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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The Puppet Show by M W Craven

5 Stars from me

I had read and seen so many sparkling reviews for this book that I simply had to read it. All too often this is a path which leads to disappointment but The Puppet Show by M W Craven was a welcome exception.

The storyline, albeit gruesome and unpleasant, is strong which makes a solid base for some superb imagery and scene scene setting as we track a serial killer through the beautiful Lake District. I wasn’t sure what to make of Poe to start with but I really warmed to him (no pun intended) as the book progressed and Tilly was a delightful addition to this somewhat dark tale.

A thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read with a gentle humour running alongside the depravity of the story, I look forward to reading more by M W Craven and after I heard a whisper that Black Summer was appearing on netgalley and went straight there but seem to have missed it – another testimony to the excellence of The Puppet Show as it must have been snapped up within minutes!

Synopsis: A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive…

Fatal Fortune by Miranda Rijks

4 Stars from me!

Fatal Fortune hooks you at the very beginning as Dr Pippa Durrant learns that her photo is being splashed across the media stating that she is brutally murdered lottery winner Leanne Smith. At this early stage we meet her brother who sounds like an absolute sweetheart and get a glimpse into her troubled personal life.

Pippa is well respected and busy psychologist who has a healthy business and a fractured family – with the exception of her much beloved dog Mungo. She has never met Leanne Smith and yet the murdered woman’s family have clearly confirmed to the police that the photo is of Leanne, but why?

The book also focuses heavily on the life of Donna – Leanne’s daughter – and her somewhat questionable husband Ricky. Donna seems quite a naive creature and it is easy to feel sympathy for her… although her life and her morals soon come into question.

Very soon there is a whole raft of potential suspects – including Leanne’s father – and DS Joe Swain is brought in to try and solve the case. Is this the first in a series featuring Pippa and Joe? A few sparks seem to fly between them as they do the age old ‘will they, won’t they’ dance… or is he just using her to gauge reactions of his other suspects?

Soon things seem to start going wrong for Pippa and then there is another murder, the tension builds nicely and there are a few moments of potential peril for Pippa who seems quite carefree with her own safety.

This books felt to me like a roller coaster that chugged and chugged its way up to the peak and then suddenly tipped over into free fall as the plot cleverly weaves around itself and killer is finally revealed!

I would also heartily recommend I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks and would like to thank Emma from Damp Pebbles for the opportunity to take part in the Fatal Fortune blog tour.

Synopsis: Is someone trying to frame psychologist Pippa Durrant for the brutal murder of a woman she’s never even met?

It certainly seems that way when Pippa’s photo is found on the body of murdered lottery winner, Leanne Smith.

Pippa soon finds herself a suspect at the centre of a huge media storm. But she has an invaluable skill set – she is a human polygraph, expertly trained to spot lies and deceit. Skills she will need to help her to solve the mystery of who killed Leanne before it destroys her career – and her life.

But every cloud has a silver lining and this one arrives in the shape of DS Joe Swain. Initially suspicious of Pippa, he comes to trust her and to value her lie detection skills. Soon it’s clear there’s a definite spark between them….

Then, when another body turns up, Pippa realises her reputation isn’t the only thing in danger. Can she identify the killer before she becomes the next victim?

Fatal Fortune is the electrifying first book in the Dr. Pippa Durrant Thriller Series. If you like edge-of-your-seat action, clever sleuths, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Miranda Rijks’ gripping crime novel.

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. 

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.