Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson #bookreview @deborah_masson

Hold Your Tongue is a debut I was really looking forward to reading and I was glad I managed to find the time to do so over Christmas.

Hold Your Tongue: This addictive crime novel will be your new obsession (DI Eve Hunter Book 1) by [Masson, Deborah]

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In the run up to Christmas, a serial killer stalks the streets of Aberdeen . . .

On Detective Eve Hunter’s first Monday back at work following enforced leave, she is called to the scene of a gruesome crime. A young woman’s body has been discovered in a hotel room, her face mutilated and her tongue cut out. A newspaper headline about the victim’s burgeoning modeling career is pinned to the body.

Hunter and her team spend the week chasing leads, until the following Tuesday, another body is discovered in similar circumstances. Again, a newspaper headline about the victim is found on the scene.

When a breakthrough with the newspaper clippings leads them to a clue about the killer’s pattern, they realize the countdown is on until the next victim is found. Battling against a team who has lost respect for her and her own personal demons, Hunter must put herself inside the mind of a depraved killer if she is to prevent another terrible death . . .

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, HOLD YOUR TONGUE is your new obsession.

MY THOUGHTS

When I first read the blurb for Hold Your Tongue, I knew this was going to be a book for me. For me, it was the premise of this novel that drew me to it, and I found the idea really chilling.  It also introduces us to a new police team in Aberdeen, Scotland, and a lead detective who has an intriguing backstory that will hook you in from the first few pages.

Serial killers have been known to take items from their victims, a sort of trophy to remind themselves of the crime they have committed, their victims, and as well, perhaps, to taunt the police. Deborah Masson’s killer takes this up an even more disturbing notch. The killer in her book chooses to remove the tongues from their victims. Detective Inspector Eve Hunter has recently returned to work and is faced with the horrific case; she isn’t in the best stable mind herself. A few months ago she was considered by many on her team to be responsible for a serious attack on one of her colleagues which left her paralysed. Eve has never been able to forgive herself for her part in what happened.

It did feel as though Eve was very much on her own in this book. Many of her colleagues seemed to be against her return to the force. Eve feels incredible guilty herself about what happened. The investigation which Eve and the team are faced with is complex. Along the way, there are some hard-hitting truths which make it very disturbing for the team to investigate. I really connected with Eve, and I wanted things to get better for her, especially in her team. I wanted someone to tell her that what had happened wasn’t her fault.

For me, I felt that the pace did slow down quite a bit after the discovery of the first body, but it does pick up again. Deborah Masson maintains the tension well as the investigation picks up new leads. All the time though I kept wondering, who was carrying out these crimes? Who would be so sick to remove their victim’s tongues? What purpose did this serve to the killer? If this is the idea that Deborah Masson has brought us in her first book, it does make me wonder what she has in store for us next.

Hold Your Tongue is a very gritty debut by Deborah Masson which will chill you to the bone. Deborah Masson is a strong new talent who I will be keeping an eye out for. I’ll definitely be looking out for more from this series, and I’m intrigued to know where Deborah will take Eve and the rest of her team next.

Publisher: Transworld

Publication date: 20th November 2019 (kindle) 26th December 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 414 pages

If you would like to purchase Hold Your Tongue, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham #bookreview @AlisonBelsham

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the second book in one of my favourite new crime series by Alison Belsham, Her Last Breath.

Her Last Breath: The new crime thriller from the international bestseller by [Belsham, Alison]

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The body count is rising…and the clock is ticking.

When a young woman is attacked and left fighting to survive in hospital, the police are pulled into a race against time to save her life. But just 24 hours later, she dies and a deadly tattoo is discovered on her body.

And when another young woman disappears, Detective Francis Sullivan and his team fear a serial killer walks the streets of Brighton.

His team identify a suspect, Alex Mullins, son of Francis’s lover, Marni. Can Francis forget their shared past and save the next victim before it is too late?

MY THOUGHTS

I really like the characters in this series. When I read Alison Belsham’s debut novel, The Tattoo Thief, I thought it was one of the most original crime novels I’d read in a long time. When I read her last book, it made me think that I would definitely never get a tattoo. It was such a chilling read, and she has done it again with her second book, Her Last Breath. I did wonder how Alison was going to carry this series on, and she has created an absolute belter.

There are some particularly gruesome scenes in this book, and once again Alison has created a terrifying serial killer who is terrorising the streets of Brighton. Tattoo artist Marni Mullins is once again at the centre of this new investigation. When her son’s girlfriend is attacked, he is put firmly in the spotlight of the police probe leaving Marni exasperated. She desperately seeks her friend’s help, Detective Francis Sullivan, who is in charge of the case. But suspicions raise when more people who Alex is acquainted with are attacked and especially when the attacks turn to murder.

This is a really tense read. I really felt Marni’s exasperation as she tried to clear her son’s name of any involvement in the attacks. It did make me feel angry as well when some of the detectives on the case seemed utterly convinced right from the start that he was responsible, even though there was little evidence to support their claims. It did make me wonder how Marni was going to get her son out of it.

You really do get the sense of a race against time as the police try to find the person responsible for the crimes before they strike again. Alison Belsham kept me turning the pages as the book reached its conclusion. I literally could not put it down.

Her Last Breath is a really gripping and an intense read. I can’t wait to read the next book.

Publisher: Trapeze

Publication date: 19th September 2019 (kindle) 6th February 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 416 pages

If you would like to purchase Her Last Breath, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

Deadland by William Shaw #bookreview

Over the Christmas break I finally found the time to catch up with one of my favourite police procedural series.

Deadland is the second book in William Shaw’s Alexander Cupidi series and it is really good.

Deadland: the second ingeniously unguessable thriller in the D S Cupidi series (DS Alexandra Cupidi Book 2) by [Shaw, William]

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YOU CAN RUN

The two boys never fitted in. Seventeen, the worst age, nothing to do but smoke weed; at least they have each other. The day they speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, they’re ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim comes looking for what’s his – and ready to kill for it.

YOU CAN HIDE

On the other side of Kent’s wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously – not even the artwork’s owners, celebrity dealers who act like they’re above the law.

YOU CAN DIE

But as Cupidi’s case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can’t help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they’re pawns in someone else’s game. Two worlds are about to collide.

Kent and its social divisions are brilliantly captured in Deadland, a crime thriller that’s as ingeniously unguessable as it is moving and powerful.

MY THOUGHTS

DS Alexander Cupidi is back in William Shaw’s latest novel, Deadland. This is a series which keeps going from strength to strength, and I have been captivated since Alexander Cupidi made her first appearance in The Birdwatcher.

What I really liked about the latest book in this series is that we see the return of former police officer, William South. When we last saw him, Alexander Cupidi had handed him in to the police after discovering the truth about his dark past. When I read The Birdwatcher I thought he was one of the best characters in crime fiction which I’ve come across, so I was really pleased to see him return in this book, but he is slightly different in his latest appearance. He seems to be struggling to re-adapt to life outside of prison. He’s never going to be viewed in quite the same way, particularly by his old friends. Alexander is keen to keep an eye on him. This is not least because she thinks that by having William around it might stop her daughter, Zoe, from going down a slippery path.

While keeping an eye on William and her daughter, Alex is up to her eyeballs in a new investigation. A severed arm has been discovered at an art gallery, and it proves very difficult for Alexander and her team to get identified. But that’s not all that she is faced with. There is also the disappearance of two teenagers who Alex believes could be in grave danger. It soon becomes clear to Alex and her team that the cases could be connected.

What I think is really good about William Shaw’s writing is how he makes us care for the characters. In the opening chapters, he introduces us to two teenagers who are targeting people so that they can steal their phones and sell them on. This is something which is quite frequently spoken about on the news as well. It is quite frightening to think about how easy this can be done and how easily people can get away with this crime. It does make you think about how careful you have to be when you’re out in public. I think this was why I didn’t think much of them towards the beginning of the book, but as the novel progressed, I felt quite sorry for them. William Shaw makes you realise that there are deeper root causes which have lead them to do this. It’s only when they pick on the wrong person do the tables finally turn for them, and their luck runs out.

Once again William Shaw also brings the setting of the Kent coastline to life, creating an atmospheric landscape. If you haven’t yet read this series and if you’re a fan of police procedurals then you really need to move William Shaw’s books to the top of your list. Deadland is cleverly constructed, and it grips you from the first page. Excellent from start to finish.

