When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Fiona Cummins, When I Was Ten on my blog today.

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Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were killed in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Their ten year-old daughter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened that night – with devastating consequences for them all.

MY THOUGHTS

I’m a huge fan of Fiona Cummins’s writing, and I couldn’t wait to read her new novel When I Was Ten. This is a highly engaging read, and once I started it, I was hooked. This is a novel with a really intriguing premise. A family have been slaughtered; their children have been separated. But the horrifying part is that Dr Carter and his wife were murdered by one of their children. It’s why it has become one of the most talked about crimes of the modern age. But what really happened that night? What is the untold story?

In When I Was Ten, Fiona Cummins delves into the psychology of the characters at the centre of the crime. Now everything is about to change for them. An explosive new documentary is about to air, and new revelations are about to come to light when one of the Carter sisters speaks to the press. Fiona Cummins introduces us to two characters, Catherine and Brinley. Brinley works at a local newspaper, and as interest in the Carter case heightens again, her boss is after an exclusive interview with one of the Carter sisters. But what he doesn’t know is that Brinley once lived next door to the Carter family. She chooses to keep this to herself. Catherine is also a really intriguing character. You can see she is keeping secrets, and she is determined to make sure that her past stays buried.

As the novel progresses, Fiona Cummins takes us back in time. We see the events leading up to the murders of the Carter family, and she begins to build a picture of what really took place. As Fiona Cummins did reveal more about what happened at that time, I could see why the events escalated in the way they did. But I don’t want to go into any further detail here. The book darkens as we begin to understand the truth, and the darkness becomes palpable as we reach the horrifying conclusion. It asks a terrifying question, what can prompt a child to murder their parents?

The writing is taut right the way through, and I could not put this book down. The chapters are short and snappy, and I wanted to find out more about the characters. Fiona Cummins writes some horrific scenes when we go back to the time of the murders. This is when the bigger picture here begins to unravel.

Fiona Cummins is one of the best crime writers out there. If you haven’t yet discovered her books, then you really need to. I highly, highly recommend When I Was Ten! I’m sure this is going to be one of the most talked about thrillers of the year, and it deserves to be.

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 15th April 2021

Print length: 384 pages

When I was Ten is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

Trust Me by T.M. Logan #bookreview #blogtour @TMLoganAuthor @bonnierbooks_uk @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Trust Me the new novel by T.M. Logan on my blog today. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

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TWO STRANGERS, A CHILD, AND A SPLIT SECOND CHOICE THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING . . .

Ellen was just trying to help a stranger. That was how it started: giving a few minutes respite to a flustered young mother sitting opposite her on the train. A few minutes holding her baby while the mother makes an urgent call. The weight of the child in her arms making Ellen’s heart ache for what she can never have.

Five minutes pass.
Ten.

The train pulls into a station and Ellen is stunned to see the mother hurrying away down the platform, without looking back. Leaving her baby behind. Ellen is about to raise the alarm when she discovers a note in the baby’s bag, three desperate lines scrawled hastily on a piece of paper:

Please protect Mia
Don’t trust the police
Don’t trust anyone

Why would a mother abandon her child to a stranger? Ellen is about to discover that the baby in her arms might hold the key to an unspeakable crime. And doing the right thing might just cost her everything . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I’m a huge fan of T.M. Logan’s thrillers, so I jumped at the chance to read his latest, and I moved it right to the top of my TBR pile. Trust Me is filled with suspense, and the tension is there on every single page. Right from the very start, I had to know what was going on here and I raced through it to find the answers. It is very addictive!

At the beginning of the novel, we meet Ellen, who is just boarding a train. She has no idea how what should have been a simple journey will impact the rest of her life. When the woman she is sitting next to asks if she wouldn’t mind looking after her baby, Mia, while she makes a phone call, Ellen expects her to be back any moment. But she doesn’t return. All Ellen finds is a note warning her not to trust the police.

Ellen is a great lead character. Straight away, she feels a bond between her and Mia, and she is willing to do anything to protect her. But Ellen doesn’t know who it is she needs to protect Mia from. Why did her mother abandon her? Why can’t she trust the police? I wanted to know what was really going on here as the situation Ellen finds herself in, begins to unfold. Who would want to target an innocent young girl? This is what Ellen can’t quite bring herself to believe. Mia has done nothing wrong; why is she in danger? What can Ellen do to protect her when the police can’t be trusted?

Ellen is a character who I connected with very early on. I felt sorry for her as I began to learn more about her life. She has just recently split up with her husband, and she is devastated that she hasn’t been able to have children. She knows now that it is very unlikely to happen to her. Her husband then announces to her that he and his new partner are expecting a baby, which comes as a real blow. When Ellen first comes into contact with Mia, there was a part of me hoping that perhaps, Ellen might be able to adopt her.

I was on the edge of my seat right the way through this book. T.M. Logan is an author who knows how to keep his readers turning the page, and I was utterly gripped. There were tense scenes which were packed with action. It made me feel as though I was there, watching everything unfold around me.

If you’re a fan of high octane novels, and if you haven’t read anything by T.M. Logan before, then you’re definitely missing out. I’m always really impressed with what he has managed to come up with, and I know I’ll be adding whatever he writes next to my TBR pile right away. Trust Me is a thriller not to be missed.

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 18th March 2021

Print length: 432 pages

Trust Me is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

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Cry For Mercy by Karen Long #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the first book in the DI Eleanor Raven series by Karen Long, Cry For Mercy.

Cry for Mercy: An utterly addictive crime thriller with gripping mystery and suspense (Detective Eleanor Raven Book 1) by [Karen Long]

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It should have been the best day of her life. It became the last.

Lydia’s mouth curls into a delighted smile as she spots the man in front of her on the quiet, suburban street. She has been expecting him, and she feels like the luckiest girl alive as she steps into the waiting car.

But Lydia isn’t as lucky as she thought—not when her parents frantically report that she never came home last night.
Not when her body is found, carefully displayed in an abandoned warehouse, miles from home.
And then another woman goes missing. How many more will disappear before her twisted killer is uncovered?

MY THOUGHTS

Cry For Mercy is a really fast-paced thriller. It’s the first book in Karen Long’s Detective Eleanor Raven series, and I loved it. It’s dark, gruesome, and the writing kept me turning the pages. I’ve already bought the second book in the series, and I can’t wait to read it.

Karen Long opens her novel with a really gruesome opening chapter. She sets the tone for what is to come. Straight away, we know that we are dealing with a terrifying killer here. This is a killer who enjoys torturing their victims. But when the body of the woman is located and identified, the police investigation becomes really complicated and Karen Long explores some very dark themes.

If you love a good serial killer thriller, then you really need to add this book to your TBR pile. I liked Eleanor Raven right from the start, she’s a really intriguing police detective. I thought the rest of her team were really likeable characters as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop from here. I loved the fact that a dog was part of the team as well. Eleanor did remind me of the character DI Helen Grace in M.J. Arlidge’s crime series as I was reading. So if you’re a fan of his books, I think you’ll enjoy this one. I also really liked that this book was set in Toronto, Canada, which made it feel very fresh to me as I was reading it.

The tension never drops as the police race to find the killer, and it soon becomes clear that they have DI Eleanor Raven in their sight as well. It’s what keeps the tension turning up a notch as the police race to catch them as the killer sets their plan in motion. You know that they are determined to see their plan through, regardless of what this may mean for them if anything goes wrong, particularly as they are targeting a police officer. I raced through the final chapters; I was desperate to know what was going to happen.

Cry For Mercy is a really exciting start to a new series, and I’m sure that it’s one I’m going to be sticking with. I highly recommend it!

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 16th November 2020

Print length: 304 pages

Cry For Mercy is available to buy:

Amazon UK

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the debut thriller by Tina Baker, Call Me Mummy.

Call Me Mummy: THE thriller for Mother's Day 2021 by [Tina Baker]

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THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

MY THOUGHTS

Prepare to be gripped. Call Me Mummy is completely and utterly addictive. If this is Tina Baker’s first novel, then I can’t wait to read what she writes next. This book will definitely stick in your mind, and I love the way how Tina Baker writes. Her writing drew me into the story right away, and I couldn’t put the book down.

The chapters in this book are short, and snappy and that’s something I always really like in a crime thriller. When I think I need to put the book down so I can do something, I think, oh, one more chapter won’t hurt. Then before I know it, I’ve finished the book.

Call Me Mummy is a dark crime thriller. Although it tells a story that has been told before, it does so differently, and I thought it was really compelling. While out shopping, Kim, who is heavily pregnant, loses sight of her daughter, Tonya. Every parent has a story of when they lost sight of their child for a few moments. I can remember running away from my mum in a busy shopping centre when I was small and the fear setting in next when I couldn’t find her. But Tonya doesn’t come back, and she isn’t found. Another woman, desperate for a child, has set her eyes on Tonya, and she has a plan for the girl. A police investigation begins, and there is a huge amount of interest in the case.

Kim, Tonya’s mother, is a really compelling character. After her daughter’s disappearance, she comes under a lot of scrutiny from the press and the public. People say hurtful and disgusting things about her on online forums, and the press are quick to lap it up There may be a lot of readers who dislike Kim when they read this book. Although she desperately wants her daughter to be found, she isn’t portrayed in a very good light. She swears a lot, but this is just part of everyday speech in her family, which her children have also picked up on. But aside from this, I could see that she cares about her daughter, even if she isn’t the perfect parent, as some people might say.

I don’t want to give too much away here, but I found that I did feel sorry for Tonya’s kidnapper. Tina Baker builds a very intriguing backstory. You can see why they have acted in the way that they did. But as the novel progressed, I started to get fearful for Tonya. You can sense that things can go either way for her, and it made for really gripping reading.

Call Me Mummy is an outstanding debut, and I finished it in just a couple of days. Crime fans, you need to add this to your reading pile for 2021. I’ll certainly be adding whatever Tina Baker writes next to my TBR pile straight away.

Publisher: Viper

Publication date: 25th February 2021

Print length: 383 pages

Call Me Mummy is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Curator by M.W. Craven #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the third book in the Washington Poe series by M.W. Craven, The Curator.

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It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Detective Washington Poe and crime analyst Tilly Bradshaw are back in M.W. Craven’s latest thriller, The Curator. I love, love, love this series. Now that I’ve caught up, I’m going to have to wait until the next book in the series as well. M.W. Craven has created another complex case for Tilly and Poe to crack.

What I absolutely love about this series are the characters. Tilly and Poe are some of the most original characters I’ve come across in crime fiction. And what I really like about M.W. Craven’s writing is that he also manages to write humour into his books really well. One scene, in particular, had me in stitches at the beginning, when Tilly is trying to persuade Poe to go to their boss’s baby shower. And Tilly is also fighting a losing battle in this book in trying to get Poe to eat more healthily.

When you read a book by M.W. Craven, you know the case Poe and Tilly will be investigating will be a grisly one. In this case, it takes place over the Christmas period. Body parts start turning up, and Poe and Tilly have to try and identify the victims. This is without the rest of the body. They have to try and see if there is a link between them. If there even is a link.

I was instantly hooked. I wanted to know what was going on here, and M.W. Craven does a fantastic job in keeping the tension turning up a notch. The plot moves forward really quickly, and as Poe and Tilly grow closer to understanding what is going on, it becomes even more horrifying. 

M.W. Craven really knows his characters and strong characterisation is, I think, one of his strongest writing skills. When I start one of his books, I’m rooting for Poe and Tilly. Poe always fights Tilly’s corner, and woe betide anyone who tries to make fun of her when he is around. This is what I really like about Poe. He is willing to stand up for Tilly when not many other people will.

I couldn’t believe the final reveals which come towards the end. It was something I was totally not expecting. My eyes were just fixed to the page as everything unfolded.

M.W. Craven once again creates a very atmospheric setting, particularly in the final scenes, but I don’t want to give too much away here. He draws on the atmosphere of the surrounding landscape so well in his writing, making you feel as though you are right there where the action is taking place.

The Curator is another utterly chilling read in this series, and I can’t wait to see what M.W. Craven has in store for Tilly and Poe next.

Publisher: Constable

Publication date: 4th June 2020

Print length: 351 pages

The Curator is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

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

WWW Wednesday – 16/12/2020

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading?
What will you read next?

What am I currently reading?

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

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..

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.

What have I finished reading?

Winterkill (Dark Iceland Book 6) by [Ragnar Jónasson, David Warriner]

A blizzard is approaching Siglufjörður, and that can only mean one thing…

When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.

Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill is a startling addition to the multi-million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting and acclaimed authors in crime fiction.

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

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?

What will I read next?

500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .

Hannah knows the cage intimately. Small, the size of a shopping centre parking space. A bed, a basin, a table and chair. A hatch and metal drawer through which to exchange food and other items.

Then there’s him. Always there on the edges of her vision, no matter how hard she tries to block him out.

Every day, the same thoughts run through Hannah’s mind:

What if he speaks to me?
What if he hurts me?
What if he gets out?