Murder in the Village by Lisa Cutts #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Lisa Cutts, Murder in the Village.

Murder in the Village: A completely unputdownable English cozy mystery (A Belinda Penshurst Mystery Book 1) by [Lisa Cutts]

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Meet Belinda Penshurst. Castle owner, dog lover… crime solver?

Belinda Penshurst loves her home village Little Challham, with its shady lanes, two pubs and weekly market. She’s lived there all her life, knows everybody, and feels proud of its charming, friendly nature. So when irritable pub landlord Tipper is found dead in his cellar, she’s shocked… and also perfectly placed to investigate.

Retired detective Harry Powell moved to Little Challham for a quiet life. He didn’t expect to be dragged into a murder investigation. But Belinda is a very persuasive woman, and there are strange things happening in the village. Particularly the number of dogs that have disappeared lately…

Is there a dognapper at work in Little Challham? Is Belinda right to be worried that her brother Marcus was arguing with Tipper on the day he died? Belinda and Harry interrogate the suspects: the rival landlord, the outraged barmaid, and the mysterious man in the black car. But are they on the right track… or is the killer already on their trail?

MY THOUGHTS

Cosy crime isn’t usually my go to genre. I do like the crime fiction I read to be a touch darker. But I’ve read Lisa Cutts work before and I really enjoyed it so I thought I would give her latest novel, Murder in the Village a go. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. I loved Belinda and Harry, although I think Belinda is definitely my favourite character of the two. I really hope this is going to be the start of a long running series featuring them.

There is a lot that is going on in the charming village of Little Challham. Dog owners are on edge because dogs are mysteriously vanishing and when the local pub landlord is found dead, tensions really begin to heat up.

Belinda is a character who I think many readers will warm to right away. Belinda’s family are quite well known in the town and Belinda certainly knows how to make her voice heard. I loved the way how she threw herself into finding out what was going on in the village and I loved how she managed to get Harry working with her as well. They make for a fascinating and a really entertaining duo. Belinda seems to take everything that is happening in the village in her stride. She is definitely in her element when she is trying to solve the mystery.

Harry is also an intriguing character. He was once a police officer but now sells dog treats, like Belinda, he is intrigued by what is happening in the village, particularly with the missing dogs, but he doesn’t want to get involved in an investigation. I think, personally he only agrees to help Belinda out because he doesn’t want to see her get into trouble.

Lisa Cutts manages to create the country life living seen very well. I could picture Little Challam really well and I loved the detail that Lisa Cutts added, particularly the pubs. I’ve lived in a village for twelve years now and the pubs here certainly seem to be the central focal point of everything.

Everything came together very well and I liked how Lisa Cutts wrapped everything up. I can’t wait to see what Belinda and Harry get up to again and I’m looking forward to seeing what mystery comes their way next.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 25th August 2021

Print length: 252 pages

Murder in the Village is available to buy:

Amazon UK

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping new novel by Clare Mackintosh, Hostage.

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The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh is such a tense, nail biting read, and it opens with an explosive first page which paints a terrifying picture in your mind. I’m a huge fan of Clare Mackintosh’s books and I think this is her best book to date. It made me think that this is something that could happen which made it even more terrifying. It has made me think twice about getting on a plane, especially a long-haul flight any time soon.

We’re introduced to Mina, a flight attendant who is about to travel on the first ever non-stop trip from London to Sydney. Mina did originally want to become a pilot, but her plans changed. The flight is getting a lot of attention from the press; influencers and celebrities are among the passengers traveling in business class. The thought of being on a flight for twenty hours fills me with dread. The longest flight I’ve ever taken is when I flew to Japan a couple of years ago which was fourteen hours. As the flight gets underway it becomes clear to Mina that the flight has been taken hostage. Mina is faced with an impossible decision that will affect the lives of everyone on board.

I really had no idea how things were going to pan out for Mina. I could feel her fear as she comes to terms with the decision she has to make. It made me wonder what she was going to do, and it made me think about what I would do if I was in her position.

What I really liked about this book is that parts of the book are told from different passengers who are onboard the flight. They all have their own individual, unique backstories which I thought Clare Mackintosh crafted so well. It made me question everything about them and I felt as though I couldn’t trust anyone who was onboard.

Clare Mackintosh also tells the book from the point of view Mina’s husband who is at home with her daughter. I thought these scenes were done very well and they added to the tension in the book. I really liked Mina’s daughter. She is very bright, and I thought that Clare Mackintosh brought her personality to life really well. Mina’s husband is a very mysterious character and I wanted to find out more about him, especially as things for Mina begin to escalate.

Clare Mackintosh is a writer who knows how to deliver on tension. The plan creates the perfect, locked room setting and it also gives the book a very claustrophobic feeling. I loved this book and I devoured it in just a couple of sittings. I thought the ending was done very well and it wrapped the book up in a very satisfactory way on a chilling final note. Psychological thriller fans, you have to read this book! I highly recommend it!

Publisher: Sphere

Publication date: 22nd June 2021

Print length: 400 pages

Hostage is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Life She Wants by J.M. Hewitt #bookreview @jmhewitt

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping new novel by J.M. Hewitt, The Life She Wants.

The Life She Wants: A totally unputdownable psychological thriller by [J.M. Hewitt]

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You want to save your marriage. She wants to destroy it.

Paula worries that her marriage to Tommy is hanging by a thread. She loves how safe her husband makes her feel, but lately, it seems like he’s pulling away from her, and he keeps avoiding a much-needed conversation about finally having children.

When Tommy suggests a cruise getaway for the two of them, Paula is thrilled. He’s fighting for this marriage, and he’s even promised that they will talk about growing their family. It’s Paula’s dream come true. Until the couple meets beautiful Anna.

From the moment Anna appears in their lives, things start to go wrong for Paula. She finds herself trapped in a sauna. Her hair is destroyed at the salon. Money goes missing from her cabin. At first, Paula thinks she’s paranoid in suspecting Anna is turning her dream holiday into a nightmare. But soon, it becomes clear that Paula may not be the only woman fighting for Tommy’s affections.

How far will Anna go to get what she wants? What lines will Paula cross to protect her marriage? And whose dark past will return to destroy them first?

MY THOUGHTS

The Life She Wants by J.M. Hewitt is a really tense thriller and it is such an entertaining read. It centres around two women, Anna and Paula. As Paula tries to make her marriage to her husband Tommy, work, she meets Anna. But although Anna comes across as very friendly, she has her own agenda. Soon, Paula begins to realise that Anna may not quite be the person she thought she was.

I really had no idea what was going to happen between Paula and Anna. Anna is determined to get what she wants and she is willing to do anything to get there. This is what makes the book so tense. Anna is a very interesting character; I wanted to know what was really going on in her mind and what her real motives were here.

I loved that the book was set mostly on a cruise. Tommy and Paula have taken the trip to the northern hemisphere with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. It made me feel that something bad was going to happen, particularly to Paula and it helped to create a cold, menacing atmosphere. It seemed as though it would be quite easy for someone to get away with a crime. The setting made it feel as though the walls were closing in and that there would be no escape if something terrible was to happen.

I thought the voices of the characters came through very well on the page. I could see Anna’s determination to get what she wants and this is what makes her scary. I really did not like her, although I did think that she and Tommy would’ve been quite well suited for each other.

J.M. Hewitt also shares with us some intriguing scenes from the past. We don’t know quite how these scenes will feed into the future until much later though. Some of these scenes are very dark.

The Life She Wants hooked me from the very first page and it kept me gripped right the way through. It’s the first book I’ve read by J.M. Hewitt and I can’t wait to catch up on her previous novels. If you’re looking for an entertaining psychological thriller then you should definitely add this book to your TBR pile. The suspense is there on every page and the characters reel you in. I really enjoyed it.

Publisher: Canelo

Publication date: 8th July 2021

Print length: 225 pages

The Life She Wants is available to buy:

Amazon UK

October First Monday Crime @1stMondayCrime @wekesperos

First Monday Crime is back after a summer break and we have four brilliant authors appearing on the panel. First Monday Crime will be online and it can be viewed live on their Facebook page at 19:30 p.m. on Monday, 4th October 2021. I’ll have all the details about how you can access the link and who will be appearing at the end of this post. But first I have a review of the stunning debut novel by Inga Vesper, The Long, Long Afternoon for you. Inga is one of the authors who will be appearing on the panel.

The Long, Long Afternoon: The captivating mystery for fans of Small Pleasures and Mad Men by [Inga Vesper]

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Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .

It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.

While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .

A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.

MY THOUGHTS

The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper is a beautifully written novel set in California in the 1950s. The writing is highly engaging and the mystery of Joyce Haney’s disappearance drew me into the story. It is very well written and Inga Vesper highlights important social issues of the day.

When Joyce Haney goes missing, the first suspect the police consider is the family’s help, Ruby Wright. There are some police officers who would much rather pin the crime on her and have it be forgotten about, but Detective Blanke, who is new to the area, is appalled by this. He is determined to solve the mystery of Joyce Haney’s disappearance and he is determined to make sure the right person put behind bars.

As we get to know more about Joyce Haney we get to see that there are lot of mysteries in her life. She seems to be very different to the women in the neighbourhood. I wanted to get to the bottom of who she was and what had been happening in her life in the run up to her disappearance. There was also a lot of mystery surrounding her family which I wanted to find out more about.

I really felt frustrated for Ruby. You can see that she is doing everything to try and help but she seems to hit a brick wall every time she tries to do this. It highlights the racism that Ruby experiences. This does create tension in the book as well, particularly as people from Ruby’s part of town don’t like the police. But Ruby is determined to help the police solve the mystery of Joyce’s disappearance.

There are a number of suspects Detective Blanke investigates but I was never able to guess if any of them had anything to do with Joyce’s disappearance. I wasn’t able to make up my mind either if whether or not she would be found alive or dead. The residents of the town made me feel as though they were all hiding something.

Inga Vesper brings the setting to life really well and I felt as though I was there. The setting really helped in bringing this book to life. I loved the way how Inga described California and Sunnylakes, where the crime takes place.

The Long, Long Afternoon is a brilliant debut. I really enjoyed reading it and I thought it felt very fresh. If you’re looking for an engaging crime thriller, I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Manilla Press

Publication date: 2nd February 2021

Print length: 333 pages

The Long, Long Afternoon is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

First Monday Crime is being broadcast live on Facebook at 19.30 p.m. on Monday 4th October 2021. Appearing on the panel we have, Inga Vesper author of The Long, Long Afternoon, Lesley Kara author of The Dare, Mara Timon author of Resistance, Tariq Ashkanari author of Welcome to Cooper. The panel will be moderated by Jonathan Whitelaw. You can access the event by clicking on the link below:

First Monday Crime

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping new novel by Joseph Knox, True Crime Story.

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‘What happens to those girls who go missing? What happens to the Zoe Nolans of the world?’

In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months.

She was never seen again.

Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011. But where some versions of events overlap, aligning perfectly with one another, others stand in stark contrast, giving rise to troubling inconsistencies.

Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide.

Zoe Nolan may be missing presumed dead, but her story is only just beginning.

MY THOUHGTS

I’m a huge fan of Joseph Knox’s work. True Crime Story is one of the most original books I’ve read this year. It’s told in a very unusual way, and I thought it really worked. It is so engaging, and the characters came to life on the page.

The title is perfect for this book. It really does feel as though you are reading about a true-life event that has taken place. Joseph Knox himself is a character in his story as he tries to work out alongside aspiring writer, Evelyn Mitchell, what happened to Zoe Nolan a student who went missing in 2011. It was interesting reading this as I kept wondering if this was indeed based upon true events. But that was part of the magic of the storytelling.

The mystery of Zoe Nolan’s disappearance drew me into the book. I could see Evelyn Mitchell’s excitement as she talked about what she was hoping to achieve with her book, and her excitement at the prospect of solving the mystery. It made me want to read on as I wanted to find out what had happened to Zoe myself as much as she did.

Joseph Knox tells the story through a series of interviews with the people who knew Zoe and who were among the last to see her. They all had their own unique voice and I thought it was really well done how Joseph Knox mad their stories come to life. I couldn’t work out if any of them could possibly be involved in Zoe’s disappearance and I wanted to find out more about them. I had different theories forming in my mind, but I was never able to guess what had happened to her.  

I think this would make a great audiobook. True Crime Story is an addictive read and it’ll have you thinking and examining everything you think you know about the characters. It was very entertaining. If you love listening to true crime podcasts, then you will love this book. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication day: 17th June 2021

Print length: 448 pages

True Crime Story is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

Damage by Caitlin Wahrer #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts today on Damage by Caitlin Wahrer.

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Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.

TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. And when the police get involved, this family in crisis might be capable of anything . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Damage by Caitlin Wahrer is a stunning debut novel which examines the effects a terrible crime can have on the victim; their close friends and relatives. It is very well done and I thought it was very fresh.

We meet Nick, who suffers a brutal assault when he is raped after a night out. This is a subject which I haven’t seen portrayed before in crime fiction. What has happened to Nick, hits his brother, Ray, particularly hard. Caitlin Wahrer explores their emotions and their thoughts so well and we really get inside her character’s heads. Caitlin Wahrer also explores how this type of crime is portrayed in the media and how it is viewed by members of the public. It also makes for very tense reading as we have no idea if Nick’s attacker will be caught, or if he’ll come after Nick again.

The emotions come through very strongly on the page. I could feel the pain that Nick was going through and Ray’s anger. It made for tense reading as I wondered what on earth Ray was going to do. Would he just leave things for the police to deal with? I had no idea how he was going to react.

Peering into the minds of the victim and the family following the ordeal the victim has gone through is what made this book feel very fresh for me. I’m very interested in what happens in the aftermath of a police investigation and I think this is what really engaged me the most here. It’s a novel which also explores the question ‘how far would you go to protect your family?’

The writing was very addictive and, although there isn’t a lot of action in the book, I flew through it. I was utterly engaged in the lives of the characters on the page and I had to know what was going to happen to them. Caitlin Wahrer is an expert at bringing her characters to life through their unique voices and I thought this was exceptionally well done.

Damage is an utterly engaging novel and it is also a very powerful read. It’s a book which I’m sure will stay with many readers for a long time to come. I’m certain I’ll be looking out for what Caitlin Wahrer writes next.

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publication date: 8th July 2021

Print length: 400 pages

Damage is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

Safe at Home by Lauren North #bookreview #blogtour @Lauren_C_North @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Lauren North, Safe at Home. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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What if you left your child alone, and something terrible happened?

Anna James is an anxious mother. So when she has to leave eleven-year-old Harrie home alone one evening, she can’t stop worrying about her daughter. But nothing bad ever happens in the sleepy village of Barton St Martin.

Except something goes wrong that night, and Anna returns to find Harrie with bruises she won’t explain. The next morning a local businessman is reported missing and the village is sparking with gossip.

Anna is convinced there’s a connection and that Harrie is in trouble. But how can she protect her daughter if she doesn’t know where the danger is coming from?

MY THOUGHTS

Safe at Home is the type of book that can easily be read in one sitting. This is the first book by Lauren North which I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last. The tension is there right from the first page, and it builds and builds as the story develops. This is one of the most gripping books I’ve read this year!

There is so much intrigue in this book. The most fascinating character for me, was eleven-year-old Harrie. There is so much mystery surrounding her, and I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on in her life. We know something is up, right at the very start, when on Halloween, Harrie doesn’t return from trick or treating. This creates panic, but before we find out what has happened to Harrie we’re taken back to ten days earlier. Ten days before Halloween Harrie’s mother, Anna has left her at home for what should be just a few moments. But they are caught in a devastating accident and something terrible happens at home.

I thought both Harrie and Anna’s voice came through very strongly in the book. You can feel the tension in Anna’s voice as she speaks, and you can see just how anxious she is. This did very well in adding to the tension. Harrie doesn’t let on at all about what is bothering her, and you can see just how scared she is.

My opinion of Harrie kept changing as I was reading. One moment I was feeling sorry for her and hoping that things would get better for her, but then I couldn’t believe how she was treating her mother. I thought at times that she was being selfish. I liked this as it kept me interested in Harrie and what she was going through.

I really had no idea how things were going to pan out for Harrie and Anna. It’s what kept me hooked as I was reading. The plot is so well thought out and when Lauren North revealed what was really going on, I thought it was done in a very clever way. The final revelations were so shocking, and I could not believe what I was reading.

This is psychological suspense at its very best. I flew through this book. Now I’m desperate to catch up on Lauren North’s previous novels. If you’re looking for a pacy, addictive thriller, then I highly recommend Safe at Home. I could not put it down!

Publisher: Corgi

Publication date: 9th September 2021 (kindle) 30th October 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 374 pages

Safe at Home is available to buy:

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Tall Bones by Anna Bailey #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the debut crime novel by Anna Bailey, Tall Bones.

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When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

MY THOUGHTS

Tall Bones is an engaging, harrowing and an unnerving debut thriller by Anna Bailey. Anna takes us to a small American town, where the church is at its centre. The pastor of the church has a lot of influence, and you get the sense that the people will follow whatever command he gives. When teenager, Abi, goes missing, tensions in the town run high. Many, including Abi’s family, are pushed to breaking point as they try to work out what happened to her and who they should blame.

I wanted to know what had happened to Abi. Anna Bailey portrays very clearly how rattled her disappearance has made the residents of the town. Abi’s father Samuel is very religious, but he is also a bully. He is a character who I really didn’t like from the start, and I hated how the pastor could easily excuse his actions.

One character who I did like was Rat, a Romanian boy who lives on his own in the town. He felt like a breath of fresh air in the book, compared to the rest of the town’s population. I also really liked his relationship with Abi’s older brother, Noah. This relationship is looked down upon by the rest of the town’s population, especially by Abi’s father. I was worried that something terrible was going to happen to Noah; I wouldn’t have put it past a few of the town’s residents to have done something despicable to him.

I had so many thoughts on what had happened to Abi as I was reading, and I was never able to quite work out what had happened. Did she run away? Did she get caught up in something much more terrifying? I was kept utterly gripped as the final devastating truth became clear. There are some shocking truths as the reasons behind Abi’s disappearance become clear.

Tall Bones is an exciting debut and I’m sure I’ll be looking out for anything that Anna Bailey writes next. If you enjoy character-driven novels, then I highly recommend this book. I’m sure it’ll stay in the minds of readers long after they have turned the final page. I loved it.

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication date: 1st April 2021

Print length: 352 pages

Tall Bones is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Chateau by Catherine Cooper #bookreview #blogtour @catherinecooper @HarperCollinsUK @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Catherine Cooper, The Chateau. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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They thought it was perfect. They were wrong…

A glamorous chateau

Aura and Nick don’t talk about what happened in England. They’ve bought a chateau in France to make a fresh start, and their kids need them to stay together – whatever it costs.

A couple on the brink

The expat community is welcoming, but when a neighbour is murdered at a lavish party, Aura and Nick don’t know who to trust.

A secret that is bound to come out…

Someone knows exactly why they really came to the chateau. And someone is going to give them what they deserve.

MY THOUGHTS

Catherine Cooper has written another brilliant, utterly chilling thriller. The Chateau opens with an intriguing paragraph that made me want to know what was going on here. Someone is out for revenge. But who is this person? What has made them want to pursue this course of action?

Catherine Cooper then takes us to France, where at a party, someone ends up dead. This makes for such a gripping opening. I had to know who this person was who was killed. Following on from this we meet Aura and Nick who have recently relocated to France from the UK with their two sons, Bay and Sorrel. They are doing up a chateau with a film crew present who are filming for a documentary. It is clear that they have come here to try and forget something which happened to them.

As we get to know Aura and Nick Catherine Cooper takes us back in time. It is here that we get to see the events play out which led to them seeking a new life in France. There were some gripping scenes here as I wondered just what exactly had happened and I began to see events in the present in a new light. As Aura and Nick get to know the expat community out in France, I couldn’t believe some of the scenes I was reading, particularly when they attend their friend Thea’s party. Aura’s frustration comes through very clearly in her character here. It made me wonder how things were going to pan out for them in France.

Catherine Cooper throws in a lot of red herrings which keeps your attention focused elsewhere and I thought she did this very well. There was a twist which came towards the end of the book which completely surprised me. I had no idea that this was the direction that Catherine was going to take. It made it all the more chilling and those last few lines in the final chapter gave me shivers.

Psychological thriller fans, Catherine Cooper’s novels are a must read if you haven’t read them already. I was utterly gripped by The Chateau and I can’t wait to see what Catherine Cooper writes next.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 2nd September 2021

Print length: 400 pages

The Chateau is available to buy:

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The Vacancy by Elisabeth Carpenter #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new thriller by Elisabeth Carpenter, The Vacancy.

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Running from her past, Rachel answers an advert to be a live-in assistant to glamorous and eccentric author Dorothy Winters. But behind the closed doors of Dorothy’s house, she quickly discovers that nothing is as it seems.

When Dorothy’s manuscript throws up striking similarities to events in Rachel’s own life, she becomes convinced that the past she’s tried to hide is catching up with her.

Then the phone calls start. The parcel arrives. The blood shows up in the bathroom.

And Dorothy’s friend disappears.

Terrified of being blamed for murder, Rachel has nobody left to turn to.

Because who can she believe when she doesn’t even trust herself…?

MY THOUGHTS

The Vacancy is a tense, highly intriguing new thriller by Elisabeth Carpenter which, to me, felt very fresh. We meet Rachel who answers a job application for live-in assistant to famous writer, Dorothy Winters. Rachel is bowled over when she receives the news that she has got the job. Dorothy is a complex character, but Rachel soon settles into her new life. Soon, strange things start happening and Rachel begins to wonder what is going on here and what sort of person Dorothy Winters really is.


I was fascinated by Rachel. When she arrives at Dorothy’s, we can see that she is doing this to make a new start in her life. Something has happened to her. I wanted to know what it was that had happened in her past and what secrets she was keeping. Elisabeth Carpenter gradually reveals what this is, and the true picture of Rachel begins to emerge. I was intrigued by Dorothy as well. Dorothy was a successful author in the 90s and is working on a new manuscript which Rachel is having to type. As Rachel begins to type Dorothy’s chapters, she realises that the story she’s working on bears a haunting similarity to events which have happened in her own life. Coincidence?


I loved Rachel’s voice which drew me into the story. It felt as though someone is watching Rachel as she settles into her new life. There are snippets throughout the book where it appears as though someone is spying and recording what she is doing. It kept the tension ticking up a notch as I wondered if this was the case. Who could be following her? As Rachel gets to know her new employer she starts snooping around her house, to try and find out more about her. I thought this was a very bold move of Rachel to make and it made me wonder what she might potentially find out about Dorothy. What would happen if Dorothy found out what she was doing?


Elisabeth Carpenter begins to reveal what is really going on here and there was one twist which floored me. I thought it was very clever and it gives the book such a haunting feeling as we draw closer to the end; I thought the ending was very satisfying.


Elisabeth Carpenter has written an another utterly addictive psychological thriller with real emotional depth and the tension keeps you turning the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 5th August 2021

Print length: 432 pages

The Vacancy is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones