The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox #bookreview blog tour @josephknox__ @TransworldBooks @alisonbarrow @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox today on my blog. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

The Sleepwalker (Aidan Waits) by [Knox, Joseph]

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‘He said he didn’t remember killing them…’

As a series of rolling blackouts plunge the city into darkness, Detective Aidan Waits sits on an abandoned hospital ward, watching a mass murderer slowly die. Transferred from his usual night shift duties and onto protective custody, he has just one job…

To extract the location of Martin Wick’s final victim before the notorious mass murderer passes away.

Wick has spent over a decade in prison, in near-total silence, having confessed to an unspeakable crime that shocked the nation and earned him the nickname of TheSleepwalker.

But when a daring premeditated attack leaves one police officer dead and another one fighting for his life, Wick’s whispered last words will send Waits on a journey into the heart of darkness…

Manipulated by a reticent psychopath from his past, and under investigation from his new partner, Detective Constable Naomi Black, Waits realises too late that a remorseless contract killer is at work.

Can Aidan Waits solve his last case before fleeing justice?

Or will his name be next on the hit list?

MY THOUGHTS

I’m a huge fan of Joseph Knox’s gritty crime thrillers set in Manchester. There is a real sense of authenticity to the setting of these books, and I love how Manchester is brought to life, especially in the darker areas of the city where gang lords rule, which Joseph Knox paints in a vivid portrayal. His writing definitely makes you feel as though you are there.

This time round in The Sleepwalker, Detective Aidan Waits is posted outside the ward of sadistic killer Martin Wicks who is on his deathbed. Martin was convicted of killing a mother and her three children several decades ago. But he has never revealed the location of one of the children he murdered. The police are hoping that Martin will finally tell them the location of the body of his last victim. But when Martin does speak to Aidan, he confesses that he is innocent and Aidan believes him. But something shocking happens. Martin comes under attack and is killed within the secure unit of the hospital, along with another officer, and another police officer is injured. Is someone determined to make sure that Martin stays silent?

Joseph Knox’s latest novel follows a very intriguing, multi-layered story. Joseph Knox also continues Aidan Waites own personal story which he began to peel back in the last book The Smiling Man. And again I found Aidan Wait’s story a really interesting part of this plot, especially his relationship with his mother and his sister, who he hasn’t seen for the best part of twenty years. This part of the story puts Aidan under quite a lot of strain, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to effect him as the story progressed.

The part of the mystery which I really wanted to know the answer to was if Martin Wicks was really guilty of the crimes he was convicted for or if he was innocent as he protested to Aidan. I could sense trouble ahead for Aidan as he was starting to come round to the idea that this was really the truth, but it doesn’t stop him in his quest.

I also really liked Aidan’s partnership with Naomi Black. Their partnership and friendship are put under some strain, but I thought they both worked really well together and there did seem to be chemistry between them. Aidan is such a compelling character and it’s been really intriguing to see his story develop over the course of three books. I’m really hoping that there are going to be more novels featuring him.

The final scenes to this book are action filled, pacy, tense, and I couldn’t stop reading until I had turned the final page. The Sleepwalker has a real addictive quality to it, and I would definitely recommend picking up the first two books as well as this one. Very, very good.

Publisher: Transworld

Publication date: 11th July 2019

Print length: 400 pages

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Cold as the Grave by James Oswald blog tour #guestpost @SirBenfro @Wildfirebks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the ninth novel in James Oswald’s Inspector Tony McLean series, Cold as the Grave today on my blog and I have a fascinating guest post from James to share with you. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Cold as the Grave: Inspector McLean 9 (The Inspector McLean Series) by [Oswald, James]

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Her mummified body is hidden in the dark corner of a basement room, a room which seems to have been left untouched for decades. A room which feels as cold as the grave.

As a rowdy demonstration makes its slow and vocal way along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Detective Chief Inspector Tony McLean’s team are on stand-by for any trouble. The newly promoted McLean is distracted, inexplicably drawn to a dead-end mews street… and a door, slightly ajar, which leads to this poor girl’s final resting place.

But how long has she been there, in her sleep of death? The answers are far from what McLean or anyone else could expect. The truth far more chilling than a simple cold case…

GUEST POST – 10 THINGS ABOUT JAMES OSWALD

1 – Although I come from a Scottish family and have lived most of my life in Scotland, I was actually born in the Rye Street Hospital in Bishops Stortford, England. Just across the road from the vets. I grew up across the county line, in north Essex, and so am technically an Essex boy.

 

2 – Much like my fictional detective, Tony McLean, I was sent away to boarding prep school at a very young age. I won’t name the school, as it’s not like it was back then at all, but I disliked it as much as Tony did his.

 

3 – My first car, bought very second hand not long after I had passed my driving test, was a 1976 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV. It cost me the princely sum of £750, and the same again to insure each of the four years I owned it. Sadly, like many Alfas of its vintage, it dissolved into rust and had to be scrapped. It fired a lifelong love of the marque though – I currently own two – and inspired my choice of car for Tony McLean.

 

4 – My first paid job was a pre-Christmas stint working on a turkey farm. I initially spent my time stubbing turkeys that had just been plucked (removing the few remaining feathers and broken quills from the still-warm skin), but I soon graduated on to weighing and processing orders. I can still smell them to this day, and haven’t had a turkey at Christmas since.

 

5 – I lived in a little village in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales called Cwmystwyth for almost ten years, moving there when my partner took up the post of livestock research scientist at the nearby Pwllpeiran Research Farm. The area, and the language and folklore of Wales inspired my epic fantasy series The Ballad of Sir Benfro.

 

6 – One of several short-term jobs I had while living in Wales was for a project called Wales Worm Watch. The job involved regular visits to a number of sheep farms dotted around the country, to collect fresh samples of sheep pooh for analysis to see whether their intestinal worms were developing resistance to the drugs used to kill them. Mostly this involved picking up pooh from the ground, but a few samples had to be taken directly, as it were. I can thus say that I have had a truly shit job.

 

7 – (Chief) Inspector McLean began life as a support character I wrote for a comic script submitted on spec to 2000AD in the early 1990s. He was originally called John, until I remembered that the Bruce Willis character in the Die Hard movies is John McClane. That comic script was never published, but it formed the basis for the eighth novel in the series, The Gathering Dark, written twenty five years later. Nothing is ever wasted!

 

8 – My first ever published work was in 2000AD. A Tharg’s Future Shock three page short story, it was called ‘It’s A Cold World’ and appeared in Prog. 865 in December 1993.

 

9 – In 2014 I appeared on American TV, on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. It was just as bizarre and surreal a situation as you might imagine. Craig did his very best to promote me and my books, but due to some unexplained error, my US publisher had sent a copy of The Hangman’s Song, which wasn’t actually out until a few months later. It appeared as a prop in the next episode, as they recorded two back to back, but alas, no one was able to go out and buy it.

 

10 – When Penguin Books bought the rights to my first three Inspector McLean novels in late 2012, I spent the bulk of my initial advance payment on a new tractor. The manufacturer (Claas), found out, and ran a feature in their corporate magazine Tractor Times, with me on the cover.

 

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

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Someone Is Lying by Jenny Blackhurst blog tour #bookreview @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg @annecater

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Someone Is Lying by Jenny Blackhurst today on my blog. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Someone Is Lying: the 'dark and twisty' new psychological thriller from No 1 bestselling author Jenny Blackhurst by [Blackhurst, Jenny]

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One year after Erica Spencer trips and falls down a flight of stairs at a lavish Halloween party, the residents of the exclusive gated community where she lived have comes to terms with her death and moved on with their lives.

Until one day, a post on the school’s website announces there will be a podcast to expose what really happened on the night of the accident. Six suspects are named, with the podcaster promising to reveal the murderer by the end of the series.

Everyone in this community has secrets to keep, and one of them is already a killer…

MY THOUGHTS

Someone is Lying by Jenny Blackhurst is such a suspense-filled read. I devoured this book in just a couple of sittings. Right at the very opening, we hear from Erica who died several months earlier at a Halloween party after falling from a tree house in her neighbour’s garden. But Erica tells us that someone that night is lying about what happened and that her death was far from accidental. And that soon the truth will be revealed.

I love a novel set within a gated community, especially a crime novel. You get a real sense that the person who knows the truth about what happened to Erica is walking among the residents and that they are being pushed to the brink. I wasn’t sure at all what was going to happen to them.

I don’t think I found anyone in the group who become known as the Severn Six, particularly likeable. I did think that some of them did believe that they were better than most people, especially as they lived in an exclusive community. As I learnt more about what had happened on the night Erica died, I really despised some of them. But this made me all the more curious to find out if any of them could possibly have a motive for killing Erica if her death wasn’t an accident.

