Tag: Thriller

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

Rules For Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

4 and half 1

 

Rules For Perfect Murders

I’ve been meaning to read Peter Swanson’s books for a while and this is a perfect introduction to his clever plotting and unique writing style. Each of his books are stand alone stories so you can start with any book.

Malcolm Kershaw owns a bookshop called Old Devils which specialises in crime and mystery novels. He loves classic crime and he once listed his eight favourite murders on the bookshop’s website, ones he thought were impossible to solve. It seems there is a link between some recent deaths and the perfect murders listed by Malcolm.

This is a cleverly plotted whodunnit style crime novel. It’s written in first person which I really like, it gets you inside the head of the character, and I found the whole book to be gripping, fast moving and very entertaining.

 

 

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

 

John Marrs website

Find John Marrs on Facebook

John Marrs’ Amazon profile

 

 

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.

 

 

Thin Air by Lisa Gray


Four Stars

 

Jessica Shaw is a private investigator. She specialises in missing persons and while trawling through online pictures of various missing people wondering which job to take up next, she receives an email with a picture of a three year old with the message ‘your next job’. Jessica recognises the little girl as herself, and with a little bit of investigation realises that she was once that missing person.

Thin Air

The investigation which she obviously has to take up, makes her feel her whole life was a lie and she just has to find out what happened to her murdered mother, who the man was who brought her up, and who her real father is. Someone from the past wants to keep things in the past, and as Jessica faces things head on she unwittingly puts her life in danger.

This is a very intriguing storyline – not knowing you’re a missing person – and it is cleverly written with a dual story of a very brutal murder of a young student. The two stories seem to be separate, and so many years apart, but all is revealed at the end.

 

 

 

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

 

 

C.L. Taylor’s website

C.L. Taylor’s Amazon profile

C.L. Taylor on Facebook

C.L. Taylor on Twitter

Codename Villanelle: The Basis For Killing Eve

4 and half 1

 

When a book goes to screen I always try to read the book before it appears at the cinema or TV. I did this one the other way round, and I’m so pleased I did. After watching the Killing Eve series, I just had to read the book – Villanelle was under my skin. After reading a few book reviews, I realised that it wasn’t liked by all but I felt that watching the series first gave a head start on Villanelle’s character.

Codename Villanelle

With visual characters already in my head, I quickly got into the story, slightly different from the TV series, and immediately loved Oxana (later becoming Villanelle) and Konstantin. The book does flip about and has a rushed, almost the book in a draft form feel about it, but this staccato, slightly detached writing style really fits with Villanelle’s character. She is seriously flawed, crazy and uncontrollable at times and her lack of emotion makes her a perfect assassin.

Eve is a character who seems to be always running on catch-up. She never makes dinner with her husband even when they have guests round. She’s uncomfortable in fashion and barely has time to do her hair or apply make-up – she knows she should make more of an effort but it just doesn’t seem to work for her. The final straw is when she’s kicked off her job of finding the mystery female assassin who killed on her watch. She knows she’s close and just has to find this cold killer.

Villanelle has certainly got under my skin and I now have to read book two before it hits the screen.

 

Villanelle

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.

 

Patricia Dixon

 

Patricia Dixon’s Amazon Profile

Patricia Dixon on Facebook

 

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

 

Zoe Lea’s Website

Find  Zoe Lea on Facebook

Zoe Lea on Amazon

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

 

4 and half 1

I love Karin Slaughter’s writing style and how she’s developed and matured over the years, from her early days of the Grant County series and through the Will Trent series. Pieces of Her is her fourth full length standalone novel. It’s cleverly written over two timelines thirty-two years apart which are not at all confusing, you won’t get them mixed up, although the plotline itself is quite complicated.

Pieces of Her

In the first chapter we meet Laura who is undergoing chemo for breast cancer, and her daughter Andrea, at a restaurant chatting about Laura’s illness and that Andrea should move out of the family home and get a place of her own. Andrea’s life is stale and stagnant and needs something to give her a push to the next chapter in her life. While they are chatting, a gunman opens fire on people around them and Laura is caught in the gunfire. Andrea is like a frightened rabbit and can’t move from behind her mother and is almost shocked into a stuttering silence when Laura speaks with the shooter and one of them ends up dead.

Andrea’s life then takes off in a completely different orbit as she tries piecing her life together, questioning her mother’s past and now facing much danger. The story goes back to events over thirty years ago and we start to understand the events then with what is happening in Laura and Andrea’s life today.

This is a fast paced crime story, sometimes graphic and gory but always gripping. At times it’s heart stoppingly intense and fast paced with chases and danger at every turn.

 

Karin Slaughter

 

Karin Slaughter’s website

Karin Slaughter’s Amazon profile

Karin Slaughter on Facebook

 

 

 

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!

Patricia Dixon

Find Patricia Dixon on Facebook

Patricia’s Amazon profile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Promise by Katerina Diamond

Five Stars

If you’ve been following Katerina Diamond’s Grey and Miles series you certainly won’t be disappointed in The Promise, fourth in the series. If you haven’t read any of the earlier books in the series it’s best to start with The Teacher, but The Promise works well as a complete story in itself.

In the opening chapters a young woman, Erica Lawson, is found strangled, sexually assaulted and bleached clean; then it happens again to another woman. When a third body is discovered, Grey and Miles know they’ve got a serial killer on their hands.

The Promise

The book is written in three interweaving parts:

– A back story, almost in diary form, of a young woman first meeting her boyfriend who becomes very abusive. This part of the story, at first, doesn’t seem to have much relevance to the main story but later on, it is the key main part.

– The return from America of Connor and his abusive father. This kid is such a mixed up, angry and impassioned character. Diamond writes so competently about the mental complexities of teenage children.

– Present day in the busy run up to Christmas, with Imogen Grey and Adrian Miles desperately trying to stop further murders which they know will take place if they don’t catch this serial killer. These two have come a long way since The Teacher in their own individual relationships as well as their working partnership.

There’s never a dull moment, hardly a chapter end you want to stop at even to go to bed. Katerina Diamond has fast become my favourite crime writer and I just know I will love every book she writes.

KD

 

Follow Katerina Diamond on Facebook

Katerina Diamond’s author profile

 

 

The Imogen Grey & Adrian Miles series, in order (so far.)

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Now You See by Max Manning

4 and half 1

 

Max Manning has created a modern serial killer who likes to upload photos of his victims moments before and after their deaths. He is always one step ahead of the police and taunts them with his messages and following on Twitter.

Now You See

Chief Inspector Dan Fenton is in charge of the investigation but things become personal when his daughter’s nanny is targeted by the killer.

Blake’s ex-girlfriend is the first to be murdered and is a prime suspect for no reason other than being the ex-boyfriend. When Fenton finds himself thrown off the case, he and Blake set out to catch the killer.

This is quite a clever concept, well written, very fast paced and kept me guessing to the end who the killer was.

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

 

C.L. Taylor on Facebook

C.L. Taylor’s Amazon profile

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Shalini Boland’s website

Find Shalini Boland on Facebook

 

 

 

 

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

Four Stars

At the front of this book is a ‘Dear Reader’ and a short explanation of how this book came about. It’s loosely based on a true story but, of course, we don’t know which parts are fact and which are fabrication to bolster a sinister fictional story.

The book has been translated from German and has an unmistakable precise, clipped, Germanic feel. It is also compared with We Need To Talk About Kevin and I can see some similarities, but this is not so depressing.

Fear

This is one of those stories that starts at the end, we know what the outcome is. In this case, we are told in the first chapter that Randolph’s father has been sentenced to imprisonment, at the age of seventy-seven, for shooting in the forehead at point blank range, Randolph’s basement neighbour, Dieter Tiberius.

The story then goes back and forth in time from when Randolph and his family first moved in to their apartment above Dieter, and back further to give us a view of Randolph’s childhood with a father he was scared of who ‘collected’ guns and was a master marksman.

At first, Randolph, Rebecca and their two children, have a good relationship with Dieter. Dieter bakes cakes and biscuits and even leaves plates of them on their doorstep. All goes well until the day Rebecca meets Dieter in the laundry room and he makes a lewd comment about her underwear. Then the accusations start that he hears them sexually abusing their children. Randolph needs to clear their name before social services are called in to remove their children.

Much of the book, although there are many facets to the story and characters, is of Randolph’s struggle with the brick wall legal system in trying to prove their innocence and that Dieter Tiberius’ is guilty of slanderous assaults on them.

I really enjoyed the book. The characters are well developed and interesting to read about. There is an element of tension with the promise of doom running all the way through – this can’t possibly end well. This is a realistic, sophisticated and grown-up version of the usual psychological thriller.

 

The Angel by Katerina Diamond

five_stars

This is an absolutely stunning book, a great story perfectly executed.  It was one of the few books that I had to have a day to get over, I just couldn’t start another book because it played around my head for hours.

We start with a prologue from back in 1986 and I tried to keep all this in mind whilst reading the rest of the book knowing that there would be some relevance later.  When I finished the book, I totally got it but had to come back and re-read the prologue, just to reassure myself.

The Angel

Chapter 1 starts right up to date in 2017 with the opening line Gabriel Webb was a killer.  He didn’t know it yet, but before the day was out he would know what it felt like to take someone’s life. I was intrigued from the start and just had to know who had died, how and why Gabriel would take someone’s life.

Gabriel is a complex character, in fact all the characters are flawed and complex but this makes for excellent reading.  He and his girlfriend, Emma, are both Goths, they dress for themselves and are misfits in society, but underneath all the black trousers, chains and face paint are two loving and caring people.  As the first line indicated, by the end of the day Gabriel was sitting in a police cell being questioned about a body.

The two detectives, Imogen Grey and Adrian Miles, could solve this case quickly but Imogen has a nagging feeling and a soft spot for Gabriel, and too many coincidences play on Adrian’s mind, that they have to dig deeper. They have their work cut out to solve the murder and obvious mystery surrounding it, the case is not at all straightforward and it really takes its toll on both of them, particularly memories coming to the surface for Imogen. The murder is not simply about one person killing another, it’s so multi-faceted, wheels within wheels that in reality, it’s doubtful the case would really be solved.

The chapters mostly run in turn with Gabriel’s life and then the two detectives. I couldn’t wait to get back to Gabriel’s chapters to find out how he was surviving in the young offenders’ detention centre. He had such a hard and violent time and was totally unprepared for it – a real eye opener.

I loved all the characters, Imogen and Gabriel particularly, and they were so well constructed that they felt like real people, someone I might know.

This is the first book I’ve read by Katerina Diamond and although this one is book 3 in the detective series it is a complete story and can be read as a stand alone novel. I would totally recommend starting with book 1, The Teacher, and move on to book 2, The Secret – I’ve already loaded them onto my Kindle ready to start over again.

KD

 

Follow Katerina Diamond on Facebook

Katerina Diamond’s Amazon author profile

 

The series so far (in order)

The TeacherThe SecretThe Angel

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Wendy Walker’s website

Wendy Walker’s Amazon author profile

 

 

 

All Is Not ForgottenEmma In The Night

 

 

 

 

 

Web of Scars by Farah Ali

Four Stars

If you like your psychological characters to be absolutely psychopathic nutcases, then you’ll love reading about Hester in Web of Scars.

Web of Scars

The opening chapter is of a car crashing down a cliff side with Frances being the only survivor. Her friend and fellow passenger, Rosie, is dead and so is Rosie’s daughter, Nilah.  After so much heartache, injury and relationship deceit, Frances leaves her husband and goes to live in her grandmother’s house which she has recently inherited.  She tries to start a new life for herself with the comfort and familiarity of her childhood neighbours and village, continuing to write her series of children’s book for income. Things really start to take off when Frances hires Josh and Hester to tend the enormous garden.  Josh is a lovely quiet local man with an unfortunate stammer and Hester is a vile and evil individual – except she’s sure to have Frances only see the good in her.

Lots of things mysteriously start to go wrong for Frances and we, the reader, get to see Hester’s cruel and vicious ways.  But why? Who is Hester, why is she so cruel and what has any of this got to do with Frances?

Written in third person, each of the chapters have the individual characters’ viewpoints and a full picture emerges around their relationship to and with Frances.  This gripping story gives a climatic end, allowing the reader to breathe again for the final concluding chapter.

Farah Ali’s Amazon author profile

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

 

Kaira Rouda’s website

Kaira Rouda’s Amazon profile

 

 

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

 

 

Visit Laura Marshall’s website

Laura Marshall on Facebook

 

 

 

 

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

 

Michelle Frances website

Michelle Frances Amazon author profile

 

 

 

 

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

 

Gin Phillips website

Find Gin Phillips on Facebook

Gin Phillips Amazon author profile

 

 

 

 

The Gift by Louise Jensen

Four Stars

The gift of life. A heart donated to a dying young woman, Jenna, gives her her life back. But what about where the heart came from, someone had to die to be able to donate it, and what about their family.

The Gift

“Oh Jenna. That’s completely unethical. How did you trace them? I’m going to have to report this, you know” “You know it isn’t encouraged . . . it can be incredibly distressing for everyone”

With the internet and social media it is very easy to find almost every accident and death and trace who they were and where they are from. Jenna has been experiencing dreams and visions which seem so very real to her, although they have actually happened. Some of the visions are a bit scary and she feels that her donor, Callie, was being chased, was in danger and that the accident she was killed in might not have been an accident.

There’s a lot of speculation of whether cells have memory and Louise Jensen has given us a good fictional story based on Jenna’s donated heart having memory of its life when it belonged to Callie. There are some amazing stories out there – just Google it – and this is a clever concept to use to write about the unfolding of a crime.

Louise Jensen

 

 

Louise Jensen’s website

Find Louise Jensen on Facebook

Louise Jensen’s Amazon author profile

 

 

the sisterThe Giftthe surrogate

 

 

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

 

Sam Carrington’s Website