Wicked Girl by I V Olokita

3.5 stars from me!

Wow – where to even start with reviewing this book?!

Wicked Girl by I V Olokita has a striking cover and for once you can judge a book by its cover as it is a truly striking read.

I can honestly say I have never read anything like this before and I found myself to be as compelled as I was repulsed by the events that unfolded.

It is a shortish, fast paced read and I am left still pulling threads to unravel the storyline as my brain does its best to catch up. Is John inherently evil? Is Grey? Are Barry and his wife? Is Elsie?

I think this is a book you could read again on a different day and end up with an entirely different view on who was the hero and who was the bad guy – the only thing I feel 100% sure of is that Doggo was a good boy!

Wicked Girl, part dreadful nightmare stuff, part hilarious Villianelle style dark comedy – the only way you’ll know for sure is to read it for yourself. Be warned though, not for the feint hearted.

My thanks to #damppebblesblogtours and IV Olokita for the review copy and for letting me take part in the blog tour.

Synopsis:

“Even if a dog goes mad, it will always be a dog.”

So said a small white sign hung on a wall in Birmingham Mental Institution Ward number 3. It had a black frame, written in a hand they were all well acquainted with. The letters had faded over time. In the end, among all the calligraphy in the frame, one could detect a blurred signature. It was mine.

John Wilcox is a young idler who loathes people except for young women. His destiny brought him near Birmingham Mental Institution during an earthquake. At that time Wilcox saves Elsie, an eccentric, half-deranged teenager. John pulls out every manipulation at his disposal to convince her that he is the right person to help her recover. Grey, Elsie’s father, goes on a quest for his lost daughter. She, too, like her mother, was trying to escape him. And so, began the tragic story between prey, and it’s supposed predator.

Wicked Girl is a psychological crime fiction, where a sequence of accidents generates cold-blooded, and blood-curdling actions. It is a fascinating combination of romance, tension, and humour, unpredictable to the very end. Presented in a clear, straightforward way, yet its plot is packed with wit, action, and surprises grabbing the reader’s attention all the way to the last word.

About I.V. Olokita:

I.V. Olokita has been providing medical care most of his life, specializing in management of medical aid to disaster areas all over the world. He also has a BA degree in logistics, and an MA degree in emergency and disaster situations management. He volunteers to rescue missions in disaster areas all over the world. I. V. Olokita is a happily married father of two adolescents and a foster father of five cats and two dogs.

Olokita’s first book (in Hebrew), Ten Simple Rules, was published in 2014. It won an Israeli literary prize, and immediately made an online bestseller. The following year, another book by Olokita, The Executioner From The Silent Valley, made a local bestseller in Israel. In May 2016, his third novel, Wicked Girl, was published, to great success, and is now presented in English. Olokita’s books are characterized by direct writing, twists and turns, requiring the reader to delve into and maintain vigilance from the beginning of the book to its surprising end.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OlokitaI

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iv.books/

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Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer

4 Stars from me

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer is an unusual comedy – not for feint-hearted or easy to offend! I’m going to focus this review on the first of the three novellas contained within the book.

Aptly named, Dirty Barry, is a despicable dentist (now in my book they are all despicable anyway but that’s another story…). He believes himself to be irresistible to women and has a variety of ways of ascertaining which of his female clients will succumb to his dubious charms. By all accounts of a fair few of them do and become members of the 5 o’clock appointment club where he seduces them and then films them in the act.

Well, he does until he encounters our unexpected hero in the shape of a cowboy named Cullen who seems set on his path of righting wrongs as he walks along the moral high road.

I won’t spoil the story for you but suffice it to say the dentist gets his comeuppance and there are plenty of laughs and much cheese along the way!

I read this as part of the http://www.damppebbles.com #basecowboys blog tour – my thanks to Emma for the opportunity.

Synopsis:

BASE COWBOYS is a comic crime trilogy set in the Scottish Borders. It is the sixth laugh-out-loud book in the CULLEN series written by Borders author Mark Farrer and will appeal to readers of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen, Nick Spalding or Tom Sharpe. The book tells the stories of three amoral ne’er-do-wells, their unfortunate and accidental intrusion into Cullen’s life, and the imaginative ways he finds of ensuring (his) justice is done:

Dirty Barry

The first casualty of adultery is… the tooth!

Barry Sullivan is a sordid dentist who resorts to blackmail to keep his string of married women in line. But now Cullen has toothache – and a very different interpretation of the dental code of practice.

Bronchial Billy

Meet Billy – the fastest gun in a vest.

Billy is a geriatric slum landlord desperate to win first prize in a Country & Western gunfight competition. But his trigger-happy birthday celebrations provoke Cullen, and now Billy must pay. Will he meet his High Noon at the Grand Ole Opry or will he go out with a bang? Whatever happens, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Pale Ale Rider

There’s trouble brewing…

Tyler is a teenage tearaway with the eyes of a serial killer. But when he decides to rob Big Paul’s local pub, he gets more than he bargained for. Will Tyler lose his bottle, or just get smashed? Cullen thinks he’s seen dead eyes like those before, and now he has a plan: he’s not bitter, he’s just a little twisted.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

5 Stars from me!

Having enjoyed ‘The Couple Next Door‘, I was keen to read ‘Someone We Know’ and I wasn’t disappointed. I was completely hooked by from start to finish. This is a highly accomplished psychological thriller that will keep you well and truly on the edge of your seat.

There are a few separate yet very linked stories running throughout the book and they all probably would have stood up well as main storylines in their own rights.

The book is packed full of ‘what would you do‘ theoretical conundrums and a fair sprinkling of infidelity and untrustworthy friends.

I literally hated putting this book down, I just wanted to keep on reading and find out what was going on. Throughout all of the domestic nitty gritty and suburban life there is a murder to solve after all. I usually guess the killer early on in these things but there were so many threads and viable would be murderers that it kept the pace fast and the story interesting.

Can’t recommend this enough, go read it!

 

Synopsis: “No-one does suburban paranoia like Shari Lapena – this slowly unfurling nightmare will have you biting your nails until the end.” 

–Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10

The new domestic suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, and An Unwanted Guest, Shari Lapena

Maybe you don’t know your neighbours as well as you thought you did…

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much… My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses -and into the owners’ computers as well-learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighbourhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide…

You never really know what people are capable of. 

When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies

4 Stars from me

A book of two distinct halves which wrap around each other – one following the present day police investigation into the death of a baby – and one following the fate of two young girls who were in care 30 years ago.

I found the storyline featuring the care system, and the two girls trying desperately to find love in all the wrong places, to be by far the more compelling and would happily have read more about their tragic lives. It put me in mind of the recently televised documents regarding the mystery surrounding the disappearance and suspected murder of Charlene Downes.

Concentration is a must with this book and I did find myself muddled a couple of times when reading the present day police investigation side of things. Having said that, the main characters throughout the book are well crafted and highly engaging.

I really enjoyed When I Lost You and look forward to more from this author.

Synopsis: When a young couple are the lead suspects for the murder of their only child, Crime Analyst Carla Brown and DS Nell Jackson are assigned to investigate.

The evidence seems conclusive, but something just doesn’t feel right.

The case is quickly cast into doubt when the lead forensic pathologist starts receiving threatening letters – containing details only the police should know.

Who’s sending them? What do they want? And how did they get hold of the information?

As Carla and Nell dig deeper, it soon becomes clear that this case isn’t the first of its kind.

They must stop at nothing to find the truth – even if it hits close to home.

FORMER CRIME ANALYST MERILYN DAVIES BRINGS TO LIFE A GRITTY, HEART-STOPPING CRIME THRILLER THAT WILL HAVE YOU UTTERLY OBSESSED

‘A compelling page-turner – assured, fresh, engrossing. I can’t wait to read more about Nell and Carla.’ – Mel Sherratt

Who Killed Ruby by Camilla Way

4 Stars from me

As the title suggests, this book is very much centred around the question ‘Who Killed Ruby?’. Ruby was Vivienne’s older sister who was murdered when they were children – with very young Vivienne’s testimony being the key to the conviction of Jack Delaney.

We meet Vivienne as an adult with a 14 year old daughter and a string of failed relationships. At first life seems to be going pretty ok for Viv as on the surface of things she has a successful business, a loving daughter, great friends and nice home. However, as the anniversary of her sister’s death approaches, things start to go wrong.

Who Killed Ruby follows Vivienne through a journey into the past which seems the only way to save her daughter from the same fate as her sister – but is the answer already in her head?

Clever little psychological thriller, packed full of red herrings and a proper thriller!

Synopsis:

The gripping new psychological thriller from Camilla Way, author of Watching Edie and The Lies We Told

You never know what’s going on behind closed doors…

If you passed it on the street, you’d see an ordinary London townhouse. You might wonder about the people who live there, assume they’re just like you.

But inside a family is trapped in a nightmare. In the kitchen, a man lies dead on the blood-soaked floor. Soon the police will come, and they’ll want answers.

Perhaps they’ll believe the family’s version of events – that this man is a murderer who deserved to die.

But would that be the truth?

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

5 Stars from me!

Poor Tess, the grief just oozes from these pages as she struggles even to exist following the aftermath of the plane crash which kills her husband. Day to day tasks seem impossible and Tess soon recognises that she isn’t being a good enough mum to their son, Jamie, who seems to mirror her feelings and emotions as he struggles to process his own.

Fortunately for Tess salvation arrives in the shape of grief counsellor Shelley who fast becomes her number one confidante and best friend as well as someone who steps in to help with Jamie – playing his favourite playstation games, cooking with him and generally being a stand-in mum while Tess flounders. But is she too good to be true?

As if the poor woman hasn’t been through enough, her brother-in-law starts demanding money – saying he’d lent it to her husband – someone is following her, someone is making menacing calls and before long she has no idea who she can trust.

I have to confess, I got to about 89% before I sussed what was going on… well I say I sussed it, I’m pretty sure it was spelt out! Such clever and well engineered plotting from Lauren North.

I also, having lived in Colchester for over 10 years, completely loved the locations noted!

Avoid any reviews containing spoilers and enjoy this book – it’s a fast paced read that will keep you guessing and defy you to work out who she can trust.

Huge thanks to Emma from Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for allowing me to take part.

Synopsis: After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.
When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is understanding and kind, and promises she can help Tess through the hardest time of her life.

But when a string of unsettling events happens and questions arise over her husband’s death, Tess starts to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but she’s at her most vulnerable, and that’s a dangerous place to be.

About Lauren North:
Lauren North writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside.

Social Media:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lauren_C_North
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenNorthAuthor/

Black Summer by M W Craven

5 Stars from me!

Even better than The Puppet Show!

Black Summer is packed full of brilliant characters – including old favourites Tilly Bradshaw and Washington Poe – Jefferson Black was a fab newcomer and I’d love to read more about him.

Be warned, the opening chapter is more than a little bit grim… maybe don’t read it while eating dinner!

I love the scenic imagery from these books too and especially that around Poe’s home. The little twist regarding his home in this book is interesting and I look forward to seeing how that pans out in the future.

The relationship between Tilly and Poe is lovely, very simple and respectful and they make for a great team.

I love Poe’s (classic old school detective) style of walking the line with his superiors and I appreciate how much time the author has taken to make all characters throughout the book into solid tangible people rather than just bit players.

This is fast becoming one of my favourite series and I can’t wait to see what is next from M W Craven.

synopsis: After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

The Sinner by Martyn Waites

5 Stars from me

Oh wow, I completely loved The Sinner by Martyn Waites! I haven’t read anything of his before so had no idea really what to expect but after the first couple of chapters I was completely hooked and frankly a bit gutted when it ended.

Tom Killgannon’s character in The Sinner was thoroughly engaging and the subplot with Noel Cunningham was just as interesting as the main ‘undercover’ op vs gangster Dean Foley thread. In fact I found the relationship between Tom and Dean to be fascinating, it made for really compelling reading.

On the whole, a great and compelling read with some touches of magic – I don’t want to give any spoilers but things like the impact of Dean and his suit were very nicely done.

I would love to read more like this and think it would make for a brilliant TV series.

Synopsis: In prison not everyone is guilty . . .

Tom Killgannon, ex-undercover police officer and now in witness protection, is recalled to active service by his handler, DS Sheridan. His mission is to befriend notorious child killer Noel Cunningham and find out where he buried the bodies of his victims. The only problem is that Tom has to obtain that information from within Blackmoor prison itself. Undercover and with only DS Sheridan knowing he is there, Tom soon runs into danger.

In the prison is convicted gangster Dean Foley. He used to run Manchester’s biggest gang, until Tom’s testimony put him away for life. He recognises Tom, and so begins a cat-and-mouse game as Tom fights for survival before Foley can get his revenge.

But why can’t Tom reach DS Sheridan and what is the real reason that he has been sent to Blackmoor prison?

Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear

5 Stars from me

DC Cat Kinsella is a really engaging and likeable character and although I’ve accidentally read Stone Cold Heart before book 1 of the series (Sweet Little Lies), the story read absolutely fine.

There are some hugely likeable characters within the book and Frear manages to blend the main storyline – of who killed Naomi – with a subplot about Cat’s own life – while keeping a perfect balance. Neither detracts from the other and yet both are strong and compelling.

The relationships within the suspect families are beautifully crafted and I was lead a right merry dance trying to work out who the culprit was. Very, very readable.

Stone Cold Heart has it all and I look forward to reading more by Caz Frear.

 

Synopsis:

A fractured marriage.

A silent family.

A secret that connects them all.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel, and Joseph is arrested for the murder. Joseph says his wife is setting him up. His wife says he didn’t do it. The trail of evidence leads to even more questions . . .

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim.

Who would you believe?

After a brief stint in the Mayor’s Office, Detective Constable Cat Kinsella is back at the London Metropolitan Police, wisecracking with her partner Luigi Parnell and trying to avoid the wrath of the boss, DI Kate Steele.

But for Cat and Parnell, it’s serious business when a young Australian woman turns up dead after a party thrown by her new boss. The initial investigation of Naomi Lockhart’s murder points to Joseph Madden, the owner of a coffee shop around the corner from police headquarters. Madden insists he’s innocent, that he was home with his wife Rachel at the time of the murder. When police question her, Rachel contradicts his alibi, swearing that she was home alone.

While the team builds its case against Joseph, Cat is tasked with getting to the heart of the Maddens’ marriage. Cat knows that one of them is lying—but the question of which one, and why, is far more complicated than she could have expected. As she tries to balance the demands of the investigation with a budding romance and unresolved family drama, Cat has to decide how far she’ll go to keep her own past mistakes buried.

With her trademark wit and brilliant plotting, Caz Frear ratchets up the tension and keeps you guessing as she explores the secrets we keep from our loved ones—and the ones we’d kill to keep safe in the dark.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

5 Stars from me

Such an epic read – I really can see this one as a standalone film, it has everything: love, lust, fear, threat, cults, family, loss, abuse, a shootout, WMD, kidnapping and more heros than you can shake a stick at.

The Last Widow is exciting, fast paced, a bit cheesy and I loved it!

I still remember reading the book from Karin Slaughter where Jeffery was killed and thinking ‘what has she done!’, at that point Sara was a bit of a nothing character for me and Jeffery was the star of the show, I just couldn’t see where she could take the books from there. But suffice it to say, Will Trent more than fills Jeffery’s shoes and he makes for a fascinating male lead.

I would say this would make a fabulous holiday read as you need to suspend belief a little bit and immerse yourself in the pages – go on, you won’t regret it!

Synopsis: From the No.1 bestselling author comes a gripping new crime thriller featuring Will Trent and Sara Linton.

It begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end…they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.

A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens.

Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs – their vocations – mean that they run towards a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiralled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian mountains, to the terrible truth about what really happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind…