Nothing to Hide by James Oswald #bookreview blog tour @SirBenfro @Wildfirebks @annecater

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Nothing to Hide by James Oswald, the second book in his Constance Fairchild series. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain’s wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has other ideas . . .

Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide investigation . . . It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks.

No matter that she is off-duty, no matter that there are those in the Met who would gladly see the back of her, Con can’t shake her innate determination to bring the monsters responsible for this brutality to justice.

Trouble always seems to find her, and even if she has nothing to hide, perhaps she has everything to lose . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Nothing to Hide is the second book in James Oswald’s Constance Fairchild series, and it is a real corker. I thought the first book in this series was good, but I think the second is even better and I read it fast. It does deal with some very dark themes, and it pushes Constance or ‘Con’ as she prefers to be known; only her mother calls her Constance, to the brink.

When we last saw Constance, she had just uncovered a serious case of corruption within the police force after the death of her colleague and friend a short while beforehand. Since her discovery, several of her colleagues have turned against her. There is a sense that she is very much on her own in this book. She has also had to face the brunt of the media who are constantly pursuing her. It doesn’t help as well that she comes from a very different background to most of her colleagues. Her family are descended from nobility, and she came from a background of wealth and privilege; however, her father cut off her inheritance when she went against her parents’ wishes by joining the police force.

I think it’s Constance’s background story that makes her character feel fresh, to me. There aren’t many fictional detectives that I’m aware of, who are descended from nobility. This is what makes her so fascinating. I also like how James Oswald has blended this book in with his other series, which features DI Inspector McLean. Although McLean doesn’t make an appearance, several other characters do, including Madame Rose, and there’s even a reference to Grumpy Bob. But if you haven’t read the Inspector McLean series, you don’t need to have done so to read this book. Perhaps in the future, McLean and Connie may team up which would definitely be interesting to see.

The case which Constance is investigating is a very dark one. She has recently returned to her flat in London, only to discover a man, barely alive, not far from her home, who has been severely mutilated. Although she is meant to be on suspension, she becomes quickly sucked into the case and investigates quietly in the background against the orders of her superiors. During her investigations, she comes across a Church movement who claim to be doing their best for drug addicts and the homeless in the area. And her mother has become very fond of a man connected to the Church, although Con believes he has more of an eye for her mother’s money.

I was utterly gripped to this book, and I managed to finish it in just a couple of sittings. There is high drama right from the first page. Constance Fairchild is fast becoming a favourite fictional detective of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 25 July 2019 (hardcover) 14th November 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages

If you would like to purchase Nothing to Hide, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins #bookreview @RozWatkins @HQstories

I’ve been catching up on my TBR pile recently and one book I was looking forward to reading was Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins. I loved the first book in the DI Meg Dalton series so I was really excited when I finally got round to reading the second.

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She was racing towards the gorge. The place the locals knew as ‘Dead Girl’s Drop’…

DI Meg Dalton is thrown headlong into her latest case when she finds a ten-year-old girl running barefoot through the woods in a blood-soaked nightdress. In the house nearby, the girl’s father has been brutally stabbed to death.

At first Meg suspects a robbery gone tragically wrong, but something doesn’t add up. Why does the girl have no memory of what happened to her? And why has her behaviour changed so dramatically since her recent heart transplant?

The case takes a chilling turn when evidence points to the girl’s involvement in her own father’s murder. As unsettling family secrets emerge, Meg is forced to question her deepest beliefs to discover the shocking truth, before the killer strikes again…

MY THOUGHTS

If you like your crime fiction with a touch of the supernatural, then Roz Watkins DI Meg Dalton series set in the Peak District is one for you.

DI Meg Dalton faces a particularly tough and complicated case. In the opening chapters, she is faced with a horrifying scene. A woman alerts her attention to a young girl she has seen running through the woods. The girl’s nightdress was stained with blood. When Meg tracks down the girl and visits her home, she finds her father dead. The girl, Abbie, has recently had a heart transplant, and she is convinced that her heart made her kill her father. Abbie believes she can remember what happened to its previous owner and describes this in great detail. It forces Meg to tackle the question, can having an organ transplant change a person’s personality? Can a donated organ still carry memories from its original owner?

Meg is also going through a difficult personal time in this book. Her grandmother is dying, and she and her mother are preparing to take her to Switzerland. Her gran has chosen to end her life as she doesn’t want to suffer any more. But Meg faces fierce opposition to her gran’s decision and finds herself and her family being targeted and threatened which pushes them to the brink.

What I loved about the first book in this series was the touch of humour that Roz added to Meg. She is a character who often takes the mickey out of herself, and I really liked this about her personality. There is still some humour in this book, but the novel, on the whole, does feel a lot darker.

The supernatural elements, for me, are what make this series stand out, and the setting gives it an added spooky and atmospheric atmosphere. You can see how the case is beginning to affect Meg; she seriously begins to question the events happening around her, even though she staunchly dismisses the idea of any supernatural link.

Dead Man’s Daughter is a book that will keep you thinking about the plot and the characters involved. Meg is determined to do everything within her power to make sure that justice prevails, even though other police officers would quite happily brush this case under the carpet. Some of the themes that Roz Watkins explores may stay with you for a long time after you’ve read it.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 4th April 2019

Print length: 384 pages

If you would like to purchase Dead Man’s Daughter, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

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A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan #bookreview @chrisewan @rosiewilsreads @panmacmillan

A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan was released in e-book on Thursday.  I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.

A Window Breaks: A Nerve-shredding, Pulse-racing Thriller With Real Heart That You Will Smash Your Way Through by [Ewan, C. M.]

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If your family was targeted in the middle of the night, what would you do?

You are asleep. A noise wakes you.
You stir, unsure why, and turn to your wife.
Then you hear it.
Glass. Crunching underfoot.
Your worst fears are about to be realized.
Someone is inside your home.
Your choices are limited.
You can run. Or stay and fight.
What would you do?

MY THOUGHTS

I read A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan really fast. I imagine that it’s everyone’s worst nightmare, to wake up in the middle of the night and find an intruder in your home. It’s a thought that’s never far from your mind when you’re checking doors and windows and making sure everything is locked before you go to bed, especially if you’re on your own.

What was meant to be a short respite for Tom and his family soon turns into a nightmare. They’ve recently suffered their own bereavement after Tom lost his son, Michael, in a car accident along with his son’s girlfriend. But that hasn’t been the end of their troubles. Recently they’ve been the victims of a vicious mugging, and in an attempt to try and overcome the horrors his family have suffered; Tom takes them to Scotland for a break. But things soon take a turn for the worse when Tom wakes early in the morning on their first night and discovers that someone has broken into the lodge. And it is clear that that person is here to harm them.

If you enjoy high octane thrillers, then this is a novel for you. I was drawn into Tom and his family’s personal crises as they are attempting to come to terms with what has happened to them over the past few months. The book does start at a fairly slow pace. But when the action gets going, it really doesn’t stop, and C.M. Ewan took me on a wild ride from the minute the action began.

What made me turn the pages so fast was that I wanted desperately to find out why these men had targeted Tom and his family. Was this somehow connected to the death of Tom’s son? As I was reading, I really couldn’t work out what was going on behind the scenes, which only becomes clearer towards the end of the book.

C.M. Ewan continues to raise the tension as Tom and his family fight to escape the clutches of the men who seem intent on killing them. There were times when I practically held my breath as I waited to see what was going to happen next, when Tom makes each decision, thinking he is doing the best thing to protect his family. I remember feeling so convinced that at any moment this was going to be the point when they were discovered.

But as Tom’s nightmare escalates, we do see snippets of what happened to his son in his final moments. The realisation of the truth does test the characters, and it did make me examine what I would do if I were in their shoes.

Although it is quite a long thriller, it certainly didn’t feel long at all to me as I was reading. The high levels of tension kept me furiously turning those pages in search of the truth. If you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you utterly gripped, then this is the book for you.

Publisher: Pan

Publication date: 31st October 2019

Print length: 464 pages

If you would like to purchase A Window Breaks, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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Violet by SJI Holliday #bookreview blog tour @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Violet by SJI Holliday. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Violet by [Holliday, SJI]

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Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…

MY THOUGHTS

SJI Holliday takes us across continents in her latest novel, beginning our journey in Bangkok, which is where we first meet our protagonist, the enigmatic Violet. Violet is still reminiscing over her break-up with her boyfriend, Sam, and when she misses the last train due to take her to her next destination, she strikes up a conversation with the buoyant, Carrie, who quickly takes Violet under her wing. The two girls become close and take the next stages of their journey across Asia together. But their friendship soon begins to turn sour, and Carrie begins to realise that Violet may not be the person who she thinks she is.

SJI Holliday’s latest book, Violet, is deliciously dark. There was something about Violet and Carrie’s friendship in the very early chapters that just drew me into the story. I wanted to know how things were going to pan out for them. Everything at the beginning seems so perfect, but there is that underlying sense of darkness which makes you think that something terrible is going to happen between the two girls. I wanted to know what, if any, secrets they were hiding.

Carrie is a very wild character who stands out next to Violet. At first, Violet appears shy and just happy to tag along. But as Violet’s character develops, we begin to see a different person begin to emerge, someone who is more confident and intriguing. This is why I found her so fascinating. I could never quite pin her down, and this is what makes her very mysterious.

I loved the settings. Through SJI Holliday’s writing, I felt as though I had travelled to parts of the world which I have never visited before, including Thailand, Mongolia and Russia. This, for me, is what made this book stand out and made it feel very unique. Reading this book will probably make me think twice about starting up a conversation with a stranger in the future if such a situation ever arises.

This is a book which can very easily be read in one sitting, and I devoured it in just a couple. The short chapters keep the pace flying forward. It’s quite different to SJI Holliday’s previous book, The Lingering, which I also enjoyed but I think, Violet is even better.

Violet is highly engrossing and really well written. If you haven’t read a book by SJI Holliday before, then you don’t want to be missing out. Fantastic stuff.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 14th September 2019 (kindle) 14th November 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

If you would like to purchase Violet, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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Closer Than Blood by Paul Grzegorzek #bookreview blog tour @PaulGlaznost @0neMoreChapter_ @BOTBSPublicity

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Closer Than Blood by Paul Grzegorzek, the second book in the PC Gareth Bell series. With thanks to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part.

Closer Than Blood: An addictive and gripping crime thriller (Gareth Bell Thriller, Book 2) by [Grzegorzek, Paul]

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The real nightmare begins when the missing person returns…

PC Gareth Bell is about to arrest a cocaine dealer on Brighton Marina, when he makes a shocking discovery that turns his world upside down: the dealer is his long-lost brother, Jake, someone he thought had died years ago.

But their reunion is short lived. For Jake is on the run from a cold-blooded killer, whose network reaches all the way into the police force itself. Now that his brother’s life is on the line, Bell has only two choices. Family, or duty?

MY THOUGHTS

Paul Grzegorzek is a writer who writes with real authenticity. Having spent several years in the police force himself, you know that you are safely in the hands of a writer who knows his stuff.

Closer Than Blood is a real page-turner and a thrill a minute. In the second book in his PC Gareth Bell series, Paul takes us deep into Brighton’s murky underworld and the latest case that Gareth finds himself wrapped up in may pose a critical threat to national security. He knows that this particular case certainly isn’t going to be an easy ride, and there is a real sense of imminent danger.

I recently read the first book in this series, The Follow and there was something about PC Gareth Bell that made both of these books feel so fresh. He is a police officer who doesn’t always abide by the law, sometimes he will disobey orders from his superiors, but he will only do this with good reason to and with getting justice as the ultimate aim. And this is something that I really liked about him. He is never predictable.

The case Gareth is investigating hits far too close to home for his liking. For many years his family suspected that his brother, Jake was dead, but to Gareth’s utter bewilderment he discovers he is alive and in a hell of a lot of trouble. And his brother’s problems are about to land on his doorstep when some seriously nasty people start threatening Gareth and the people he loves. What exactly has his brother got himself involved in? How are any of them going to make it out of this alive?

After reading the opening chapters, I was desperate to know who it was that Gareth’s brother had upset so badly and what he had done to deserve this. I was hooked straight away. When it is revealed that Jake had stolen something from the people who are trying to kill him, I flew through the book to find out what it was.

If you are looking for a crime novel that is pacy and filled with thrills from the get-go, then I would definitely recommend Closer Than Blood. The storyline is gritty and will have you totally invested in the plot and the characters. I can’t recommend this book and this series highly enough.

I can’t wait to read more from Paul Grzegorzek!

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: 16th August 2019 (kindle) 31st October 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages

If you would like to purchase Closer than Blood, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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The Roommates by Rachel Sargeant #bookreview blog tour @RachelSargeant3

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Roommates by Rachel Sargeant. With thanks to Rachel for inviting me to take part.

The Roommates: A gripping, addictive, psychological thriller full of shocking twists from the Kindle top ten bestseller by [Sargeant, Rachel]

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THEY LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE
University is supposed to be the best time of your life. But Imo’s first week is quickly going from bad to worse.

YOU SHARE EVERYTHING
A stalker is watching her flat, following her every move, and Imo suspects that her new roommates are hiding dark secrets…

BUT DO YOU TRUST THEM?
When one of them suddenly disappears, the trauma of Imo’s recent past comes hurtling back to haunt her. And she begins to realise just how little she knows about the people she lives with…

MY THOUGHTS

Several months ago, Imo’s sister, Sarah, disappeared without a trace leaving the police with very few clues to follow. Now, as Imo attempts to move forward, she is starting a new chapter in her life by starting university. But when her new roommate, Amber goes missing after their first day, Imo is determined to find out what happened to her. It may be too late for her sister, but Imo is resolved not to let Amber suffer the same fate.

I quickly became invested in Imo’s search for Amber. There were certain times when it did feel as though she was the only person interested in pursuing the case. Had something dreadful happened to her, or had she decided to leave university by her own free will?

I could see that the lack of a resolution in Imo’s sister’s disappearance was what was driving her willpower to find Amber.

The story opens in a very dramatic way which captured my attention. Rachel then peels back the layers to reveal what has happened in the run up to this moment. This is what makes this a real page-turner. I wanted to find out what was going to lead the characters to that moment we see at the beginning. I wanted to see what the final outcome was going to be.

I loved the university setting, which Rachel Sargeant brought to life well, particularly fresher’s week. Rachel captures the buzz, and the excitement in her writing as new students begin to get to know each other as they settle into their new routine.

The storyline darkens as Imo gets closer to finding out what was going on in Amber’s life before her disappearance. There are some highly tense moments as the book races towards its resolution, and I was never quite sure how things were going to end up.

I’d definitely like to see Rachel return to Imo again as I feel as though there is more to find out about her. Rachel certainly leaves the novel open to the possibility of a sequel.

This is a really well written thriller which you can easily sink into. Rachel’s writing is very immersive. I wanted to find out the truth about what had happened to Amber. I guarantee that you will keep turning those pages to work out the answers yourself.

The Roommates definitely comes recommended from me.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 24th October 2019

Print length: 269 pages

If you would like to purchase The Roommates, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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First Monday Crime Book Review – The Whisper Man by Alex North @writer_north @1stMondayCrime

First Monday Crime is back at City University, London on Monday, 4th November at 18.30 p.m. We have another stellar line up for you which includes, Alex North author of The Whisper Man, Louise Candlish author of Those People, Abir Mukherjee author of Death in the East and Victoria Selman author of Snakes and Ladders. The panel is being moderated by Sophie Goodfellow.

Earlier in the year I read Alex North’s The Whisper Man and it is still one of my top reads of the year. I’m re-sharing my review below. And if you would like to come along to First Monday Crime, you can find all the details where you can reserve your FREE space at the end of the blog post.

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If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.

Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home.

Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I remember first hearing about The Whisper Man way back, early in 2018, and I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I first read about it in ‘The Bookseller.’

I was slightly worried, as it had received a lot of early praise if it would live up to my expectations, and I’m relieved to tell you that it certainly did. This is one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year. Alex North’s writing is totally immersive and the line “if you leave the door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken,” chilled me. This is a very well thought out book with a spooky and creepy atmosphere, and it was done really well.

Tom and his son Jake move to the quiet town of Featherbank following the death of Tom’s wife and Jake’s mother, Rebecca. They’re hoping for a fresh start, but soon strange things start to happen. Jake begins talking to imaginary friends. Tom, as you can imagine, has a lot of concerns about his son’s behaviour.

Fifteen years ago, a serial killer abducted and killed five children; one child remains missing. In the present day, another child has disappeared, and soon the killer has their eyes set on Jake. But there are some scary similarities to the crimes that took place decades earlier. But the man responsible for those crimes is in prison. Is this a copycat? Or is something much more sinister going on?

This is a novel with a huge amount of heart. Tom confesses in the opening lines how he has struggled to bond with his son, but you can really see their relationship develop throughout this book, and this makes the final scenes so tense and gripping. I couldn’t be sure where we were going to end up at the end, and there were some times when I almost couldn’t bear to find out as I didn’t want anything bad to happen to the characters. A book is only gripping, I find if you care a lot about the characters, and this is what Alex North has achieved with this book.

There is real depth to Alex North’s writing. I really engaged with Tom and his son as they tried to make a new start. You can see just how difficult this is for them and there are some scenes that I’m sure will pull at the heartstrings of many readers. Right from the start of the novel, I just got the feeling that something terrible was going to happen, and this darkness ran right from the beginning to the heart-pounding conclusion.

The Whisper Man is a top crime novel, one I’m certain will hit the bestseller lists. Alex North is a writer who I’m sure will jump straight to the top of my TBR pile whenever he has a new book out. Brilliant and captivating. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publication date: 13th June 2019

Print length: 400 pages

If you would like to purchase The Whisper Man, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

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If you would like to come along to First Monday Crime, you can reserve your space by clicking on the link below.

The nearest Tube stations are Farringdon and Angel. Afterwards we’ll be heading to The Dame Alice Owen for a drink.

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All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox #bookreview blog tour @CharlylynnCox @HeraBooks @BOTBSPublicity

Happy publication day to Charly Cox. Her debut novel, All His Pretty Girls is released today and it’s my pleasure to be sharing my review as part of the blog tour.

All His Pretty Girls: An absolutely gripping detective novel with a jaw-dropping killer twist by [Cox, Charly]

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Detective Alyssa Wyatt is hunting a serial killer.

She doesn’t know that he’s hunting her.

A woman is found naked, badly beaten and barely alive in the New Mexico mountains. The shocking discovery plunges Albuquerque Detective Alyssa Wyatt into a case that will test her to the limit.

It appears that Callie McCormick is the latest plaything of a shadowy psychopath that leaves a long shadow on the streets of New Mexico – an individual linked to a string of deaths but leaving no evidence.

But when Alyssa makes a breakthrough that just might reveal the killer, she unknowingly puts herself in the crosshairs of a brutal maniac – one with an old score to settle.

Because the killer knows Alyssa very well, even if she doesn’t know him. And he’s determined that she’ll know his name – even if he has to extract his deadly revenge on her and everything she loves.

MY THOUGHTS

All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox is such an intense read. A terrifying serial killer is stalking a community. For Detective Alyssa Wyatt the case hits far too close to home. When a kidnapped woman turns up dead, it becomes personal. She feels she has failed this woman and her failure to find her alive eats away at her. It makes her more determined to catch whoever is responsible for the murders that have taken place and make sure they never kill again. But this case will have devastating consequences for Alyssa and her family.

Charly Cox really did make me fear for her characters as I was reading this book. She managed to create such an intense atmosphere in her writing. I was desperately hoping that the victims of the criminal in her novel would find a means of escape. Charly Cox did make these scenes feel very claustrophobic, and I almost couldn’t bear to read on, but I knew I had to.

I really liked Alyssa. I think it did take me some time to warm to her, when I first started reading but she gradually grew on me. She is a character who has suffered in the past as well. Her brother, Timmy, disappeared when they were only children, and she has continuously blamed herself for her brother’s disappearance. He was found dead, but his kidnapper was never identified. I suspect that this part of the plot may feed into later books in the series and I’m hoping that there is going to be another book.

The plot moves along at an extremely fast pace. As the reader, you can sense the clock ticking down as the police work hard to apprehend the killer, and in the final chapters, Charly Cox really does turn the tension up a notch.

The twists that come in this book are hard-hitting, and one blew my mind. You won’t believe what is happening when it finally dawns on you. I thought it was so clever how Charly managed to weave this into her plot, but as I looked back, I could see that there were hints and signs there. It was very cleverly done, and I am still reeling from it as I am writing this review.

If I could sum of All His Pretty Girls in just a few words they would be; intense, dark, haunting and terrifying. If you enjoy crime fiction with a darker edge, then this is a book for you. I can’t wait to see where Charly takes us next.

Publisher: Hera Books

Publication date: 23rd October 2019

If you would like to purchase All His Pretty Girls, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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The Long Call by Ann Cleeves #bookreview

A couple of weeks ago I read The Long Call, the first in a new series by Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland series. This is the first book by Ann Cleeves which I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The Long Call is the captivating first novel in the Two Rivers series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

MY THOUGHTS

The Long Call is a deeply engrossing story by Ann Cleeves. Set along the North Devon coastline, the body of a man with a stab wound is found on the beach. As Detective Matthew Venn takes a closer look into the past few weeks leading up to the man’s death, he uncovers some disturbing facts. As Matthew unpeels the layers of the victim’s life, it seems as though there is something a lot more sinister going on, and Matthew is determined to stop it.

This is the first case for Detective Matthew Venn and the first novel in a brand new series for Ann Cleeves. This book had long been on my radar before it was published, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read it as soon as I did. Shamefully I’ve never read a book by Ann Cleeves before, but I will be rectifying that after reading her latest. I’m also sure that this book will win her an army of new fans.

The Long Call is a slow-burner. It does, however, develop into a highly engrossing, character-driven read. Matthew Venn is a character who has suffered in the past, mainly at the hands of his family. The opening of the novel sees him attending his father’s funeral but at a distance. We can see that there is an animosity there between him and his relatives, chiefly down to religious matters which initially caused their split. I did feel sorry for him. You can see that he wants to make amends with his family, but they appear to be less willing to do so.

There is a complicated life attached to the victim, which Matthew has to unpick as the investigation into his death gets underway. There is also a connection to a community arts centre where the victim may have volunteered. I really liked how Ann Cleeves attached different strands to the investigation, which kept me thinking along the way. Until everything comes together in the end, you really don’t know how Ann Cleeves is going to bring about that full circle that makes everything clear.

There are some characters here who will get under your skin. I thought this particularly about Matthew’s family and the company they kept. The novel does explore how a belief can take its hold over a person, and even turn them against their own family.

Matthew Venn is a character who Ann Cleeves has brought to life really well in the first book in this series. I also liked the strong visual imagery which captured the North Devon landscape; it made me feel as though I was there.

A strong start to a new series, the Two Rivers series is one I’ll be keen to follow.

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 5th September 2019

Print length: 384 pages

If you would like to purchase The Long Call, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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To Keep You Safe by Kate Bradley #bookreview blog tour @kate_bradley @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for To Keep You Safe by Kate Bradley. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

BLURB

I HAD TO SAVE YOU, SO I TOOK YOU . . .

When ex-soldier-turned-teacher Jenni Wales sees 15-year-old Destiny’s black eye, she’s concerned. Destiny isn’t your average student: she’s smart, genius IQ smart, and she’s in care. But concern turns to fear when Jenni witnesses an attempt to abduct Destiny from school.

With social services and the police not taking the threat seriously, Jenni does the only thing she can think of to keep Destiny safe: she takes her.

But the men that are after Destiny are close behind them. What can Destiny know that would make them hunt her? And can Jenni keep her safe?

But what if what Jenni thought she saw isn’t the truth at all? What if the truth is much darker than either of them want to face? Their journey will take them both to unexpected places, but both are survivors and each will surprise the other in ways they could never have imagined.

MY THOUGHTS

To Keep You Safe is such an intense psychological thriller by Kate Bradley and I managed to finish it in just a couple of sittings. There’s action right from the get-go when former soldier, turned teacher, Jenni, is compelled to help her pupil, Destiny. Jenni is convinced that Destiny is being tracked by some very dangerous people and is determined to help her escape them. But as Jenni tries to take charge of Destiny’s fate, things soon start to spiral out of control. For Jenni and Destiny, their lives will never be the same again.

What I loved about this book is that I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t be sure if Destiny was misleading Jenni or if she did desperately need her help. You’ll begin to understand why I thought this if you choose to read the book. You can see just how much Jenni cares for Destiny. She wants to make sure she’s safe, and she will go to any means possible to make sure this happens, even if this means putting her career at risk. I think this was what I liked most about Jenni. Her sheer determination to make sure that nothing bad happens to Destiny is what drives her throughout the book.

Destiny is a character who has come from a troubled upbringing, and she has been moved around from different foster homes. What also made this book fascinating is that we are allowed glimpses into Destiny’s mind. We can see how her upbringing has moulded her into the person she is today. I always had this feeling that Destiny wasn’t being entirely truthful with her teacher. This feeling made keep guessing and turning the pages as I wanted to find out what was really going on, and who’s side, Destiny was on. She is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve recently come across.

There are some uncomfortable themes which Kate Bradley explores in this book, and this made the novel more intense. When Jenni first decides to help Destiny, I didn’t expect the story to come to this point. There are some shocking twists which make you look even more closely at the characters.

This book will keep you completely gripped throughout, and it will have you desperately trying to work out what the final outcome will be. If you enjoy reading a fast and an intense story, then I would definitely recommend this book.

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 10th October 2019 (kindle)

Print length: 400 pages

If you would like to purchase To Keep You Safe, you can do so by clicking on the following link below.

Amazon UK

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To Keep You Safe