A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

A Deadly Thaw4 stars from me

I was delighted to find that I had won a copy of A Deadly Thaw in a recent competition by Sarah Ward.

Having not (yet) read In Bitter Chill, I read A Deadly Thaw as a standalone thriller.

It is listed as being #2 in the Inspecter Francis Sadler series but for me the star of the show was, without question, DC Connie Childs who is a vibrant, well defined and likeable character.

The same cannot be said, however, for Kat and Lena, both of whom I found myself unable to engage with.

I also had some issues giving clarity to Sadler, Palmer and Llewellyn; I do wonder if that may be the downside of having not read In Bitter Chill.

Throughout the story another issue runs, one of Police errors and misconduct, I liked that this was addressed, it worked well and good a eye opener for me. It is unbearable to imagine a woman reporting a crime and being dismissed. Although awful to think about, it felt very genuine that it should be raised – makes me wonder how real an issue this still is for long serving offices.

All in all, a good book and I will now go back and seek out In Bitter Chill. Most of all – I look forward to reading more with DC Connie Childs.

Synopsis: A man whose killer—his wife—was convicted 15 years ago is discovered freshly murdered in this rivetingly suspenseful mystery from critically acclaimed author Sarah Ward.

Lena Grey is found guilty of murdering her husband, who was found smothered in their bed. She offers no defense, and serves fourteen long years in prison. But within months of her release nearly two decades later, his body is found in a disused morgue, recently killed. Who was the man she killed before, and why did she lie about his identity?

Detective Inspector Francis Sadler and his Derbyshire team try to discover how such a well-orchestrated deception could have occurred. DC Connie Childs is convinced that something greater than marital strife caused the murders, but before Lena can be questioned further, she vanishes. Back in Lena’s childhood home, her sister Kat, a therapist, is shocked by her sister’s duplicity. When she begins to receive mysterious packages from a young man claiming to know her sister’s location, Kat is drawn into her own investigation of her family’s well-hidden secrets. As her inquiries begin to collide with the murder investigation, a link to the sisters’ teenage lives emerges, and the line between victim and perpetrator becomes blurred in this tightly-plotted, compelling novel perfect for fans of Deborah Crombie and Sharon Bolton.

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Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

Dead Man's Prayer4 Stars from me!

I really enjoyed Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin, it is a fab debut. I found DI Frank Farrell to be an intriguing character who really grew on me as the book progressed and by the time it was over I found myself hoping that book 2 will be out soon!

I thought it was an inventive plot, with original ideas and some unexpected twists and turns. It had the obligatory love mix, of course, and a strong lead character with a very troubled past.

After about chapter 8 I found this book hard to put down and look forward to reading more by Jackie Baldwin.

Synopsis: Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger5 Stars from me!

I’m going to endeavour to ensure that this review does The Passenger justice as I can see a few reviews online which seem to indicate it isn’t brilliant – but it actually is. Lisa Lutz has created a rollercoaster ride of a read here and frankly I thought it was unputdownable.

There is the slimmest hint of dark humour throughout which maybe some people miss? For me it made the book extra enjoyable. I absolutely loved The Passenger, it was one of those books that I was disappointed to finish because I enjoyed reading it so much.

I thought the storyline was excellent. Simple, clever and fast to read. I liked the main character, mistrusted Blue and fell a little bit in love with Domenic – seriously, what more can you ask for in a book?

This is a perfect ‘weekend to yourself’ or ‘holiday’ read in my opinion because you can just immerse yourself in it and live vicariously through the edgey life of Tanya Dubois.

Loved it. Thank you @Lisa Lutz

Synopsis: In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

The Missing and The Dead by Stuart MacBride

Missing and Dead

It was so good to catch up with Logan McRae again, it’s been too long! I wish this series would be snapped up for TV rights and it would make for great viewing.

Logan’s new role in the police isn’t filling him with joy but it does seem to be giving him a bit more stability… until Steel pops up again because she’s missing him. They make a great pair though.

The thing I love most about a Stuart MacBride novel is that although at time the subject matter may be silly, or gritty, or gross, the way the sentences are constructed is always intelligent. The words fly across the page because the flow is perfect; I never get bored, skim read or lose my place.

Logan’s ‘relationship’ with his poor girlfriend is both depressing and uplifting as although he is essentially tied to a ghost it also shows what a truly wonderful human being he is as he lives in virtual poverty in order to support her medical care.

Fabulous book (aren’t they all by Mr MacBride?), already looking forward to the next.

Synopsis: One mistake can cost you everything…

When you catch a twisted killer there should be a reward, right? What Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae gets instead is a ‘development opportunity’ out in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire. Welcome to divisional policing – catching drug dealers, shop lifters, vandals and the odd escaped farm animal.

Then a little girl’s body washes up just outside the sleepy town of Banff, kicking off a massive manhunt. The Major Investigation Team is up from Aberdeen, wanting answers, and they don’t care who they trample over to get them.

Logan’s got enough on his plate keeping B Division together, but DCI Steel wants him back on her team. As his old colleagues stomp around the countryside, burning bridges, Logan gets dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation.

One thing’s clear: there are dangerous predators lurking in the wilds of Aberdeenshire, and not everyone’s going to get out of this alive…

YOU by Caroline Kepnes

YOU4 stars from me!

I seem to be reading a lot of seriously creepy books at the moment and YOU by Caroline Kepnes is right up there with the best of them.

Main character and all round proper psycho, Joe Goldberg, is horribly fascinating and all too believable as he so swiftly and utterly invades the lives of anyone he fancies. His ability to switch between Joe the perfect dreamboat boyfriend into Joe the certifiably insane is slick and scary.

Probably the creepiest thing about this book is quite how easy it would be to fall prey to someone like Joe. It does make you want to wipe out your internet presence and deal in cash only!

All in all a perversely enjoyable read, it does get a little bit far fetched in a couple of places which is why I’ve scored it four stars rather than five – but even so I still highly recommend it if you like a book that will mess with your mind!

I can quite easily see this being made into a film and I can’t wait to read more by Caroline Kepnes.

As much as I’ve enjoyed this book, stalking is a horrible, invasive crime that all too frequently leads on to assault or worse. If you need any further information please see: http://www.stalkinghelpline.org/faq/about-the-law/

Synopsis: When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card. 

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

Afterwards5 Stars from me!

Another absolutely sensational book from Rosamund Lupton. I absolutely adore the way she writes, you jog along thinking you are reading the story and then suddenly your brain latches onto a flaw in one of the characters – and bang – you realise that you have that flaw too.

Much like Sister, Afterwards is a beautifully woven story that you know full well is going to play with your heartstrings.

I enjoyed the way the relationships unfolded, particularly the one between Grace and her sister-in-law; I wonder how many of us are too busy with our assumptions and prejudgements of people to bother getting to know them.

I would imagine this is a book that can only be read and intuited by a loving parent, I can’t imagine it having the same resonance unless you know without a shadow of a doubt that you would run into a burning building to save your child.

Synopsis: There is a fire and they are in there. They are in there… 

Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one mother, Grace, sees the smoke and rush. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.

Afterwards Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who’s still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.

Normal by Graeme Cameron

Normal5 Stars from me!

I grabbed this book on a whim while in Tesco and I’m so glad that I did! Normal is a brilliant read from start to finish and I have to confess I think I have a worrying crush on the main character who is quite unashamedly a sociopath.

I absolutely adored his character and also that of Erica, I felt that she could offer quite an interesting book of her own and was potentially a very suitable mate for him; although they’d both always have to sleep with one eye open. The other ladies in the book didn’t quite resonate in the same way.

I also really liked the ending although I would imagine some people may disagree – without giving anything away, I can totally see why it ended that way.

I will await with great anticipation the next book from Graeme Cameron.

Synopsis: This is a love story. No, really.

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you as you pass him and apologising with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving to let you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will–one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal…and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room…the others. He doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. One small problem – he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn’t have come at a worse time.