Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride

5 Stars from me

It’s fair to say that Stuart MacBride had me at Cold Granite

Now We Are Dead focuses on Sergeant Roberta Steel who has taken a bit of a tumble down the ranks after fitting up a suspect. Not one to learn from her mistakes she is hell bent on seeing him behind bars and, despite numerous colourful warnings, pursues him in her own special way.

Steel is a fabulous character, she is loveable yet should be detestable and must be an absolute nightmare to work with. I love love love her funny ways and how she is always shuggling her errant underwire and eyeing up anyone female who crosses her path.

I did miss Logan but it is testament to MacBride’s mastery of a incredible storyline that this book is brilliant even without it’s star player being involved.

Another absolute stonker from Stuart MacBride – reading his books makes me so happy 🙂

Synopsis: From the No. 1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series, comes a standalone spinoff featuring DS Roberta Steel. Sergeant Roberta Steel has recently been demoted after being caught fitting up a suspect. The trouble is, the man she got sent down has had his sentence quashed now he’s back on the streets. And women are being attacked again. But if DS Steel goes anywhere near him his lawyers will get her thrown off the force for good. The Powers That Be won’t listen to her not after what happened last time. Besides, she’s got more than enough ongoing cases to keep her busy perhaps she should focus on solving them instead of harassing an innocent man?

But Steel knows he’s guilty and the longer he gets away with it, the more women will suffer. The question is: how much is she willing to sacrifice to stop him? 

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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. 

 

Eye for Eye by J K Franko

5 Stars from me

What is it they say about not judging a book by its cover… Well with a cover as striking as this one I couldn’t help but be intrigued and Book 1 of the Talion Series – Eye for Eye by JK Franko did not disappoint.

Eye for Eye has it all from murder, mystery, clever cover ups and hidden secrets to police questioning, allegations of rape and many questions of morality along the way. The characters are well defined and relatable and the scene imagery is stunning, you’ll see for yourself when you read it but there are so many descriptive passages that leap off the page and into your mind.

Although this is primarily a crime thriller, there is a subtle undercurrent of a wicked sense of humour throughout which particularly appealed to me.

This is a beautifully crafted example of an intelligent thriller. I can honestly say I was hooked from the first few pages of the book and I can’t wait for the next one in the series; this debut author has truly made his mark.

As ever, no spoilers from me!

If having a brilliant book isn’t enough, there is a brilliant book launch coming up soon too – details are here if you fancy coming along to Covent Garden https://jkfranko.com/2019/03/01/limited-vip-fan-tickets-giveaway-be-part-of-the-story-at-eye-for-eyes-london-book-launch/

 

Synopsis: When I first met Susie, she appeared to be a normal, happily-married woman dealing with tragedy.

Then, I uncovered her secrets.

While I could understand everything that she’d done, I could never approve.

But, knowing what she was capable of, it became clear that if I was going to survive her, I had to play by her rules.

And, the first and most important rule is… leave no singing bones.

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.

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…

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

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?

 

 

 

Down to the Woods by M J Arlidge

5 Stars from me!

I’ve been hooked on the MJ Arlidge books since Eeny Meeny and I love the DI Helen Grace character so I was super excited to realise that book 8 was available to read!

Down to the Woods is yet another cracker in this well executed (no pun intended, honest) series. It has a solid storyline and still manages to weave in elements for the personal lives of Grace and her team. In fact it was good to witness a softer side to some of the characters.

It was good to meet a new player in the team – DS Joseph Hudson – and the relationship between him and Grace is interesting. I feel there is a lot more to come in future books regarding his past and his reasons behind joining the team.

Small confession… I hadn’t actually realised before the M J Arlidge is a man! It kinda makes sense in that Grace is, or at least can be, quite a masculine woman. Or do I now think that because I know Arlidge is a man?!

There are some wonderful scenes in this book, along with the fast paced chase, the beauty vs terror of the New Forest and the grit and determination of hunter and hunted, there is also the deep love between a parent and a child and the soul searching that must be faced in one of life’s most difficult of decisions.

Loved it and highly recommended – although I suggest a visit to the first book in the DI Grace series first and then enjoy reading your way through them all.

 

Synopsis: THE EIGHTH DI HELEN GRACE THRILLER BY BESTSELLING AUTHOR M. J. ARLIDGE

There is a sickness in the forest. First, it was the wild horses. Now it’s innocent men and women, hunted down and murdered by a faceless figure. Lost in the darkness, they try to flee, they try to hide. In desperation, they call out for help. But there is no-one to hear their cries here…

DI Helen Grace must face down a new nightmare. The arrow-ridden victims hang from the New Forest’s ancient oaks, like pieces of strange fruit. Why are helpless holidaymakers being targeted in peak camping season? And what do their murders signify? Is a psychopath stalking the forest? Is there an occult element to the killings? Could the murders even be an offering to the Forest itself? Helen must walk into the darkness to discover the truth behind her most challenging, most macabre case yet.

M J Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace books in order:

Eeny Meeny by MJ ArlidgeEeny Meeny

The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it. Days later, another desperate escapee is found – and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.

Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors – living calling cards – who hold the key to the case. And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die…

 

 

 

DI Helen Grace books in orderPop Goes the Weasel

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton’s red light district – horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed. Hours later – and barely cold – the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.

A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards.The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes.

For Grace, only one thing is certain: there’s a vicious serial killer at large who must be halted at all costs…

 

 

 

 

The Doll's House by MJ ArlidgeThe Doll’s House

A woman wakes. Immediately she knows she’s not in the bed she slept in. It’s just the beginning of her nightmare.

Across town, a child discovers a woman’s body buried beneath the beach. Then another victim is found. Neither friends nor family had even reported either woman missing. How could their killer be getting away with murder?

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it’s chilling evidence that she’s hunting a monster who’s not just twisted, but clever and careful. And as Helen struggles to understand the killer’s motivation she realizes that time might be running out for someone still alive…

 

 

 

Liar Liar by MJ ArlidgeLiar Liar

In the dead of night, three raging fires light up the city skies. It’s more than a tragic coincidence. For DI Helen Grace the flames announce the arrival of an evil she has never encountered before. Because this is no firestarter seeking sick thrills, but something more chilling: a series of careful, calculating acts of murder.

But why were the victims chosen? What’s driving the killer? And who will be next?

A powder keg of fear, suspicion and dread has been laid. Now all it needs is a spark to set it off…

 

 

 

 

Little Boy Blue by MJ Arlidge

Little Boy Blue

Called to a Southampton nightclub, DI Helen Grace cuts the duct tape from the asphyxiated victim and discovers she knows him. A man from the double life she has concealed from her superiors, Helen is determined to find his murderer – while keeping their relationship hidden at all costs.

When a new victim is found, Helen works around the clock to stop her life unravelling. She’ll do anything to solve this case – but dare she reveal her own darkest secrets and lose everything?

And would even that be enough to stop this killer?

 

 

 

 

mj arlidge books in orderHide and Seek

Helen awaits trial in a crumbling women’s prison in Southampton. She has a fight on to prove her innocence from inside her prison cell, but this soon turns out to be the least of her worries.

A serial killer is picking off fellow inmates, thriving in an environment where there is truly nowhere to run. Is it a criminal giving in to their dark urges or a member of the prison staff preying on the captive population?

Helen must work fast to reveal this devious killer, all the time wondering if she will be next on her list…

 

 

 

 

 

DI Helen Grace books in orderLove Me Not

A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a cold-blooded killing. But why would anyone target a much-loved wife and mother?

Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?

Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking. If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own…

 

 

 

 

 

The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood DCI Darke 4 #booktour

5 Stars from me!

I am delighted and honoured to be part of the Blog Tour for The Hangman’s Hold – particularly as I am enjoying the Matilda Darke series so very much. I recently had the privilege of asking Michael Wood a few questions about himself and his writing style, see here for my Interview with the Author, Michael Wood.

A rich and diverse group of characters makes The Hangman’s Hold a thoroughly engaging read which will keep you on your toes. If you are a fan of crime thrillers and ‘enjoy a good murder’, you will also love this series from @MichaelhWood and I highly recommend that you go back to the beginning and read the books in order. This is the best way for you to understand the complexities of Matilda’s character and pick up the subtle nuances and peculiarities of the relationships within her team.

I’ve been with Matilda since the beginning and truly love these books, she sits firmly on my shelf among novels by Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride, Simon Kernick, Alison Bruce, Lisa Hall, Jane Isaac, Ann Cleaves, Peter James, Helen Cadbury, Sarah Ward and Linwood Barclay – to name but a few.

In The Hangman’s Hold, DCI Matilda Darke and her team seem to be right in the middle of the focus from a smart but provocative killer who knows exactly how, when and where to locate victims; ready to lie in wait and deliver their own form of justice. The concept of this is dark and unsettling. The police team struggle to find forensic evidence and the killer continually taunts Matilda and local journalist, Danny Hansen. Will Danny’s naivety turn out to be his downfall, or is he somehow involved?

Like Matilda, I felt immediately drawn into the case as soon as her wonderful friend Adele became close to the first victim and potentially at risk herself. I felt so sorry for Adele, who very much deserved to meet a wonderful date, yet not only is her beau murdered but he then turns out to have a somewhat murky past – how can she reconcile herself to having enjoyed his company? How will she learn to trust again after this? Fortunately, Matilda is there for her (it’s nice to see Matilda supporting Adele for a change) and the friendship between these two ladies is enviable.

With a mounting body count, Matilda finds herself appointed with a profiler who muddles her thinking with his strong resemblance to her beloved deceased husband. This leads to her fighting her own demons amid a growing pressure to solve the case as she struggles with her conflicted feelings towards another man – albeit one her reminds her so much of James. This is such a well articulated thread throughout the books and forms part of what makes Matilda so real, vulnerable and relatable.

Tension builds once the profiler suggests that the killer may be someone Matilda knows which leads to mistrust and defensiveness with Matilda’s team and is a sublime demonstration of the destructiveness of paranoia as her team second guess themselves and each other. How can you work together as a team if you don’t trust your colleagues to have your back.

‘Taking the law into your own hands’ is another excellent thread through this book and it shines a light upon society and the way we are all so quick to label and to judge. The repercussions of which can be catastrophic. It made me stop and think about the loved ones and families of the accused/convicted as they are often the ones who are left picking up the pieces and the impact upon the lives of wives, mothers, fathers, children and even distant relations can be immense. Stop and think for a minute, if someone close to you was convicted of a hideous crime how fast do you think your own life would unravel?

Without giving away any spoilers… I am very much looking forward to the next book!

 

Synopsis:

Your life is in his hands.In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness of your living room. As soon as you get home, he will kill you – hang you by the neck – and make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.

He knows your darkest secrets.
The police are running out of time. DCI Matilda Darke is facing her worst nightmare: a serial killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice, whose campaign of violence is spreading fear throughout the city.

And he is closer than you think.
As the body count rises, Matilda is personally targeted and even her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?