Sunday, 18 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Rift - Rachel Lynch

To save one life, she risks many others.

Working for the Royal Military Police, Major Helen Scott is used to rapid change. On a posting to Paris she oversees security for a NATO summit in the city, yet has barely begun before her presence is demanded at Interpol headquarters in Lyon.

Helen’s orders are to locate a kidnapping victim – the eldest son of oil magnate Khalil Dalmani. The main suspect is Fawaz bin Nabil, whose fortune has been made from illegal trade familiar to the intelligence agencies.

Helen knows the pain of loss and won’t rest until Khalil’s child is found. Along the way, she crosses paths with old faces and forms new alliances. But who will betray her trust?

A stunning new thriller from the author of the acclaimed DI Kelly Porter novels and a rising star in British crime fiction.

What did I think?

Rachel Lynch has been on my radar for quite some time as I have gradually been collecting her DI Kelly Porter novels but unfortunately I haven't read any of them yet.  The author's outstanding reputation drew me to The Rift before I had even read the blurb and I have to say that this book is even better than I expected.

Incredibly well written, this is a book that grabbed me from the start and didn't let go.  I loved the character of Major Helen Scott; she's not only brilliant at her job, she has had to overcome sexism in the workplace and she has had to deal with her own grief after suffering a terrible tragedy.  Of all this makes Helen more human and relatable, enabling her character to virtually leap out from the page.  I have my fingers crossed that this isn't the last we'll hear of Major Helen Scott.

I don't want to say too much about the plot other than to say it is breathtakingly brilliant.  I don't know whether that sort of thing is possible but it's certainly very believable and incredibly scary.  I even jumped in shock towards the end and I found myself holding my breath as the vivid and dramatic scene played out in front of my eyes.

One thing to pay attention to is the exotic names of the characters.  I wish I'd taken a note of some of the names because it sometimes caused me a little bit of confusion as to which side they were on.  It's not a criticism of the book at all as I think this is mostly down to me reading kindle books in bed just before I go to sleep so my concentration levels aren't at their peak.

Blisteringly fast-paced and completely gripping, The Rift is a fantastic read; it's like a whole series of 24 squeezed into one book with a strong female lead who shows Jack Bauer how it should be done.  I'm really looking forward to reading more Rachel Lynch books so it's lucky for me that I already have her whole back catalogue sitting on my bookshelf.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Friday, 16 April 2021

The Shadow Man - Helen Fields

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
And he’s watching.

What did I think?

I've bought Helen Fields' DI Callanach series over the years but I haven't had time to read any of them yet so I made sure that The Shadow Man, her new standalone thriller, didn't linger on my TBR pile for long.  It didn't linger in my hands long either as once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!

The character pairing of forensic psychologist Dr Connie Woolwine and DI Brodie Baarda is electric, not in a sexual chemistry kind of way but more the way they complement and challenge each other.  I loved Connie's sarcasm and wit above all but she also suffers from achromatopsia (an inability to see colours) which heightens her other senses and sometimes makes her actions look very weird.  It's absolute genius of Helen Fields to give Connie this condition; who best to seek out the shadow man than a woman who only sees light and dark?

Woolwine and Baarda are investigating a murder and a spate of abductions in Edinburgh.  In an unusual twist, the reader knows the identity of the perpetrator so there's no guessing whodunit or a big reveal involved, but surprisingly it doesn't make it any less gripping.  Fergus is the most chilling character I have come across in a long while; he is cold and emotionless as he collects his victims for his bizarre tableau.  He is so vividly described (with a rather amusing likeness to a character in a film) that it made my skin crawl whenever he appeared.  

Helen Fields sure does have a way with words; she not only creates exceptional characters and gripping storylines but she adds elements of dark, dry humour that makes her book stand out from the crowd.  The whole book is outstanding from beginning to end and I didn't want it to finish but I couldn't slow down my reading either...and so begins my addiction to Helen Fields' writing.  Luckily I have more of her books to keep me going!

Chilling, creepy and compelling, The Shadow Man will get under your skin and creep you out but you will not be able to tear your eyes away from the page.  Highly recommended reading, if you're brave enough.

I received an ARC from the publisher to read and review; all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Little Deadly Secrets - Pamela Crane

Mackenzie, Robin, and Lily have been inseparable forever, sharing life's ups and downs and growing even closer as the years have gone by. They know everything about each other. Or so they believe.

Nothing could come between these three best friends . . .

Except for a betrayal.

Nothing could turn them against each other . . .

Except for a terrible past mistake.

Nothing could tear them apart . . .

Except for murder.

What did I think?

I love books filled with secrets and I don't think Pamela Crane could have crammed any more in to her brilliant new novel, Little Deadly Secrets.  It's so addictive that I simply couldn't put this book down.

With three friends who are so much part of each others' lives, the storyline reminded me a little of the TV show Desperate Housewives but Little Deadly Secrets is so much darker.  These friends think they know everything about each other but they are wrong.  One knows where the bodies are buried and one has their eye on another's husband in this gripping book that positively sizzles with tension.

I absolutely loved digging into each life and unearthing all of their secrets; it's so entertaining and suspenseful that I couldn't read fast enough.  The bonds of this friendship are really being stretched to the limit but when the chips are down, they always come through for each other.

The plot is intriguing and sharp and the characters are so well-drawn and vivid that they almost leap out from the page; I could totally see this book being made into a film or mini-series.  

This is only the second Pamela Crane book I have read, although I have a few more in my collection, so I'm definitely bumping them up my queue now.  Little Deadly Secrets is absolutely brilliant; it's fast-paced, addictive and hugely entertaining.  I loved it!

Thank you to the author for providing an ARC for me to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: Roses for the Dead (DI Erika Piper Book 3) - Chris McDonald

Rockstar Johnny Mayhem sits on his bed, holding a bloody baseball bat. On the floor, clutching a lavender rose in her fist, is his wife, Amanda, who he has just beaten to death. Erika Piper knows this because she is one of the first on the scene. Mayhem is arrested and led away, screaming that they’ve got the wrong man. But the evidence is irrefutable and when Mayhem is sentenced to life in prison, no one is surprised.

Thanks to new evidence, Johnny Mayhem is a now free man. During a television interview, he issues a thinly veiled threat to those involved in the original case before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth. When the body of Mayhem’s dealer is found, Erika Piper is pulled from the safety of her desk job and thrown into the hunt for the Rockstar. Can she find Mayhem before he can enact his revenge on everyone involved, including Erika? Or, has he been telling the truth all along? Did the police really get the wrong man?

What did I think?

When I read Whispers for the Dark I feared it was the end of the DI Erika Piper series as it rounded itself off so nicely but fear not, for there is one further instalment.  Roses for the Dead is book 3 (and sadly the final book) in what has been an AMAZING series. The whole DI Erika Piper series is absolutely brilliant and Roses for the Dead is definitely the cherry on top.  I really couldn't put it down, reading way past my bedtime as I raced through this fantastic book.

Everything is going well for Erika in her personal life but her career has taken a nosedive when she agrees to take a step back from the action and finds herself sitting behind a desk and bored out of her mind.  Erika grabs the opportunity to return to her old job when new evidence comes to light that releases a convicted murderer from jail.  Now that Johnny Mayhem (what a brilliant name) is free, he wants revenge for the lost seven years of his life and with Erika being instrumental in his downfall, she needs to find him before she becomes next on his list.

I think Chris McDonald has written the perfect crime novel in Roses for the Dead; everything about it is brilliant from the outstanding plot to the sublime writing, not forgetting the creation of three-dimensional characters who virtually leap out from the page.  I was initially sad to read that this is the final adventure for DI Erika Piper but in the vein of classic British TV shows, it's those with the fewer episodes that become classics.  This is definitely a series I will reread over and over again, which already makes it a classic in my book.

Gripping, so very addictive and completely unputdownable, Roses for the Dead is simply awesome.  Chris McDonald's writing was brilliant to start with but it's getting better and better and Roses for the Dead earns him nothing less than a well-deserved five shiny golden stars from me.

I received a digital ARC from the publisher to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, to be published by Red Dog Press in 2021.

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Monday, 12 April 2021

The Perfect Lie - Jo Spain

He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny's police colleagues one morning, it's the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband's murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie.

What did I think?

Jo Spain, you clever little minx!  Just look at that strapline on the book cover:  'He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.'  What a wonderful conundrum for the reader to solve and I was completely blindsided by not only the blistering plot but by the breathtaking writing. 

I was devastated for Erin when her husband commits suicide right in front of her.  Even though I'd read this on the cover and in the synopsis, I still released an involuntary gasp of shock when Danny jumped.  Erin's family is home in Ireland, Danny's mum is in Florida and his brother is serving in the army so Erin is completely alone when this first happens and my heart totally went out to her.  Something just isn't right about the circumstances around Danny's death though.  Why did the police turn up at her door that day and what are they hiding?

As the story unravels, and both Danny and Erin's pasts are revealed, it makes you wonder whether Erin really knew her husband at all.  So when the story suddenly changes direction and Erin is facing charges of murdering her husband, it seems both implausible and plausible at the same time.  Was it suicide or was it murder?

Oh my word, I want to say so much more about this book but I can't for fear of inadvertently releasing a spoiler.  It is simply brilliant.  I'm surprised I don't have blisters on my fingers from turning the pages so quickly, reading it cover to cover within 24 hours.  You'd think I had been starved of books the way I greedily devoured every single word.  I would say it would make the perfect holiday read but you'd probably read it in one go on your first day so be warned, it's not going to last long once you pick it up!  

Completely unputdownable, blisteringly fast-paced and with a plot sharper than a razor blade, The Perfect Lie is a real page-turner.  An absolutely stunning novel from Jo Spain, whose back catalogue I am now adding to my wishlist.  Gripping, addictive and thrilling, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Many thanks to Quercus for sending me an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Sunday, 11 April 2021

Scare Me To Death (Dan Forrester Book 4) - CJ Carver

Thirteen survived. Now someone wants them dead.

A homemade bomb exploded mid-air, killing 214 people on board.

Thirteen people survived.

Sixteen years later one of the survivors is found brutally bludgeoned to death. It looks like a crime of passion but DC Lucy Davies knows something is wrong. They were trying to find the bombers.

Lucy’s search for the killer brings her into conflict with her long-lost father – who has his own secrets. Dangerous secrets which Lucy must expose so she can confront a vicious murderer with only one thing on their mind.

Keep on killing to stop the truth from being revealed.

What did I think?

With a horrifying prologue that chilled me to the bone, I knew from the very start that I was going to love CJ Carver's latest novel, Scare Me To Death, and I was not wrong; it's absolutely brilliant.  Although it's the fourth book in the Dan Forrester series, it's the first one I've read so I can state with confidence that it can definitely be read as a standalone. 

Dan is a wonderfully complex character who lost a lot of his memories when he witnessed a traumatic event.  There's something very odd about that as it is only memories from a specific period of his life (and that of the traumatic event) that are missing; it's like they've been erased on purpose and it's certainly piqued my interest and made me want to read more about Dan in the previous books.

As if that wasn't tantalising enough, Dan's old friend DC Lucy Davies has one heck of a back story both in her career and her personal life.  I loved how Lucy's story developed as her family history was untangled whilst she was investigating a brutal murder.  With all this going on, I'm surprised her head didn't explode!

The story of the murder of Kaitlyn Rogers is so perfectly plotted that it left me breathless.  When Dan follows a lead to Morocco I was on the edge of my seat as the danger level increased and I became even more intrigued by what Kaitlyn had discovered that led to her murder.

Gripping from start to finish, Scare Me To Death is a thriller with a capital T.  Filled with danger and intrigue that left me breathless, I couldn't read this fantastic book fast enough.  Very highly recommended and I'll definitely be reading the earlier books in the series now.

Many thanks to CJ Carver for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Saturday, 10 April 2021

GIVEAWAY: Backstories - Simon Van der Velde



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The first three correct entrants out of the hat will receive a signed, original review copy of Backstories and a chocolate treat.

Entries Close 11:59pm Saturday 24th April, 2021.