September 4

Wicked Leaks – Matt Bendoris

A Wickedly Funny Thriller about a Website Leaking Government Secrets, a Man Who Claims to Have Killed Princess Diana, and a Nurse on the Run for Her Life

Assigned to care for a terminally-ill patient who claims to have killed Princess Diana, nurse Kelly Carter dismisses him as nothing more than a delusional fantasist. But Monahan has proof, and directs Kelly to an abandoned garage, where she discovers a beaten-up white Fiat Uno with French license plates matching the description of the vehicle that has eluded the British and French authorities for decades. When the garage goes up in flames minutes after her visit, Kelly realizes that she’s involved in something more dangerous than just caring for a patient.

Meanwhile, mismatched journalists April Lavender and Connor Presley are involved in the investigation of a shadowy website leaking nasty government secrets on a daily basis. When beastshamer.com threatens to reveal the truth about Diana’s death, April and Connor begin to investigate in hopes of finding their next front-page story. After two deadly explosions lead them right to Kelly, all three set out to uncover the truth surrounding the death of the beloved princess―before Kelly becomes the next victim in a deadly cover-up that goes all the way up to England’s MI5.

 

My thanks to Matt and to Alexandra Hess of Skyhorse Publishing for my review copy

Wicked Leaks hits the shelves in the US in the week that marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. I am sure that the timing is no fluke as events in Wicked Leaks will take readers back to that fateful August night in Paris and we get an insight into what may have occurred.

But how do events from 1997 come to the attention of a nurse from Glasgow in 2016? Could her latest patient – receiving end of life care for terminal cancer – really have lived the dangerous life he hints at? It all starts from a chance headline splashed by the papers as they revel in the latest scandal revealed by the website beastshamer.com. The nurse, Kelly Carter, cannot believe that her patient may know something about Diana’s death, but when he sends her to a Glasgow lock-up garage and she sees a white Fiat Uno (like the one that went missing after that night in Paris) she starts to worry. When the car explodes in a fireball she becomes caught up in a deadly game.

Wicked Leaks is a brilliant thriller which keeps a frenetic pace from the time that Kelly realises that her life and that of her family is in grave peril. The body count will rise and the reader cannot help but be gripped by her predicament.

Away from Kelly’s drama the Reader gets to reunite with the returning journalistic duo of Connor Presley and April Lavender – the odd couple of the print world.  Connor and April are great characters to read about, the young and savvy Connor trying to keep April calm in the face of change as the older woman remains too set in her ways to cope with the changes her employers keep forcing upon them. The dialogue between the two had me laughing aloud in places – it is a hard act to balance tension in one chapter yet keep a companionable humour running through the next scene but Matt Bendoris handles it with apparent ease.

I am in the fortunate position that I get to read many great books each year – Wicked Leaks is one that stood out this summer.  I love how the has author mirrored actual events into his story, the scandal reveals, the conspiracy theories and the brilliant, brilliant conclusion which still makes me….well I can’t tell you as “SPOILERS”.  But for a book called Wicked Leaks am I allowed to blab?

So very readable, so much fun and then quite suddenly dark and shocking – everything that a good thriller should be.  Highly recommended.

 

Wicked Leaks is available now in the US and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Leaks-Thriller-Matt-Bendoris/dp/1510725784/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1504552728&sr=8-1

 

 

 

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August 31

Witch Dust – Marilyn Messik

A red gash of a mouth rimmed with impossibly tiny, razor-sharp teeth yawned wide, then swift as a snake, she bent and struck..

For Sandra, daughter of illusionists, Adam and Ophelia, life’s never been run of the mill! But when Adam’s wandering eye lights on yet another conquest, it proves a chorus girl too far, and Sandra’s caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed Mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she’s sucked into a situation that even for her is unnerving.

From being without a single relative, she suddenly acquires several she’d rather do without, and learns a few home truths she’d prefer not to know. Ophelia, it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things. There’s no doubt in Sandra’s mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as possible between herself, her newly discovered nearest and dearest, their peculiar tendencies and their failing hotel business, the happier she’s going to be.

Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. A hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist all handled correctly should, she reckons, get the family business up and running, which will allow her to do the same – as fast as she can, and in the opposite direction. Things unfortunately move swiftly from bad to farce and then get a hell of a lot darker. One moment Sandra’s struggling to save the family’s income, the next, she’s battling to save their lives. Turns out, some darknesses, once buried, are best left undisturbed

 

My thanks to Kate at Thick as Thieves for my review copy and the chance to join the tour

 

Regular visitors to these pages may have noted a reduction in the number of reviews over the last few weeks. Life away from my reading is particularly busy at the moment so there are fewer reviews to share as I am reading fewer books. The consequence is that I need to select my reading carefully, no juggling six books at once – I need to pick a new read and stick with it. This is where Witch Dust comes in (I know you were wondering).

When I am too busy to get much reading done I want to pick up a book which will keep me entertained, ideally it will not be too heavy in content and a lighter tone or subject matter is appreciated. Witch Dust certainly entertained and the diverse cast of characters – beginning with Sandra (the daughter of two stars of the stage) and her extremely high maintenance mother – kept me flicking through the pages as the story was spun around me.

The story opens with a murder confession and I felt on familiar ground (I have been known to read a crime novel or two). However, events quickly moved on and suddenly I was following Sandra on a journey to meet a whole side of her family that she never knew existed. Not long after that she is giving them business tips to save their ailing family business…unexpected but lots of fun too.

Marilyn Messik can spin a story which keeps readers attention and there is a great balance between humor, thrills and sheer whacky creativity. I do enjoy when I find myself drawn into a story which takes a paranormal/fantasy twist and I know that literally anything could happen next.

Witch Dust was the perfect read for the busy days of late.  A welcome bit of escapism with some light tones and some darker moments I had fun reading this one.

 

Witch Dust is published by Matador and is available in Paperback and Digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witch-Dust-Marilyn-Messik/dp/1788033728/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504131721&sr=1-1

 

 

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August 24

Short Stories and Novellas

I don’t often read short stories (though that will be changing soon…more on that later). Recently, however, I have had the opportunity to snatch some quick reading time and have targeted some short stories and novellas which had caught my eye.

 

First up is The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

From the foggy streets of Victorian London to the eerie perfection of 1950s suburbia, the everyday is invaded by the evil otherworldly in this unforgettable collection of new ghost stories from the author of The Woman in Black.

In the title story, on a murky evening in a warmly lit club off St James, a bishop listens closely as a paranormal detective recounts his most memorable case, one whose horrifying denouement took place in that very building.

In ‘The Front Room’, a devoutly Christian mother tries to protect her children from the evil influence of their grandmother, both when she is alive and when she is dead.

A lonely boy finds a friend in ‘Boy Number 21’, but years later he is forced to question the nature of that friendship, and to ask whether ghosts can perish in fires.

This is Susan Hill at her best, telling characteristically flesh-creeping and startling tales of thwarted ambition, terrifying revenge and supernatural stirrings that will leave readers wide-awake long into the night.

 

My thanks to the team at Serpents Tail for the review copy I received through Netgalley

 

A collection of 4 ghostly tales from Susan Hill. Three stories are outlined in the description above – each took me around half an hour to read and the whole book is around 180 pages in length.  I have my favourites, Boy Number 21 and the unmentioned 4thstory (Alice Baker – a chiller set in an office) were the two which gripped me most.

The Front Room is particularly grim reading but I found it didn’t draw me in quite in the way the other stories had done.  I find that Ghost Stories are harder to pitch as a collection – while all the stories can be creepy, different people respond to different types of chills so in any collection there will be elements which impact people in different ways.

I do enjoy a creepy tale and The Travelling Bag was the welcome break from reading crime thrillers that I had hoped it would be.  The physical book looks rather nice too but its relatively short length made me think it may be more likely to be given as a gift than one a reader may seek out on their own.

Fans of Susan Hill and readers who soak up ghost stories this is one to seek out.

 

 

The Paper Cell – Louise Hutcheson

The first in a new series of distinctive, standalone crime stories, each with a literary bent. In 1950s London, a literary agent finds fame when he secretly steals a young woman’s brilliant novel manuscript and publishes it under his own name, Lewis Carson. Two days after their meeting, the woman is found strangled on Peckham Rye Common: did Lewis purloin the manuscript as an act of callous opportunism, or as the spoils of a calculated murder?

 

My thanks to Sara at Contraband for my review copy

The Paper Cell is a novella from the new Pocket Crime Selection from Contraband Books. It is a beautifully crafted tale of life in the literary circles of 1950’s London.  We begin in the modern day, an author meeting with a journalist after the author grants a rare interview. It becomes clear that there are reasons the author has been reluctant to speak with the press – once we are transported back to recollections of the author’s life as a young man in London the shocking truths start to spill out.

Of the three books covered in this post The Paper Cell was by far the one I enjoyed the most. Louise Hutcheson keeps the story slick, her characters leap off the page and you can easily imagine the smoke filled reading rooms and fussy publishers office meetings.

There is a darkness running through The Paper Cell and the reader gets a fly on the wall view of some terrible behaviours and sinister actions. Yet those dark scenes are in the background as much of the story follows young writers pursing their dreams or and young lovers enjoying their blossoming relationship.

Louise Hutcheson can tell knows how to tell a good story and this had me captivated.

 

 

A Rare Book of Cunning Device – Ben Aaronovich

Exclusive to Audio! Somewhere amongst the shadowy stacks and the many basements of the British library, something is very much amiss – and we’re not talking late returns here. Is it a ghost, or something much worse? PC Peter Grant really isn’t looking forward to finding out….

Still working my way through audiobooks and this was my introduction to PC Peter Grant – popular protagonist of the Ben Aaronovich Rivers of London series.  At 30 minutes running length this free audiobook is a must listen for fans of the series.  I can say this only from the position of a new reader as I have not read Rivers (or any of the other Grant books) but I loved A Rare Book of Cunning Device.

The narrator Kobna Holdbrook-Smith has a very listenable voice and the feedback on his performance from other readers is extremely positive as fans of the series have expressed their approval at how he handles their beloved characters.

Deep within the British Library, Peter Grant, comes up against the most formidable of opponents – a Librarian.  Oh there may also be a poltergeist but Grant knows better…doesn’t he?

 

 

 

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August 17

Block 46 – Johana Gustawsson – Audio

Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French truecrime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

 

Another from my unexpected (but very enjoyable) Audiobook Season – today I get to rave about Block 46.

First the audiobook experience.  Very positive!  The narration duties are split for Block 46 – the majority of the book is delivered by Patricia Rodriguez with the “historical” elements (which I shall come to shortly) picked up by Mark Meadows. The two voices work wonderfully – both actors are to be commended for bringing the story to life around me.

Block 46 is a modern day murder mystery but it holds a link to 1944 and a concentration camp in Germany (the aforementioned Historical element of the tale). In London Alexis Castells attends the launch of a new jewellery collection designed by her friend Linnea Blix – despite the importance of the night Linnea does not appear. Alexis travels to Sweden where Linnea would often stay “on retreat” but as she arrives in snowy Falkenberg Linnea’s body is found.

While Alexis gets swept up in the investigation into Linnea’s murder – kept in the loop through a friendship with criminal profiler Emily Roy – the reader gets to slip back in time where we encounter Erich Hebner.  A German national in a German concentration camp.  Erich is doing what he can to survive but when Johana Gustawsson begins to outline some of the terrors which Erich, and the other prisoners, endure each day it becomes impossible to see how he will escape from this Hell.

Narrative swings to present day, the murder investigation reveals some unexpected connections to London. Then we are back in wartime Germany and Erich’s story moves on…he has been granted a rare opportunity to contribute to the German “war effort” but how will he feel about helping when he learns he is going to Block 46. Nobody every comes out of Block 46 alive.

