Kill For Me by Rebecca Bradley

5 Stars from me!

Such a brilliant concept! I feel like I’ve waited for a book like this one, without knowing I was doing it. It packs a punch from the first few pages and keeps hitting right till the end.

The storyline is genius, puts me in mind of Needful Things, it is simple yet oh so clever and really challenges you to think ‘what would I do?’. Rebecca Bradley has created the perfect thriller.

I raced through this book, work became an annoying impingement on my available reading time as I sped through the pages.

The characters – from old favourites Hannah and Aaron, to single mum Lucy and the rest of the pawns in this game are all so well defined that they feel like people you know.

Can’t praise it enough. Witty, intelligent and fast paced – what more could I ask for.

Synopsis: A deadly game. An unstoppable killer. The perfect alibi.

Lucy Anderson is late collecting her daughter from nursery. A mistake that could prove fatal.  
Her daughter is gone and there is only one way Lucy can get her back. The ransom is simple, she has to kill someone…

And this is just the beginning. A deadly game with a domino effect has started as the real killer forces others to do his bidding.

Can detective inspector Hannah Robbins find the killer’s next puppet before they’re forced to strike or will this be the case where her opponent has found the perfect way to kill?

Pick up Kill For Me for impossible choices and moral dilemmas and see where you would fall.

For fans of Peter James and Angela Marsons.

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Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

5 Stars from me

Wow, this is a crime thriller, whodunnit, court room drama with a difference!

It’s also Eddie Flynn book 4 which I hadn’t realised but believe me it didn’t read as though you need the backstory this book just sings in its own choir!

I had to concentrate for the first few chapters while the scenes were being set and the characters were building and having absolutely adored Twisted by Steve Cavanagh I did briefly wonder if Thirteen would live up to my oh so high expectations and then, bam, suddenly I found myself being dragged along and racing through the pages at break neck speed.

I loved Eddie Flynn and really enjoyed his way of thinking, the plot/storyline was incredibly inventive – really clever. The characters within the story are flawed and solidly defined, Cavanagh makes each and every one come alive on the page; whether or not they are just in one paragraph or in the whole book.

I hate the idea that there really are cops as bent as the ones I’ve just read about, I guess there probably are – it’s one of those professions that would attract the wrong people as much as it would attract the right ones.

I will now need to read Eddie Flynn books 1-3 and find out his back story, also, Twisted is incredible, you should read that one too 🙂

 

Synopsis: THE SERIAL KILLER ISN’T ON TRIAL.

HE’S ON THE JURY…

They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

4 Stars from me

I haven’t read ‘Find Her’ so am able to say with conviction that you don’t ‘need’ to have read that one for Never Tell to make sense. I can see from other reviews that it would maybe have added some depth to Flora but for me the backstory was clear anyway and I honest didn’t feel it detracted from the story in any way.

Never Tell contains some really strong and distinct female leads and pulls no punches in terms of the battles that women fight every single day – without making it preachy.

The storyline is good and strong and hooks you in from the first few pages where you meet Evie literally holding a smoking gun. I enjoyed her character and her mixed up relationship with her mum.

Flora is a whole different kettle of fish – boy has she been through the mill! She’s a great character and I’m sure ‘Find Her’ is brilliant and although I say you don’t need to have read it in order to read and enjoy ‘Never Tell’, I would suggest that if you are planning to read both then definitely read ‘Find Her’ first. The reason I say that is because now I know that Flora survived her ordeal I don’t see the point in going back in reading it – if that makes sense.

D. D. Warren is also a great character, one tiny niggle though… reading D. D. as her name throughout the book felt really clunky. Deedee or even just Dee would have been easier on the eyes.

That said, this is a great thriller and look forward to reading more from this author.

 

Synopsis: A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

4 Stars from me

Much like in Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has created another tale with lots of strands of storylines that all delicately pull together.

The relationships that play out between our main character, Lisa, her best friend Marilyn and client Simon are just lovely, really tangible, thoughtful and believable feelings shine through. In fact, it is the connections between the characters throughout all of the strands which make this book shine.

This is one of those books you just don’t want to put down and I think it would be best enjoyed as a binge read – maybe a holiday read or a weekend where you can hunker down just lose yourself in a great book.

 

Synopsis: Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job, and her best friend Marilyn, but when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go. Then her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see. Lisa’s world explodes, and she finds everything she has built threatened. Not knowing whom she can trust, it’s up to her to face her past to save what she holds dear.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

4 Stars from me

This is a interesting one… On the one hand it is a straightforward tale on the fence of the ‘he said she said’ issue when it comes to rape, how does a jury ever truly reach a correct answer when only the two parties involved know the actual truth. On the other, it is an incredibly though provoking story that digs deeper into the ‘entitlement’ borne of privilege, the expectation that a wife will stand by her husband, the ‘protection’ afforded to those from wealthy, connected families and the weight of responsibility which rests upon the legal profession.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book (although very much not the subject matter!) and can easily see it being televised in a similar shocking, sensationalist style as Apple Tree Yard.

I don’t want to give any spoilers but suffice it to say I felt incredibly disappointed in Sophie, she sounded like a vibrant and intelligent young lady who should have known better!

 

Synopsis: An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain’s privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart. Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes. Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience?

Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy. Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

4 Stars from me

I really struggled to get into this to start with and almost gave up on it. However, I persevered and am glad I did as once it ‘got good’ it really got good and hit a pace that I was keen to keep up with.

He Said/She Said is a typical psychological thriller which raises lots of moral questions along the way, almost too many, and boils down to the age old ‘your word against mine’ scenario. Most books of this type focus on a short span of time and a heightened period of awareness for all involved whereas this spans 17 years.

The little sub story of eclipse chasing is actually really lovely, it sounds like quite a special community. Though would Kit and Laura pursue this at such great expense (which they could ill afford), at such a crucial time in their lives and believing that there was the potential for them to encounter harm? No. No they wouldn’t. I honestly don’t believe either of them would have even entertained the idea.

Glossing over that, this is a belter of a book with maze of moral and emotional dilemmas which will keep you guessing with every turn of the page.

 

Synopsis: In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura are living under assumed names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past. 

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…

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.