After we first hear from Erica herself right at the beginning, Jenny next introduces us to someone responsible for a new podcast promising to reveal the truth behind Erica’s death. This rocks the local community, and soon, those who were close to Erica find themselves under the spotlight as the podcaster reveals them to be the prime suspects.

I really liked the idea of the podcasts as this caused real unease among the characters which Jenny brought to life really well. They all become very anxious as to what this will mean for their community and for their futures. There are lots of interesting revelations about the characters that come to light, I think some I initially did find confusing as I was reading, but it made for compelling reading as the full details of their lives unfolded. I was desperate to find out who was behind the podcasts and what they would finally reveal about the night that Erica died.

There is a really sinister edge to this book, and this continues to build as the final plot details are revealed. Gripping and totally immersive, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Publisher: Headline

Publication date: 31st May 2019

Print length: 304 pages

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

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Without a Trace by Carissa Ann Lynch #bookreview blog tour @carissaannlynch @KillerReads @annecater

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Without a Trace by Carissa Ann Lynch today on my blog, alongside Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Without a Trace by [Lynch, Carissa Ann]

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Lily’s gone.
Someone took her.
Unless she was she never there…

A little girl has gone missing.

Lily was last seen being tucked into bed by her adoring mother, Nova. But the next morning, the bed is empty except for a creepy toy rabbit.

Has Nova’s abusive ex stolen his “little bunny” back for good?

At first, Officer Ellie James assumes this is a clear custody battle. Until she discovers that there are no pictures of the girl and her drawers are full of unused toys and brand new clothes that have never been worn…

Is Ellie searching for a missing child who doesn’t actually exist?

MY THOUGHTS

Without a Trace took me completely by surprise. I devoured this book in two days. This is the first book by Carissa Ann Lynch, which I have read, and I can definitely say that I will be reading more books by her. There’s a very creepy atmosphere to this story which kept me thinking that something terrible was going to happen or something dark was going to be discovered.

The lead detective in this book is Ellie Jamison. Ellie is a police officer who has caused friction in her team. She is known as the cop who shot one of their own. Even though Ellie did it under the right circumstances, there is still a level of distrust shown towards her, and she feels very much on her own. At the beginning of this book, they receive a call from a desperate woman, Nova, whose child has gone missing. But as Ellie arrives at the scene, a different picture begins to evolve, and soon this case takes a very intriguing and sinister turn. Does Nova’s daughter even exist?

This book took a very different turn to what I expected. I think this is what made me turn the pages so fast, as it didn’t feel like anything else I had read before and I really wanted to find out what had happened and what the truth was. The set-up was written so brilliantly, and Carissa made her story very unpredictable. I felt I couldn’t trust any of the characters who were somehow involved in the crime, especially Nova and her ex-husband.

Ellie was a character who I had a lot of sympathy for. She isn’t given an easy time by the rest of her team, and there is one police officer who treats her very unfairly. She is tenacious and determined, and these were the qualities in her character, which shone through most strongly. I also liked the relationship she had with her mother and that she asked for her advice and opinions. I think I would like to see Ellie return in a future book. I really warmed to her and I would be interested to see her character develop.

There were some very clever twists and some ideas which I hadn’t even thought possible. I could tell that Carissa had put a lot of thought and carried out a lot of research into some of her ideas.

This is a very twisty book that captured my interest right from the first page. You best make sure you have an afternoon free when you start this because you won’t want to put it down. The suspense continues to build until it reaches its climax. Captivating and very well plotted. Carissa Ann Lynch’s name is definitely now on my radar. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Publisher: Killer Reads

Publication date: 5th April 2019

Print length: 200 pages

If you would like to purchase Without a Trace, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

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Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald blog tour #bookreview @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Helen Fitzgerald’s latest crime novel, Worst Case Scenario.

Worst Case Scenario by [FitzGerald, Helen]

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Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

MY THOUGHTS

Helen Fitzgerald opens Worst Case Scenario with such a startling line that it threw me, for just a second. I remember a couple of years ago when everyone was talking about her opening line in Viral, which I still haven’t forgotten, after hearing several people mention it. I think this book is going to get the same type of reaction from readers. I must admit that I haven’t read one of Helen’s books before, and I have to say that I found her writing so fresh and entertaining. This is definitely one of the most original novels I’ve read this year.

There is a lot of dark humour in her latest book, which may not appeal to some readers; there are some moments which did leave me cringing a little. Helen tackles some dark subject matters, but this is also such an entertaining story, and her lead protagonist, Mary Shields really stood out.

As a probation officer its Mary Shields job to imagine the worst case scenario when the parole board are considering releasing a convict back into the outside world. She has to think of all the possibilities that could happen upon their release and if they are still a danger to society. You can see how this is a job that can bring many people down, and it must be quite tough, having to be the person who makes that decision. Mary deals with people who have committed horrific acts, many, who some people would argue, don’t deserve a second chance. Mary struck me as a damaged individual, you can see just how her job has had an effect on her, and she is just about ready to pack it all in. I could certainly see why she wanted to.

The pace never drops, and I found myself flying through the pages, never once was there a dull or a particularly slow moment. Some readers may struggle to like Mary as she can come across as quite sharp and grumpy, but I really engaged with her, and her character made this book so unique and original. Mary herself is struggling with the menopause, which adds another unique subject matter to this book as it’s a topic that I haven’t come across in crime fiction before.

With some laugh out loud funny moments and a thoroughly entertaining plot which held my attention all the way through, I would, of course, recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something that is a little different. Helen Fitzgerald is a real talent, I can’t wait to read more from her.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 16th March 2019

Print length: 276 pages

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Breakers by Doug Johnstone #bookreview blog tour @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater

Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for Doug Johnstone’s brilliant new novel, Breakers. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Breakers by [Johnstone, Doug]

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A toxic family … a fight for survival…

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.

On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

A pulsatingly tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.

MY THOUGHTS

Oh. My. God. This book. Breakers was nothing like I expected it to be, I’ve read Doug Johnstone’s previous novel Faultlines, but I think this book takes his writing up to another level. There’s no mistake that this is a dark, dark book but it also pulls at the heartstrings. It has characters that will get under your skin and a tension fuelled plot that will keep you turning those pages.

This is a book about family. It asks the question, just how far are we prepared to go to protect the ones we love. Tyler Wallace hasn’t had the best start in life. He has never known who his father is, and his mother, Angela is a drug addict. The main person who Tyler cares about in his life is his younger sister, Bethany or Bean, as he calls her. He has two half siblings, Barry and Kelly and the three of them make their money by burgling posh houses in Edinburgh. But when one of their jobs goes badly wrong, it sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

There are so many things I want to talk about this book. One of the parts which I really liked was Tyler’s relationship with his sister. I could clearly see that he is desperate to give them a better chance in life and for Bean to have a better start than he did, and this shines through in his character, making him stand out next to Barry and Kelly. His brother, Barry, is a very different person. It seems that not even the threat from a very dangerous family will stop him in getting what he wants; I absolutely hated him, he is such a scary and unpredictable character. He made me even keener to see Tyler and Bean get out and make a fresh start.

Tyler’s friendship with Flick was another aspect of the novel I really liked. I couldn’t be sure where Doug Johnstone was heading with this after they first met. She is a girl from a different, more affluent part of the town and you would think that a relationship between them wouldn’t work, but here it really does.

I think the characters within the pages of this book will all stay with me long after finishing. Some parts of this book I did find hard to read, but this isn’t a criticism, far from it, it was because I connected so much with Tyler and Bean that I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them.

One of the points which Doug had me thinking about as I was reading, was what drives people to a life of crime? Their background, where they’re from or how they are brought up? If Tyler and his family had been brought up in a different area would things have worked out as badly for them as they have?

Breakers is a very good book, one that will draw you into the dark side of Edinburgh which Doug Johnstone describes so, so well making his writing very immersive. If you enjoy books that keep you on edge and transfixed to what is happening on the page, then I highly recommend that you give this book a go.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 16th March 2019

Print length: 300 pages

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

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Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary blog tour #bookreview @sarah_hilary @headlinepg @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour today for Sarah Hilary’s latest DI Marnie Rome novel, Never Be Broken, with thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost.
Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.
DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

NEVER BE BROKEN is a stunning, intelligent and gripping novel which explores how the act of witness alters us, and reveals what lies beneath the veneer of a glittering city.

MY THOUGHTS

Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary is such an outstanding read; it’s powerful, heartbreaking and it will make you think about just what is going on in London at the moment. It’s definitely a book that will stay with me.

It’s tragic to think that when we hear of the latest violent crime that has taken place on the streets in London, that sometimes it’s not even shocking any more. It seems that there is little end to the violence that is plaguing the capital in sight and that it is getting more difficult for the police to maintain control. In her latest Marnie Rome thriller, Sarah Hilary paints a vivid portrayal of just how many young people are being drawn into this dangerous world and how easy it is to become a part of it.

London is often portrayed as a wealthy, glistening city, attracting investment from all around the world, but often brushed over, there is a very different picture. DI Marnie Rome and her partner, DS Noah Jake are investigating after a young girl, Raphael Belsham has been shot and killed in the streets. Her family are distraught, and they tell the detectives how she was the perfect daughter who always did as she was told, but all this is about to change when Noah makes an unsettling discovery. Alongside Raphael there are many unsolved cases which Noah determined to solve.

After the end of the last book in the series, Sarah left me reeling after the final revelations which have deeply affected Noah and he is feeling an incredible sense of guilt in this book. I’m not going to reveal any details about this here, but I would recommend at least reading Come and Find Me to get more of an understanding of what is going on in Marnie and Noah’s lives. I’ve read all the books in this series, and they all work well as individual stories, but to learn more about their characters and their backgrounds I would definitely recommend reading them all.

Sarah Hilary’s books are always thought-provoking, with each new instalment I become more and more interested in Marnie’s relationship with her foster brother, Stephen, who is in prison for murdering her parents. But after reading this book, it has left me wondering if this is the last we are going to be seeing of Marnie and Noah, at least for a while, perhaps. But whatever Sarah Hilary writes next I am sure I will read it as I am such a huge fan of her writing.

Totally gripping right the way through, Never Be Broken is immensely good. I could have read this in a heartbeat, but I really wanted to savour it as I wanted to enjoy it for as long as I could. I’ll be definitely waiting with bated breath for Sarah Hilary’s next book.

Publisher: Headline

Publication date: 16th May 2019

Print length: 368 pages

If you would like to purchase Never Be Broken, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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Hunting Evil by Chris Carter blog tour #bookreview @simonschusteruk @annecater

I’m really excited to be joining the blog tour today for Hunting Evil by Chris Carter, the tenth book in the Robert Hunter series. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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‘Every story one day comes to an end.’
As roommates, they met for the first time in college. Two of the brightest minds ever to graduate from Stamford Psychology University.
As adversaries, they met again in Quantico, Virginia. Robert Hunter had become the head of the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes Unit. Lucien Folter had become the most prolific and dangerous serial killer the FBI had ever encountered.

Now, after spending three and a half years locked in solitary confinement, Lucien has finally managed to break free. And he’s angry.

For the past three and a half years, Lucien has thought of nothing else but vengeance.
The person responsible for locking him away has to pay, he has to suffer.
That person … is Robert Hunter.
And now it is finally time to execute the plan.

MY THOUGHTS

Lucien Folter is back in Hunting Evil, and this time he is after revenge.

For those of you who read Chris Carter’s An Evil Mind, the last book to feature Lucien, you will know just what a cruel and callous individual he is.

I first came across Chris Carter’s Robert Hunter series a year ago, and after learning that his latest was to follow on from the sixth book in the series, I knew I had to read it before I began Hunting Evil. And Lucien is perhaps the most twisted of psychopaths I have come across in crime fiction. He is a character who cares for no one. His whole purpose in life is fuelled by his desire to cause pain and suffering, all in the name of research. And this is what makes him so dangerous.

I mentioned in my last review of Chris Carter’s previous book that these novels are not for the faint hearted and I would definitely say that again here. But Chris Carter’s writing makes these books so addictive; there were times when I felt I couldn’t bear to read on because I didn’t want something terrible to happen to the characters, but I also knew I had to. Once Lucien has his eyes set upon someone, you just know that they are doomed.

Although there are gruesome aspects to these books, they are also hugely entertaining; I think they would work so well on the big screen. Chris Carter captures the speed of the chase, and it really is a race against time for the detectives when it comes down to hunting Lucien, who has everything he is working towards planned right down to the tiniest detail.

I would say that you don’t have to read An Evil Mind to enjoy Hunting Evil, but I found it definitely helped to form a better picture of his relationship with Robert and to understand just how evil he is. I think if I hadn’t had read An Evil Mind, I wouldn’t have felt the sheer horror to learn that he was coming back and I knew it would be in a big way. I think I would have felt similar to how Detective Garcia did when he was trying to work out just why his colleagues were frightened so much.

Chris Carter continues to prove that he is a top writer when it comes to action and suspense. This is a dark and thrilling crime novel that I would definitely recommend.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: 2nd May 2019

Print length: 496 pages

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

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The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon #bookreview blog tour @vandasymon @OrendaBooks

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the second novel in the Sam Shepherd series by Vanda Symon, The Ringmaster.

The Ringmaster (Sam Shephard Book 2) by [Symon, Vanda]

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Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

MY THOUGHTS

DC Sam Shepherd is back in the second book in Vanda Symon’s riveting crime series set in New Zealand, The Ringmaster. I remember when I read the last book I was totally gripped by the opening prologue which was so chilling, and Vanda Symon has created another brilliant opening here.

After the devastating events which took place in Overkill, Sam has relocated to Dunedin and has joined the local police force as a detective constable. Sam is desperate to have the chance to move further up the chain and is always willing to prove herself to her superiors. One of the drawbacks to her new job though is her detective inspector who I really took a dislike to from the moment he was first introduced. I honestly couldn’t believe the way in which he treated Sam, which made me root even more for her to succeed. There was one scene in particular that just had me holding my breath after a particular devastating sequence of events; this shows just how well Vanda had pulled me into her story.

If you’re looking for a quick read that will hook you in right away, then this book is the book for you. You don’t have to have read the first book in the series to read this one, but once you have, you’ll want to catch up. There are short chapters which keep the pace flowing right throughout, and there is an engaging mystery to follow.

What I really like about Sam is how human she feels and how personally connected she becomes to the victims and to what has happened to them. Although she desperately wants to work in the police, she also wonders why she is drawn to this profession as she is often deeply moved and upset by crimes which have taken place; but this makes her all the more motivated and determined to solve them. It gives you a sense that she will do everything humanly possible to make that happen.

I loved the growing sense of unease that just made this book so gripping as I could never be sure who to point the finger at. Vanda Symon keeps you thinking about what is going to happen next, and there is a surprising turn of events at the conclusion. There was so much tension as Sam realised just what was going on and who was behind the killings and I was just utterly gripped as I waited to find out how it would all be resolved. But I’m not going to reveal any more about that here.

This is another top read by Vanda Symon that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. With taut writing and brilliantly developed characters, this is turning into a must-read crime series. I, for one, can’t wait to read more. Roll on book three.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Publisher: Orenda

Publication date: 18th February 2019

Print length: 320 pages

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

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech #bookreview blog tour @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

I’m absolutely delighted to be joining the blog tour for Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech.

Call Me Star Girl by [Beech, Louise]

BLURB

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

MY THOUGHTS

If you’re looking for a writer who will draw you into their story and into the lives of their characters in the most fascinating and intriguing way, then look no further than Louise Beech. Call Me Star Girl is a masterpiece in literary fiction with a dark edge that kept me utterly hooked all the way through. I’ve read many rave reviews for Louise’s previous work, so I was so excited to hear that she was moving into the crime genre, and I’m sure it’ll win her many new fans, which definitely includes me.

Stella McKeever is preparing for her last ever radio show, so deciding to take a different path for her final one, she is asking her listeners to phone in and tell their secrets, but she will also tell some of hers in exchange. But what Stella is really hoping for is that someone will get in touch with information about a young girl, who was found murdered not far from the radio station where she works, and perhaps even the killer might feel compelled to call in.

You get a real sense of Stella as a character in this book, and she is very well developed. She is a person who has suffered trauma in her past, after her mother, Elizabeth, abandoned her at a very young age, and she has never known her father. As Louise gradually revealed information about this, I couldn’t believe the reasons why this happened, and it really made me feel so sorry for Stella as I was reading. But I won’t be divulging any details on that here. The one person in her life who she can seem to totally rely on is her boyfriend, Tom, but there is even something a little odd in their relationship, which is what I personally thought.

What I thought was particularly excellent in Louise’s writing was how well the characters evolved. You will become invested in them as she reveals more details about her lives and they are what make this story so, so good.

The clever way in which Louise thought out her plot kept me thinking about the characters and how everything was going to unfold for them at the end, and be prepared; it’s a shocker of an ending. Nothing prepared me for how emotionally invested I would become in Louise Beech’s writing, I think the ending of this book will leave many people shedding a few tears.

Louise Beech is an absolutely brilliant writer, who drew me into her writing without any effort at all. Call Me Star Girl was one of those books that I just did not want to end. An utterly captivating story that will keep you gripped all the way through. It’s seriously good.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy to review.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 18th February 2019

Print length: 272 pages

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

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR