SHE by H C Warner

4 Stars from me

I blame Charlotte!

I loved the characters in SHE, even the horrid ones and there were a few, the family dynamics and relationships between friends felt really well constructed.

It was a difficult read in places as Warner pushes the reader to the edges of acceptability in terms of what constitutes ‘story’ and what constitutes ‘shock value’ and for me SHE is very firmly the right side of the line. An important subject matter seemed to me to be deal with in a very pragmatic manner.

I really thought I’d be giving SHE a 5 star rating but a couple of things just made that impossible for me – the part where the book flips to a different viewpoint, I have to be honest and say my heart sank, I really didn’t want to have to read everything all over again. Plus there just seemed too many occasions where in reality people would have spoken up or stepped in.

Otherwise – and I am hesitant because I can see from other reviews that a lot of people are wild for the bit where the POV flips so please don’t let my silly old opinion put you off – SHE is a great psychological thriller, I totally kept on turning the pages wanting to read more and see what would happen next.

Synopsis: She’s everything he dreamed of. Isn’t she? Ben can’t believe his luck when the beautiful Bella walks into his life, just when he needs her most.

Still bruised and vulnerable since breaking-up with long-term girlfriend, Charlotte, he falls head over heels in love.

But Bella isn’t quite the ideal partner that Ben believes her to be. She quickly decides that everything is better when it is just the two of them – making it harder for friend and family to stay in touch. And then a sudden death triggers a chain of events that throws Ben headlong into a nightmare…

Secrets, lies, vengeance, and betrayal are at the heart of this story about a family that is destroyed when their son brings home the perfect girl…

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

5 Stars from me

This is a stonking debut from Noelle Holten!

Focusing on a difficult subject – domestic abuse – without trivialising or sensationalising is a hard line and Holten walks it well. I really enjoyed Lucy’s character and found her a very engaging lead to follow. For me, DC Maggie Jamieson didn’t come across as clearly as Lucy which I hope will be put right in book 2.

Lucy’s imperfect relationship with Patrick was artfully described, a professional woman who ‘should have known better’ is portrayed here with complete honesty and shines a light on the complexity of domestic abuse / domestic violence situations.

I found the probation officer role to be a fascinating one and I hope Noelle will bring us more from her experience in future books.

Great debut – can’t wait to read more from this author.

Synopsis: When three domestic abuse offenders are found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered. And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the finger of suspicion points at Lucy and the police are running out of time. Can Maggie and her team solve the murders before another person dies? And is Lucy really a cold-blooded killer?