May 25

Play Dead – Angela Marsons

Play-Dead-KindleThe dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.
The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.
Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.
Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?
As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …?
The latest utterly addictive thriller from the No.1 bestseller Angela Marsons.


My thanks to Kim at Bookouture for my review copy and for the chance to join the blog tour.


Let me cut to the chase – Play Dead is brilliant. I am going to give it a 5 star score and I am going to urge you to read it. The only excuse you are permitted for not reading it immediately is that you have not yet read the first three books in the series.  To be clear, you don’t *need* to have read them to start Play Dead…but why miss out on all the previous amazingness?

Still here?  Then let me elaborate a bit on why Play Dead has had me hooked over the last couple of days.

First is the return of Kim Stone – a lead character that shuns social niceties, keeps everyone at a distance and has a deep rooted sense of justice that makes her an excellent police officer. She has, for me, been one of the stand-out characters in crime fiction since her debut in Silent Scream.

Next up a serial killer. Through flashbacks we are given a small insight into what may be motivating the brutal murders of local women, faces smashed, soil forced into their mouths. Their bodies are dumped in a secret research centre (a ‘body farm’) – the researchers particularly disturbed to have unexpected bodies landing in their facility. Nasty. But good Nasty.

Three – the return of Stone’s nemesis, journalist Tracy Frost.  The interplay between these two makes for fabulous reading.  Frost plays a much larger role in Play Dead but this may not necessarily be a good thing for her! Readers will get to know Ms Frost very well in Play Dead and I will wager that some opinions of the odious journalist will change as readers progress through the story. I found myself wondering how her relationship with Stone would have developed had they both been aware of their respective backgrounds before they crossed swords in a professional capacity. Shame we will not get to see how that develops in future books…or will we?  **NO SPOILERS**

Four – not content with hitting her heroine with a demanding series of crimes to investigate we also learn a bit more about Kim’s background. And here Angela Marsons broke me a little.  Returning readers will know that Kim had a tough childhood, elements of this are explored in more detail through Play Dead. If you have developed any emotional attachment to Kim’s character (and it seems I have) then some of the revelations will make for tough reading.

Getting upset on behalf of a fictional character? Yeah, that happened.

Five – EVERYTHING ELSE. The pages practically turned themselves and I didn’t want to stop reading. Play Dead sees Stone back at her tetchy best and I just cannot get enough of these stories.  5/5…oh I said that already.


The blog tour draws to a close tomorrow but you can catch up on all things Play Dead if you follow through all the tour hosts.



Play Dead is published by Bookouture and is available in paperback and digital formats.

You can order a copy of Play Dead here:

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Play Dead – Angela Marsons
May 23

The Dark Inside – Rod Reynolds

The Dark Inside1946, 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…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective.


My thanks to Sophie at Faber for my review copy

The Dark Inside is one of those stories which will totally get under your skin – in a good way.  It made me rage at the characters, it made me worry when the lead character (Charlie Yates) wouldn’t listen to reason and the bullying – oh the bullying – at times it made me hate everyone in Texarkana. So well realised is the world of 1946 USA that Rod Reynolds took me to a time and a place far away from my mundane commute to work.

Charlie Yates is a disgraced reporter.  He has clashed with his boss one time too many (early signs of the temper which will cause him problems throughout The Dark Inside) and he is sent to small town Texas to report on a series of brutal murders.  But when he gets to Texarkana the authorities do not want a city reporter sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong.  They also don’t want to accept the possibility that the murders which have taken place may be the work of one man – a man as yet unidentified and who may possibly kill again.  Yates is facing opposition to his investigations every where he turns. He is warned off pursuing leads and, when he doesn’t listen, the warnings become more forceful.  Yates needs to leave town – while he still can.

The Dark Inside captures the mood and feeling of 1940’s USA.  The setting is so very unusual in today’s crime fiction releases that it stands out from the crowd, distinctive, different and very memorable. Charlie Yates is a likeable lead character but he has some very real flaws which have brought his life to a real low-point, the inner demons that he faces add an interesting angle to the story.

I touched on the bullying.  I hate bullying, but it is rife in Texarkana and Mr Reynolds plays this to wonderful effect. Was it a sign of the times?  The powerful men of the town all believe that they call the shots, but there is always someone more powerful, someone with more knowledge and clout and one by one the bullies will fall. It kept me reading, that wait to see justice done, fairness restored and ‘good’ winning through. Did it?  Well that would be a *spoiler*.

When when an author can make me angry at his characters then I know that I am reading a book I am going to love.  When that book finishes and I immediately want to read more from that author then I am a happy reader.

This is a debut novel – it is a mighty fine thing. Assured writing, excellent pacing, wonderful characterisation (even those odious bullies) and a cracking murder mystery. Read this!


The Dark Inside is published by Faber & Faber and is available in paperback and digital formats.  You can order a copy by clicking through this link:

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Dark Inside – Rod Reynolds
April 25

Open Wounds – Douglas Skelton

Open WoundsDavie McCall is tired. Tired of violence, tired of the Life. He’s always managed to stay detached from the brutal nature of his line of work, but recently he has caught himself enjoying it.

In the final instalment in the Davie McCall series old friends clash and long buried secrets are unearthed as McCall investigates a brutal five-year-old crime. Davie wants out, but the underbelly of Glasgow is all he has ever known. Will what he learns about his old ally Big Rab McClymont be enough to get him out of the Life? And could the mysterious woman who just moved in upstairs be just what he needs?


My thanks to Luath Press for my review copy

Davie McCall is not a nice guy, he does bad things to bad people but I loved reading about him. In Open Wounds Davie is tiring of the Life (working as right hand man to one of Glasgow’s gangsters) and is thinking of getting out. But the Life is all Davie knows and walking away will not be easy.

McCall has had a tough life, people close to him have been hurt and have tried to hurt him.  He is weary and events in Open Wounds seem to be driving him towards ‘retirement’ from the vicious life he has led.  But what McCall cannot shake off is history and it seems events from the past are beginning to catch up with him. His nemesis, a corrupt policeman, is concerned about Davie sniffing around an old case and will take any steps necessary to prevent the truth from being uncovered.

House keeping – Open Wounds is the 4th Davie McCall book, it can definitely be read as a stand alone novel as everything you need to know is nicely explained in the narrative by Douglas Skelton. Returning fans will be rewarded through knowing the back story but if you are new to the series this is a brilliant story to get your teeth into.

Douglas Skelton has written a dark and gripping story. There are disturbing scenes which will put the characters through the emotional wringer and define the fate of others. McCall himself is a complex character, he knows he embraced the darkness yet continues to work with the criminals. He has a moral code which seems contradictory for the work he undertakes but to McCall there seem to be degrees of right and wrong and some thresholds have been crossed. As you see McCall settling on a course of action you know that someone will suffer for transgressions – how could you not keep reading?

Glasgow makes a great backdrop for a gangster story. The language and mood is perfect for a city which is frequently associated with a ‘hard’ reputation. Douglas Skelton gives life to these characters, they are completely believable (and this not necessarily a good thing) and you want to read about them. Yet despite the grim nature of their lifestyle, there are great comedy moments in the conversations between these hard men – Glaswegians also rather well known for their humour! Reading Open Wounds was a joy on so many levels and the moments of levity gave a nice balance against some of the more gritty scenes.

When Open Wounds was finished I was left somewhat traumatised with certain events. I had been hooked while I read it and even before I had reached the end I was already recommending it to friends. I seldom offer up a review score within my reviews unless I want to make it clear that a book merits a 5/5 score – Open Wounds is one such book.  Highly recommended, get a copy ordered today.



Open Wounds is published by Luath Press and is available in paperback and digital formats here:

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Open Wounds – Douglas Skelton
April 19

Tenacity: Naval Toasts – Tuesday to “Our Men”

Tenacity PB jacket


Tenacity by J. S. Law was one of my top reads of 2015. It made the Top Three and in my review I said “I don’t remember being this captivated by a debut novel since Lee Child published Killing Floor” it is that good!

To celebrate the paperback release of Tenacity (Thursday 21st April) we are having a Naval Toasts Blog Tour.  Tuesday is the toast to “Our Men” so charge your glass while I pass this to Mr Law:


If you’ve followed my blog tour, you’ll already know that at mess dinners in the Royal Navy, immediately after the Loyal Toast of ‘The Queen’, the youngest officer present will normally offer the traditional drinking toast of that day. 

The toast for Tuesday is traditionally “Our Men”. This toast was changed in 2013 by the then Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel, to become “Our Sailors”, to rightly reflect the contribution of females at sea, though the traditional toast is still widely used. 

It takes a certain personality type to function on a submarine and there are those who can do it, and those who enjoy it. The one thing I still enjoy is the camaraderie with like-minded people. The vast majority of my friends are either Navy/submariners, or are connected to the Navy and the forces in some way, and that shows in their acceptance of very dark ‘gallows’ humour that the armed forces is well known for. 

But it also takes a certain type of person to leave their family for extended periods, bearing in mind that on submarines, there may be no, or very little contact at all for weeks and months on end. It tests relationships at home and on board, and submariners very quickly have to learn how to live in very close proximity to each other, but still to give each other space when needed – knowing when it’s time to have a joke and when it’s time to back away and leave someone alone. 

When Dan boards HMS Tenacity, she states to John that she thinks getting away from people will be her biggest problem, given the physical confines of the submarine, but she quickly realises that these men on Tenacity are tightly bonded by their experiences and that even when she is surrounded by a hundred men inside the ship’s hull, she can still be made to feel very, very alone…


Two hundred metres below the surface,
she will have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

A sailor hangs himself on board a naval submarine. Although ruled a suicide Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy’s finest Special Branch investigator, knows the sailor’s wife was found brutally murdered only days before.

Now Dan must enter the cramped confines of HMS Tenacity to interrogate the tight-knit, male crew and determine if there’s a link.

Standing alone in the face of extreme hostility and with a possible killer on board, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival.

The pressure is rising and Dan’s time is running out…


You can order Tenacity here:


Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours | Comments Off on Tenacity: Naval Toasts – Tuesday to “Our Men”
April 18

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping GiantsDeadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger…

“We always look forward. We never look back.”

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklin, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent.

“But this thing … it’s different. It challenges us. It rewrites history.”

An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from – and how many more parts may be out there – could change life as we know it.

“It dares us to question what we know about ourselves.”

But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete…?

“About everything.”


My thanks to Michael Joseph for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.


This book is just WOW. Sleeping Giants was an absolute gem, it made me laugh, it kept me hooked, I had no idea where it was heading and some scenes actually made me stop reading and double back thinking “Wait! What just happened?”

Now that sounds like Sylvain Neuvel may not have explained events very clearly, not so!  The story unfolds as a series of interviews conducted between a shadowy political player and the various protagonists in the story.  The interviews are a fantastically scripted and (usually) they are recapping events which have occurred in the past. The interview subjects are being quizzed on the ramifications of these past events and how they feel about what has taken place. This is how the whole story unfolds.

The end result of this interview-style story telling is that you can find that a MAJOR incident has occurred between interviews and the Shadowy figure is casually asking how a traumatic incident may have made someone feel (in the same way that they may be asked if they were unhappy that they forgot their umbrella on a rainy day).

If it sounds slightly unusual then I am not doing Sleeping Giants justice.  It is a delight to read. The interview-style narrative is so cleverly used by the author that you cannot help but be entertained. The Shadowy figure is wonderfully deadpan and literal so the interviews always feel fresh and edgy.

The central characters are scientists, pilots, mathematicians – they operate on high intelligence levels yet are mere pawns in the game of the Shadowy character. He has out-thought them at each stage of the story, manipulated the team he assembled and has second guessed their actions months ahead of time.

But what of the titular Sleeping Giants?  A young girl in Deadwood USA accidentally falls into a newly formed hole in the ground. Her landing is not on hard ground but she finds herself in the palm of a giant hand. The hand is made of a compound never before found on Earth and is confounding scientists.  When the girl grows older she finds herself in charge of the team responsible for investigating the hand. However, now there is a will (or a Shadowy force, perhaps?) to find out if there are other parts to be found – what if the hand were a small part of a larger object?

Sleeping Giants tracks the progress of the quest to locate more ‘parts’ which will attach to the hand and then to establish the scope of power that they may harness. Sylvain Neuvel will take the story in directions you will not anticipate but you will enjoy every step of the journey.

Sleeping Giants gets one of the easiest 5/5 review scores I have awarded for some time. If this book does not feature in my Top Ten of 2016 it can only mean that the next 8 months have some stupendous books lurking in wait. I was gutted it ended, can we have the Shadowy figure back again please?


Sleeping Giants is published by Michael Joseph and releases on 21st April 2016.  You can order your copy here:



Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel
April 11

The Silent Twin – Caroline Mitchell

The Silent TwinI’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late.

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found.

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?


My thanks to Bookouture for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

DC Jennifer Knight returns in her third outing in Caroline Mitchell’s The Silent Twin. I really enjoyed the first two books so had been looking forward to seeing what would come next for Jennifer – something rather different as it turns out.

A young girl, Abigail, has disappeared from her family home (a remote farm cottage), her glasses have been found seemingly dropped or discarded and her twin sister, Olivia, has not spoken a word since her sister vanished. The police were quick to respond but they have encountered a family dealing with their crisis in very different ways.

The father is a police officer and has mobilised family and neighbours to search the farm and surrounding areas. The mother is behaving extremely oddly as she is calm, collected and playing hostess to the police and searchers – she is not showing any apparent concern about her missing daughter. Olivia is moving around the house like a lost soul – she is not speaking and is seemingly keeping out of her parents way. But there is an added worry for the police that are assisting the family, strange events and disturbances in the family home (objects falling from stable positions and other unexplained phenomenon).

Jennifer is called into action in the unfamiliar role of Family Liaison Officer, this gives her constant access to the family and gets her into the house. Could her special talents and awareness of ghosts and spirits give her any insights into what happened when Abigail disappeared?

I loved this very different approach from Caroline Mitchell. The uncertainty over what had happened to Abigail keeps the reader engrossed in the story. Jennifer’s role felt very different in The Silent Twin too, admittedly she was performing a very different role for this investigation but it was fascinating following her attempts to engage with different family members who all required different approaches. Also the ‘haunted house’ element of the investigation gave the whole book a delightfully creepy edge which allows it to stand apart from the more standard police procedural stories.

The Silent Twin has a narrative from multiple viewpoints which worked really well as the story developed. The police investigation into a missing child had a very realistic feel and the constant frustration over lack of progress was brilliantly conveyed. The supernatural edge to the book was of particular appeal to me and I love the balance that Caroline Mitchell is working into the Jennifer Knight stories, the crime story the dominant element yet enough of the supernatural to make it distinctive.

I highly recommend The Silent Twin, it is a gripping story with more than its fair share of unexpected twists. Caroline Mitchell is putting the ‘super’ into supernatural, 5/5 from me.


The Silent Twin is published by Bookouture and will release on 14 April 2016.  You can order a copy here.


Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Silent Twin – Caroline Mitchell
March 31

Bloq – Alan Jones

BloqA gritty crime thriller.

Glasgow man Bill Ingram waits in the city’s Central Station to meet his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train pulls in, and she doesn’t get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why.

His search for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again.


I received my review copy from the author in return for an honest review.

Bloq is going to be a tricky review to write.  I like to provide the official book description (as above) and in my review I generally include a personal overview of the story and explain why I liked the book I am discussing. However, I cannot tell you WHY I enjoyed Bloq as it would just mean dropping massive spoilers. I CAN tell you that I loved it and didn’t want to put it down.

For no reason I can really explain (other than that I love an ongoing crime series) I had expected Alan Jones to set his new book in Glasgow and bring back Eddie Henderson, the lead character from his fantastic thriller Blue Wicked. I met Alan at the end of 2015 and although he wouldn’t tell me anything about Bloq he was quite happy to assure me Eddie was not returning!

So I picked up Bloq with no idea of what to expect and I tried to avoid other reviews before I read the story so that I could approach the book with a totally open mind. What I found was a gripping tale of a father’s obsession over his missing daughter, a deeply disturbing ‘bad guy’ to loathe and the dark shocking twists which turn a good thriller into a great thriller.

Bloq is the name of a London nightclub. Lead character, Bill Ingram, has travelled from Glasgow to London to try and find his daughter – the only real clue he has to her whereabouts is that she was a regular visitor to the Bloq nightclub. Bill visits the club but there is no sign of his daughter, the club manager gives Bill the owner’s address but that trail leads nowhere either and Bill is stumped where to turn next. What Bill does not realise is that his enquiries have caught someone’s attention and that he is now being followed.

As I alluded to previously, everything that is good about Bloq needs to be discovered by the reader as they follow Bill around London. You cannot know too much about this book in advance – avoiding spoilers is the key to maximum enjoyment. It is not the easiest of reads at times as Alan Jones seems to enjoy being really nasty to his characters. There are tough times ahead for Bill and as he leans more about his daughter’s potential fate you begin to wonder if you actually want Bill to find her!

Bloq scores a ‘must read’ 5/5 review from me.

Bloq Blog Tour



Bloq is published on 1st April through Ailsa Publishing – you can order your copy here:

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Bloq – Alan Jones
March 23

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows – Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Walked in the ShadowsEurope is in the grip of an extreme Arctic blast and at the mercy of a killer, who leaves no trace. His weapons of choice are razor-sharp icicles. This is Jack Frost.

Now a fully qualified criminologist, Georgina McKenzie is called upon by the Dutch police to profile this cunning and brutal murderer. Are they looking for a hit man or a frenzied serial-killer? Could there be a link to a cold missing persons’ case that George had worked with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen – two abducted toddlers he could never quite give up on?

The hunt for Jack Frost sparks a dangerous, heart-rending journey through the toughest neighbourhoods in Europe, where refugees and Roma gypsies scratch a living on the edge of society. Walking into the dark, violent world of a trans-national trafficking ring, can George outrun death to shed light on two terrible mysteries?


My thanks to the team at Avon for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.


George McKenzie is back in The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows, the third book in The Girl Who series by Marnie Riches and I have been waiting patiently (honest) for the chance to read this one.

Housekeeping first…it is entirely possible to read and enjoy The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows as a stand alone book.  There are links to the previous titles (The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die and The Girl Who Broke The Rules) and there may be some small spoilers for new readers who go back to read the earlier titles after reading Shadows. However, new readers will not be disadvantaged as the author ensures recurring characters or past events are reintroduced during the narrative.

Right let’s get down to it…The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows is an intensely dark read. Brutal murders, child abduction and powerful criminal gangs all make for a wonderfully gritty reading experience. George and her partner, Amsterdam cop Paul van den Bergen, seem to be facing their biggest challenge yet.

Their attempts to track down a serial killer who leaves no forensic evidence at the crime scenes are failing at every turn. Van den Bergen’s bosses are demanding results yet there are no tangible leads for the police to follow.  Van den Bergen is also haunted by his inability to make any progress with investigations into a double kidnapping of two young children – the children’s mother (a PR expert) has ensured the abduction has been all over the media – and the pressure is on van den Bergen to trace the missing toddlers. Could George’s studies into child abuse and connections to travellers yield any clues?

In addition to the pressures of these cases is the combustible nature of van den Bergen’s relationship with George. The two are seemingly determined to push each other away on a regular basis, however, they will have to overcome the problems of the tempestuous nature of their relationship to form an effective investigative team.

The story is nicely split between England and Amsterdam again and I enjoyed that the supporting cast (George’s family and van den Bergen’s team) got very prominent roles to play. The narrative jumps timelines and we switch between George, van den Bergen, the killer and other key players as the story demands. Normally I don’t fare well when books switch time periods (as I am a skim reader) but I didn’t have any issues in keeping track of events within Shadows. I actually really enjoyed how some events were teased, the author had revealed the outcome/aftermath of a situation, but left the reader wondering what had transpired to reach that point.

Marnie Riches is tackling some deeply emotive issues in this book and there are some nasty and unexpected twists along the way. I loved how the various plot threads started to come together as I reached the final third of the story and I think I practically inhaled the finale which left me crying out for more.

Dark, brutal and brilliant. The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows is exactly the kind of story that I love to read. Marnie Riches has crafted a series which I cannot recommend enough. A review score of 5/5 was guaranteed when I put down the book and realised that I had been holding my breath as I read the last pages.


The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows is released on 31 March 2016.  You can order a copy here:



Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows – Marnie Riches
March 9

Tastes Like Fear – Sarah Hilary

Tastes Like FearYou’ll never be out of Harm’s way

The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.

A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home.

To the one man who understands her.

Gives her shelter.

Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.

He’s the head of her new family.

He’s Harm.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.

Because when Harm’s family is threatened, everything tastes like fear…


My thanks to Elizabeth Masters at Headline for my review copy.


The third Marnie Rome thriller and another triumph for Sarah Hilary. Tastes Like Fear is a gripping read and is helping cement Sarah Hilary’s place amongst the best of the current crop of UK crime writers.

Tastes Like Fear has a focus on teenage runaways, girls who have left home and found themselves living rough on the streets of London. The girls have found that they become almost invisible, doing whatever it takes to survive. Yet for a select few there comes an offer of a place of safety – a home where food and shelter will be provided.  All you have to do is live by the house rules, his rules…Harm’s rules.

Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake have been investigating the disappearance of May Beswick a teenage girl who left home (for no apparent reason) and has been missing for several weeks. We are first reunited with Marnie and Noah when they are called to the scene of a road traffic accident – a teenage girl in a state of disarray has walked into the traffic causing a crash. The girl has left the scene, heading towards one of London’s more notorious housing schemes, yet there appears to be some doubt between the survivors of the crash as to what the girl looked like or even if she was ever there!

I enjoyed the shifting focus in Tastes Like Fear, the story follows Marnie and Noah and their investigations into May’s disappearance and the attempts to track down the girl from the crash scene. Then the narrative switches into the ‘haven’ that Harm is providing and we see how the girls who are living under his protection are dealing with day to day life under Harm’s watchful eye. There is a real feeling of unease as you read these scenes – an unpredictability – as Harm does not seem to act how you expect him to (yet you are also not quite sure how he SHOULD be acting).

However, as you may expect trouble lies ahead for the girls as rules have been broken, some girls have not behaved the way Harm expected and there will be…repercussions.

With all the twists and turns, shocks and surprises that I have come to expect from one of Sarah Hilary’s books I found that I could not put Tastes Like Fear down. The story flows brilliantly, the characters are the perfect blend of likeable, unpredictable or deeply deplorable and we get more insights into Noah and Marnie’s personal lives giving loved characters even greater depth.

There is also the added anticipation of what I am beginning to think of as ‘The Sarah Hilary Jaw-drop Moment’…one scene where everything I thought I understood about the story is crushed and I am blind-sided by a twist that I can never see coming.  LOVE IT, nobody else consistently messes with my brain in their books the way Sarah Hilary can – she has the golden touch.

An easy review score for Tastes Like Fear…5/5 and a reader desperate for more.


Tastes Like Fear is published by Headline and is released on 7 April 2016 – you can order a copy here:


Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Tastes Like Fear – Sarah Hilary
February 22

Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts – A.K. Benedict

Jonathan DarkMaria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it.

Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways.

Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never knew. Finding the truth will mean seeing a side to the city where life and death is a game played by the powerful, where everyone is lost but nothing is missing, and where all the answers are hiding, if only they listen to the whispers on the streets.

Shot through with love and loss, ghosts and grief, A K Benedict weaves a compelling mystery that will leave you looking over your shoulder and asking what lurks in the dark.


My thanks to Orion for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.


Ghosts – it is right there in the title…Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts does contain actual ghosts (lots of them). But it is not a ghost story, well not in the traditional ‘haunted house’ ghost story way that you may have initially imagined.

In Jonathan Dark we learn that ghosts are all around us, they are living amongst us and (on rare occasions)interacting with the environment around us.  Most of us cannot see these ghosts but a select few people can look beyond the normal and see the spirits around us. There are a few key characters in Jonathan Dark who are actually ghosts – it works brilliantly, their capacity to interact with the main characters is virtually nil but they have a massive impact on the story.

Having accepted the fact there are ghosts in the book you can now get on with enjoying a brilliant crime story which contains the threat of a murderous stalker, a powerful crime syndicate with a chilling recruitment ritual and an evil entity which feasts on the neurosis and fear of its victims.

The most chilling aspect of Jonathan Dark was the danger that A.K. Benedict heaped upon Maria King.  Maria was born blind but has recently undergone surgery that was able to give her the ability to see for the first time. Maria is reluctant to give up the darkness she has known and still elects to wear a blindfold rather than accept the reality of how the world around her looks.

Following the shocking discovery of an engagement ring left for her to find ***Spoilers prevent me from telling you WHY it was shocking***  Maria is further rocked by the revelation that her flat has been equipped with video cameras which have allowed someone to spy on her while she believed herself safe (and alone) at home.

The police are called and head of the investigative team is the titular Jonathan Dark – a wonderfully complex character who has more than his share of secrets too. Dark is facing a race against time to keep Maria safe from the stalker and his investigations will bring him into direct competition with the powerful crime syndicate who do not like the thought of the police getting too close to some of their members.

I want to tell you more, there are so many side plots I want to discuss, characters that I would love to see feature in future books and there is something that Dark does which makes me want to know WHY! But I can only hope he returns and that A.K. Benedict gives us more of these wonderful stories.

I wish that every book I read was as enjoyable as Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts. A 5/5 review score is a given.


Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts is published by Orion on 25 February 2016 and can be ordered here:


Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts – A.K. Benedict