I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood #bookreview #blogtour @imranmahmood777 @BloomsburyRaven @Tr4cyF3nt0n

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Imran Mahmood, I Know What I Saw. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

I Know What I Saw: 'A mesmerising thriller. Don't miss this one' - T. M. Logan by [Imran Mahmood]

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I saw it. He smothered her, pressing his hands on her face. The police don’t believe me, they say it’s impossible – but I know what I saw.
Xander Shute – once a wealthy banker, now living on the streets – shelters for the night in an empty Mayfair flat. When he hears the occupants returning home, he scrambles to hide. Trapped in his hiding place, he hears the couple argue, and he soon finds himself witnessing a vicious murder.

But who was the dead woman, who the police later tell him can’t have been there? And why is the man Xander saw her with evading justice?

As Xander searches for answers, his memory of the crime comes under scrutiny, forcing him to confront his long-buried past and the stories he’s told about himself.

How much he is willing to risk to understand the brutal truth?

MY THOUGHTS

I Know What I Saw is a very different novel to Imran Mahmood’s debut. Imran Mahmood has created another gripping story with a brilliant hook. The shocking opening scenes pulled me right into the book; I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

When we first met Xander, he is homeless. He is an intelligent man; we know this very early on when it’s revealed that he went to Cambridge. This made me wonder what happened to him, which led to him being in the position that he now is. It’s what makes him such a captivating and fascinating character. When Xander witnesses a murder, he can’t get the police to believe him. And soon, his whole world is about to come crashing down.

Like Xander, I had to know what had really happened and why the police weren’t taking him seriously. He, himself, tries to find out what has happened, even though this is a very risky thing for him to do. But he has to know, and he is determined to find answers. But things soon take a very sinister turn ,and Xander’s life starts spiralling out of control.

I had no idea how things were going to pan out for Xander, and this is what drives the tension. I was rooting for him to get to the truth and to prove to the police that he really did see what he saw, but then things began to change. I don’t want to give too much away here, but I felt that I couldn’t entirely trust him. This makes him even more interesting as Imran Mahmood begins to paint a very different picture of the man we thought we knew.

I thought the story was so well told and that Xander’s voice came through very strongly. I had a clear image of him inside my head as I was reading. I wouldn’t describe this book as a fast paced read, it is more of a slow burner, but I really liked it. The tension gradually builds throughout the book as Xander tries to find out what has really happened. There are some very powerful scenes in this book as Xander comes to realise the truth. I thought it was done really well.

I Know What I Saw is a very clever book, and I was utterly gripped right the way through. Imran Mahmood delves into the psyche of his characters, and he brings them to life so, so well. A brilliant read, I highly recommend it!

Publisher: Raven Books

Publication date: 10th June 2021

Print length: 366 pages

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Truth or Dare by M.J. Arlidge #bookreview #blogtour

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new novel by M.J. Arlidge on my blog today, Turth or Dare. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

Truth or Dare: Pre-order the nail-biting new Helen Grace thriller now by [M. J. Arlidge]

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A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.

And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Helen Grace is back in M.J. Arlidge’s latest crime novel, Truth or Dare. Once again, Helen certainly isn’t given an easy ride. When I first started this series when the first book was released, Eeny Meeny, I knew it was going to be one I would be sticking with. I can’t believe that we’re now ten books in. With all the Helen Grace books, M.J. Arlidge always manages to create utterly gripping and unputdownable reads.

In this book, not only does Helen have to deal with a rise in crime in Southampton, but one of her colleagues, DS Hudson, is desperate to bring her down. This causes further tension in their team as Helen becomes aware of what is going on. It made me wonder just how far DS Hudson would be willing to go to achieve their goals and if Helen would be able to come out the other side this time. For all that she has been through over this series, it made me feel angry that someone would want to treat her like this. And of course, journalist Emilia Garanita is back on the scene and keen to find whatever she can on Helen to damage her career.

The current spate of rising crime is bothering Helen. There appears to be nothing to connect them, and they all seem to be just random attacks. If they are just random attacks, it makes it a much more terrifying prospect. It’s what makes this book such a tense read as well, as we have no idea will happen next.

Once again, M.J. Arlidge delivers on pace and tension, and his writing quickly absorbs you into the story. It feels as though Helen is on her own in this book, battling against a heavy storm that is coming her way.  Although all of M.J. Arlidge’s books are very dark, I think it makes the tone even darker.

M.J. Arlidge really does ratchet up the tension in Truth or Dare, especially as Helen begins to understand why these crimes have been happening. I really wanted to know what the link was, if there was a link, and when the revelations come, they are chilling.

I’m a huge, huge fan of this series. I’m always impressed at how M.J. Arlidge always manages to create another exciting, tense read. Reading these books makes you feel as if you’re discovering the series for the first time with each new book. The ending always leaves me desperately wanting the next book. Truth or Dare is another brilliant addition to the series!

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 24th June 2021

Print length: 367 pages

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The Pact by Sharon Bolton #bookreview #blogtour @AuthorSJBolton @TrapezeBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new thriller by Sharon Bolton, The Pact as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

The Pact: A dark and compulsive thriller about secrets, privilege and revenge by [Sharon Bolton]

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A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . .

MY THOUGHTS

The Pact by Sharon Bolton was utterly gripping. She starts the novel with a bang, and the tension and action get going right from the first page. We’re presented with a horrifying scene when a group of students drive the wrong way up a road, and they collide with another vehicle. A woman and her two children are killed in the collision. The group are horrified by what has happened. They are more concerned, though, by what this will mean for their futures and the reputation of their families. They come from wealthy and high profile families. One girl, Megan, a scholarship student, decides to take the blame for the accident and goes to prison. This is on one condition that when she is released, they all have to do her a favour, and it can be anything she chooses.

Once the group had made this decision, I wanted to know just how much of an impact it would have on the rest of their lives. They came across as really unlikeable, and I couldn’t believe that they would much rather think about themselves rather than the woman and her two children who they had just killed. Even though Megan is willing to go to prison, you can see that she is only doing this for herself. But I wanted to know what favour she would ask of the rest of her friends when she is eventually released. They know they will have to agree to whatever she says as Megan has the cards which will destroy their lives.

Twenty years on from the crime and the group of friends are all successful and have happy families. But they always have this shadow hanging over their shoulders. I flew through this book as I waited to see what Megan was going to demand of them. The rest of the group are all on tenterhooks as they wait to find out as well.

Although I didn’t like any member of the group, I thought the favours which Megan asks of them were utterly horrifying. I almost wanted the group not to give in to her demands, and I wanted to see if they would try to do anything to get out of them. You can see them all weighing up the options they had, and it makes for really tense reading as they come to a decision.

Sharon Bolton explores some very dark areas as she continues to peel back the layers and as we get to know the group of friends more. There are some shocking and disturbing revelations as the book reaches the conclusion, and it made me see the story in a very different light.

I really enjoyed this book. If you’ve enjoyed Sharon Bolton’s previous books, then you will love this. I highly recommend it for psychological thriller lovers.

Publisher: Trapeze

Publication date: 1st May 2021

Print length: 335 pages

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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

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The Art of Death by David Fennell #bookreview #blogtour @DavyFennell @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Art of Death by David Fennell on my blog today. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

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London’s latest art installation is a real killer . . .

An underground artist leaves three glass cabinets in Trafalgar Square that contain a gruesome installation: the corpses of three homeless men.

With the artist promising more to follow, newly-promoted Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must race against time to follow what few clues have been left by a savvy killer.

As more bodies are exhibited at London landmarks and live streamed on social media, Archer and Quinn’s pursuit of the elusive killer becomes a desperate search.

But when Archer discovers that the killer might be closer than she originally thought – she realises that he has his sights set firmly on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

MY THOUGHTS

The Art of Death is a fantastic start to a new crime series, and David Fennell is a new crime writer to watch out for. This book utterly gripped me, and I read it really quickly. If you’re a fan of serial killer thrillers, then you need to read this book.

Grace Archer is a fascinating new detective on the crime fiction scene. In David Fennell’s first book, she faces a sadistic serial killer, and it becomes a race against time to catch him. He is a deranged individual who creates art out of his victims. He puts Grace’s entire team on edge when they discover his first victims, and they know he isn’t finished. He has already gained a following on social media, and he is keen to show more of his work. He also has a star victim in sight. I wanted to know if he would succeed in carrying out his plans, and I was rooting for the police to catch him.

The tension in this book never lets up. The chapters are short and snappy, and the dialogue keeps the pace flowing forward. There is tension on every page as Grace and her team race to find the killer. There are also chapters told from his point of view. We get to see how he chooses his victims, and it makes for terrifying, but utterly gripping reading as he carries out his plans. I found myself wanting to scream at the characters he was targeting. I wanted them to see him for who he really was.

I liked the team Grace worked with as well. There is a lot of wit in their conversation. You can see that they all get on with each other. I’m looking forward to seeing how their friendships develop in future books. We are aware that Grace has gone through something terrible in her past, but David Fennell doesn’t go into a lot of details regarding this. One part I really liked was Grace’s relationship with her grandfather, which makes her a really likeable character.

David Fennell certainly doesn’t shy away from gruesome details, and there are some quite graphic scenes. You get a real sense of how insane the killer is and how keen he is to carry out his crimes. The only way he is going to be stopped is if the police catch him first. As the novel drew closer to its conclusion, I was able to guess who the killer was, but I wanted to see how things were going to pan out.

The Art of Death is an exciting, gripping start to a new series, introducing a fresh new voice in the crime fiction market. I loved it, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 4th February 2021

Print length: 432 pages

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The Art of Death 20.11

The Captive by Deborah O’Connor #bookreview #blogtour @deboc77 @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Deborah O’Connor on my blog today, The Captive, as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

The Captive: The most captivating high-concept thriller of the year by [Deborah O'Connor]

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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?

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of Deborah O’Connor’s last novel, The Dangerous Kind, but her latest book, The Captive, is even better. If you enjoy high concept novels, then you really need to put this book on your TBR pile.

Imagine a world where prisons no longer exist. Of course, there is still a justice system. If you are found guilty of a crime, instead of carrying out your sentence in prison, you are placed under lock and key in the home of your victim’s family. If you were the victim of a crime, and if this was the new system, would you do the right thing and report it?

I raced through this book. Deborah O’Connor’s writing is very easy to sink into, and I became utterly gripped. The Captive has such a clever concept, and the very idea gave me chills. Hannah is the main protagonist. Her husband, who was a police officer, was killed several months ago. Now, Hannah is living with her husband’s killer. Her husband was a police officer with the metropolitan police. His killer is a prisoner in her home, and she is responsible for him. The justice system is designed to make the perpetrator feel remorse for their crime. By sending them to live with their victim’s family, they can see the pain and the anguish they have inflicted every single day. In this alternate version of reality, there have been attempts to revert back to the old system of using prisons. But those attempts have never been seen through.

I found it fascinating to see how Hannah would react to having her husband’s killer living in her house with her. If this were the case in the real world, the very thought would fill me with horror and dread if I was in a similar position. But as they grew accustomed to living under the same roof together, it was fascinating seeing their new relationship develop.

We get to hear from both Hannah and Jem. I really liked hearing from Jem’s perspective as well. I wanted to see how living with Hannah after murdering her husband, would have an impact on him. I also wanted to know what the reason was behind the murder. Hannah wants to know this as well, and she begins to investigate further. And Hannah is about to discover dark and disturbing details about her husband’s past, which changes everything.

Deborah O’Connor is a really exciting writer. She’s a writer who explores such unique ideas. I absolutely loved The Captive, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 7th January 2021

Print length: 416 pages

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The Captive 14.11

Body Language by A. K. Turner #bookreview #blogtour @AnyaLipska @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the debut novel by A.K. Turner, Body Language, on my blog today as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part. A.K. Turner will also be appearing at this month’s First Monday Crime. I’ll have all the details on how you can view the event at the end of this post.

Body Language by [A. K. Turner]

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CASSIE RAVEN BELIEVES THE DEAD CAN TALK. WE JUST NEED TO LISTEN . . .

People think being a mortuary technician is a seriously weird job. They can’t understand why I choose to cut up dead bodies for a living. But they don’t know what I know:

The dead want to tell us what happened to them.

I’ve eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone I know before – someone who meant a lot to me; someone I loved.

The pathologist says that her death was an accident.

Her body is telling me differently.

MY THOUGHTS

Body Language by A K Turner is such a unique crime thriller. It’s one of the most original crime novels I’ve read in a long while.

I really liked Cassie, who is the lead protagonist. She works in a mortuary, and she is a character who has a unique interest in dead bodies. It’s something she has been fascinated by since she was a child, from around the time of her mother’s death. Back then, she would bring home dead animals to study.  Even she sometimes looks back on the interests she had as a child and thinks they were strange interests to have. But her grandmother, says otherwise and has never been slightly perturbed by her granddaughter’s interests. I really liked Cassie’s relationship with her grandmother; her grandmother is a straight talker, and she doesn’t appear to be afraid of anything.

I liked how Cassie treated the bodies of the deceased she is working with. Cassie claims that the dead can talk, but people just need to listen. She is really attentive towards them, and she treats them still as if they were living and breathing and with respect as well. But things begin to take an interesting turn when the body of her former teacher turns up at the mortuary. Cassie is concerned that there may be something more to her teacher’s death than first meets the eye. But it will take a lot of convincing on her part to get the police to investigate further. Cassie is determined, however, to make sure that if someone is responsible for the woman’s death, that they do face justice.

The other character who I liked was Detective Flyte. She and Cassie get off on the wrong foot right at the beginning, but throughout the novel, they begin to develop a friendship. I’m interested to see how this will progress in future books. I’m hoping that there are going to be many more books to come in this series.

Although this is quite a dark novel, there are some moments of humour as well. Although it sounds quite macabre, there is one particular scene with a human skull in a bathroom which did make me smile.

Body Language is cleverly plotted, and I’m really excited to read more from this series. If you’re a crime fiction fan, then you definitely need to add this to your to be read pile. I loved it. I’m looking forward to seeing where A K Turner will take Cassie next.

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 26th November 2020

Print length: 384 pages

Body Language is available to buy:

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Body Language 17.11

FIRST MONDAY CRIME

If you’d like to tune into this month’s First Monday Crime, you can do so via their Facebook page by clicking here. The event will be live streamed. The authors appearing this month are, Susi Holliday, author of The Last Resort, Sam Carrington author of The Open House, A.K. Turner author of Body Language and Deborah Masson author of Out for Blood. The event begins at 19.30 p.m on Monday, 7th December 2020.

You have one hour to live … All Fall Down by M.J. Arlidge #bookreview blog tour @mjarlidge @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of All Fall Down by M.J. Arlidge, the latest book in the DI Helen Grace series. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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“You have one hour to live.”

Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour.

But why?

The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is A case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims.

With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…

MY THOUGHTS

You’re just leaving work. You step into the lift, and you receive a phone call. On the other end of a line, a voice tells you, “You have one hour to live.” Then the call goes dead. This is what happens to Justin in the opening chapter of the new Helen Grace thriller by M.J. Arlidge, All Fall Down. He isn’t sure if the phone call was a callous prank, but he is nervous. And within the next hour, he is dead. But Justin isn’t the only intended victim of his killer.

M.J. Arlidge’s latest book in the Helen Grace series is tightly plotted, and I think it’s one of the best books in this series. When Helen is informed of Justin’s murder, it isn’t quite certain what they are facing, until a second murder takes place and a link is discovered. The victims were among a group of five teenagers who, several years ago, were kidnapped by a madman and barely escaped with their lives. Not all of them made it; one girl was tragically killed by their attacker. But now someone is coming after them. It was never clear if the man who did this to them survived that night after a fire ravaged his home. So why are they being targeted now all these years later?

All Fall Down hooks you in right from the first chapter. We hear from the first victim’s point of view, and M.J. Arlidge paints a vivid portrayal of just how scared they are. What I thought was the most interesting part of this novel was how M.J. Arlidge gradually revealed the backstory of the victim’s. We get to understand what they went through all those years ago, but as I was reading, I had that niggling sense of doubt that there was something they weren’t being entirely truthful about.

M.J. Arlidge kept me guessing as to what the real truth was as another victim turned up. One of the victims, Maxine, is releasing a book about their ordeal. As the book progresses M.J. Arlidge we get to read snippets from Maxine’s book. This did make me wonder why Maxine was choosing to publish their story when it seemed as though she hadn’t got permission from the rest of the group to tell their tale.

M.J. Arlidge delivers a dramatic finale as Helen Grace and her team finally work out who is behind the killings, and it turns into a race against time to track the killer down before they kill again. This is a series which continues to keep me entertained; I can’t believe that we’re on book nine. It doesn’t all that long ago when I first read Eeny Meeny. All Fall Down can be read as a stand-alone, but you’ll definitely want to read the rest of the books as well once you’ve read it.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 11th June 2020

Print length: 496 pages

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We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker #bookreview blog tour @WhittyAuthor @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Chris Whitaker, We Begin at the End today on my blog as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

We Begin at the End: Gripping. Heart-breaking. Unforgettable. Discover the most captivating crime read of 2020 by [Whitaker, Chris]

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We Begin at the End is a powerful novel about absolute love and the lengths we will go to keep our family safe. This is a story about good and evil and how life is lived somewhere in between.

‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?

MY THOUGHTS

Ever since I read Chris Whitaker’s debut novel, Tall Oaks I have always been keeping an eye out to see when his next book will be released. I described All the Wicked Girls, his second novel as a triumph, but his third book, We Begin at the End is a masterpiece. The writing really makes it a book that you will want to savour. I could have flown through it, and I really wanted to, but I wanted to take a much more leisurely pace with it as I was enjoying it so much. It is literary crime at its very best.

Once again Chris takes us to the heartlands of America and introduces us to a cast of new characters, real, every-day normal people, but they are also people who leap off the page. For me what really stood out in Chris’s debut novel was the humour and its characters. I still haven’t forgotten about Manny who I think impresses everyone when they read Chris’s debut. I think creating and developing characters, who you really care about, is Chris’s strongest writing skill.

Chris’s last two novels have taken on a much darker tone, but again, there are so many strong and compelling characters, who you will be rooting for. I felt real sympathy for Duchess and her family; the primary characters Chris’s latest novel focuses on. They are characters who you will become so attached to and this is what makes the ending all the more heartbreaking and powerful. I think what will make people feel the most towards Duchess, is how strong her need to protect her family is. This is particularly as they have already gone through dark times, which has very nearly torn them apart.

Once again Chris develops a small-town setting which feels like it could be a real place. There’s a strong sense of coming together in this town against one individual, a past resident, Vincent King, who has just returned to the area after thirty years in prison. So it’s no doubt that when another horrific crime takes place, Vincent is everyone’s number one suspect. It seems that the residents of the town have all near enough decided that he is guilty without taking much note of the evidence, and this pushes a lot of people to the brink. This time the police aren’t keen to go lightly on him, they are pushing for the death penalty and they feel sure they’ll get it granted. This is a town where emotions are running very high, and I kept thinking, as I was reading, that at any moment it was going to break and this is what made the novel so tense as well.

But above all, it is a book that is just beautifully written and it deserves to be on everyone’s reading list, you really won’t regret it. It is a book that will keep you thinking about the characters within the pages long after you have turned the final page. We Begin at the End is a cleverly woven piece of fiction and with such a strong central and supporting cast of characters. It’s brilliant!

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 26th March 2020

Print length: 464 pages

We Begin at the End is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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Chris Whitaker

Mine by Clare Empson #bookreview blog tour @ClareEmpson2 @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Mine by Clare Empson today on my blog. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

BLURB

‘Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…

MY THOUGHTS

Mine is a powerful read by Clare Empson and a gripping family drama. Opening with 27-year-old Luke finally meeting his biological mother, a tense and heart-breaking story begins to unfold. Clare examines the strong maternal instincts between a parent and their child, which she does so well with Luke and Alice. This is also a riveting character-driven story. Luke has just become a father himself and his mother, Alice begins to form a strong attachment to his child. This soon becomes a cause for concern. You can begin to see the building blocks of Luke’s relationship with his mother crumbling and things become very uncertain and frightening.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like for a family to be reunited with each other after years spent apart. If the child was given up for adoption at a very young age, I imagine they would have little to no memories of their real parents, especially if they weren’t told about their adoption until much later in life. You can see how much of a big decision this is for Luke, to get in contact with his biological parents, especially as his adoptive mother is convinced that he doesn’t want to know.

This is quite different to the usual psychological thrillers I read, but I really enjoyed it, and I found the storyline to be so refreshing. I think a story always has something extra special when you can easily connect with the characters and feel their emotions as well; Clare has certainly achieved this with this book. I think Alice was the person who I felt for the most. She has never been able to forget the young boy who she had to give up, and you can see just how painful this is for her. I then began to feel really concerned for her as her attachment to Luke’s son grew even stronger.

I also enjoyed the flashback scenes where we see a younger Alice entranced by a member of an up and coming boy band and life on tour. There always seemed to be a lot of tension in these scenes; I kept thinking that at any moment, something terrible was going to happen Alice, which would explain how events have unfolded in the present.

Clare Empson brings everything together in a devastating finale which I’m sure will stay in the minds of many readers long after they’ve finished reading it. Mine is a heart-breaking, emotive and an intense novel that will keep you turning the pages. I loved it.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 22nd August 2019 (kindle) 19th March 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages

Mine is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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MINE blog tour part one v2

MINE blog tour part two

MINE blog tour part three