A Cruel Deception by Kim Booth

3.5 stars from me

It has been quite an hour to read A Cruel Deception knowing that it is the first hand account of the policeman who cracked the case. Truly a privilege to follow his thought processes and procedures as he closes in on the perpetrator.

The crime within A Cruel Deception (well, the main one as there are several little side stories and anecdotes which beautifully enhance and flesh out the pages, I can image an afternoon with tea and cake with Kim Booth is a meandering and uniquely fascinating experience) is one of a brazen fraud, carried out with breathtaking audacity over a period of many years. It is artfully captured within A Cruel Deception and the dogged and determined approach taken by the police to capture such a criminal without the use of modern day technology is to be admired.

As, begrudgingly, is Barbara Hendry who manages to pull of repeated cons against unsuspecting people without all the clever frippery of social media, computers and mobile phones – dreadful woman, obviously, but also clearly very devious.

As a fan of crime thrillers, it took me a little while to adjust to the slower pace of this – after all real – account. I only say that so that others can mentally adjust and expect this change of pace rather than be caught out by it.

Overall, an interesting and rare opportunity to witness some old-school policing first hand.

Book Description: ‘No one knows this horrifying true crime case better than the detective who cracked it. Kim Booth will take you on an unforgettable journey into lies, deceit, cunning and malice.’ Nick Louth
For Joan and Ted Warner, an innocent and trusting couple, a chance encounter with Barbara Hendry, a cunning con-woman who turned their settled lives into a living nightmare.
The Warners were not victims of a remote scam, carried out over the internet by fraudsters from afar. For six years, faking a friendship face-to-face, this plausible woman carried off the impersonation of a member of the nobility fallen on hard times, manipulating the emotions of her victims, deceitfully draining them of every penny they had set aside for their retirement, and plunging them into debt.
Hendrys intention was to slip away, having sucked the Warners dry of all their hard-earned savings. But for some dogged investigative work by a determined detective she would have succeeded- and remained free to prey on other vulnerable victims.
Follow this journey of fraud and depravity in the company of the one man who knows the full story – the British detective who cracked the case and brought Barbara Hendry to justice.
A Cruel Deception is an insightful and gripping work of true crime, which illustrates the depth of wickedness and the possibility that we can all be deceived.
The author retired from the Lincolnshire Police as Detective Inspector in charge of the Lincolnshire Police Economic Crime Unit. He now provides anti-fraud advice and fraud investigation on a consultancy basis together with assisting authors with police procedural issues and story lines.
Author Bio:
Prior to joining the police I had numerous jobs, Worked in a chicken factory for next to nothing, In a Bakery, Royal Mail as a Postman, With my dad who was a civil engineer construction roads and sewerage works and finally in a hotel. Had dealings with the CID and thought “I can do that” and joined the police with the sole intention of being a CID man! Joined Lincolnshire Police in July 1975.

Someone Else’s Baby by Ruby Speechley

5 Stars from me!

I was sucked into this story immediately and raced through the pages, Someone Else’s Baby is an immersive dive into the world of surrogacy and fast paced psychology thriller to boot!

Charlotte and Steve seem to have a genuinely lovely relationship – they live in tiny flat with hardly any money but that old adage ‘money can’t buy happiness’ has never been more true for them seem very together and very in love.

As such it is both weird and yet totally believable that they decide to go ahead with surrogacy. I found it really quite beautiful how supportive he was of her – I know his motivations were more financial but still I would imagine a lot of men wouldn’t find it easy to support their partner as lovingly as he did.

The complex relationship between Charlotte and her mum – along with her reason for wanting to become a surrogate – was well handled and the emotional play between the two women was a nice touch.

I won’t spoil the storyline, there’s lots I could say about Malcolm and Brenda but I will resist! Yes there was something that I assumed all the way along and I was right but it didn’t ruin anything for me. Even having said that, this book is packed full of surprising moments and exciting revelations as the story unfolds.

I’ve not read anything by Ruby Speechley before but it is a name I will look out for in the future as Someone Else’s Baby was a gripping read with the added benefit of being about an unusual subject matter – really quite interesting as well as being a fast paced thriller!

Synopsis: She gave away her children. Now she wants them back.

Charlotte Morgan knows how it feels to desperately want a baby. As a child, seeing her mum devastated by losing her longed-for babies, Charlotte wished another woman could give her mother what she so craved.

Now Charlotte’s a mum herself, and knowing how much love her daughter, Alice, brings into her life, she vows to help others achieve their dreams of becoming a parent.

When she meets Malcolm and Brenda on a surrogacy website, it seems that she has found the perfect couple. In their late forties, they’ve spent their life building a successful business and travelling the world, but there’s just one thing missing – a child of their own.

When Charlotte falls pregnant with twins, the pair are overjoyed. And while Charlotte’s heart breaks as she hands them over, her reward is knowing how much happiness the two tiny babies are going to bring into their life.

But are Malcolm and Brenda all they seem? As secrets become unravelled, Charlotte is forced to face that she has handed her babies over to virtual strangers. And when Malcolm and Brenda disappear without a trace, Charlotte is plunged into a frantic search for the babies she carried – before it’s too late…

A gripping psychological thriller with a heart stopping ending – readers of The Wife Between Us, Rachel Abbott and C.L Taylor will not want to put this down… 

Author Bio:
Ruby Speechley, graduated from Sheffield Hallam university in 2009, with an MA in Creative Writing. She is a Faber Academy alumna and prolific writer whose work has been longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction prize, the Exeter Novel Prize, the Caledonian Novel Award, the Bath Novel Award and has won the Retreat West First Chapter Competition.
Ruby is a mum of three, lives in Bedfordshire and was born in Lisbon, Portugal at the time of the first earthquake there in 200 years! Her debut novel, Someone Else’s Baby is published by Hera Books on 25 July 2019.
Twitter: @rubyspeechley
Facebook: Ruby Speechley Author
Instagram: rubyjtspeechley