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.

Three Weeks Dead by Rebecca Bradley. Read October 2016.

A prequel to Shallow Waters and Made To Be Broken, but intriguingly it doesn’t focus on the main character of those two books.

“How far would you go if someone took your wife?
Especially if you buried her a week ago.”

When I read the blurb I expected to find the plot too far fetched but the author has the knack of making the characters’ actions believable. The story is fast paced and, being a novella, this is a quick read.

I enjoyed finding out more about Sally and relating it to her actions in the later books. I think Rebecca Bradley has hit on a winning idea by writing a prequel for different characters.

This was a gripping and satisfying read with elements of whodunnit and why. I’d be interested to see what this author can do with a psychological thriller rather than a police procedural.

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

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards. Read August 2016.

The latest fabulous read from Mark Edwards – the master of making the mundane menacing (my reason for including that description will become clear later).

“It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake…

…As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.”

This book is more twisty than a very tall spiral staircase. The characters are believable – the main character and her family make the reader think hey, this could happen to me, and that’s what makes the story so scary.

It’s hard to describe the cleverness of the plot without spoilers so I’ll just say there are plenty of opportunities to think you’ve worked out what’s going on, only to be proved wrong over and over again.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Full disclosure: thanks to a competition win (for coming up with the description of the author I’ve repeated in the opening sentence of this review) I have a character named after me in the book. This added to my enjoyment, as did my first ever mention in the Acknowledgements of a book. However I’m sure I would have enjoyed the read just as much without that.

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

I See You by Clare Mackintosh. Read July 2016.

Prepare to sit on the edge of your seat while reading this, and if reading on your commute, well…

“When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .”

So, how do you follow up a debut crime novel that was one of the most talked about books of recent years? One that has just won the Crime Novel of the Year award at the Theakstons Crime Festival. Clare Mackintosh has answered the question with another great thrilling read. Her writing style pulls you into the world of her characters and they won’t let you go until the last full stop on the last page.

The situation Zoe Walker finds herself in is frighteningly plausible – one of those “it could be you” scenarios that add an extra layer of tension. The police officer who takes her under her wing has her own issues that make her a sympathetic character.

What I enjoyed most was the family dynamic with Zoe and her household and how involved I became in their everyday lives, regardless of the creepy plots going on around them. I’ll miss them now I’ve finished the book – surely a sign that the author has created realistic, three-dimensional characters.

I recommend this follow-up to I Let You Go to all fans of psychological thrillers. There’s a fair amount of police procedural in there too.

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