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?

Advertisements

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. 

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

4 Stars from me

The opening pages, ominously entitled ‘The Day of the Killing‘ absolutely sucked me in and then I was then rudely wrenched from the bloodied crime scene and dumped back in the past as the book teasingly led me back to the present day. Whose blood was it? Who had died? Who did it?

Once I got over being dragged away from the edge of your seat, high alert scene of the crime the book settled into a reasonably chronological account of the events leading up to that frantic 999 call.

Maddie has lead quite the life as a travel writer and she and her best friend Jo (who is a ballsy lady who does whatever she pleases and to hell with the consequences) get into some dangerous situations. The whole part of the story when Maddie first meets Ian gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties faced by those trying to protect and deliver aid in worn torn areas.

I loved the bits with ‘Cami-toe’, and sensed that not everything Maddie shared with us could be relied upon entirely, there are a few clues and red herrings along the way and I have to confess I thought I had guessed the ending and ‘whodunnit’ but I wasn’t quite right…

Overall, great book, gripping and thorough engaging.

 

Synopsis:

‘Ward writes with the same compelling energy as you get in a blockbuster Netflix series’ 
Daily Mail

‘Compelling. Filled with unexpected twists… a riveting read’ 
Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Wife Between Us

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

Run Away by Harlan Coben

4 Stars from me

This is a solid standalone by literary legend Harlan Coben and is a good, well orchestrated read.

Simon’s love for his family is pure and admirable and he is a man on a mission throughout this book – his mission to find and save his daughter, Paige.

The descriptive elements are lovely, having been to New York at sat where Simon sat to watch Paige I could very easily picture the area and Harlan Coben captured the feeling of the place beautifully. In fact all of his descriptive passages are highly evocative.

The emotions throughout and are and tangible and they are what pull this book up. However, there were some parts of the book where I find myself thinking ‘sorry who are these guys?’ and flicking back to try and find out who/what/why which detracted a little from the main story.

Overall, any thriller fans out there are likely to enjoy this book.

 

Synopsis:

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, quite by chance, you see her busking in New York’s Central Park.

But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is wasted, frightened and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Where criminal gangs rule, where drugs are the main currency, and murder is commonplace.

Now it’s your life on the line. And nowhere and no one is safe.

 

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…

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

4 Stars from me

I haven’t read ‘Find Her’ so am able to say with conviction that you don’t ‘need’ to have read that one for Never Tell to make sense. I can see from other reviews that it would maybe have added some depth to Flora but for me the backstory was clear anyway and I honest didn’t feel it detracted from the story in any way.

Never Tell contains some really strong and distinct female leads and pulls no punches in terms of the battles that women fight every single day – without making it preachy.

The storyline is good and strong and hooks you in from the first few pages where you meet Evie literally holding a smoking gun. I enjoyed her character and her mixed up relationship with her mum.

Flora is a whole different kettle of fish – boy has she been through the mill! She’s a great character and I’m sure ‘Find Her’ is brilliant and although I say you don’t need to have read it in order to read and enjoy ‘Never Tell’, I would suggest that if you are planning to read both then definitely read ‘Find Her’ first. The reason I say that is because now I know that Flora survived her ordeal I don’t see the point in going back in reading it – if that makes sense.

D. D. Warren is also a great character, one tiny niggle though… reading D. D. as her name throughout the book felt really clunky. Deedee or even just Dee would have been easier on the eyes.

That said, this is a great thriller and look forward to reading more from this author.

 

Synopsis: A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

5 Stars from me – can I give it 10?

It’s just bloody brilliant, go read it!

I could leave it there really, shortest review in history and truly accurate. I’ve not read anything by Steve Cavanagh before and I will now be seeking out a copy of Thirteen, the guy is a genius, mind you if I were his wife I don’t think I’d let him take out life insurance against me. Or have any sharp knives in the house. Or plastic sheeting. Or turn my back on him. Or ever sleep… Other than that, I expect it’s all good and nice and relaxed.

The writing style is superb, it is gripping, beautifully paced and has that magic quality of being ‘unputdownable’. I raced through the pages loving every twist and turn and yet desperately trying to slow down as I knew the book was coming to a conclusion.

I don’t want to give any spoilers – except maybe clear your diary and stock up on tea and biscuits – but if you enjoy a bit of clever killing with lots of twists and undercurrent of good humour then you need to read this book.

‘Kill your darlings’ love it and never has it been so true.

 

Synopsis: BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

4 Stars from me

This is a great, gritty, atmospheric thriller with an air of ‘Life on Mars’ about it owing to the timeframe of 1969. The sexism and outdated viewpoints are captured beautifully, as is the impact of and resentment towards DI McCormack when he is drafted in to find fault in the original investigative team.

The story of ‘The Quaker’ is really quite dark and frightening, it’s a wonder any women ever left home during this time, let alone went to the dance halls where he was known to prey.

I loved DI Duncan McCormack, he was a well rounded character to get to know – as was Goldie – and he holds a strong line throughout the book. There are also some great little sub plots and the time and detail taken on them is admirable and really added to the quality and craftsmanship that shines out from the pages.

The reason I have given 4 stars rather than the 5 that the quality of this story deserves is because for all the brilliance, there are regularly patches where the story lags and becomes slow. Possibly it is a writing pattern/style that I am just not familiar enough with but for me it let the book down.

Having said that, I enjoyed meeting DI Duncan McCormack and would certainly go out of my way to pick up book 2 as I look forward to reading more about him and how his future unfolds.

 

Synopsis: Glasgow, 1969. In the grip of the worst winter for years, the city is brought to its knees by a killer whose name fills the streets with fear: The Quaker. He’s taken his next victim — the third woman from the same nightclub — and dumped her in the street like rubbish. The police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. After six months, DI Duncan McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands, is ordered to join the investigation — with a view to shutting it down for good.

His arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon he learns just how difficult life can be for an outsider, for McCormack is an outcast in more ways than one. When another woman is found murdered in a tenement flat, it’s clear the case is by no means over. From ruined backstreets to the dark heart of Glasgow, McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city — and his life — forever . . .

Brilliantly crafted with great depth and nuance, The Quaker is an electrifying thriller that expertly captures the gritty atmosphere of paranoia and hopelessness in a city on the verge of a great upheaval. 

The Body on the Shore by Nick Louth

3.5 Stars from Me

I’ll start by saying I haven’t read the first book, which may mean I don’t have the full grasp of the characters and their history. I’m hovering around the 3.5 stars and I know this book has had a lot of 5 star reviews so I would imagine it is enhanced by reading the previous book and for me it certainly had gripping and unputdownable sections.

The Body on the Shore seemingly follows a few different case including that of a young, successful architect who is murdered while sat at his desk at work. A lot of focus is given to a bus full of school girls as the police attempt to establish the logistics – this felt like quite a big part of the story which I didn’t feel added much.  The dead man has an interesting past and suspicion soon falls on another employee.

A parallel story involves a well-to-do (almost too good to be true) family who reside in a manor house in Surrey with their two adopted Albanian children. The mother starts to experience some unusual and disturbing events; a trespasser, graffiti and hanging effigy in their gardens. The mother Sophie initially is taken for a time-waster and there follows a quite comical episode with her neighbour before things take a dark enough turn for DCI Craig Gillard to becomes involved as links start to be made to the murder of the architect.

In an almost surreal turn of events, DCI Craig Gillard heads to Albania where he buddies with an Albanian counterpart and seemingly dices with death on a daily basis getting frighteningly close to the heads of the Albanian mafia. If you put the plausibility to one side this part of the book is really quite fascinating and a very interesting storyline emerges.

I would definitely read another Nick Louth book and hope my review won’t put anyone off as all those 5 star reviewers can’t be wrong! But for me there were a few slow areas which is why I’ve gone with 3.5.

 

Synopsis: A killer is at work in the supposedly-safe commuter belt.  DCI Gillard needs answers, fast…

Promising architect Peter Young is shot dead at his desk. DCI Craig Gillard is quickly on the scene, looking at what appears to be a brutal and highly professional hit: two bullets, fired with ice-cold calm.

Gillard knows that the most crucial question in solving the crime is one word: Why? Two weeks later, on the Lincolnshire coast, another body is found on a windswept beach. In this case there is no identity for the young man, just a curious brand burned into his neck….

As the mystery deepens Gillard is plunged into a case without answers, finding himself up against dark forces, people who believe in only two things: blood and a warped code of honour. This time lives are on the line, children’s lives – and his own.

Written at breakneck pace with a jaw-dropping twist you won’t see coming, the suspense-filled second DCI Gillard crime thriller is perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Patricia Gibney and Faith Martin.

Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall

5 Stars From Me!

I warn you now, you will not want to put this book down.

Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall is a sure fire bestseller. It is fast paced and gripping with a killer storyline.

Much like her previous novels, the attention to detail which accompanies the story is faultless – the perfect description of the way a circle of mould sinks into the dregs of a cup of coffee, the crisp crunch of frosty grass – exquisite, essentially unnecessary details which add a sheen of excellence to an already brilliant story.

The main characters, Anna, Fran, Dominic, Ruth, Ella etc are so incredibly well defined that I feel like I know them; Anna especially so, and as such I couldn’t help but imagine their anguish and feel their pain. I would easily have raced through this book in one sitting except that I had some actual real life things to do, consequently I started it on Saturday morning and finished it in a second sitting on Sunday morning – as such I know for sure that it is compelling, addictive reading because I thought about the characters for the rest of Saturday. Unconsciously, my mind was picking away at the threads of the story trying to work out what had happened to Laurel.

As for the story itself – no spoilers from me as ever – it is relentless, it continually tests you and races from one dead end to another, it is clever, the relationships within it feel so flawed they have to be real, it is awash with red herrings (or is it…) and it is simply and utterly brilliant.

In a nutshell: if this lady so much as writes a shopping list, I want to read it.

Don’t hang around reading this review, seriously you are wasting time just go and buy the book already!

 

Synopsis: Bonfire Night. A missing girl. Anna only takes her eyes off Laurel for a second. She thought Laurel was following her mum through the crowds. But in a heartbeat, Laurel is gone.

Laurel’s parents are frantic. As is Anna, their nanny. But as the hours pass, and Laurel isn’t found, suspicion grows.

Someone knows what happened to Laurel. And they’re not telling.

Have You Seen Her is the breath-taking new thriller with a killer twist from bestseller Lisa Hall.

Praise for Lisa Hall:

‘A dark, compelling read that demands to be read in one sitting.’ Sam Carrington

‘Compelling, addictive… brilliant!’ B A Paris

‘This is an unrelenting and scarily plausible story weaved expertly around some very real characters. Good luck putting it down…’ Heat

‘An addictive read.’ Closer

‘This is a fast-paced book, and with twists up until the final page, you won’t regret investing in it.’ Woman Magazine

‘Breathlessly fast-paced and cleverly unsettling, this thriller about a couple trying to escape their past is the very definition of unputdownable.’ Heat