Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

5 Stars from me – can I give it 10?

It’s just bloody brilliant, go read it!

I could leave it there really, shortest review in history and truly accurate. I’ve not read anything by Steve Cavanagh before and I will now be seeking out a copy of Thirteen, the guy is a genius, mind you if I were his wife I don’t think I’d let him take out life insurance against me. Or have any sharp knives in the house. Or plastic sheeting. Or turn my back on him. Or ever sleep… Other than that, I expect it’s all good and nice and relaxed.

The writing style is superb, it is gripping, beautifully paced and has that magic quality of being ‘unputdownable’. I raced through the pages loving every twist and turn and yet desperately trying to slow down as I knew the book was coming to a conclusion.

I don’t want to give any spoilers – except maybe clear your diary and stock up on tea and biscuits – but if you enjoy a bit of clever killing with lots of twists and undercurrent of good humour then you need to read this book.

‘Kill your darlings’ love it and never has it been so true.

 

Synopsis: BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

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The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

4 Stars from me

This is a great, gritty, atmospheric thriller with an air of ‘Life on Mars’ about it owing to the timeframe of 1969. The sexism and outdated viewpoints are captured beautifully, as is the impact of and resentment towards DI McCormack when he is drafted in to find fault in the original investigative team.

The story of ‘The Quaker’ is really quite dark and frightening, it’s a wonder any women ever left home during this time, let alone went to the dance halls where he was known to prey.

I loved DI Duncan McCormack, he was a well rounded character to get to know – as was Goldie – and he holds a strong line throughout the book. There are also some great little sub plots and the time and detail taken on them is admirable and really added to the quality and craftsmanship that shines out from the pages.

The reason I have given 4 stars rather than the 5 that the quality of this story deserves is because for all the brilliance, there are regularly patches where the story lags and becomes slow. Possibly it is a writing pattern/style that I am just not familiar enough with but for me it let the book down.

Having said that, I enjoyed meeting DI Duncan McCormack and would certainly go out of my way to pick up book 2 as I look forward to reading more about him and how his future unfolds.

 

Synopsis: Glasgow, 1969. In the grip of the worst winter for years, the city is brought to its knees by a killer whose name fills the streets with fear: The Quaker. He’s taken his next victim — the third woman from the same nightclub — and dumped her in the street like rubbish. The police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. After six months, DI Duncan McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands, is ordered to join the investigation — with a view to shutting it down for good.

His arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon he learns just how difficult life can be for an outsider, for McCormack is an outcast in more ways than one. When another woman is found murdered in a tenement flat, it’s clear the case is by no means over. From ruined backstreets to the dark heart of Glasgow, McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city — and his life — forever . . .

Brilliantly crafted with great depth and nuance, The Quaker is an electrifying thriller that expertly captures the gritty atmosphere of paranoia and hopelessness in a city on the verge of a great upheaval. 

Room by Emma Donoghue

5 Stars from Me

This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I was thrilled to finally lay my hands upon a copy.

Room is an incredibly sweet tale told mostly with an air of untainted innocence (which is odd considering the circumstances of the Room and it’s occupants). Of course the flip-side would be to view the story through an incredibly dark lens of fear, rape, pain, deteriorating mental health, depravity and imprisonment but it is the beauty and love that comes across.

Pretty much a tale of two halves, the first of which immerses you in the mind of 5 year old Jack and his incredible mum who has found a way to make being prisoners in a tiny room into an acceptable, if not pleasurable, way of living. The second focuses on their rehabilitation following their escape and Jack’s difficulty with not being in Room with all his items of comfort.

This has all the makings of a book that will stand the test of time and should form part of English literature classes for it truly contains so much depth and magic within its pages. Question after question after question forms in your mind long after you finish the book and not all of the answers are comfortable ones.

I’d love to know what prompted Room in Emma Donoghue’s mind and how she was able to put together with such realism and yet such purity.

Synopsis: Jack is five, and excited about his birthday. He lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures eleven feet by eleven feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits that there’s a world outside…

Told in Jack’s voice, Room is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible. Unsentimental and sometimes funny, devastating yet uplifting, Room is a novel like no other. 

The Body on the Shore by Nick Louth

3.5 Stars from Me

I’ll start by saying I haven’t read the first book, which may mean I don’t have the full grasp of the characters and their history. I’m hovering around the 3.5 stars and I know this book has had a lot of 5 star reviews so I would imagine it is enhanced by reading the previous book and for me it certainly had gripping and unputdownable sections.

The Body on the Shore seemingly follows a few different case including that of a young, successful architect who is murdered while sat at his desk at work. A lot of focus is given to a bus full of school girls as the police attempt to establish the logistics – this felt like quite a big part of the story which I didn’t feel added much.  The dead man has an interesting past and suspicion soon falls on another employee.

A parallel story involves a well-to-do (almost too good to be true) family who reside in a manor house in Surrey with their two adopted Albanian children. The mother starts to experience some unusual and disturbing events; a trespasser, graffiti and hanging effigy in their gardens. The mother Sophie initially is taken for a time-waster and there follows a quite comical episode with her neighbour before things take a dark enough turn for DCI Craig Gillard to becomes involved as links start to be made to the murder of the architect.

In an almost surreal turn of events, DCI Craig Gillard heads to Albania where he buddies with an Albanian counterpart and seemingly dices with death on a daily basis getting frighteningly close to the heads of the Albanian mafia. If you put the plausibility to one side this part of the book is really quite fascinating and a very interesting storyline emerges.

I would definitely read another Nick Louth book and hope my review won’t put anyone off as all those 5 star reviewers can’t be wrong! But for me there were a few slow areas which is why I’ve gone with 3.5.

 

Synopsis: A killer is at work in the supposedly-safe commuter belt.  DCI Gillard needs answers, fast…

Promising architect Peter Young is shot dead at his desk. DCI Craig Gillard is quickly on the scene, looking at what appears to be a brutal and highly professional hit: two bullets, fired with ice-cold calm.

Gillard knows that the most crucial question in solving the crime is one word: Why? Two weeks later, on the Lincolnshire coast, another body is found on a windswept beach. In this case there is no identity for the young man, just a curious brand burned into his neck….

As the mystery deepens Gillard is plunged into a case without answers, finding himself up against dark forces, people who believe in only two things: blood and a warped code of honour. This time lives are on the line, children’s lives – and his own.

Written at breakneck pace with a jaw-dropping twist you won’t see coming, the suspense-filled second DCI Gillard crime thriller is perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Patricia Gibney and Faith Martin.

Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall

5 Stars From Me!

I warn you now, you will not want to put this book down.

Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall is a sure fire bestseller. It is fast paced and gripping with a killer storyline.

Much like her previous novels, the attention to detail which accompanies the story is faultless – the perfect description of the way a circle of mould sinks into the dregs of a cup of coffee, the crisp crunch of frosty grass – exquisite, essentially unnecessary details which add a sheen of excellence to an already brilliant story.

The main characters, Anna, Fran, Dominic, Ruth, Ella etc are so incredibly well defined that I feel like I know them; Anna especially so, and as such I couldn’t help but imagine their anguish and feel their pain. I would easily have raced through this book in one sitting except that I had some actual real life things to do, consequently I started it on Saturday morning and finished it in a second sitting on Sunday morning – as such I know for sure that it is compelling, addictive reading because I thought about the characters for the rest of Saturday. Unconsciously, my mind was picking away at the threads of the story trying to work out what had happened to Laurel.

As for the story itself – no spoilers from me as ever – it is relentless, it continually tests you and races from one dead end to another, it is clever, the relationships within it feel so flawed they have to be real, it is awash with red herrings (or is it…) and it is simply and utterly brilliant.

In a nutshell: if this lady so much as writes a shopping list, I want to read it.

Don’t hang around reading this review, seriously you are wasting time just go and buy the book already!

 

Synopsis: Bonfire Night. A missing girl. Anna only takes her eyes off Laurel for a second. She thought Laurel was following her mum through the crowds. But in a heartbeat, Laurel is gone.

Laurel’s parents are frantic. As is Anna, their nanny. But as the hours pass, and Laurel isn’t found, suspicion grows.

Someone knows what happened to Laurel. And they’re not telling.

Have You Seen Her is the breath-taking new thriller with a killer twist from bestseller Lisa Hall.

Praise for Lisa Hall:

‘A dark, compelling read that demands to be read in one sitting.’ Sam Carrington

‘Compelling, addictive… brilliant!’ B A Paris

‘This is an unrelenting and scarily plausible story weaved expertly around some very real characters. Good luck putting it down…’ Heat

‘An addictive read.’ Closer

‘This is a fast-paced book, and with twists up until the final page, you won’t regret investing in it.’ Woman Magazine

‘Breathlessly fast-paced and cleverly unsettling, this thriller about a couple trying to escape their past is the very definition of unputdownable.’ Heat

Dead If You Don’t by Peter James

5 Stars from me!

The fact this is the 14th book in the series certainly hasn’t diminished it’s shine. For me, one of the signs of a great author is whether or not they can make you care if someone lives or dies and I found myself racing through the pages desperately hoping that Mungo would survive his ordeal.

Peter James seemingly captures everything in this novel, his references are all current, his knowledge and detail are incredible and – while Roy Grace is like a comfy pair of slippers – the story is fast paced, interesting and exciting. I can’t recommend these books enough. If you are new to this series, I envy you enormously as you’ve got 14 fabulous books to read through!

 

Synopsis: Roy Grace, creation of the CWA Diamond Dagger award winning author Peter James, faces his most complex case yet in Dead If You Don’t.

Kipp Brown, successful businessman and compulsive gambler, is having the worst run of luck of his life. He’s beginning to lose, big style. However, taking his teenage son, Mungo, to their club’s Saturday afternoon football match should have given him a welcome respite, if only for a few hours. But it’s at the stadium where his nightmare begins.

Within minutes of arriving at the game, Kipp bumps into a client. He takes his eye off Mungo for a few moments, and in that time, the boy disappears. Then he gets the terrifying message that someone has his child, and to get him back alive, Kipp will have to pay.

Defying instruction not to contact the police, Kipp reluctantly does just that, and Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is brought in to investigate. At first it seems a straightforward case of kidnap. But rapidly Grace finds himself entering a dark, criminal underbelly of the city, where the rules are different and nothing is what it seems . . .

I Did It For Us by Alison Bruce

An easy 5 stars from me!

I Did It For Us is a standalone psychological thriller and I raced through the pages eager to find out what happened next. I bought my copy of this book from Toppings book shop in Ely and it has waited patiently for me to read it; I adored the Cambridge Blue series by Alison Bruce and I didn’t want to rush straight into reading it – partly in the manner of saving a particularly pleasing cake for a later date and partly because I so loved the Goodhew series.

Well, even without Goodhew, I Did It For Us is a huge hit with me. Emily, our main character, doesn’t walk the easiest of paths and life certainly doesn’t shy away from dealing her some rough hands, but is she a victim or is she the cause? Alison Bruce demonstrates clearly her mastery of the craft here with the impressive level of skill which must have been involved in creating this twisty tale.

The only similarity to the Goodhew books was the way the story wove its way around Cambridge, I loved reading place names and locations that I could easily picture in my head.

No spoilers from me, as ever, but suffice it to say this clever, psychological thriller will keep you guessing!

 

Synopsis: “From the first time I saw them together I knew it felt wrong. I didn’t like the way he touched her or the self-conscious way he played with Molly and Luke. Joanne saw none of it of course. So I did it to prove to her that she was wrong. I did it for us.”

Emily’s instincts tell her that best friend Joanne’s new boyfriend is bad news. Emily fears for Joanne. Fears for Joanne’s children. But Joanne won’t listen because she’s in love. So Emily watches, and waits . . . and then she makes a choice.

But Emily has a past, and secrets too. And is she really as good a friend to Joanne as she claims?

 

 

 

Don’t You Cry by Cass Green

5 Stars from me

I loved this book from start to finish, it was thoroughly enjoyable.

I hadn’t read the synopsis before reading the book so the whole storyline was a surprise for me which I think made it even more enjoyable.

Nina is a great character, I really liked her and she held my sympathies throughout. I even found myself liking her cliched twat of an ex-husband and I usually hate those cheating b******* on principle so hats off to Cass Green for excellent characterisation all round. Especially so for the one person I hated! No spoilers…

This book takes some wonderful twists and turns and I recommend reading it in one or two sittings so that you can really immerse yourself in this bizarre little tale. As well as racing through the pages, I appreciated the moments of gentle good humour and how cleverly written it was to include such subject depth within a fast paced and gripping tale.

I’m off to look up more books by Cass Green as I simply adored her writing style.

 

Synopsis: One stolen baby. Two desperate strangers. One night of terror.

The USA Today and Sunday Times top ten bestselling author returns with a dark and twisty psychological thriller.

She saved your life.
When Nina almost dies during a disastrous blind date, her life is saved by a waitress called Angel. But later that evening, Nina is surprised by a knock on the door. It’s Angel – and she’s pointing a gun at her.

Now she’ll make you pay.
Minutes later, Angel’s younger brother Lucas turns up, covered in blood shielding a stolen newborn baby in his arms. Nina is about to endure the longest night of her life – a night that will be filled with terror and lead her to take risks she would never have believed herself capable of…

A Cold Day In Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond

4 stars from me

I really enjoyed A Cold Day in Hell, I don’t think I’ve read anything by Lisa Marie Redmond before so it feels extra special to have found another author whose work I would like to follow.

Lauren and her partner Reese make for a great team and I enjoyed their relationship throughout the book. The moral conflict hovering just beneath the surface virtually the whole way through was excellent and there were many occasions where I found myself wondering what I would do in Lauren’s situation.

I’m a sucker for a cold case (love New Tricks and Silent Witness etc) and I will definitely be looking out for more books by Lissa Marie Redmond.

The ‘men can’t resist Lauren’ thing I found a little bit unnecessary… Maybe it was just overegged a little?

Synopsis: Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from her nemesis, slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he’s begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding that case—until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.

To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt starts to lurk on every corner . . . and so does her stalker. 

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C J Tudor

4 Stars from me!

What a fabulous, creepy little book!

I was drawn in from the very first page and flew threw this book because I just didn’t want to put it down.

It was creepy, chilling in places, had a good build up of suspense, a few twists and turns and some really likeable characters. In fact, the attention to detail surrounding the characters and the effort taken to flesh them out is what made this book so brilliant for me.

If you have a book lover in your life, who enjoys a bit of unnerving escapism, this is probably the perfect Christmas gift!

 

Synopsis: When Joe Thorne was fifteen, his little sister, Annie, disappeared. At the time, Joe thought it was the worst thing in the world that could ever happen. And then she came back.

Now Joe has returned to the village where he grew up, to work as a teacher at the failing Arnhill Academy. Not an act of altruism, but desperation. Joe has bad debts – and bad people – he needs to escape. He also has an anonymous email: I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again.

But coming back to the place he grew up, means facing the people he grew up with, and the things they did. Five friends: Joe, Stephen Hurst, Marie Gibson, Nick Fletcher and Chris Manning. They were the five who were there that night. Something they haven’t spoken about in 25 years.
Coming back means opening old wounds, and confronting old enemies and Joe is about to discover that places, like people, have secrets. The deeper you go, the darker they get.
And sometimes, you should never come back.