Eighteen Below

3.5 Stars from me

Fabian Risk is an unusual ‘lead’ in that he doesn’t always fit the standard ‘profile’ of the crime thriller lead cop. He seems more vulnerable somehow than most. Dunja Hougaard seemed more interesting to me and I enjoyed her elements of the books – much more grit and determination in her belly!

I loved Braids character the most from this book and actually believe this would possibly work better as a TV series than as a novel. For me, some of the characters blurred a little and I found myself having to work hard to place people and their relevance – which side tracked from enjoying the story. I think if it were televised it would come across better and I know it’s the type of thing I’d love to watch.

Overall, it’s a clever storyline.

Sysnosis: A high-speed chase ends in tragedy when a car crashes into Helsingborg harbour. In the front seat is one of Sweden’s most affluent IT entrepreneurs. Initially all signs point to an accident, but a closer examination of the body shows that it has been frozen. Stranger yet is the time of death: two months before the crash.

Two years have passed since the events of Victim Without a Face. Fabian Risk has taken advantage of the quiet at work to focus on patching things up with his family, while across the strait Dunja Hougaard has donned the uniform once more, this time as a police officer. When a homeless man is brutally beaten to death, Dunja can’t stop herself from starting an investigation of her own. Before long the clues take her to Sweden and Helsingborg, where Risk is investigating the peculiar case of the frozen millionaire.

Gritty and chilling, Eighteen Below Zero is the third stand-alone thriller in the internationally bestselling Fabian Risk series.

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Cruel Acts by Jane Casey

5 Stars from me!

I haven’t read anything by Jane Casey before so I had no idea what to expect from Cruel Acts and I was very pleasantly surprised by this dark and nasty little tale.

Cruel Acts is aptly named and packed full with deeply disturbing characters and a very clever plot. Balanced by some genuinely pleasant interactions between Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent who make for a pretty much perfect leading pair.

Even though this is book 8 it worked very well as a standalone (or could equally have been book 1 as it so obviously begged to be part of series) which is of huge testament to the skills of Jane Casey.

I thoroughly enjoyed Cruel Acts and look forward to enjoying the series from book 1.

Synopsis: From award-winning author Jane Casey comes another powerful Maeve Kerrigan crime thriller which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page!

Leo Stone is a killer. A year ago, he was convicted of murdering two women and sentenced to life without parole. But now, a juror from his trial has revealed the jury was prejudiced, and a retrial is called.

Detectives Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent are tasked with re-examining the evidence. Before long, they uncover links between Stone and a possible third victim.

But with Stone behind bars, a fourth woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer out there, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start? And will Maeve discover the truth before another innocent victim is killed?

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

5 Stars from me!

There’s a song by the Black Eyed Peas – Boom Boom Pow, and is what this book is BOOM, BOOM, POW!

I loved ‘I Know Who You Are’ and I devoured it in one day, I just had to keep reading and going back to it as I couldn’t for the life of me fathom how it was going to turn out.

I was hooked very early on and found both story strands to be equally compelling and brilliantly clever even though they each have a completely different pace and tone.

Alice Feeney has created hugely engaging story and I am thrilled to note this is her second book so there is another out there for me to read too. I’ve just spotted from her twitter bio that she’s had 10 years of rejections – wow, I guess there are some agents out there who are kicking themselves now!

Also, this book is SO devious, SO clever – you know you can sometimes win competitions to have ‘lunch with an author’ (I saw one earlier today in fact to win lunch with Lee Child – something I could never do as all I would end up doing is saying ‘Really? Really, Tom Cruise? Are you kidding me?’ which is probably rude) well suffice it to say if you end up going for lunch with Alice Feeney’s dark and ingenuitive mind it might make sense to let someone know where you are!

Synopsis: l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master at brilliantly complicated plots and twists after twists. 

 

Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse

4 stars from me

I really felt for Lennie throughout this book – what a great kid!

Robin is her own worst enemy, she never quite knows when enough is enough, when to rely on other people and when to keep her mouth shut! But she pays one hell of a price for her actions and so does poor Lennie.

I thought Critical Incidents was a really solid 4 – the blend of investigations, intrigue and characterisation was spot on and the humiliation of being back in her childhood bedroom was tangible.

The storyline appears simple to start with but gets more complex as you read on, it certainly keeps you guessing and needing to keep on turning pages!

The only character I really struggled with is Luke, especially so at the very end, not sure at all of his motivation?

 

Synopsis: A gripping literary thriller and the first of a new crime series, from the bestselling author of Before We Met

Detective Inspector Robin Lyons is going home.

Dismissed for misconduct from the Met’s Homicide Command after refusing to follow orders, unable to pay her bills (or hold down a relationship), she has no choice but to take her teenage daughter Lennie and move back in with her parents in the city she thought she’d escaped forever at 18.

In Birmingham, sharing a bunkbed with Lennie and navigating the stormy relationship with her mother, Robin works as a benefit-fraud investigator – to the delight of those wanting to see her cut down to size.

Only Corinna, her best friend of 20 years, seems happy to have Robin back. But when Corinna’s family is engulfed by violence and her missing husband becomes a murder suspect, Robin can’t bear to stand idly by as the police investigate. Can she trust them to find the truth of what happened? And why does it bother her so much that the officer in charge is her ex-boyfriend – the love of her teenage life?

As Robin launches her own unofficial investigation and realises there may be a link to the disappearance of a young woman, she starts to wonder how well we can really know the people we love – and how far any of us will go to protect our own. 

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

4 Stars from me

The opening pages, ominously entitled ‘The Day of the Killing‘ absolutely sucked me in and then I was then rudely wrenched from the bloodied crime scene and dumped back in the past as the book teasingly led me back to the present day. Whose blood was it? Who had died? Who did it?

Once I got over being dragged away from the edge of your seat, high alert scene of the crime the book settled into a reasonably chronological account of the events leading up to that frantic 999 call.

Maddie has lead quite the life as a travel writer and she and her best friend Jo (who is a ballsy lady who does whatever she pleases and to hell with the consequences) get into some dangerous situations. The whole part of the story when Maddie first meets Ian gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties faced by those trying to protect and deliver aid in worn torn areas.

I loved the bits with ‘Cami-toe’, and sensed that not everything Maddie shared with us could be relied upon entirely, there are a few clues and red herrings along the way and I have to confess I thought I had guessed the ending and ‘whodunnit’ but I wasn’t quite right…

Overall, great book, gripping and thorough engaging.

 

Synopsis:

‘Ward writes with the same compelling energy as you get in a blockbuster Netflix series’ 
Daily Mail

‘Compelling. Filled with unexpected twists… a riveting read’ 
Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Wife Between Us

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

3 stars from me

My word, what a horrible bunch of people. I think the only one I actually liked was Will!

The 4 friends the story revolves around are all self obsessed and stuck in the past where their friendship meant everything, it’s like they’ve all moved on in their lives but only partially as they are all anchored together because of their nasty ‘little black book’. Honestly, what a grubby bunch they are.

I struggled to rate this book, I have ended up with 3 stars because the storyline became quite hard to follow and veered quite far into unrelateable – I don’t mind at all reading about unlikeable characters but it just went to far with them all pretty much being despicable and immoral and as for Anna and Bo…

Overall I feel this isn’t far from being a great book, it just needs a bit of a tweak. Maybe a ‘kill your darlings’ moment or a ‘less is more’ mindset would help.

Synopsis: On a night out, four friends witness a stranger in trouble. They decide to do nothing to help.

Later, a body washes up on the banks of the Thames – and the group realises that ignoring the woman has left blood on their hands.

But why did each of them refuse to step in? Why did none of them want to be noticed that night? Who is really responsible?

And is it possible that the victim was not really a stranger at all? 

Run Away by Harlan Coben

4 Stars from me

This is a solid standalone by literary legend Harlan Coben and is a good, well orchestrated read.

Simon’s love for his family is pure and admirable and he is a man on a mission throughout this book – his mission to find and save his daughter, Paige.

The descriptive elements are lovely, having been to New York at sat where Simon sat to watch Paige I could very easily picture the area and Harlan Coben captured the feeling of the place beautifully. In fact all of his descriptive passages are highly evocative.

The emotions throughout and are and tangible and they are what pull this book up. However, there were some parts of the book where I find myself thinking ‘sorry who are these guys?’ and flicking back to try and find out who/what/why which detracted a little from the main story.

Overall, any thriller fans out there are likely to enjoy this book.

 

Synopsis:

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, quite by chance, you see her busking in New York’s Central Park.

But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is wasted, frightened and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Where criminal gangs rule, where drugs are the main currency, and murder is commonplace.

Now it’s your life on the line. And nowhere and no one is safe.

 

A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty

4 stars from me

Harper McClain is a fab character who has turned my viewpoint of reporters on its head. Usually the ‘hacks’ are blood thirsty vultures portrayed as despicable figures feasting on the raw misery of others, whereas Harper brings a whole new take to the role.

She is a great character anyway, and highly likeable, but her reason for chasing the story comes across as helpful, caring and to the benefit of the victim, their family and the investigative team – it’s made me think again about journalists.

Great story, I loved how and where it was set and I will certainly look out for more by this author.

Synopsis: From Christi Daugherty, author of The Echo Killing, comes another pulse-pounding suspenseful thriller featuring crime reporter Harper McClain.

For a woman, being killed by someone who claims to love her is the most ordinary murder of all.

With its antebellum houses and ancient oak trees draped in a veil of Spanish moss, Savannah’s graceful downtown is famous around the world. When a woman is killed in the heart of that affluent district, the shock is felt throughout the city. But for crime reporter Harper McClain, this story is personal. The corpse has a familiar face.

Only twenty-four years old, Naomi Scott was just getting started. A law student, tending bar to make ends meet, she wanted to change the world. Instead, her life ended in the dead of night at the hands of an unseen gunman. There are no witnesses to the crime. The police have three suspects: Scott’s boyfriend, who has a criminal past he claims he’s put behind him, her boss, who stalked another young bartender two years ago, and the district attorney’s son, who Naomi dated until their relationship ended in acrimony. All three men claim to love her. Could one of them be her killer?

With the whole city demanding answers, Harper unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy. But the pressures on her go beyond the murder. The newspaper is facing more layoffs. Her boss fears both their jobs are on the line. And Harper begins to realize that someone is watching her every move. Someone familiar and very dangerous.

Someone who told her to run before it’s too late…

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.