Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping debut novel by Katherine Faulkner, Greenwich Park.

BLURB

Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret.

MY THOUGHTS

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner is a book that has been getting lots of praise recently, and I can see why. This is a pacy and a highly addictive read which I could not put down. Katherine Faulkner is an exciting new writer who I will be keeping an eye on. Greenwich Park is a belter of a book.

Katherine Faulkner grabbed my interest from the first few pages, and her writing and the characters compelled me to read on. We meet Helen, who is pregnant and currently attending antenatal classes. While there, she meets the eccentric Rachel, who quickly becomes quite attached to Helen. But there is something sinister about Rachel. Very soon, both of their worlds will be turned upside down.

When Katherine Faulkner first introduces us to Helen and Rachel, Rachel made me feel extremely uncomfortable. It was how she latched onto Helen which made me think that something was up here, especially as well in some of her actions. There was one scene in particular close to the beginning, and I won’t into detail too much here, which made my jaw drop open. I really wouldn’t have blamed Helen if she wanted to walk away from Rachel there and then. And Helen is soon desperate for Rachel to leave her alone, especially when Rachel starts encroaching on her family life.

But as we get to know more about Rachel’s character, my perception of her began to change, and it’s here where it becomes hard to talk about the plot without giving anything away. The rest of the characters, Helen’s friends and family, are really unlikeable. You can see that Rachel doesn’t quite fit in with this particular crowd. It made me wonder what she was really doing and what was really going on inside her mind.

We also hear from the viewpoints of Serena and Katie. Serena is Helen’s sister-in-law, and Katie is another friend from the antenatal class. I really liked how Katherine Faulkner explored their characters. I kept asking questions about them, and it made me desperate to find out was really going on here. They are characters who will get under your skin.

I loved, loved this book; it’s a real page-turner. If you haven’t yet got it on your TBR pile, then you really need to rectify that ASAP. I can’t wait to see what Katherine Faulkner comes up with next.

Publisher: Raven Books

Publication date: 15th April 2021

Print length: 464 pages

Greenwich Park is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons #bookreview #booksontour @WriteAngie @bookouture

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel in the DI Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons, Twisted Lies.

Twisted Lies: An absolutely gripping mystery and suspense thriller (Detective Kim Stone Crime Thriller Book 14) by [Angela Marsons]

BLURB

Her stomach lurches as she sits in the windowless room. He throws her phone to the ground, grinds it against the floor with the heel of his shoe and brings his face closer to hers. There was no turning back now, her life as she knew it was gone.

When the lifeless body of a man is found on an industrial estate, Detective Kim Stone arrives on the scene and discovers he’s been tortured in the worst way imaginable.

But as she breaks the devastating news to the victim’s wife, Diane Phipps, Kim can’t help feeling that something isn’t quite right about the woman’s reaction.

Twenty-four hours later, the victim’s family disappears into thin air.

Then a second body is found staked to the ground in a local nature reserve.

Desperate to crack the case open quickly, Kim and her team unravel a vital clue – a fiercely guarded secret that links both victims and could cost even more lives.

A secret that some police officers are also protecting.

Faced with deceit from those she should be able to trust, family members who won’t talk, and local reporter, Tracy Frost, opening a can of worms on the case of a woman murdered by her husband a year ago – Kim is in deep water like never before.

Kim must find the motive if she is to find the killer who is systematically targeting and torturing his victims. But can she unlock the shocking truth and stop him before he strikes again?

MY THOUGHTS

Wow. Wow. Wow. This book! If you’ve followed the Kim Stone series from the beginning, then you’ll have exactly the same reaction when you read it, and I can’t believe that ending. Those last few lines of Twisted Lies have left me desperate to get my hands on the next book in the series as soon as possible. It’s going to leave fans in a frenzy when they realise what is coming next! Once you do, you’ll want to discuss it with other fans of the series as soon as possible!

It amazes me how Angela Marsons manages to develop fresh and exciting plots with each new book. She always manages to breathe new life into her characters, and each new book in the series has always left me desperate for more. That’s why every time a new Kim Stone book is published, it shoots straight to the top of my TBR pile.

My heart was in my mouth from the very beginning, right to the very end. Once again, Kim and her team have a very complicated case to solve. One of the elements I really liked about Twisted Lies is that we get to see a different side to reporter Tracy Frost to what we have seen before. At the beginning of the book, Kim is appointed as her chaperone for the day by her boss, something which she isn’t particularly pleased with. It made me smile as I read the early scenes, but Tracy’s day out with Kim is cut short when Kim is called to a particularly gruesome murder scene. From this very moment, I needed to know who could have killed and someone like this. What was their motivation?

Angela Marsons always explores fascinating themes in her books. It’s very difficult to talk more about this without giving details of the plot away, but the subject she covers in Twisted Lies is really interesting. It’s what makes this investigation so difficult for Kim and her team to crack. Once they realise just what is going on here, the realisation of what they’ve now uncovered is horrifying, and the team soon find themselves in a very precarious situation.

It’s also been really good getting to catch up with Kim and her team again. I always like the banter between them, particularly between Penn and Stacey in this book.

As the investigation progresses, Angela Marsons begins to ramp up the tension, and it becomes a race against time for Kim and her team to find the killer before it is too late. As always, with Angela Marsons books, I was never able to guess who was behind the crimes that were taking place. She always manages to surprise me.

I know I’ll probably be saying this when I read the next book, but this is my favourite in the Kim Stone series to date. The books keep getting better and better, and Angela Marsons continues to prove that she is a crime writer at the top of my game. I loved this book!

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 13th May 2021

Print length: 414 pages

Twisted Lies is available to buy:

Amazon UK

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

Twisted Lies - Blog Tour

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl #bookreview #blogtour @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl 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.

BLURB

Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.

MY THOUGHTS

In Kjell Ola Dahl’s latest novel, The Assistant, he whisks us to Europe in 1938, when the continent is on the brink of war. There is tension simmering in the air with talks about what Hitler and his regime are doing. We are introduced to former a police detective, turned private investigator, Ludvig Paaske, who is now working with his one time, arch-nemesis, Jack Rivers. But what has drawn them to work together?

I thought the partnership of Jack Rivers and Ludvig Paaske was really intriguing. I wanted to find out more about it and what had prompted them to form this new alliance. Would this have any implications for Ludvig, particularly as he swore to put Jack behind bars during the prohibition era in Norway in the 1920s?

The case which they are investigating is an interesting one, very simple at first, when a woman asks them to spy on her husband, who she suspects is having an affair. But very soon, Ludvig begins to see that there is much more at play here than what first meets the eye.

Jack Rivers comes across as very likeable, even though he is a criminal. You can see that he is a passionate man when it comes to love and women, but you also get the sense that he is in control of the situation, especially when things get tense. I was really interested in the scenes set in the 1920s when Jack played on the wrong side of the law by smuggling alcohol. This was a part of history that, until I read this book, I didn’t know much about, particularly about the prohibition in Norway. It was fascinating to find out more about what was happening in the world at this time. After I finished reading the book, I wanted to find out more about this time period.

Kjell Ola Dahl builds on the atmosphere in this book, and there is a real sense of mystery. This is especially as Jack and Ludvig begin to understand more about the case and people they are investigating. I could feel the tensions simmering as the plot began to build, especially with the threat of war lingering in the background.

Ludvig’s character took longer to grow on me, and I think some readers may struggle to like him at first, but I would definitely like to read another novel where he and Jack feature again.

The Assistant is a compelling mystery novel; the writing pulls you into the story from the very first page. If you’re a fan of wartime thrillers, then you definitely need to give this book a go.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 13th May 2021

Print length: 276 pages

The Assistant is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

The Assistant BT Poster

All My Lies by Sophie Flynn #bookreview #blogtour @sophielflynn @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the debut novel by Sophie Flynn on my blog today, All My Lies. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

All My Lies by [Sophie Flynn]

BLURB

Anna wants to escape.
She doesn’t know when her marriage to James began to feel like a trap or when he became so controlling. All she knows is that she needs to leave before it’s too late.
 
And she has a plan.
When Anna reconnects with her childhood sweetheart, Sam, she sees it as the answer to her problems. Finally, they’ll have a life together, like they’d always planned – the life she was meant to have.
 
But the lies are catching up with her . . .

On the morning of their escape, Sam goes missing. Anna knows he wouldn’t leave her, that something must have happened to him.
Her search for answers will force her to confront her past, something that she has been running from for a very long time . . .

MY THOUGHTS

All My Lies is a twisty and gripping psychological thriller by Sophie Flynn. I read this novel really fast, and I devoured it in just a couple of sittings.

My intrigue was piqued right from the beginning when we meet Anna, who is desperate to escape her controlling boyfriend, James. She has recently got back in touch with her childhood sweetheart, Sam, and as they discuss the potential for a life together, Anna starts making plans to make this a reality. But everything is about to come crashing down for Anna. The secrets hidden in her past are about to resurface.

What I loved about this book was that I felt that I couldn’t trust any of the characters, particularly Sam’s family, to who Anna was once very close to. I also felt really scared for her. I didn’t want her husband to find out what was going on in her life as I had no idea how he would react. The early scenes in which he and Anna are together were so tense and chilling. I was rooting for Anna to get out of the marriage. When you start reading this book, you may think that this is a story that has been told before, but Sophie Flynn took the story in a completely different direction from what I was expecting. It’s what made it all the more exciting to read.

There are many different elements to this book, which makes it such an action packed and fast-paced read. I wanted to know more about Anna’s past as she struggles to come to terms with what is happening in the present. I also wanted to know more about her former boyfriend, Sam. Why suddenly was he behaving in this way towards Anna when they had talked about building a future together? I could sense her frustration as everything she had been working towards began to tumble down. Sophie Flynn is a writer who knows how to keep the tension turning up a notch and how to keep her reader hooked.

All My Lies grips you from the first page and keeps you utterly invested in the plot and the characters. I really enjoyed it. Sophie Flynn is an exciting new writer to watch, and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: 23rd April 2021

Print length: 271 pages

All My Lies is available to buy:

Amazon UK

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

All My Lies BT Poster

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood #bookreview

I finally got round to reading the debut novel by Imran Mahmood, You Don’t Know Me a few weeks ago. I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.

BLURB

A young man stands accused of murder. The evidence is overwhelming.

But at his trial, this man tells an extraordinary story.

It is about the woman he loves, who got into terrible trouble. It’s about how he risked everything to save her.

He swears he’s innocent. But in the end, all that matters is this: do you believe him?

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve been meaning to get round to reading You Don’t Know Me, Imran Mahmood’s debut novel, for some time now, and I’m so pleased I’ve finally read it. This is a really unique thriller, and I haven’t read anything quite like it. It’s a novel that really made me think as I was reading it, and I think it would be great to see this adapted as a play, like Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution.

The novel is told from one perspective, a young man who has been accused of murder. He is defending himself in court, and it is now up to him entirely to convince the jury of his innocence. When I first started reading, I wondered just how he was going to be able to pull this off, especially with no one defending him. He gives a very powerful speech, and it makes for absolutely gripping reading as he tells his side of the story. It is also a story that feels very real as well.

The young man accused really is the star of the show here. It was amazing how other characters, who formed part of his defence, came to life in his speech, and I could picture them clearly in my mind. The story he told is really intriguing, and it paints a clear picture of gang life in London and how difficult it can be to get out of gangs.

All the time, I was wondering how this young man was going to present evidence to ensure a not guilty verdict. He has set himself an almost impossible challenge, and you can see from the start that the odds clearly aren’t in his favour. I wanted to know what had really gone on. His defence is very powerful. I have no doubt that if I was sitting on the jury that I would be drawn in by his story. Although he has got himself involved in a tricky situation with local gangs, you can see that he does not want to be involved at all. But the reason he does get involved is to protect his family and the people he loves.

I was rooting for him all the way through. I was turning the pages faster and faster as the final parts of his story began to unfold.

You Don’t Know Me is very well plotted and so, so clever. There may be a few readers who might have different opinions, especially when it comes to the ending, but I absolutely loved it. It’s one of those books you’ll want to discuss with someone once you read it. I highly recommend it!

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 19th April 2018

Print length: 400 pages

You Don’t Know Me is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan #bookreview @Phoebe_A_Morgan @1stMondayCrime @HQstories

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. Phoebe is one of the authors who will be appearing on this month’s First Monday Crime Panel. I’ll have all the details about how you can access the event at the end of the post.

BLURB

In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
Has it all, but chose love over her friends…

THE TEACHER
Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…

THE MOTHER
Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…

THE INTROVERT
Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.

THE HUNT IS ON.

MY THOUGHTS

I was utterly gripped by The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. It’s the first book by Phoebe, which I’ve read since I read her debut a few years ago. Now, I’m desperate to catch up on her books which I’ve missed. This is a very clever and a really chilling mystery; I flew through it.

When a group of women start to receive invitations to a luxury retreat in Botswana from an old friend, they are suspicious that something is up. The holiday is really appealing, and they can’t resist taking up the invitation. But when they arrive there, they aren’t greeted by their friend, and someone has left strange notes in their rooms which strikes a chilling chord with all of them.

I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on here. I wanted to know where the person who invited them was and why she hadn’t turned up to greet her friends. You can sense just how nervous the group are as they try to understand what is going on, and Phoebe Morgan writes this very well. Phoebe Morgan creates a very sinister atmosphere, and it compels you to read on.

As the women’s fears begin to grow and as the danger really begins to creep up on them, Phoebe Morgan takes us back in time. We begin to understand what went on in the past and what has led to the current events happening now. The plot turns even more sinister as Phoebe Morgan gradually begins to reveal what happened between them, and there are some jaw dropping and unsettling twists. The tension keeps ticking up a notch, and I was flying through the final chapters at breakneck speed; I was so desperate to find out what was going to happen.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading at the end, and the twist completely floored me. It’s one of those moments which makes you sit bolt upright as you begin to understand what is happening. I thought it was a very satisfactory ending, and I thought it was very clever how Phoebe Morgan weaved it into her plot.

The Wild Girls is the type of thriller which you can devour in a single day. It only took me a couple of sittings to finish it, and I loved it. I highly, highly recommend this book! Psychological thriller lovers, this is a book that’s not to be missed.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 15th April 2021

Print length: 320 pages

The Wild Girls is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

FIRST MONDAY CRIME

First Monday Crime is back on Monday, 10th May 2021. It’s a week later again this month due to the Bank Holiday. Alongside Phoebe Morgan, appearing on the panel will be, Tina Baker, author of Call Me Mummy, James Delargy author of Vanished and Marion Todd, author of What They Knew. The panel is being moderated by Jacky Collins. The event starts at 19.30 p.m. and it is being live streamed on the First Monday Crime Facebook page, which you can access by clicking on the link below.

First Monday Crime – Facebook page

The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver #bookreview #blogtour @abisilver16 @amberachoudhary @EyeAndLightning

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver on my blog today, with thanks to Amber Choudhary from Midas PR for inviting me to take part.

The Rapunzel Act: A Burton & Lamb Case (Burton and Lamb Thrillers Book 4) by [Abi Silver]

BLURB

CAN YOU FIND JUSTICE… WHEN THE WORLD IS WATCHING?

When breakfast TV host and nation’s darling, Rosie Harper, is found brutally murdered at home, suspicion falls on her spouse, formerly international football star, Danny ‘walks on water’ Mallard, now living out of the public eye as trans woman, Debbie.

Not only must Debbie challenge the hard evidence against her, including her blood-drenched glove at the scene of the crime, she must also contend with the nation’s prejudices, as the trial is broadcast live, turning it into a public spectacle. For someone trying to live their life without judgment, it might just be too much to bear.

Legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb are subjected to unyielding scrutiny as they strive to defend their most famous client yet.

MY THOUGHTS

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover Abi Silver’s Burton and Lamb series. The Rapunzel Act is a gripping courtroom drama. It’s the first book in this series that I’ve read, but I will definitely be catching up on the previous books. It’s pacy and very addictive, and I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to this series.

Abi Silver opens her novel with a really intriguing set-up. Debbie is horrified when the police inform her that her ex-wife, Rosie, has been found dead in her home. Debbie, formerly known as Danny, a professional footballer, had a sex change three years earlier after feeling for years that he was trapped in the wrong body. But when Debbie runs from the police, she is immediately seen as the number one suspect in her ex-wife’s murder. But why did Debbie run if she had nothing to do with what happened? It falls to Constance and Judith to prove Debbie’s innocence, which will be no mean feat.

Abi Silver really captured the energy and the intrigue of the court case as Debbie’s trial began. I wanted to know what had happened to her wife. What I thought made this really tense was that I could never be sure if she was responsible for the murder or not. Debbie was the last person to see her wife before she was found dead. If she wasn’t the killer, I wanted to know the motive behind the killing and who did it.

What I thought was intriguing about this book was that a television crew is let in to film the court proceedings. It’s something that not everyone agrees with when the idea is first propositioned. It’s not very common in Britain, and it’s what makes this case particularly fascinating.

There is a real sense of authenticity in Abi Silver’s writing as she takes us into the courtroom and as the trial proceeds. It becomes really intriguing when Constance and Judith get closer to understanding what happened to Debbie. I thought Abi Silver wrapped the plot up really well, and it made for a very satisfactory ending.  

The Rapunzel Act is a really immersive read, and I would highly recommend it if you’re a fan of courtroom dramas. Although it is book four in the series, it can definitely be read as a standalone, but I’m sure, like me, if you’re new to the series, you’ll want to read the previous books to catch up. I can’t wait to read more from this series.

Publisher: Lightning Books

Publication date: 25th January 2021 (kindle) 15th April 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

The Rapunzel Act is available to buy:

Amazon UK

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

The Rapunzel Act Blog Tour Banner (2)

The Retreat by Sherri Smith #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the second novel by Sherri Smith, The Retreat.

The Retreat by [Sherri Smith]

BLURB

Sherri Smith illuminates the dark side of the self-care and wellness industry in a thrilling ride of revenge perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends—one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship—Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

MY THOUGHTS

The Retreat is an utterly chilling read by Sherri Smith. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get round to reading it. I thought Sherri Smith’s writing was very immersive. A group of friends, Carmen, Ariel and Katie, head to a wellness retreat. Katie is desperate to make a new start in her life, and she hopes that this break with her friends will help steer her towards that new destination. But soon, strange things start to happen, and it isn’t long before a dark cloud begins to descend. Very soon, they’ll all be in grave danger.

I thought Sherri Smith created a chilling atmosphere for her book, especially as things at the retreat started to go wrong. I wanted to know what was really going on here, and I flew through the book to find out. Sherri Smith has created some well-developed characters with intriguing backstories. Katie was a successful child actor until her manager attacked her, leaving her scarred for life. It destroyed her acting career. She sees this experience as a chance to overcome that part of her life. But her other friends have secrets and things in their lives they are running from as well.

I sensed a really creepy vibe from the moment the group of friends arrived for their holiday. I thought the owner was a very mysterious character. I wanted to know if he had any connection to the events which were now happening. There are whispers that the retreat is actually a cult, and as I was reading, I could see why guests may think like that. It created a very dark and foreboding atmosphere; you know that something terrible is going to happen.

Sherri Smith is a writer who knows how to keep her reader turning the page. I was utterly hooked by the story, and I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters. As the danger starts to grow around the group, the book and the setting begins to feel very claustrophobic. I really couldn’t trust anyone.

If you’re a fan of creepy psychological thrillers, then you definitely should add The Retreat to your TBR Pile.

Publisher: Titan Books

Publication date: 13th August 2019

Print length: 340 pages

The Retreat is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning debut by Greg Buchanan, Sixteen Horses.

BLURB

Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community – disappearances, arson and mutilations – all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself.

In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightening and insidious mysteries – no matter the cost.

Sixteen Horses is the debut literary thriller from an extraordinary talent, Greg Buchanan. A story of enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan is one of the most original crime novels I’ve read. If you’re a fan of literary crime fiction, then you need to read this book. Greg Buchanan is an exciting new voice.

Set in a dying seaside town, Illmarsh, the town and the police are shocked when the corpses of sixteen horses are found buried. Days after the police first come into contact with the horses, people who were there fall desperately ill. What is going on here? What do the murders of the horses mean? And what connection do they have to the dark events that have also taken place in the town?

Sixteen Horses is such a unique crime thriller. It is a stunning debut that will keep you gripped. The atmosphere is very dark and foreboding. It gave me a very uneasy feeling as I was reading it. It seems as though there is no light at all in the town where the events are taking place. The crime is such an unusual one, and it made the book feel very fresh. It’s what made me want to keep reading after I read the opening pages. If you think the opening pages are dark, be prepared, it is about to get a lot darker.

This is not a fast-paced, action-packed crime novel; it is a slow-burner and a more character-driven novel. I loved Greg Buchanan’s writing style, which pulled me into the story and the setting. The setting Illmarsh itself becomes a character. The opening chapters are so chilling, and I had to know what was going on in the town. Who was behind the crimes that were taking place? It puts all the locals on edge, and I could feel the tension as the novel progressed.

Illmarsh is a town that feels forgotten. It added to the atmosphere. I could picture the town on the coast very well, and Greg Buchanan evokes a real sense of place in his writing. Sixteen Horses is a very immersive book and it will definitely appeal to you if you’re a fan of Chris Whitaker.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Greg Buchanan writes next. This is a stand-out crime thriller. I am sure that there will be many people talking about it in the months to come. Sixteen Horses is a superb debut which I won’t be forgetting about any time soon.

Publisher: Mantle

Publication date: 29th April 2021

Print length: 367 pages

Sixteen Horses is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

A Ruined Girl by Kate Simants #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new thriller by Kate Simants, A Ruined Girl which was the winner of the 2019 Bath Novel Award.

BLURB

TWO BOYS LOVED HER.
BUT WHICH ONE KILLED HER?

On a dark night two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house. They beat and traumatised the occupants, then left, taking only a bracelet. No one knows why, not even Luke, Rob’s younger brother and Paige’s confidant. Paige disappeared after that night. And having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.

Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…

MY THOUGHTS

A Ruined Girl is a dark and gripping thriller by Kate Simants. Two years ago, a young woman, Paige, disappeared after she broke into the home of her school counsellor with her friend, Rob. But what happened to Paige after that incident? She went missing and has never been seen since. Rob was arrested for the crime and sent to prison. Now, he is out; he is about to start his rehabilitation process. Wren Reynolds is his probation officer. But it soon becomes clear that Wren has her own reasons for taking Rob on. The question that continues to haunt many people is this, what happened to Paige?

Kate Simants latest book is beautifully written. I loved her sense of place and her description in the opening paragraph, which drew me into the story. It was so chilling. I wanted to know what was going on and who the people in the scene were. It really does set the tone for the rest of the book.

Robert Ashworth is a complex character. I liked how Kate Simants delved into his psyche. As part of his rehabilitation programme, he has to meet the people affected by his crime. I can imagine this must be a very difficult thing for people to have to go through; to meet and talk to the person who inflicted this pain on them. I don’t think I would be very comfortable with doing this if I was in their position.

As we get to know Robert and Wren, it becomes clear that Wren has her own motive here for getting to know Robert. I wanted to find out more about this, and I wanted to know more about her character. She is also going through a lot in her personal life at the moment, which also makes her very interesting as well.

What I thought was fascinating and heartbreaking about this book as well is that Kate Simants looks at the dark reality of what it is like for some children growing up in the care system. She paints a vivid portrayal of what it is like for these young people who have no relatives who care and love them and how this impacts them as they grow up.

This is a very dark novel that examines how far we are prepared to go for our close friends and family. It is also very thought-provoking, and I thought that Kate Simants delivered a very satisfactory and shocking ending which I did not see coming. I love Kate Simants writing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Publisher: Viper

Publication date: 27th August 2020

Print length: 384 pages

A Ruined Girl is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones