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…

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac

5 stars from me

Having read and loved Jane Isaac‘s previous novels, I was thrilled to be offered a chance to read After He’s Gone, featuring new main character Beth Chamberlain. Having read Jane’s previously novels and enjoyed getting to know Will Jackman I was surprise to see a new lead in this book but I have to say it worked brilliantly – I can’t wait to read more about Beth and hey who knows, maybe she and Will can work together in the future 🙂

It is a simple yet clever story which unfolds gradually at first but then fast gathers momentum as you get drawn into the lives of Beth, Monika, Sara and of course, Cameron.

What appears to be a straight forward – if dramatic – murder, soon turns into a deep and murky glimpse into the life of Cameron Swift. His death has all the markers of a ‘hit’, but is it? Beth is a brave and feisty character who puts others first which makes her a truly wonderful heroine for what I hope will be the first in a new series.

In addition to a brilliants constructed whodunnit, the effort put into building Beth’s back story is noteworthy on it’s own. She is alive within these pages and finish the book really feeling as though you know her.

I love the cover too – really fresh and tells you at one glance that this is going to be ballsy female lead in a murder case – pretty impressive!

Not only is Jane Isaac a fabulous author but is also utterly lovely on Twitter. I’m sure she’d like to hear from you if you loved reading any of her books.

Synopsis: You think you know him. Until he’s dead.

When Cameron Swift is gunned down outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer: a dual role that requires her to support the family, and also investigate them.

As the case unfolds and the body count climbs, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. 

Even the dead…

In The Dark by Cara Hunter

5 stars from me

Clever clever book.

I absolutely loved Close to Home so was almost concerned that I could only like In the Dark less, simply because the only way left was – in theory – down. How wrong I was. To start with you leap straight into a police procedural and I was wondering in my head whether I was enjoying the style – then had to laugh to myself as I realised that I’d had a cup of tea, two cups of coffee and some toast and I was 49% through the book.

Cara Hunter is the queen of ‘unputdownable’, you find yourself utterly sucked into the story and needing desperately to know what happens next.

I look forward to reading more DI Adam Fawley books and I hope that his current colleagues will still be in the team, particularly Gis, Somer, Quinn and Everett. Very intriguing sub plots run alongside the main story without detracting from it.

There were so many different strands to In the Dark, it is a very clever and well put together tale. It moves fast and you should do yourself a favour and cancel your weekend plans so that you can get comfy, get the kettle on and read!

My thanks to NetGalley for a review copy 🙂

 

Synopsis: DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY’RE HIDING IN THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR?

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME, comes the second pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive…

No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. And the elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock – how could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem . . .

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood

5 stars from me (can I give it 6?)

This book hits you hard from page 1 and simply does not stop.

A Room Full of Killers is sheer brilliance; Michael Wood has excelled himself with not only his characterisation of DCI Darke but also the base elements of humanity, the melancholy that resides within us all and a simply brilliant story.

I think if I were a detective I’d be like Matilda, single, relentless and living in a house filled with books – although you may have to swap the treadmill for a couple of cats. That’s what makes her so fabulous, so tangible, it’s her realness, her flaws and her fallibleness that all make her so believable. She truly is the perfect heroine, and if I were ever wrongly convicted I would like it to be her who looked into my case.

The characters in this book – from the main stayers to those in the sidelines – all come to life within the pages and all of them are real and solid. I can totally see this series being televised and I cannot wait to see who plays Matilda.

As ever, Michael Wood plays homage to some of the crime thriller greats and I love this ‘nod’ to his peers and contemporaries.

As well as being a cracking crime thriller, A Room Full of Killers takes on some pretty weighty issues. Is a killer born or created? Is it nature or nurture? Can you ever truly atone and repent? Should we – society – allow killers to obtain a first class education from within prison, allowing them a potentially brighter future than someone who went through the mill of a comprehensive education? Is it right for a killer to be given a new life and a fresh slate – how well do you ever know anyone?

Although I am sure this would make for a great standalone, I urge you to begin with the first in the series For Reasons Unknown so that you have some history that will add depth and resonance to A Room Full of Killers.

So, thank you Michael Wood for this series which I am enjoying immensely and for bringing DCI Matilda Darke and her team into my life. Sometimes, just sometimes, I could almost forgive you for not being that keen on cats.

 

Synopsis: ‘DCI Matilda Darke is the perfect heroine’ Elly Griffiths

The third book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood.

When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…

 

Outside Looking In by Michael Wood

5 Stars from me!

I am already utterly in love with Michael Wood‘s writing style. I find it incredibly comfortable in a way that I can only liken to picking up a new Peter James DS Roy Grace novel.

DCI Matilda Darke is wonderful. She has the perfect mix of misery and compassion, her own bag of issues and demons that she carries around with her and yet a warmth and compassion bested only by her desire to protect and serve.

Outside Looking In is a simple yet complex tale and, although it stands up on it’s own merits, I would urge you to read For Reasons Unknown first so that you have the back story which is cleverly woven throughout Outside Looking In.

I raced through this book, feeling every shred of Matilda’s pain for her emotional loss and the enormous weight of responsibility she bears for past cases. She is tangible within these pages, a real, credible and believable character. I can picture her and her house and I hope that one day this series will be televised.

Although I said I find Michael’s writing comfortable, please do not think this is a fluffy tale – quite the opposite, it is gritty, raw and fast paced with a descriptive brilliance which brings horror to life and pulls no punches. The storyline throughout Outside Looking In is proper grim and takes the reader on a winding roller coaster before reaching its conclusion.

One other thing I really enjoyed was the continual referencing to other crime thrillers – most of which I have read and loved – I thank Jonathan Harkness for his gift.

I am greatly looking forward to A Room Full of Killers, which sits waiting patiently upon my kindle.

 

Synopsis: The second book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling new crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.

When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead. The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again. 

 

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

5 stars from me!

This is a fabulous debut novel from Cara Hunter, I enjoyed it immensely and could easily have devoured it in one sitting if time had permitted!

As well as having a great storyline, I thought Close to Home was such a clever book, covering a wide variety of really quite topical issues.

Great characters throughout, more twists and turns than an oiled up eel and a fast pace – I loved it!

Can’t wait to read more by Cara Hunter.

 

Synopsis: Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, CLOSE TO HOME is a pulse-pounding race against time and a penetrating examination of what happens to a community when a shocking crime is committed by one of its own.

 

 

The Trespasser by Tana French

5 stars from me!

Wow! What an incredible book.

During a recent trip to Dublin I perused the shelves of the delightful (and award winning) The Gutter Bookshop and The Trespasser was highly recommended. Having now finished it, I can see why!

Now, for a girl like me who is a fan of the fast paced Simon Kernick esque style of writing, I have to confess that the slower pace of Tana French was a bit of a shock to the system. Please don’t mistake ‘slower pace’ for ‘slow’ because it isn’t, it is just told in a more indulgent style – each scene is delivered to you in glorious technicolour, none of the words seem superfluous and at no point was I bored. If anything, this steadier than usual pace made the book feel luxurious as though the author had taken extra time and care to ensure the resulting story was just right.

The Trespasser has a real feel to it, the characters and their personal and working habits all ring true – within these pages are solid, well-defined individuals who live and breath in their own right. The awkwardness, trust, deceit and burgeoning friendships all feel right and segments throughout this book are exceptionally well observed.

The story itself is doled out in manageable pieces, making your brain work as you get swept along and I am delighted to say that it didn’t have a disappointing ending.

I haven’t read any of Tana French’s other books but I will be making a point of adding them to my, ever growing, ‘to be read’ pile.

Synopsis: In The Trespasser being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her – except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?

For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood

5 stars from me!

I really enjoyed this fabulous debut and am therefore delighted that there are others in the series to get stuck into already! Huge thanks to Michael Wood for his swift work as there are another 3 books to read 🙂

DCI Matilda Darke is a perfect character for our lead role, she fits the bill entirely with a disastrous recent past, disheveled appearance, low self-esteem, alcohol dependancy, loyal colleagues and moments of brilliance peppered throughout a dogged and determined pursuit of the truth.

All of the characters in the story were incredibly well defined and I have to say (in addition to Matilda) I felt a strong connection to Jonathan Harkness. He vividly came alive on the the pages and I couldn’t help but be drawn to this peculiar yet endearing man.

I can’t praise this book enough and if you are a fan of detective crime thrillers which tear along at a cracking pace then you will love this book. I found the story clever (without being pretentiously complex), gripping, fast paced (without cutting corners) and incredibly hard to put down.

I can’t wait to go on to the next books in the series.

Synopsis: Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…

A darkly compelling debut crime novel. The start of a brilliant series, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, and James Oswald.

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.

Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda’s case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…

 

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…

Killing Kate by Alex Lake

5 stars from me!

Well, first things first, I am now clearly going to have to go and find myself a copy of After Anna by Alex Lake as Killing Kate was so darn good!

My boys bought me this for mother’s day as they know how much I enjoy a good serial killer thriller!

Killing Kate did not disappoint. I was gripped early on and towards the end I was desperately racing through the pages to see what happened next – this is a really well paced, tension building thriller.

I had a few suspects in mind and therefore wasn’t entirely surprise by who the killer was but he did show his hand much earlier than I was expecting. From that moment on the book is roller coaster!

One teeny tiny gripe and POTENTIAL SPOILER so don’t read on if you don’t want to…. There is no way he would have let her have a phone in her hand. Absolutely no way. But, still a whooping 5 stars from me as it really was an entertaining read and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of After Anna!

Oh, and, I totally thought it was written by a woman.

 

Synopsis: A serial killer is stalking your home town.

He has a type: all his victims look the same.

And they all look like you.

Kate returns from a post break-up holiday with her girlfriends to news of a serial killer in her home town – and his victims all look like her.

It could, of course, be a simple coincidence.

Or maybe not.

She becomes convinced she is being watched, followed even. Is she next? And could her mild-mannered ex-boyfriend really be a deranged murderer?

Or is the truth something far more sinister?