Degrees of Guilt by H S Chandler

5 Stars from me

Absolutely brilliant, I loved it!

Degrees of Guilt is a clever a thought provoking legal thriller / courtroom drama. It is packed full of emotion, soul searching questions and dilemmas.

There are some fabulous characters, not least of all Maria who is on trial for the attempted murder of her husband – and who is gutted that he didn’t die.

The jurors are a mixed bunch (I guess that’s the point) and I loved ‘the Tabithas’. Lottie, Cameron and Jack make for interesting reading as their characters and relationships develop. I was a little disappointed with Lottie but it gives a good example of how susceptible women (and men too I’m sure) are to the attentions of an attractive stranger when their own life is lacking a little in excitement.

Cameron… well I won’t say too much about him other than very interesting!

I absolutely loved the emotional roller coaster that this book took me on and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. Highly compelling and thoroughly entertaining.

So, was she guilty? You’ll have to read it find out!

Synopsis: ‘A compelling legal thriller – I loved it’ Katerina Diamond, Sunday Times bestseller

‘Timely, anger-inducing and very powerful – it’s excellent’ Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange

When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

A gripping, sexy and twisty novel for readers who devoured ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, APPLE TREE YARD and HE SAID/SHE SAID.

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When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies

4 Stars from me

A book of two distinct halves which wrap around each other – one following the present day police investigation into the death of a baby – and one following the fate of two young girls who were in care 30 years ago.

I found the storyline featuring the care system, and the two girls trying desperately to find love in all the wrong places, to be by far the more compelling and would happily have read more about their tragic lives. It put me in mind of the recently televised documents regarding the mystery surrounding the disappearance and suspected murder of Charlene Downes.

Concentration is a must with this book and I did find myself muddled a couple of times when reading the present day police investigation side of things. Having said that, the main characters throughout the book are well crafted and highly engaging.

I really enjoyed When I Lost You and look forward to more from this author.

Synopsis: When a young couple are the lead suspects for the murder of their only child, Crime Analyst Carla Brown and DS Nell Jackson are assigned to investigate.

The evidence seems conclusive, but something just doesn’t feel right.

The case is quickly cast into doubt when the lead forensic pathologist starts receiving threatening letters – containing details only the police should know.

Who’s sending them? What do they want? And how did they get hold of the information?

As Carla and Nell dig deeper, it soon becomes clear that this case isn’t the first of its kind.

They must stop at nothing to find the truth – even if it hits close to home.

FORMER CRIME ANALYST MERILYN DAVIES BRINGS TO LIFE A GRITTY, HEART-STOPPING CRIME THRILLER THAT WILL HAVE YOU UTTERLY OBSESSED

‘A compelling page-turner – assured, fresh, engrossing. I can’t wait to read more about Nell and Carla.’ – Mel Sherratt

Who Killed Ruby by Camilla Way

4 Stars from me

As the title suggests, this book is very much centred around the question ‘Who Killed Ruby?’. Ruby was Vivienne’s older sister who was murdered when they were children – with very young Vivienne’s testimony being the key to the conviction of Jack Delaney.

We meet Vivienne as an adult with a 14 year old daughter and a string of failed relationships. At first life seems to be going pretty ok for Viv as on the surface of things she has a successful business, a loving daughter, great friends and nice home. However, as the anniversary of her sister’s death approaches, things start to go wrong.

Who Killed Ruby follows Vivienne through a journey into the past which seems the only way to save her daughter from the same fate as her sister – but is the answer already in her head?

Clever little psychological thriller, packed full of red herrings and a proper thriller!

Synopsis:

The gripping new psychological thriller from Camilla Way, author of Watching Edie and The Lies We Told

You never know what’s going on behind closed doors…

If you passed it on the street, you’d see an ordinary London townhouse. You might wonder about the people who live there, assume they’re just like you.

But inside a family is trapped in a nightmare. In the kitchen, a man lies dead on the blood-soaked floor. Soon the police will come, and they’ll want answers.

Perhaps they’ll believe the family’s version of events – that this man is a murderer who deserved to die.

But would that be the truth?

Black Summer by M W Craven

5 Stars from me!

Even better than The Puppet Show!

Black Summer is packed full of brilliant characters – including old favourites Tilly Bradshaw and Washington Poe – Jefferson Black was a fab newcomer and I’d love to read more about him.

Be warned, the opening chapter is more than a little bit grim… maybe don’t read it while eating dinner!

I love the scenic imagery from these books too and especially that around Poe’s home. The little twist regarding his home in this book is interesting and I look forward to seeing how that pans out in the future.

The relationship between Tilly and Poe is lovely, very simple and respectful and they make for a great team.

I love Poe’s (classic old school detective) style of walking the line with his superiors and I appreciate how much time the author has taken to make all characters throughout the book into solid tangible people rather than just bit players.

This is fast becoming one of my favourite series and I can’t wait to see what is next from M W Craven.

synopsis: After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

I Looked Away by Jane Corry

5 Stars from me

Jane Corry has deftly captured the devastation that a childhood trauma can have upon a whole life in I Looked Away. Some people in this world just don’t have much luck and poor old Ellie is certainly one of them! The book follows Ellie from a young girl in a ‘normal’ family all the way through to her becoming and grandmother and along the way she endures some pretty awful events. Most people would be unlikely to go through one of the things Ellie has to cope with and yet this poor lady attracts trouble like a magnet. Unfortunately, so very close to the truth as early childhood trauma often has a lifelong impact.

There are several converging threads throughout the book and I read the ‘young Ellie’ thread pretty much wanting to put the book down and walk away as it was somewhat evident where it was heading and I just wanted to avoid it!

The homelessness elements of the book I thought were also brilliantly portrayed – whether people realise it or not most of us are only ever a few steps away from homelessness, it can happen in such a variety of ways and yet as a society we simply do not do enough to help those in need.

Overall a sad but fabulous ‘wicked stepmother’ tale with a twist – I loved it!

Synopsis: Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anything else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swore it was over, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.

Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And for just a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. The accident that happens will change her life forever.

Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.

And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder…

A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty

4 stars from me

Harper McClain is a fab character who has turned my viewpoint of reporters on its head. Usually the ‘hacks’ are blood thirsty vultures portrayed as despicable figures feasting on the raw misery of others, whereas Harper brings a whole new take to the role.

She is a great character anyway, and highly likeable, but her reason for chasing the story comes across as helpful, caring and to the benefit of the victim, their family and the investigative team – it’s made me think again about journalists.

Great story, I loved how and where it was set and I will certainly look out for more by this author.

Synopsis: From Christi Daugherty, author of The Echo Killing, comes another pulse-pounding suspenseful thriller featuring crime reporter Harper McClain.

For a woman, being killed by someone who claims to love her is the most ordinary murder of all.

With its antebellum houses and ancient oak trees draped in a veil of Spanish moss, Savannah’s graceful downtown is famous around the world. When a woman is killed in the heart of that affluent district, the shock is felt throughout the city. But for crime reporter Harper McClain, this story is personal. The corpse has a familiar face.

Only twenty-four years old, Naomi Scott was just getting started. A law student, tending bar to make ends meet, she wanted to change the world. Instead, her life ended in the dead of night at the hands of an unseen gunman. There are no witnesses to the crime. The police have three suspects: Scott’s boyfriend, who has a criminal past he claims he’s put behind him, her boss, who stalked another young bartender two years ago, and the district attorney’s son, who Naomi dated until their relationship ended in acrimony. All three men claim to love her. Could one of them be her killer?

With the whole city demanding answers, Harper unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy. But the pressures on her go beyond the murder. The newspaper is facing more layoffs. Her boss fears both their jobs are on the line. And Harper begins to realize that someone is watching her every move. Someone familiar and very dangerous.

Someone who told her to run before it’s too late…

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?