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The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

516UpgT9p9L._SY346_Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case of a young woman who has been found murdered in her flat with a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five-pointed star behind her eyelid. Having to work alongside his nemesis, Tom Waaler, does not appeal to Harry but as he is already on his last warning, he must overcome his hatred for his fellow detective and rouse himself from his alcoholic state when he realises that a serial killer is stalking Oslo.

The Devil’s Star is the fifth in Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series and I can safely say it is my favourite so far. Drinking heavily after becoming estranged from his partner and still trying to come to terms with the circumstances behind his colleague’s death, Harry has been avoiding work like the plague. With the National holidays in full swing, however, and a skeleton staff in operation, his superiors have no option but to call him in to work on the serial killer case. Despite his shortcomings, Harry definitely leads a charmed life, as any other police officer would have been thrown out of the force a long time ago!

There were two main reasons why I liked this book so much, the first being the serial killer plot. I enjoyed reading how Harry worked out the pattern that the killings took as it showed that, although he is struggling with his demons, his investigative skills are second to none and the reason he is still able to operate as an officer. There were several clever moments in this plot, not least when the identity of the killer was revealed. There were also some moments that the squeamish would not enjoy!

The second thing I really enjoyed was the Tom  Waaler storyline which reaches a dramatic conclusion. This particular plot has kept me hooked for the past few books and I was pleased with how Jo Nesbo brought it to an end.

I have read that this series gets better as it progresses and I definitely agree! I can’t wait to read the next one!

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If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

51zNl-mP6eLWhen Rachel discovers a message on Twitter arranging an assignation, she comes to the conclusion that her husband is having an affair. Deciding to follow him, what she witnesses is something much worse: her husband’s car involved in a hit and run. Meanwhile, Suzie,  Rachel’s business partner and friend, has problems of her own. She has not heard from her fiance in days and on discovering that huge debts have been racked up in her name, she assumes that he has left her, taking the money with him. Her view changes, though, when threatening calls begin to arrive. Has something terrible happened to him? With both friends not knowing if they can trust their partners, will they also be able to trust each other?

How well do you really know your partner? This is a question that both of the main characters ask themselves as their lives slowly crumble around them. Rachel appears to have the perfect life with a loving husband and children and a business about to take off, All of this is turned on its head, however, when she reads the Twitter message and witnesses the hit and run. Her husband denies all knowledge, but is he telling the truth? I could really sympathize with Rachel as she struggled to come to terms with what she was discovering, and felt that Zoe Lea’s writing conveyed her trauma perfectly.

With regards to Suzie, the alarm bells were ringing right from the start. Her fiance, Adam, had apparently disappeared, taking all of their money with him. As soon as we realise that he’d managed to avoid any meetings with Suzie’s friend, Rachel, and worked away from home frequently, it was obvious that he was not the man she thought he was. Unlike Rachel, Suzie was prepared to give Adam the benefit of the doubt even though the evidence was screaming her in the face.

It was inevitable that the two stories would eventually collide and that there would be a connection. Whereas part of it was pretty easy to figure out, when I realised the full extent of one of the character’s wrongdoings, it was a huge shock. This was a great twist and not something I saw coming. I could also now understand the actions of another of the characters and my perception of them changed completely. I felt that the ending was realistic and very fitting to the plot.

If He Wakes definitely kept me entertained and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, mysterious read.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

Today, I am pleased to start off the blog tour for The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin, the claustrophobic tale of an impressionable young woman who has been drawn into a cult. My review can be found here, but I am really happy to share an extract with you!

The Blurb

Caitlin never meant to stay so long. But it’s strange how this place warps time. Out here, in the middle of nowhere, it’s easy to forget about the world outside.

It all happened so fast. She was lonely, broke, about to give up. Then she met Jake and he took her to his ‘family’: a close-knit community living by the lake. Each day she says she’ll leave but each night she’s back around their campfire. Staring into the flames. Reciting in chorus that she is nothing without them.

