November 19

Hell to Pay – Rachel Amphlett

When a road traffic accident on a dark autumn night uncovers a disturbing conspiracy, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter’s investigation exposes a ruthless serial killer exploiting vulnerable young women.

With her enemies unmasked and her career spiralling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.

Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.

Could Kay’s need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?


My thanks to Emma Mitchell for the chance to join the blog tour.


Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter is back in a 4th outing.  She has had a rough time in the previous books (not that it is essential to have read them) but in Hell to Pay she will come directly up against Josef Demiri – the man behind much of her pain.

Hell to Pay has a great opening sequence.  Called to a traffic incident Hunter finds that what may have been a simple car crash has become exceedingly unpleasant as it becomes clear there was a body in the boot of the crashed car.  Investigation into the car and its driver reveals a connection to Demiri.  Hunter has been waiting for her chance to get back at Demiri and she wants to be involved in the investigation – she is determined to arrest him and bring down his criminal empire.

Dimiri is equally determined to get to Hunter.  He feels she needs to pay for her previous interference in his business affairs. He has been keeping a close watch over her – too close for Hunter’s liking – and he now feels that the time has come to put an end to her attempts to arrest him.

Rachel Amphlett has made a truly deplorable bad guy in Demiri. Returning readers knew he was a danger to Kay, however, the stakes are significantly raised in Hell to Pay. We get to see the worst of Demiri yet it appears that he is mocking the police and simply toying with them…all to ensure he can get a chance to get to DS Hunter. It ensures the story builds towards an inevitable showdown and it did have me worrying that Kay’s obsessive focus to bring down Demiri may be ill-advised.

I always enjoy Rachel Amphlett’s books – the interplay between her characters does make the reader feel they are part of a tense and frustrating investigation. Hell to Pay zips along at a good pace and I loved the twists and turns along the way. The Kay Hunter series is highly recommended – if you pick up Hell to Pay you will find that you will want to catch-up on the first three books too.


Hell to Pay is a gripping fast paced crime thriller, and the fourth in the Detective Kay Hunter series:


You can order a copy here:

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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:

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February 20

Ragdoll – Daniel Cole – Release Week Update

RagdollA body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?




My thanks to team at Trapeze who provided a review copy through Netgalley

Having shared my original review of Ragdoll a few weeks ago I bring a slightly updated take on the book and join the blog tour as this is the final countdown to release day….

Detective William Fawkes (aka Wolf) had put his heart and soul into capturing a killer. But when the jury returns its verdict, Wolf’s emotions boil over and he attacks his chief suspect beating him to within an inch of his life.

Spin forward a few years and Wolf is back in active service. His life has been turned upside down by the events in that courtroom, however, fate has conspired to give Wolf a fresh chance at salvaging his career. But Wolf cannot just shake off the baggage that he carries and someone is clearly not keen to let Wolf move on, a killer has decided to pit their skills up against that of the notorious “Wolf” Fawkes and if Wolf cannot identify a murderer then he may well become a victim too.

The cover blurb (0utlined above) gives an early indication that Daniel Cole is out to shock his readers with a dark tale of cop vs killer. I’d say he does a pretty good job too – Ragdoll should appeal to readers of Paul Finch and Katerina Diamond…you are never fully confident that anyone in the story is “untouchable” and everyone is in peril.

For readers who also enjoy tv police procedurals this is a story which you will feel is made for dramatization.  And that is my only (minor) quibble with Ragdoll – as much as I enjoyed the story it felt like reading the “book of the film”.  It seemed to have a very structured ebb and flow of big events: a build up to a cliff-hanger incident, resolve it, start a build up to the next one, resolve it. This is normal in all action/thriller books but in the case of Ragdoll they were very noticeable.

Style issues aside Ragdoll is a great read, I liked Fawkes who was a very engaging lead character. Daniel Cole delivers some really nasty twists and a couple of cracking “WTF” moments which had me re-reading paragraphs as I tried to get my head around what had just unexpectedly unfolded.

Be prepared to hear a lot more about Ragdoll through 2017, it’s going to be a biggie.


Ragdoll will publish on 23 February 2017 and is available to pre-order here:





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January 25

Rattle – Fiona Cummins

RattleA serial killer to chill your bones

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.


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

Rattle is a bit of a chiller. Fiona Cummins seems to have drawn up a list of all the things which she feels will make readers uncomfortable and then built a gripping thriller around some of the nastiest ideas – nice!

We have a serial killer who is stalking a very particular victim group.  A young child with a debilitating and life threatening illness, a family on the edge of breakup and a kidnapped girl who just wants home to her mum.

With so many vulnerable characters in Rattle it is no surprise that this is frequently a harrowing read. I was struck with how the adults in the story are all pushed to a breaking point. The children are placed in greatest peril but seem more able to accept what is happening and their resilience was a striking contrast to that of their parents.

I am reluctant to give away too much of the story in my review. Suffice to say that I ripped through Rattle in double quick time – one of those books you don’t want to put down.

Cracking debut from Fiona Cummins and a treat for thriller fans.


Rattle is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now.  You can order a copy here:



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November 7

Spare Me The Truth – CJ Carver

spare-me-the-truthDan Forrester, piecing his life back together after the tragic death of his son, is approached in a supermarket by a woman who tells him everything he remembers about his life – and his son – is a lie.

Grace Reavey, stricken by grief, is accosted at her mother’s funeral. The threat is simple: pay the staggering sum her mother allegedly owed, or lose everything.

Lucy Davies has been forced from the Met by her own maverick behaviour. Desperate to prove herself in her new rural post, she’s on the hunt for a killer – but this is no small town criminal.

Plunged into a conspiracy that will test each of them to their limits, these three strangers are brought together in their hunt for the truth, whatever it costs. And as their respective investigations become further and further entwined, it becomes clear that at the centre of this tangled web is a threat more explosive than any of them could have imagined.


I love thrillers like Spare Me The Truth. We have three seemingly unconnected characters and we follow their stories knowing that somehow their paths will cross. Three central protagonists also heightens the possibility that not everyone will come through the story unscathed. Will they all turn out to be victims?  Is one of the characters going to cross another?  What if one character can only achieve the outcome they want at the cost of misery to another? But as a reader, what I really need to know is: can the author juggle three big storylines and keep me reading?

Well if that author is CJ Carver then the answer to that last question is most certainly YES. Spare Me The Truth was an absolute blast to read.

From the opening chapters I was hooked on the dilemmas and confusion that Grace was facing. She had just lost her mother but a stranger approached her suggesting that her mother owed a lot of money – Grace had to make good on the debt. Grace realised that she knew little about the life that her mother may have led and now has to find a way to contend with a huge problem that she has inherited.

Dan Forrester is a tragic character. He lost his young son and the trauma of the incident has also robbed Dan of many of his memories – a defence mechanism to allow him to cope with the tragedy.  Dan is getting by and slowly rebuilding his life until one day a chance encounter with a strange woman will lead him to question much of what he believes to be the truth.  The woman clearly knows Dan well but he has no idea who she may be – how much faith can Dan place in the memories that his family and friends have helped him to rebuild?

Also integral to the story in Spare Me The Truth is Lucy Davis. A cop with a troubled past, she is keen to rebuild her reputation and regain the faith of her colleagues.  Lucy believes she is on the trail of a killer, can she find the evidence she needs to prove she is correct and can she ensure that there are no more innocent deaths?

Spare Me The Truth was perfect escapism.  I got drawn into the story and did not want to stop reading, this is exactly what I look for in a book!


Spare Me The Truth is published by Zaffre and is available in paperback and digital formats.

You can order your copy here:

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June 1

Security – Gina Wohlsdorf

securityWhen the gleaming new Manderley Resort opens in twenty-four hours, Santa Barbara’s exclusive beachfront hotel will offer its patrons the ultimate in luxury and high-tech security. No indulgence has been ignored, no detail overlooked. But all the money in the world can’t guarantee safety. As hotel manager Tessa and her employees ready the hotel for its invitation-only grand opening, a killer is in their midst. One by one, staff are picked off with ruthless precision. And before the night is over, as Tessa desperately struggles to survive, it will become clear that the strangest and most terrible truth at Manderley is simply this: someone is watching.


My thanks to Claire Bowles PR for my review copy.


Security is a slasher movie in a book.  The cast is small, the book plays out entirely within the rooms and corridors of a grand hotel and there is a deadly game of cat and mouse about to unfold.

In the new Manderley hotel the employees prepping for the grand opening. It’s the end of the working day and most of the staff are leaving for the night.  The manager, Tessa, is running a final check over her new domain, the chef is prepping, the housekeeper is polishing and a killer is cleaning his knife, removing the blood which coats the blade.

On the top floor is a security suite. Cameras are discretely hidden all around the hotel and someone is always watching but who is watching the killer and why are they not doing anything to alert the authorities?

I read Security in a day. I couldn’t get through it quick enough and the book helped with this as the action was coming quick and fast. Some pages are cleverly written to reflect one moment in time seen through two, three or four security cameras – the page divided to show different viewpoints and track the subjects moving around the hotel.

Tessa is a strong lead character and even amongst the backdrop of a murder story there is time for the author to develop a love story which may (or may not) all end in tears if our killer has their way.

A fast paced, adrenalin filled thriller. Gripping tension, grizzly scenes and a nail-biting finale…Security is one for those that like their crime stories crossing into horror territory.


Security is published by Algonquin Books on 13 July.  You can order a copy here:

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December 2

Winter Prey – John Sandford

Winter PreyThe Iceman crept into the house on the edge of the lake. He killed the father first. Then the mother and child. And when his work was done, he set the house on fire.

Lucas Davenport has tracked killers in cities across America. But the woods of rural Wisconsin are as dark and primal as evil itself. The winters are harsher and colder. And in the heart of every mother and father, there is fear . . .

Because tonight, the Iceman cometh.


I am delighted to have the chance to join The Booktrail Advent tour – many thanks for the opportunity to take everyone to snowy Wisconsin and meet up with one of my favourite characters: Lucas Davenport.

You can follow the full advent tour by clicking through on this link:



I know this is an Advent tour and that this should suggest Christmas themes but I read crime and thrillers and they tend not to lend themselves to the warm and happy glow that I feel Christmas should ideally bring. I did consider revisiting Agatha Christie’s The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding as I am a huge fan of the Hercule Poirot novels but I had another plan!

Let me do some mental mapping here – Christmas makes me think of White Christmas…snow…and cold dark nights…bleak winters (I grew up in the Scottish Highlands where they have bleak winters nailed down!)…whiteouts…a killer hiding in the snow…stalking his victims and escaping into the black night.  When I think killers in the snow the first book that comes to mind is Winter Prey by John Sandford.  I first read this back in the 1990’s and all these years later it remains one of my favourite books in the Davenport series (now totalling over 20 titles and boasting an established spin off series too).

Winter Prey is a cracking murder mystery.  Davenport is the focus, as you would expect, his investigation into the murder of a family in their remote rural Wisconsin cabin is hampered from the outset by the fact the murderer has set fire to the house in a bid to destroy the bodies. But we also get to view events unfolding through the eyes of the killer: The Iceman.  The identity of the killer remains shrouded in mystery throughout the book, but the reader can see that he/she is monitoring the investigation from afar. We see the paranoia and learn that there are risks threatening their exposure when a 3rd party makes an innocent comment leading the killer to realise that there is hidden incriminating evidence that must be found.  More deaths are bound to follow as the killer looks to cover their tracks.

Most at risk is the local doctor and surgeon – Weather Karkinnen. She will know the identity of the killer if she gets to see the hidden evidence and the killer knows this.  Unfortunately for Weather she is unaware that she can identify a killer and as such she has no idea that her life is at risk. When her job requires her to travel alone through many remote locations on a daily basis you cannot help but fear for her safety.  Weather does have one thing in her favour, a certain police officer is more than a little fascinated by this unusually named surgeon. Any killer trying to get to Weather will have to go through Lucas Davenport first.

A deadly game of cat and mouse will unfold – pursuits will be hampered by snowstorms, tracks will be covered and evidence destroyed. Can a City Cop overcome the wilderness and hunt down an increasingly desperate murderer? Sandford captures the feel of the location and the bitter chill of the winter. After more than 20 years I still remember that initial feeling of being completely absorbed in the story and believing I was also chilled to the bone as I trekked through the Wisconsin woods with my fictional hero as he hunted down The Iceman.

It is atmospheric, it is compelling reading and it sets a scene which few crime novels that I have read since have rivalled.




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October 3

Q&A Andrew Shantos – Dead Star Island

Dead Star Island CoverToday is the final leg of the Dead Star Island Blog Tour and I am delighted to welcome Andrew Shantos to Grab This Book. Andrew has kindly taken time to answer a few questions:

Which book has most influenced your writing and why?

If I had to pick just one it has to be the Cyberpunk classic, Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson. One reviewer on Goodreads calls it “War and Peace for nerds”. It made me realise what is possible in a book: it’s brimming with ideas, both playful and deep; its real life characters get treated with affectionate irreverence; it’s sad and funny and clever. I’ve tried to do the same in Dead Star Island, though the nerdy aspect is more of the musical variety.


How long did it take you to find a publisher? What advice have you got for other debut novelists looking to get published?

It took about a year to find a publisher, after much trying (which I describe on another leg of my blog tour). There is much in the world of publishing that is beyond an author’s influence (particularly a debut author). But you can control the most important things: writing the best novel you possibly can; and giving absolutely everything you have. If you achieve those things, you learn to enjoy above all the process of writing, which is a deeper, more abiding love, rather than the short term lust you get from any kind of public “success”.

That said, most writers do want other people to read their musings on life, and it is lovely when someone says something nice about your book. So you have to keep trying, believe in yourself, and seek to become better at what you do.


Your central character is an alcoholic and there is certainly a good deal of substance abuse by the islanders too. How difficult or easy was it to write about?

I adored it! I always got a little excited when I knew one of these scenes was coming up, and I found them the easiest to write. They do say write what you know… Finally I found a constructive use for those wasted college years. There were a few substances missing from my collection though, so I took various mates out for a drink and got them to tell me stories from their bad old days.

I felt it was important to include these kind of experiences in the novel, because many of the real life characters who appear (Jim, Jimi, Joni etc) are defined as much by their hedonistic lifestyles as by their extraordinary musical talent. So Gunzabo (my detective, who simply cannot say no) ends up joining in (quite a lot). He has fun at first, but gets pretty messed up, which for me sums up why many people get into drug abuse, and why they stay into drug abuse.


Andrew ShantosWhen you were writing, did you set yourself deadlines or goals or did you just let it flow? How long did the book take from start to completion?

Dead Star Island took three years, from writing the first word to clicking Send on the final draft. I kept trying to set goals, but this never seemed to work: I found myself failing to reach them and doing even less as a result. What worked really well was keeping a record every time I finished a writing session. I noted the number of hours I spent and what I’d been working on (resulting in some nice stats for the nerds out there). This allowed me to give myself a pat on the back when I looked back and saw I’d done forty hours the previous month. Also I found myself competing with the me from a month ago to try to beat it.


Are there other genres you’d now like to explore?

As a reader I’ve never been one to stick to a particular genre. I’ll read anything, from thrillers to sci-fi to romance, so long as it’s full of ideas and it makes me feel part of someone else’s world. So I don’t know. Maybe a romantic sci-fi thriller?

For now though, I’m focussing on shorter fiction. I’ve got plenty of ideas and I want to turn some of them into short stories before committing to a few more years at the next full length novel.


You are a musician yourself. How did this influence your choice of subject/writing?

Music was the biggest influence of all on Dead Star Island. It helped me choose my characters, write many of the scenes (for example, the talent show where Jimi forms a super-group with some of the other residents and performs a cover of The Final Countdown). Music gave me the idea for the novel in the first place: all my favourite musicians, living in secrecy on an island together. It’s my ultimate fantasy. Of those I’m willing to share with the world, anyhow.



Dead Star Island, published by APP, can be ordered through Amazon priced £4.99 for Kindle and £8.99 paperback:
To get in touch visit him here….
t: @andrewshantos
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