Down to the Woods by M J Arlidge

5 Stars from me!

I’ve been hooked on the MJ Arlidge books since Eeny Meeny and I love the DI Helen Grace character so I was super excited to realise that book 8 was available to read!

Down to the Woods is yet another cracker in this well executed (no pun intended, honest) series. It has a solid storyline and still manages to weave in elements for the personal lives of Grace and her team. In fact it was good to witness a softer side to some of the characters.

It was good to meet a new player in the team – DS Joseph Hudson – and the relationship between him and Grace is interesting. I feel there is a lot more to come in future books regarding his past and his reasons behind joining the team.

Small confession… I hadn’t actually realised before the M J Arlidge is a man! It kinda makes sense in that Grace is, or at least can be, quite a masculine woman. Or do I now think that because I know Arlidge is a man?!

There are some wonderful scenes in this book, along with the fast paced chase, the beauty vs terror of the New Forest and the grit and determination of hunter and hunted, there is also the deep love between a parent and a child and the soul searching that must be faced in one of life’s most difficult of decisions.

Loved it and highly recommended – although I suggest a visit to the first book in the DI Grace series first and then enjoy reading your way through them all.

 

Synopsis: THE EIGHTH DI HELEN GRACE THRILLER BY BESTSELLING AUTHOR M. J. ARLIDGE

There is a sickness in the forest. First, it was the wild horses. Now it’s innocent men and women, hunted down and murdered by a faceless figure. Lost in the darkness, they try to flee, they try to hide. In desperation, they call out for help. But there is no-one to hear their cries here…

DI Helen Grace must face down a new nightmare. The arrow-ridden victims hang from the New Forest’s ancient oaks, like pieces of strange fruit. Why are helpless holidaymakers being targeted in peak camping season? And what do their murders signify? Is a psychopath stalking the forest? Is there an occult element to the killings? Could the murders even be an offering to the Forest itself? Helen must walk into the darkness to discover the truth behind her most challenging, most macabre case yet.

M J Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace books in order:

Eeny Meeny by MJ ArlidgeEeny Meeny

The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it. Days later, another desperate escapee is found – and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.

Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors – living calling cards – who hold the key to the case. And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die…

 

 

 

DI Helen Grace books in orderPop Goes the Weasel

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton’s red light district – horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed. Hours later – and barely cold – the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.

A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards.The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes.

For Grace, only one thing is certain: there’s a vicious serial killer at large who must be halted at all costs…

 

 

 

 

The Doll's House by MJ ArlidgeThe Doll’s House

A woman wakes. Immediately she knows she’s not in the bed she slept in. It’s just the beginning of her nightmare.

Across town, a child discovers a woman’s body buried beneath the beach. Then another victim is found. Neither friends nor family had even reported either woman missing. How could their killer be getting away with murder?

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it’s chilling evidence that she’s hunting a monster who’s not just twisted, but clever and careful. And as Helen struggles to understand the killer’s motivation she realizes that time might be running out for someone still alive…

 

 

 

Liar Liar by MJ ArlidgeLiar Liar

In the dead of night, three raging fires light up the city skies. It’s more than a tragic coincidence. For DI Helen Grace the flames announce the arrival of an evil she has never encountered before. Because this is no firestarter seeking sick thrills, but something more chilling: a series of careful, calculating acts of murder.

But why were the victims chosen? What’s driving the killer? And who will be next?

A powder keg of fear, suspicion and dread has been laid. Now all it needs is a spark to set it off…

 

 

 

 

Little Boy Blue by MJ Arlidge

Little Boy Blue

Called to a Southampton nightclub, DI Helen Grace cuts the duct tape from the asphyxiated victim and discovers she knows him. A man from the double life she has concealed from her superiors, Helen is determined to find his murderer – while keeping their relationship hidden at all costs.

When a new victim is found, Helen works around the clock to stop her life unravelling. She’ll do anything to solve this case – but dare she reveal her own darkest secrets and lose everything?

And would even that be enough to stop this killer?

 

 

 

 

mj arlidge books in orderHide and Seek

Helen awaits trial in a crumbling women’s prison in Southampton. She has a fight on to prove her innocence from inside her prison cell, but this soon turns out to be the least of her worries.

