As Wheeler and Ross descend further into Glasgow's netherworld, their investigation reveals not only a flawed support system for the disaffected, but also a criminal class ruthlessly willing to exploit them. A city of double standards, where morality is bought and sold. 
But it's when the killer begins stalking DI Wheeler, that she and Ross realise that the threat is now personal."

Although enjoyable this wasn't a particularly taxing crime read - the plot line was good, and the villain was extremely villainous (that always helps), but it was easy to read and ever-so-slightly-predictable. I guessed the killer fairly early on, but that wasn't really a bad thing and didn't detract from the storyline. 
The characters were well-written but I would have liked to have gotten to know Wheeler a little better. We saw her in her work environment, and a little of her home life but it would have been nice if there had been a little more focus on her as an individual, allowing the reader to get inside her head a little more.
The story line was pacy and there was plenty of tension, so for me, despite feeling it was a little predictable, I did enjoy it and would look out for more by this author. 

Silenced is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

Friday, 4 September 2015

Names of the Dead - Mark Leggatt

"Connor Montrose is running for his life. All that he held dear has been ripped away. Every Western intelligence agency and all the police forces of Europe are looking for him, with orders to shoot on sight. The only man who can prove his innocence, is the man that most wants him dead. Only one woman, a Mossad sleeper in Paris, will stand by his side.With her help, he must now turn and fight. His journey of evasion and revenge take him from hidden Holocaust bank vaults in Zurich, to the stinking sewers of Paris and dust-choked souks of Morocco. Finally, in the back streets of Tehran, under the gaze of the Ayatollahs, he has the chance to end it, as it began. In blood. This gripping high concept thriller will delight fans of Lee Child and James Patterson."

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book - it's somewhere along the lines of a Bourne Identity/Da Vinci Code mash-up, so if you like that kind of thing, you'll love this. 
The plot is well-written and very, very fast-paced, with heaps and heaps of tension. Connor Montrose is a very likeable character but he seem to get caught and then escape quite a lot - I loved this element of the storyline, especially as it doesn't always seem clear cut as to how he is going to get himself out of things each time. The characters are unreliable - Connor doesn't know who he can trust, and that in turn passes down to the reader meaning that I wasn't sure who was going to kick Connor's arse and who was on his side - another brilliant way of ramping up the tension. 
This would made a brilliant movie, if the storyline is followed accurately. Lots and lots of action, shooting, running about and escaping, all things that kept me hooked to the pages and would no doubt keep me hooked to the big screen. I am definitely looking forward to more from Mark Leggatt.

Names of the Dead is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the author for my review copy**

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Other Side of the Mountain - Fiona Cane

"It’s 2001, and amidst the political turmoil in Haiti, three disparate lives collide: Yolande, an impoverished farmer desperately looking for the sister her abusive husband has sold into slavery; Maddy, an eager British journalist on her first overseas assignment, set on making a name for herself; and Clare, an ex-pat gynaecologist who’s devoted the past eight years to healing Haiti’s downtrodden women. Divided by language, lifestyle and personality yet all driven by painful memories buried in their pasts, the three women unite to search for the missing child. It’s a quest that takes them deep into the city’s underworld, where poverty is rife, black magic thrives and violence is king; a world in which appearances can be deceptive and where survival is by no means certain."

Wow - this was definitely not what I was expecting from this novel. I was sent a copy in exchange for an honest review and liked the look of it from the blurb, but once I started reading I was completely hooked. With a gripping plot line, incredibly strong characters and a narrative that brings Haiti to live there isn't really anything not to like. Fiona Cane's descriptions of life in Haiti are beautiful - I've never been there and have no clue what it is like, but Fiona's writing brings it to life in all it's colourful glory. 
I loved the characters - Yolande, Clare and Maddie all have their issues and reading about their developing relationships together was intriguing. There were enough secrets throughout the novel to keep the pages turning quickly - the secrets are hinted at throughout and ensure that the reader is kept engaged the whole way through. It's quite an emotional read and the thought that at least some of the novel is based on events that actually occurred in real life is quite disturbing. In short, I loved it, and it kept me thinking about the characters long after I had finished reading. 

The Other Side of the Mountain is out now and you can get it here:


**My thanks to the author for my review copy**