Jessica is struggling to make sense of her four-year-old daughter’s (Olivia) strange behaviour at school. Jessica’s sister, Isabel, was killed a few years previously. From small beginnings, Jessica’s life starts to be overtaken by the idea that Olivia might be communing with her dead aunt Isabel, and that Isabel’s death was not an accident.
This is complicated by the fact that the family was visited by a poltergeist during the teenage years of Jessica and Isabel. Jessica’s mother is still a firm believer in communication with the dead. A few spooky incidents with Olivia are enough to send Jessica’s mother back into her beliefs.
Jessica becomes more and more convinced her sister was murdered. She suspects everyone in turn in her small, inner circle as Olivia says more and more outrageous ‘secrets’ supposedly passed on to her by her aunt.
There is plenty of depth to the story. The characters are well written and believable.
The reader goes back in time to the final months of Isabel’s life and we see what actually happened to her. This works very well because, at the same time, we are reading about Jessica’s current turmoil and her discoveries about the people around her.
Jessica also makes discoveries about herself. Jessica was always the less popular sister and Isabel was the one everyone liked. Jessica overcomes plenty of hurdles that have threatened her self-confidence. She is relentless in pursuing the truth, however unlikely it all seems to be. In fact, she turns out to be a first-class detective.
The writing style is conversational and easy-going and this makes the pages fly past. The ghostly element feeds into a mounting murder-mystery.
The ending is clever and unexpected and only a few ghostly questions remain…
In short, it was a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thank you to NetGalley and the author for a free copy of this book. This is my honest review.
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A young woman is found dead at the roadside with a gruesome cut-out of a doll shape taken from her skin. Soon, the doll itself appears at the sight where a second victim has been taken.
And so starts a chain of killings and torture. Can Luc and Ava find the perpetrator against all the odds? How many young women will be lost before they catch up with the killers?
This is the fourth book in the series starring DC Luc Cavanagh and DCI Ava Turner and their police colleagues.
For me, there were two strengths to the story-telling.
The first is we get to know the victims. Yes, this is pretty gruesome but it’s also very human. The girls that are taken will tell us their own story. Warning - some of this is dark because we are with them when they are captured and killed. But for me, it was one of the strengths of the book because the victims are real. You’ll see this in the very first chapter which is brilliant yet horrible.
The second thing I liked were the strong main characters and supporting cast. Of the supporting characters, Chief Superintendent Daisy Overbeck was my favourite. She’s nasty and authoritarian and she and Ava will almost come to blows. I liked the way this shows DCI Ava’s spirit. As Overbeck says, it also shows Ava’s naivety when it comes to dealing with the higher echelons of the police hierarchy.
DI Luc was less of a strong character but he was still likeable. I’ve not read others in this series so I don’t know his backstory. Maybe this made me less sympathetic to him. Still, Luc and Ava have a real feel to them and they each have their own failings and strengths. (The only part of this that started to annoy me a tad was Ava’s plight as a single woman which is heavy emphasised in contrast to Luc’s new relationship with the glamorous Sabrina.)
There's a thread left dangling at the end, which I suppose will lead to a follow-up book.
It was a shame it wasn't all tied up. that said, it’s still a great story and it merits 5 stars. One of the best (and possibly THE best) police procedural I’ve read this year.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book. This is my honest review.
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I'm a Karin Slaughter fan, my favourite being the Will Trent series. So I should start by saying this stand-alone is something very different.
We follow Andrea and her mother, Laura. Their separate stories are told in the present (Andrea) and in the past (Laura).
The beginning of the book is brilliant. There's a terrible incident in a diner and Laura shows a side of herself that seems impossible to believe when she stands up to a violent young man.
We then delve into the mystery of Laura when, straight after the diner incident, she turns against her own daughter and tells her to leave home. Laura may face criminal charges for the incident in the diner, but Andrea has no explanation for her mother's bewildering behaviour.
Andrea is a young woman who is lost in life. She drives across America in search of answers about Laura.
The reader is told the backstory of Laura's life. I can't say much without spoilers. What I will say is that Laura's story was believable but it did not stir sympathy in me. In her long and intricate past, she was at times lost and weak, at times manipulated and a victim, and she came from an extremely wealthy background.
Andrea is thirty-one. She lived at home because her job in New York hadn't worked out as she wanted. Her drive in search of answers makes her grow up. It makes her face problems. However, she also puts people in danger and nice people are killed because of her blundering. I found this difficult to forgive.
In summary, I have to say that I didn't really like Andrea or Laura.
Laura has done things that I found believable, and yet they didn't sit comfortably in the story. Maybe because I wasn't expecting terrorism and such like to be included in the book? Or maybe because the plot seems an impossible mix between crime thriller and psychological thriller? Or because the parts about Laura became a bit tedious and drawn out and the tension wasn't really there? I'm not sure.
I think Karin Slaughter is especially good at characters. Anyway, by the end of it all, I have to say my favourite characters were minor ones - Clara and Edwin, and Laura's current estranged husband who is always kept out of the picture but is deeply moral and tries to do the right thing.
Gore and blood is what thrillers are about and this one has it's fair share of brains being splattered. However, there are also huge doses of cruelty and that I found more difficult. Especially when the main characters showed such a lack of morality.
But I can't rate the story low because there was something about it that was very good.
After all, I'm a Karin Slaughter fan and her writing in this book was as great as it usually is. The idea was ambitious. Did she pull it off? Almost.
So it's a four stars from me. And with a bit more tension in Laura's backstory and a bit less whining from Andrea and a bit more insight from her, and it might have been a five.
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Schoolteacher Terry is caught in a dilemma when his daughter, Grace, breaks into a house with her delinquent boyfriend. A gun is fired and the boyfriend disappears. So starts the beginning of Terry’s nightmare.
In this story, he tries to juggle what to do for the best to save his daughter from being implicated or from carrying guilt for the rest of her life because of one reckless, adolescent act. Terry dives in and tries to help Grace. This is how he unwittingly gets involved in the criminal activities of local crime gangster, Vince Fleming.
Grace’s mother, Cynthia, is a control freak – having being caught up in close-to-death encounters in a previous book which resulted in the loss of her own parents. This backstory is briefly introduced but it doesn’t get in the way. The backstory explains the dynamics between Terry, Cynthia and Grace. Cynthia is taking a break away from her family in a nearby rented flat and her new neighbours are going to become part of Terry’s problems.
Cynthia has an interesting relationship with criminal Vince Fleming. He is an ex-boyfriend and he helped Cynthia in the past. One of Vince’s criminal operations is responsible for the situation Grace finds herself in with her missing (perhaps dead?) boyfriend.
All of the characters are well written. One of my preferred was Vince. He’s got cancer and he’s failing in health. Circumstances conspire against him, his gang friends are deserting him, but he joins with Terry in trying to sort out the mess.
This was a great story. The characters were believable and the crime elements very well handled. Whilst I am not against gore, I want to mention there was no gore or thriller element. A very enjoyable suspense mystery.
5 stars from me.
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Conway is on a one-woman crusade to root out the truth.
In this story, we're inside the head of Detective Antoinette Conway. Conway is a tough cookie and the only female on the Dublin murder squad.
It starts out when Conway and her partner are assigned a young woman's murder. The obvious suspect is the boyfriend and that's the man the senior detectives on the Squad want to pursue.
However, Conway and her partner have other suspicions. But they've got their work cut out because they're the newest on the squad. Gangland connections? Corruption within the murder squad? A vendetta to get Conway out? These are all thrown into the mix.
What I enjoyed most was the attitude of Conway. At times she's paranoid. At other times, she spot on with her doubts and 'take no shit' temperament. I'm not sure I actually liked her, but I liked spending time with her because she was interesting. Her partner, Stephen Moran, was more soft and likeable. He's a diplomat. Moran could be one of the lads but he's loyal to Conway. Moran's easy going character definitely helps the story along.
The plot delves deep into the murky waters of rivalry, deception, corruption and high stakes murder.
It was intense being inside her head all the time. But the story stayed with me long after I finished the book.
Conway made an impression!
Alex and Carrie meet at a support group and they help each other by responding to what they each want in life – Alex wants a child to love and Carrie wants someone by her side whilst she is dying.
But what do they really want from each other? That question forms the basis of the plot.
There are plenty of lies in this story. There are also difficult issues of terminal cancer, eating disorders and domestic violence. Both of the women have a murky past they want to keep hidden. But what exactly are they lying to each other about, and why?
The extent of the lies made both women a tad unlikeable. Our heart strings are pulled at the end for both of them but it didn’t do much to dilute my dislike, in particular of Alex.
There are plenty of twists in this story and plenty of menace too. A solid psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.
I’ve wanted to read a book by this author for a while, so when the opportunity came up on NetGalley, I took the chance.
Thank you to the author, NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book. This is my honest review.
To celebrate 40 great reviews of my book, GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL on Amazon UK, I have a Free Giveaway running until 1st July over on my Facebook Author Page.
Prize is 25pound Amazon Gift Card
your name as a character in my next crime thriller!
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The most compelling part was Eden’s desperation...
This book alternates two points of view.
One of the two main characters is Jessica Sloane. Jessie’s mum has died and she’s plunged into terrible grief and insomnia. She then finds out her social security number is invalid and this starts a hunt for the truth about her ‘real’ identity. Jessie starts to question everything in the past. She also questions everything happening in the present since the insomnia is messing with her mind.
The other woman in the story is Eden. Eden is driven almost crazy by her desire for a baby. She and her partner are trying all kinds of fertility treatments and nothing seems to be working.
The most compelling part of the book for me was the exploration of Eden’s desperation. This felt very lifelike. She slips from being a stable woman into a person obsessed. There were creepy aspects to this and unsettling ones, as Eden explores how far she’s prepared to go to get what she wants.
I found Jessica’s difficulties a tad less compelling. At first she got my sympathy, yet her crisis kept drinking in everyone and everything around her, and this started to feel a bit strained. At the end of the story, we will find out the why all of this happened but the understanding only comes at the very end.
We have to wait until the second half of the book to find out how these stories are linked. We slowly unpick the reality from the nightmares and mind games.
If I’m being honest, I have to say it lost my interest a bit somewhere in the second half. Nothing much new was happening and a plot that started out as a great idea didn’t deliver the full punch I’d expected it to. That said, it was still a good story.
My thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for a copy of this book. This is my honest review.
To celebrate 40 great reviews on Amazon UK, I have a Free Giveaway running until 1st July.
Prize is 25pound Amazon Gift Card OR
your name as a character in my next crime thriller.
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Entry page is here on my Facebook Author Page
It’s a volatile mix and it’s going to end in murder. The question is – who? And then we must find out why?
This story follows the lives of a small group of Bristol residents.
Joey (woman) has just come back from working in Ibiza and she's brought her new husband, Alfie, with her. They’ve no money and they’re looking for work. They stay at Joey’s brother’s house. Joey’ brother, Jack, is a successful heart surgeon and it seems he has everything – a sunny personality, money, a wife he adores and a baby on the way.
Their next-door neighbours are head teacher Tom Fitzwilliam and his wife Nicola. Tom’s son, Freddie, has a habit of watching people through his digital binoculars and taking photographs of them. He likes to log the details of people’s lives - the times they leave, the route they take to work. He’s particularly interested in three girls from the local school.
The story starts with a murder and, in the background of the story, we follow the police interviews of each of the suspects.
Tom Fitzwilliam is the top suspect (but is he also the victim? We must wait until the end to find out). He’s suspected of having affairs with previous students of his schools.
Joey is having second thoughts about her whirlwind marriage and falls headlong in lust with dashing headteacher Tom. She keeps encountering him, at first by chance and then deliberately, and it seems he feels the same way about her…
It’s all a volatile mix and it’s going to end in murder. The question is – who? And then we must find out why?
There's a knotted history between some of the characters that gradually unfolds as the story builds in tension.
My favourite character was Jenna. Jenna is fifteen years old and living with her mother who has mental health issues. Jenna has her head screwed on and will prove key to the solving the whole tangled mess.
All the characters were very well written – they had depth and interest and real life dilemmas and troubles which made them feel ‘real’.
The plot pulled me in from the beginning and kept my interest to the end. This one is the real deal – a great page turner, with some creepy aspects and utterly absorbing at the same time. A very enjoyable read and highly recommended.
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Dead Cold by Louise Penny
Definitely a top read. This is a really enjoyable, cozy mystery, starring the wonderful Inspector Armand Gamache.
In this second book in the series, Gamache and his team and called back to the small village of Three Pines to investigate the murder of CC Poitiers.
It’s Christmas time in the quiet Quebec village and everyone is enjoying the festivities and an abundance of food and good will and neighbourly good deeds. The winter landscape plays an important part in the story as they cope with plummeting temperatures and outside conditions which threaten the life of the frail.
We meet the eccentric and wonderfully portrayed characters we met in the first book, plus some newcomers including CC Poitiers, her shy husband and her nervous daughter.
When CC Poitiers is murdered on the curling rink, one wintry morning, the whole village could have been a witness, yet they all claim to have seen nothing.
The real stars of this book are the three Graces – three old women who have been friends forever and around whom this mystery seems to revolve.
Everyone loves Gamache and is charmed by his calm temperament and determination to find the truth. However, there is a background mystery rumbling around, to do with an old case (the Arnot case) which keeps surfacing in this book but is never explained. Gamache is implicated and members of Gamache’s team are also implicated in this case, which involved corrupt officers. I expect more will be revealed in later books in this series.
The quality of the writing is great, as is the atmosphere and the plot. (The only tiny thing which didn’t suit me were the massive amounts of food and drink which seemed to be in overabundant supply, and the author did rather go on about that aspect and the gourmet food on offer at the local brasserie – still, I know I am being picky when I point this out).
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Lucas has come to stay at a cottage in Wales where he joins fellow writers for a writing retreat.
Lucas is a horror writer and he’s searching for inspiration for this next best seller.
The other guests at the house are a mixed bag with their own worries and emotional baggage. The host of the retreat centre is Julia. Julia lost her eight year old daughter, two years ago. The girl was presumed to have drowned in the local river, along with her father who dived in trying to save her. The body of the father was found but not that of the daughter, and, against all the evidence, Julia has clung to the belief that her daughter, Lily, is still alive.
Lucas is attracted to Julia and a romance blossoms. He also becomes obsessed with Lily and he hires a private detective to dig around and find out more. He begins to question the police findings. He becomes suspicious of several members of the close-knit, local community, of which his own mother and father were a part. Lucas has suffered a loss himself, and this gets thrown into the mix.
Strange things start to happen at the house – noises in the night, sounds of someone coming and going, ghostly singing. A couple of the other guests start cracking up. Lucas doesn’t believe in ghosts but the horror writer in him is hooked on the incidents and he begins to wonder what is real and what is imaginary.
It’s all pretty spooking stuff. I thought the author did the supernatural element extremely well and we see how each guest is weakened by the weird events. (I think that’s all I can say about the story – if you want to find out more you’ll have to read it.)
My favourite parts of the book were the first third, when we are getting to know the retreat group and the villagers, and the middle part where the spooky events really ratchet up.
In summary – this book is a great mystery, supernatural suspense and the author has a lovely, fluid writing style. A highly enjoyable read.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. This is my honest review.
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