But something inside her won’t let go. A whisper that knows this isn’t right. Knows there is danger lurking in that quiet room down by the lake…

New York, new start, New York, new start, I repeat to myself like a slogan as the 1 train screeches hard around a bend. It’s not rush hour but the subway is still full, horizontal sardines packed together from Penn Station onwards, and I wonder whether anyone on board can tell that I have no destination. Here for the ride.

I stay on until the very last stop, watching the carriage grow gradually empty, and at Van Cortlandt Park I cross over the platform and wait for a train back downtown. A roundtrip, one end of the line to the other. And why not? The subway is soothing, the 123 line in particular because it has electronic screens listing when the next train is coming, and I like my environment to be predictable. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tackle the 2 train, all the way from the Bronx down to the farthest reaches of Brooklyn, its distance mind-boggling even when scaled down to fit onto an MTA map. The subway is cheap, after all, and I’m broke.

The platform is deserted, and it strikes me I’m a very long way from anywhere. This is the Bronx, unchartered territory for a tourist, and though my surroundings look leafy and harmless maybe going to the end of the line was a bad idea. Maybe something will happen to me here.

I know that in thinking this I’m only echoing my cab driver from JFK, who whiled away the drive with ominous nuggets like ‘girl like you should watch your back in the city’ and ‘whatever you do, don’t go east of Prospect Park’ and ‘nothing good happens past a hundred and tenth’. Right before he forced me to write down his number and told me to call him if I got lonely.

Nothing happens to me in the Bronx. Nothing happens to me on the train back downtown, and when I finally emerge at South Ferry I feel deflated, robbed of the false purpose that roundtrip gave me.

I need a job. After putting it off for as long as I could, this morning I finally sat down cross-legged on my hotel quilt and counted my remaining cash, crumpled dollar bills laid out corner-to-corner like a bleak mosaic. Adding up the cash with the figure on the ATM receipt, I have enough to get me through another two weeks, if I eat only two meals a day and don’t run up any more $60 tabs in moments of ostentatious desperation. I spent last night in a sparse midtown bar, the kind of place that seems sleek and empty even at its most crowded, feeling like this was the thing to do as a single girl alone in New York. Getting steadily more drunk, half-hoping that one of the sharp-suited Wall Street types would make a move, half-terrified of the same.

If one of them did buy me a drink and take me back to a high-rise apartment that feels closer to cloud than ground, the kind that envelops you in space and silence, I could stay the night and maybe stay forever, and my memory of home would fade like the street noise below, just faint enough to be soothing.

But nobody approached me, and I wandered back to my no-frills solo-traveller-friendly hotel at the very tip of downtown Manhattan, and watched Good Will Hunting on Netflix until I fell into five hours of twitchy sleep.

And now I have a stack of CVs and a head full of caffeine, and I’m trying to get a job against the odds. I have thought none of this through.

‘You Australian?’ the barista asks. She’s chubby in that uniquely wholesome, self-confident American way, the kind of girl who could say ‘There’s just more of me to love,’ with a straight face. She wears a name badge that tells me she’s Marcie.

‘English,’ I answer. People always guess Australian. My accent morphs involuntarily when I’m in America, probably betraying my desperation to belong.

‘Cool. We’re actually not hiring right now, they just made cutbacks.’

‘Oh. Sorry.’

‘Yeah,’ Marcie shrugs. ‘But I’m still here, so.’

 

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

With thanks to Clare Gordon and Head of Zeus for arranging the blog tour.

The Gaslight Stalker by David Field

512ZJVl391LIt’s London, 1888, and fear is spreading around the East End of London due to the shadowy killer who has become known as Jack the Ripper. One of the victims is known to Esther, a young, respectable Jewish seamstress and she becomes determined to aid the police in their investigations. Ably assisted by Constable Jack Enright, the pairing soon find themselves drawn in to the underbelly of the city where serious crime is an everyday occurrence. As they edge closer to identifying the killer, Esther and Jack have underestimated just how dangerous they are…

As a fan of crime fiction set in the Victorian era, particularly anything involving Jack the Ripper, I knew that this book would be right up my street before I’d even started reading.  Although it is quite a short book, David Field has evoked sounds and smells of the slums of Whitechapel and has created a true image of the horrors that existed at that time. By merging fact with fiction, he has also added an air of authenticity to the plot and I enjoyed reading about characters such as Abberline, Reid and the prostitutes we have all become so familiar with.

Esther is a fascinating character. As a Jew living in an area where antisemitism was rife, she has managed to forge out a humble career for herself – something which would have been extremely difficult for a single woman of that era. I found it interesting how she is living in a common lodging house, yet has managed to not live the life of so many other women at that time. I was pleased when the romance between her and Jack started to develop and, as someone who is not really a fan of romantic fiction, I felt that it was written in a way that was befitting of the time and that it fit in well with the plot.

For anyone who knows anything about the Whitechapel Murders, the plot will not come as a surprise, but what will is the culprit! It was a very different take on the murders and, although the more ardent Ripperologists will scoff, it must be remembered that this is a work of fiction and the ending reflects this.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first in the Esther and Jack Enright series and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, well-written read.

With thanks to Sapere Books for my copy of The Gaslight Stalker.

**BLOG TOUR** The Death Chamber by Lesley Thomson

Today, I am pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Lesley Thomson’s new book, The Death Chamber. This is the sixth book in the highly successful Detective’s Daughter series and looks like being another big hit! I am really happy to be able to share an exclusive extract with you on publication day, and what an extract it is!

The Blurb

Queen’s Jubilee, 1977: Cassie Baker sees her boyfriend kissing another girl at the village disco. Upset, she heads home alone and is never seen again.

Millennium Eve, 1999: DCI Paul Mercer finds Cassie’s remains in a field. Now he must prove the man who led him there is guilty.

When Mercer’s daughter asks Stella Darnell for help solving the murder, Stella see echoes of herself. Another detective’s daughter.

With her sidekick sleuth, Jack, Stella moves to Winchcombe, where DCI Mercer and his prime suspect have been playing cat and mouse for the past eighteen years…

The Extract

Saturday 11th June 1977

 

Like the town’s main streets, the community centre is decked out with Silver Jubilee bunting for the Queen’s twenty-five-year-old reign. Fabric flags sodden by the rain that afternoon sag drunkenly from the shingles. From inside comes the muffled throb of ‘Tiger Feet’… Through steamed-up windows, red and yellow lights – strobing out of step with the beat – resemble flames of an inferno.

A banner is slung across the gable: ‘Winchcombe Youth Disco’. Tottering up to the entrance on their crepe-soled platform shoes, Cassie and Lauren take turns with the Smirnoff. They cling to each other, ostensibly for support, but neither girl wants the other to get there first. Cassie’s eighteen and Lauren’s sixteen, so in a sense Cassie’s always going to get there first. Lauren’s in a skimpy cotton skirt and sparkly tank-top. The shiny black dress Cassie’s borrowed from Lauren reveals jutting contours of a strip-thin figure. Tonight’s the night, Cassie hums to herself.

In the hallway Winchcombe’s youth bellow out Mud’s ‘Tiger Feet’, pushing and nudging in an unruly queue. A whiff of fresh paint in honour of the Queen deadens the summer air.

With vodka-fuelled impatience, Cassie laboriously tells the flinty-­faced woman selling tickets (the bossy cow made her shifts at the Co-op a torture) that her ticket’s paid for. Mrs Glover, in Jubilee bowler hat and Union Jack cape, sternly rips a ticket off her reel and informs Cassie that no one has paid for her and waits in stolid silence until Cassie hands over twenty pence. The disco is kids’ stuff, she’s only come to keep an eye on Karen who was there as soon as the doors opened like the goody-two-shoes she is.

Lauren is pouting at her reflection in a glass-covered notice­board. Amidst the usual business of Keep Fit Classes, Monthly Bring and Buy sale and Scout meetings, are announcements scattered with a riot of exclamation marks: ‘Exciting Events for the Jubilee!’ ‘Royal Coffee Morning! Share your memories of our Queen!!’ Cassie shoulders through double doors into the hall. Adjusting her cape, Mrs Glover doesn’t see Lauren slip in behind her.

Momentarily dazed by lights and the thundering bass of ‘Disco Inferno’, Cassie scours the crowd. She can’t make out faces. She pushes through the press of bodies and as the track melds into Stevie Wonder, she starts to dance. A group of boys huddled by the DJ’s desk, too sober or shy to hit the floor, are mes­merized by Cassie’s writhing moves. It’s as if she’s held by invisible arms. Lauren joins her and they move in unison.

The DJ, with Noddy Holder bushy sideboards and chequered jacket, is old enough to be the grandfather of everyone in the hall. It doesn’t stop him watching the girls watching the boys watching Lauren and Cassie.

Lauren whispers something in Cassie’s ear and Cassie gives a curt nod. She is dancing nonchalantly now, a bored expression on her cool even features. Half the girls in the hall want to be Cassie. Most of the boys, and some of the girls, know she’s out of their league.

An hour later Cassie retreats to the table of twiglets and plain crisps. She takes a pull on the cherry drink bottle. Heatwave’s ‘Boogie Nights’ is ‘their song’. She turns her nose up. The hall smells like the school gym, it’s not the place, this is only a rehear­sal for the real thing. She smiles to herself as the vodka burns her throat.

Time moves slowly when you’re counting the minutes. An hour later, when the Sex Pistols rock the speakers and, in a frenzy of pogoing to ‘God Save the Queen’, Cassie is splashed by sparkling Corona and subterfuge Party Four, she leaves.

She is stumbling past St Peter’s church when the bells strike ten. Twice she veers off the kerb into the road. The second time a car hoots and the driver swears. Her vision blurred by vodka and with only one thing on her mind, Cassie is oblivious.

Cassie Baker has known Winchcombe all her life. Her ancestors are buried, headstones illegible, in the St Peter’s church grave­yard. Numbered amongst these dead is Cassie’s great-grandmother who a century ago died of apoplexy in the doctor’s surgery, now the Lloyds Bank, on Abbey Terrace. Cassie’s not going to let that happen to her. Being Donna Summer, she sings in perfect tune as she lurches down Vineyard Street heading for her future.

She pauses by the bridge over the River Isbourne and briefly dizzied, leans on the parapet and gazes at the blackness below.

‘Night, gorgeous!’ a man with a Sid Vicious hairdo and com­plexion, his arm around a woman with punky blue hair, whoops at Cassie. His girlfriend elbows him and he gives an exaggerated groan.

Years later, divorced and with a paunch, Kelvin Finch will claim the distinction of being the last person, apart from the murderer, to speak to Cassie Baker.

Cassie wrenches off her shoes and carries them dangling by the straps. Making faster progress, she doesn’t care that tiny stones cut her bare feet as she passes the gates to the castle.

On the Old Brockhampton Road drifts of moonlight appear and disappear between clouds. Hawthorn hedges casts shadows so intense they might be chasms in the tarmac. Cassie’s used to the dark, but tonight a sudden fear prickles. Her dad drives home this way. What an idiot! If he sees her, where’s your baby sister and look at you… done up like a tart…

She passes the field where, as a kid, she saw Bambi nibbling moss, or so her dad said. Then the five-bar gate with the outline of the stand of trees that march like soldiers. She’ll take the short cut at the next gate. Although Winchcombe is in her bones, the morbid light presents dips and inclines that are foreign to her. She stops and looks back down the lane. Framed by branches is St Peter’s church, the view adorns crinkle-cut postcards of Winchcombe but now has the quality of a nightmare.

Something’s coming. Her dad’s van. Cassie flattens herself into the hedge. Headlights trace the twists and turns of the lane and rising from the ‘hidden dip’ they catch her in their glare.

Bright spots blind her. The van judders to a stop. One brake light glows red. ‘Boogie Nights’ is playing in Cassie’s head; it’s as if the figure coming towards her moves in time to the music.

Take a look at the rest of the tour:

With thanks to Clare Gordon at Head of Zeus for organising the blog tour.

 

 

 

 

The Vanished Child by M J Lee

51RHw4h2PBLAfter her father’s new wife asks for her help, genealogist Jayne Sinclair embarks on probably the most emotive case she has dealt with so far. On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses that in 1944, she gave birth to an illegitimate son, placing him in a children’s home until she was in a position to bring him up herself. When she was finally in that position, the boy had vanished. With conflicting reports as to what had happened to him, Jayne must investigate one of the most shameful periods in recent history in order to discover his fate.

The Vanished Child is the fourth book in the Jayne Sinclair series and, in my opinion, is easily the best. The storytelling is very emotive, dealing with an issue that many people are still dealing with today – the fate of the child migrants. In the last century, over 100,000 children from the UK were sent to countries such as Canada and Australia for a ‘better life.’ Of course, this better life was not to be for many of the children who were unloved and abused. As someone who discovered two of these child migrants in my own family, this book really struck a chord with me. In my family, two sisters who had lost their mother were sent to Canada despite them still having a father and brother in the UK.

The Vanished Child tells the story of Harry, who is sent to Australia without the consent of his mother, who is desperate to have her son back at home with her. This was the most heartbreaking part of the book – a mother determined to locate her child and a child desperate to be with his mother, but the scheming of the authorities prevented this from happening. Harry was a wonderful character: a boy who despite the horrific life he is having to endure, never gives up hope that one day he will be able to return home.

This was very different to the other genealogical fiction I have read in that, in most of these books, the genealogist is put in some danger as they try to uncover something from the past. Where this book differed, though, is that the focus was firmly placed on uncovering the truth and Harry became the main character rather than the researcher.

If you have never read any genealogical fiction before, this would be a great place to start. As well as penning a sensitive, well-written story, M J Lee has explored a period in British history which still remains unknown to many people today. A must read in more ways than one.

Monthly Roundup: March 2018

In a month where I thought reading time would be limited, managing to get chicken pox has certainly given me a bit more time on my hands! Thankfully, just before I became ill, I managed to attend the launch night for the new book by Luca Veste, ‘The Bone Keeper’, meeting the man himself and also the other fantastic author David Jackson. A link to my review of ‘The Bone Keeper’ can be found below and you can also see my review of Don’t Make a Sound here, the outstanding new book from David Jackson. Published on May 3 2018, this is one of my favourite books of the years so far!

Books I Have Read

No Safe Place Patricia GibneyNo Safe Place by Patricia Gibney

When women begin to go missing on the Dublin-Ragmullin train, Detective Lottie Parker fears that a serial killer is at work. After the body of one of the girls is discovered in an open grave, she knows that they have a race against time to find the women before they become the next victims. The fourth book in the Lottie Parker series is another great read.

 

Member of the Family: Manson, Murder and Me by Dianne Lake

Everyone knows something about the infamous killings orchestrated by Charles Manson. Where this book differs is that it is told from the perspective of someone who was actually part of the Family. Dianne’s story is one of how a need to belong forced her into being part of one of the world’s most infamous cults at the tender age of fourteen. A fascinating read.

 

Trafficked Girl by Zoe Patterson

A highly emotive real-life story of how society failed a young girl, abused from an early age by her mother and then bullied, ignored and trafficked as a result of her time in ‘care’. It’s not often a book makes me completely despair of the society we live in but this one managed to do just that. A well-written book.

 

Mind of a Killer by Simon Beaufort

People are being murdered in Victorian London, parts of their brain removed. Even though they have been officially told to stay away, journalists Lonsdale and Friederichs put themselves into untold danger by trying to uncover exactly what is happening.

 

The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste

Every town has an urban legend, but what if that urban legend turned out to be true? When numerous bodies are found, attributed to the legendary Bone Keeper, Detective Louise Henderson must investigate the myth whilst coming to terms with events from her own past. A chilling read!

 

614hsAHOY-LKilling Time by Mark Roberts

When a young Czech girl is found abandoned in a park after being missing for eight days and two Polish men are found dead in their burnt flat, DCI Eve Clay fears that there is something sinister afoot in Liverpool. Is there a connection between the crimes and does the graffiti found at the victims’ home mean that more deaths are to follow? Another great read from Mark Roberts. (Full review to follow)

 

61lypFhIrtLDeadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza

The sixth in the Erika Foster series sees the detective investigating the murder of a young burlesque dancer and the assaults of numerous people by a gas mask-wearing assailant. All of this series have been excellent, but this one is probably my favourite so far!

 

51b9NbGiGzLPerfect Match by D. B. Thorne

D. B. Thorne again looks at the dangers of the internet when a young woman is found brutally assaulted after going on an online date. Knowing that this is not an isolated incident, her brother Solomon is rebuffed by the police so embarks on his own dangerous investigation.

 

The Vanished Child by M J Lee

The fourth in the Jayne Sinclair series sees the genealogist on the trail of a child born out of wedlock during the Second World War. A highly emotive story detailing one of the most controversial periods in recent history. A brilliant read and the best one of the series so far.

 

Books I Have Acquired

4128bR3P03LPolly, 28, lives in London with her ‘perfect-on-paper’ boyfriend. She works a dead end job on a free London paper… life as she knows it is dull. But her banal existence is turned upside down late one drunken night on her way home, after a chance encounter with a man on a packed tube train. The chemistry between them is electric and on impulse, they kiss, giving in to their carnal desires. But it’s over in an instant, and Polly is left shell-shocked as he walks away without even telling her his name.

Now obsessed with this beautiful stranger, Polly begins a frantic online search, and finally discovers more about tubing , an underground phenomenon in which total strangers set up illicit, silent, sexual meetings on busy commuter tube trains. In the process, she manages to track him down and he slowly lures her into his murky world, setting up encounters with different men via Twitter.

At first she thinks she can keep it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control.

By chance she spots him on a packed tube train with a young, pretty blonde. Seething with jealousy, she watches them together. But something isn’t right and a horrific turn of events make Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how much danger she is in…

 

51zNl-mP6eL

You can always trust your best friend… can’t you?

When Rachel discovers a Twitter message arranging a romantic liaison she assumes her husband is having an affair, and follows him. What she witnesses is so much worse: a hit and run using his car.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie is increasingly worried about her fiance, who’s not been in touch for days. When Suzie learns of huge debts racked up in her name she fears he has run out on her, but then the threatening calls start and she thinks something terrible has happened.

Rachel and Suzie are both about to learn shocking things about the men they love, worse than they could ever imagine… Can their friendship survive?

Can she get out before it s too late?

 

Just before Christmas 1908, Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy 82-year-old spinster, was found bludgeoned to death in her Glasgow home. A valuable diamond brooch was missing, and police soon fastened on a suspect – Oscar Slater, a Jewish immigrant who was rumoured to have a disreputable character. Slater had an alibi, but was nonetheless convicted and sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment in the notorious Peterhead Prison.

Seventeen years later, a convict called William Gordon was released from Peterhead. Concealed in a false tooth was a message, addressed to the only man Slater thought could help him – Arthur Conan Doyle. Always a champion of the downtrodden, Conan Doyle turned his formidable talents to freeing Slater, deploying a forensic mind worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

Drawing from original sources including Oscar Slater’s prison letters, this is Margalit Fox’s vivid and compelling account of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Scottish history.

 

I was thrilled to see that there is a new Angela Marsons ‘Kim Stone’ book imminent – definitely one to watch out for!

 

 

Perfect Match by D. B. Thorne

When Solomon’s sister, Tiffany, is found almost drowned, drugged and in a coma, he refuses to believe, as the police do, that this is the result of some terrible accident. With the police refusing to help, he undertakes his own investigation, soon discovering that there are similar cases of women who have been attacked and murdered after arranging an online date. Convinced that he is a fantasist, the authorities still refuse to take him seriously, leaving Solomon with no option – he will put his own life at stake to bring the assailant to justice.

I enjoyed D. B. Thorne’s previous book, Troll, and was pleased to see that the follow-up book also deals with the dangers of social media, in this case, dating apps. Perfect Match serves as a perfect reminder of how not everything is what it seems online, as discovered by Tiffany when her online date is not the person she thought he was. It soon becomes apparent that this is not an isolated incident and that, in some respects, Tiffany has been one of the lucky ones as some of the methods used by the mysterious date are truly horrific.

The main protagonist, Solomon, is a fascinating character and one that I warmed to immediately. Having not left the house for two years after an incident which is referred to in the book, he overcomes his fears to spend as much time with his sister as he can, showing how important his family are to him. He is an incredibly brave man who is able to use his intelligence to try to outwit his sister’s attacker by predicting his next move. Ably assisted by his own online associates, I loved how they figured out the connection between the crimes and thought that the actual links were brilliantly constructed by the author.

In direct contrast, I could not take to Fox, the police officer in charge of the case, at all. Although the reasons for her dismissiveness were explained, she treated Solomon, a man whose sister had just been brutally attacked, with nothing but contempt. I shared Solomon’s frustration as she refused to listen to his theory and put the lives of others in danger. It was pleasing to see how she showed some remorse towards the end, but even then she had one eye firmly on the case she was determined to solve.

As Solomon’s plan is put into action, the pace moves on rapidly and I found it hard to stop reading. There are several heart-in-mouth moments when you don’t know exactly what is going to happen as there is literally a race against time to save the final victim. I did want the book to end in a slightly different way that it did, but that is just a personal preference.

Perfect Match is a great read and one which reinforces how careful you should be online.

With thanks to Readers First and Corvus for my ARC.

Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza

61lypFhIrtLChristmas, the season of goodwill… Someone in London hasn’t had the memo, however, as the blood-soaked body of a young woman is found outside her house by her mother, frozen to the ground. The case takes a sudden turn when a connection is made to the spate of recent assaults by a figure wearing a gas mask. Has the assailant escalated to murder? Detective Erika Foster, still coming to terms with events from her previous case, is thrown straight in at the deep end when a potential witness appears to be a little more involved than was at first thought. With her own personal problems to deal with, Erika must stay focused and ensure that there are no more deaths…

She’s back! It’s hard to believe that it has only been two years since the first in the Erika Foster series (The Girl in the Ice) was published and now we are on to the sixth! In the intervening books, we have seen Erika attempting to come to terms with the death of her husband while throwing herself head-first into her work. In Deadly Secrets, we finally see her making a breakthrough with regards to her past although it comes as the result of a particularly traumatic event concerning her father-in-law. I love the scenes that she shares with him as it gives us the chance to see the softer, more sensitive side of the character as opposed to the work-driven officer we see the rest of the time.

I loved the start of Deadly Secrets and how Robert Bryndza builds up a sense of foreboding. Marissa Lewis, a burlesque dancer, is on her way home when she is approached by two men. I was convinced that harm was going to come to her as a result of this meeting when, in reality, if she had taken them up on her offer, her life may have been spared. When the attack actually took place, it was a particularly violent one and the use of a gas mask made it extremely macabre. This was a great opening and immediately drew me into the plot.

One of the things I really liked about this book was how much of the police work was what would be termed ‘old school’ with the officers pounding the beat, doing house to house calls and interviewing people. This helped to build up the story at a natural pace without ever appearing cumbersome. I particularly liked the old gentleman whose wife does not let him smoke inside the house – a ‘throwaway’ character who brought an element of humour to a sad situation, yet also provided invaluable information.

There was a definite moment towards the end of the book where an even more heightened sense of foreboding was felt. Without giving away any spoilers, this made for very tense reading as I wondered how the character in question is going to emerge unscathed.

I was truly amazed when the author threw in a curve-ball with regards to who the killer actually was. This was an amazing plot twist and was something I had not anticipated at all. Despite not having an inkling, I felt that this was a very satisfying, if shocking conclusion. It is hard to say anything more without giving away too much, but believe me when I say is is very clever!

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Erika Foster series but I feel that Deadly Secrets is a step up from all of the previous books and should prove to be a huge best-seller for Robert Bryndza. A fantastic read!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

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