Cut to the Bone by Roz Watkins #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the third book in the DI Meg Dalton series by Roz Watkins, Cut to the Bone.

Cut to the Bone: A gripping and suspenseful crime thriller full of twists (A DI Meg Dalton thriller, Book 3) by [Roz Watkins]

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A beautiful young social-media star goes missing.

But who took her?

When controversial internet celebrity Violet Armstrong vanishes in the middle of a scorching Peak District summer, the case sparks a media frenzy.

The clock is ticking for DI Meg Dalton and her team to find Violet before online threats explode into real-life violence. And then the blood and hair of a young woman are found in an empty pig trough at the local abattoir…

The more Meg finds out about this unnerving case, the more she becomes convinced that something very, very bad has happened to Violet. With temperatures rising and the press demanding answers, the case is about to take a terrifying turn…

MY THOUGHTS

Roz Watkins has become an auto-buy author for me. When I read her debut novel, The Devil’s Dice, I knew her character, DI Meg Dalton, was one I was going to want to keep coming back to. The latest book, Cut to the Bone, is another brilliant addition to this series which keeps getting better and better.

What I really like about Roz’s work, is that there is always the touch of the supernatural, which gives her books a very chilling atmosphere. And the story of the Pale Child in this book sent shivers up my spine as I was reading it. It made me want to find out more about what was really going on here and if there was any truth in the claims, or if it was just people’s imagination.

The character at the centre of Meg’s new investigation is Violet, a teenage vlogger who has gone missing. Violet has become the poster child for the meat industry. She posts videos of herself, semi-naked, while cooking with meat and has gained a large following and fan base on social media. Two storms are gathering around her disappearance. Animal rights activists are angry at Violet for how she has behaved, and some are saying she got what she deserved. Then there are Violet’s fans. They accuse the activists of having something to do with her disappearance as she was a supporter of the meat industry. Meg finds herself at the centre of this storm as she comes under fire from both sides. Soon she starts receiving threats.

This turns into a really difficult investigation for Meg and her team. They have to get to know the real Violet while angry voices shout at them from all directions. As they investigate further, they begin to find out that she isn’t quite the person who she portrayed herself to be.

When I first learnt about who Violet was, I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for her, but I grew to like her as the book progressed. I wanted Meg and her team to find the answers to her disappearance, but I kept thinking that their efforts would be undermined, by the two groups at war with each other. This is what makes the book a very tense read. Also, I worried about Meg’s safety as well, as she comes under intense scrutiny.

It’s quite a gruesome book. Some parts may make some readers uncomfortable, particularly the sections relating to the meat industry, but it does make for a very gripping read. I love Roz Watkins writing, and I love Meg’s character. There is some tension between her and her colleague, DS Jai Sanghera, who is going through a rough patch in his relationship with his girlfriend.  

I love this series, and I can’t wait to read what Roz Watkins comes up for DI Meg Dalton and her team next.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 25th June 2020

Print length: 416 pages

Cut to the Bone is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse #bookreview #blogtour @SarahVPearse @TransworldBooks @annecater

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

The Sanatorium by [Sarah Pearse]

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EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

MY THOUGHTS

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is one of the most chilling reads I’ve read. It is the perfect book to read in the winter months, maybe not one to take with you though, if you’re going on a skiing trip. The novel is set in an old sanatorium in Switzerland, recently converted into a luxury hotel. The guests who are arriving are among the first to try it out. But the plans for the hotel came under a lot of scrutiny from the locals. It took years to get the plans approved for the development to go ahead.

I absolutely loved the setting in this book. Sarah Pearse opens her novel with such a chilling prologue, which takes place five years before the main events. It is in an isolated location, and the route to the hotel is a dangerous one. I can remember one year going skiing when I was very young and having a bad experience driving to the hotel, which was almost impossible to find. One of the families who were with us nearly slid off the road. It still gives me chills thinking about that. This is what I was picturing as I read Sarah Pearse’s opening chapters.

It doesn’t get much more relaxing for the guests when they finally arrive at the hotel. They are there to celebrate the engagement of Isaac and Laure. Isaac’s sister, Elin, is a detective back in the UK. Already there is an uncomfortable atmosphere in the hotel. Some of the guests aren’t too happy with the thought of what the hotel used to be. Then Laure goes missing, which is completely out of character and unexpected. Would she really want to go off on her own when she is celebrating her engagement?

Because of the dangerous weather conditions, the Swiss Police are unable to reach them, and Elin offers to help out. However, as a UK police officer, she has no jurisdiction in Switzerland. This is when the tension begins to rise. I had suspicions about almost everyone in the book, and I really liked how Sarah Pearse wrapped everything up, concluding her story on another utterly chilling note.

The Sanatorium is a brilliant, atmospheric read which will keep you turning the pages. I couldn’t put it down, and I finished it in just two days. I really enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Transworld

Publication date: 4th February 2021

Print length: 391 pages

The Sanatorium is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

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Dishonoured by Jem Tugwell #bookreview #blogtour @JemTugwell @SerpentineBooks @rararesources

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Dishonoured by Jem Tugwell on my blog today. With thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

Dishonoured: An addictive psychological thriller by [Jem  Tugwell]

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WE’RE ALL ONE MISTAKE FROM RUIN…

Dan has worked hard for the perfect life. He has a loving wife, beautiful kids, a fabulous home and is a successful businessman.

One afternoon Dan steps onto his usual train and sees the waitress who served him an hour earlier. It all seemed so normal, but it was the most dreadful mistake. Four stops later, Dan is a criminal who has lost everything. He’d only just met her, so why did she destroy him―and why did she say ‘Sorry’?

Dan battles through a web of lies and deceit to clear his name and win his life back, but first, he needs to find out who plotted his downfall.

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed reading Dishonoured. It’s the first novel by Jem Tugwell which I’ve read, and it was an exhilarating ride. The storyline also felt really fresh, and I connected with the lead character, Dan, straight away. This is the kind of novel which, once you start reading, will keep you reading. The chapters are short and snappy, which make it very difficult to put down. It is utterly captivating. 

Dan has the perfect life. He earns a lot of money, providing a more than comfortable lifestyle for his wife and two children. Life couldn’t be better. But Dan’s happy life is about to come crumbling down. When he is accused of a heinous crime, it utterly breaks him. He loses his job, but more heartbreakingly, his wife and children. But Dan protests his innocence. Yet few people are willing to believe him. Dan takes it upon himself to prove it, and he is determined to do anything to get the life he once had back.

I felt desperately sorry for Dan as I was reading this book. I really felt his anger as everything he had worked so hard for in his life came tumbling down. Once the accusation had been made against him, his family and friends don’t want to know him. I wanted to know why someone would want to do this to him. I also wanted Dan to find that person and regain what he had lost.

Dan’s story made for very gripping reading. I also liked the characters who he works with to try and find the book, especially Anomaly. I liked the fact that Dan seemed to have someone on his side who was willing to help him. I didn’t like the idea of him going through this alone, especially when his wife, Felicity, had taken his children from him.

The tension never lets up as the book races towards its conclusion. I couldn’t stop turning the pages as Dan came closer and closer to finding out the truth behind the current events. And Jem Tugwell turns everything, masterfully on its head here. I don’t want to say anything more as I don’t want to spoil the plot, but I thought the final twists were done very well. I couldn’t believe what I was reading as I reached the end.

Dishonoured makes for such an entertaining read, and I was so impressed with what I read. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller that feels fresh, then you definitely need to give this book a go. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Serpentine Books

Publication date: 14th January 2021

Print length: 231 pages

Dishonoured is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

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The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning standalone novel by Will Dean, The Last Thing To Burn.

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He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .

MY THOUGHTS

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021. Will Dean has become one of my favourite writers recently, and I bump every book he writes to the top of my TBR pile. I started reading it a day after it arrived in the post and I had it finished two days later. It is a powerful, heart-breaking read; my heart was in my mouth the entire way through. This book should be on everyone’s TBR pile.

This book was almost unbearably tense in places. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters, especially, Jane, who I really felt for, but I almost couldn’t bear to find out. Will Dean explores human trafficking in his latest, but first standalone novel, and he portrays a vivid portrayal of what victims of human trafficking go through on a day to day basis. Jane feels as though her past is slowly being eroded away. She came to the UK with the hope of living a better life. Of course, this didn’t happen. She is now living with Lenn, her captor, who is one of the most despicable characters I’ve come across in crime fiction. I don’t think I’ve ever longed for something terrible to happen to a character so badly.

Jane is the real star of this book. She grows as a character from the very first page, and I was rooting for her from the very beginning. She is very careful; she knows what will antagonise her captor, and she tries her best to please him. Jane isn’t allowed to leave the house, and Lenn has her under constant surveillance which put me on edge as I was reading it. I felt very fearful for Jane, but at the same time, I wanted to take the risk and try to escape. I admired her so much; she is such a strong lead. She is not willing to forget her past and her family, which is something that Lenn would like her to do. The one link she has to her family is the letters she has from her sister; it is the only form of contact with the outside world she has.

It is horrifying to think that this goes on in the world, even especially at home, here in the UK. I think many people believe that this is something that happens in other countries and not in their own. This book highlights that these crimes can happen anywhere, perhaps even in your own neighbourhood. It made me so angry to think that people like Lenn exist in the world. This is what makes this book a very powerful read as well, and I’m sure it’ll be staying with me for a long time to come.

The Last Thing To Burn is a haunting, chilling read. You will find yourself totally gripped and immersed in the character’s lives. I really struggled to put this book down. Highly, highly recommended!

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 7th January 2021

Print length: 256 pages

The Last Thing To Burn is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

WWW Wednesday – 13/01/21

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading?
What will you read next?

What am I currently reading?

Smoke Screen (Blix & Ramm) by [Thomas Enger, Jørn Lier Horst, Megan Turney]

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

Cut to the Bone: A gripping and suspenseful crime thriller full of twists (A DI Meg Dalton thriller, Book 3) by [Roz Watkins]

A beautiful young social-media star goes missing.

But who took her?

When controversial internet celebrity Violet Armstrong vanishes in the middle of a scorching Peak District summer, the case sparks a media frenzy.

The clock is ticking for DI Meg Dalton and her team to find Violet before online threats explode into real-life violence. And then the blood and hair of a young woman are found in an empty pig trough at the local abattoir…

The more Meg finds out about this unnerving case, the more she becomes convinced that something very, very bad has happened to Violet. With temperatures rising and the press demanding answers, the case is about to take a terrifying turn…

What have I finished reading?

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .

Twenty-five years ago my brother was murdered in my family home.

I was sent to a psychiatric unit for killing him.

The truth is, I didn’t do it.

The whole world believed nine-year-old Cara killed her younger brother on that fateful night. But she blamed it on a paranormal entity she swears was haunting her house.

No one believed her and after two years of treatment in a psychiatric unit for delusional disorder, Cara was shunned by her remaining family and put into foster care.

Now she’s being forced to return to the family home for the first time since her brother’s death, but what if she’s about to re-discover the evil that was lurking inside its walls?

What will I read next?

Deity (Six Stories) by [Matt Wesolowski]

A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

Black Widows by [Cate Quinn]

The only thing the three women had in common was their husband.
And, as of this morning, that they’re each accused of his murder.

Blake Nelson moved into a hidden stretch of land – a raw paradise in the wilds of Utah – where he lived with his three wives:

Rachel, the chief wife, obedient and doting to a fault.
Tina, the other wife, who is everything Rachel isn’t.
And Emily, the youngest wife, who knows little else.

When their husband is found dead under the desert sun, the questions pile up.
But none of the widows know who would want to kill a good man like Blake.

Or, at least, that’s what they’ll tell the police…

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald #bookreview #blogtour @cmacwritescrime @RedDogTweets

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald on my blog today. With thanks to Meggy Rousell from Red Dog Press for inviting me to take part.

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello: A modern cosy mystery with a classic crime feel (The Stonebridge Myseries Book 1) by [Chris McDonald]

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Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But, on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.
Armed with an encyclopedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

MY THOUGHTS

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald is the most fun you’ll have with a crime novel this year. It’s a very short novel, at just under a hundred pages, so if you’re looking for a quick and entertaining read, then this is the book for you.

In this introduction, to what I hope will be a new cosy crime series, we meet Adam Whyte and his friend, Colin. They are attending the wedding of one of their friends. The wedding is tragically interrupted when the best man, Daniel, is found dead in his hotel room. The police believe it was an accident, but Adam thinks otherwise after witnessing something which aroused his suspicions earlier in the day. He and Colin team up to find out what really happened.

The book opens with a gripping chapter when the groom is on his stag do, along with his best man, Daniel. Daniel witnesses something that may make him a potential target. It is clear that Daniel may be willing to use what he knows as blackmail, which would definitely give the killer a motive.

If you’re looking for something light hearted to read, particularly over the next few weeks, then you should definitely give this book a go. Adam and Colin made for excellent amateur sleuths who take what they are dealing with seriously. They want to understand what would prompt someone to murder the best man. It would surely have to have been someone who was invited to the wedding, wouldn’t it?

I had so much fun reading this book. Adam and Colin do not have all the expertise the police have at their fingertips. They can’t convince people to talk to them, and they can’t issue search warrants. This is what makes these types of stories very interesting. I find it all the more fascinating seeing how private detectives, or in this case, amateur sleuths, go about their work. I was rooting for Adam and Colin to find the truth. After the events that happen here, I’m certain that trouble will find Colin and Adam sooner rather than later. I think that they’ll be looking for it after the events in the first book in this series.

This is the perfect book to sink into on a Sunday afternoon. It’s highly engaging, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for Adam and Colin next.

Publisher: Red Dog Press

Publication date: 12th January 2021

Print length: 96 pages

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello is available to buy:

Amazon UK

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens #bookreview

On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning novel by Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing. I only discovered this book just before Christmas and I can’t believe it’s only now that I’ve come across it.

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For years, rumors of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

MY THOUGHTS

I finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. When I first started reading it, I wasn’t expecting to be pulled as deeply into the novel as I was, it took me totally by surprise. I was captivated by the story of ‘The Marsh Girl,’ and I loved Delia Owen’s writing, which transports you to the marshland’s atmospheric setting.

Kya is one of the most memorable characters I’ve come across in a long while. She lives with her family on the outskirts of the nearby town, surrounded by marshland. From a young age, things are tough for Kya. Unable to live with her father any more, her mother abandons her and the rest of the family when Kya is very small. Soon her older siblings follow their mothers lead, leaving Kya alone with her abusive father. But Kya knows her father well, and she manages to co-exist with him over the next few years, until the day when he doesn’t come back.

I felt so frustrated for Kya. I couldn’t understand why the rest of her family had abandoned her, particularly her siblings, who could have taken her with them. It seemed so unfair that she was the one left behind at such a young age. Because of this, Kya has to grow up first. She has to provide for herself after her father abandons her as well. Kya also becomes the topic of a lot of gossip among the locals. That’s how she earns the nickname, ‘The Marsh Girl.’

This novel isn’t a fast-paced read. When I was reading it, I decided I wanted to take my time with it as I was enjoying the writing so much. We flick backwards and forwards from the late fifties and early sixties to 1969. In 1969 the body of a young man has been found. But we get to learn more about the background of this man in the scenes from earlier years. What is his connection to Kya? I also wanted to know why he had ended up dead? The police are treating his death as a murder, although some believe it was a tragic accident. But the police want to wrap the case up quickly.

There were moments towards the end of this book where I was literally holding my breath as I waited to find out what was going to happen next. Kya was the one character who I rooted for throughout the book. I wanted her to succeed in life and to find someone to spend her life with.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a masterpiece, it’s haunting, and it is beautifully written. It is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long while. I’m sure I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time to come. I highly, highly recommend it!  

Publisher: Corsair

Publication date: 8th November 2018

Print length: 379 pages

Where the Crawdads Sing is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

WWW Wednesday – 06/01/21

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading?
What will you read next?

What am I currently reading?

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello: A modern cosy mystery with a classic crime feel (The Stonebridge Myseries Book 1) by [Chris McDonald]

Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But, on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.
Armed with an encyclopedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

London’s latest art installation is a real killer . . .

An underground artist leaves three glass cabinets in Trafalgar Square that contain a gruesome installation: the corpses of three homeless men.

With the artist promising more to follow, newly-promoted Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must race against time to follow what few clues have been left by a savvy killer.

As more bodies are exhibited at London landmarks and live streamed on social media, Archer and Quinn’s pursuit of the elusive killer becomes a desperate search.

But when Archer discovers that the killer might be closer than she originally thought – she realises that he has his sights set firmly on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

What have I finished reading?

An Eye for an Eye (Detective Kate Young Book 1) by [Carol Wyer]

A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.

DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.

But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.

As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?

What will I read next?

Twenty-five years ago my brother was murdered in my family home.

I was sent to a psychiatric unit for killing him.

The truth is, I didn’t do it.

The whole world believed nine-year-old Cara killed her younger brother on that fateful night. But she blamed it on a paranormal entity she swears was haunting her house.

No one believed her and after two years of treatment in a psychiatric unit for delusional disorder, Cara was shunned by her remaining family and put into foster care.

Now she’s being forced to return to the family home for the first time since her brother’s death, but what if she’s about to re-discover the evil that was lurking inside its walls?

Smoke Screen (Blix & Ramm) by [Thomas Enger, Jørn Lier Horst, Megan Turney]

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

What You Pay For by Claire Askew #bookreview #crimefiction

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the second book in the DI Helen Birch series by Claire Askew, What You Pay For on my blog today.

What You Pay For: Shortlisted for McIlvanney and CWA Awards (DI Birch) by [Claire Askew]

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DI Helen Birch faces a terrible choice – family or justice? – in the gripping second novel from the author of All the Hidden Truths

DI Birch joined the police to find her little brother, who walked out of his life one day and was never seen again. She stayed to help others, determined to seek justice where she could.

On the fourteenth anniversary of Charlie’s disappearance, Birch takes part in a raid on one of Scotland’s most feared criminal organisations. It’s a good day’s work – a chance to get a dangerous man off the streets.

Two days later, Charlie comes back. It’s not a coincidence. When Birch finds out exactly what he’s been doing all those years, she faces a terrible choice: save the case, or save her brother. But how can you do the right thing when all the consequences are bad?

As she interrogates Charlie, he tells his story: of how one wrong turn leads to a world in which the normal rules no longer apply, and you do what you must to survive.

From one of the most acclaimed new voices in crime fiction, What You Pay For is a brilliantly tense and moving novel about the terrible disruption caused by violence and the lines people will cross to protect those they love..

MY THOUGHTS

I can’t believe I missed What You Pay For by Claire Askew when it was released in 2019. I was a huge fan of her debut, All the Hidden Truths. This time around, things are about to hit far too close to home for DI Helen Birch, and everything for Helen is about to change. It’s been fourteen years since her younger brother, Charlie disappeared. The reason she joined the police force was because she wanted to try and find out what had happened to him. When Charlie turns up on her doorstep out of the blue, Helen has no idea, how much of an impact this will have on her career as a police officer, and the current case they are working on.

Claire Askew brilliantly builds up the suspense in this book, and she opens it in a very dramatic way. As the fourteenth anniversary of Charlie’s disappearance approaches, Helen starts receiving strange calls. No one speaks. All she can hear is heavy breathing. Helen’s first thought is that this is someone’s idea of a joke, but her whole life is about to be turned upside down. In some chapters, we also hear from the voice of an unknown individual. I thought these scenes, in particular, were very chilling.

What You Pay For makes for a really gripping read. I wanted to find out what Charlie had been up to in the fourteen years since he first went missing. I wanted to know why he was willing to put his family through the pain and misery of not knowing where he was for all these years. His mother would never know as she died a few years before his return. And during that time, Helen had convinced herself that her brother was dead, and the most she could hope for was for some form of closure.

Claire Askew’s writing pulls you into the story, making this a very difficult read to put down. I needed answers to the questions that were buzzing around inside my mind as I was reading it. I wanted to know just what exactly Charlie had got himself involved in. Why did it mean that he could never return home to his family when he knew they were searching for him? I wanted to see how much of an impact his return would have on his future relationship with his sister. Would she be able to forgive him for staying away for all this time? It seemed impossible that things could go back to just how they were before he went missing. Too much time had passed, and Charlie had changed beyond recognition for Helen.

The DI Helen Birch books are turning into a must-read crime series. If you haven’t yet discovered it, then you need to read these books as soon as possible.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 22nd August 2019

Print length: 329 pages

What You Pay For is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

December Wrap-Up

Finally, here we are at the end of 2020. At the start of the New Year I had so many things I was looking forward to this year, which, of course, had to be cancelled or put on hold due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Hopefully things will start getting much more closer to normal at some point in 2021. There are so many people who I want to catch up with. Although Zoom and mobiles makes it easier to keep in contact with people, it certainly isn’t quite the same as meeting up and seeing someone in person.

I have made some more progress on the current novel I am writing and I have now written 58,031 words. It is still only a first draft and I suspect it may change over the coming months. But I’m happy with what I’ve written so far.

With just a day to go until the end of the year I’ve now read 159 books towards my goal of 160. I’ve nearly finished my current read so I should have that finished before the start of 2021.

I had a quieter month on the blog, blog tour wise. I took part in three blog tours this month and I’ve included the links below, in case you missed any.

Body Language by AK Turner

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

Winterkill by Ragnar Jonasson

I have a busy month coming up in January and I’m taking part in five blog tours. The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald on the 12th, Dishonoured by Jem Tugwell on the 16th, The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse on the 17th, The Captive by Deborah O’Connor on the 21st and The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor on the 26th.

I also received some exciting book post this month. I received a copy of The Last Snow by Stina Jackson, Trust by Chris Hammer, The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, The Locksmith by Linda Calvey and The Appeal by Janice Hallett.

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That’s all from me this month. I hope you have a great year in 2021. At the moment I’m currently reading The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. Let me know what you’re currently reading in the comments. Are there any books which you can’t wait to read in 2021?