November 7

The Dead Whisper – Emma Clapperton

D.S Preston and D.C Lang are sent to investigate the death of a young girl in an old manor house in Glasgow. But who would want to kill an innocent girl in her own home and why? When they believe their questions have been answered the case is closed.

Meanwhile, Sam Leonard could not be happier – he has a great acting career and a fantastic girlfriend. After being in a previously turbulent relationship, what could go wrong?

For Patrick McLaughlin life is going well. His marriage is stable and with a baby on the way, things can only get better.

But the house that Patrick moves into is not what it seems. With a family burial plot in the gardens, visions and messages from the deceased, and a recent death in the house, will Patrick and Jodie regret their purchase?

In order to lay the ghosts to rest questions will be asked but can the house ever let go of its past?

 

My thanks to Sarah Hardy for my review copy and the chance to join the Blog Blitz

A nicely creepy tale which is perfect for these dark November evenings. The Dead Whisper sees the return of Patrick McLaughlin (first encountered in The Suicide Plan). Patrick can see ghosts and spirits and when he moves into the former home of the Henderson family,  complete with the family burial plot in the grounds, it will throw up a challenge for Patrick to solve.

It should be noted that Patrick does not actually appear in The Dead Whisper until mid-way through the book and this is a story which can very much be read as a stand-alone thriller. The main focus is on Sam Leonard – a successful actor who seems to attract some very protective (possibly obsessive) girlfriends.  Sam is in the early days of a new relationship – his last partner had become infatuated with him and was sending hostile messages to Sam’s flatmate and childhood friend Jenny.

Jenny is extremely protective of Sam and given how his last relationship ended it is not surprising she does not wish her friend to be hurt again.  However, the reader gets to see that Jenny’s protective edge can ramp up to outright hostility if she feels that Sam is getting too much attention from a member of the opposite sex.  Sam appears totally unaware of Jenny’s over-protective side but it does unsettle people who fall foul of Jenny’s glare.

What was particularly unsettling was that women who show Sam too much attention seem to become a target and this can have fatal consequences. I was shocked when one character I had really liked suddenly faced extreme peril, nasty surprises and unexpected twists are the BEST way to draw me into a story and Emma Clapperton did exactly that.

Supernatural thrills mean a few dead bodies are likely and I really enjoyed The Dead Whispers as the balance between crime novel and creepy thriller was spot on.

 

The Dead Whisper is published by Bloodhound Books and is available in paperback and digital format and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Whisper-haunting-thriller-wont-ebook/dp/B076M2LR5Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1510096222&sr=8-3&keywords=emma+clapperton&dpID=517eMVekTiL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

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February 13

The Intrusions – Stav Sherez

The IntrusionsWhen a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?

 

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

The Intrusions gripped me. Totally, completely hooked me from the outset. I read it in three sittings and each time I had to put down the book (to go and do the day job) I was counting down the minutes until the time when I could pick it up and begin reading again.

What made matters worse was that when I found out what the Intrusions from the title actually were I became more than a little freaked out. Not only was I dying to get back to reading, I was obsessing slightly about plot threads from the story and looking around my environment wondering if there were reasons to worry!

Cryptic?  Sorry but once you read the book you will understand why…it is a chilling idea but I have no doubt it is happening all around us.

The Intrusions was my first introduction to Stav Sheraz’s books and there were references to previous stories featuring the lead characters (Carrigan and Miller). Sometimes that can be a frustration for a new reader but in this case I found myself on several occasions thinking “I MUST go back and read the earlier books” as the backstory sounds superb.

The Intrusions begins with an abduction but it is not long before events will spiral into a much bigger challenge for the police. I particularly enjoyed how well the investigation was presented by the author, I really felt I was tracking their footsteps as they hunted down leads. Not every police thriller can capture the sense of urgency and pressure of an active investigation but, as I indicated above, I was gripped.

Without doubt one of the best books I have read for many months and a story I am recommending to anyone that will listen. Do not miss The Intrusions.

 

The Intrusions is published by Faber & Faber and is available now. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Intrusions-Carrigan-Miller-Stav-Sherez/0571297250/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486941671&sr=1-1&keywords=stav+sherez

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January 29

Her Every Fear – Peter Swanson

Her Every FearFollowing a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend, Kate Priddy makes an uncharacteristically bold decision after her cousin, Corbin Dell, suggests a temporary apartment swap – and she moves from London to Boston.

But soon after her arrival Kate makes a shocking discovery: Corbin’s next-door neighbour, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police begin asking questions about Corbin’s relationship with Audrey, and his neighbours come forward with their own suspicions, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own.

Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination playing out her every fear, Kate can barely trust herself. so how can she trust any of the strangers she’s just met?

 

My thanks to Sophie at Faber for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.

Kate Priddy is not having the best of times. Recovering from a traumatic incident involving her ex-boyfriend she has agreed to swap homes with an American cousin. On arriving at his apartment (much nicer than her flat) Kate is disturbed to find that one of her new neighbours may be missing.

Kate’s initial concerns escalate when we learn that her neighbour, Audrey, has actually been murdered in the apartment next to her new residence. The police come to question Kate and ask about her cousin (Corbin) but Kate and Corbin never met – is it possible her cousin could be a killer?

Narrative switches and we learn that Audrey had actually been under observation for many months. In the opposite wing of the apartment block we learn that one of the other residents could see straight into the victims house and had developed an unhealthy fascination with her. With Audrey dead it now seems that the voyeuristic neighbour may now be turning his attentions towards Kate.

Her Every Fear will focus on several different characters. At various stages of the story we may revisit some scenes more than once. Our initial impression of a conversation will be challenged when the second narrative outlines a totally different explanation for what originally seemed to be a straightforward situation. It is very cleverly worked and once you realise that all the characters have a very specific reason for acting in a certain way it leads to question who may have the most to lose if their secrets were to come out into the open.

This book was everything that I had hoped it would be. The twists were twisty, the shocks shocking and the nastiness was ramped up to the max. Peter Swanson can spin a damn good yarn and Her Every Fear was an absolute treat to read.  Highly recommended if you enjoy a suspenseful thriller.

 

Her Every Fear is published in Hardback and digital format by Faber and you can order a copy through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Her-Every-Fear-Peter-Swanson/0571327109/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485726879&sr=1-1&keywords=her+every+fear

 

Catch up with the tour:

HEF_BLOG

 

 

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January 12

Rupture – Ragnar Jonasson

Rupture1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

 

My thanks, as ever, to Karen at Orenda for my review copy.

Ragnar Jonasson can get a LOT of story in one book. There is tonnes going on in Rupture so for Ari Thor fans this is going to be a bit of a treat.

Siglufjörður is in lockdown. A quarantine on the town as illness has claimed a life and nobody is prepared to risk their health just to meet their neighbours.  Ari Thor is using this down time to investigate a cold-case which has been brought to his attention. In the mid 1950’s a woman in the remote settlement of Hedinsfjörður seemingly took her own life by drinking poison.  There were only 4 people in the settlement at that time and it was assumed that the isolation became too much leading her to take her own life. Spin forward to the present day and an old photograph has come to light which suggests that the four may not have been alone as a shot of a mystery man is captured on film.

Away from Siglufjörður I was delighted to see journalist Isrun return (she first appeared in Black Out). Isrun is still working in the newsroom and has significantly enhanced her position amongst her colleagues since we first encountered her. Isrun is reporting on the abduction of a child but as she digs deeper into the story she starts to believe there may be a much bigger story hiding behind the shocking kidnapping.

When I first reviewed a Jonasson novel (Snowbound) I remarked on the similarities with the plot of an Agatha Christie novel. Rupture gave me that same feeling as I read it – even down to the scene where Ari Thor gathers a small number of characters together to outline his deductions. It really was a fun book to read.

Delightfully twisty, frequently sinister and utterly engrossing. I do love the Dark Iceland series and Rupture is another corker.

 

Rupture is published by Orenda Books and is available now in paperback and digital format.

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rupture-Dark-Iceland-Ragnar-Jonasson/dp/1910633577/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484262126&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=rupture+ragna

The Rupture blog tour is in full flow and you can follow it here:

Rupture tour

 

 

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March 15

Night Show – Richard Laymon

Night ShowWhen the horror becomes real.

Dani Larson is the queen of horror movie special effects. Grisly murders and mutilated corpses are all in a day’s work for her. Nothing frightens her—not even watching herself torn to pieces on the screen. But now the gore is real, and Dani is terrified. She’s being stalked by the Chill Master, a psychopath who wants to be Dani’s apprentice, her lover, and eventually…her replacement.

Can Dani find a way to survive? Or will this real-life horror movie scare Dani to death?

 

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

Back when I was a teen (many years ago) I discovered I enjoyed horror stories. This came as a bit of a shock to me as I really do not like horror films so making the decision at age 13 to read a collection of ghost stories was a pretty big deal to me at the time. Hooked from that point on!

Having whet my appetite with some Stephen King and James Herbert books I stumbled upon the works of Richard Laymon. These were stories I could get into very easily and the plots were sufficiently nasty that the (now) 14 year old me felt I was reading ‘real’ books. What I found about particularly pleasing at the time was Laymon’s writing style was very easy to access (handy when exam studying should have been happening).

Zip forward a couple of decades (and some) and I am revisiting Night Show. I was keen to see if I still enjoyed Laymon’s books and if they had stood the test of time. Yes and Sort of.

The story did not show any real signs of aging, however, there are lots of horror film references and the passage of time since writing means that lots of modern ‘classics’ cannot be mentioned leaving the impression that the characters are slightly obsessed with ‘old’ horror movies. There are also a couple of scenes where modern characters would have had a mobile phone handy so the terror of their situation could easily have been diffused by whipping out their phone to call for help….best keep in mind that this story is very much of its time.

But the actual story is quite good fun.  A stalker tale – the creepy kid that want’s to scare people becomes fixated on a beautiful film-maker and decides that she is the only woman for him, even if she does not know it yet. The detail in the film-making scenes was fascinating reading, the obvious love that Richard Laymon had for the horror films (which he frequently references) shines through.

Laymon’s books never quite had the depth of King, Hutson or Herbert but they were fun, solid reads which always guaranteed to keep me entertained.  Night Show still ticks all the right boxes for me – I enjoyed the silly scares and the OTT characters but I also remembered the other great books Laymon wrote and I want to revisit them too.

 

Samhain will release Night Show on 3 May 2016 – you can order a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Show-Richard-Laymon-ebook/dp/B01980QKPQ/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457910369&sr=1-1&keywords=night+show+richard+laymon

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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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jonathan-Dark-Evidence-Ghosts-Benedict-ebook/dp/B00M88VQWS/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1456184627&sr=1-1

 

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April 18

Black Wood – SJI Holliday

black-wood-72Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story.

Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?

 

My thanks to Black & White Publishing for my review copy

 

Black Wood is set in Banktoun, a small village on the outskirts of Edinburgh. If you have ever lived in a small village you will understand that there is a community spirit, that everyone knows everyone else and there CAN be a feeling of claustrophobia (especially if you aspire to escape to pastures new). A small village is also a perfect setting for a tense thriller. A predator in our midst causing fear for the residents, a snake in the garden, one rotten apple in the barrel. Except that everyone has secrets and all is never as it seems.

Cut straight to the chase: I loved Black Wood. I loved the characters, the setting, the mystery and Susi Holliday teased out the secrets brilliantly over the course of the novel.

The story follows Jo. Some 20 years before the events in the story she and her friend Claire had a life changing incident on the edge of Banktoun. The impact of events still resonate for Jo and Claire and we learn that Jo has had a somewhat troubled time in the intervening years.

Elsewhere local policeman, Sergeant Davie Gray, is hunting for a balaclava wearing man who has been seen lurking around a disused railway line that runs beside the village. Unfortunately the lurking is escalating to more threatening behaviour and it is not long before an attack occurs.

Sergeant Gray is another star in the making for me and I want to read more about him. He knows Jo of old and promised Jo’s mother that he would help watch out for her daughter – this protective side creates an interesting dynamic between the two characters and the scenes with Jo and Davie Gray were high points.

One memorable moment for me was when Jo returned to her Grandmother’s house (the titular Black Wood). An unexpected incident appeared to be taking the story in a direction I had not expected. As I am avoiding any Spoilers I cannot elaborate but the sequence suddenly heightened the tension, added a new dimension to the story and made Jo appear significantly more vulnerable than I had initially envisaged. I love when an author can catch me unawares in this way.

Black Wood is one of my favourite books so far this year. A brilliant story in which the characters shine and the mysteries kept me hooked as I poured through the book desperate to find out how events would be resolved.   More from Banktoun please, I feel we need to know it better.

All that remains is to reconfirm my love for Black Wood by scoring it 5/5 and urging you to read it.

 

Black Wood is published by Black and White Publishing and is available in both paperback and in digital format.

You can follow Susi Holliday on Twitter: @SJIHolliday

Or visit her website at http://sjiholliday.com

 

 

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July 27

The String Diaries – Stephen Lloyd Jones

He has a face you love. A voice you trust. To survive you must kill him.

Always looking
Always looking

The rules of survival are handed from mother to daughter. Inherited, like the curse that has stalked Hannah and her family across centuries.

He changes his appearance at will, speaks with a stolen voice and hides behind the face of a beloved, waiting to strike.

Generation after generation, he has destroyed them. And all they could do was to run.

Until now.

Now, it is time for Hannah to turn and fight.

 

Review copy kindly provided by Bookbridgr from Headline.

 

Hannah lives her life in constant fear. She has a stalker and has to maintain a constant vigilance to ensure he cannot find her. To help her evade her pursuer she has a very special collection of books, diaries and journals, which were handed down from her mother and grandmother. They recount stories of their experiences and warn of the evil that stalks them. This is necessary as they were all running from is the same man Jakab– he does not age, he can change his physical appearance to exactly mirror another and he will let no one get in his way.

In his debut novel Stephen Lloyd Jones has crafted a tense thriller which will keep you turning pages well into the night. The story jumps from a modern day setting back into 18th century Hungary where Hannah’s nemesis Jakab is introduced. We learn of his coming of age, how he develops his ‘talent’ of assuming another’s identity and the corrupting power that this gives him. Back to the present time and we find out a little more of Hannah and her family history – always with the constant threat of the ‘Bad Man’.

Pacing within the story is extremely well handled, Lloyd Jones progresses the present day pursuit throughout the story but introduces several cliff-hanger moments at which point he takes us back in time to develop the back-story and flesh out the character of his monster.

Despite the obvious corruption of Jakab and the callous nature he shows, the author also conveys the sense of loss that Jabab has experienced and you get an understanding into what motivates his murderous spree through the years.

A teaser chapter from a second novel at the end of The String Diaries confirms that there will be more to follow from Stephen Lloyd Jones – on the evidence of the first book the next story will be a welcome addition to my library.

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