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.

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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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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.

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“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:

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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:

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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:

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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]

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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:

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Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds #blogtour #bookreview @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be re-sharing my review for Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds on my blog today as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Blood Red City by [Rod Reynolds]

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When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

MY THOUGHTS

I must admit, I’ve still not read Rod Reynolds previous Charlie Yates novels, they have been sat waiting patiently on my TBR pile for far too long. Now that I have read his latest, Blood Red City, I’m determined to get to them as soon as possible. For those of you that like an action-filled book that gets going right from the first page, and doesn’t let up, you will love this one. As I was reading it, the book put me in mind of the recent BBC Drama, The Capture, so if you were a fan of the series, I think you will enjoy this. This book blew me away!

The hook is there right from the start when journalist, Lydia, is shown a video of an apparent assault on a man in the London Underground. More recently Lydia has been covering the show business section which she hates, and she sees this as an opportunity to get back to doing what she loved. But as she investigates the case further, it seems that no one appears to have witnessed anything. In the era of fake news, it’s little wonder that it may seem that the whole video Lydia has seen could be a lie. Whatever the cost, she is determined to find out what happened. Who is the man? What if there has been a cover-up? As Lydia’s investigations get underway, she falls under the eye of some frightening individuals, and it becomes very clear that by investigating this matter to bring out the truth, she is putting her own life at risk.

As the plot of gets underway, we are introduced to another individual who comes across as ruthless and dangerous, a criminal mastermind. Michael Stringer becomes aware of Lydia’s investigations, and he attempts to track her down. But what is his purpose here? What interest does he have in what Lydia is doing? Is he somehow connected to the video?

When Rod Reynolds first introduces us to Michael, he made me feel nervous. I could see that he is someone who is cunning and that he has a lot of power at his fingertips. I feared for Lydia at this point as I could see that she was sailing closer and closer to danger, and I didn’t know what was going to be around the corner for her. I felt this especially when in the scenes when Lydia was under surveillance and Rod captured the sense of the chase well in his writing, and he raised the tension.

Blood Red City has an action fueled plot which will keep you turning the pages as each chapter presents a heart-racing new turn of events. Rod Reynolds wraps the book up really well, and I am hoping that there is going to be another book following this one. This is brilliant, highly, highly recommend!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 11th April 2020 (kindle) 23rd July 2020

Print length: 300 pages

Blood Red City is available to buy:

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Safe by S.K. Barnett #bookreview blog tour @SK_Barnett @arrowpublishing @RandomTTours #Safe

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Safe by S.K. Barnett today on my blog. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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YOUR CHILD IS MISSING.

She was only six years old when she disappeared. Posters went up, the police investigated.

But no one could find her.

Now, twelve years later, she’s home.

And knocking at your door.

You’re so happy to see her. But soon you start to wonder why she can’t answer your questions.

Where has she been? How did she find her way home?

And who is she?

MY THOUGHTS

From the first page of this book, I was gripped to the narrative and the writing style. Safe is a dark, twisty novel, and it pulls you deep into the story, you won’t want to stop reading until you have found out the truth.

The pace in this book rockets along. In the opening chapters, a young woman turns up in what was once her hometown and goes to the police station. She believes she is a girl who vanished from the town in 2007, who hasn’t been seen since. The case sparked a massive public effort to find her when she first went missing, but now there is little evidence that a kidnapping happened in the town all these years later. When the girl’s parents meet her, they are delighted and thankful to have their daughter back. But her brother has reservations. But what is it that he knows about his sister’s disappearance that his parents don’t? Why doesn’t he believe that this woman is the sister he lost twelve years earlier?

I was intrigued from the moment I first met the girl who claims to be the missing girl. As the police sat down to interview her, I wanted to know where she had been for the past twelve years and how she managed to escape from her kidnappers? I also wondered if they would come after her, and it seemed as though she was in constant danger. This was what I thought made this book original. Once a missing child is found, you would expect them to feel safe, for the nightmare to be over. But that isn’t the case here.

It’s really hard to talk about this book without giving anything away. S.K. Barnett created a claustrophobic feeling as the girl becomes reacquainted with the family who lost her. But there was an eerie atmosphere as she begins to settle into her new life. I was desperate to know what was really going on here and if everything was as it seems. It was the same feeling that you sometimes get when you wonder if something is too good to be true. I knew there was a lot more to discover here.

From quite early on in the book, I thought I had the ending worked out, and although I was partly correct, S.K. Barnett managed to throw in a final twist that I didn’t see coming. I thought the whole concept of Safe was very original, and I thought it was told really well. The author creates heart-pounding suspense and keeps you guessing as the story unfolded.

