Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten #bookreview #blogtour @nholten40 @BOTBSPublicity @0neMoreChapter_

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the third book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series by Noelle Holten, Dead Perfect. With thanks to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part.

Dead Perfect: An absolutely gripping crime thriller with dark and jaw-dropping twists (Maggie Jamieson thriller, Book 3) by [Noelle Holten]

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A murdered woman…

When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer.  The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else.  Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.

A determined detective…

Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger.  Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls? 

Can Maggie find the depraved killer?  Or will Kate become his next living doll?

MY THOUGHTS

The moment I started reading Noelle Holten’s new novel, Dead Perfect, my heart was in my mouth. What a way to open a book! After the cliff hanger, Noelle left her last book on, I was desperate to get round to reading the next book as soon as possible, and I think it’s her best book yet in this series.

This time around DC Maggie Jamieson is left fearing for the life of her close friend, Dr Kate Moloney, after the body of a woman is discovered. The woman who has been found bears a strong resemblance to Kate, which immediately sparks thoughts that it is her. But Maggie doesn’t quite feel the sense of relief she should feel when the body is identified as someone else. What becomes clear is that someone is targeting Kate, and they are killing women who look very similar to her. Is this to send Kate a message? It isn’t clear. But Maggie now knows her friend’s life is under imminent threat and she is determined to protect her.

My heart rate kept increasing as I raced through this book. You can see how desperate the killer is to get to Kate, but you are never quite sure what their motive is here. Kate herself has been stalked recently, which gives Maggie cause for concern, and she wants Kate to step up her security. However, Kate doesn’t seem to be particularly keen, especially as she doesn’t want to be attached to her phone all the time.

You can see Maggie’s feelings for Kate growing in this book, and her feelings for Kate is what makes Maggie even more concerned for her welfare and keen to protect her. I really liked this side of Maggie, and it makes her character feel much more real and human. After finishing the latest book, I’m wondering just how things for Maggie are going to develop next.

As Noelle has done in the first two books in the series, she uses her knowledge of the probation system, adding a ring of authenticity to her writing.

If you’re not yet reading this series, you’re missing out on some excellent books. Noelle Holten keeps the tension rising, and then she always ends with another cliff hanger that makes you desperate to read her next book. Brilliant stuff!

Publisher: One Chapter

Publication date: 16th October 2020 (kindle) 24th December 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 328 pages

Dead Perfect is available to buy:

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The Secret Admirer by Carol Wyer #bookreview @carolewyer @bookouture

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on book number six in the DI Natalie Ward series by Carol Wyer, The Secret Admirer.

The Secret Admirer: An absolutely gripping crime thriller (Detective Natalie Ward Book 6) by [Carol Wyer]

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‘I tried to talk to you today but you snubbed me and walked away. It wasn’t wise to give me the brush-off, Gemma. I can be a truly good friend but I also make the perfect enemy.’

Sasha’s eighteen-year-old daughter Gemma was all she had in the world. Sasha fell pregnant with Gemma when she was still at school, and the two are as close as sisters. So when Gemma’s burned and broken body is found, Sasha’s world ends. What kind of person would want her beautiful daughter dead?

Leading the case is Detective Natalie Ward, scarred by her own recent tragedy. When she finds a note in Gemma’s diary from ‘a secret admirer’, she moves quickly, determined to un-mask them. But interviews with Gemma’s devastated ex-boyfriend, and her charismatic teacher, who has been seen embracing his student far away from the classroom, don’t give Natalie the answers she’d hoped for…

And then the case takes a devastating, personal twist. CCTV footage reveals Natalie’s estranged husband David followed Gemma home every evening the week before she died.

Natalie is forced to put personal feelings aside and follow procedure, even though she can’t believe David could be guilty. But when Gemma’s housemate is found murdered, Natalie thinks the killer could still be at large. Is she right to trust her instincts about David and can she discover the truth before another precious life is taken?

MY THOUGHTS

After reading the last book in Carol Wyer’s DI Natalie Ward series, The Blossom Twins, I had to take a bit of a break before diving into book six. The last book in the series left me reeling, and I didn’t know how things were going to pan out for the characters in the next book, The Secret Admirer. If you haven’t read book five, then book six does contain some major spoilers. This is why I would suggest at least reading book five first if you haven’t read the other books in this series. You can find my review of The Blossom Twins by clicking here.

DI Natalie Ward has a new, complex case to get stuck into. A young girl, Gemma, has died following a horrific attack after acid was thrown in her face. Was this a random attack? Or was she specifically targeted? Over the last few years, I have seen quite a few reports on acid attacks in the news. Some of them, scarily, seem to have just been random attacks. This is what makes it so scary. Natalie and her team aren’t short of a list of suspects to investigate which is what makes this case particularly difficult. Things get even tougher for Natalie, though, when her own husband comes into the frame. The case takes a darker turn when Gemma’s housemates are soon targeted as well.

I really felt for Natalie and her family in this book, but particularly for her ex-husband, Dave. The recent events which have taken place in the series have really taken their toll on him. Natalie throws herself in her work to try and move forward with her life. As the investigation into the young girl’s attack and murder moves forward, Natalie is concerned that all they have is only circumstantial evidence. They don’t have the silver bullet that will help them to nail one of the persons of interest in the frame. This is when things particularly start to heat up, especially when Gemma’s friends soon turn up dead as well.

I raced through this book to get the truth. I was desperate to know who was behind the attacks and why. I had some inclination along the way as to who the culprit was, and my guesses were proven correct, but I still found the ending very dramatic. The confessions that come are devastating, and they really put you in the mind-set of the person behind the killings.

This book will take you on a whirlwind of emotions. Carol certainly knows how to reel her readers in. I’m really trying not to give anything away here, but now I’m even more concerned for Natalie and her family, and how things are going to pan out for them in the next book in the series.

The Secret Admirer is another top read in this series, and I’m really excited to find out what happens next.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 2nd April 2020

Print length: 370 pages

The Secret Admirer is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

The Dry by Jane Harper #bookreview

I’m really kicking myself that I’ve taken this long to read The Dry by Jane Harper. I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.

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WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

MY THOUGHTS

Jane Harper hooks you straight away, with a disturbing opening chapter, as she describes the haunting opening scene. As I’m typing this, I can still picture the blowflies that appeared so sharply in my mind as I was reading. The Dry quickly swept me into the story, and I became totally immersed in the lives of the characters, living in the small, seemingly forgotten, town of Kiewarra in Australia.

Jane Harper portrays a harsh landscape. Kiewarra is facing its harshest drought in years. As businesses struggle, a grisly discovery is made. A family has been shot dead at their farm, with only one survivor, a baby, who will never be able to say who shot her family. This is where the lead character, Federal Agent, Aaron Falk steps in. He once lived in the town, but has since been ostracised by the locals, following the mysterious death of a young girl, years earlier, who Aaron was linked to. Many of the locals believe he was the person responsible for her death, and they don’t want him hanging around. It isn’t long before he starts to receive threats.

I think The Dry is definitely more of a slow-burner, although I did find Jane’s writing very addictive. I thought this worked really well with the setting, and the writing pulls you in to the sleepy town. It seems, at first, that this is a case of a triple suicide, and that the baby’s father, Luke Hadler, is responsible for his family’s deaths. The reason Aaron has returned, is for their funeral, as he was once best friends with Luke. But he is soon roped into the investigation, in an unofficial capacity. Aaron is determined to get to the bottom of the killings. He soon comes to believe that a third party was involved, but his investigations quickly make him unpopular.

Aaron Falk is a brilliant character. Right from the beginning, I thought there was something mysterious about him. It was the way in which he returned to his former home that made me question what had happened in his past. He doesn’t want to stay long here. As more details are revealed about him, and his friend’s history, I really wanted to find out the truth.

Jane Harper also takes us back in time, as we revisit the time when Aaron once lived in the town. This is where the plot really begins to thicken, as we begin to understand what happened. We can even begin to see why the people of the town suspect Aaron of being a killer. It’s these flashbacks that haunt Aaron, as he tries to reach the truth behind his friend’s death.

My heart was in my mouth as I was reading the final chapters, as the book raced towards a tense finale. Jane Harper has created a really riveting read, and I can’t wait to catch up on her other books.

Publisher: Abacus

Publication date: 12th January 2017

Print length: 416 pages

The Dry is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

Two Little Girls by Kate Medina #bookreview

I’ve finally caught up on Kate Medina’s Dr Jessie Flynn series. I’m sharing my thoughts on the third book in the series, Two Little Girls on my blog today.

Two Little Girls: The gripping new psychological thriller you need to read in summer 2018 (Jessie Flynn Crime Thriller Series) by [Kate Medina]

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Two little girls walked to their deaths and nobody noticed…

A gripping new thriller featuring the brilliantly complex psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn, who struggles with a dark past.

Two bodies on the beach. One killer out for revenge.

Two years ago, a young girl was murdered while playing on the beach and left in a heart of shells, a doll by her side. Now another girl is found on the same stretch of sand, another heart, another doll, and psychologist Jessie Flynn is called in to assist the investigation.

But she’s being led into a web of lies and deceit by a new patient, Laura – a deeply disturbed woman who wants Jessie as her friend. When links emerge between Laura and the two dead girls, Jessie’s worst nightmare becomes reality. For in the dark world of a twisted killer, she begins to realize just how treacherous friends can be…

MY THOUGHTS

Two Little Girls is the third novel in the Dr Jessie Flynn series by Kate Medina. Following on from events in the last book, Jessie has left the army. She is currently seeing a new client who is struggling to move on from the death of her child two years ago. Meanwhile, Jessie’s boyfriend, Ben Callan, becomes involved in a new investigation when the body of a child has been found. The case bears haunting similarities to a similar crime two years ago when a young girl was found on a beach, with a doll beside her. Very soon Jessie finds herself embroiled in the investigation and she has no idea just how much it will affect her and her new client.

I’ve found Jessie to be a really fascinating character over the course of this series. In this book, you can see she is struggling to adapt to her new way of life, after leaving the army. I was pleased that she had got together with Ben as they seemed to be matched really well with each other. But Jessie’s own struggles with OCD are worsening in this book, and this begins to put a strain her relationship.

Jessie is a psychologist, and you can see how dedicated she is to helping her clients. She grows particularly close to Laura, her new client, in this book. You can also see just how reliant Laura has become on Jessie and how desperate she is to have Jessie as her friend. This did make me wonder if Jessie was wading in slightly too deep.

As Jessie finds herself caught up in the investigation into the murder of the young girl, she is forced to confront uncomfortable truths. The officer, who has called her in, DI Simmons, is convinced that he knows who the killer is. He believes it’s the woman who they had to let go two years ago after they didn’t have enough evidence to charge her. DI Simmons accusations don’t convince Jessie. You can see that there is tension between them as they both fight to get to the truth.

Kate Medina successfully kept me re-examining everything I thought I knew about the people involved in the crimes. I kept having suspicions about different people, and I loved that I was never quite able to work out who the real culprit was.

Two Little Girls is a well-constructed page-turner. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as the novel drew towards its conclusion. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 22nd May 2018

Print length: 401 pages

Two Little Girls is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

One Eye Open by Paul Finch #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new standalone novel by Paul Finch, One Eye Open today on my blog.

One Eye Open: 2020’s must-read standalone from the Sunday Times bestseller! by [Paul Finch]

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YOU CAN RUN


A high-speed crash leaves a man and woman clinging to life.
Neither of them carries ID. Their car has fake number plates.
In their luggage: a huge amount of cash.
Who are they? What are they hiding?
And what were they running from?

YOU CAN HIDE


DS Lynda Hagen, once a brilliant detective, gave it all up to raise her family.
But something about this case reignites a spark in her…

BUT YOU’LL ALWAYS SLEEP WITH…


What begins as an investigation soon becomes an obsession.
And it will lead her to a secret so dangerous that soon there will be nowhere left to hide.

ONE EYE OPEN

MY THOUGHTS

I was really intrigued when I noticed that Paul Finch had a standalone novel coming out. I’m a huge fan of his DS Mark Heckenburg and DC Lucy Clayburn series, so I jumped at the chance to read One Eye Open. The thing which sparked my interest for me very early on in this book is that it is set fairly local to me. I travel down the A12 near enough every day. It came as a surprise to me when this became the setting of the crime scene. The star of Paul Finch’s new series, DS Lynda Hagen, responds to a horrific accident that has taken place on this road. The people involved in the accident are close to death but are rushed to hospital. As the investigation into what happened to them heats up, it becomes clear to Lynda and her team that this is part of something far more complex.

Paul Finch takes a different approach with this book. As the investigation begins, Paul Finch takes us back in time as he explores the lead up to the devastating crash. We begin to understand who the victims are and why they ended up in this state. This is what made this book really intriguing for me. We can begin to see the motives that are at play here.

I really liked DS Lynda Hagen. To me, she seemed like a breath of fresh air. She gave up working in the police force many years ago to raise a family, and when she met her husband, also a police officer, they both transferred to different forces. Lynda is now working with the traffic team. But as it becomes clear that there is something far darker at play here, she begins to reminisce about the old days, and she pushes herself further than is needed. This doesn’t go down too well with her bosses, especially when Scotland Yard is called in to help deal with the case.

Paul Finch also explored Lynda’s relationship with her husband really well. Like Lynda, he was also a police officer, but his career is now over, and he is trying to make it as a true-crime writer. Although frustrations are boiling over for him when it seems that there is little interest from editors in the book he has written.

There are some tense action scenes throughout the book, which is something I’ve come to expect from a novel by Paul Finch. It’s what always makes his book really exciting for me and he keeps me utterly gripped. He never gives his characters an easy ride.

I’d highly recommend One Eye Open. If I could, I would easily give it more than five stars; I’m sure it’ll be in my top ten reads at the end of the year. I hope that Paul Finch returns to Lynda Hagen in the future. If you’re a fan of this author, then you definitely need to check this book out!

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 20th August 2020

Print length: 340 pages

One Eye Open is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer #bookreview @carolewyer @bookouture

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer on my blog today. This is book number five in the DI Natalie Ward series.

The Blossom Twins: An absolutely gripping crime thriller (Detective Natalie Ward Book 5) by [Carol Wyer]

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Their parents thought they were hiding…

One beautiful summer’s evening, thirteen-year-old twins Ivy and Erin Westmore snuggle down in a tent in their back garden, giggling and sharing secrets.

When their mother goes to wake the girls the next morning, their tent is empty.

The alarm is raised and Detective Natalie Ward is put onto the case. When the twins’ bodies are discovered on nearby marshland, covered with deep pink petals, an icy shiver travels down Natalie’s spine. Everything about the girls’ deaths reminds her of a horrifying case she worked on earlier in her career, which saw a killer of the worst kind placed behind bars.

The next day, that feeling is heightened when she receives a chilling note saying ‘I’m back’. Is this killer a copycat or did Natalie put the wrong person in prison all those years ago? In a small town, where no stranger goes unnoticed, what is Natalie missing?

Consumed by the case, determined to prevent more deaths, Natalie misses the fact that it is her attention the killer wants. And to get it, he has his sights set firmly on her precious daughter Leigh…

MY THOUGHTS

Honestly, as I am writing this, I am still in shock after reading that ending.

The Blossom Twins is book five in the DI Natalie Ward series. This time around a previous case which Natalie once worked on is about to come back and haunt her. In 2014, Natalie was involved in an investigation into the murder of two young girls. They were twins, who became known to the press as The Blossom Twins. They had a suspect, and he committed suicide. But now two more girls have gone missing. They are soon found dead in very similar circumstances to what happened in the past. And whoever has killed them isn’t done yet. Are the police dealing with a copycat killer? Or is it possible that they got the wrong man?

DI Natalie Ward is going through a lot in this book. As well as having the pressure of work, she is also having to deal with issues within her family. She has fallen out with her husband, David, after he has failed to control his gambling addiction which nearly destroyed their marriage. But you can see that David doesn’t want to let Natalie go. I did feel sorry for him, particularly as it seemed that Natalie had made her mind up and that there was no turning back.

Natalie also has a new boss in this book, John Briggs, who she isn’t on the best of terms with right from the start. I was completely on Natalie’s side here, and I could see why he was making her feel so frustrated. In my mind, I was asking the very same questions about him that Natalie was.

The investigation moves at a fast pace. Natalie is utterly determined to bring the killer to justice. She can’t get the faces of the first two victims out of her mind, and this becomes a driving force for her. The case is a twisty one, and as Carol began to reveal what was really going on, it felt as though I was watching everything unfold on the big screen. And again, that ending. Reading those last few chapters has left me wondering just how things are going to fare for Natalie in the next two books in the series.

Throughout the book, Carol has included scenes which are told from the killer’s perspective. These are dark, foreboding scenes, and we can see into the killer’s mind. Through these scenes, we begin to understand their motives, and as the novel races towards its conclusion, they become really chilling.

With an ending that will leave you reeling, The Blossom Twins is a book that you won’t be forgetting about in a hurry. I downloaded book six straight after turning the final page, and I’ll be jumping to it as soon as I can. A terrific read!

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 12th December 2019

Print length: 386 pages

The Blossom Twins is available to buy:

Amazon UK

 

The first mystery she must solve is herself … Buried Deep by Susan Wilkins #bookreview

On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on the first book in the Detective Megan Thomas series by Susan Wilkins, Buried Deep.

Buried Deep: A completely gripping crime thriller with heart-stopping suspense (Detective Megan Thomas) by [Susan Wilkins]

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On the first day in her new job, Detective Megan Thomas is called to a murder. The body lies deep in an underground bunker, in the middle of beautiful countryside. The two women in the nearest house claim to have no idea who it could be or who could have put it there. So why are they so nervous? And why does Noah, the young child living there, talk about a visitor he’s meant to keep secret?

Megan is determined to prove she can handle the case. She’s moved to Devon for a fresh start, after years spent undercover. But when she looks at the victim, it triggers a panic attack. As her heart races and her breathing stalls, she’s forced to ask whether she can return to life in a regular crime unit. Her memories are too powerful to be buried, maybe too powerful to let her do her job.

As the mysteries surrounding the murder grow, and another body is found on the stretch of beach where she swims every day, Megan fights to remembers why she joined the police. Then Noah goes missing, and Megan finds herself in a race against time against a truly vicious killer. She won’t rest until she finds answers – no matter what it might cost her.

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed meeting Detective Megan Thomas in Susan Wilkin’s new novel, Buried Deep. Megan has recently transferred from the Metropolitan police to Devon. But this seems to be under a dark cloud, and her new boss doesn’t seem to quite take to her when she joins her new team. But he is willing to give her a chance. Megan is thrown straight into the deep end. The body of a man is discovered in a septic tank at the home of a well-known celebrity. But as the investigation gets underway, Megan is asked to look into the horrific rape of a young girl. Megan has everything to prove as she gets to grips with both cases, and they come very close to pushing her over the edge.

Megan intrigued me right from the start, and I’m hoping to find out more about her past as the series progresses. She is currently seeing a therapist, but Susan Wilkins doesn’t reveal a lot about her backstory, we gradually begin to learn more about Megan as the plot unfolds. This is what I think makes her a fascinating character. Megan gets on well with her team, especially Vish and Brittany. They are both very different people, but I really liked the vibe that was there between them.

The cases which Megan is involved with in this book are complex. There’s the discovery of the body of a man in a septic tank. Then there’s the rape of a young girl. There are lots of conflicting stories about both cases, and Megan must work hard to unpeel the layers and get to the truth. She realises that this isn’t going to be easy.

What I thought was interesting was that Susan Wilkins explored what people, particularly young people, will do to gain a following and attention on social media. It was horrific to hear the lengths some people will go to gain followers. I have no doubt that this is what has happened in real life, and that makes the ideas that Susan explores in her book even scarier.

Susan Wilkins explained things really well as both cases drew towards a conclusion. I could see that this was cleverly constructed and at no point at all did I feel lost or confused, and this can sometimes happen to me when I read police procedurals, and I have to go back, and only then do things become clear.

I’ve definitely found a new favourite crime author, and this is a series I’m sure I’ll be sticking with. Susan Wilkins has written a book with plenty of atmosphere and likeable characters who you’ll root for all the way through. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 6th April 2020

Print length: 360 pages

Buried Deep is available to buy:

Amazon UK

Down to the Woods by M.J. Arlidge #bookreview

I’ve finally caught up on M.J. Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series. I’m sharing my thoughts on the ninth book in the series, Down to the Woods on my blog today.

Down to the Woods: DI Helen Grace 8 (Detective Inspector Helen Grace) by [M. J. Arlidge]

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If you go down to the woods today, you better not go alone . . .

The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…

When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – there’s a serial killer on the loose.

Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator, before more blood is shed.

But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.

MY THOUGHTS

In Down to the Woods, the eighth novel in M.J. Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series, a killer is on the loose in the New Forest. DI Helen Grace is called to the scene after the body of a man is found hanging from a tree. It seems at first that this could be the work of an eco-warrior, as Helen and her team delve further into the man’s past. But then a woman is found in the same area, and this prompts belief that a sadistic killer is on the loose, who doesn’t care who their victims are. Unless they can find a connection between the victims, this will make it very hard to track the killer down.

What I love about these books is that M.J. Arlidge always keeps the pace turning up a notch and he uses short and snappy chapters. After reading the last book in the series a few weeks back, it had left me wondering how Helen and her team were getting on. There is also a new member of Helen’s team who M.J. Arlidge introduces us to, DS Joseph Hudson. It appears that he and Helen may have a future together, but if you’re a follower of this series, you will know that Helen and relationships don’t work well together. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops further. I think Helen deserves it after everything that she’s been through throughout the series.

Journalist, Emily Garanitia, is up to her usual tricks. You would think that she would have learned to have stepped back a little bit, after what happened to her in the previous novel. If anything, though, she seems more determined to break the rules to chase down a story, even if it means upsetting her boss. The only person who she seems to worry about is herself, and her own career prospects. I don’t particularly like her as a person, but she is compelling, and I wondered just how close she was going to get to the investigation. She’s always never far from Helen Grace.

DS Charlie Brooks is also in the spotlight in this novel. Her daughter is having night terrors at home, which are starting to have a negative impact on her work life. But Charlie’s relationship with Helen begins to improve again, and I really liked this aspect of the novel.

I don’t think this is my favourite of the series, but I would still definitely recommend reading the books in order, to get the most out of the characters and their individual stories. I’m looking forward to seeing what M. J. Arlidge has install for us next.

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 20th September 2018

Print length: 473 pages

Down to the Woods is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

DI Helen Grace series:

Eeny Meeny

Pop Goes the Weasel

The Doll’s House

Liar Liar

Little Boy Blue

Hide and Seek

Love Me Not

Down to the Woods

 

 

The Puppet Show by M. W. Craven #bookreview

I realise I’m very late to the party with this book. I finally got the chance to read The Puppet Show this week and I am kicking myself that I haven’t read it sooner.

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A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of. Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it. As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …

MY THOUGHTS

I have been meaning to give M. W. Craven’s Washington Poe series a go for months now and I’m so pleased that I’ve finally had the time to do so. After reading so many rave reviews for this series, I can see what I’ve been missing out on. The Puppet Show is one of the best police procedurals I’ve read. Detective Washington Poe is a force to be reckoned with, and he is certainly not a person who you want to get on the wrong side of. His partnership with Tilly Bradshaw is brilliant. Tilly suffers from her own problems and struggles with social skills, which often makes her a target for bullies. I thought she was such a unique character in the crime fiction field, and I can’t wait to see how her friendship with Poe develops further.

I liked Washington Poe right from the moment when M. W. Craven first introduces him. I really liked how he stepped in and defended Tilly in the opening chapters. He would be a great friend to have, but you certainly wouldn’t want him as an enemy. Washington has been called in to deal with a horrific case after the burnt out body of a man has been discovered in a stone circle. The case bears all the hallmarks of a ritual killing, but what is all the more disturbing, is that Washington’s name has been carved into the victim’s skin. This discovery prompts the police to believe that Washington may well be the killer’s next intended victim.

I think Washington’s friendship with Tilly is one of the strongest parts of this book. Unlike some of her colleagues, Poe recognises her talents, and he often appreciates her honesty which is really refreshing. But the plot as well is extremely gripping. I wanted to find out the reasons behind the gruesome murders, and the search for answers take Poe and Tilly to some very dark places. Normally when I read police procedurals, I have a couple of suspects in mind, but I didn’t have a clue who the culprit behind the killings was. I would say that this book isn’t for the faint-hearted as there are some pretty disturbing scenes along the way.

The Puppet Show is a book that you could devour in a matter of hours. After finishing the first book in the series, I’ve already ordered the second book, and I can’t wait to catch up Tilly and Poe again. I suppose one of the advantages of starting a series, several books in, is that I don’t have to wait patiently for the next book to be released. If you enjoy crime novels with a mixture of horror, then this is the book for you, if you haven’t come across it already.

Publisher: Constable

Publication date: 7th June 2018

Print length: 368 pages

The Puppet Show is available to buy:

Amazon UK   Kobo  Waterstones

The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the second book in the DI Amy Winter series by Caroline Mitchell, The Secret Child today on my blog.

The Secret Child (A DI Amy Winter Thriller Book 2) by [Caroline Mitchell]

BLURB

DI Amy Winter knows evil. She’s lived through it.

Four-year-old Ellen is snatched by a stranger in the dead of night. Her devastated mother, Nicole, receives four identical phials and a threatening note in a familiar scrawl that chills her to the bone. But she always knew this would happen. She’s been expecting it for years . . .

According to the note, one of the phials is poisoned. Nicole is given a deadly challenge: if she drinks one, the sadistic kidnapper will notify the police of Ellen’s location. The sender claims to be Luka Volkov but Luka is supposed to be dead, killed long ago in a fire that haunts all those involved.

DI Amy Winter is still reeling from the discovery that she is the daughter of a serial killer, and her childhood trauma only makes her more determined to bring Ellen home. When another child is taken, Amy finds herself in a race against time. To rescue the children, must she seek help from the one person she wants to forget?

MY THOUGHTS

Caroline Mitchell’s latest book in the DI Amy Winter series, The Secret Child is an exhilarating read right from the get-go. Caroline Mitchell opens the book with a chilling scene when a man gains access to the room of a young girl. He gains her trust, and she follows him outside. But what are the man’s intentions? It becomes clear that he is a man intent on revenge, but what is it that her family has done? Why has he taken an innocent young girl?

Caroline Mitchell keeps you thinking and guessing right throughout this book. As the investigation into the young girl’s disappearance begins, the suspect is identified, but there’s a problem. The man who claims to be behind the girl’s disappearance is dead, so who is the person who is claiming to be him? Are they really who they say they are?

The writing keeps you utterly gripped to the page. For Amy and her team, the investigation soon turns into a game of cat and mouse when they receive contact from the kidnapper. He is willing to reveal the location of the girl, but he has a string of demands, and he wants a secret that has been kept buried for decades to finally be revealed. This is what made the book really tense. Amy knows that she has to play her cards right; otherwise, it could mean devastation for the young girl and her family.

What follows on from the previous book is Amy’s horrific new reality, after she received contact from her birth mother, who is in prison for a string of murders. Amy’s parents were known as ‘the beasts of Brentwood,’ and it is a scar she has had to carry. She desperately hopes that the secret won’t get out amongst her team; she fears this as she wonders if it will make them view her differently. This is a really fascinating part of Amy’s life, and it is going to be interesting to see how this develops from here.

The secrets that have been kept for decades are horrific. I could see why the suspect wanted to carry out what he was doing. There are some devastating reveals as the book reached its conclusion. After reading the first two books in this series back-to-back, I can’t wait to see what Caroline Mitchell has install for us next. If you’re a crime fiction lover, you need to read these books.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 7th March 2019

Print length: 330 pages

The Secret Child is available to buy:

Amazon UK