Only The Innocent by Rachel Abbott. Read April 2014.

This is the first of Rachel Abbott’s books I’ve read and her writing made me think of her as Britain’s Karen Rose – There’s a complex plot, strong female characters, a theme of abuse and some breathtaking and horrific situations.
Much of the story is revealed in letters written by the main character, Laura, to her childhood best friend Imogen. The rest of the plot and action take place around the police investigation into the murder of Laura’s husband, Sir Hugo Fletcher.
I was sure I’d worked out what was going on quite early on, but there were twists and surprises I couldn’t have imagined, especially towards the end of the book. What I enjoyed most was the clever plot construction and the depth of detail in every part of the story.
I would recommend this book to psychological thriller fans, with the rider that some readers may find parts of it shocking and/or upsetting.

20140429-195635.jpg

The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah. Read April 2014.

“Think you want to know the secret? Think again…”
This is the ninth book in the Spilling CID (or Culver Valley Crime) series and the most enjoyable yet. As usual the author sets a baffling puzzle for the reader, and a rich cast of characters plays out an absorbing plot giving an entertaining and satisfying read.
The motivation and actions of some of the characters in this book are fascinating and at times frustrating but I know that if I find myself shouting ‘why would you DO that?’ while reading then I’m in the grip of a very good novel.
Sophie Hannah’s writing style draws you in so that you are as desperate as the detectives themselves to work out exactly what has happened and why. However I have to admit that I have yet to fully solve one of these cases before the final reveal by DC Simon Waterhouse.
Once again we get a glimpse into the lives of the police team which keeps us interested in the recurring characters in the series and ensures that we’ll be looking forward eagerly to the next instalment.
With thanks to the publisher for the advance copy e-book via Netgalley.

20140424-225426.jpg

The Carrier by Sophie Hannah. Read April 2014.

“He swore he was a killer. The truth was worse.”
The Carrier is the kind of book that reminds me why I love crime fiction and psychological thrillers. Sophie Hannah’s characters are so well described and developed, they burrow into the reader’s mind, demanding attention even while the book has been put aside.
I will keep this brief as I’m finding it difficult to refer to the plot without risking spoilers. The relationships between recurring characters take more of a back seat than usual, and the cast of characters for the main plot play out a fascinating, if at times far-fetched, tragic scenario.
I decided I had worked out what was going on twice (both wrong) and was surprised by the final outcome. Part way through my attention was drawn to some of the reviews this book had received, leading me to conclude it’s a Marmite book (Love/Hate) in which case I loved it.

20140422-115243.jpg

The Killing Season by Mason Cross. Read April 2014.

“It takes a man with no limits to catch a killer with no motive”
This book has been lurking near the top of my to-be-read pile for some time and all the good things I’ve been hearing about it have made me impatient to get started. I certainly wasn’t disappointed – I devoured The Killing Season over a couple of days and I’m just about getting my breath back.
The plot revolves around a manhunt for a serial killer sniper and takes place over the course of several days. The enigmatic character of Carter Blake and the FBI’s Elaine Banner team up against a formidable opponent’s seemingly unstoppable killing spree.
I found The Killing Season reminiscent of early Alex Cross books by James Patterson, but with the action ramped up to the maximum. There’s a fair amount of graphic violence which can sometimes turn me off a book, but the quality of the writing kept me on board. I lost count of the clever plot twists and the action built to a gobsmacking conclusion. I’m hoping this is the start of a series and if so I’ll look forward eagerly to the next instalment.
With thanks to the author and publisher for the advance review copy e-book via Netgalley.
Highly recommended

20140419-173128.jpg

Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah. Read April 2014.

“Some secrets are so dark you keep them even from yourself”
The seventh in the Spilling CID series, this is a cleverly written psychological thriller that kept me enthralled from beginning to end. I’m glad I was able to read it over a couple of days, because if I’d had to keep putting it aside and returning to it I might have lost the thread of the complex links between events and characters.
Amber is a highly intelligent character but her behaviour is full of contradictions. For example, anyone who has suffered from insomnia for any length of time will understand the desperation to find a way to sleep again, but some of Amber’s habits appear designed to keep sleep at bay.
As the plot develops, the author examines the relationships between Amber’s extended family and friends – a collection of toxic relationships that the participants believe appear normal on the surface.
These relationships form the background to the police investigation into three crimes and we also learn more about the main recurring characters in the series, leaving me looking forward to the next instalment.
Highly recommended.

20140418-133726.jpg

The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan. Read April 2014.

“A stolen baby…A murdered woman…A decades-old atrocity…Something connects them all…”
The action in The Dead Ground begins about a month after the previous book The Lost left off. Although this is only the second in the Paula Maguire series, the recurring characters have already been well established by the author. I enjoyed learning more about the characters against the background of one of the most harrowing stories I have read. Indeed, the prologue of this book may well become notorious as one of the bleakest introductions ever written.
I did start to think there should be a warning printed on the cover, like the TV announcer gives before certain programmes: Contains scenes that some readers may find upsetting, along with a helpline number on the back.
Having said that, this is one of the most gripping books I have read in recent years and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a complex plot and realistic characters. I’m eagerly awaiting the third instalment in the series.
Thank you to Bookbridgr / Headline for the review copy.

20140415-092445.jpg

Lasting Damage by Sophie Hannah. Read April 2014.

“Your eyes tell you one thing…your husband says another…which do you trust?”
It’s quite a while since I read the previous instalment in Sophie Hannah’s Spilling CID series, but the recurring characters are so well developed that starting Lasting Damage felt like going to a slightly uncomfortable works reunion.
The plot of this story is so clever it made me want to applaud. The only way I could have guessed what was going on would have been to call in Jonathan Creek to read over my shoulder.
Family dynamics are stretched and examined to the nth degree. I think we could all recognise at least some of the characters in our own families and I might be looking at those family members differently from now on.
The reader gains some knowledge earlier than the police, always a good feeling, and there are some disturbing and upsetting mental images conjured up as the story develops.
A first rate psychological thriller that I highly recommend.

20140411-182653.jpg

The Lost by Claire McGowan. Read April 2014.

“Not everyone who’s missing is lost…Not everyone who’s lost wants to be found…Nothing is what it seems”
How can ‘enjoy’ and ‘harrowing’ be used in the same sentence? Because I did enjoy this very harrowing book a great deal, and for only the second time a book has made me question my long time love of crime fiction. Why do I choose to spend a huge proportion of my time immersed in the gory and grim details conjured up by my favourite authors’ imaginations? It shows the power of the author’s writing that it made me think, not only about this story but about my love of a whole genre.
I will need to think more about that and perhaps ask some of my fellow bloggers to contribute to a feature about it, but for now I’m meant to be reviewing ‘The Lost’…
Assigned to the Missing Persons Cold Case Unit in her home town in Northern Ireland, Dr Paula Maguire tries to push memories of her own family history aside. The plot concerns present day missing teenagers whose cases show disturbing similarities to those of 25 years ago. Old friends and new relationships collide as Paula tries, and usually fails, to stick to the rules while the case careers out of control to a breathtaking conclusion.
The central character of Paula, a psychologist, gives us a quirky twist on the usual police procedural and I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment in her story, The Dead Ground, very soon. Recommended for anyone who likes a gritty and gripping read – it will keep you guessing right to the end.

20140407-203750.jpg