I cannot praise this book enough – at times harrowing but always compelling. It threw up the classic reading dilemma – so good I want to reach the end to find out what happened. But I don’t want to reach the end as I was enjoying it so much.

 

Block 46 is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Block-Roy-Castells-Johana-Gustawsson/dp/1910633704/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502917618&sr=1-1

 

 

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August 13

I Know A Secret – Tess Gerritsen

I have a secret.
And someone wants to make sure I never tell . . .

In a house decorated with horror movie posters, a young woman’s body is found. She lies on her bed, two bloodied objects clutched in her palm. Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are called to the murder scene, but even faced with this gruesome sight they are unable to identify the immediate cause of death.

Their investigation leads them to a high-profile murder case that was seemingly solved years before. But when another body is found in horrific circumstances, the link between the two victims is clear. Was the wrong person sent to prison? Is the real killer out there right now, picking off new targets?

One woman knows the killer is coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Rizzoli and Isles catch him.

But she has a secret that she has to keep . . .

 

My thanks to Alison at Transworld for the chance to join the tour – and to Anne who made it happen

 

By the time a bestselling series reaches Book 12 you can be assured that the previous 11 books have found their way into many, many homes and that readers everywhere will be keenly awaiting the next instalment. The good news for fans of Rizzoli and Isles is that their latest adventure – I Know A Secret – is in shops know and it is a cracking read…you will think the wait was worthwhile.

I appreciate that not every reader can keep up with all the books by all the authors so can I Know a Secret be enjoyed by someone picking up a Tess Gerritsen novel for the first time? I believe it can. There are references to events, characters and relationships which clearly occurred in earlier titles (you can’t write 12 books in a series whilst pretending each new novel begins with a blank slate on all previous events) but I did not feel there was any disadvantage to come to this book as a new reader. Everything is clear or self explanatory but the main focus is firmly kept of the latest investigation.

Rizzoli and Isles are called to a murder scene – the victim had been involved in making horror films and her death could almost be said to mirror her genre of choice. A gruesome spectacle meets the investigators but despite the unsettling scene they are not immediately able to identify a cause of death.

An investigation is ongoing and, pleasingly, we get to follow Jane Rizzoli as she interviews suspects and chases down potential leads – I do very much enjoy when you feel you are also uncovering the facts as you read. It is not long before a second body turns up. The nature of the attack on each victim is very different but a connection is found and an apparent symbolism throws new light onto the case.

I zipped through I Know A Secret – one of those great books which will keep you hooked. Tess Gerritsen has spun a slick story, the narrative moves along at a good pace so you don’t feel that there are any lags or drops in the action.

Fans of Tess Gerritsen will love I Know A Secret. New readers should seek it out, it is a great story and does not fall into the trap of being too concentrated upon the lives of Rizzoli and Isles at the price of neglecting the murder investigation. You are in the hands of a great storyteller and there I got nothing but pure enjoyment from I Know a Secret.

 

I Know A Secret is available in Hardback and Digital format – you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Know-Secret-Rizzoli-Isles-12-ebook/dp/B01MTK7M7O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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August 10

To Kill the President – Sam Bourne

A blockbuster thriller from No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author Sam Bourne, in which Maggie Costello uncovers an assassination plot to kill the tyrannical new president.

The unthinkable has happened…

The United States has elected a volatile demagogue as president, backed by his ruthless chief strategist, Crawford ‘Mac’ McNamara.

When a war of words with the North Korean regime spirals out of control and the President comes perilously close to launching a nuclear attack, it’s clear someone has to act, or the world will be reduced to ashes.

Soon Maggie Costello, a seasoned Washington operator and stubbornly principled, discovers an inside plot to kill the President – and faces the ultimate moral dilemma. Should she save the President and leave the free world at the mercy of an increasingly crazed would-be tyrant – or commit treason against her Commander in Chief and risk plunging the country into a civil war?

 

My thanks to Harper Collins for my review copy – received through Netgalley.

I don’t think there can ever have been a better timed political thriller. As I type we have President Trump threatening North Korea with “Fire and Fury”.  As the world waits to see if someone gets an itchy trigger finger (and people plan to beg George RR Martin to tweet who ends up on that Throne if the 15 minute warning sounds) we have a work of fiction which reads like the newspapers.

To Kill The President opens with a 3am situation in the…well it is in the Situation Room…as the unnamed president demands that his staff launch a nuclear attack on North Korea.  This fury has been prompted by a tweet the President has seen from the North Koreans which he believes to be a personal attack on his character.

The incident requires cool heads but that is not going to come from the Commander in Chief and someone will need to step up to save millions of lives.  I shouldn’t refer to this as an “explosive” opening but it certainly grabbed my attention. As you read To Kill The President you are left in no doubt that you are looking at a mirror on reality, perhaps some events are marginally blurred and not a true reflection on the last 8 months, but it is hard to convince yourself this could not happen.

As the title suggests – an extreme option appears the only course of action left to save USA and the World but who would step up to take the life of their democratically elected leader? Who can be trusted?  How could it be done quickly? What are the consequences of failure?

If you have even a passing interest in political thrillers then this is a great read. You don’t need to understand the inner workings of the US Political Machine to keep track of the players in this power game as the story flows with a surprisingly small central cast of characters.  Perfect summer reading and truly a thriller for our times.

 

To Kill The President is published by Harper Collins and is available in paperback and digital format.  Copies can be easily ordered through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-President-most-explosive-thriller-ebook/dp/B0167NVGQ0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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August 9

The Girl in the Ice – Robert Bryndza – Audio

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound, and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong…resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

 

My thanks to Kim at Bookouture for the opportunity to listen to this book.

 

The variable nature of my day job sprang a recent surprise…gone is my daily train journey and my hour of peaceful reading on the train. Say hello to 3 or 4 hours in the car each day. Say hello to a series of audiobook reviews here at Grab This Book.

Audiobooks live and die on one crucial element – the narrator. It really does not matter how good the underlying story is, if the narration is jarring then listening to that voice for 10+ hours is not going to be a fun or relaxing experience.

Fortunately for Robert Bryndza’s The Girl in the Ice the listener is in very good hands. Jan Cramer narrates throughout and she does a fantastic job. Erika Foster’s voice is now firmly fixed into my mind and Cramer’s narration has brought a character to life for me more vividly than would have been the case had I read a paper copy of the book.

As for the story – I loved it. A society rich girl (and seemingly an extremely shallow young woman) is found dead in the waters of London. She has been bound and brutally attacked prior to death and Erika Foster is put in charge of the investigation. Foster is taking on a new role in London, relocating from Manchester following the death of her husband (a fellow police officer) when a police operation went badly wrong.

Thrown in at the deep end – Foster must establish her authority over a new team, overcome racial prejudices when dealing with the dead girl’s parents and contend with factions within the police who are determined to undermine her investigation to keep a politically sensitive murder investigation “acceptable” in the media.

The juggle and pressure which Foster faces will take its toll and I felt myself getting frustrated that she was being thwarted at pursing the leads she felt needed tackled. Robert Bryndza presents us with a string of red herrings and a suspect pool which is sufficiently broad and unlikeable (for various reasons) that it will keep you guessing to the identity of the killer – right until the shocking endgame.

Fans of police procedurals and gripping serial killer thrillers – this is a book for you. I cannot listen as fast as I can read – but I grudged every second that I had to remove my earbuds whilst listening to The Girl in the Ice.

 

The Girl in the Ice is available as a paperback, digital book and (obviously) as an audiobook. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Ice-gripping-thriller-Detective-ebook/dp/B019G6DSDE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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August 6

The Girls in the Water – Victoria Jenkins

When the body of Lola Evans is found in a local park on a cold winter’s morning, Detective Alex King and her new recruit Chloe Lane are called in to lead the hunt for the killer.

Days later, a second girl goes missing. It seems the two shared a troubled history, and were members of the same support group. Who is the monster preying on these vulnerable girls?

As the detectives start to piece together the clues, Chloe realises that she too is in danger – as she uncovers secrets about her own brother’s death which someone will kill to keep hidden.

