The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes. Read August 2017.

The third instalment in a series that keeps getting better and better.

“Ella Williams is ten years old…She’s just been abducted by a killer – someone who kidnaps young girls, holds them for a few weeks then returns their bodies…The crimes are clearly linked to notorious child murderer Louis Kinsella, locked away in a high-security hospital…To save Ella’s life, psychologist Alice Quentin must form a relationship with Kinsella. But he is slow to give up his secrets, and all the while, time is running out…”

This book has been on my to-be-read pile for a long time and now I’ve read it I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. It was a treat to be reunited with psychologist Alice Quentin and the other recurring characters in the series. As for the new cast of characters introduced for this story, well there were some truly fascinating individuals.

The crimes at the centre of the main plot – the abduction and murder of young girls – are the stuff of nightmares and yet the author manages to alternate the horror of their predicament with moments that develop Alice’s personality more than in the first two books.

The pace of the action is spot on and the cleverly plotted mystery surrounding the identity of the killer kept me guessing until the end.

Highly recommended and could be read as a standalone, though as always I strongly suggest starting the series at the beginning and reading in order . In this case: Crossbones Yard and A Killing of Angels.

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One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley. Read July 2017.

The third in the Claire Boyle series and the best yet.

“How could your good friend become your worst enemy?

Being held hostage at gunpoint by her childhood friend is not Dr Heather Gilmore’s idea of a good day at work. It only gets worse when she hears that her nineteen-year-old daughter Leah has been kidnapped.

Sergeant Claire Boyle wasn’t expecting to get caught up in a hostage situation during a doctor’s appointment. When it becomes apparent that the kidnapping is somehow linked to the hostage-taker, a woman called Eileen Delaney, she is put in charge of finding the missing girl.

What happened between Eileen and Heather to make Eileen so determined to ruin her old friend? Claire Boyle must dig up the secrets from their pasts to find out – and quickly, because Leah is still missing, and time is running out to save her.”

This story gripped me right from the start. I was looking forward to catching up with Claire Boyle and the other recurring characters in this series, but I didn’t expect to be dropped into the middle of such a nail-biting, life threatening situation. Alongside this the author skilfully weaves the back story of Heather and Eileen until a sense of foreboding builds up and leads to a shocking conclusion.

The character development, especially Claire’s family situation, is as enthralling as the main plot – this is not your average police procedural. I would recommend reading the previous two books in the series, Can Anybody Help Me? and Are You Watching Me?, before this book, though it could definitely be read as a standalone.

Highly recommended for crime thriller fans looking for a fast-paced read.

My copy was a competition prize from @ShazsBookBlog – thanks, Sharon.

Death’s Silent Judgment by Anne Coates. Read June 2017.

The exciting sequel to Dancers In The Wind.

“Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed…With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder…But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger…”

I was looking forward to catching up with Hannah Weybridge and this story didn’t disappoint. The pace of the plot left me breathless at times and there was danger lurking at every turn of the page.

Hannah’s circle is a small cast of characters but this gives the author the chance to develop them all, hopefully into several more books in this series.

This book could be read as a standalone as there are several references to past events to explain the back story, but personally I would suggest reading Dancers In The Wind first – if you read them the other way round, the references in Death’s Silent Judgment will be spoilers. I hope that makes sense!

Highly recommended, especially for crime thriller fans who like their protagonist to be someone other than a police officer.

My copy was bought from Amazon Kindle Store.

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry. Read May 2017.

To be published 29 June.

A thought provoking story that left me with a couple of unanswered questions – but so beautifully written I really didn’t mind.

“Three girls. One good. One bad. One dead.”

The main message I’ll take away from this book is a reminder of how easily lives can be wrecked in the blink of an eye. The accident that overshadows the whole story was horrific and its repercussions changed the course of everyone’s lives.

The cast of characters the author has created is remarkable. Families coping with impossible situations, described with sensitivity, stoicism and even some dark humour. Kitty, in particular, is a character I will remember for a very long time. 

This isn’t a comfortable read but it is compelling and fascinating. I recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers who enjoy a twisty plot and believable characters.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the proof copy to review.

 

 An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth. Read May 2017.

To be published 29 June 2017.

A cleverly plotted tale with disturbing themes that reflect stories of historical abuse that have hit the headlines in recent years.

“Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?”

Prepare to be immersed in a story full of secrets and lies, scandal and cover-up. And be warned that things are most definitely not what they seem.

The characters are so real l felt, after finishing the book, that I wanted to keep in touch with some of them. The author drew me into their world – an uncomfortable place – but also made it impossible to turn away from the horrifying story that was unfolding. My sympathies jumped from one person to another, an effect achieved by switching narrator and timeframe.

This third novel is the author’s best yet and I recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers who enjoy having to think about what’s going on rather than having the action served up on a plate.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the proof copy to review.

Need You Dead by Peter James. Read April 2017.

The 13th in the Roy Grace series. Peter James never disappoints and this book is one of his best.

“When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open-and-shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves…and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.”

For fans of this series a treat is in store as familiar characters are involved in the increasingly complex case. But there are also some new faces introduced, giving a promise of more intrigue in future books. I’m struggling to provide more detail without spoiling things for readers who haven’t read the previous books in the series so I’ll move on.

There are some breathtaking action scenes that show the author’s skill with the balance between pace and plot. And of course the depth of research the author undertakes is evident when detailing police procedures.

Roy’s home life comes into focus a lot in this story. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the family in future. Again, sorry to sound so vague for fear of spoilers.

Highly recommended for all crime fiction fans. Book 13 would be an odd starting point but the book could actually read and enjoyed as a standalone as could any of the Roy Grace books.

Thank you to the publisher for the proof copy to review.

You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase. Read April 2017.

Suspense, intrigue and thrills in a story that kept me guessing throughout.

“Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad.

Freelance journalist, Anna Morris, is…flung into the shady underground of the art scene – a world of underhand dealings, missing paintings and mysterious deaths.”

All the characters, even minor ones, are three-dimensional and believable and they all have their part to play in the intricate plot. I found the details of the workings of the art world fascinating and I’ll use that as my excuse for totally failing to spot whodunnit. The writer has the knack of making you suspect everyone until your head is spinning.

The slow build up through the first three quarters of the book felt frustrating at times but once I’d got my breath back after the tension of the last few chapters I could see how cleverly plotted it all was.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy well written, thought provoking suspense.

My copy was purchased from Amazon Kindle store.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

Another great read from one of my favourite domestic noir authors.

 
“Can you push your child too far? Paula Daly’s latest gripping domestic thriller explores how far a tiger mother would go to achieve perfection, and the damage this can cause to a family.”

If you’re a fan of twisty plots and dark stories with realistic characters this is the book for you.

Once again the author has created a scenario where the most frightening aspect is the everyday setting. The writing style draws you in until it feels like you’re a part of the family – and what a family. Mum is obsessed with pushing her youngest child into excelling at every activity. She doesn’t realise she’s pushing her to breaking point until it’s too late.

The dynamics of the family are fascinating and distracted me from the mystery that brought back a recurring character from earlier books. The one thing that slightly spoilt things for me was how this character acted (trying hard to avoid spoilers here!) but who am I to judge?

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy a well written, thought provoking psychological thriller.

Thank you to the publisher for the proof copy to review.

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary. Read January 2017.

This is Book 4 in the Marnie Rome series – and the best yet.

” A vigilante is at loose on the streets. A child is in danger. Sometimes staying silent is the only way to survive…”

As usual with the book series I enjoy most, what keeps me hooked is the way the recurring characters interact. Returning to the world of Marnie, Noah, Stephen and the rest of the author’s compelling cast of characters I knew I’d be in for a gripping and thrilling read.
 
The plot is gloriously twisty. I thought about claiming I’d worked out whodunnit but really I only worked it out about two pages before the reveal.

Highly recommended for fans of police procedurals and psychological thrillers – the Marnie Rome books give you the best of both worlds. As always I strongly suggest reading the other books in the series – Someone Else’s Skin; No Other Darkness; Tastes Like Fear; – to benefit from all the characters’ back stories.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the proof copy to review.

Her Husband’s Lover

A gripping page-turner that reaches a whole new level of psychological thriller.

“After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start…Her husband Sam is dead…she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.”

This is a twisty, disturbing and shocking read – I loved it. The main characters are skilfully developed through a compelling present day story and flashbacks to the origins of the drama. The opening is one of the most memorable I’ve read – a real shout out loud moment.

Even minor characters are drawn so well that they play a part in creating a believable background to the events that unfold. The everyday activity going on around the nightmare scenario being played out by the main characters makes it all the more real.

I don’t want to go into details for fear of spoiling the effect of reading this book with no clue as to what’s happening. But I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys trying to spot the twists in a clever plot.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy e-book via Netgalley.