This is definitely one of those books that will have you reading well into the night. It was a top read for me. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Century

Publication date: 11th June 2020

Print length: 336 pages

Safe is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Waterstones

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The Last One To See Her by Mark Tilbury #bookreview blog tour @MTilburyAuthor

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Last One To See Her by Mark Tilbury today on my blog.

The Last One To See Her by [Mark Tilbury]

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He says he is innocent…so why did he lie?

Mathew Hillock was the last person to see eleven-year-old Jodie Willis alive. When her dead body turns up four days later in his garden shed, the police think he’s guilty of her murder. So do most people in the town. But there’s no DNA evidence to link him to the crime.
Battling the weight of public opinion and mental illness due to a childhood head trauma, he sinks into a deep depression.
Can Mathew do what the police failed to do and find evidence linking the real killer to the crime?

The Last One To See Her is a terrifying story of what happens when you’re accused of a crime and no one believes you are innocent.

MY THOUGHTS

Mark Tilbury writes dark and gritty crime fiction. In his latest book, The Last One To See Her, eleven-year-old Jodie Willis disappears after she visits the local shop. Three people are the last to see her alive, Matthew Hillock, a young man who has suffered a horrific trauma in his past, Jim Bentley, a drug dealer who has been on the police radar for years, and the shop owner. But witness statements quickly complicate the case. Matthew soon finds himself at the centre of the police probe, but even he isn’t confident of his innocence. As the police investigation deepens, Matthew has to consider the unthinkable.

The Last One To See Her was a really gripping read. Like Matthew’s family, I couldn’t believe that he was the one responsible for Jodie’s disappearance, and even as the evidence mounted, I felt sure that someone was setting him up. Matthew has been left with brain damage following a horrific attack on his family several years earlier when his father and sister were killed. It was only by pure chance that Matthew even survived the attack after being saved by his brother. I could easily see how Matthew could be made to be a scapegoat in this case, and you can see how quickly people turn against him, just because he is different, and this made me feel really sorry for him. Mark Tilbury paints a clear picture of just how vulnerable he is.

Jim Bentley is a character who will get under your skin. Violence comes as second nature to him, and from the very first moment when Mark Tilbury introduces him to us, he made me feel uncomfortable. A lot of the time, Jim expresses anger and frustration, and his overriding need for drugs drives this. Jim is also willing to do anything to cover up his crimes. I really hated Jim as I was reading. Making his characters come to life is what Mark Tilbury does really well, and I wanted the police to get to the real truth as I was sure that Matthew wasn’t involved.

Mark Tilbury doesn’t shy away from violence, and there are some quite graphic scenes in this book, so this wouldn’t be for the faint-hearted. The opening chapter is really dramatic as well, which had me hooked very early on. There are some terrifying moments as well which had my eyes glued to the page as I wanted to find out what happened next. Every time I got to the end of a chapter, I had to read on to find out how things were going to pan out.

Throughout the book, I was never certain who was responsible for Jodie’s disappearance. I could also still never entirely be sure about Matthew, and this was what kept me turning the pages, I really wanted him to be innocent, but I also had to know the truth. Mark Tilbury creates nail-biting suspense in the final chapters of this book as the plot unravels.

This is the first book I have read by Mark Tilbury, and I am certain that it won’t be the last book I read by him. The Last One To See Her is a read which you won’t want to put down!

Publisher: Tilbury Publishing

Publication date: 4th June 2020

Print length: 266 pages

The Last One To See Her is available to buy:

Amazon UK

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The Toybox by Charly Cox #bookreview #blogtour @CharlylynnCox @HeraBooks @BOTBSPublicity

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Toybox by Charly Cox on my blog today as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part.

The Toybox: A totally addictive, nail-biting crime thriller (Detective Alyssa Wyatt Book 2) by [Charly Cox]

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You don’t want to play their games…

All around Albuquerque, New Mexico, young women are going missing, seemingly vanished into thin air. With no link between the victims, Detective Alyssa Wyatt is quickly plunged into a horrifying case with no obvious clues.

And when Jersey Andrews, the best friend of Alyssa’s teenage daughter, Holly, joins the list of vanished girls, the case becomes personal.

But this investigation will lead Alyssa and partner Cord into the most sinister depths of humanity; an evil place where life is expendable, and where the depraved can fulfil their darkest desires – if they have the money to pay for it.

As the first bodies appear, abandoned on the streets, Alyssa is forced into a frantic hunt to track down the killers – before more innocent women lose their lives. But when the truth comes out, it seems that the key to solving the case was hiding in the last place anyone expected…

MY THOUGHTS

The Toybox is a dark police procedural by Charly Cox, examining the horrific world of human trafficking. This book sees the return of Detective Alyssa Wyatt. Alyssa’s own family is still reeling from the horrific events which happened to them in book one in the series when Alyssa’s son was kidnapped. You don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this one, but I would recommend it if you want to get a better understanding of the characters and what they have previously been through.

It doesn’t seem as though Alyssa Wyatt’s family is going to be left in peace after what happened to them, when her daughter’s best friend, Jersey goes missing after a frat party. In the opening chapter, Charly Cox draws you into the moments prior to Jersey’s disappearance, and she creates an unnerving, claustrophobic feeling as the party gets underway. Charly has created some instantly dislikeable characters in this book, and I found this particularly with one young man, who Alyssa is hoping to connect to the crimes, and with the parents of one of the missing girls. You can see just how angry these characters make Alyssa and the other detectives working on the case feel. It also made me feel angry that there are people who are like this out there in the world.

I must admit, however, I did find the build-up of the book quite slow. After the opening scenes, it did take time for the tension to get going again. But I did want to find out what was going to happen to the girls who had been kidnapped. I was rooting for Alyssa to reach the answers before it was too late. There are some really tense scenes when we see where the girls have been taken, and Charly Cox made it seem as though time was running out for them.

The tension really turns up a notch as the book reaches its climax. I don’t want to go into too much detail here as I don’t want to spoil it, but Charly Cox still kept me gripping the page as I felt that there was still the possibility that something could go drastically wrong.

I enjoyed catching up with Detective Alyssa Wyatt again in this book, and I will be looking forward to seeing what Charly Cox comes up with next. If you enjoy gritty police procedurals, then I would recommend giving these books a go.

Publisher: Hera Books

Publication date: 3rd June 2020

Print length:

The Toybox is available to buy:

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Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley #bookreview blog tour @vbradleywriter @annecater

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley today on my blog. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Before I Say I Do: A twisty psychological thriller that will grip you from start to finish by [Vicki Bradley]

BLURB

HER DREAM WEDDING
IS ABOUT TO BECOME A NIGHTMARE

It’s Julia’s wedding day. Her nerves are to be expected – every bride feels the same – but there’s another layer to her fear, one that she cannot explain to her soon-to-be husband, Mark. She’s never told him the details – and she is determined he never finds out.

As she begins down the aisle, spotting Mark in his tailored suit, she knows she is taking her first steps to happiness – her past is behind her, it can’t catch her now. Mark turns to face her . . .

But it isn’t Mark in the beautiful suit – it’s his best man.

Because Mark is missing.

And Julia’s past is closer than she thinks . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Before I Say I Do is a tense debut thriller by Vicki Bradley. Imagine turning up to the day you’ve been looking forward to for months, the day that marks the rest of your life together with your partner, your wedding day. Then imagine walking down the aisle, only to be greeted by shock and confusion instead of smiles and admiring glances. Your fiancé is missing and the last person to see him alive is standing a few paces in front of you.

From the first few pages I wanted to know what had happened to Julie’s fiancé, Mark. I wondered what was really going on among her close circle of friends and I wanted to know why she wasn’t told before walking down the aisle. I felt that I couldn’t trust anyone that was close to her and I felt sure that someone was keeping secrets from her. But there is something as well that even Julie isn’t being truthful about, something which happened in her past which she is trying desperately to keep buried.

Alana Loxton and Kowalski are the two detectives who are investigating the case. This part of the novel felt really authentic, Vicki Bradley is a former met detective, and I could see that she was writing from experience. I really liked both police officers who were working on the case and I hope that they will return in a future book as I thought that they gelled together well. Alana Loxton has her own personal issues she is struggling with, when it comes to a former boyfriend of hers. As she tries to find answers to this case a lot of barriers come up in her way, which prevents her from achieving her goal. I wanted to know how determined she was going to be to try and overcome this.

Vicki Bradley also takes us back to the time when we see a teenage girl; with her young sister and a teenage boy enter a forest together. Vicki creates a really creepy atmosphere as this part of the plot unfolds and as we begin to understand how this part of the story feeds into the present.

This is a really tense read which delivers on suspense. Before I Say I Do is a strong debut thriller and I’ll definitely be looking out for more from Vicki Bradley in the future.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: 28th May 2020

Print length: 384 pages

Before I Say I Do is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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