Tag: Suspense

Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

four-stars

 

Katherine is late for work on the first day of new ownership of the magazine where she has worked for twenty years as an editor. She jumps into a taxi only to find Lily has also got in beside her.

Precious You

Katherine makes a mental character assassination of Lily, and as the journey progresses it becomes clear that Lily is starting her internship at the same magazine. As the days progress Lily succeeds in trashing everything Katherine does at the magazine and piece by piece takes apart her life, her home and her man.

This is a car crash of a book. Both Katherine and Lily are dreadful, damaged characters and you can see the devastation to come to Katherine’s life from a mile off. Even though the outcome is obvious the reading is compulsive. This is certainly one of those unputdownable books and a great debut.

 

 

 

She Did It by Mel Sherratt

4 and half 1

 

Mel Sherratt is a crime, police procedurals and psychological suspense writer, and if you’ve not read any of hers before, She Did It is a great stand-alone one to start with.

She Did It

The two main protagonists, Tamara and Ester, are both liars and have their own agenda but for different reasons. Tamara runs a publicity business but is broke, lonely and needs to prove herself to her parents. Ester is aggressive, devious, a thief and murderer and Tamara wants to be best friends. The two women are poles apart in class and wealth but while the two rub along well together, there’s no denying that they each know their place. There’s never a dull moment following Ester wearing wigs and disguises, as she picks pockets to fund herself. But then there’s the small question of a gun and dead body.

This is an absolutely riveting read, one I couldn’t put down. It felt special, like the first time I read a Martina Cole.

 

 

 

HIM by Clare Empson

Five Stars 1

Catherine has had such an impacting shock that it has temporarily rendered her mute. We start the book with Catherine in a nursing home being visited and cajoled by her husband and two children.

Him

From her inner thoughts, we visit the past fifteen years in which she met Him, Lucian, the love of her life but then something happened that caused her to take a different fork and marry Sam instead. Her love for Lucian was and still is, all consuming, intense, obsessive, addictive – He was the one. After hearing of his mother’s death, she re-visits Lucian and almost falls into his chaotic and hedonistic lifestyle again. But something so devastating happens during those few days that she runs back to her husband mute.

It’s beautifully written, many elements resonate with my own life, and it brings back subtle memories of Donna Tartt’s Secret History which is one of my all time favourites. HIM is now one of my favourite books and it’s intense, addictive love caused me to create a new tag on this site – Adictive, Obsessive Love.

 

Between You And Me by Lisa Hall

4 and half 1

 

I love a good twist in a book, getting that ‘WOW’ moment when everything flips on its head is better than a bar of chocolate for me. Between You And Me has the best twist I’ve read for a long time, so much so, I had to go back and re-read the last couple of chapters just to make sure.

Between You And Me

This is a psychological thriller based around domestic abuse. To outsiders Charlie is charming, but in reality is a dominating manipulator and Sal gets the brunt of anything that Charlie doesn’t like. This only happens behind closed doors in their own home, and when Charlie begins to use Maggie, their daughter, as a bargaining tool, Sal has had enough and schemes to leave, taking Maggie too.

Tension is high all the way through, there’s never a dull moment, the reader always wondering what Charlie will mete out next on Sal. Lisa Hall is a great writer and I can thoroughly recommend all her books if you like a taut, gripping read.

 

 

 

 

SHE by HC Warner

four-stars

She is a book of two halves. First we start with Ben and how shattered he is when his long-term girlfriend, Charlotte, leaves him.  He was about to propose but she didn’t get to know that.

She

Then in a whirlwind romance he meets Bella, she quickly becomes pregnant and they marry, but everything is on her terms. Bella, the ‘She’ doesn’t come over as a very nice person and I’m sure if it wasn’t for the baby, their relationship would not have lasted. She’s rude to his parents and he’s no longer allowed to see his friends. The brass neck of the girl makes for perfect poolside reading. Part two, and the story flips to Bella’s version of events. I can’t say it made me like Bella any more but one or two things slipped into place. There’s quite a bit of repetition of events with living Bella’s slant and perspective, but this just confirmed what a schemer she is.

I found She to be a cleverly plotted book and quite refreshing in its unusualness.

 

 

Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall

4 and half 1

 

Laurel goes missing on Bonfire Night under the noses of her mother Fran, and nanny Anna.

Have You Seen Her

Immediately tension is high as the evening’s organisers and then police are called in to search for the little girl. It quickly becomes clear that Anna has something to hide about a previous nanny job and is frightened of being recognised by the press and having her past dug up. There are also obvious problems with Laurel’s parents’ relationship, Fran and Dominic, who struggle to hold it together in front of the police. This is a story of every parents’ nightmare.

There are revelations, twists and red herrings at every chapter end and the pace is quick and exciting. Lisa Hall is a great writer and I can thoroughly recommend all her books if you like an edge-of-your-seat read with massive twists.

 

 

# Me Too by Patricia Dixon

4 and half 1

 

Once again, Patricia Dixon has created a topical story using believable, everyday characters.

Me Too

The female lead character, Billie, wanted to travel the world but at the last minute her more grounded boyfriend Stan, decided to stay at home – Billie went anyway, and with the events that followed, she bitterly regrets that decision.

While Billie was away, Stan moved on with his life and Kelly entered his home and life. Within a year, Stan was in prison for the rape and assault of Kelly. Billie is devastated but finds it difficult to decide who is telling the truth. Stan’s letter gives his version which Billie so wants to believe, but then Kelly is equally believable so who does she trust? There were so many red herrings, twists and turns that I didn’t know who was telling the truth.

Patricia Dixon has the knack of writing about friendly, lovable characters and giving them a topical, realistic issue to deal with. She explores the impact on not only the characters’ lives, but those of family and friends around them. I’m never disappointed with a Dixon book and always look forward to the next.

 

His And Hers by Alice Feeney

Five Stars 1

 

His and Hers

Alice Feeney never fails to give a good depth crime thriller with tension and suspense. In this one, we get His, DCI Jack Harper, and Her, TV presenter Anna Andrews, perspective of a series of murders centred around a village from their past.

We quickly learn that Jack and Anna used to be married and that the first murder victim is known to both DCI Jack Harper and Anna Andrews. After murders two and three it looks like Anna’s circle of school friends are being targeted. It’s also clear that the DCI Jack Harper is being framed, or at least he thinks so.

I found this story to be utterly gripping, full of twists and at any one time I could fit any of the characters into being the murderer.  I very much recommend this and all other novels by Alice Feeney.

 

Liars by Anita Waller & Patricia Dixon

4 and half 1

 

Liars

Some dual writer partnerships work really well – husband and wife team Nicci French, Greer Hendricks & Sara Pekkanen – and this Waller-Dixon is seamless and flows beautifully. I know Patricia Dixon‘s writing very well but have only read one of Anita Waller‘s books, both are accomplished writers in their own right, and I guessed quite early on who wrote which character.

Wendy and Nell have been friends since primary school and know each others deepest secrets.

Nell travels Europe for work and they write to each other constantly, that is until and Wendy marries a man who Nell knows is a creep and a womaniser and Wendy’s letters become sparse and formulaic. When Nell returns to Sheffield, Wendy’s husband is unexpectedly nice to her until she’s due to fly back to France and then shows his true colours when he brutally attacks her, both verbally and physically.

There is suspense, intrigue, love and friendship, as well as the odd murder or two. The mix of psychological/crime writer with romantic suspense writer works really well to give softness and reality to quite nasty, sometimes vicious, characters and situations. Very much recommended.

 

34 Days by Anita Waller

4 and half 1

 

34 Days

Anna is in an unhappy marriage. Ray is not a kind person, and now that her children are grown up she decides to take back control of her life. On the day of her 35th wedding anniversary, she packs her bags and leaves her home and Lincoln for good.Ray is furious but believes she will go back to him after a few days but, as she finds herself a modern apartment in a new town, she starts to feel safe and joyously elated. Then Jenny, her daughter-in-law, drops two bombshells which rocks Anna to her core.

This is a serial killer thriller like no other. I’ve never before read such an impacting and unique storyline – family secrets past and present, murder to hide murder – and I rushed through the book needing to know whether Anna and Jenny’s secret, their lives, were safe.

Anita Waller is a fabulous writer. She creates friendly, believable characters and puts them in monstrous situations. This is the first of her books I’ve read, but now I’ve discovered her I have several earmarked for the top of my reading mountain.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

four-stars

 

This is a most unusual and bizarre concept.  Seth wants a family.  He is legally married to Thursday but she unfortunately can’t have a baby.  He had divorced Tuesday because she’s a high flying lawyer and doesn’t want a family, but he still lives with her on Tuesdays.  Monday is pregnant with Seth’s baby and Seth believes he has the perfect life – three wives who know almost nothing about each other and sees them in rotation.

The Wives

The narrator of the story is Thursday.    I realised a few chapters in that the reader does’t know her name but that doesn’t matter, all is revealed later.  The ‘wives’ don’t know each others names, and know only very basic things about each other – just how Seth wants it. Unexpectedly, Thursday finds out the name of Monday and can’t help but trace her identity on social media. When she meets Monday/Hannah, she sees bruises on her arms and becomes suspicious of Seth.

I found The Wives to be unorthodox and totally gripping. A romantic suspense perfect to read poolside or on the beach.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

four-stars

Twelve year old Edward Adler is the sole survivor of a plane crash. The book switches between being on the plane in the hours running up to the crash, and Edward living with his mother’s sister and her husband. There is a marked difference between Eddie before the crash and Edward, as he is now known, after the crash. Everyone says he’s lucky – lucky to be alive – but Edward feels far from lucky having lost his parents, brother and his whole life as he knew it.

Dear Edward

The time with the passengers on the plane has a feeling of doom – the weather is awful, the turbulence is bad – but knowing something about several of the passengers gives emotion and realism to the eventual tragedy. I recognised many of the similarities of the true plane crash of Air France flight 477 in 2009 in this story, which added to the authenticity leading up to the disaster.

Edward finds difficulty in conveying his feelings to his new family, and his only friend is Shay, the girl next door who he trusts and confides in completely.

A compelling story which kept me gripped when reading about being on the plane, and fascinated in Edward’s progress, both physical and emotional, after losing everything.

 

Smash All The Windows by Jane Davis

4 and half 1

 

Jane Davis is one of the best self-published authors out there and her books are all well worth reading. Smash All The Windows is Jane’s ninth novel and is the winner of The Selfies Best Self-Published Work of Fiction Award 2019.

Smash All The Windows

The story is of a disaster in an over-crowded London underground. The crowded escalators keep moving down onto fallen people at the bottom. People are piling on top of one another and the weight and lack of oxygen is too much to bear. Someone must be to blame – or should they? Is there any such thing as an accident? It’s Friday evening and everyone wants to go home, but should they have been stopped from entering an already too busy station?

Jane has written from the perspective of several victims on their way to the disaster and also from family members struggling to understand, live with, and survive the death of their loved ones. She is an extraordinary and intelligent writer who writes sensitively of a fictional disaster which has echoes of the real-life Hillsborough disaster.

 

 

Jane Davis 1

 

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Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

4 and half 1

 

Beautiful Bad is truly one of the most psychological of psychological thrillers. The story builds and builds, goes back in time several years from the day of the killing, returns to the day of the killing, goes back a few weeks before the day of the killing, and all this back story really intensifies the suspense.

Beautiful Bad K

The book starts with the police entering the house after a distressing call to 911. There is so much blood inside that there has to be a body – we don’t know who is dead until close to the end of the book, it is just referred to as ‘the killing’. We are taken back to when Jo and Maddie were best friends and both had a love of eastern bloc countries, their languages and the cultures. Jo lives in Macedonia and Maddie lives in Bulgaria but they get together, often in dangerous travelling situations, as often as they can. The two girls meet a group of men, including Ian, who they party and drink with and this is when the friendship starts to go awry.

Ian is working in security for army officers, escorting individuals and companies in war torn areas of the middle east and Africa. He is clearly suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, drinking astronomical amounts of vodka and doesn’t seek professional help. Ian and Jo have some history, possibly a relationship, when Maddie isn’t around, and later when Maddie and Ian are married, she still doesn’t know why Ian and Jo hate each other so much.

The past story meets with present time and all secrets are laid out to be shouted about. I thought the description of their lives in the eastern bloc countries was intense and fascinating. The tension and suspense was high throughout and I loved the twisted turnaround ending.

 

The Passengers by John Marrs

4 and half 1

 

The Passengers

Set in the very near future where driverless cars are the norm, eight cars have hijacked their passengers and are taking them on a course set for collision in two and a half hours time.

Each chapter introduces a new major character (there are no minor characters here) who we learn a little about up to the point of them being locked in their cars. Each character is then written in rotation and find that they are not all they first seemed. As I was reading, I kept thinking that in in a few years time as driverless technology progresses, this could be reality. I found it to be very gripping with authentic characters and plotline.

John Marrs is an excellent weaver of realistic fantastical stories and I can thoroughly recommend all his books – ‘The One’ is a particular favourite of mine.

 

John Marrs

 

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This Is Gomorrah by Tom Chatfield

Four Stars

This is not my usual kind of story at all but the blurb of the book sounded so intriguing, I just had to read it. Just to give you a slight idea of the Dark Web – it is over 500 times bigger than the web as most of us know it and is 99% of the internet you can’t Google. It’s not illegal to access and you can’t ‘accidentally’ find yourself in there.

This Is Gomorrah 1

Azi is a hacker working on the Dark Web in his garden shed. He sees himself as mostly a good guy hacker, he doesn’t exploit companies or hold their data to ransom but he’s capable of severe meddling. After seeing some serious terrorist related information passed to him by an internet ‘friend’ he is within minutes visited by unknown people who persuade him to arrange to meet his friend Munira, and leave the country. For a while in the book I was unsure who were the good guys and who were bad, so I just kept reading with an open mind and accepted it as told until it more fully unfolded. I don’t want to say more about the actual story, but I did find it quite gripping, also amazing, and wondered where the story would end up.

It has a dual storyline with Azi and Munira in the main but also Kabir in Syria trying to make his escape. It also occasionally goes back to Azi’s childhood when he first started his passion for computers. I’ve been around since “dial up” using a 3.1 machine, in fact before then I used a Vic 20 without internet access, so sympathised with Azi in his frustrating early days – kids today don’t know how good they’ve got it.

This Is Gomorrah is well worth a read and think it might suit men and those with computer and internet knowledge more than others – though I enjoyed it so give it a go. It’s well written and Tom Chatfield has certainly got a technological, streetwise and astute mind.

 

 

Sleep by C.L. Taylor

4 and half 1

C.L. Taylor never fails to grip you from the very first pages.  

Sleep

The opening chapter is a killer! Then, Anna is driving three work colleagues back to London in atrocious weather, just following the rear lights of the car in front because conditions are so poor. One of them feels ill and wants to open one of the back windows. This knocks Anna’s concentration and before she realises what’s happening, the car spins out of control and rolls. On waking in hospital, Anna comes to realise that two of her passengers are dead and one has serious life changing injuries. As Anna recovers, she has the feeling that she’s being watched and followed. Scared, having just broken up with her boyfriend and needing a new start in life where nobody knows who she is, Anna takes a job as a hotel receptionist on the remote Scottish island of Rum. The holidaymakers are flaky and flawed and as a storm comes in, Anna realises that whoever was following her in London is still following her now.

Sleep started off like her novels usually do – normal, believable characters but in unusually tense situations – but once it got going, Anna is put in an isolated situation with a new group of characters. It reminded me very much of an Agatha Christie style whodunnit with red herrings throughout and only a limited number of people out to get Anna.

C.L. Taylor is brilliant at creating suspense, that nail-biting, seat-of-your-pants thriller that keeps you turning pages. I’d recommend any of her books.

Cally Taylor

 

 

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The Feud by Amanda James

4 and half 1

 

Chapter One opens with Kenver Penhallow and his family escaping from their home during the night which is well ablaze. Kenver and Wenna do a quick head count of their children and realise that little Jago is missing, last seen in the barn looking after a sick puppy. The barn is a pile of charred wood and the little boy is perished. The language in this chapter is old Cornish, told of the olden days, of a time 200 years ago when the Feud began.

The Feud

Matt Trevelyar moves to St Agnes in Cornwall after giving up teaching in London following the sad death of his wife. Within days, he receives messages in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome and that he should return to London. Not easily put off, Matt takes up his teaching position in the local school and starts to make enquiries with the locals about who might want him to leave. He learns of a feud between two families, one of which he is a descendent.

The characters are a delight to read about and are realistic for small village life. Lavender is typical artist-hippy, and when Matt and Lavender first meet it’s obvious that love will blossom – but how do they overcome the fact that he is a Trevelyar and she is a Penhallow.

This starts out as a vicious crime but is ultimately a romantic suspense novel. Amanda James is a talented writer and writes beautifully about her beloved Cornwall.

 

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Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey

 

Four Stars

Emily Klein doesn’t know her husband Greg is dead until the day of the funeral. From her hospital bed, she doesn’t yet know that she killed him. Once home and beginning to recover from the dreadful car crash, she sees her husband at a distance, in coffee shops, around town and in his car, yet when she gets home the car is on the drive.

Lies 1

Posts appear on his Facebook account and she begins to get text messages from him, it can only be him as he’s the only one who called her Alice when her name is Emily. She thinks she’s losing her mind and the reader is reminded of her past when  she was in a mental institution after killing her father.

The book switches back to her childhood home with her sister and their abusive father. We get an idea of Emily’s mental state and the reason behind her spell in a mental institution. Emily’s sister is key throughout the story giving support when she’s just lost her husband. Most of the story is in present day, just a few switches to childhood as memories resurface.

Emily’s friends are all under suspicion of imitating Greg and she doesn’t know who to trust or believe. There are several twists and jaw-drops before all lies are revealed and unravelled at the end.

Diane Jeffrey

 

 

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Rosie and Ruby by Patricia Dixon

five_stars

Rosie and Ruby was first published under the title Three Mothers, (Trois Meres) and was Patricia Dixon’s second novel. Her writing and storytelling in this book is flowing and confident, not afraid to tell it how it is.

Patricia Dixon - Rosie and Ruby_cover
Briefly, this is the story of cousins Rosie and Ruby, starting with their childhood and teenage years living in Manchester with their parents. Both have equally awful mothers in different ways, and both girls, and later young women, come to terms with and overcome the mental scars that haunt them for years. Rosie follows her dream of being a hotelier and ends up in France, while Ruby marries her wealthy whirlwind heart throb who turns out to be a violent and vicious monster. I don’t want to give the whole story away so won’t go any further with that.

There were tense and, at times, quite viciously nasty parts in this book and I can see that a more sinister genre was waiting to escape – Over My Shoulder by the same author.

Patricia Dixon writes fluidly and interestingly and never leaves any loose ends. When a new character comes on the scene she gives a concise and engrossing outline of who they are and what sort of personality they have.

Whose books are hers similar to? Well, the Manchester element reminded me of Mandasue Heller but her warmth and friendship within the story is much like Patricia Scanlan or Maeve Binchy – lovely fulfilling stories. I have read all Patricia’s books and the warmth, emotions and characters never fail to give me a fuzzy loved feeling.

 

TrishandOwen

 

 

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Death’s Dark Veil by Patricia Dixon

Five Stars

Death’s Dark Veil opens with someone on their death-bed being taunted and observed by ghostly figures. She knows who they are and knows they have come to escort her to the next world, but their descriptions are terrifying and I wondered if she could ever rest in peace.

The firstDeath's Dark Veil chapters introduce two very different characters, Georgie and Ivy, and these two young girls create the theatre for a very dark and dangerous show. Each has a tragic start to their adult lives but grow into strong and capable young women. We follow them individually to the time their lives collide at Tenley House, the Gothic towering home of first Daphne and Kenneth, then Georgie and Kenneth, as well as a dreadful old bat mother-in-law, Phyllis. Evil is all around, too many deaths for comfort (and coincidence), so who is behind these suspicious deaths?

Well written in a dark and menacing way with a good amount of humour to keep things light – the nick-name for curmudgeonly Phyllis, (Syphilis) had me howling.  There are gasp out loud moments at tragedies and deaths, and there is a great twist at the end.  I certainly didn’t guess the outcome and I loved the ending.

 

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The Bad Mother by Amanda Brooke

3-and-half-star

The Bad Mother

The Bad Mother is a rather chilling tale of expectations and realities of becoming a new mother. Lucy is expecting her first baby but rather than all the excitement of buying all the baby things and decorating its room, Lucy is worrying about lapses in her memory, a complete loss of confidence and her capabilities of looking after a new baby. Lucy’s mother puts it down to ‘baby brain’ and hormones but her husband isn’t so sure it’s as simple as hormones, he’s convinced it is a mental problem which she may have inherited from her father.

For a good way through the book I was trying to convince myself that all Lucy’s problems were down to her husband, Adam – well, the blurb on the cover tells us this – but thought that was too simple and that there must be a twist. I disliked Adam as a character from early on. He comes over as a whiny, spoilt, petulant person who likes to get his own way.

After Lucy and Adam’s little girl is born, things don’t get any better and Lucy is convinced that she is a danger to her baby and incapable of keeping her safe and cared for. The story moves at a reasonable pace and finally comes to a head in a breathtaking way.

This was a well written book touching on many issues but I didn’t find it a page-turner, it should have been shorter instead of reiterating the same things. I would have liked to have known what made Adam tick. His upbringing was similar to many children but they don’t all act like him, just what clicked in his brain to make him so selfish and duplicitous. Equally, why did Lucy so quickly and easily change from being a strong, confident, working woman with many friends into a whimpering wet lettuce.

 

 

The Rival by Charlotte Duckworth

4 and half 1

Helena is a confident and successful business woman heading her own department in an international make-up company. Then Ashley is interviewed and taken on and everything goes out of kilter.

The Rival

The story is told in a present day and back a year or so style, and although I felt that sometimes the timeline wasn’t quite clear (only realising we’d gone back/forward after a paragraph or two,) it worked well to show how quickly Ashley was taking over and Helena was spiralling down with pregnancy, childbirth and depression.

Both main female characters had their faults, pushy, deceptive, unfaithful etc., and the author making them both unlikeable at times made them feel realistic, more true to life, just a bad combination when they got together.

I thought the book was well written and well plotted, it had a couple of unexpected twists at the end and I enjoyed it very much.

 

If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

Five Stars

Rachel suspects her husband is having an affair after finding messages on a Twitter account which has been left open on her laptop. She goes to the hotel she believes he is meeting someone, only to see her husband’s car hitting a pedestrian and driving away from the scene of the crime.

If He Wakes

Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie, is having an embarrassing time at the bank after finding that her bank cards don’t work. Her account has been suspended because of her massive unauthorised overdraft with the threat of her flat being called in as security. Suzie, of course, knows

nothing of the debt.

Two very gripping and interesting storylines from the very start and the tension just keeps building.

The police question Rachel and her husband about the hit and run, and Suzie is trying to piece together what the missing money has to do with her missing boyfriend. This very quickly becomes one of the most gripping and suspenseful books I’ve read. There is an intense feeling of the runaway train having left the track and is heading towards disaster with nothing anyone can do to stop it.

Very well written, fabulous characters and nails bitten to the quick!

 

Zoe Lea

 

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Over My Shoulder by Patricia Dixon

Five Stars

This is a dark and addictive story of how lovely Freya becomes manipulated and controlled by Kane. Freya’s character is portrayed to be a normal working young woman of the 1990s. She has a very real personality, the sort of girl we could have worked with and from a family we could know of. She meets Kane whilst at work and quickly becomes quite besotted by him, even though she has a steady boyfriend. From the start, Kane is a manipulator and engineers meetings with Freya until their relationship takes off, just as he had planned it. Kane is a complex character and is a truly nasty piece of work. Kane has a beautiful and kind young woman by his side, but his cruel side surfaces when least expected, and as Freya becomes more isolated from her friends and family, her traumatic life becomes insufferable.

OMS

Much of the early and middle part of the book is set in 1990s Manchester and and shows a reflection of how times have changed in such a short time; the lack of technology, few mobile phones and attitudes of the police. Later, we move forward to the present day to conclude the story in a nail bitingly tense final few chapters. It is truly a gripping and shocking story from start to finish and just shows how easy it is to fall in with the wrong people.

Patricia Dixon writes in a very relaxed and northern style and her characters are totally believable. This book covers a lot of issues which might shock some readers, so be warned there is some violence and domestic abuse. Patricia Dixon has written sympathetically and emotionally about some very difficult issues and I think she’s done a great job of giving realism to a fictional story. This is her first psychological suspense novel and I do hope she writes more in this genre.

I was asked to be an early reader of this book and feel very privileged to have seen the story grow and change. Fourteen months after the first spark of an idea, several edits, a cut of around 50 pages, and a few tears along the way, Patricia now has a very gripping, tight plot which I feel rivals the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ style psychological books. Very well worth reading and there’s even a cameo of me in the final chapters!

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One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

4 and half 1

 

Amber and Vicky are best of friends until Vicky does something unthinkable and illegal. This is a tense and chilling tale of what started off as Vicky leaving the house for ten minutes while her baby was asleep, but unforeseen circumstances ricochet her life off into a catastrophic direction.

One Little Mistake

 

Amber now has a serious hold over Vicky and she takes full advantage of taking over or ruining everything that is important to Vicky’s life.

There is a back story from eighteen years earlier which fits together perfectly with the final third of the book.

One Little Mistake is well written, precisely plotted and perfectly paced. There’s never a dull moment and the anticipation of what Amber will do next is nail biting. A great debut novel, and I can’t wait to read more by Emma Curtis.

 

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

4 and half 1

 

I’ve read each of B.A. Paris’ books, starting with the amazing Behind Closed Doors, and feel that I know her style and will never be disappointed. Bring Me Back is no exception and from the very beginning I was sucked into the night when Finn and Layla pulled in at a lay-by in France, and when Finn returned to the car Layla was gone. Finn was suspected of her murder but without a body he was allowed to return to England.

Bring Me Back

Twelve years later he is about to marry Ellen, Layla’s sister, when there are sightings of the presumed dead Layla around the town. Finn becomes more freaked out when Russian dolls are left by his house and car which only has meaning between Finn, Ellen and Layla.

B.A. Paris creates a level of suspense which continues throughout the book. Just as you think one part is solved, another unknown pops up. I changed my mind so many times during the book of what happened to Layla and though that felt annoying at the time, it smacks of a good plot.

 

 

The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings

Five Stars

This is a brilliant holiday read, full of toxic friendships that you just know are going to end in tragedy.

The Cliff House

Tamsyn lives in a Cornish village with her family who struggle financially since the death of her father. She has an unhealthy obsession with the house on the cliff which her mother is the cleaner, and thinks nothing of occasionally stealing the key, snooping around the house and using the swimming pool – until she is caught by the teenage daughter, Edie.

Edie is rich, rude and rebellious whereas Tamsyn is loved, poor and friendless. A friendship with Edie is almost too good to be true for Tamsyn and she spends as much time as possible with Edie in the Cliff House. That is until it all starts to turn sour.

This is a book I found hard to put down. The anger and hatred coming from Edie is palpable and add teenage hormones, alcohol and motorbikes to the mix and you have one very gripping summer read.

Amanda Jennings

 

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The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Five Stars

This is the shocking and chilling story of Lou (Louise) who was taken to France by an older man who she thought of as her boyfriend when she was just fourteen. It’s told over two timelines, when Lou was fourteen, and eighteen years later when she wants to confront the man who took advantage of her.

The Fear by C.L. Taylor

Louise as an adult is still fragile and has so many hang-ups from what happened in her past that she can’t maintain a relationship as an adult. When she suspects that another girl is being groomed by Mike, Lou has to step in to try and stop him. Things go way more crazy than she ever anticipated when Mike becomes locked in a cage! I don’t want to give any more of the story away, but take it from me, this gets seriously gripping and just when you think the end is sorted there’s another knock out twist.

C.L. Taylor has a natural talent for suspense and maintaining a good pace. She knows how to pull the reader in and leave them gasping for more at the end of each chapter and always ends with a brilliant twist.

 

 

Cally Taylor

 

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My Husband’s Lies by Caroline England

Four Stars

My Husband’s Lies is the story of seemingly ‘normal’ people on the outside, but scratch below the surface and we have some problem relationships, flakey marriages and unhinged individuals.

My Husband's Lies

The book’s opening chapters introduce each of the ‘cast’ at Nick and Lisa’s wedding. There are quite a lot of characters introduced at once and you do have to remember them as couples as well as individuals, so attention is required from the beginning.


Caroline England has a lovely writing style and has woven interesting and topical plots for each of her characters. Very quickly this becomes a book which is difficult to put down as the ends of several chapters have cliff hangers. Many issues are explored – adultery, deceit, sexuality and, of course, the husband’s lies – but seeing both sides of the story seems to help negate blame, probably because the characters are so likeable.

From the start, when a guest at the wedding is about to jump from a hotel window, there is a feeling of doom, ‘this can’t possibly end well’ throughout the book but I certainly didn’t expect the explosive and shocking ending served to us. On finishing I felt bereft, I needed to know more, but ‘more’ doesn’t matter in the context of this whopping finale.

caroline-england-2

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Four Stars

This is cleverly written using first person for Vanessa, now, in present day, and third person for ‘Nellie’ some years earlier when she was working as a nursery teacher and preparing for her marriage to Richard Thompson.

The Wife Between Us

Vanessa comes across as an unstable, slightly damaged woman following the breakdown of her marriage to Richard. We learn in the early chapters of Vanessa’s difficult relationship with her mother, her rather chaotic single life when she lived with her girlfriend Sam, and her more steady near normal life living with aunt Charlotte.

As Richard is preparing to marry his new fiancée, Vanessa turns stalker to warn her off Richard. I wasn’t sure for a good way into the book whether Vanessa was jealous and wanted the engagement to end so that she could get back with Richard, or if she wanted some sort of revenge just to spite Richard.


The Wife Between Us is unusual in that it is written by two authors but it does read as one smooth flowing story, no guesses at all as to who wrote which parts, and seamlessly and cleverly weaves in and out of Nellie’s relationship with Richard, how he is controlling and manipulating every step of their marriage.

The ending has a good twist but I would have liked to know more about Richard and his sister and what happened with their parents, why was Richard like he was. A good psychological story of complex and flawed characters.

 

The Perfect Girlfriend

4 and half 1

If you like a tense story of a manipulative, bunny-boiling stalker then this is the book for you.

The Perfect Girlfriend

The book opens with a short prologue of Elizabeth as a child on the day her little brother, Will, died while he was in her care. We then very quickly move on to present day when Elizabeth, who now uses her middle name, Juliette, is coming to the end of her air steward training. This isn’t her preferred career choice, no, this is solely to facilitate her obsessive stalking of her ex-boyfriend, Nate, who is a pilot. Their relationship finished several months ago but Juliette just can’t let him go. He doesn’t know it yet, but he soon will.

Juliette changes work rosters to enable her to crew on the same flights as Nate, and when he is away she lets herself in to his apartment knowing how long he will be away for, and snoops, takes photos of private documents and even stays overnight. She is scheming, devious and intelligent with it.

Nate is the brother of Belle, Juliette’s school friend who was more of a mental bully than friend, and Juliette being a little unhinged has kept track of both of them to mete out her revenge.

Juliette is a fabulous character, I loved her neurotic, unbalanced personality and she makes for great reading. This is Karen Hamilton’s debut novel and I think she has done a great job of creating a seriously flawed yet likeable character in Elizabeth/Juliette. Her writing keeps you on your toes all the way through the book – I wondered where some of the crazy situations were going and was never disappointed when Juliette’s intentions were revealed. The pace is fast, is never dull, and has just enough description to let us realise what devastation she has caused. The only slight disappointment was the ending, I wanted more, more of the life all the main characters were leading. I’d got used to Juliette’s scheming ways and I didn’t want it to end.

 

The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland

4 and half 1

I’ve read all of Shalini Boland’s earlier thriller style novels and I must say that she has a great knack of creating suspense and getting your heart racing.

The Secret Mother

Tessa Markham arrives home to find a little boy in her house who insists on calling her his new mummy. Her automatic reaction is to call her estranged husband, Scott, who she is secretly hoping to get back together with. Scott gives her short shrift and implies that she might have ‘taken’ a child and because of her mental state forgotten what she’s done. Tessa has had a terrible few years following the death of one of her twins at birth and then the remaining twin son died at age three. She is in a sad place after her split from Scott and it’s easy to say that she is emotionally unstable.

We feel the emotional heartache of Tessa’s situation with the police seriously thinking she has abducted the child and the pressure is exacerbated by the media camping outside her house and workplace once the story hits the headlines. She does get a glimmer of a lifeline from the most unexpected of people, but at the same time I was screaming ‘don’t do it’ as she pursued this lifeline.

This is one of those books that you don’t want to put down, it really is a page turner and the suspense got my heart racing reading in bed – not a good time. I woke with the story so far in my head and couldn’t wait to get into it the next day. Parts were a bit predictable and I did have a suspicion of the ending, but this didn’t distract from the need to find out for myself how it ended.

Shalini Boland

 

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Copy Cat by Alex Lake

Four Stars

Sarah Havenant is a little mystified when an old school friend sends her a message on Facebook asking which account to send her a friend request. Sarah only has one Facebook account so she searches for herself and finds two of her.

Copy Cat

At first, Sarah thinks one of her friends is playing a joke because all the photos on the fake page are of her close family and even within her own home, but these aren’t pictures Sarah’s taken and she hasn’t even seen them before.  It’s got to be someone close until, one by one, her friends and even her husband, think she is doing this to herself.  Things escalate, threats start, even one of her children goes missing, but still it appears that she’s losing her mind, she’s even beginning to question her own sanity. Throughout, Sarah feels certain that it is one particular friend doing all this to her but she can’t find proof and she can’t think of a good reason why she or anyone else would do this. Then one of the most terrifying things happens, imprisoned with no one looking for her she just about gives up on life.

Copy Cat is a fast paced chiller of a story, a good puzzle for the reader because there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for the terrible things happening to Sarah Havenant. The characters are well developed and we meet each one in turn getting a good handle on their personalities and traits.  The ending did seem a bit rushed, or more that everything exciting was crammed in to the last few pages giving an unrealistic ending. This is the first of Alex Lake’s novels I’ve read and I would be happy to read her earlier two or any future ones in the pipeline.

Alex Lake’s Amazon Author Page

After AnnaKilling KateCopy Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma In The Night by Wendy Walker

four-and-a-half-stars

Without feeling like a text book, this is the best and most detailed story of a narcissist I’ve read.  It goes into great analytical detail of what a narcissist is and what their needs, feelings and insecurities are.

Emma In The NightSisters, Emma and Cassandra Tanner, have been missing for three years. Many presumed they’re dead until Cassandra turns up on her mother’s doorstep.  Cassandra was not the favoured child as her and Emma were growing up and their narcissistic mother, (Mrs Martin to her daughters!) without laying a finger on them did and said some cruel things, things which play on the mind, make you learn to think like they do, act like they do.  Therefore, when Cassandra returns after being missing for three years, she plays her mother like a fiddle – drip, drip, little bits of information, mentally torturing her mother.  Only Cassandra knows the truth of the missing years but Dr Abby Winter has worked most of it out and is one step ahead at the crucial time.

The chapters alternate between Cassandra (Cass), written in first person, and Abby, written in third person, and give points of view of the ‘missing time’ from Cass and the development of the police investigation from Abby. I really liked the personal, up close chapters written in first person and they were complimented by Abby’s third person view.

If you really like to psycho-analyse, this is the book for you.

Wendy Walker

 

 

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All Is Not ForgottenEmma In The Night

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

3-and-half-star

From the initial ‘blurb’ and genre listing of psychological/thriller/mystery, I din’t expect this book to be fantasy/science fiction at all.

Yest

This is a world of mono’s and duo’s – mono’s remember just one day, duo’s remember two. Mono’s are inferior to duo’s. Mark and Claire are a mixed marriage; Mark is a duo and Claire a mere mono. The body of Mark’s mistress has been washed up on the river Cam and Claire initially suspects her husband might have something to do with her death. Hans is the detective trying to solve what he suspects is murder, by the end of the day. He needs to do this within a day because he is a mono but also needs to keep this fact from his duo colleagues.

I found parts of this book confusing and also I wanted to shout “What does it matter? all will have forgotten in three days time anyway” – only they didn’t seem to forget everything, which just added to my confusion of how all the mono/duo memories worked.

I can’t say it’s a favourite book for me, but will probably appeal to fantasy/sci-fi readers.

Felicia Yap

 

 

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Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Four Stars

This is quite a slow burner of a book, so much so that I felt I didn’t want to carry on with it when I was about 25 – 30% of the way through – but I’m so glad I did.

Best Day Ever

The scene is being set during the first three quarters of the book – yes, that’s a lot of scene setting but it is worth the wait to get a very satisfying ending. Paul is a narcissistic psycho with an ego the size of Greenland. He is a big ‘I am’ and I quickly came to dislike him. He brags about what a lovely little wifey he has got and what beautiful little boys he has, when in fact, his children are scared of him and his wife has no life because he’s such a control freak and has isolated her from all her friends and family. The major part of the book is a car ride from their marital home to their lakeside second home where he is planning ‘the best day ever’ for his lovely wife, Mia. Paul reflects over parts of his life during that car ride giving the reader an insight into his childhood and relationships with family and past girlfriends. There are lots of little hints in the narrative, such as – “I never did get the blood stain off the band” (watch band) to tease us into thinking he did something really bad in the past.

The final quarter or so of the book becomes tense and fast paced. Things start to unravel so we see the true Paul and the strong Mia emerge. I felt a bit disappointed with the ending as far as Paul is concerned (I wanted nasty things to happen to him,) but after reading the author’s notes at the back of the book, there’s a hint of the possibility of a second book with Paul’s character.

Kaira Rouda

 

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Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

four-and-a-half-stars

From the very first words of this excellent debut by Liz Lawler, we feel the chilling horror of Alex’s realisation of what’s happening to her. She slowly wakes to the sounds of beeps and metal instruments but is still in the grips of anaesthesia to be clear what’s being done to her. She’s an emergency room doctor at the hospital and is comforted by the familiar sounds. She’s thinking hard – what can have happened to her, has she been in an accident? As she looks down, she sees that she has a green operating gown on, her thighs are up and calves in stirrups, her arms are velcroed down and her head in blocks with a neck collar, all holding her still.

Don't Wake Up

Then the only person in the room with her, a doctor, tells her there’s nothing wrong with her. Alex is seething at her treatment, then the doctor tells her to shut up or her lips will be stapled together. Terror runs through her veins, this obviously isn’t a real doctor and she’s being held on an operating table in a compromising position at the mercy of this person. From here on, the story becomes a real page turner. It becomes very clear in the first few chapters that Dr Alex Taylor isn’t believed. She claims she was kidnapped and possibly raped, but all examinations of her show nothing has happened to her body. She is so frustrated by her situation – she knows this was real, it really happened to her but no one will accept it as true.


When another young woman turns up at the emergency room in strange circumstances, and then yet another close to dead actually in Alex’s parking space outside her home, things really start hotting up. What is the connection? Have they got similarities with Alex’s unexplainable experience?

Alex’s personal life is pulled apart, her past, her relationships and her mental state. The characters are well drawn and the hospital emergency room and procedures feels very real. I just felt that the story was a little bit too far fetched – all the pieces fell in front of Alex, but it does make a very good fast paced read, perfect for lovers of chilling thrillers and suspense.

 

The Friend Request by Laura Marshall

four-and-a-half-stars

Remember the peer pressure at school? You were a nice person really, but those popular girls you so wanted to impress and be part of, they made you say and do things you didn’t want to do; do things you knew you shouldn’t do. That’s just how Louise feels in trying to be best friends with gorgeous and popular Sophie. Then Maria, the new girl at school who quickly became Louise’s best friend, she disappears after a party, falls off a cliff into the sea. No body was ever washed up or found.

Friend Request

Twenty-six years later, Louise gets a friend request into her Facebook account from Maria Weston, coinciding with a school reunion in a couple of weeks time. From chapter 2 we go back to 1989 when the group of teenagers were at school and what started as mild bullying and peer pressure started. The two timelines neatly explore the girls personalities and the back timeline answers questions and gives explanations of the present timeline.

