Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell #bookreview blog tour @Caroline_writes @BOTBSPublicity

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell on my blog today. With thanks to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part.

BLURB

A victim on display. A detective on the rails.

Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.

This is no stunt. A post-mortem reveals the victim was left to die on her macabre throne for all to see. When a second victim is found, it emerges that both women were ‘Sugar Babes’ arranging dates with older men online—and Amy finds herself hunting an accomplished psychopath.

As she tracks down the killer, Amy’s instincts go into overdrive when the charismatic head of the agency behind the display makes no attempt to hide his fascination with her serial-killer parents. What exactly does he want from Amy? With her own world in freefall as her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, appeals her conviction, Amy pushes the boundaries of police procedure when a third ‘Sugar Babe’ disappears…Is she as much at risk as the killer’s victims?

MY THOUGHTS

Left For Dead is another tense thriller in Caroline Mitchell’s DI Amy Winter series. In the opening chapters, by accident, Amy Winter comes across the body of a young woman in a shop’s display window. The macabre discovery sparks an intense police investigation. But what strikes Amy is a significant link between this killing and the killing of a teacher decades earlier. The culprit behind the murder has remained at large ever since. It seems that this is the start of a new killing spree, and the killer is willing to do anything to make sure they goes undetected.

What made this book really intriguing is that we know who the killer is very early on in the novel and if anything, I found this made the story even more tense. We can see how keen they are to make sure that they aren’t discovered as the culprit behind the crimes. What is even more disturbing is the lengths they are willing to go to make this certain. Amy Winter has a hunch who they are, but with a suspect already in custody, she knows it is going to be very difficult to convince her colleagues that they’ve got the wrong person. This means that Amy will have to do a lot of work on her own, and it’ll mean going against the orders and advice of her superiors.

What I liked about this book was Amy’s growing relationship with her boss, although I do wonder as they work closely together whether this will have an impact on their relationship. But I am interested to see where Caroline Mitchell will take this. Another part of the story which feeds into this book is Amy’s relationship with her birth mother, serial killer Lillian Grimes. This is a really tense part of the narrative as you are never sure what hand Lillian is going to play next. Her retrial is fast approaching and Amy is willing to do anything that she possibly can to stop her mother from being released. It appears that Lillian is playing games with her family and all of a sudden it seems possible that she’ll soon be walking free.

As Amy gets closer to catching the killer, Caroline Mitchell continues to raise the tension. You know that Amy is risking her career by doing this, but all that matters to Amy is getting justice for the victims, and making sure that this despicable killer is locked up behind bars.

After reading the final chapters in this book, it’s going to be really interesting to see where Caroline Mitchell takes things next and what this will mean for Amy. I’ve raced through all of the books in this series, and I can’t wait to see what Caroline Mitchell has in store for us next.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 8th July 2020

Print length: 335 pages

Left For Dead is available to buy:

Amazon UK

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Shadow Friend by Alex North which is published today.

BLURB

The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .

MY THOUGHTS

The Shadow Friend is another creepy, atmospheric thriller by Alex North. Again Alex North draws on the supernatural. This time the focus is on a disturbing game a group of boys played twenty-five years ago, a game which turned deadly and resulted in the disappearance of one member of the group. The boy who disappeared was never found, and the police have never discovered what happened to him. But is the truth finally about to be unravelled?

Alex North introduces us to Paul Adams who has returned to his hometown as his mother is in a care home and is approaching the end of her life, but he finds himself drawn back to events which took place in his teenage years many years earlier which have haunted him ever since. The centre of the mystery in this novel is the disappearance of a boy twenty-five years ago, Charlie Crabtree, who Paul was once friends with. Since his former friend went missing, a series of killings have taken place which seemed to be inspired by the events surrounding Charlie’s disappearance. And red hands seem to follow Paul everywhere.

Once again, Alex North creates a spooky atmosphere which drew me into the plot and the setting. He paints a very gloomy picture of the town where Paul was brought up, almost as if the town itself isn’t willing to forget what happened there. There are some chilling scenes when Alex North describes the appearance of red hands. This seemed to be the key to solving the mystery behind Charlie’s disappearance, and I wanted to find out what they meant. I enjoyed the scenes when Alex takes us back to Paul’s childhood, and some of the scenes he writes are very disturbing. It made me think even more about what the true picture was and how this was connected to what happened to Charlie.

Although I enjoyed reading this book, and it kept me entertained, I did find that the pace was a lot slower than it was in Alex North’s first book, The Whisper Man. I was interested to find out what was going to happen next and what the truth was, and this is what kept me reading, but I did find this book to be a much more leisurely read.

The Shadow Friend will keep you invested in the plot and the characters, and overall I thought it was a really good read. I’m certain I’ll be reading what Alex North writes next.

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publication date: 9th July 2020

Print length: 368 pages

The Shadow Friend is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

The Sleepover by Carol Wyer #bookreview @carolewyer @bookouture

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of The Sleepover by Carol Wyer on my blog today. This is the fourth book in her Detective Natalie Ward series.

The Sleepover: An absolutely gripping crime thriller (Detective Natalie Ward Book 4) by [Carol Wyer]

BLURB

She said she’d gone to a sleepover. But she never made it. Someone must know why…

When Detective Natalie Ward is called to the home of fourteen-year-old Roxy Curtis she can’t help but empathise with Roxy’s distraught mother Cathy. Roxy hasn’t come home, last seen heading next door for a sleepover with her best friend Ellie. As the mother of two teenagers herself, Natalie knows that this is every parent’s worst nightmare.

But when Roxy’s body is found in the basement of a beautiful Victorian mansion on the other side of town, Natalie’s darkest fears are confirmed. What was Roxy doing there? The people who knew her best should know – but Cathy seems evasive, and Ellie refuses to talk. Natalie is determined to find out what secrets they are keeping…

Then Roxy’s mother Cathy disappears.

When her body is found two days later, Natalie is forced to face the fact that Roxy’s loved ones are in real danger. Things take a more sinister turn when Ellie vanishes, her mobile phone switched off. Is Ellie hiding something about the night Roxy died that could put her in terrible danger? And can Natalie work it out before another innocent life is taken?

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve shamefully fallen behind on Carol Wyer’s brilliant Natalie Ward series. I’ve finally caught up on The Sleepover which is book number four in the series, and I already have the next book lined up and waiting on my kindle. I think this is the best book yet in this series. Carol Wyer has created another gripping plot, and her writing kept my eyes glued to the page.

The novel opens with a young girl, Roxy, heading out for a sleepover. A few hours later and Detective Inspector Natalie Ward is called to a scene where a fire has ravaged a house, and a body is found inside. The body is identified as Roxy’s. Her distraught family are at a loss to explain why their daughter was there, and they claim to have no knowledge of the men who own it. Could it have just been a tragic accident and Roxy was in the wrong place at the wrong time? But when Roxy’s mother is found dead, Natalie and her team begin to suspect that the family may not be telling them everything.

I’ve enjoyed seeing how Natalie has progressed over the first few books in the series. Natalie is still struggling with issues within her own family. Her husband is still out of work following a gambling problem, and now it seems her son is distancing himself from her. Carol hasn’t made things easy for Natalie in this book. I did wonder if this was going to have any impact at all on her work. It’ll be interesting to see how things will progress for her from here.

The investigation is a really gripping one. I wanted to know why Roxy was there in the house and what reason she had to be there. I could sense that her family were keeping something back from the police, and I felt as though I couldn’t trust her brother’s.

Natalie delves into the heart of the mystery, and just as she begins to make progress, another devastating event takes place, when Roxy’s mother is found dead. This is where I felt that things began to heat up, and it made Natalie even more determined to find out the truth. It definitely kept me reading on, and I raced through the final chapters to find out who was responsible for the crimes.

The Sleepover is another cracking book in this series. Carol Wyer always delivers on suspense, and she has created another gripping mystery. I can’t wait to catch up on the next books in the series.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 5th September 2019

Print length: 376 pages

The Sleepover is available to buy:

Amazon UK

Curse the Day by Judith O’Reilly #bookreview @judithoreilly

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the second book by Judith O’Reilly, to feature ex-spy, Michael North, Curse the Day, on my blog today.

Curse the Day: The Conspiracy Thriller that Reads Like a Bond Movie (A Michael North Thriller) by [Judith O'Reilly]

BLURB

At a global tech gala hosted at the British Museum, scientist Tobias Hawke is due to unveil an astonishing breakthrough. His AI system appears to have reached consciousness, making Hawke the leading light in his field.

But when terrorists storm the building, they don’t just leave chaos in their wake. They seize Hawke’s masterwork, sparking a chain reaction of explosive events which could end the world as we know it.

Michael North, ex-assassin and spy-for-hire, must find the killers and recover the AI. But he can’t do it alone. Hawke’s wife, Esme, and teenage hacker, Fangfang, have their own reasons to help complete North’s mission – and together they unravel a dark and deadly conspiracy which stretches right to the top of the British elite.

Can North survive long enough to uncover the whole truth? Or is it already too late for humanity?

MY THOUGHTS

A couple of years ago, I read Killing State by Judith O’Reilly, and finally, she is back with another high octane read which pulls you in from the first page and doesn’t let you go. Curse the Day is the second thriller to feature ex-spy, Michael North. Set in a not too distant future, humanity is on the brink of a huge artificial intelligence breakthrough. ‘Syd,’ a machine learning device, has been developed and is believed to be the first machine to have a conscience. Is this humanities greatest achievement, or does this spell the end for our species?

Michael North is a brilliant creation. At the beginning of this book, he has truly lost his way and is slowly drinking himself to death in Belgium. Michael is in mourning for his girlfriend, who was murdered, but he also vows to catch up with those responsible so he can seek his revenge. But he isn’t going to be left in this state for long. He is soon asked to protect Esme Hawke following a horrific attack in her home. Michael also has a bullet lodged in his brain, which surgery has been unable to move. He is literally a ‘dead man walking,’ one sudden jerk or even a sneeze could set the bullet loose, and when that happens, it will kill him. This also adds to the tension as you know that any moment could mean the end for Michael.

Judith O’Reilly opens the book in a very dramatic way as Esme Hawke is attacked in her own home after disturbing a burglar. Right from the get-go, I wanted to know why their home had been targeted and what it was that she and her husband had that made them a target.

In this version of reality, Britain is leading the way with the development of artificial intelligence. Countries around the world are fighting to catch up, so it is no wonder that Esme and her husband have attracted the attention of many people and governments around the world. They are about to unveil Esme’s husband’s latest creation, a machine capable of human thought. But as time counts down to the launch, it is quickly brought to Esme and Michael North’s attention that ‘Syd,’ will be capable of wiping out humanity once she is launched into the world. The scary thing is, is that they only have the matter of a few hours to stop this from happening.

Curse the Day is crying out to be made into a Hollywood film. The pace never lets up, and Judith’s writing kept me flying through the pages as the book raced towards its dramatic conclusion. I promise you; you will find this book very difficult to put down. I can’t wait to see where Judith O’Reilly takes the series next.

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publication date: 2nd April 2020

Print length: 331 pages

Curse the Day is available to buy:

Amazon UK   Kobo  Waterstones

You have one hour to live … All Fall Down by M.J. Arlidge #bookreview blog tour @mjarlidge @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of All Fall Down by M.J. Arlidge, the latest book in the DI Helen Grace series. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

BLURB

“You have one hour to live.”

Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour.

But why?

The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is A case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims.

With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…

MY THOUGHTS

You’re just leaving work. You step into the lift, and you receive a phone call. On the other end of a line, a voice tells you, “You have one hour to live.” Then the call goes dead. This is what happens to Justin in the opening chapter of the new Helen Grace thriller by M.J. Arlidge, All Fall Down. He isn’t sure if the phone call was a callous prank, but he is nervous. And within the next hour, he is dead. But Justin isn’t the only intended victim of his killer.

M.J. Arlidge’s latest book in the Helen Grace series is tightly plotted, and I think it’s one of the best books in this series. When Helen is informed of Justin’s murder, it isn’t quite certain what they are facing, until a second murder takes place and a link is discovered. The victims were among a group of five teenagers who, several years ago, were kidnapped by a madman and barely escaped with their lives. Not all of them made it; one girl was tragically killed by their attacker. But now someone is coming after them. It was never clear if the man who did this to them survived that night after a fire ravaged his home. So why are they being targeted now all these years later?

All Fall Down hooks you in right from the first chapter. We hear from the first victim’s point of view, and M.J. Arlidge paints a vivid portrayal of just how scared they are. What I thought was the most interesting part of this novel was how M.J. Arlidge gradually revealed the backstory of the victim’s. We get to understand what they went through all those years ago, but as I was reading, I had that niggling sense of doubt that there was something they weren’t being entirely truthful about.

M.J. Arlidge kept me guessing as to what the real truth was as another victim turned up. One of the victims, Maxine, is releasing a book about their ordeal. As the book progresses M.J. Arlidge we get to read snippets from Maxine’s book. This did make me wonder why Maxine was choosing to publish their story when it seemed as though she hadn’t got permission from the rest of the group to tell their tale.

M.J. Arlidge delivers a dramatic finale as Helen Grace and her team finally work out who is behind the killings, and it turns into a race against time to track the killer down before they kill again. This is a series which continues to keep me entertained; I can’t believe that we’re on book nine. It doesn’t all that long ago when I first read Eeny Meeny. All Fall Down can be read as a stand-alone, but you’ll definitely want to read the rest of the books as well once you’ve read it.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 11th June 2020

Print length: 496 pages

All Fall Down is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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all fall down blog

Goodbye June, hello July! June Wrap-Up

Well, that’s half the year done and dusted. Although, it feels as though we’ve had five years crammed into six months given everything that’s happened since the start of the year. I can’t believe it’s been more than three months since we first went into lockdown in the UK. I think parts of the last few months have gone quick, but some days it seems to have gone extremely slow.

The last three months has allowed me to make a dent in my TBR pile, which is something I am pleased about. I have now so far read 75 books towards my Goodreads reading challenge to read 160 books this year.

My blog also turned four-years-old on the 1st of June. It’s crazy to think how quick the time has gone since I first started blogging.

This month on the blog I took part in eight blog tours, and I’ve included the link below in case you missed any.

Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley

The Toybox by Charly Cox

The Last One To See Her by Mark Tilbury

Safe by S.K. Barnett

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

The Bone Jar by S W Kane

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

I’ve also bought several new titles this month, Cut to the Bone by Roz Watkins, First Shot by John Ryder, Sins of the Father by Sharon Bairden, Dark Angel by Russell Panter, The Resident by David Jackson, Black Summer by M. W. Craven, Love Story, With Murders by Harry Bingham, The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone and Silent Cry by Jenny O’Brien.

  First Shot: An utterly gripping fast-paced action thriller (A Grant Fletcher Thriller Book 1) by [John Ryder]    Sins of the Father by [Sharon Bairden]

Dark Angel by [Russell Panter]    

Love Story, With Murders: Fiona Griffiths Crime Thriller Series Book 2 by [Harry Bingham] The Big Chill (The Skelfs) by [Doug Johnstone] Silent Cry: An absolutely addictive crime thriller with a shocking twist for fans of Angela Marsons and LJ Ross (Detective Gaby Darin, Book 1) by [Jenny O’Brien]

I have a bit of a quieter month, blog tour wise, coming up for July. I’m taking part in the blog tour for All Fall Down by M.J. Arlidge on the 2nd July, Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell on the 10th July, Written in Blood by Chris Carter on the 27th July and The Next Widow by C J Lyons on the 29th July.

At the moment I’m currently reading The Next Widow by C J Lyons, The Sleepover by Carol Wyer and The Night You Left by Emma Curtis.

I hope you’re keeping well. Let me know what you’re currently reading in the comments below. That’s all from me for this month. Happy Reading!

 

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith #bookreview #BlogTour @evecsmith @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

The Waiting Rooms by [Eve Smith]

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Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

MY THOUGHTS

If I’d read The Waiting Rooms a year ago, I think I would have thought that the idea of a global antibiotic crisis was something very far off in the future, beyond my lifetime. Then the coronavirus pandemic happened, and this idea became cemented in my mind as a terrifying possibility. This novel couldn’t be more timely. The Waiting Rooms is one of the most original reads I’ve recently read.

In Eve Smith’s debut novel, once you reach the age of seventy, you’re virtually written off by society. What the current crisis in the world has shown us is how vulnerable we are, and how we often take antibiotics and other pills for granted. We think of plagues and a health crisis as something associated with the medieval period, or at least I did, up until now. The thought that once you hit a certain age, you will be denied any lifesaving medicine is scary; you simply expect the health service to always be there for you.

We meet the lead character Kate during a delicate situation. She is having a meeting with a young couple, and they are talking about ending the life of the young woman’s father. The tension in the room is high. But this is Kate’s job, and this is her reality day in day out. Instead of being able to care for her patients as she would like to do, she has to administer the drug that will let them drift off peacefully. And if this isn’t hard enough for Kate, she is accused of heinous things by angry protesters including being a murderer. Kate is also desperate to find her birth mother, who gave her up for adoption soon after her birth. But as Kate tries to make contact, she finds out that her mother has put measures in place to stop her. But why wouldn’t she want to meet her daughter?

We’re also introduced to Lily, who is fast approaching her seventieth birthday. Lily is residing in a top-notch care home where fear is even more palatable. There are strict quarantine measures in place, much like there is today and even the tiniest scratch could mean the end for you. Lily also has a secret which she is desperately trying to keep covered up. Her worst fear is that someone will discover it.

Another voice we hear from is Mary. Eve Smith takes us back to twenty-seven years prior to the crisis happening. Mary is a scientist currently living in South Africa. She is twenty-three when she begins a relationship with Dr Bekker when they both discover that they share an interest in botany. I thought this part of the novel was really intriguing, and I wondered how it was going to feed into what was happening in the present. There is also tension in these scenes as well, as Eve Smith gives us an insight into what’s happening around the world with new outbreaks of diseases. I also loved the description of the South African landscape, which Eve Smith describes really well. Although it soon becomes clear how Mary’s story is connected to Lily’s, Eve Smith doesn’t reveal the shocking aftermath of these events until much later on in the book.

You can see that Eve Smith has done her research and even though it is a scary realistic prospect, I hope that this doesn’t happen until well beyond my time. I found the ending sad but very satisfying. The Waiting Rooms is one of those books which I’m sure you won’t be forgetting about in a hurry.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 9th April 2020 (kindle) 9th July 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

The Waiting Rooms is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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The Bone Jar by S W Kane #bookreview blog tour @kinkstah @RandomTTours #TheBoneJar #thriller #crimefiction

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Bone Jar by S W Kane on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

The Bone Jar (Detective Lew Kirby Book 1) by [S W Kane]

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Two murders. An abandoned asylum. Will a mysterious former patient help untangle the dark truth?

The body of an elderly woman has been found in the bowels of a derelict asylum on the banks of the Thames. As Detective Lew Kirby and his partner begin their investigation, another body is discovered in the river nearby. How are the two murders connected?

Before long, the secrets of Blackwater Asylum begin to reveal themselves. There are rumours about underground bunkers and secret rooms, unspeakable psychological experimentation, and a dark force that haunts the ruins, trying to pull back in all those who attempt to escape. Urban explorer Connie Darke, whose sister died in a freak accident at the asylum, is determined to help Lew expose its grisly past. Meanwhile Lew discovers a devastating family secret that threatens to turn his life upside down.

As his world crumbles around him, Lew must put the pieces of the puzzle together to keep the killer from striking again. Only an eccentric former patient really knows the truth—but will he reveal it to Lew before it’s too late?

MY THOUGHTS

The Bone Jar is a complex, chilling and an atmospheric police procedural by S W Kane. London is in the grips of one of the worst snowstorms for decades. When the body of an elderly woman is discovered in an abandoned asylum, scheduled for demolition, the police soon realise that this case isn’t going to be easy to solve. But who could have murdered someone so vulnerable? As they speak to people who knew the murdered woman, including her family, they uncover conflicting accounts about her. Was she a saint, or was she evil? Who held such a bad grudge against her that they wanted to see her dead?

The old asylum, Blackwater, which becomes the scene of the crime, gave the book a very haunting feeling. With the discovery of the body, it seemed to me that there were many undiscovered secrets about the place. Although the setting is near enough abandoned, there is one man who still lives there, who managed to claim squatter’s rights. Raymond Sweet is a former patient, but he isn’t willing to leave the area, even though he has been offered a handsome sum of money by the developers to do so. I wanted to know what he knew about the place, and it’s past. What went on when Raymond was a patient there? Did he know anything about the murdered woman? Raymond also has a secret which he is keen to protect at all costs.

As the plot developed, I became more and more intrigued about the woman, especially when dark secrets about her past were revealed. I was never able to guess how the plot was going to unfold and S W Kane built up the tension really well as the book came to a close.

I also really liked the two main characters. DI Lew Kirby is the detective working on the case, and I thought his character was well developed. He has a love for old cars but hates the police-issue Corsa he drives. Even his mother calls it a ‘student car.’ S W Kane also introduces us to Connie, an urban explorer who has a keen interest in the asylum. Both Connie and Lew are two really engaging characters who I would like to see explored further.

I have heard that The Bone Jar is the first book in a new trilogy and I’m excited to read what S W Kane has in store for us next. I highly recommend this book.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 1st July 2020

Print length: 328 pages

The Bone Jar is available to buy:

Amazon UK

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Down to the Woods by M.J. Arlidge #bookreview

I’ve finally caught up on M.J. Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series. I’m sharing my thoughts on the ninth book in the series, Down to the Woods on my blog today.

Down to the Woods: DI Helen Grace 8 (Detective Inspector Helen Grace) by [M. J. Arlidge]

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If you go down to the woods today, you better not go alone . . .

The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…

When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – there’s a serial killer on the loose.

Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator, before more blood is shed.

But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.

MY THOUGHTS

In Down to the Woods, the eighth novel in M.J. Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series, a killer is on the loose in the New Forest. DI Helen Grace is called to the scene after the body of a man is found hanging from a tree. It seems at first that this could be the work of an eco-warrior, as Helen and her team delve further into the man’s past. But then a woman is found in the same area, and this prompts belief that a sadistic killer is on the loose, who doesn’t care who their victims are. Unless they can find a connection between the victims, this will make it very hard to track the killer down.

What I love about these books is that M.J. Arlidge always keeps the pace turning up a notch and he uses short and snappy chapters. After reading the last book in the series a few weeks back, it had left me wondering how Helen and her team were getting on. There is also a new member of Helen’s team who M.J. Arlidge introduces us to, DS Joseph Hudson. It appears that he and Helen may have a future together, but if you’re a follower of this series, you will know that Helen and relationships don’t work well together. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops further. I think Helen deserves it after everything that she’s been through throughout the series.

Journalist, Emily Garanitia, is up to her usual tricks. You would think that she would have learned to have stepped back a little bit, after what happened to her in the previous novel. If anything, though, she seems more determined to break the rules to chase down a story, even if it means upsetting her boss. The only person who she seems to worry about is herself, and her own career prospects. I don’t particularly like her as a person, but she is compelling, and I wondered just how close she was going to get to the investigation. She’s always never far from Helen Grace.

DS Charlie Brooks is also in the spotlight in this novel. Her daughter is having night terrors at home, which are starting to have a negative impact on her work life. But Charlie’s relationship with Helen begins to improve again, and I really liked this aspect of the novel.

I don’t think this is my favourite of the series, but I would still definitely recommend reading the books in order, to get the most out of the characters and their individual stories. I’m looking forward to seeing what M. J. Arlidge has install for us next.

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 20th September 2018

Print length: 473 pages

Down to the Woods is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

DI Helen Grace series:

Eeny Meeny

Pop Goes the Weasel

The Doll’s House

Liar Liar

Little Boy Blue

Hide and Seek

Love Me Not

Down to the Woods

 

 

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton blog tour extract @KJHAuthor @Wildfirebks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part. As part of the blog tour I’m sharing an extract from the book. First, let’s take a look at what the book is about.

The Last Wife: The addictive and unforgettable new thriller from the Sunday Times bestseller by [Karen Hamilton]

BLURB

Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Nina and Marie were best friends-until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes.

But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust.

What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.

Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own…

EXTRACT

Clients trust me because I blend in. It’s a natural skill – my gift, if you like. I focus my lens and capture stories, like the ones unfolding tonight: natural and guarded expressions, self-conscious poses, joyous smiles, reluctant ones from a teenage bridesmaid, swathed in silver and blood-red. The groom is an old friend, yet I’ve only met his now-wife twice. She seems reserved, hard to get to know, but in their wedding album she’ll glow. The camera does lie. My role is to take these lies and spin them into the perfect story.

I take a glass of champagne from a passing server. I needn’t be totally on the ball during the latter half of the evening because by then, people naturally loosen up. I find that the purest details are revealed in the discreet pictures I snatch during the final hours, however innocuously an event starts. And besides, it seems this event is winding down.

The one downside of my job is the mixed bag of emotions evoked. I rarely take family photos any more, so normally, I’m fine, but today, watching the wedding festivities, the longing for what I don’t have has crept up on me. People think that envy is a bad thing, but in my opinion, envy is a positive emotion. It has always been the best indicator for me to realize what’s wrong with my life. People say, ‘Follow your dreams,’ yet I’d say, ‘Follow what makes you sick with envy.’

It’s how I knew that I must stop deceiving myself and face up to how desperately I wanted to have a child. Delayed gratification is overrated.

I place my camera on a table as the tempo eases and sit down on a satin-draped chair. As I watch the bride sweep across the dance floor with her new husband, I think of Nina, and an overwhelming tide of grief floods through me. I picture her haunted expression when she elicited three final promises from me: two are easy to keep, one is not. Nonetheless, a vow is a vow. I will be creative and fulfil it. I have a bad – yet tempting – idea which occasionally beckons me towards a slippery slope.

I must do my best to avoid it because when Nina passed the baton to me, she thought I was someone she could trust. However, as my yearning grows, the crushing disappointment increases every month and the future I crave remains elusive. And she didn’t know that I’d do anything to get what I want. Anything.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 25th June 2020

Print length: 384 pages

The Last Wife is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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