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. 

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Eye for Eye by J K Franko

5 Stars from me

What is it they say about not judging a book by its cover… Well with a cover as striking as this one I couldn’t help but be intrigued and Book 1 of the Talion Series – Eye for Eye by JK Franko did not disappoint.

Eye for Eye has it all from murder, mystery, clever cover ups and hidden secrets to police questioning, allegations of rape and many questions of morality along the way. The characters are well defined and relatable and the scene imagery is stunning, you’ll see for yourself when you read it but there are so many descriptive passages that leap off the page and into your mind.

Although this is primarily a crime thriller, there is a subtle undercurrent of a wicked sense of humour throughout which particularly appealed to me.

This is a beautifully crafted example of an intelligent thriller. I can honestly say I was hooked from the first few pages of the book and I can’t wait for the next one in the series; this debut author has truly made his mark.

As ever, no spoilers from me!

If having a brilliant book isn’t enough, there is a brilliant book launch coming up soon too – details are here if you fancy coming along to Covent Garden https://jkfranko.com/2019/03/01/limited-vip-fan-tickets-giveaway-be-part-of-the-story-at-eye-for-eyes-london-book-launch/

 

Synopsis: When I first met Susie, she appeared to be a normal, happily-married woman dealing with tragedy.

Then, I uncovered her secrets.

While I could understand everything that she’d done, I could never approve.

But, knowing what she was capable of, it became clear that if I was going to survive her, I had to play by her rules.

And, the first and most important rule is… leave no singing bones.

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…

Kill For Me by Rebecca Bradley

5 Stars from me!

Such a brilliant concept! I feel like I’ve waited for a book like this one, without knowing I was doing it. It packs a punch from the first few pages and keeps hitting right till the end.

The storyline is genius, puts me in mind of Needful Things, it is simple yet oh so clever and really challenges you to think ‘what would I do?’. Rebecca Bradley has created the perfect thriller.

I raced through this book, work became an annoying impingement on my available reading time as I sped through the pages.

The characters – from old favourites Hannah and Aaron, to single mum Lucy and the rest of the pawns in this game are all so well defined that they feel like people you know.

Can’t praise it enough. Witty, intelligent and fast paced – what more could I ask for.

Synopsis: A deadly game. An unstoppable killer. The perfect alibi.

Lucy Anderson is late collecting her daughter from nursery. A mistake that could prove fatal.  
Her daughter is gone and there is only one way Lucy can get her back. The ransom is simple, she has to kill someone…

And this is just the beginning. A deadly game with a domino effect has started as the real killer forces others to do his bidding.

Can detective inspector Hannah Robbins find the killer’s next puppet before they’re forced to strike or will this be the case where her opponent has found the perfect way to kill?

Pick up Kill For Me for impossible choices and moral dilemmas and see where you would fall.

For fans of Peter James and Angela Marsons.

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. 

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

Dead If You Don’t by Peter James

5 Stars from me!

The fact this is the 14th book in the series certainly hasn’t diminished it’s shine. For me, one of the signs of a great author is whether or not they can make you care if someone lives or dies and I found myself racing through the pages desperately hoping that Mungo would survive his ordeal.

Peter James seemingly captures everything in this novel, his references are all current, his knowledge and detail are incredible and – while Roy Grace is like a comfy pair of slippers – the story is fast paced, interesting and exciting. I can’t recommend these books enough. If you are new to this series, I envy you enormously as you’ve got 14 fabulous books to read through!

 

Synopsis: Roy Grace, creation of the CWA Diamond Dagger award winning author Peter James, faces his most complex case yet in Dead If You Don’t.

Kipp Brown, successful businessman and compulsive gambler, is having the worst run of luck of his life. He’s beginning to lose, big style. However, taking his teenage son, Mungo, to their club’s Saturday afternoon football match should have given him a welcome respite, if only for a few hours. But it’s at the stadium where his nightmare begins.

Within minutes of arriving at the game, Kipp bumps into a client. He takes his eye off Mungo for a few moments, and in that time, the boy disappears. Then he gets the terrifying message that someone has his child, and to get him back alive, Kipp will have to pay.

Defying instruction not to contact the police, Kipp reluctantly does just that, and Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is brought in to investigate. At first it seems a straightforward case of kidnap. But rapidly Grace finds himself entering a dark, criminal underbelly of the city, where the rules are different and nothing is what it seems . . .

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…