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…

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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 The sexism and outdated viewpoints are captured beautifully, as is the impact of and resentment towards DI McCormack when he is drafted in to find fault in the original investigative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

Don’t You Cry by Cass Green

5 Stars from me

I loved this book from start to finish, it was thoroughly enjoyable.

I hadn’t read the synopsis before reading the book so the whole storyline was a surprise for me which I think made it even more enjoyable.

Nina is a great character, I really liked her and she held my sympathies throughout. I even found myself liking her cliched twat of an ex-husband and I usually hate those cheating b******* on principle so hats off to Cass Green for excellent characterisation all round. Especially so for the one person I hated! No spoilers…

This book takes some wonderful twists and turns and I recommend reading it in one or two sittings so that you can really immerse yourself in this bizarre little tale. As well as racing through the pages, I appreciated the moments of gentle good humour and how cleverly written it was to include such subject depth within a fast paced and gripping tale.

I’m off to look up more books by Cass Green as I simply adored her writing style.

 

Synopsis: One stolen baby. Two desperate strangers. One night of terror.

The USA Today and Sunday Times top ten bestselling author returns with a dark and twisty psychological thriller.

She saved your life.
When Nina almost dies during a disastrous blind date, her life is saved by a waitress called Angel. But later that evening, Nina is surprised by a knock on the door. It’s Angel – and she’s pointing a gun at her.

Now she’ll make you pay.
Minutes later, Angel’s younger brother Lucas turns up, covered in blood shielding a stolen newborn baby in his arms. Nina is about to endure the longest night of her life – a night that will be filled with terror and lead her to take risks she would never have believed herself capable of…

A Cold Day In Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond

4 stars from me

I really enjoyed A Cold Day in Hell, I don’t think I’ve read anything by Lisa Marie Redmond before so it feels extra special to have found another author whose work I would like to follow.

Lauren and her partner Reese make for a great team and I enjoyed their relationship throughout the book. The moral conflict hovering just beneath the surface virtually the whole way through was excellent and there were many occasions where I found myself wondering what I would do in Lauren’s situation.

I’m a sucker for a cold case (love New Tricks and Silent Witness etc) and I will definitely be looking out for more books by Lissa Marie Redmond.

The ‘men can’t resist Lauren’ thing I found a little bit unnecessary… Maybe it was just overegged a little?

Synopsis: Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from her nemesis, slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he’s begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding that case—until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.

To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt starts to lurk on every corner . . . and so does her stalker. 

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C J Tudor

4 Stars from me!

What a fabulous, creepy little book!

I was drawn in from the very first page and flew threw this book because I just didn’t want to put it down.

It was creepy, chilling in places, had a good build up of suspense, a few twists and turns and some really likeable characters. In fact, the attention to detail surrounding the characters and the effort taken to flesh them out is what made this book so brilliant for me.

If you have a book lover in your life, who enjoys a bit of unnerving escapism, this is probably the perfect Christmas gift!

 

Synopsis: When Joe Thorne was fifteen, his little sister, Annie, disappeared. At the time, Joe thought it was the worst thing in the world that could ever happen. And then she came back.

Now Joe has returned to the village where he grew up, to work as a teacher at the failing Arnhill Academy. Not an act of altruism, but desperation. Joe has bad debts – and bad people – he needs to escape. He also has an anonymous email: I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again.

But coming back to the place he grew up, means facing the people he grew up with, and the things they did. Five friends: Joe, Stephen Hurst, Marie Gibson, Nick Fletcher and Chris Manning. They were the five who were there that night. Something they haven’t spoken about in 25 years.
Coming back means opening old wounds, and confronting old enemies and Joe is about to discover that places, like people, have secrets. The deeper you go, the darker they get.
And sometimes, you should never come back.

Down to the Woods by M J Arlidge

5 Stars from me!

I’ve been hooked on the MJ Arlidge books since Eeny Meeny and I love the DI Helen Grace character so I was super excited to realise that book 8 was available to read!

Down to the Woods is yet another cracker in this well executed (no pun intended, honest) series. It has a solid storyline and still manages to weave in elements for the personal lives of Grace and her team. In fact it was good to witness a softer side to some of the characters.

It was good to meet a new player in the team – DS Joseph Hudson – and the relationship between him and Grace is interesting. I feel there is a lot more to come in future books regarding his past and his reasons behind joining the team.

Small confession… I hadn’t actually realised before the M J Arlidge is a man! It kinda makes sense in that Grace is, or at least can be, quite a masculine woman. Or do I now think that because I know Arlidge is a man?!

There are some wonderful scenes in this book, along with the fast paced chase, the beauty vs terror of the New Forest and the grit and determination of hunter and hunted, there is also the deep love between a parent and a child and the soul searching that must be faced in one of life’s most difficult of decisions.

Loved it and highly recommended – although I suggest a visit to the first book in the DI Grace series first and then enjoy reading your way through them all.

 

Synopsis: THE EIGHTH DI HELEN GRACE THRILLER BY BESTSELLING AUTHOR M. J. ARLIDGE

There is a sickness in the forest. First, it was the wild horses. Now it’s innocent men and women, hunted down and murdered by a faceless figure. Lost in the darkness, they try to flee, they try to hide. In desperation, they call out for help. But there is no-one to hear their cries here…

DI Helen Grace must face down a new nightmare. The arrow-ridden victims hang from the New Forest’s ancient oaks, like pieces of strange fruit. Why are helpless holidaymakers being targeted in peak camping season? And what do their murders signify? Is a psychopath stalking the forest? Is there an occult element to the killings? Could the murders even be an offering to the Forest itself? Helen must walk into the darkness to discover the truth behind her most challenging, most macabre case yet.

M J Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace books in order:

Eeny Meeny by MJ ArlidgeEeny Meeny

The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it. Days later, another desperate escapee is found – and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.

Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors – living calling cards – who hold the key to the case. And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die…

 

 

 

DI Helen Grace books in orderPop Goes the Weasel

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton’s red light district – horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed. Hours later – and barely cold – the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.

A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards.The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes.

For Grace, only one thing is certain: there’s a vicious serial killer at large who must be halted at all costs…

 

 

 

 

The Doll's House by MJ ArlidgeThe Doll’s House

A woman wakes. Immediately she knows she’s not in the bed she slept in. It’s just the beginning of her nightmare.

Across town, a child discovers a woman’s body buried beneath the beach. Then another victim is found. Neither friends nor family had even reported either woman missing. How could their killer be getting away with murder?

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it’s chilling evidence that she’s hunting a monster who’s not just twisted, but clever and careful. And as Helen struggles to understand the killer’s motivation she realizes that time might be running out for someone still alive…

 

 

 

Liar Liar by MJ ArlidgeLiar Liar

In the dead of night, three raging fires light up the city skies. It’s more than a tragic coincidence. For DI Helen Grace the flames announce the arrival of an evil she has never encountered before. Because this is no firestarter seeking sick thrills, but something more chilling: a series of careful, calculating acts of murder.

But why were the victims chosen? What’s driving the killer? And who will be next?

A powder keg of fear, suspicion and dread has been laid. Now all it needs is a spark to set it off…

 

 

 

 

Little Boy Blue by MJ Arlidge

Little Boy Blue

Called to a Southampton nightclub, DI Helen Grace cuts the duct tape from the asphyxiated victim and discovers she knows him. A man from the double life she has concealed from her superiors, Helen is determined to find his murderer – while keeping their relationship hidden at all costs.

When a new victim is found, Helen works around the clock to stop her life unravelling. She’ll do anything to solve this case – but dare she reveal her own darkest secrets and lose everything?

And would even that be enough to stop this killer?

 

 

 

 

mj arlidge books in orderHide and Seek

Helen awaits trial in a crumbling women’s prison in Southampton. She has a fight on to prove her innocence from inside her prison cell, but this soon turns out to be the least of her worries.

A serial killer is picking off fellow inmates, thriving in an environment where there is truly nowhere to run. Is it a criminal giving in to their dark urges or a member of the prison staff preying on the captive population?

Helen must work fast to reveal this devious killer, all the time wondering if she will be next on her list…

 

 

 

 

 

DI Helen Grace books in orderLove Me Not

A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a cold-blooded killing. But why would anyone target a much-loved wife and mother?

Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?

Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking. If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own…

 

 

 

 

 

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?

The Second Sister by Claire Kendal

4 stars from me

This book really put me in mind of Sister by Rosamund Lupton (which I loved), but rest assured it is different enough to be well worth reading.

Ella Brooke is a great character and I really enjoyed the chemistry between her and Ted (spoiler alert) I was quite sad that he had betrayed her and it was left unresolved as to whether they would get back together – I so wanted them to get back together!

The story itself is a sad little tale beautifully brought to life by Claire Kendal. It was a book of two halves for me, it seemed to jog along quite nicely and then all of I sudden it was a roller coaster ride to the conclusion. I really found myself reading faster and faster towards the end as I had to find out what happened.

Very enjoyable read and if you read it and enjoy it I very much urge you to read Sister.

 

Synopsis: An obsessive quest to solve the mystery of her older sister’s disappearance puts a young woman in mortal jeopardy in this taut, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense from the author of the “truly riveting” (New York Times) The Book of You. An intoxicating cocktail of loyalty and secrets, lies and betrayal, reminiscent of Rosamund Lupton’s Sister and Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia.

A decade ago, Ella Brooke’s older sister, Miranda, vanished without a trace. With every passing year, Ella has come to resemble more closely the sister she lost—the same dark hair, the same piercing blue eyes—and now she’s the same age Miranda was when she disappeared.

Ella has never let go of her sister. She can still feel Miranda’s presence, still hear her voice. She still talks to her. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister’s ten-year-old son and her work as a self-defense expert helping victims.

Ella is certain that Miranda was taken, and that one man is key to her disappearance: Jason Thorne. The tabloids report that a new link has been found connecting Miranda to this sadistic serial killer locked away in a psychiatric hospital. Ignoring warnings from the police and the disapproval of her parents, she seeks Thorne out. Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth—no matter how dangerous…