A serial killer is picking off fellow inmates, thriving in an environment where there is truly nowhere to run. Is it a criminal giving in to their dark urges or a member of the prison staff preying on the captive population?

Helen must work fast to reveal this devious killer, all the time wondering if she will be next on her list…

 

 

 

 

 

DI Helen Grace books in orderLove Me Not

A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a cold-blooded killing. But why would anyone target a much-loved wife and mother?

Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?

Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking. If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own…

 

 

 

 

 

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You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

4 Stars from me!

Fabulously atmospheric!

I got so engrossed in You Let Me In, the storyline is brilliant and the overwhelming sense of paranoia from main character Elle is tangible and delicious.

This is a book packed with credible and engaging characters and uncomfortably spot on situations, I highly recommend it.

I haven’t read anything by Lucy Clarke before so I am very happy to find that she has a host of other books all waiting for me to read!

 

Synopsis: 

Spine-tingling, chilling, and utterly compulsive, YOU LET ME IN is the stunning new novel from Richard & Judy Book Club author, Lucy Clarke

Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . .

I’M IN YOUR HOUSE

There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.

I’M IN YOUR HEAD

Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.

AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET

As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…

The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley

4 Stars from me

I have greatly enjoyed the DI Hannah Robbins series and was eager to read the latest instalment – The Twisted Web.

It was good to see Aaron back, I really like his character and the positive way in which Asperger syndrome is portrayed within these novels. Baxter on the other hand, the man is an arse and it is teastament to Rebecca Bradley that she can conjure up such strong opinion from readers with these two.

The storyline was fresh and clever, playing on society’s current social media obsession and highlighting how easily something can be blown out of all proportion and have a devestating effect on a person’s life. The hidden and passive nature of social media often makes it a very dangerous tool and this was the main thrust of The Twisted Web.

I felt sorry for the main character and a level of despair on his behalf. Although he took things somewhat to extremes, it is easy to see how he felt he had no other real options. Were his actions in vain though?

i have already downloaded Three Weeks Dead and am looking forward to it!

The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood DCI Darke 4 #booktour

5 Stars from me!

I am delighted and honoured to be part of the Blog Tour for The Hangman’s Hold – particularly as I am enjoying the Matilda Darke series so very much. I recently had the privilege of asking Michael Wood a few questions about himself and his writing style, see here for my Interview with the Author, Michael Wood.

A rich and diverse group of characters makes The Hangman’s Hold a thoroughly engaging read which will keep you on your toes. If you are a fan of crime thrillers and ‘enjoy a good murder’, you will also love this series from @MichaelhWood and I highly recommend that you go back to the beginning and read the books in order. This is the best way for you to understand the complexities of Matilda’s character and pick up the subtle nuances and peculiarities of the relationships within her team.

I’ve been with Matilda since the beginning and truly love these books, she sits firmly on my shelf among novels by Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride, Simon Kernick, Alison Bruce, Lisa Hall, Jane Isaac, Ann Cleaves, Peter James, Helen Cadbury, Sarah Ward and Linwood Barclay – to name but a few.

In The Hangman’s Hold, DCI Matilda Darke and her team seem to be right in the middle of the focus from a smart but provocative killer who knows exactly how, when and where to locate victims; ready to lie in wait and deliver their own form of justice. The concept of this is dark and unsettling. The police team struggle to find forensic evidence and the killer continually taunts Matilda and local journalist, Danny Hansen. Will Danny’s naivety turn out to be his downfall, or is he somehow involved?

Like Matilda, I felt immediately drawn into the case as soon as her wonderful friend Adele became close to the first victim and potentially at risk herself. I felt so sorry for Adele, who very much deserved to meet a wonderful date, yet not only is her beau murdered but he then turns out to have a somewhat murky past – how can she reconcile herself to having enjoyed his company? How will she learn to trust again after this? Fortunately, Matilda is there for her (it’s nice to see Matilda supporting Adele for a change) and the friendship between these two ladies is enviable.

With a mounting body count, Matilda finds herself appointed with a profiler who muddles her thinking with his strong resemblance to her beloved deceased husband. This leads to her fighting her own demons amid a growing pressure to solve the case as she struggles with her conflicted feelings towards another man – albeit one her reminds her so much of James. This is such a well articulated thread throughout the books and forms part of what makes Matilda so real, vulnerable and relatable.

Tension builds once the profiler suggests that the killer may be someone Matilda knows which leads to mistrust and defensiveness with Matilda’s team and is a sublime demonstration of the destructiveness of paranoia as her team second guess themselves and each other. How can you work together as a team if you don’t trust your colleagues to have your back.

‘Taking the law into your own hands’ is another excellent thread through this book and it shines a light upon society and the way we are all so quick to label and to judge. The repercussions of which can be catastrophic. It made me stop and think about the loved ones and families of the accused/convicted as they are often the ones who are left picking up the pieces and the impact upon the lives of wives, mothers, fathers, children and even distant relations can be immense. Stop and think for a minute, if someone close to you was convicted of a hideous crime how fast do you think your own life would unravel?

Without giving away any spoilers… I am very much looking forward to the next book!

 

Synopsis:

Your life is in his hands.In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness of your living room. As soon as you get home, he will kill you – hang you by the neck – and make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.

He knows your darkest secrets.
The police are running out of time. DCI Matilda Darke is facing her worst nightmare: a serial killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice, whose campaign of violence is spreading fear throughout the city.

And he is closer than you think.
As the body count rises, Matilda is personally targeted and even her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

4 stars from me

The Hunting Party is a fabulous debut and I had the pleasure of reading it from within a remote cottage in the Welsh countryside (not quite the Scottish highlands in the snow but close enough!).

I enjoyed the playful elements of the story which I agree could easily be likened to an olden days whodunnit but for me the star of the show was the relationships between the friends and the uncomfortable tensions contained within them. Incredibly well observed and well told.

Great debut and I look forward to more by this author.

 

Synopsis: The Hunting Party is the author’s first crime novel and is described as combining elements of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (HarperCollins) and The Secret History (Penguin) by Donna Tartt.

The novel follows a a tight-knit group of Oxford university alumni as they celebrate New Year’s Eve in the wilderness of the Loch Corrin Estate in Scotland. A HarperFiction spokesperson said: “In these wild, white climes the group reminisce, go deer stalking, and hide friendship-destroying secrets, secrets that set a razor-sharp sequence of events in motion, culminating with a broken body in the snow.”

The Party by Lisa Hall

5 stars from me!

Wow what a doozy! This book hits you from very the beginning when poor Rachel wakes up and the events of The Party hit her like a tonne of bricks. Make sure you’ve got a comfy chair and a mug of tea as you will be hooked!

It is easy to imagine the horror she feels and her bravery as she confronts the situation is really quite commendable. She is a tenacious character and I liked her. You can’t help but imagine yourself in her situation and it is an uncomfortable realisation that she could equally have chosen to do nothing.

Having read Tell Me No Lies and Between You and Me by Lisa Hall I had high hopes for The Party and I wasn’t disappointed.The book switches between ‘before’ and ‘after’ and you piece information together as you go along, some characters are more likeable than other but all of them are there for a reason!

There is some wonderful misdirection and many a dead end of of which is testament to Hall’s mastery. Do you like the right people, do you trust the right people, do you trust yourself?

Like the two earlier books, The Party is a standalone with fabulous characters who draw you deeper into the story with every turn of the page. I did guess the ending but it in no way spoiled the story for me.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all three books and can’t wait to read more by Lisa Hall.

 

Synopsis: It was just a party. But it turned into a nightmare.

‘Compelling, addictive…brilliant’ B A Paris

When Rachel wakes up in a strange room, the morning after a neighbour’s party, she has no memory of what happened the night before. Why did her husband leave her alone at the party? Did they row? Why are Rachel’s arms so bruised? And why are her neighbours and friends so vague about what really happened?

Little by little, Rachel pieces together the devastating events that took place in a friend’s house, at a party where she should have been safe. Everyone remembers what happened that night differently, and everyone has something to hide. But someone knows the truth about what happened to Rachel. And she’s determined to find them.

The Party is the gripping new novel from bestseller Lisa Hall.

The Poison Bed by E C Fremantle

2 stars from me

I’m sorry to say this book just didn’t do it for me.

The ‘hype’ of Gone Girl meets The Miniaturist made me want to read it but I couldn’t connect with it. I spent the first chunk of the book bewildered by who was ‘speaking’ and that made it incredibly hard for me to engage with the characters and therefore the story itself.

I loved the concept and knowing it was based upon truth made it even more exciting for me. The Poison Bed has a vast amount of 5 star reviews so I guess I must have been missing something but it didn’t work for me.

Synopsis: Elizabeth Fremantle’s THE POISON BED is a chilling, noirish thriller ripped straight from the headlines.

A king, his lover and his lover’s wife. One is a killer.

In the autumn of 1615 scandal rocks the Jacobean court when a celebrated couple are imprisoned on suspicion of murder. She is young, captivating and from a notorious family. He is one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom.

Some believe she is innocent; others think her wicked or insane. He claims no knowledge of the murder. The king suspects them both, though it is his secret at stake.

Who is telling the truth? Who has the most to lose? And who is willing to commit murder? 

The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin

3 stars from me

I found The Pupil to be an engaging book which drew me into the lives of the main characters and I loved the juxtaposition of main character Katherine’s current life and her visits to her mum. Actually, in a lot of ways the bits where she visits ‘home’ are some of the most compelling of the book.

The ‘twists’ in the book were, for me, a bit of a non event, they will heavily indicated throughout which made them a bit of a damp squib. I don’t think I really liked any of the characters either – the chip shop owner was probably my favourite!

I don’t like giving 3 star reviews, it feels rude and disrespectful to the author who has spent so much time crafting this tale for our enjoyment, however I do need to be true to myself and true to those books which I hold up high and say ‘this is worthy of 4 or even 5 stars’, so the 3 stars signifies that I enjoyed this book – in fact I read it an a day, it has some excellent parts and for me the overall story line – particularly the ‘twists’ and some of the characteristics of the key players could do with a few little tweaks.

That said, I am going to find myself a copy of ‘The Accident’ by the same author as it has excellent reviews and I am sure there will be many great works from this author in future.

Synopsis: One moment of carelessness. Four shattered lives. 

Psychological suspense that explores a labyrinth of lies, manipulation and revenge. Perfect for fans of Louise Jenson and Katerina Diamond.

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control. 

If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

4 stars from me

My word, what an interesting book!

Fear, by Dirk Kurbjuweit, has a lovely flow to it. It runs at a gentle pace and the prose is often really quite beautiful and intellectually stimulating. The depth in which the relationship between husband and wife is explored feels true and raw and is exquisitely reported. So many scenes in this book will resonate with readers.

The tale itself is quite simple, yet it will provoke great thought from readers as you imagine yourself in the surreal and horrible situation. With one question being the over riding theme: what would you do?

I found myself likening Fear to old school literature – the gentle pace felt reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird and the commentary in my head had echoes of Green Mile.

Fear is a very good, gripping read – utterly different from most books out there in this genre – poses questions and provokes thought.

 

 

Synopsis: READ THE MOST CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER OF 2018:

‘You’ll never see your neighbours in the same light again’ OBSERVER
‘Beautifully written, frightening and absorbing’ THE TIMES
‘As intellectually stimulating as it is gripping *****’ DAILY TELEGRAPH
‘[An] uncomfortably close-to-home thriller’ – SUNDAY TIMES
‘Something we’ve not see before in contemporary crime fiction’ GUARDIAN
‘Takes you right into the heart of darkness’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘There’s a twist at the end that is worth waiting for’ INDEPENDENT
‘A terrifying study of a family threatened by the tenant living downstairs’ WOMAN&HOME
‘If you liked WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, try FEAR’ – BBC NEWS
‘This creepy tale of obsession will make you wonder ‘what would I do?’ SUNDAY MIRROR
‘A gripping tale of domestic terror’ IRISH TIMES
‘A must have new read’ DAILY EXPRESS

You’d die for your family. But would you kill for them?

Family is everything. So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day?

You go to the police, but they can’t help you. You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there? 

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

4 Stars from me

This clever tale is a psychological thriller which had me feeling at times as though I was on a roller coaster climbing towards the top of a slope that I knew would soon be hurtling me down the other side!

There are some really great (for great read awful, despicable, deplorable) characters within these pages who you simply can’t help but loathe – are you right or wrong about them though, that is the question.

I half thought this book wouldn’t live up to the blurb, I worried it might be too fluffy and possibly even a hybrid crossing the chic lit borderline; trust me, it isn’t, it is a stone cold psychological thriller that will well and truly leave you guessing!

Synopsis: A gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies.

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.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

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.