Publisher: riverrun

Publication date: 2nd May 2019

Print length: 480 pages

If you would like to purchase Deadland, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

Previous reviews

Salt Lane

On My Life by Angela Clarke #bookreview

I featured On My Life in my most anticipated reads post earlier in the year and I’m kicking myself that I’ve taken this long to read it and I’m pleased to say that it’s a real corker.

On My Life: the gripping fast-paced thriller with a killer twist by [Clarke, Angela]

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Jenna knows she didn’t do it. But she is running out of time to prove it . . .
A heartbreaking, compulsive thriller with a killer twist!

Framed. Imprisoned. Pregnant. 

Jenna thought she had the perfect life: a loving fiancé, a great job, a beautiful home. Then she finds her stepdaughter murdered; her partner missing.

And the police think she did it . . .

Locked up to await trial, surrounded by prisoners who’d hurt her if they knew what she’s accused of, certain someone close to her has framed her, Jenna knows what she needs to do:

Clear her name
Save her baby
Find the killer

But can she do it in time?

MY THOUGHTS

On My Life by Angela Clarke is a powerful read that will pull at the heartstrings. There’s action right from the get-go when we find our protagonist, Jenna being escorted in a prison van towards her new life. Jenna knows she is innocent of the crime she has been accused of, and Jenna knows she has a fight on her hands to prove her innocence, especially when the whole country and the justice system is against her.

Angela Clarke’s latest novel is really taut. Right from the first page, you’re thrown into the action, and you are fighting with Jenna as she attempts to prove her innocence. What she has been accused of is a heinous crime which makes her a target among certain prison inmates, who are out to cause her harm. At the same time, she is trying to keep it a secret from everyone else inside. You feel as though she is walking on eggshells. It seems that at any moment her secret is going to come out and everyone will know what she has been accused of. As the reader, you know that once this does happen, everyone will turn against her.

Angela Clarke’s writing kept me furiously turning those pages as I waited to see how Jenna was going to be able to prove her innocence when it seemed that so much evidence was stacked against her. You can sense the walls closing in on her, but she is determined not to let this happen. I felt really angry for her. She has to try and grow accustomed to her new life before her trial, but a spanner is thrown into the works when she finds out that she is expecting her fiancés baby. Her fiancé has disappeared, and she has been accused of having a hand in his disappearance. But she has also been accused of killing his teenage daughter.

I really liked the friendship Jenna had with the woman she shares a cell with, Kelly. Kelly is inside for a much lesser offence, but the two women form a bond, and Kelly seems to be the only source of solace Jenna has. Kelly is also pregnant, and this strengthens their friendship. You can tell that Angela Clarke has put in a lot of research into this subject within the prison system. You can’t help but feel sorry for Jenna, and I was just hoping that she was going to be able to get out of the situation she was in.

On My Life is really tense and thought-provoking; I’m still thinking about the ending days after I’ve read it. You will be rooting for Jenna right from the first page.

It’s one of my top reads of the year.

Publisher: Mulholland Books

Publication date: 7th March 2019

Print length: 384 pages

If you would like to purchase On My Life, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

First Blood by Angela Marsons #bookreview @WriteAngie @bookouture

Today is publication day for a very exciting book which I have wanted to shout about ever since I read it a few weeks ago. I’m absolutely delighted and beyond excited to be able to share my review of First Blood by Angela Marsons, a prequel to the Kim Stone series with you today.

First-Blood-Kindle

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In the darkness of a cold December morning, Detective Kim Stone steps through the doors of Halesowen Police Station.  She’s about to meet her team for the first time.  The victim of her next case is about to meet his killer…

When the body of a young man is found beheaded and staked to the ground in a secluded area of the Clent Hills, Kim and her new squad rush to the crime scene.

Searching the victim’s home, Kim discovers a little girl’s bedroom and a hidden laptop.  Why is his sister relieved to hear he’s dead – and where is the rest of his family?

As Kim begins to unearth the dark secrets at the heart of the case, D.C. Stacey Wood finds a disturbing resemblance to the recent murder of Lester Jackson.  But that’s not all Stacey finds …

She’s convinced there is a link between the victims and a women’s shelter run by Marianne Forbes, Lester’s niece. A child of the care system herself, Kim knows all too well what it means to be vulnerable. Could Marianne be the key to cracking this case?

With the killer about to strike again, Kim is in deep water with a rookie squad.  Inexperienced Stacey is showing signs of brilliance but struggling to hold her nerve and, while D.S. Bryant is reliable and calm, D.S. Dawson is a liability. With his home life in pieces, his volatile behaviour is already fracturing her fragile new team.

Can Kim bring Dawson in line and pull her crew together in time to catch the killer before another life is taken? This time, one of her own could be in terrible danger…

Discover where it all began for Kim and her team. An absolutely heart-stopping mystery thriller that will keep you glued to the pages, reading late into the night.  Perfect for Kim Stone fans and new readers to the million-copy bestselling series.

A detective hiding dark secrets, Kim Stone will stop at nothing to protect the innocent.

MY THOUGHTS

Kim Stone fans, you are in for a treat. Angela Marsons has taken Kim back, right to the beginning, before Silent Scream and before the friendships she has with her colleagues has had a chance to develop fully. Here, in First Blood, everything is new and fresh. We get to see everything we know well and love about this series in a new light.

When I first heard that Angela Marsons had written a prequel to her first novel in the Kim Stone series, I was really excited. I pretty much dropped everything I was doing and picked up this book. I wanted to know more about Kim’s relationship with her colleagues and how this developed. I must admit, it did feel quite strange not to have the usual quirky exchanges between Bryant and Kim. Right at the beginning, however, Kim doesn’t know how long she will be working with him or anyone else on the team. She doesn’t know if she can trust anyone yet. We can see that she has not managed to fit in with any other teams within the police force, and this seems to be the last throw of the dice for her.

As well as getting to know a younger version of Kim Stone, it’s been fascinating peering into the lives of her colleagues. You can see the beginnings of her friendship forming with Bryant. You can also see the determination in the members of her team, notably in Stacey and Dawson, to solve the case they are working on.

The case is a chilling one, with links to a women’s refuge centre nearby, Kim and her team are trying to track down an individual who is killing abusers. To the killer, what they are doing is just, and this is probably how a lot of readers will feel about this as well. The killer is playing on the minds of the police. It becomes a race against time for the police to work out what the killer is planning to do next before they kill again.

If you haven’t yet read the Kim Stone series, then this is a good place to start. It can be quite daunting to start a series several books in, so this is the perfect opportunity for you to get to know Kim and her team.

This book shapes the pathway for the rest of the books to follow. Angela Marsons has done a brilliant job in putting a fresh spin on this series. It’s been fascinating going back in time and seeing where it all began for the characters, which fans of the Kim Stone series have grown to know so well. Once again, Angela Marsons has come up with a brilliant plot for her characters to sink their teeth into.

For fans of Kim Stone and newcomers to the series as well, I highly recommend First Blood. And if you are new to the series, you will want to read the rest of the books straight away. Absolutely brilliant stuff!

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 14th November 2019

Print length: 407 pages

If you would like to purchase First Blood, you can do so by clicking on the following link below.

Amazon UK

Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins #bookreview @RozWatkins @HQstories

I’ve been catching up on my TBR pile recently and one book I was looking forward to reading was Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins. I loved the first book in the DI Meg Dalton series so I was really excited when I finally got round to reading the second.

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She was racing towards the gorge. The place the locals knew as ‘Dead Girl’s Drop’…

DI Meg Dalton is thrown headlong into her latest case when she finds a ten-year-old girl running barefoot through the woods in a blood-soaked nightdress. In the house nearby, the girl’s father has been brutally stabbed to death.

At first Meg suspects a robbery gone tragically wrong, but something doesn’t add up. Why does the girl have no memory of what happened to her? And why has her behaviour changed so dramatically since her recent heart transplant?

The case takes a chilling turn when evidence points to the girl’s involvement in her own father’s murder. As unsettling family secrets emerge, Meg is forced to question her deepest beliefs to discover the shocking truth, before the killer strikes again…

MY THOUGHTS

If you like your crime fiction with a touch of the supernatural, then Roz Watkins DI Meg Dalton series set in the Peak District is one for you.

DI Meg Dalton faces a particularly tough and complicated case. In the opening chapters, she is faced with a horrifying scene. A woman alerts her attention to a young girl she has seen running through the woods. The girl’s nightdress was stained with blood. When Meg tracks down the girl and visits her home, she finds her father dead. The girl, Abbie, has recently had a heart transplant, and she is convinced that her heart made her kill her father. Abbie believes she can remember what happened to its previous owner and describes this in great detail. It forces Meg to tackle the question, can having an organ transplant change a person’s personality? Can a donated organ still carry memories from its original owner?

Meg is also going through a difficult personal time in this book. Her grandmother is dying, and she and her mother are preparing to take her to Switzerland. Her gran has chosen to end her life as she doesn’t want to suffer any more. But Meg faces fierce opposition to her gran’s decision and finds herself and her family being targeted and threatened which pushes them to the brink.

What I loved about the first book in this series was the touch of humour that Roz added to Meg. She is a character who often takes the mickey out of herself, and I really liked this about her personality. There is still some humour in this book, but the novel, on the whole, does feel a lot darker.

The supernatural elements, for me, are what make this series stand out, and the setting gives it an added spooky and atmospheric atmosphere. You can see how the case is beginning to affect Meg; she seriously begins to question the events happening around her, even though she staunchly dismisses the idea of any supernatural link.

Dead Man’s Daughter is a book that will keep you thinking about the plot and the characters involved. Meg is determined to do everything within her power to make sure that justice prevails, even though other police officers would quite happily brush this case under the carpet. Some of the themes that Roz Watkins explores may stay with you for a long time after you’ve read it.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 4th April 2019

Print length: 384 pages

If you would like to purchase Dead Man’s Daughter, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

First Monday Crime Book Review – The Whisper Man by Alex North @writer_north @1stMondayCrime

First Monday Crime is back at City University, London on Monday, 4th November at 18.30 p.m. We have another stellar line up for you which includes, Alex North author of The Whisper Man, Louise Candlish author of Those People, Abir Mukherjee author of Death in the East and Victoria Selman author of Snakes and Ladders. The panel is being moderated by Sophie Goodfellow.

Earlier in the year I read Alex North’s The Whisper Man and it is still one of my top reads of the year. I’m re-sharing my review below. And if you would like to come along to First Monday Crime, you can find all the details where you can reserve your FREE space at the end of the blog post.

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If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.

Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home.

Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I remember first hearing about The Whisper Man way back, early in 2018, and I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I first read about it in ‘The Bookseller.’

I was slightly worried, as it had received a lot of early praise if it would live up to my expectations, and I’m relieved to tell you that it certainly did. This is one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year. Alex North’s writing is totally immersive and the line “if you leave the door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken,” chilled me. This is a very well thought out book with a spooky and creepy atmosphere, and it was done really well.

Tom and his son Jake move to the quiet town of Featherbank following the death of Tom’s wife and Jake’s mother, Rebecca. They’re hoping for a fresh start, but soon strange things start to happen. Jake begins talking to imaginary friends. Tom, as you can imagine, has a lot of concerns about his son’s behaviour.

Fifteen years ago, a serial killer abducted and killed five children; one child remains missing. In the present day, another child has disappeared, and soon the killer has their eyes set on Jake. But there are some scary similarities to the crimes that took place decades earlier. But the man responsible for those crimes is in prison. Is this a copycat? Or is something much more sinister going on?

This is a novel with a huge amount of heart. Tom confesses in the opening lines how he has struggled to bond with his son, but you can really see their relationship develop throughout this book, and this makes the final scenes so tense and gripping. I couldn’t be sure where we were going to end up at the end, and there were some times when I almost couldn’t bear to find out as I didn’t want anything bad to happen to the characters. A book is only gripping, I find if you care a lot about the characters, and this is what Alex North has achieved with this book.

There is real depth to Alex North’s writing. I really engaged with Tom and his son as they tried to make a new start. You can see just how difficult this is for them and there are some scenes that I’m sure will pull at the heartstrings of many readers. Right from the start of the novel, I just got the feeling that something terrible was going to happen, and this darkness ran right from the beginning to the heart-pounding conclusion.

