The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts #bookreview

The Flower Girls by [Clark-Platts, Alice]

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YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.

One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.

Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.

And the Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…

MY THOUGHTS

I loved reading The Flower Girls, it is the first time I’ve read a book by Alice Clark-Platts. It is a dark, twisted story full of lies and deceit. I could never be sure who to trust and I was on tenterhooks until the final revelations were made clear at the end. It’s totally addictive and absorbing. Its ending really did give me chills, and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about it for a while.

A storm is closing in, at a hotel in Devon, a child, Georgie, goes missing and a rising sense of panic ensues with everyone fearing that the young girl will die outside in the storm, and it is a race against the clock to find her. But what happened in the lead up to her disappearance? Who was the last person to see her? We are then introduced to two sisters, Laurel and Primrose, known to the press and the world as The Flower Girls, for the horrific crime they were both involved in when Primrose was just six, and Laurel just a few years older. Georgie’s disappearance throws them back into the spotlight again, nineteen years after their crime, and there is a lot of anger as Laurel is fighting to be released from prison as a reformed citizen, and there are people furiously campaigning to stop this from happening. But will the truth of what happened that day all those years ago finally be revealed? Does Laurel deserve to be let back out into society?

This was a very easy book to get into, and I just wanted to keep reading to find out the answers as to what happened that day nineteen years earlier. I think the public become all the more fascinated by a case where young children have been involved in a crime. We really want answers as to what prompted them to commit something so horrific, are people born evil? Or is it the fault of their parents that they committed this heinous act?

The case that is at the heart of The Flower Girls is a very disturbing one, and it was uncomfortable to read about at times. I never could be sure I was being told quite the whole picture of what happened as I was reading and this is what kept me reading on, and Alice played this very well. There are several surprising revelations that took this book in a whole new direction. The plot was unpredictable, and I could never be sure how it was going to unfold. I had several theories running around inside my head as I was reading and Alice proved me wrong on all of them.

We have two very intriguing characters in this book in Laurel and Primrose, both who are hiding dark secrets about what really went on in their past. This is what made this book such a compelling read and there is plenty of misdirection, I could never make up my mind about either of them. As Laurel’s hearing draws closer, this brings the two sisters together again, years after they last saw each other, and it makes for some intense reading as I waited to see how they would both react to seeing each other again after all this time apart.

The Flower Girls is the author’s first stand-alone and it is an exciting, dark and an intense crime thriller. It’s very clever and it has made me excited to read more of Alice’s work. I would definitely recommend it if you love a mix of a police procedural and a psychological thriller. Top stuff!

Publisher: Raven Books

Publication date: 17th January 2019

Print length: 352 pages

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Hush Hush by Mel Sherratt blog tour @writermels @AvonBooksUK

Hush Hush: 'An absolute masterpiece’ Angela Marsons (the most gripping crime thriller of 2018) by [Sherratt, Mel]

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A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.

All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.

To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?

MY THOUGHTS

Hush Hush was insanely gripping. I gulped down the first hundred pages of this book in one sitting. This is the first book by Mel Sherratt which I have read, although I still have her previous novels sitting on my kindle which I will be reading very soon after finishing this. I love the way how Mel Sherratt writes; I can see now what I have been missing out on. If you enjoy dark and gritty crime fiction, then this is definitely the book for you. It’s the start of what promises to be an addictive and an exciting new series.

Grace Allendale is a welcome addition to the crime world. She’s a tenacious detective but hides a harrowing past which she would rather keep from her fellow police officers. Grace is connected to a family who are well known to the police and to the criminal underworld. When a current spate of murders pulls her back to her roots, she knows that this particular case is going to be tricky and she fights to stay on it, despite facing opposition from her superiors. Can she really investigate her own family? And soon it appears that Grace herself may be a target.

This was a brilliant introduction to Grace’s character. Throughout the book, Mel gives us a glimpse into Grace’s former life in some uncomfortable and disturbing scenes. You get the sense of just how difficult the cases that Grace is investigating in the future may be for her as she is swept back into her family’s fold. Although I could feel that there was an eagerness on both sides to get to know each other more, I kept wondering how Grace was going to respond to this, especially, if this meant putting her career in the police force at risk.

There is some excellent dialogue, keeping the pace going; I just wanted to keep reading and I didn’t want to put it down. It is a very easy book to get into and it will sweep you into its murky depths. Grace is a character who you can easily root for and the end will certainly leave you wanting more from this author.

Hush Hush is an absolutely gripping read and it marks the start of a series that I will be following with a keen eye. I’m sure this book will win Mel lots and lots of new fans, it has certainly won me over. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. Excellent stuff.  Thank you to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the tour and for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Publisher: Avon

Publication date: 18th October 2018

Print length: 400 pages

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Hush Hush Blog Tour - October

The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham blog tour @AlisonBelsham @Trapeze Books

Source: Own copy

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A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

MY THOUGHTS

Alison Belsham has created a belter of a crime thriller in her debut novel The Tattoo Thief. I can see why her pitch was the winner of the Bloody Scotland pitch perfect event a couple of years ago. Personally, I have never been interested in getting a tattoo, and after reading Alison’s novel, I think I definitely won’t be getting one. This is a chilling, serial killer thriller!

The Tattoo Thief is very dark. The novel is set in Brighton, and it delves into the heart of the tattooing industry which for me gave the book a very unique feel. I don’t know anything at all about tattooing, but Alison had me captivated, and I could see the fascination that she has for this subject which was very well researched. It’ll be interesting to see how she will take this series further.

Alison’s protagonist, Marni Mullins was a brilliant lead to follow. From the moment she discovers the mutilated corpse of a man, not far from the tattooing convention she is attending, I wanted to follow her journey and see just how involved she was going to get in this case. I wanted to know who was behind the brutal and horrifying attacks that were taking place and what reasons they had for doing this. Alison keeps us in the dark about Marni’s past but reveals more as the novel progresses. We know that she doesn’t like dealing with the police, but we don’t know why, and there was a strong sense of foreboding that Marni was going to become much more involved in this mystery than she would like to.

The detective working on the case is Detective Inspector Frank Sullivan. Frank has recently been promoted, so he is faced with the added pressure of having to get results as quickly as possible. His boss makes it very plain that Frank has to solve this case soon or risk throwing the rest of his career away, his boss isn’t the most pleasant of characters, and I didn’t like his handling of the case. I really liked Frank, he is a character that I very easily warmed to; I think this was probably due to the fact that he goes through quite a rough time with this investigation. The team he works with doesn’t appear to be strong and supportive. But he is determined to see the case through, even if it means risking his career.

The killer in this book is terrifying. Some of the scenes are told from the killer’s perspective, and I found it genuinely scary as Alison gets inside their head. You strongly get the sense that this is a messed up individual who will fight to the end to get what they want. There was a twist towards the end that took me by surprise, and it was a jaw-dropping moment of realisation. There was so much tension in those final scenes; I couldn’t see how it was going to play out.

I think all I can say now – if you love your crime fiction – is that you definitely need to go and grab yourself a copy, especially if you like your fiction dark and gory. The Tattoo Thief is clever and very well written, and it has a very strong hook that will keep you intrigued.

Thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to join the blog tour.

Publisher: Trapeze

Publication date: 20th September 2018

Print length: 384 pages

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Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill blog tour #IsThatYou @stet_that @noexitpress @annecater

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Source: Review Copy

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Winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Jean Mason has a doppelganger.

She’s never seen her, but others* swear they have.

*others | noun. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants – the regulars of Bellevue Square.

Jean lives in downtown Toronto with her husband and two kids. The proud owner of a thriving bookstore, she doesn’t rattle easily – not like she used to. But after two of her customers insist they’ve seen her double, Jean decides to investigate. Curiosity grows to obsession and soon Jean’s concerns shift from the identity of the woman, to her very own.

Funny, dark and surprising, Bellevue Square takes readers down the existentialist rabbit hole and asks the question: what happens when the sense you’ve made of things stops making sense?

MY THOUGHTS

Bellevue Square is one of the most unusual books I have read recently. Although I did enjoy the story, I did find that it did take me a little while to get into this one. The premise is strong and had me intrigued, but it just took me a little longer to be pulled into the plot. But once I got into the story I flew through it. If you’re after something that is a little different and will keep you thinking, this is a novel I would definitely recommend.

The lead character, Jean is informed that she has a doppelganger. A woman has been spotted who looks exactly like her. It then becomes Jean’s obsession to track the woman down. Jean was a character who grew on me and who I did find fascinating. Her quest to track down Ingrid, her lookalike pushes the plot forward. She begins to spend her time looking out for her in Bellevue Square. This is where the story really becomes interesting. As the story progresses, we meet several characters who pass through this square who Jean becomes acquainted with.

There are some really good scenes in this book where the pace keeps you flicking the pages although it does slow down at some parts in the middle. Some of my favourite scenes were when Jean is spending time with her family and these scenes really make her character feel human.

You do have to suspend the belief system a little bit as you’re reading this book but that was what made this novel particularly exciting. When I’m reading a psychological thriller I do have a tendency to be thinking about what potentially could be coming next and I sometimes manage to guess the twists. But with Bellevue Square I found this to be a completely different reading experience. I didn’t know what to expect next and I found the characters and the central idea to be utterly unique, compared to anything I have read before.

Overall I did find this book to be an enjoyable and an exciting read. I don’t think this is a story that will be quite for everyone but if you enjoy unusual stories and if you’re looking for something that is unique, then I would definitely suggest giving this book a try. You will find that you’ll get lost in Jean’s world as she tries to work out what is happening in her life and as she pursues her quest to hunt down the mysterious Ingrid.

Reading Bellevue Square has made me keen to read more from Michael Redhill; he is a fascinating writer who explores some intriguing ideas. I do keep wondering how he managed to come up with the idea for this story. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to Katherine Sunderland at No Exit Press for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Publisher: No Exit Press

Publication date: 15th August 2018

Print length: 256 pages

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