Alex and Chloe are soon fighting for their lives, and in a race against time to reach the next victim before it’s too late…

 

My thanks to Noelle at Bookouture for the chance to join the tour.

I love knowing that the book I am about to read is going to be part of a series. I usually prefer to read about recurring characters than a stand-alone thriller (mainly because I buy in to the characters more readily when I see them grow from book to book).  So when I turned to The Girls in the Water and spotted “Detectives King & Lane, Book 1” my heart soared – a serial killer tale with two cops that look like they may become a regular feature in the release schedules – good start!

Happily The Girls in the Water did not let me down. King and Lane are strong characters in their debut outing – King with a “complicated” home life and Lane with a troubled past which will spill over into her work as she reaches out to King to assist with a private investigation into a murder from years earlier.

More pressing for the two is the fact that someone seems to be killing vulnerable young girls. As a reader we get to watch the killer with his victims.  He uplifts them and takes them to a remote room “you can scream, nobody will hear you” then subjects them to some extremely unpleasant ordeals before finally snuffing out their life. Potentially disturbing scenes warning for those of a nervous nature!  Victoria Jenkins is not going to draw a curtain over the peril that the girls face and it makes her book darker and more intense.

Getting a series established cannot be an easy task but this is a very promising opening and I will certainly be looking out for the next book.

 

The Girls in the Water is available in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girls-Water-completely-detective-Detectives-ebook/dp/B0722TFLVW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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July 31

Holiday Reading 2017

I went on holiday with a few carefully selected books I had really wanted to read and a Kindle which I knew to be loaded with drama. I got through a decent number of books and didn’t entirely ignore my family so everyone was happy.

But then I got back from holiday and I found I had a wee change to my day job (ie a whole new gig for 3 months) and suddenly I am driving 3 or 4 hours per day and I will not have much time to write up comprehensive reviews for the holiday reads. 

The solution: A Holiday Roundup Post. I shall forsake my usual attempt to summarise the story and aim for brevity…this may get messy!

 

Echoes in Death – JD Robb

First up is the latest Eve Dallas thriller from JD Robb. I have been reading these stories for 6 or 7 years and there are over 50 books and novellas out there – this makes me very happy.  With so many books in the series I do tend to classify them as either A: Pivotal Story or B: Progressive Story.

The Pivotal books are the big impact tales which have huge implications for the ongoing continuity. The Progressive titles are the books which are fun to read and can generally be read out of sequence as they just move everyone along a little.  Echoes in Death is a Progressive read so one that you can pickup and enjoy – which is exactly what I was able to do.  I love these books and Echoes did not let me down.  Fun, thrills and characters I know better than some members of my own family – long may Eve and Roarke continue to kick ass.

 Order a copy here

 

Witness – Caroline Mitchell

As I was reading Witness I took to Twitter – mainly to give myself a little break from the words rushing past my eyes.  I had to share that Caroline Mitchell’s writing had totally freaked me out and made me uncomfortable and nervous as I sat reading in a dimly lit room somewhere in the wilds of The Netherlands.

Brilliant – you can’t ask for anything more from a book if you get so caught up in a story that you start to get apprehensive over what may (or may not) be in the room alongside you.  Checking over my shoulder every few minutes really slowed down my reading pace too!

A stalker drama with some very dark and unexpected twists – creepy is good.

 Order a copy here

 

Did You See Melody? – Sophie Hannah

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one and it didn’t grip me quite as much as some of the other books I read. What it IS, however, is a cleverly plotted drama with some larger than life characters but a lead character that I never really warmed to.

What Did You See Melody? Would be IDEAL for is a reading group.  There are elements of the story which I felt required total buy-in from the reader, without that buy-in it I can’t see it wowing everyone. I would love to see a book group discuss their thoughts on this book as I think it may be one which would spark debate.

Order a copy here 

 

Doctor Who: Plague City – Jonathan Morris

The Doctor (with his Capaldi face), Bill and Nardole. The trio find themselves in Edinburgh and they have broken curfew – imposed as a plague is laying waste to the city. As a Scottish type person I loved this story. As a Glasgow Scottish type person I liked that the plague was in Edinburgh 😊

Jonathan Morris has done a great job with the latest residents of the TARDIS. The story is well thought out and I wish the image of a doctor (not THE Doctor) in their plague masks could make the jump to a tv story.

Exactly what I want from a Doctor Who novel and Mr Morris always tells a good tale.

Order a copy here  

 

The Marriage Pact – Michelle Richmond

I have seen this getting a big push via online adverts.  It is another story which requires a big buy-in from the reader.  If you just go along with the assumption that the husband/wife lead characters are wholly embracing The Marriage Pact then this is a solid thriller which is ideal for a holiday read.  Again book groups on standby – not everyone is going to be happy with the concept that two successful professionals would accept The Pact without question and debate should ensue.

Some surprising twists and Michelle Richmond has some nasty ideas when it comes to ensuring her characters are compelled to obey their promises. 

Order a copy here 

 

 

 

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July 22

In The Still – Jacqueline Chadwick

When Ali Dalglish immigrated to Canada she left behind her career as Britain’s most in-demand forensic pathologist & criminal psychologist. Now, eight years later, Ali feels alone, and bored, and full of resentment. Suffocated and frustrated by her circumstances and in an increasingly love-starved marriage, Ali finds herself embroiled in a murder case that forces her to call upon her dormant investigative skills.

As she’s pulled deeper into the case of ‘The Alder Beach Girl’ and into the mind of a true psychopath, Ali is forced to confront her fears and to finally embrace her own history of mental illness. In an increasingly febrile atmosphere Ali must fight hard to protect those she loves from the wrath of a determined and vicious predator and to ultimately allow the woman she once was to breathe again.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for my review copy

 

Lets start with an important word for this review:

benchmark
noun
noun: benchmark; plural noun: benchmarks
  1. a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared.

 

In The Still is the book that all my forthcoming reads will be compared to for the considerable future. I absolutely-bloody-loved it. Ali Dalglish is the smart, in-your-face protagonist who made me want to keep turning the pages.

Having left Britain 8 years prior to events in In The Still, Ali has left a successful career and emigrated to Canada with her family.  Her husband works for the local fire service but Ali is home schooling her son and seems to be living a reasonably unfulfilling life. Home tensions will come to the fore during the telling of the story and it helps make Ali and her family appear much more authentic and gives some break from her pursuit of a killer.

Oh yes there is a killer at loose and Ali (along with her irritating neighbour) have found the body. Ali’s initial exposure to the corpse gives her the opportunity to consider the victim – her previous training as a forensic pathologist kicks in and Ali begins to formulate some ideas as to what may have happened to the unfortunate young woman who would become known as The Alder Beach Girl. Ali is not convinced that the local police have the skill (or competence) to investigate the murder and pushes for a reliable investigator to become involved.

It needs to be noted that In The Still is quite graphic in places and as far from “cozy crime” as you could hope to be. Exactly how I like them.

Jacqueline Chadwick provides great detail on Ali’s profiling rationale. The technical and background information which is considered during Ali’s investigations gives a depth to the story and established Ali’s status and her ability to push the investigation forward. But Ali doesn’t suffer fools gladly so there are some fabulous conversations to enjoy as an angry Scottish woman vents at the world around her.

In The Still totally grabbed me, I couldn’t put it down and it was one of those brilliant reading experiences where everything just worked for me. The killer is sadistic and deploys horrible methodology, the investigation to track down the killer is well paced, fun to read and extremely gripping. The lead character won me over from virtually the first page and the suspicion as to the identity of the killer swings between different contenders as the story unfolds – it kept me guessing and I am not ashamed to admit I called it wrong.

Every time I pick up a new book to read I hope it will be a story which enthrals, entertains and excites. I want it to be the book I will recommend to all my friends and I want it to be a story I will return to (and know I will enjoy reading it more than once). In The Still is that book.

 

In The Still is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-1-Ali-Dalglish/dp/1548611956/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500741390&sr=1-1

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