All the Wicked Games by Lauren North #bookreview #blogtour @Lauren_C_North @TransworldBooks

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Lauren North, All the Wicked Games. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Are you ready to play?

Best friends Cleo and Rachel spend their evenings pretending to be people they’re not, inventing elaborate stories to escape the monotony of their real lives. It’s all harmless fun – until they play the game on the wrong person…

It’s your move now.

Five years later, Cleo is still struggling to come to terms with the night that destroyed her friendship with Rachel and almost cost them their lives. And then she receives a text: Rachel is missing. Have you seen her?

There’s only one person to blame.

Wracked with guilt for failing Rachel the last time they were in danger, Cleo races to find her friend. But could the past be repeating itself? Only this time, they’re caught up in a far darker game.

The rules don’t matter when the goal is revenge.

MY THOUGHTS

I raced through All the Wicked Games by Lauren North. It’s definitely one of the most gripping crime novels I’ve read this year. There is so much tension in this book that kept me flicking through the pages at breakneck speed. Every time I reached the end of a chapter; I had to keep reading on to find out what was going to happen.

When Cleo reports her friend, Rachel, missing to the police, the police take very little interest in her concerns; they believe that Rachel has just gone on holiday and will be home soon, although there is one detective who has some concern. But Cleo is adamant that something terrible has happened to Rachel and when the police won’t help her, she begins to investigate on her own, and begins to find information about her friend that she never knew before.

I felt so frustrated for Cleo when she couldn’t get the police to take Rachel’s case seriously. You can see how determined she is to make sure that Rachel is okay. You really get the sense that there is something sinister going on here, especially as Cleo begins to delve into Rachel’s recent past and what she was getting up to.

As Lauren North begins to reveal more about Cleo and Rachel, we learn about something horrific that has happened in their past, something they have both struggled to move on from. The revelation of what took place added to the tension, as Cleo desperately tries to track Rachel down. I really wanted to know what had happened to Rachel, even though everyone else seemed to believe that she would turn up in a few days time, this made me feel more sure that something terrible had happened. The novel takes an even darker turn as Cleo delves deeper into her friend’s life. It’s a novel that makes you think of how far you would go to protect and help your friends.

I did not suspect at all, the direction which Lauren North took the book. I was stunned as I got to the final chapters, but everything did make a lot of sense as the book reached its conclusion. Lauren wrote these scenes so, so well, and I was hooked on every word. I thought the ending was cleverly done and it was so chilling.

I’m certain that All the Wicked Games will be one of my favourite reads of the year. This is the perfect book to take with you if you’ve got a long journey ahead, as you’ll be kept gripped and thoroughly entertained. I really enjoyed this book.

Publisher: Transworld

Publication date: 11th August 2022 (kindle) 1st September 2022 (paperback)

Print length: 354 pages

All the Wicked Games is available to buy:

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The It Girl by Ruth Ware #bookreview #blogtour @RuthWareWriter @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m thrilled to be joining the blog tour for the new novel by Ruth Ware, The It Girl. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Everyone wanted her life
Someone wanted her dead

It was Hannah who found April’s body ten years ago.
It was Hannah who didn’t question what she saw that day.
Did her testimony put an innocent man in prison?
 
She needs to know the truth.
 
Even if it means questioning her own friends.
Even if it means putting her own life at risk.
 
Because if the killer wasn’t a stranger, it’s someone she knows…

MY THOUGHTS

There is a very intriguing mystery element to Ruth Ware’s latest novel, The It Girl. I love a good novel which takes you back and forwards in time, particularly in a thriller. Ruth Ware moves her book between the present day where we meet Hannah, who is pregnant, and living with her husband, Will, and to their university years several years earlier where they first met. We know that April, Hannah’s friend from university, has been murdered, but we don’t know the circumstances leading up to her death. Only that the person who was arrested and convicted for the crime, has now died.

When Ruth Ware takes us back to Hannah’s university days, we see the moment she first meets her close friend at the time, April. I disliked April right from the start. Ruth Ware delves into her character well, even though these scenes are told from Hannah’s point of view. I warmed to Hannah. You can see just how nervous she is about attending Oxford, especially at the thought of fitting in with the rest of the crowd, who all come from families who have money; you can see why she sticks with April.

I really liked the Oxford setting; Ruth Ware draws on it so well and she creates some tense scenes as the plot of the novel develops. You can begin to see the mystery surrounding April’s death beginning to unfold. As Hannah begins to question if her actions led to an innocent man being convicted for the crime, in the present, I could think of plenty of people who may have wanted to harm April, particularly with how she was behaving towards some of her friends at university.

I would say that this is more of a slow burner, rather than a fast paced read, but I still found it very absorbing. It was the mystery of what really could have happened to April that kept me turning the pages. I felt scared for Hannah in the present, particularly as she is pregnant, and she is determined to try and find out what really happened to April; her pregnancy really adds to the suspense as she also has to think of the safety of her unborn child. I knew that if someone else was responsible for her death, that they had been able to get away with it for ten years. You can see that that person wouldn’t be coming clean lightly.

Ruth Ware delivers a tense intriguing read. I was keen to find out the truth behind what had happened to April. The It Girl is another enjoyable read from Ruth Ware.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Publication date: 4th August 2022

Print length: 432 pages

The It Girl is available to buy:

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The Retreat by Sarah Pearse #bookreview #blogtour @SarahVPearse @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Sarah Pearse, The Retreat. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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This is a warning for all our guests at the wellness retreat.

A woman’s body has been found at the bottom of the cliff beneath the yoga pavilion.

We believe her death was a tragic accident, though DS Elin Warner has arrived on the island to investigate.

A storm has been forecast, but do not panic. Stick together and please ignore any rumours you might have heard about the island and its history.

As soon as the weather clears, we will arrange boats to take you back to the mainland.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy your stay.

MY THOUGHTS

I loved Sarah Pearse’s debut novel, and I was really eager to read her latest, The Retreat. Sarah’s latest book is set on an island off the coast of Wales. The primary setting is a luxury retreat, but the island also has a dark past, and when a woman’s body is found, people begin to wonder if the island’s history is firmly in the past, or if it is about to resurface.

I love a mystery novel set in an isolated location. You can instantly feel the creeping sense of danger as you know that the person behind what is happening is still on the island. You don’t know who to trust amongst the characters, and you have no idea if this person will strike again. Sarah Pearse knows how to deepen suspense in her writing, and I loved the creepy vibe to this book which drew me in from the first few pages, keeping me hooked.

I liked that she brought back the Detective from her first novel, Detective Elin Warner, and it was good to get to know her more. In the first book to feature her, Elin was out of her comfort zone as she was on holiday, and out of her jurisdiction. Now she is back on her home turf. It was interesting to see the change in this dynamic. The characters who are on the island, on holiday, were intriguing as well, and I thought Sarah Pearse gave them some interesting backstories.

I really wanted to know what was going on, on the island, and if there was any chance that the events happening in the present were linked to the events that happened there in the past. I loved the backstory that Sarah Pearse gave the location which really added to the tension. It really helped bring the setting to life, and I’m still thinking about the island now, after I’ve read it.

I was utterly gripped by The Retreat, Sarah Pearse is fast becoming a favourite author of mine, and I know that I’ll read whatever she writes next. If you love a creepy setting, then you definitely need to pick up The Retreat.

Publisher: Bantam Press

Publication date: 21st July 2022

Print length: 368 pages

The Retreat is available to buy:

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Dark Objects by Simon Toyne #bookreview #blogtour @simontoyne @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Simon Toyne, Dark Objects. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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An Impossible Crime Scene
A wealthy woman is found brutally murdered in the locked fortress of her London mansion. Surrounding her are four mysterious objects, including a book on forensics by Dr Laughton Rees.

An Inescapable Past
As a teenager, Laughton’s life was destroyed after witnessing her mother’s brutal murder. Now a mother herself and forensic analyst, she is an expert on how to read crime scenes – but never works live cases.

An Uncatchable Killer
Pressured by the lead detective to help with the investigation, Laughton begins to realise that the objects left by the body are not just about the victim, they’re also about her. Her childhood was destroyed by one killer. Now she must catch another before her daughter’s is destroyed too.

MY THOUGHTS

Dark Objects by Simon Toyne is one of the most addictive crime novels I’ve read. I really, really enjoyed reading this book and the character’s came to life on the page. With knife crime sky rocketing, the police are facing intense pressure. But they are faced with a perplexing crime scene, when the body of a wealthy woman is found, in an affluent area of London, but beside the body, is a book written by Dr Laughton Rees on how to get away with murder.

I loved the set-up to this book. It makes for a very complex case, especially when the woman’s husband is nowhere to be found, immediately making him a suspect. I had to know what happened in their home in the hours leading up to the discovery of the woman’s body. What makes things even more complicated for the police is that the press immediately descend.

I liked DCI Tannahill Khan the moment Simon Toyne introduced him and Dr Laughton Rees. Laughton is a very intriguing character; she has her own personal problems going on in her life, especially with what is happening to her daughter, Gracie, at school, and I could feel the emotions that she was experiencing because of this. I liked the working relationship between Laughton and Tannahill, you can see that they enjoy each other’s company after they first meet each other, and I loved the chemistry that was there between them.

I was never sure what direction this book was going to take. The crime is very perplexing and it made me wonder if the police were looking in the right areas. There are plenty of twists and turns which make the book hugely enjoyable, and it becomes even more interesting when Laughton becomes involved. This turns up the tension, especially as her book was found at the scene, and I wanted to see what she could add to the investigation. Would she be the key to unlocking the mystery and finding the person responsible?

There is a real sense of danger, especially with the discovery of Laughton’s book at the scene. It felt as though the person behind the crime was targeting her, and it made me eager to know what was going to happen as the book progressed. There is a lot that is going on in this book, but the pace flows really well and I loved the short, snappy chapters. I raced through it in a just a few greedy chunks. This is a book that you will not want to put down.

I’m certain Dark Objects will be in my top ten reads of the year. It’s certainly one of the best crime novels I’ve read recently. Crime fiction fans, you are in for a real treat if you haven’t read this book yet. I highly recommend it! 

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 7th July 2022

Print length: 416 pages

Dark Objects is available to buy:

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Night Shadows by  Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #bookreview #blogtour @evaaegisdottir @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the gripping new novel in the Forbidden Iceland series by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, Night Shadows. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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The small community of Akranes is devastated when a young man dies in a mysterious house fire, and when Detective Elma and her colleagues from West Iceland CID discover the fire was arson, they become embroiled in an increasingly perplexing case involving multiple suspects. What’s more, the dead man’s final online search raises fears that they could be investigating not one murder, but two.

A few months before the fire, a young Dutch woman takes a job as an au pair in Iceland, desperate to make a new life for herself after the death of her father. But the seemingly perfect family who employs her turns out to have problems of its own and she soon discovers she is running out of people to turn to.

As the police begin to home in on the truth, Elma, already struggling to come to terms with a life-changing event, finds herself in mortal danger as it becomes clear that someone has secrets they’ll do anything to hide…

MY THOUGHTS

I’m really enjoying the Forbidden Iceland series by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir. Icelandic Noir has become one of my favourite sub genres in crime fiction. What I love about this series is how Eva draws on the setting, and I think I have mentioned this before in my earlier reviews of this series. She creates such a chilling atmosphere using the landscape and it’s what always makes me bump these books to the top of my reading pile.

This time around, in Night Shadows, Detective Elma faces a complex, intriguing case starting when a young man burns to death in a house fire. But when they discover strange searches in his Internet history, a link is drawn to the disappearance of a young Dutch woman.

I was fascinated by the case Elma investigates in this book. I wanted to know what was going on in the life of the man who is killed in the fire. When it was revealed what he was searching for just before his death, my interest heightened, it really creates a much more chilling atmosphere to the book and it made me think that there was something far deeper going on here. There were so many intriguing aspects to his story and I wanted to know what the problems were he was facing shortly before his death. Eva Björg Ægisdóttir is a writer who really keeps you thinking about the possible motives and the possible suspects. Elma faces a difficult task in piecing together what happened in the days leading up to the fire and as Eva takes us back in time, she throws in many red herrings that kept me on my toes.

I also liked the added detail into Elma’s personal struggles in this book. It helped bring her character to life, especially as we delve into her thoughts and feelings about what she and partner, Saever face. I really connected to their relationship in this book as Eva explores it deeper. It made me wonder just how things were going to pan out for them and how their relationship would be affected in the long term.

The ending is tense; I was flicking through the pages at top speed to find out what was going to happen. I thought the reveals that came were so well done and chilling. If you haven’t yet read this series then you are really missing out, it’s becoming one of my favourite series in crime fiction and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 21st July 2022

Print length: 276 pages

Night Shadows is available to buy:

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The Daves Next Door by Will Carver #bookreview #blogtour @will_carver @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Will Carve, The Daves Next Door. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.
 
An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.
 
A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.
 
Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.
 
Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.
 
Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

MY THOUGHTS

Will Carver is a writer who never fails to impress me with the originality of his work. I always look forward to seeing what he has in store for us next, and his latest book The Daves Next Door, has left me wondering how on earth Will comes up with his ideas and his characters.

Will’s latest novel is told from the perspective of five individuals. The way how Will narrates the scenes told from their perspective is very unique and it draws you into the characters minds very easily. I especially found the chapters intriguing told from the point of view of a person who thinks they’re God.

There is real tension in this book as we get deeper and deeper into the mind set of each character. As one of the characters rides the Underground each day, he contemplates on his own state of existence, wondering if he is God, in control of the lives around him. He thinks about the possibility of a bomb being strapped to his chest. He is aware of all the other characters in this book as he observes their lives while riding with them on the London Underground. It feels as though this person does have a certain control over them. He gets to choose if they live or die. This is a terrifying aspect to this book and it made me think about the potential dangers we face every time we step outside the front door every morning. We know, in the book, that there will be a devastating series of terrorist attacks across London, and this is what turns the tension up a notch.

There is a real skill to the way how Will Carver writes that sets him apart from other writers. This is especially the case with how he tells the story from each different perspective. I got to know each and every one of the characters and they felt like real people. One of the other characters who I found particularly intriguing was the nurse, Vashti, who, in The Daves Next Door, is caring for an injured sportsman. I found these scenes featuring them really engaging and it was interesting seeing things develop between them over the course of the novel and seeing their personalities change.

The Daves Next Door is addictive, thought-provoking, and it makes for a captivating reading experience. Will Carver fans, you do not want to miss this book.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 21st July 2022

Print length: 335 pages

The Daves Next Door is available to buy:

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Nothing Else by Louise Beech #bookreview #blogtour @LouiseWriter @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Louise Beech, Nothing Else.

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Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.

But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.

When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

An exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma, about the unbreakable bond between sisters, Nothing Else is also a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.

MY THOUGHTS

Louise Beech is a writer who really knows how to delve into the emotions of her characters. Nothing Else, her latest book, is a powerful read that will pull at the heartstrings. It’s not the type of book I normally read, but I was completely and utterly hooked by Heather and Harriet’s tragic tale. It’s really a novel to savour.

We meet Heather as she is contemplating taking a job on a cruise as a pianist, but she is reluctant about this at first. Only after some gentle pushing by her friends does she apply. Heather teaches piano, but she doesn’t perform herself in front of crowds. As Heather sets sail on the cruise, we begin to see just how tragic her backstory is, and how this adds a deeper meaning to the music she plays, particularly her own compositions.

I could really feel Heather’s loss. She hasn’t seen her sister in more than thirty years, after they were cruelly separated by social services, after the death of their parents. Their grandmother, who neither Heather, nor her sister Harriet liked, didn’t even offer to take care of them. You can feel Heather’s yearning to have her sister in her life again. I wanted to find out what had happened to Harriet after they were separated.

We also see what happened in Heather and Harriet’s childhood, and these are some tough scenes to read. But there is also some hope for the future in these scenes, especially as they both learn to play the piano together and you can see how much joy this brings them. This also helps strengthen their bond further and they both know they can rely on the piano in the times of darkness.

I really enjoyed the scenes when Heather is on the cruise and I loved the interactions that she has with the other passengers, as well as the other people in the same quarters as her. I particularly liked the friendship she developed with Frederica, a writer who is running creative writing workshops on the ship. I loved Frederica’s personality and I was glad that Heather had her as a friend on the ship.

Nothing Else is a deeply moving story. Heather and Harriet’s tale engaged me right from the start and I was rooting for Heather all the way through to find out what happened to her sister. If you’re a fan of Louise Beech’s work you need to read this book as soon as possible.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 23rd April 2022 (kindle) 23rd June 2022 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages

Nothing Else is available to buy:

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One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke #bookreview #blogtour @lucyclarkebooks @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Lucy Clarke on my blog today, One of the Girls. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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WE WERE DYING FOR A HOLIDAY

The six of us arrived on that beautiful Greek island dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets, ready to lose ourselves in the wild freedom of a weekend away with friends.

On the first night we swam under a blanket of stars.

On the second night the games began on our clifftop terrace.

On the third night the idyll cracked, secrets and lies whispering on the breeze.

And by the final night there was a body on the rocks below . . .

WHO WOULD KILL FOR IT?

MY THOUGHTS

One of the Girls is the first book by Lucy Clarke that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. I loved the Greek island setting, and as we get to know the group of women who have travelled there for Lexi’s hen weekend, I got the sense that something wasn’t quite right. Some of the women have been friends since their school days, but I could feel the tension simmering in the background, and we know very early on, that one of them will end up dead, but we don’t know who this will be.

I really enjoyed trying to work out what was going to happen to the characters. Lucy Clarke gradually ups the tension as she begins to reveal more about the lives of the women. I liked how this was done through the different narrations. It is more of a slow burner, I think, but the tension gathers pace as we race towards the pivotal moment, when we find out which one of them will be killed.

The setting of the Greek Island adds to the tension, especially the sharp drop of the cliffs, not far from the property where they are staying, that the girl’s discover when they first arrive. I really liked how Lucy Clarke brought the setting to life. I could picture the villa clearly and the various different locations on the island. The characters each have their own intriguing backstories and it’s their backstories that begin to drive the tension as their pasts are unravelled. I wanted to know the secrets they were all hiding and how this would have an impact on the events that they were about to be faced with. I loved the drama that Lucy Clarke created between them and you can see their true colours begin to emerge. I didn’t know who to trust.

One of the Girls is a tension filled character driven read that kept me utterly gripped. Lucy Clarke’s writing effortlessly draws you in, and I wanted to find out what was going to happen to the group. I could sense the imminent threat of danger that was surrounding them. I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely be catching up on Lucy’s previous novels.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 26th May 2022

Print length: 441 pages

One of the Girls is available to buy:

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The Mirror Man by Lars Kepler #bookreview #blogtour @ZaffreBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Lars Kepler, The Mirror Man. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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IF YOU SEE HIS REFLECTION
IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE . . .

Five years ago, Jenny Lind was abducted on her way home from school.

Now her lifeless body is found hanging in a playground. But there is no evidence and only one witness – a man who cannot remember what he saw.

With Detective Joona Linna and the police scrambling to find a lead, another girl goes missing. And as they close in on the killer, they discover that the Mirror Man’s crimes are more shocking than they ever could have imagined . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I have to admit, The Mirror Man is the first novel by Lars Kepler that I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve heard a lot of praise for this series over the past few years, and now, I can certainly see why. If you’re new to this series as well, I can definitely say that you can easily read this book as a standalone. If you like dark crime fiction with plenty of tension, you need to give this book a go. It is a very unnerving read, but it is utterly gripping.

The book opens with a scene that throws us headfirst into the story, with the abduction of a young woman, Jenny Lind. The story gets going right away, and the tension is there right from the start. We see this part of the novel through the eyes of the young woman who has been taken, and Lars Kepler does a brilliant job of getting inside her head, as we experience the emotions and the fear that she is experiencing. Fast forward a few years later, and Jenny turns up dead, and the police’s only witness, Martin, who may be able to unlock the whole case, can’t remember anything from the night she was killed.

Lars Kepler knows how to create a tension filled read. I thought the backstory of Martin and his partner was really intriguing and you can see the emotion, the dark event in their past, has caused. They lost their daughter five years earlier while she was ice fishing with Martin, and since then he has suffered with his mental health. It seems almost impossible for the police to get him to reveal what he saw the night Jenny’s body was disposed of. This really made me want to know what he had seen, especially when they resort to using hypnosis.

As the police race to track down Jenny’s killer another young woman, Mia, goes missing and the tension really picks up a pace. You can see that there is a dangerous killer operating here, and it is not yet clear what their motive is. As the novel raced towards its conclusion there were several twists that completely floored me. I thought the ending was really well done and I could feel the emotions the characters were going through as Lars Kepler wraps the story up.

The Mirror Man is a brilliant read. It has definitely made me keen to read more of Lars Kepler’s work. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 26th May 2022

Print length: 576 pages

The Mirror Man is available to buy:

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Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald #bookreview #blogtour @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Helen Fitzgerald, Keep Her Sweet. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move. 

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but a startling look at sister relationships and they bonds they share … or shatter.

MY THOUGHTS

If you enjoy a family drama, then Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald should definitely be your next read. I’ve read Helen’s past two novels, and every time I’ve read something new by her, I’ve recognised her voice straight away, especially in the unique way she creates her characters. I think if you’d given me this book without telling me who it was by, I would have been able to guess that it was written by Helen from the first page.

In her latest psychological thriller, Helen Fitzgerald zooms in on one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve come across in crime fiction. We meet two sisters, Camille and Asha, and immediately we can see the tensions that there are between them. They’ve recently moved back in with their parents, Penny and Andeep, and right from the first few pages, I felt like I was a fly on the wall, listening in, waiting for something catastrophic to happen. It did feel as though the family were discovering more about each other for the first time, especially once a therapist gets involved.

All of Helen’s characters in this book are well rounded and I thought their individual personalities and backstories came through strongly on the page. They are people who you want to find out more about. Camille and Asha’s Dad, Andeep, is a disgraced comic, and his family are the ones who still have to put up with his jokes. The novel is also told from the point of view of their Mum, Penny, and Joy, The Therapist. I think I found the parts told from the therapist’s points of view the most intriguing. I thought it was interesting how Joy peered into the lives of Camille and Asha’s family. I immediately wanted to find out more about her right from the first line, “Unhappy families always cheered her up.” This had me hooked. What had happened to this family?

Asha and Camille’s relationship also kept me invested in the story. Helen Fitzgerald delves deep into their history, although we particularly see this from Camille’s point of view. I really like the scenes which were told through diary extracts as her voice came through really strongly. You can feel Camille’s emotions as she is describing events that have happened between her and Asha in the past. You can see clearly the rivalry that exists between them, especially from Camille’s view point. But you do also get a sense that Asha and Camille do care deeply about each other, particularly when Camille explores their past.

I really could not believe what I was reading as I reached the final closing chapters. It was such a dark and tense finale, and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about what happened at the end of this book for a long time. Helen Fitzgerald explores some tough themes in Keep Her Sweet that bring her characters to life in rich, vivid detail, and it makes for an absorbing and an utterly compelling read. Another excellent novel from Helen Fitzgerald.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 26th May 2022

Print length: 222 pages

Keep Her Sweet is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

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