In The Dark by Cara Hunter

5 stars from me

Clever clever book.

I absolutely loved Close to Home so was almost concerned that I could only like In the Dark less, simply because the only way left was – in theory – down. How wrong I was. To start with you leap straight into a police procedural and I was wondering in my head whether I was enjoying the style – then had to laugh to myself as I realised that I’d had a cup of tea, two cups of coffee and some toast and I was 49% through the book.

Cara Hunter is the queen of ‘unputdownable’, you find yourself utterly sucked into the story and needing desperately to know what happens next.

I look forward to reading more DI Adam Fawley books and I hope that his current colleagues will still be in the team, particularly Gis, Somer, Quinn and Everett. Very intriguing sub plots run alongside the main story without detracting from it.

There were so many different strands to In the Dark, it is a very clever and well put together tale. It moves fast and you should do yourself a favour and cancel your weekend plans so that you can get comfy, get the kettle on and read!

My thanks to NetGalley for a review copy 🙂

 

Synopsis: DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY’RE HIDING IN THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR?

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME, comes the second pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive…

No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. And the elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock – how could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem . . .

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Perfect Death by Helen Fields

4 stars from me

I really enjoy the Luc Callanach character, appearing almost too good to be true, he has a great back story which gets fully developed in Perfect Death and we understand a lot more about him and his relationship with his mother during this book.

The story itself is very clever, with little sub-stories that inevitably interweave and merge as the tale develops. In fact there are two main threads to this book and one of them contains micro-stories as you are introduced to each new victim. The killer is clever too and (without wishing to give anything away) their different ways of ensnaring their victims is really well constructed and orchestrated. Helen Fields has peppered throughout the book several emotional punches that are delivered with skill and aplomb.

DCI Ava Turner finds herself newly promoted and she is a great female lead – and a much more tangible character than Luc Callanach, for me anyway.

DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner’s relationship is an interesting one, will they won’t they? I think we all know they’d like to!

 

Synopsis: Unknown to DI Luc Callanach and the newly promoted DCI Ava Turner, a serial killer has Edinburgh firmly in his grip. The killer is taking his victims in the coldest, most calculating way possible – engineering slow and painful deaths by poison, with his victims entirely unaware of the drugs flooding their bloodstream until it’s too late.

But how do you catch a killer who hides in the shadows? A killer whose pleasure comes from watching pain from afar? Faced with their most difficult case yet, Callanach and Turner soon realise they face a seemingly impossible task…

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood

5 stars from me (can I give it 6?)

This book hits you hard from page 1 and simply does not stop.

A Room Full of Killers is sheer brilliance; Michael Wood has excelled himself with not only his characterisation of DCI Darke but also the base elements of humanity, the melancholy that resides within us all and a simply brilliant story.

I think if I were a detective I’d be like Matilda, single, relentless and living in a house filled with books – although you may have to swap the treadmill for a couple of cats. That’s what makes her so fabulous, so tangible, it’s her realness, her flaws and her fallibleness that all make her so believable. She truly is the perfect heroine, and if I were ever wrongly convicted I would like it to be her who looked into my case.

The characters in this book – from the main stayers to those in the sidelines – all come to life within the pages and all of them are real and solid. I can totally see this series being televised and I cannot wait to see who plays Matilda.

As ever, Michael Wood plays homage to some of the crime thriller greats and I love this ‘nod’ to his peers and contemporaries.

As well as being a cracking crime thriller, A Room Full of Killers takes on some pretty weighty issues. Is a killer born or created? Is it nature or nurture? Can you ever truly atone and repent? Should we – society – allow killers to obtain a first class education from within prison, allowing them a potentially brighter future than someone who went through the mill of a comprehensive education? Is it right for a killer to be given a new life and a fresh slate – how well do you ever know anyone?

Although I am sure this would make for a great standalone, I urge you to begin with the first in the series For Reasons Unknown so that you have some history that will add depth and resonance to A Room Full of Killers.

So, thank you Michael Wood for this series which I am enjoying immensely and for bringing DCI Matilda Darke and her team into my life. Sometimes, just sometimes, I could almost forgive you for not being that keen on cats.

 

Synopsis: ‘DCI Matilda Darke is the perfect heroine’ Elly Griffiths

The third book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood.

When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…

 

The Hanged Man by Simon Kernick

3 stars from me

I have to pinch myself as I write that – 3 stars from me for a Simon Kernick novel – I never thought I’d see the day.

It genuinely pains me to say that I didn’t love it. I found the beginning too ‘explainy’, I know that it is useful to have a bit of a catch up but if you have to essentially rehash most of the previous book then something is not quite right – or was it just padding?

Don’t get me wrong, Kernick’s fabulous, engaging, clever writing style is still there – it just isn’t there for the whole book. I found myself really struggling to stay engaged which is so not typical of a Simon Kernick thriller – they are normally lightening fast, unputdownable pieces of mastery.

I hate leaving reviews like this but honesty is all I can offer and this simply isn’t up to his usual standard.

Synopsis: A house deep in the countryside where the remains of seven unidentified women have just been discovered.

A cop ready to risk everything in the hunt for their killers.

A man who has seen the murders and is now on the run in fear of his life.

So begins the race to track down this witness before the killers do.

For Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd, the road ahead is a dangerous one, with bodies and betrayal at every turn…

Mine by J L Butler

4 stars from me!

I confess to struggling for the first few pages – maybe a different writing style, maybe the sex, maybe just my own expectation – but then, suddenly, BAM, I was hooked!

The further I read into this book the less I was able to put it down. In truth, I read a couple of chapters yesterday morning and then read the entire rest of the book today. It is most definitely a page turner AND I didn’t guess whodunnit!

Really loved the psychology and the legal talk and most definitely felt echoes of Apple Tree Yard. For me, I have gone with 4 stars rather than 5 because the sex nearly put me off the book. Not because I am a prude, but because I almost mistook it for a lesser book than it actually is – I had a horrible feeling I’d stumbled into 50 shades novel, I know it is meant to get across that there is passion, risk and obsession but it felt cheap.

On the whole though, it is a really great read and you won’t want to put it down!

My thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

Synopsis: Fatal Attraction meets Apple Tree Yard. This debut novel is compulsive and will be your new obsession.

My CLIENT
My LOVER

Francine Day is a high flying lawyer about to apply for silk, ambitious and brilliant. She just needs one headline grabbing client to seal her place as queen’s counsel … Martin Joy. The attraction is instant. Obsessive.

They embark on a secret affair and Francine thinks she can hold it together. But then Martin’s wife goes missing. And Martin is the prime suspect. Francine is now his lawyer, lover and the last person to see Donna Joy alive.

As the case unravels so does Francine.

Her HUSBAND
My OBSESSION

Outside Looking In by Michael Wood

5 Stars from me!

I am already utterly in love with Michael Wood‘s writing style. I find it incredibly comfortable in a way that I can only liken to picking up a new Peter James DS Roy Grace novel.

DCI Matilda Darke is wonderful. She has the perfect mix of misery and compassion, her own bag of issues and demons that she carries around with her and yet a warmth and compassion bested only by her desire to protect and serve.

Outside Looking In is a simple yet complex tale and, although it stands up on it’s own merits, I would urge you to read For Reasons Unknown first so that you have the back story which is cleverly woven throughout Outside Looking In.

I raced through this book, feeling every shred of Matilda’s pain for her emotional loss and the enormous weight of responsibility she bears for past cases. She is tangible within these pages, a real, credible and believable character. I can picture her and her house and I hope that one day this series will be televised.

Although I said I find Michael’s writing comfortable, please do not think this is a fluffy tale – quite the opposite, it is gritty, raw and fast paced with a descriptive brilliance which brings horror to life and pulls no punches. The storyline throughout Outside Looking In is proper grim and takes the reader on a winding roller coaster before reaching its conclusion.

One other thing I really enjoyed was the continual referencing to other crime thrillers – most of which I have read and loved – I thank Jonathan Harkness for his gift.

I am greatly looking forward to A Room Full of Killers, which sits waiting patiently upon my kindle.

 

Synopsis: The second book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling new crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.

When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead. The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again. 

 

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

5 stars from me!

This is a fabulous debut novel from Cara Hunter, I enjoyed it immensely and could easily have devoured it in one sitting if time had permitted!

As well as having a great storyline, I thought Close to Home was such a clever book, covering a wide variety of really quite topical issues.

Great characters throughout, more twists and turns than an oiled up eel and a fast pace – I loved it!

Can’t wait to read more by Cara Hunter.

 

Synopsis: Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, CLOSE TO HOME is a pulse-pounding race against time and a penetrating examination of what happens to a community when a shocking crime is committed by one of its own.

 

 

The Woman in the Window by A J Finn

5 stars from me

I received this book as a birthday present from my son which allowed me to indulge in the luxury of reading a hardback!

I read The Woman in the Window in three sittings, and if I hadn’t have had to go out (i.e. to work!) it would have been two. Is this a compliment, I hope so, I thought A J Finn was a woman as they captured Anna’s perspective so well. Reminiscent of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train – only in so much as they are all absolute slam dunks!

The story telling and the creation of poor Dr Anna Fox’s world is magnificent. I lived and breathed her locked in world with her and saw life through her eyes. The old movie references throughout were utterly sublime and made me crave a slice of her bonkers existence!

A few have bemoaned that they saw twists coming. I thought I had as well but on reflection I wonder if some of the ‘twists’ are so obvious that you are meant to suss them out because you then read on with that knowledge in your head, which I feel enhances the depth of the story in a lot of ways.

I didn’t guess the overall ‘whodunnit and why’ and I truly enjoyed racing my way through these pages. I simply have to give it 5 stars as I now feel slightly bereft that its over and I can no longer dip into Anna’s world.

A great, fast paced, wham bam thank you mam of a read.

 

Synopsis: Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

The Trespasser by Tana French

5 stars from me!

Wow! What an incredible book.

During a recent trip to Dublin I perused the shelves of the delightful (and award winning) The Gutter Bookshop and The Trespasser was highly recommended. Having now finished it, I can see why!

Now, for a girl like me who is a fan of the fast paced Simon Kernick esque style of writing, I have to confess that the slower pace of Tana French was a bit of a shock to the system. Please don’t mistake ‘slower pace’ for ‘slow’ because it isn’t, it is just told in a more indulgent style – each scene is delivered to you in glorious technicolour, none of the words seem superfluous and at no point was I bored. If anything, this steadier than usual pace made the book feel luxurious as though the author had taken extra time and care to ensure the resulting story was just right.

The Trespasser has a real feel to it, the characters and their personal and working habits all ring true – within these pages are solid, well-defined individuals who live and breath in their own right. The awkwardness, trust, deceit and burgeoning friendships all feel right and segments throughout this book are exceptionally well observed.

The story itself is doled out in manageable pieces, making your brain work as you get swept along and I am delighted to say that it didn’t have a disappointing ending.

I haven’t read any of Tana French’s other books but I will be making a point of adding them to my, ever growing, ‘to be read’ pile.

Synopsis: In The Trespasser being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her – except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?

For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood

5 stars from me!

I really enjoyed this fabulous debut and am therefore delighted that there are others in the series to get stuck into already! Huge thanks to Michael Wood for his swift work as there are another 3 books to read 🙂

DCI Matilda Darke is a perfect character for our lead role, she fits the bill entirely with a disastrous recent past, disheveled appearance, low self-esteem, alcohol dependancy, loyal colleagues and moments of brilliance peppered throughout a dogged and determined pursuit of the truth.

All of the characters in the story were incredibly well defined and I have to say (in addition to Matilda) I felt a strong connection to Jonathan Harkness. He vividly came alive on the the pages and I couldn’t help but be drawn to this peculiar yet endearing man.

I can’t praise this book enough and if you are a fan of detective crime thrillers which tear along at a cracking pace then you will love this book. I found the story clever (without being pretentiously complex), gripping, fast paced (without cutting corners) and incredibly hard to put down.

I can’t wait to go on to the next books in the series.

Synopsis: Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…

A darkly compelling debut crime novel. The start of a brilliant series, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, and James Oswald.

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.

Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda’s case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…