Black Wood by SJI Holliday. Read February 2015.

An absorbing and at times shocking read.
Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story…Sergeant Davie Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?”

A couple of times while reading Black Wood I felt as if I had been slapped in the face I was so thrown by what I was reading. The story is based in the  claustrophobic small town of Banktoun, a place and an atmosphere skilfully created by the author as the backdrop for a truly twisted plot.

There are enough red herrings to make a fish pie and my head was spinning as I tried to relate the present day action to the disastrous events of 20-odd years before.

I recommend this book to fans of psychological thrillers but you need to pay attention if you’re going to pick up the clues to what really lies at the heart of Black Wood.

My copy was purchased from Amazon Kindle Store.


No Stranger To Death by Janet O’Kane. Read February 2015.

I expected this book to be a Scottish Borders version of Midsomer Murders but I quickly realised it was to be a far darker and more gripping experience.

“A Scottish village. A burning corpse. And a doctor who must discover who’s killing her patients before she becomes the next victim.”

There are several intricate plot strands running through the story and the author skilfully knits them into a credible and shocking tale. The main character is an intriguing figure – we are drip fed clues to her background that explain the defensive barriers she has built up around herself. I enjoyed the way she stood up for herself in spite of her doubts and insecurities and this meant I was rooting for her 100% throughout the book.

Most of the plot was tied up satisfactorily by the end of the book but with one of the best cliffhanger endings I’ve read recently the author has me eagerly awaiting the sequel.

I recommend No Stranger To Death to fans of crime fiction with a difference – a main character unconnected to the police – and readers who enjoy trying to solve an intricate puzzle.

My copy was purchased from Amazon Kindle store.

A Pleasure And A Calling by Phil Hogan. Read February 2015.

One of the creepiest books I have read (and I read a lot of creepy books).
“You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine? The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.”
I’ve had this book on my to-read list for several months but moved it to the top after a strong recommendation from fellow crime fiction lover Janet O’Kane. Now of course I wish I’d read it sooner.
The story is told entirely from the viewpoint of the narrator, Mr Heming. He tells us of his obsessive activities as if they are perfectly normal and rational and I admit that for large parts of the book I was on his side. We also learn in instalments about his disturbed childhood. A cast of characters from past and present make this a rich and interesting story as well as a gripping thriller. The plot develops smoothly but with moments of genuine horror thrown in along the way.
It’s a 5 star read (though I had a couple of niggles regarding the likelihood of some of the action going unnoticed).
Thank you to the publisher, via Netgalley, for the e-book to review.