Made To Be Broken by Rebecca Bradley. Read June 2016.

Book 2 in the DI Hannah Robbins series, a gripping follow-up to Shallow Waters.

“A young mother is found dead in her home with no obvious cause of death. As DI Hannah Robbins and her team investigate, it soon becomes clear that the woman is the first in a long line of murders by poison. 
With the body count climbing, and the city of Nottingham in social meltdown, the team finds themselves in a deadly race against a serial killer determined to prove a point.”

Many of the compelling characters from the first book in the series return and we learn more about their lives against the backdrop of a tough investigation. I enjoyed the way the author moves the plot along at a fast pace while still developing believable characters. I found the main character, Hannah, less likeable this time but also more realistic. I think she has huge potential for future books.

The plot was cleverly constructed and I thought the use of flashback chapters was done well. The reader is in the know while the investigators are in the dark – a format that can sometimes disappoint but worked well here.

The author’s writing style contributes to a satisfying read. Her experience of police work is obvious and gives a feel of authenticity to all aspects of the investigation. It makes a nice change not to be shouting “That wouldn’t happen!” while reading a police procedural.

I enjoyed the read and would recommend this book to all crime fiction fans. However if you haven’t read Shallow Waters first you’ll be missing out on a lot of back story.

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

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Last To Die by Arlene Hunt. Read June 2016.

A fast moving thriller that kept me enthralled throughout.

“He watches. He waits. He kills…When Jessie Conway survives a horrific mass high school shooting, in the aftermath she finds herself thrust into the media spotlight, drawing all kinds of attention. But some of it is the wrong kind.”

The main characters in the book are described and developed in such a skilful way that they felt real to me. The villain, Caleb Switch, is one of the most evil and frightening bad guys I’ve come across, and I’ve read a lot of thrillers with a lot of bad guys. In fact on finishing the book I was feeling a little guilty about how much I liked him. Well, maybe liked isn’t the right word but he’s certainly a fascinating character. The rest of the cast of characters are a typical small town America line up but they’re all realistic.

The author’s writing style had me turning the pages quickly, desperate to find out what would happen next. I was slightly distracted by attempts to sound American that didn’t quite come off but mostly it was authentic. The plot structure is clever, drip-feeding the characters’ back stories to keep the reader guessing.

Early on I decided that the book’s style reminded me of Linwood Barclay’s writing and this is no bad thing. I’d recommend Last To Die to Linwood Barclay fans and anyone who enjoys a well-written, cleverly plotted thriller.

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

Fade To Dead by Tara Moore. Read June 2016.

A cleverly plotted crime thriller that will keep you guessing throughout.

“When a serial killer, The Director, starts snatching young women off the street to ‘act’ in his movies, DI Jessica Wideacre is tasked with apprehending him. It’s her first major case and the opportunity to prove she’s not just the token woman, promoted to satisfy the PC brigade.”

I enjoyed the author’s style of writing – fast paced and with regular sprinklings of dark humour. The main character, Jessica, is very strong and well developed so, as a crime fiction series addict, I was pleased to learn that this is to become a series. She is so dominant though that the some of the other characters around her came across as one-dimensional, and Jessica’s back story and family situation dominated some parts of the book to the detriment of the plot. I enjoy getting to know the main characters in a series but there has to be a balance between the investigators’ private lives and the crime/mystery we’re all there for.

Moving on to the investigation, I had to suspend disbelief at times or I would have been muttering “wouldn’t happen” constantly. Real sticklers for correct police procedure might find that this would spoil their enjoyment of the book. Also, I felt that the victims could have been dealt with more sensitively.

Reading back the last two paragraphs they sound far more negative than I meant to be. I did enjoy the read and the author’s style more than made up for any criticisms I have made so I’d recommend other crime fans should give it a try.

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

Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton. Read June 2016.

The author’s best book yet (but I say that after every book of hers I read).

“Famous killers have fan clubs. Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day…His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.
Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer…She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time.”

Maggie is a brilliant character. Although much of the focus of the story is on convicted murderer Hamish, it is Maggie that kept me turning pages. I lost count of the number of times I thought I’d sussed out what was going on. The author is skilled in leading the reader along a path before slamming down a diversion sign.

The writer’s style is perfect for psychological thrillers – pacy but with descriptions that are almost poetic at times. 

I’m finding it difficult to describe the story without risking spoilers so I’ll just say that I recommend this book highly and challenge anyone to say they solved the mystery.

Thank you to the publisher for the advance reader copy and for the e-book via Netgalley.