I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll

5 Stars from me!

Oh that poor little boy, that ‘brave little soldier’ on his own while his Nan goes out to work. Oh my heart broke for him and I just wished they’d asked the teacher, or found a nice neighbour to help out. I found that whole bit of the story utterly heart-wrenching – very emotive and powerful. I know it’s just words on a page but I still feel so sad for him!

I liked Alice, although blimey some people just attract bad luck don’t they! I thought Matthew was a great character and definitely someone I would like looking after me in a similar situation!

I thought all the characters were very well defined and I enjoyed all the different threads within the story – Alice’s own family dynamics with her mum and her sister were a sweet interlude among all the fear.

As for the fear, it was great, really palpable and effective – had I have read this book alone at night I am pretty sure there were many sections where I would have slept with the lights on 🙂

Teresa Driscoll has done a great job with I Will Make You Pay, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Synopsis: Every Wednesday, like clockwork, the terror returns.

It seems like an ordinary Wednesday, until the phone rings. A mysterious caller with a chilling threat. Journalist Alice Henderson hangs up, ready to dismiss it as a hoax against the newspaper. But the next Wednesday, the stalker makes another move—and it becomes clear that this is all about Alice.

Someone wants her to suffer, but for what? Her articles have made her a popular local champion—could it be her past rather than her work that’s put her life in danger? Alice is determined not to give in to fear, but with the police investigation at a dead end, her boyfriend insists on hiring private investigator Matthew Hill.

With every passing Wednesday the warnings escalate, until it’s not only Alice but also her family in the stalker’s sights. As her tormentor closes in, can Alice uncover what she’s being punished for before the terrifying threats become an unthinkable reality?

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A Deathly Affair by Leigh Russell

5 Stars from me

Although there is clearly a hell of a back story here that I am missing (I only say that as it is book 13 in a series), I truly feel that A Deathly Affair worked well as a standalone book. Actually, I’m pretty stunned that it is book 13 as it really is gripping and doesn’t smack at all of ‘just the next one in the series as I’ve got deadlines to meet’.

I greatly enjoyed the relationships within this book. The husband/wife, the affair that isn’t quite what it seemed and also the dynamics within the police force were all very engaging.

I liked the police procedural elements and the methodology behind the investigative routes.

I also really like how the story highlights the plight of the homeless – something which I feel is all too easily ignored, yet most of us are only a few steps away from it at any time. A wrong decision, a loss of income, a relationship breakdown, an addiction, a twist of fate or circumstance can all very quickly lead to homelessness.

Synopsis: Four dead bodies. But who is guilty in this deadly web of secrecy and lies?

When two homeless men are strangled to death, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is caught off guard by the cold-blooded nature of the crimes. However, her suspicions are raised as two more bodies are found, forcing her to question the motivation behind the murders.

Plagued by countless red-herrings, the investigation drags Geraldine into the lives of three people caught in a toxic triangle of love and dishonesty. Is this a crime of passion, or is there more to this case than meets the eye? 

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

4 Stars from me

Being a long term lover of shows like Vera and Midsummer Murders, I was delighted to have the opportunity to read The Long Call by Ann Cleeves as it is the first in a new series; featuring Detective Matthew Venn and set in North Devon.

Matthew Venn is a very likeable character who lives in an idyllic cottage by the sea with his (too perfect?) partner. The Long Call features a search for a missing girl and a murder enquiry both of which seem destined to draw Matthew back into a community – and a myriad of painful memories – that he sought to leave behind.

There is a nice mix of complexity and simplicity throughout the book and Ann Cleeves doesn’t shy away from a fair few contentious subjects as the story unfolds.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Long Call and can’t wait to see it on the TV when it is inevitably made into a tv series.

Synopsis:

The Long Call is the captivating first novel in a brand new series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too. Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose. A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

A Window Breaks by C M Ewan

4 Stars from me

This is a really solid good old fashioned edge-of-your-seat style thriller.

It really is one of those books that has everything – a fractured relationship, deep emotional baggage, remote setting, a pet, a secret, a few red herrings, a hero and some bad guys – add to that a massive dollop of sheer fear for virtually all the flipping pages and you’ll get the general idea!

Lovely suspense building, great characters – really strong and well defined, clever plot, believable actions and motives.

I really enjoyed A Window Breaks and I won’t be staying in any remote lodges for a good while!

 

Synopsis:

It’s 2am.

You are safely asleep in bed.

A noise wakes you.

You stir, unsure why, and turn to your partner.

Then you hear it. Glass. Crunching underfoot.

Someone is inside your home.

You can stay and fight. Or run.

What would you do?

In C. M. Ewan’s thrilling novel A Window Breaks, can a family survive being targeted for death at a remote Scottish hideaway? Perfect for fans of T. M. Logan’s Lies and Mark Edwards’ The Retreat.

The Lying Room by Nicci French

5 Stars from me!

I found The Lying Room to be a highly engaging, fast paced read that I absolutely raced through as I just kept on wanting to know what happened next!

Central character, Neve, is one of those perfect people who everyone adores yet is utterly unassuming and apparently unaware of her magnetism. Friends, colleagues, even strangers are seemingly drawn to this calm, warm, efficient woman who busily spends her life making things right for others.

She treads carefully around the feelings of her husband and her daughter, she keeps a watchful eye on her sons and is the only person who ever notices that the guinea pig hasn’t been fed. She buoys up her colleagues at work and his the central pin of a decades long friendship group. She also does all the shopping, endless loads of laundry and cycles everywhere. She and her husband share most other domestic chores and their days and nights revolve around keeping all these plates spinning. So much so that she is susceptible to the attentions of a man who notices her – in a way that she hasn’t felt noticed by anyone for a very long time and they begin an affair.

As mentioned in the synopsis (full synopsis at the bottom of this page) one day she discovers that her lover has been murdered and rather than calling 999 she makes the snap decision to try and cover up any evidence that she was ever in his life.

I really liked the police character, DI Hutchings and felt thoroughly immersed in Neve’s world as I read this book. If you ignore the affairs, murders and deceit… it is a pretty enviable life.

Great book, great characters, fast paced and compelling – highly recommended.

Also, about the authors… I had no idea that Nicci French was actually two authors! Here are the details: Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield. In that same year she married journalist Colin Hughes.

In the early eighties she taught English Literature in Sheffield, London and Los Angeles, but moved into publishing in 1985 with the launch of Women’s Review, a magazine for women on art, literature and female issues.

In 1987 Nicci had a son, Edgar, followed by a daughter, Anna, in 1988, but a year later her marriage to Colin Hughes broke down.

In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor.

It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at Oxford University at the same time as Nicci, also graduating with a first class degree, but their paths didn’t cross until 1990. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine’s Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society.

Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.

By the mid-nineties Sean had had two novels published, The Imaginary Monkey and The Dreamer of Dreams, as well as numerous non-fiction books, including biographies of Jane Fonda and Brigitte Bardot.

In 1995 Nicci and Sean began work on their first joint novel and adopted the pseudonym of Nicci French. The Memory Game was published to great acclaim in 1997 followed by The Safe House (1998), Killing Me Softly (1999), Beneath the Skin (2000), The Red Room (2001), Land of the Living (2002), Secret Smile (2003), Catch Me When I Fall (2005), Losing You (2006) and Until It’s Over (2008). Their latest novel together is What To Do When Someone Dies (2009).

Nicci and Sean also continue to write separately. Nicci still works as a journalist for the Observer, covering high-profile trials including those of Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr. Novels include Things We Knew Were True (2003), Solace (2005) and The Moment You Were Gone (2007). Sean’s last novel is Start From Here (2004).

Synopsis: In this thrilling standalone from the internationally bestselling author of the Frieda Klein series, a married woman’s affair with her boss spirals into a dangerous game of chess with the police when she discovers he’s been murdered and she clears the crime scene of all evidence.

One little secret between a married woman, her lover, and a killer.

It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-Ă -terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair…. 

Degrees of Guilt by H S Chandler

5 Stars from me

Absolutely brilliant, I loved it!

Degrees of Guilt is a clever a thought provoking legal thriller / courtroom drama. It is packed full of emotion, soul searching questions and dilemmas.

There are some fabulous characters, not least of all Maria who is on trial for the attempted murder of her husband – and who is gutted that he didn’t die.

The jurors are a mixed bunch (I guess that’s the point) and I loved ‘the Tabithas’. Lottie, Cameron and Jack make for interesting reading as their characters and relationships develop. I was a little disappointed with Lottie but it gives a good example of how susceptible women (and men too I’m sure) are to the attentions of an attractive stranger when their own life is lacking a little in excitement.

Cameron… well I won’t say too much about him other than very interesting!

I absolutely loved the emotional roller coaster that this book took me on and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. Highly compelling and thoroughly entertaining.

So, was she guilty? You’ll have to read it find out!

Synopsis: ‘A compelling legal thriller – I loved it’ Katerina Diamond, Sunday Times bestseller

‘Timely, anger-inducing and very powerful – it’s excellent’ Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange

When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

A gripping, sexy and twisty novel for readers who devoured ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, APPLE TREE YARD and HE SAID/SHE SAID.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

4 Stars from me

This is one of those ‘clear a day as you ain’t putting this book down‘ type of books!

I was utterly hooked from the beginning and loved the roller coaster of pause / play / rewind as the story jumped around.

The insta famous aspect was really good too, probably a pretty accurate glimpse into the lifestyle of the accidentally famous.

Shanamore Holiday Cottages… what can I say except that I will now probably never stay in a holiday cottage on my own! Much like the ever present acute awareness I have in public toilets after watching the film Copy Cat!

Rewind contained some really interesting characters – from Andrew the pathetic and creepy weird, to Sean the good guy, slightly spoilt Natalie and slightly desperate reporter Audrey – Catherine Ryan Howard did a fantastic job of making them all seem real and plausible.

Very clever, addictive book which will keep you on your toes!

Synopsis: From the bestselling, multiple prize-shortlisted novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime…

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

‘Catherine Ryan Howard is a gift to crime writing. Her characters are credible, her stories are original and her plotting is ingenious. Every book is a treat to look forward to.’ Liz Nugent