I found much of the book to be quite gripping. The question on both the characters and the readers mind continues through to almost the end of the book – is Maria Weston alive and has she come back to seek revenge? There are lots of tense moments, never any dull ones, and the telling of the story, the plot, is very well thought out and realistic. I can hardly believe that Friend Request is Laura Marshall’s debut novel, she reads like a seasoned author. I can only expect that future works will be even better.

laura-marshall

 

 

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The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances

five_stars

This book is so addictive – I just couldn’t put it down!

Cherry really wants to lift herself up out of the poverty she is born to, and being a very intelligent young lady, she acquires a position in an estate agency in the affluent Kensington area of London. When Daniel walks in to the estate agents to purchase a multi-million pound apartment, Cherry seems to fall on her feet when Daniel asks her for a viewing and a date.

The Girl Friend

Daniel’s mother, Laura, initially is intrigued and excited to meet Daniel’s new girlfriend, but their first meeting doesn’t get off to the start that either Cherry or Laura hoped for.

There is much manipulation, deceit – oh my goodness, the whopping lies – from both Laura and Cherry in their battle to win Daniel. Laura needs to protect her son from Cherry and Cherry needs to get Daniel on her side and have him put a ring on her finger.

This is a bat and ball game of subtle, and not so subtle, jibes, quips and down right spiteful viciousness between Cherry and Daniel’s mother. As time goes on the hatred intensifies and the poison between Laura and Cherry increases. But one lie is so big that it is more catastrophic to the teller than who it is aimed at if it gets out. This can’t possibly end well for either of the two women and as vile words turn into murderess intent, the pace quickens to the point that you just cannot put this book down until you get to the climatic end.

When I first started this book I thought ‘hmm, a bit chic-litty’ but very quickly it became clear that this is not a light humorous summer read, this is deeply chilling and, if you can imagine having a few million pounds at your disposal as well as a holiday house in St. Tropez, has a very real feel. It’s well written and the plot I found faultless. The characters are minimal but each plays an important role – no extras or bit parts here. If you like an intensely chilling, quick-paced read, then this is certainly the book for you.

Michelle Frances

 

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Deceit In May by Roz Ryszka-Onions

Four Stars

This is a fluid and easy to read suspense story set mostly in the south of England.

Deceit In May

Keira is clearing and selling the family home she shared with her parents. She’s too sad to stay there after first her mother, then father, were shot in an apparent suicide pact. The story begins with her just moving in to a waterside home when a neighbour, Toby, turns up on the doorstep with a much welcome cafetiere of coffee. The two get on amazingly well and quickly become friends. A few days later when out shopping, Nathan introduces himself to Keira and the two very quickly start dating. Keira likes both Toby and Nathan and there is an obvious battle taking place in her head and heart which one of them she wants to be with, not to mention the jealousy between the two men.

Very quickly after moving in to her new home, Keira feels uneasy following a series of unusual events – banging on her door, damage to the property, and even items going missing from inside the house. After nearly being run off the road, she realises that these incidents are part of a serious scare tactic, possibly relating to her parents’ deaths which she starts to question as being a suicide pact.

Keira doesn’t know what she is mixed up in and the story becomes very fast paced with a good few tense and gripping moments to keep the reader captivated.

Her past is part of a conspiracy she knew nothing of which goes to the heart of British aristocracy, businesses and politics. By the end of the book, with a little help from a private investigator, the bad guys have been sorted from the good, leaving Keira to set up home and live safely with her man.

This is the first book I’ve read by Roz Ryszka-Onions and I’m surprised that I’ve not seen her several books or her name mentioned on the many social media sites, pages and groups which I frequent. Her writing style is easy to read, flows well and is quick paced – well worth picking one up.

 

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

five_stars

This is an amazingly tense and impacting story. It’s set over just a three hour timeline with very few characters, in fact, most of the book is mother and four year old son, Joan and Lincoln.

Fierce KingdomVery briefly so as not to give too much of the plot away, Joan and her son Lincoln are packing up to leave the zoo close to closing time. Lincoln doesn’t want the zoo trip to finish and Joan is having a tussle getting him to put a spurt on before the zoo gates are locked for the night. As they get close to the gates, it becomes clear to Joan that the cracking noises she’s been hearing are gun shots and around the exit path are bodies laid dead. Thinking quickly, Joan back tracks with Lincoln to try to hide from the gunman/men. I will say no more of the story, you really need to read this for yourself.

Every moment with Joan and Lincoln is tense and gripping. Imagine trying to keep a four year old quiet and occupied for goodness knows how long the siege will last. Joan doesn’t want to frighten Lincoln with the reality of what’s happening, that could lead to noise and tears, but she needs to instill in him the seriousness of their situation to make him obey her instructions.


The chapters are set into time frames starting at 4.55pm when Joan is coaxing Lincoln to get ready to leave the zoo which closes at 5.30pm, through to the nail-biting concluding climax at 8.05pm. There are some lovely moments of tender conversation between mother and son and also times of great frustration with such a young child needing the toilet, food and non-stop chatter.

This really is one of the most intensely riveting books I’ve ever read. I found it difficult to put down for a meal and at bedtime, and my thoughts stayed with the siege at the zoo for days afterwards. It’s certainly a book to be recommended and an author to watch out for.

Gin Phillips

 

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One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

four-and-a-half-stars

This is a great mystery/crime story aimed at young adults but can be enjoyed by anyone from teens upwards.  I can just remember my teens and I often read Young Adult, I love the fresh originality with a touch of fantasy after some of the more heavy going women’s fiction I read, although this one doesn’t have the fantasy element.  What I did have a little ‘difficulty’ or issue with, was the very American-ness of the writing – lots of ‘dudes’, characters who are ‘pissed’ without a drop of alcohol being consumed, and the young dude’s non-English names (Cooper, Ashton, Addy, TJ.) – if you can get passed that, then the story is quite original and rather gripping.

One Of Us Is Lying

The opening chapters find five teenagers getting detention at a privileged school, Bayview High.  Three are unlikely to step out of line but one, Nate, is often found in detention.  The three unlikelies rightly feel annoyed that they are suffering a detention because they all think that mobile phones (cells), which aren’t allowed in class, were planted on them.  The fifth, well, he ends up dead.  With only those four present in the room this is a really intense twisty turny who-dun-it style story.  For most of the book I honestly couldn’t make up my mind who the culprit was, then it started to dawn on me. I’m not usually very good at guessing endings to books and whether you do or don’t guess correctly is of little relevance.  It’s the journey to the end which is important and this was one very clever telling of quite an original story.

The chapters take turns with the characters and we get to know and love each of them well.  The characters are well developed and each have their complexities.  There’s never a stuttering moment and can honestly say that my interest was kept at a high level all the way through.  Karen McManus has created an amazing debut and I think One of Us Is Lying will be loved and talked about by teenage readers.

Karen McManus

 

 

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After She’s Gone by Maggie James

Four Stars

This is an emotionally overflowing novel from the start. Written from the perspective of Lori, sister to Jessie, daughter of Dana Golden, we learn of their slightly disfunctional family set up. Dana split from her husband some years ago and has now moved Jake Hamilton and his son Spencer in to their home. The story begins with sweet sixteen year old Jessie not coming home. She’s never done this before and her mother, Dana, is seriously worried something bad has happened to her. Lori is also worried but tries to keep a calming atmosphere around her mother.

After She's Gone

Meanwhile, step-brother Spencer wakes on the floor of an unknown room feeling very groggy and unable to remember anything of the previous night. There has been a spate of fires in properties around the city and as Spencer is gradually coming round, he smells smoke and realises he needs to get out now. As he is leaving, from the corner of his eye he glimpses an arm on the floor near him. Upon closer inspection he realises it is the dead body of his step-sister Jessie.

Spencer knows this looks bad for him. He can’t remember any of last night, his step-sister is dead on the floor and he has scratches, like from fingernails, on his back.

Lori is struggling with grief of losing her little sister and trying to hold things together for her mother who is in a fragile state, and she’s only holding it together because she has a loving and understanding boyfriend, Ryan. Lori suspects almost each person in turn and by the last few chapters of the book we, the reader, know who the murderer is, but Lori is in much danger.

Maggie James has an easy flowing style of writing. She writes as you would think and speak which gives a feeling of realism to her characters – you could actually know and mix with these people. Her stories are brimming with tension and there’s always something going on to keep the interest level up. After She’s Gone is no different and is certainly a compelling and action packed read.

Maggie James

 

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Five Stars

This is one of those books I’ll be telling all my friends about. It is totally gripping, keeps you guessing and has an unexpected twist at the end.

I was initially drawn to this book by its tagline – I am in a coma, my husband doesn’t love me any more, sometimes I lie.  I love stories with lies and deceit, they always have strong psychological turmoil between the characters.

Sometimes I Lie

The story is written over three timelines – Now, whilst Amber is in a coma – Then, the days leading up to Amber’s accident – and Before, written as diary entries from 1991.  The diary entries give a deeper background of the lead characters, how their minds work and why they have become disturbed complex people.  Amber writes as much as she can think about in her diary as a child but if she can’t express herself she writes three facts for the day. In the present, while Amber is in a coma, she carries on with this three facts style in her mind and that’s how we get the tagline on the book cover.

The story becomes very complex, not confusing or muddled but you do need to pay attention, and much of the scary part is while Amber is in her coma and she hears everything around her. She can’t yet remember what happened to her but she suspects her husband has something to do with her accident, she doesn’t trust him and feels frightened when he visits.  She’s not convinced Claire, her sister, has her best interests at heart and so desperately needs to remember what’s happened to her.  There are some sinister characters, her ex-boyfriend who has access to her as he works in the hospital, and a little girl who Amber doesn’t think is real keeps paying her mind a visit.  Who is Jo? Why is it so important to see Madeleine off the radio show that Amber works on? and what about the recognition of Madeleine’s house?  Such a lot keeps your mind flicking back and forth wondering what the relevance is of a new piece of the story.

As psychological thrillers go, this is one of the best I’ve read.  Some of the phrases used are so very eloquent and really describe a situation well, paints a picture with words. This is one I will certainly recommend and look forward to more by Alice Feeney.

Alice Feeney

 

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Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

Five Stars

Gripping and intense, laced with mystery and intrigue, this is a real page turner.

Briefly, (and without spoilers) seventeen year old Sophie is brought home from a drunken Saturday evening out with her friends by the police. She was found in a dazed and drunken state close to where the body of her friend is later found. Sophie has no memory of the whole of the evening.

Her parents are in a strained marriage and her mother, Karen, has panic attacks and agoraphobia since she herself was attacked two years earlier. The story is told from three main perspectives in short sharp chapters – Sophie, her mother Karen and Detective Inspector Lindsay Wade. We deftly move between the three characters in a race to find the killer of Sophie’s friend, Erin, before the stalker who Sophie realises is following her, strikes again.

The book touches on several issues – anxiety, agoraphobia, grief and loss as well as teenage secrecy and withholding information. Sam Carrington is a confident writer of crime and suspense and I found it a real pleasure to tramp through the book as fast as I could. I thoroughly recommend Saving Sophie and will be watching out for future publications by Sam Carrington.

Sam Carrington

 

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The Stepmother by Claire Seeber

4 and half 1

 

I really enjoyed this book and found I’d devoured half before I realised what time it was. It’s written in a very easy flowing way with short sharp chapters switching between Jeannie and her sister Marlena.  The characters are well developed, quite complex because of their background and upbringing, and likeable to the reader because we can easily relate to them.

If you’ve been a step-mother, or indeed a step-daughter, you may be able to relate to the anxious first few meetings.  If those meetings don’t go well and you then throw into the pot that the child/children are teenagers, their father is the apple of their eye and their mother is glamorous and jealous, well, scary things can happen and in this book they really do.  I am a step-mother to a boy and girl and I know I tried too hard to make them like me, so I can fully relate to Jeannie’s over the top efforts with Scarlett and Luke. Thankfully mine didn’t terrorise me into submission!

Very loosely, the story is set around Jeannie and Matthew meeting and marrying in quick succession. Matthew is a wealthy businessman with teenage twins and an ex-wife you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of.  Jeannie comes from a complex and broken background, has hardly had any serious relationships and finds herself swept off her feet by Matthew who is probably on the rebound.  Jeannie moves into Matthew’s former matrimonial home and when his children visit she finds she is on edge and feels a bit of an outsider in her own home.  The narrator of the story keeps referring to Snow White and this does feel very much like a grown up version of the old fairytale.

This is a very readable dark and sinister fairytale of sorts, complete with locked rooms, dead birds, secrets and wicked women.  I enjoyed it very much and will certainly read more by Claire Seeber.

Claire Seeber

 

Claire Seeber’s Website

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Five Stars

This debut by B A Paris is a stunning psychological thriller at it’s very best. It felt so simple and easy to read that I devoured it in great chunks. I feel that the simplicity comes from there being very few characters. Grace and Jack are at the fore the whole way through with Millie, Grace’s sister, not far behind.

Behind Closed Doors

Simply told, yet Jack is such a complex character, a true unbalanced psychopath. He has so charmingly wooed and courted Grace and is the apple of Millie’s eye. Until the moment of marriage when BANG! the real Jack makes his debut. He is cruel and manipulative, his remarks are cutting, he is totally sadistic and spiteful. What he might do next had me on the edge of my seat. It’s creepy and subtly dark and the tension becomes unbearable.

The story is set over two very close timelines – present time, and the time of Grace and Jack’s marriage just a few months earlier. The timelines come closer together the further we read through the book until the final gripping chapters are in present time giving a very taut and satisfying finale.

You need to read this. I really don’t want to give any clues of the plot away but you will need to set time aside to read as this is not a pick-it-up-put-it-down sort of book. I haven’t read one as good as this little gem for a while.