The Whisper Man is a top crime novel, one I’m certain will hit the bestseller lists. Alex North is a writer who I’m sure will jump straight to the top of my TBR pile whenever he has a new book out. Brilliant and captivating. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publication date: 13th June 2019

Print length: 400 pages

If you would like to purchase The Whisper Man, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

If you would like to come along to First Monday Crime, you can reserve your space by clicking on the link below.

The nearest Tube stations are Farringdon and Angel. Afterwards we’ll be heading to The Dame Alice Owen for a drink.

RESERVE YOUR SPACE

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves #bookreview

A couple of weeks ago I read The Long Call, the first in a new series by Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland series. This is the first book by Ann Cleeves which I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The Long Call is the captivating first novel in the Two Rivers series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

MY THOUGHTS

The Long Call is a deeply engrossing story by Ann Cleeves. Set along the North Devon coastline, the body of a man with a stab wound is found on the beach. As Detective Matthew Venn takes a closer look into the past few weeks leading up to the man’s death, he uncovers some disturbing facts. As Matthew unpeels the layers of the victim’s life, it seems as though there is something a lot more sinister going on, and Matthew is determined to stop it.

This is the first case for Detective Matthew Venn and the first novel in a brand new series for Ann Cleeves. This book had long been on my radar before it was published, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read it as soon as I did. Shamefully I’ve never read a book by Ann Cleeves before, but I will be rectifying that after reading her latest. I’m also sure that this book will win her an army of new fans.

The Long Call is a slow-burner. It does, however, develop into a highly engrossing, character-driven read. Matthew Venn is a character who has suffered in the past, mainly at the hands of his family. The opening of the novel sees him attending his father’s funeral but at a distance. We can see that there is an animosity there between him and his relatives, chiefly down to religious matters which initially caused their split. I did feel sorry for him. You can see that he wants to make amends with his family, but they appear to be less willing to do so.

There is a complicated life attached to the victim, which Matthew has to unpick as the investigation into his death gets underway. There is also a connection to a community arts centre where the victim may have volunteered. I really liked how Ann Cleeves attached different strands to the investigation, which kept me thinking along the way. Until everything comes together in the end, you really don’t know how Ann Cleeves is going to bring about that full circle that makes everything clear.

There are some characters here who will get under your skin. I thought this particularly about Matthew’s family and the company they kept. The novel does explore how a belief can take its hold over a person, and even turn them against their own family.

Matthew Venn is a character who Ann Cleeves has brought to life really well in the first book in this series. I also liked the strong visual imagery which captured the North Devon landscape; it made me feel as though I was there.

A strong start to a new series, the Two Rivers series is one I’ll be keen to follow.

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 5th September 2019

Print length: 384 pages

If you would like to purchase The Long Call, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

First Monday Crime Book Review – The Lying Room by @FrenchNicci @1stMondayCrime @simonschusterUK

After a summer break, First Monday Crime is back at City University, London on Monday, 7th October 2019 at 18.30 p.m.

We have another brilliant panel for you. Claire McGowan will be moderating and she will be interviewing, crime writing husband and wife duo, Nicci French, (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French), Peter Robinson and Marnie Riches. I’ve just finished reading The Lying Room by Nicci French and I will be sharing my review below. And if you’re interested in coming to next month’s First Monday Crime, I’ll be telling you how and where you can reserve your FREE space at the end of the blog post.

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Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police. 

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’
A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared  to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?
A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?

MY THOUGHTS

I became completely caught up in Neve’s world after she discovers the body of her lover, Saul in his apartment in Nicci French’s new standalone novel, The Lying Room. There are long chapters in this book. This did put me off initially when I picked it up, but the writing is just so addictive, and it flowed very well, making it a very easy read to get into. In the end, I didn’t notice that the chapters were long at all.

Even more shocking, is Neve’s actions following the discovery. She thoroughly cleans the apartment, removing any visible trace of her presence. She is determined to make sure that her family don’t find out about her affair. But as she gets caught up in trying to remove the evidence, she puts herself in very grave danger and soon falls under the suspicion of the police. Why would she want to do this? Why doesn’t she call the police straight away?

Neve was a character who both intrigued and frustrated me. When we first meet her, I couldn’t understand what she was doing. I could have shouted at her for her actions. I could see that this was going to make her a suspect in the eyes of the police if they ever discovered what she did in the wake of Saul’s death.

There is a lot of family drama going on here as well. Neve’s daughter, Mabel, is supposed to be going off to university but she is having reservations about going, and Mabel is very grumpy with her mother. There is definitely friction between them, and this was another intriguing part of the plot which I wanted to know more about.

There are some really tense moments when Neve is interviewed by the police. I could see that the detective, Inspector Hitching strongly disliked her. It must be so frustrating for the police when they can see that someone is guilty, but they can’t find the evidence that clinches their suspicion. Neve is very clever, and this created high moments of tension when she is trying to cover up her actions. This certainly frustrates Hitching and other police officers who are working on the case when they are trying to make sense of Neve’s story. I kept thinking as I was reading that surely Neve was going to get found out.

But ultimately what drives the plot is who really killed Saul, and why did he have to die? Neve makes it her determination to find out who the person behind his death is if only to avoid the finger of suspicion being pointed her way. And I wanted to know what had really happened as well and this is what kept me turning the pages.

The Lying Room is fuelled with tension and drama.  This is a highly engrossing read from Nicci French, which I would definitely recommend adding to your reading list. If you’re new to Nicci French as I was, this is the perfect place to start.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: 3rd October 2019

Print length: 432 pages

If you would like to purchase The Lying Room, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

If you would like to come to First Monday Crime at 18.30 p.m. on Monday, 7th October 2019, you can do so by clicking on the following link below. The nearest tube stations to City University are Farringdon and Angel. After the event we’ll be heading the Sekforde Arms for a drink.

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The Bad Place by M.K. Hill #bookreview @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books

Happy publication day to Mark Hill. His latest book The Bad Place is the start of a brand new crime series featuring DI Sasha Dawson and it is published today.

The Bad Place (A Sasha Dawson Thriller Book 1) by [Hill, M.K.]

BLURB

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

MY THOUGHTS

The Bad Place is an excellent start to a new crime series by M.K. Hill, which I enjoyed reading very much indeed. We witness the kidnapping of six children when their kidnapper hijacks the minibus they are travelling in. He takes them to a remote location which becomes infamously known as The Bad Place to the press. But just what happened there has remained shrouded in mystery, with many people believing that the people directly involved in the kidnapping have not told the full truth. And why did only five of the children escape?

The Bad Place is a thriller where nothing is at it seems. Many years after the terrifying kidnapping took place, the children who were involved, now adults, still meet up and raise a toast to the friend they lost that night. It’s their own way of remembering her, even though some of them no longer see eye to eye. During one evening, when they are hosting a planned get-together, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. It terrifies her into thinking that their kidnapper has returned, but how could it be him when he was killed on the night they were rescued? We are then introduced to DI Sasha Dawson, who was a constable in the police force when the five children were found.

I really liked Sasha. She is determined to put the victims of the crimes first at the forefront of her mind. But her dedication to her work does garner some criticism from her mother. Sasha’s mother fears Sasha is letting her family slip by the wayside and this begins to cause a lot of frictions. Sasha’s mother is quick to let her feelings be known, which does cause some tension between them. Sasha’s home and work life are weaved together very well, and there was a very good balance between the two.

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking that there must be some truth in the speculation that something very dark had yet to be uncovered. After the young girl is kidnapped in the present day I had suspicions about a few people who I thought could be involved. There were quite a few red herrings planted which were skilfully weaved into the story and I didn’t predict the final outcome.

The book had such a chilling opening, and I was hooked right away. I flicked through the pages as fast as I could to find out how everything was going to come together at the end. When the final revelations were revealed, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

The Bad Place is a brilliant introduction to DI Sasha Dawson, and I am definitely keen to read more books featuring her. You’ll be racking your brains right the way through trying to work out just what is going on here and when the final truth hits, it will be shocking.  Very, very good.

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publication date: 5th September 2019

Print length: 368 pages

If you would like to purchase The Bad Place, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones