The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

5 Stars from me

Such an epic read – I really can see this one as a standalone film, it has everything: love, lust, fear, threat, cults, family, loss, abuse, a shootout, WMD, kidnapping and more heros than you can shake a stick at.

The Last Widow is exciting, fast paced, a bit cheesy and I loved it!

I still remember reading the book from Karin Slaughter where Jeffery was killed and thinking ‘what has she done!’, at that point Sara was a bit of a nothing character for me and Jeffery was the star of the show, I just couldn’t see where she could take the books from there. But suffice it to say, Will Trent more than fills Jeffery’s shoes and he makes for a fascinating male lead.

I would say this would make a fabulous holiday read as you need to suspend belief a little bit and immerse yourself in the pages – go on, you won’t regret it!

Synopsis: From the No.1 bestselling author comes a gripping new crime thriller featuring Will Trent and Sara Linton.

It begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end…they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.

A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens.

Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs – their vocations – mean that they run towards a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiralled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian mountains, to the terrible truth about what really happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind…

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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?

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…

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

5 Stars from me

What a fabulous book! The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell is a really refreshing and original read – it is literally brimming with layered storylines which pull you along as you turn the pages ever more equally enthralled and appalled.

At one point it literally felt as though the story contained no redeeming characters at all (except Miller, he was ace) as greater wickedness, selfishness, abuse and depravity unfolded. Wow what appalling people the Thomsens were and how utterly weak the Lambs.

The Family Upstairs has it all, the reader is taken on a veritable roller coaster ride as Libby finds herself a millionaire (isn’t that child’s dream scenario?) but also uncovers a million questions about her family and exactly what went on in Cheyne Walk. The cult style takeover of the Thomsens was horrible and yet must be some true to what actually happens in those type of situations that we know are all too real. The children who live in the house – whether Lambs or Thomsens are dark souls and I guess a sad product of their awful environment. Across the pond, Lucy’s tale is equally unpleasant and we follow her along the way as all roads seem to lead the Cheyne Walk and the 25th birthday of ‘the baby’.

Brilliant characterisation throughout and an utterly gripping – if a little disturbing – read.

Synopsis:You thought they were just staying for the weekend. They looked harmless enough – with only two suitcases and a cat in a wicker box.

But soon things turn very, very dark. It happens slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly.

Now you and your sister must find a way to survive…

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

5 Stars from me

Is it wrong that I felt so sorry for Mike?

Frankly these two, Mike and Verity, are both as bad as each other and although Verity does appear to end up being ‘the victim’ she was most certainly the instigator for a massive amount of time and pretty much created the man that Mike became.

Their ‘Crave’ game was dangerous and depraved and yet it turned them both on… with Verity getting as much out of it as Mike which says so much about her and what makes her tick. Would she ever have been truly happy with a man like Angus?

I don’t want to give out any spoilers but let’s say the necklace surprised me and made me question the truth. Maybe (definitely I guess) Mike needs some psychological help but then again maybe Verity wants to have her cake and eat it by still pressing his buttons?

Although dark and disturbing this was a fabulous and compelling read, which left me with lots of unanswered questions, which I can well see being turned into a film – I will look out for more by Araminta Hall.

Synopsis: VERITY
Things were difficult with Mike by the end. He was too much, too controlling – sometimes, I was afraid of him. But I’ve moved on now. I’m getting married to the man of my dreams – he looks after me, but he doesn’t stifle me. Mike and the games we used to play – that’s all in the past now.

It’s time to move on.
Mike and I are finished.

MIKE
It was just a matter of time until she came back to me. After what I did, maybe she’s right to make me wait. But Verity knows how sorry I am. And the messages she sends me, the way she calls me, the way she acted last time I saw her – no-one acts like that if they’ve stopped caring.

She’ll be mine again.
No matter who stands in my way.

I Spy by Claire Kendal

4 Stars from me

I have a bit of an unusual situation with this book… I opened it on Kindle, flicked through the first few title pages and began reading. I was struck by how a notion of arriving right in the story, but it alternated between ‘now’, ‘then’ ‘one year later’ etc etc so it didn’t seem abnormal. However, when I went to put the book down I realised it was showing as 73% on the Kindle. Initially I thought this was a glitch but the next day when I went back to the book I realised that I had somehow started the book at about 60% through, no idea how, it’s never happened before. At this stage there seemed little point going back to the beginning so I carried on and finished the book.

Therefore, my review is a little odd as it is essentially based purely on the last 40% of the book! I’m assuming the slight confusion I felt with placing people and names is entirely down to missing a huge chunk of the story and as such I would say I really enjoyed the bits I read.

Holly/Helen is a sad soul but very determined and I liked her. I liked George too although Zac was hard to fathom, I get the impression he may have been a bit of an arse in the bits I missed and yet the Zac at the end seemed a genuinely nice guy.

Very difficult to form any true opinion from the portion I’ve read but the writing style is nice and the cliff scene was well described. I would certainly read more (ha ha maybe even the whole book) by Claire Kendal.

Synopsis: Someone is watching your every move…

Holly Lawrence always wanted to be a spy, but the experience proved more dangerous than anything she imagined. Now, Holly lives in hiding under an assumed name. She avoids relationships and trusts no one.

But Holly’s new life begins to unravel when she encounters a young mother and her two-year-old child… a child who reminds her of a past she has tried hard to forget. This time, someone is spying on her, and Holly will need to decide how far she is willing to go to survive.

A psychological thriller unlike anything you’ve read before…

The Girl Before You by Nicola Rayner

3 stars from me

I can’t put my finger on why but I struggled to get into this book, I couldn’t engage with the characters and found the whole uni sexuality thing over egged and drawn out.

George just came across as a bit of an arrogant arse and I struggled to see who anyone could become so infatuated with him, let alone all these obviously beautiful and intelligent women.

I can see the book has a lot of great reviews and I guess I just missed something with this one but it’s not for me.

Synopsis: She was his. She was perfect. And then, she was gone.

Alice has always been haunted by the women from her husband’s past. As an MP and now a TV personality, George Bell’s reputation as a ladies’ man precedes him. But when Alice falls pregnant, her unease becomes an obsession.

And there’s one ex in particular she can’t get out of her head: a beautiful student George dated in his first year, who went missing before they finished university. Ruth.

When Alice sees a woman who looks just like Ruth, she can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to her disappearance than George has been telling her. But does she really want to know what her husband has been getting up to behind her back all these years?

An addictive and twisting psychological suspense that will have fans of Shari Lapena and Ruth Ware hooked.

 

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

5 stars from me

This is a proper creepy little tale! I loved all the sinister little Grimms’ Fairy Tales references and the unsettling nature of the entire books which leads you through ‘is this real or is she unwell?’, it is very cleverly done.

Little Darlings has the perfect storm of components – a determined cop, a questionable reporter, a shady husband, a neurotic mother, doubting professionals and a sprinkling of pure fear! As the story developed I found myself questioning everyone – except our determined cop Jo Harper – but everyone else came under suspicion in my mind, especially those babies!

Really great book which kept me turning pages until the end. I won’t give any spoilers but would love to know what you thought of the ending!

 

Synopsis: “Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

THE TWINS ARE CRYING. 
THE TWINS ARE HUNGRY.

LAUREN IS CRYING. 
LAUREN IS EXHAUSTED.

Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey

5 Stars from me!

I haven’t read anything by Jane Casey before so I had no idea what to expect from Cruel Acts and I was very pleasantly surprised by this dark and nasty little tale.

Cruel Acts is aptly named and packed full with deeply disturbing characters and a very clever plot. Balanced by some genuinely pleasant interactions between Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent who make for a pretty much perfect leading pair.

Even though this is book 8 it worked very well as a standalone (or could equally have been book 1 as it so obviously begged to be part of series) which is of huge testament to the skills of Jane Casey.

I thoroughly enjoyed Cruel Acts and look forward to enjoying the series from book 1.

Synopsis: From award-winning author Jane Casey comes another powerful Maeve Kerrigan crime thriller which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page!

Leo Stone is a killer. A year ago, he was convicted of murdering two women and sentenced to life without parole. But now, a juror from his trial has revealed the jury was prejudiced, and a retrial is called.

Detectives Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent are tasked with re-examining the evidence. Before long, they uncover links between Stone and a possible third victim.

But with Stone behind bars, a fourth woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer out there, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start? And will Maeve discover the truth before another innocent victim is killed?

Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse

4 stars from me

I really felt for Lennie throughout this book – what a great kid!

Robin is her own worst enemy, she never quite knows when enough is enough, when to rely on other people and when to keep her mouth shut! But she pays one hell of a price for her actions and so does poor Lennie.

I thought Critical Incidents was a really solid 4 – the blend of investigations, intrigue and characterisation was spot on and the humiliation of being back in her childhood bedroom was tangible.

The storyline appears simple to start with but gets more complex as you read on, it certainly keeps you guessing and needing to keep on turning pages!

The only character I really struggled with is Luke, especially so at the very end, not sure at all of his motivation?

 

Synopsis: A gripping literary thriller and the first of a new crime series, from the bestselling author of Before We Met

Detective Inspector Robin Lyons is going home.

Dismissed for misconduct from the Met’s Homicide Command after refusing to follow orders, unable to pay her bills (or hold down a relationship), she has no choice but to take her teenage daughter Lennie and move back in with her parents in the city she thought she’d escaped forever at 18.

In Birmingham, sharing a bunkbed with Lennie and navigating the stormy relationship with her mother, Robin works as a benefit-fraud investigator – to the delight of those wanting to see her cut down to size.

Only Corinna, her best friend of 20 years, seems happy to have Robin back. But when Corinna’s family is engulfed by violence and her missing husband becomes a murder suspect, Robin can’t bear to stand idly by as the police investigate. Can she trust them to find the truth of what happened? And why does it bother her so much that the officer in charge is her ex-boyfriend – the love of her teenage life?

As Robin launches her own unofficial investigation and realises there may be a link to the disappearance of a young woman, she starts to wonder how well we can really know the people we love – and how far any of us will go to protect our own.