Captcha Thief by Rosie Claverton. Read February 2016.

As with the previous books in the Amy Lane series, this is a thriller with flashes of dark humour and a refreshingly original plot.

“Agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane is recovering from her last case when her ex-con assistant Jason Carr finds a new crime to solve…Nothing in this case is what it seems and Amy’s investigation takes her and Jason down a dangerous path – playing games with a murderer.”

First thing first: could this be read as a standalone? Personally I think you’d be missing out big time if you hadn’t followed Amy and Jason’s stories from the start with Binary Witness and Code Runner. But yes, this book’s plot is strong enough to stand on its own.

Amy and Jason form one of my favourite fictional crime fighting partnerships. At first glance they seem totally mismatched but their relationship, with its will they / won’t they aspect, has kept me hooked from the first time I “met” them.

What I noticed when reading Captcha Thief was that the supporting characters have been developed more than in the previous books. This provides a satisfying read for fans of crime series who look forward to following all the characters’ stories, not just the main characters or even the plot.

The crime that’s central to this book is intriguing and the clever plotting had me tying myself in knots trying to figure out what was going on.

Highly recommended for crime thriller fans who enjoy trying to solve puzzles along with the crime fighters.

Thank you to the author for the advance copy e-book to review.

  

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Between You And Me by Lisa Hall. Read February 2016.

A gripping psychological thriller with a level of tension that will leave you breathless.

“They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened …
Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.”

Cleverly plotted and with a writing style that keeps the story moving at a fast pace, it’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel. I was hooked from page one and this was one of those books where I was thinking about the characters even when I wasn’t reading. The author describes their unbearable domestic situation perfectly and even minor characters are believable and well developed.

I did anticipate the twist that the book’s tagline says “you won’t see coming” but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. This book is noticeably shorter than others I’ve read in the genre.

Highly recommended for psychological thriller fans an anyone who enjoys a real page turner.

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

  

A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase. Read February 2016.

This story kept me guessing throughout. I read a lot of crime fiction and can usually guess whodunnit early on, but not in this case.

“When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution. 
But…Ruby’s new job takes an unnerving turn – one she cannot resist investigating herself. Ruby’s new boss…seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?”

If you enjoy a gripping page turner of a book you’ll love A Stranger’s House. The writing style has a classic, cosy crime feel but some of the characters we meet are far from cosy. The author cleverly introduces each of them in a way that puts everyone under suspicion. 

The only slight criticism I have is that occasionally the change in point of view between Ruby and Nate felt a little clunky. This might be because I’m more used to authors splitting up the points of view into separate chapters, clearly marking who is “speaking”. 

Highly recommended to all crime fiction fans and I’m happy to have found a new (to me) author.

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

  

A Savage Hunger by Claire McGowan. Read January 2016.

By Book 4 in a series I can usually tell if I’m going to stick with it. In this case, the fact that I’m considering stalking the author until I get my hands on Book 5 might give you a clue.

“Alice Morgan’s disappearance raises immediate questions for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire…With no body to confirm death, the pressure in this high-profile case is all-consuming, and Paula knows that she will have to put her own life, including her imminent marriage, on hold, if they are to find the truth.”

For the last third of this book I literally could not put it down. The intricately woven plot builds to a level of tension that’s almost unbearable. As usual with the Paula Maguire books there are some uncomfortable themes. Alternating scenes about hunger strikers in 1981 with anorexia sufferers in the present was particularly powerful.

As with most of the (very many) crime series I follow, I find the main characters’ personal lives at least as interesting as the crimes they investigate. However, Claire McGowan is more skilled than most when it comes to dragging my attention back to the main plot. A Savage Hunger is a gripping and satisfying read. Having said that, it’s Paula’s situation and the desperately hard choices she needs to make that have me waiting impatiently for the next instalment.

If you have yet to meet Paula Maguire and the rest of the cast of characters in Ballyterrin, Northern Ireland, I strongly recommend that you read the series in order, starting with The Lost. However, in theory any if the books could be read as a standalone.

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