Cut to the Bone by Roz Watkins #bookreview

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

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

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A beautiful young social-media star goes missing.

But who took her?

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 25th June 2020

Print length: 416 pages

Cut to the Bone is available to buy:

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

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

The Sanatorium by [Sarah Pearse]

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EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Transworld

Publication date: 4th February 2021

Print length: 391 pages

The Sanatorium is available to buy:

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

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

Dishonoured: An addictive psychological thriller by [Jem  Tugwell]

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WE’RE ALL ONE MISTAKE FROM RUIN…

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Serpentine Books

Publication date: 14th January 2021

Print length: 231 pages

Dishonoured is available to buy:

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The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean #bookreview

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

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He is her husband. She is his captive.

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 7th January 2021

Print length: 256 pages

The Last Thing To Burn is available to buy:

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Red Dog Press

Publication date: 12th January 2021

Print length: 96 pages

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello is available to buy:

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens #bookreview

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Corsair

Publication date: 8th November 2018

Print length: 379 pages

Where the Crawdads Sing is available to buy:

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What You Pay For by Claire Askew #bookreview #crimefiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 22nd August 2019

Print length: 329 pages

What You Pay For is available to buy:

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Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton #bookreview

On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. I ended up finishing this book on Christmas day. The hardback and kindle edition was published on the 6th January 2020 and the paperback was published on the 20th October 2020 by Penguin.

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In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.

In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

MY THOUGHTS

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton is a brilliant, breath-taking and an utterly tense read. It is heart-breaking as well. You won’t be able to stop thinking about this book and the characters within its pages. It is so well done, and it is beautifully written.

A single bullet being fired sets off a chain of events that will keep you gripped. It’s a striking image. Rosamund Lupton sets her novel in a school in Somerset, during a snowstorm, which has become a target for terrorists. The students and teachers within the school have become hostages. The headmaster has been shot and needs urgent medical attention if he is to survive. The characters have no idea how the next couple of hours are going to pan out. The hostages have no idea if they are going to live or die. Their families have no idea if they will see them again.

I felt as though I had stepped into the character’s lives as I read this book. The fear and tension is on every page. When I started reading it, and when I read the blurb, I thought it sounded similar to Fierce Kingdom, which I read a few years ago. But Rosamund Lupton makes her story so unique in the voices and stories of her characters. They all feel very real, and I could imagine reading about this event, Rosamund Lupton portrays, in a newspaper or seeing it unfold on the news. It scarily feels very real.

Rosamund Lupton also peers into the psychology behind the terrorists reasons for targeting the school. The school, which has become a target, has embraced diversity. And that is the reason why the terrorists have made it one. It makes you angry to think that there are people actually like this, who exist in the world today. Everyone thinks that this sort of event won’t happen to them. By using a school, in a rural part of the country, Rosamund Lupton shows that this can happen anywhere. It’s what makes the idea even scarier.

The image of the teachers trying to make everything appear as normal as possible for the children is very powerful. They are rehearsing the play Macbeth for the Drama class’s latest production. During these scenes, I kept thinking how scared the teachers themselves must be at the thought of a gunman, potentially multiple gunmen, patrolling the school. It’s what makes them exceptionally brave as well as they try to keep the children safe, by drawing their attention away from the danger lurking around them.

Another powerful story told in the book comes from two brothers, Rafi and Basi, who have escaped war-torn Syria and have made a home in Britain. Their stories are heart-breaking, and the flashback scenes back to when they were fleeing Syria were very strong.

I can imagine that this will be a tough read for some people. You can feel the emotion from the characters within the pages, particularly from the parents who are desperate for news of their children. I don’t have children, so I can only imagine what that fear must be like. It is an emotional roller coaster of a read that will pull at the heartstrings. I imagine I’ll be thinking about it for a very long time to come, and I’m sure it will stick in your mind too, once you have read it.

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 6th January 2020

Print length: 306 pages

Three Hours is available to buy:

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Dark Angel by Russell Panter #bookreview

On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on the debut novel by Russell Panter, Dark Angel.

**In my review I have mentioned there were issues with proofreading. Russell has since confirmed with me that a version I read, which I bought from Amazon, was an early one and the wrong edition had been sold by Amazon. A more up to date version of the book has since been uploaded with the errors corrected.**

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Tom has the perfect life. Great marriage, successful job and a beautiful home. That is until things start happening that he can’t explain. Strange coincidences that start to make him question his sanity. Suddenly plunged into a situation out of his control and realising he is in danger, he spirals into a dark, brutal world of life and death. He finds he can trust no one and nowhere is safe. Alone, confused and desperately searching for answers; all whilst trying to escape unknown assailants.When suddenly contacted out of the blue by someone claiming he can help, Tom learns that his life has not been all that it seems, and a secret organisation is now hunting him. And with the help of his new ally and using his instinct and tenacity, he fights for his life and ultimately comes to terms with who, and what, he really is. Dark Angel is a dark, gritty, suspense story of loss, redemption and survival, set across some of America’s most iconic cities.

MY THOUGHTS

Dark Angel by Russell Panter is the first self-published novel I’ve read in a while. It was a good start to what I think could potentially be a new series, which I am definitely keen to follow. I thought the plot and the characters were engaging, and I wanted to find out what was going to happen to the lead character, Tom. Some things did, however, hold the book back, but I’m glad that I continued reading as I did enjoy the story.  

Tom has a successful career, and he is the company’s star employee. He also has a happy marriage. Things have been on the up for Tom for a while. But the good times are about to come to an abrupt end. What happens next will make Tom question everything about his life. When strange things start happening around him, the sudden deaths of people he knows, as well as the sudden breakdown of his marriage, he has no idea just how much things are about to change.

I was intrigued by the set-up. In a maternity ward, back in 1983, a father is anxiously awaiting the birth of his son, but a stranger is lurking in the background. But what is his purpose? Why is this man interested? As we fast forward to the present day, I wanted to know how this scene was going to be connected to Tom.

After the prologue, the story is a little slow to get going, but once the main action starts to take place, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Things begin to get really crazy for Tom, which leaves him utterly bewildered and unsure of what to believe or who he can trust anymore. I thought the ideas Russell Panter had were very original and it made the book a very entertaining read.

What did, unfortunately, let the book down was the proofreading, as I did spot a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes. If you can see past this, then it does make for an enjoyable read. Russell Panter is a talented writer, and I am certainly interested in seeing what he comes up with next. After finishing this book, I do believe there is the potential for a sequel. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the characters next.

Publisher: Independently Published

Publication date: 21st May 2020

Print length: 398 pages

Dark Angel is available to buy:

Amazon UK

The Appeal by Janice Hallett #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the debut novel by Janice Hallett, The Appeal, on my blog today. With thanks to Viper Books for sending me a copy to review.

The Appeal: The thriller you'll become obsessed with by [Janice Hallett]

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In a town full of secrets…
Someone was murdered.
Someone went to prison.
And everyone’s a suspect.
Can you uncover the truth?

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death.

Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered.

Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

MY THOUGHTS

The Appeal by Janice Hallett is one of the most original crime novels I’ve read in a long while. It’s told in a unique way, and it invites the reader to see if they can solve a mystery. If you’re looking for something that is different in the crime fiction genre, you definitely need to read this. Someone was murdered. Someone was erroneously imprisoned. Who is the guilty party?

When I did start reading, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how I would get on with the style in which the book was written. But after the first couple of pages had passed, I was utterly gripped, and I thought the story was told in a really clever and creative way.

A Drama group, run by a man named Martin Hayward, is setting up to stage a production of All My Sons. But this is soon thrown into chaos when he receives the devastating news that his granddaughter, Poppy, has a rare form of cancer. The Haywards, with the help of the members of the drama group, launch an appeal to raise money for treatment, which Poppy’s family believe is the best hope for her survival. The treatment is currently going through trials in America and is not available in the UK and won’t be for years, perhaps ever. But raising the much needed funds, the family need isn’t going to be easy. As the group starts exchanging their thoughts over email and text, the true colours of some group members are revealed.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot, as it is best to go into this book with very little information, but there are some devious and compelling characters. The dialogue between the members of the group was very believable. Even though we don’t get any descriptions of the characters, I managed to picture them in my mind as I was reading. Their voices were also very distinct. As I said, this book invites you to solve the mystery. I didn’t guess who would be murdered and who the culprit was, but I had some idea as to where the plot was heading. This is one of those novels which you’ll want to discuss once you have read it. It’ll make the perfect book club read.  

I also think that when you have finished reading this book, you’ll want to go back to the beginning again and see where Janice Hallett planted all her clues. I had suspicions about quite a few characters. This is one of those novels which will really get you thinking.

The Appeal grips you very early on and you’ll be desperate to find out who the person is who gets murdered and who the culprit is. The clues are all there. You definitely need to add this to your TBR pile; there’s going to be a lot of people talking about this book in the coming months. I loved it.

Publisher: Viper

Publication date: 14th January 2021

Print length: 432 pages

The Appeal is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones