The Taking of Annie Thorne by C J Tudor

4 Stars from me!

What a fabulous, creepy little book!

I was drawn in from the very first page and flew threw this book because I just didn’t want to put it down.

It was creepy, chilling in places, had a good build up of suspense, a few twists and turns and some really likeable characters. In fact, the attention to detail surrounding the characters and the effort taken to flesh them out is what made this book so brilliant for me.

If you have a book lover in your life, who enjoys a bit of unnerving escapism, this is probably the perfect Christmas gift!

 

Synopsis: When Joe Thorne was fifteen, his little sister, Annie, disappeared. At the time, Joe thought it was the worst thing in the world that could ever happen. And then she came back.

Now Joe has returned to the village where he grew up, to work as a teacher at the failing Arnhill Academy. Not an act of altruism, but desperation. Joe has bad debts – and bad people – he needs to escape. He also has an anonymous email: I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again.

But coming back to the place he grew up, means facing the people he grew up with, and the things they did. Five friends: Joe, Stephen Hurst, Marie Gibson, Nick Fletcher and Chris Manning. They were the five who were there that night. Something they haven’t spoken about in 25 years.
Coming back means opening old wounds, and confronting old enemies and Joe is about to discover that places, like people, have secrets. The deeper you go, the darker they get.
And sometimes, you should never come back.

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You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

4 Stars from me!

Fabulously atmospheric!

I got so engrossed in You Let Me In, the storyline is brilliant and the overwhelming sense of paranoia from main character Elle is tangible and delicious.

This is a book packed with credible and engaging characters and uncomfortably spot on situations, I highly recommend it.

I haven’t read anything by Lucy Clarke before so I am very happy to find that she has a host of other books all waiting for me to read!

 

Synopsis: 

Spine-tingling, chilling, and utterly compulsive, YOU LET ME IN is the stunning new novel from Richard & Judy Book Club author, Lucy Clarke

Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . .

I’M IN YOUR HOUSE

There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.

I’M IN YOUR HEAD

Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.

AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET

As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…

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?

The Party by Lisa Hall

5 stars from me!

Wow what a doozy! This book hits you from very the beginning when poor Rachel wakes up and the events of The Party hit her like a tonne of bricks. Make sure you’ve got a comfy chair and a mug of tea as you will be hooked!

It is easy to imagine the horror she feels and her bravery as she confronts the situation is really quite commendable. She is a tenacious character and I liked her. You can’t help but imagine yourself in her situation and it is an uncomfortable realisation that she could equally have chosen to do nothing.

Having read Tell Me No Lies and Between You and Me by Lisa Hall I had high hopes for The Party and I wasn’t disappointed.The book switches between ‘before’ and ‘after’ and you piece information together as you go along, some characters are more likeable than other but all of them are there for a reason!

There is some wonderful misdirection and many a dead end of of which is testament to Hall’s mastery. Do you like the right people, do you trust the right people, do you trust yourself?

Like the two earlier books, The Party is a standalone with fabulous characters who draw you deeper into the story with every turn of the page. I did guess the ending but it in no way spoiled the story for me.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all three books and can’t wait to read more by Lisa Hall.

 

Synopsis: It was just a party. But it turned into a nightmare.

‘Compelling, addictive…brilliant’ B A Paris

When Rachel wakes up in a strange room, the morning after a neighbour’s party, she has no memory of what happened the night before. Why did her husband leave her alone at the party? Did they row? Why are Rachel’s arms so bruised? And why are her neighbours and friends so vague about what really happened?

Little by little, Rachel pieces together the devastating events that took place in a friend’s house, at a party where she should have been safe. Everyone remembers what happened that night differently, and everyone has something to hide. But someone knows the truth about what happened to Rachel. And she’s determined to find them.

The Party is the gripping new novel from bestseller Lisa Hall.

The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin

3 stars from me

I found The Pupil to be an engaging book which drew me into the lives of the main characters and I loved the juxtaposition of main character Katherine’s current life and her visits to her mum. Actually, in a lot of ways the bits where she visits ‘home’ are some of the most compelling of the book.

The ‘twists’ in the book were, for me, a bit of a non event, they will heavily indicated throughout which made them a bit of a damp squib. I don’t think I really liked any of the characters either – the chip shop owner was probably my favourite!

I don’t like giving 3 star reviews, it feels rude and disrespectful to the author who has spent so much time crafting this tale for our enjoyment, however I do need to be true to myself and true to those books which I hold up high and say ‘this is worthy of 4 or even 5 stars’, so the 3 stars signifies that I enjoyed this book – in fact I read it an a day, it has some excellent parts and for me the overall story line – particularly the ‘twists’ and some of the characteristics of the key players could do with a few little tweaks.

That said, I am going to find myself a copy of ‘The Accident’ by the same author as it has excellent reviews and I am sure there will be many great works from this author in future.

Synopsis: One moment of carelessness. Four shattered lives. 

Psychological suspense that explores a labyrinth of lies, manipulation and revenge. Perfect for fans of Louise Jenson and Katerina Diamond.

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control. 

If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

The Second Sister by Claire Kendal

4 stars from me

This book really put me in mind of Sister by Rosamund Lupton (which I loved), but rest assured it is different enough to be well worth reading.

Ella Brooke is a great character and I really enjoyed the chemistry between her and Ted (spoiler alert) I was quite sad that he had betrayed her and it was left unresolved as to whether they would get back together – I so wanted them to get back together!

The story itself is a sad little tale beautifully brought to life by Claire Kendal. It was a book of two halves for me, it seemed to jog along quite nicely and then all of I sudden it was a roller coaster ride to the conclusion. I really found myself reading faster and faster towards the end as I had to find out what happened.

Very enjoyable read and if you read it and enjoy it I very much urge you to read Sister.

 

Synopsis: An obsessive quest to solve the mystery of her older sister’s disappearance puts a young woman in mortal jeopardy in this taut, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense from the author of the “truly riveting” (New York Times) The Book of You. An intoxicating cocktail of loyalty and secrets, lies and betrayal, reminiscent of Rosamund Lupton’s Sister and Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia.

A decade ago, Ella Brooke’s older sister, Miranda, vanished without a trace. With every passing year, Ella has come to resemble more closely the sister she lost—the same dark hair, the same piercing blue eyes—and now she’s the same age Miranda was when she disappeared.

Ella has never let go of her sister. She can still feel Miranda’s presence, still hear her voice. She still talks to her. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister’s ten-year-old son and her work as a self-defense expert helping victims.

Ella is certain that Miranda was taken, and that one man is key to her disappearance: Jason Thorne. The tabloids report that a new link has been found connecting Miranda to this sadistic serial killer locked away in a psychiatric hospital. Ignoring warnings from the police and the disapproval of her parents, she seeks Thorne out. Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth—no matter how dangerous…

The Hanged Man by Simon Kernick

3 stars from me

I have to pinch myself as I write that – 3 stars from me for a Simon Kernick novel – I never thought I’d see the day.

It genuinely pains me to say that I didn’t love it. I found the beginning too ‘explainy’, I know that it is useful to have a bit of a catch up but if you have to essentially rehash most of the previous book then something is not quite right – or was it just padding?

Don’t get me wrong, Kernick’s fabulous, engaging, clever writing style is still there – it just isn’t there for the whole book. I found myself really struggling to stay engaged which is so not typical of a Simon Kernick thriller – they are normally lightening fast, unputdownable pieces of mastery.

I hate leaving reviews like this but honesty is all I can offer and this simply isn’t up to his usual standard.

Synopsis: A house deep in the countryside where the remains of seven unidentified women have just been discovered.

A cop ready to risk everything in the hunt for their killers.

A man who has seen the murders and is now on the run in fear of his life.

So begins the race to track down this witness before the killers do.

For Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd, the road ahead is a dangerous one, with bodies and betrayal at every turn…

Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

4 stars from me

Well I was utterly gripped by the very first few pages in this book – super scary and engaging, Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler is most certainly a page turner.

I am not sure if this is a debut but if it is then it is very accomplished. I read it very quickly, mainly because I didn’t want to put it down!

There are some strong characters throughout the book, some likeable and some not so likeable, I would enjoy reading more books involvingDetective Inspector Turner and I hope this may be the beginning of a series. I admit to a teensy amount of disappointment that a certain love angle didn’t come to fruition – but hey, am sure Liz Lawler has further books up her sleeve so who knows!

I had an inkling quite early on as to who the perpetrator was, but not why so it was still satisfying once that became clear… A bit of an unusual motive and lots of red herrings to look out for.

All in all, this is a book to be devoured in one or two sittings. Don’t take it too seriously, enjoy it for the suspense and the drama and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Synopsis: Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

So compulsive you can’t stop reading.

So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.

A pitch-black and devastatingly original psychological thriller.

The Bone Field by Simon Kernick

5 stars!

I can see lots of people have opted to give this book 4 stars, however, for the sheer pace of it and the fact that I couldn’t put it down, I have to go with 5 stars.

The Bone Field offers some brilliant new characters alongside the much loved DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd; these two are literally made for each other.

I really enjoyed the storyline surrounding the character Ramon, without dropping any spoilers, I would have enjoyed reading more about him and his life.

As you would expect from Kernick, this book moves at breakneck speed, flitting across countries and timelines with careless abandon – all the while tightening the screw of suspense with each and every page.

To be fair, it’s a bit of a no brainer isn’t it, if you liked his previous books then you will love this!

 

Synopsis: From the best-selling author of Stay Alive, The Final Minute and The Witness.

When the bones of a 21-year old woman who went missing without trace in Thailand in 1990, are discovered in the grounds of an old Catholic school in Buckinghamshire, an enduring mystery takes on a whole new twist. Her boyfriend at the time, and the man who reported her missing, Henry Forbes, now a middle-aged university lecturer, comes forward with his lawyer and tells DI Ray Mason of the Met’s Homicide Command that he knows what happened to Kitty, and who killed her.

So begins a hunt for the truth that will focus on a ruthless crime gang, a rich, dysfunctional family with a terrible past, and a highly ambitious man so cruel and ruthless that he must be brought down at any cost…

On Laughton Moor by Lisa Hartley

4 stars from me

It’s a solid 4 stars too, this is a really good debut.

Lisa Hartley has created a set of characters here that I immediately want to know more about. In fact that is probably the major reason I’ve given 4 stars and not 5. (Is that the world’s worst back handed compliment? I’m not sure.)

DS Catherine Bishop is a great leading lady. Very likeable, very tangible. Her love life is a bit of mess and I have to admit to feeling a bit sorry for poor old Louise!

DI Jonathan Knight was the cause of some frustration for me. Great character but didn’t shine as much as I thought he could – and what is his back story? I really want to know! I’m hoping that we might find out more in book 2 – one this is for sure though, I really, really want to read book 2!

Potentially a tiny bit of a spoiler so look away now if you haven’t already read the book…. Another reason for 4/5 stars is that I felt it was left a little unresolved in terms of exactly how the killer had found the victims!

 

Synopsis: Detective Sergeant Catherine Bishop has an enigmatic new boss, DI Jonathan Knight. How he’ll adapt to life in Lincolnshire after years in the Met is anyone’s guess.

When the body of a well known local thug is discovered, an intriguing message found on his battered corpse raises unwelcome questions. Is DS Bishop herself being accused of the grisly murder, or does the message point to a more sinister secret?

As the body count grows higher, Bishop and Knight find themselves in a race against time to discover the identity of a merciless, faceless killer whose motivation is a mystery.