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June 2017

Troll by D. B. Thorne

Sophie has disappeared, the police coming to the conclusion that she has taken her own life after losing her home and job. Her father, Fortune, is not convinced, though, and after flying in from Dubai, his own investigations lead him to an online troll that was sending his daughter vile messages on her blog. Is her disappearance as a result of a recent sting she was part of or is there something even more sick and twisted at the root?

Recently, I have read several books where the internet has played a vital role in the plot – Trust Me and Last Breath to name two. What I particularly liked about Troll was that, initially, we were kept in the dark as to what had happened to Sophie, our only information coming from flashbacks telling us about the events leading up to her disappearance. The rest of the information we discover in ‘real time’ as Fortune follows the clues to discover her whereabouts. I felt a lot of sympathy for Fortune who was, to all intents and purposes, an absent father as Sophie was growing up and is now trying to make up for lost time by helping her in her hour of need. This was made even more poignant as we discover that Fortune is ill and time is running out.

I also liked Sophie who, through her flashbacks and blog, we find was a determined young woman who had been driven to intense paranoia due to events totally out of her control. Looking from the outside in, it is easy to see the mistakes she made when deciding who to trust, but as, by this point, she was being pushed to the brink of insanity, Sophie was in desperate need of a friendly face.

Troll is a twisted tale of ‘cat and mouse’ where there can only be one victor, and I found the ending satisfying if sad. A great read!

With thanks to Corvus and Readers First for the ARC.

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Softly, Softly by David Jackson

FullSizeRenderWhen a man starts to eat at the same place each lunchtime, it’s not the quality of the food that keeps him returning but a woman who he clearly has designs on. What exactly has drawn him to this woman and are his intentions completely honourable?

Softly, Softly is a short story made available to members of David Jackson’s Reader’s Club (see www.bit.ly/DavidJacksonClub to join). This is a standalone story, not featuring any of the main protagonists from his crime novels.

As this is such a short story, I am not going to say too much about it for fear of giving away the plot, but I will say that it is a very clever idea and one that made me gasp and smile simultaneously! If you haven’t been introduced to the work of David Jackson yet, this is a great introduction, and I’m sure you’ll soon want to read the rest of his books!

**BLOG TOUR** When I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi

51bS5O6yIKLToday it is my turn on the Blog Tour for the fantastic debut from Jessica Jarlvi.

Teacher, and mother of two, Anna, is great at her job and seemingly well-liked so why would someone beat her so brutally that she is left in a coma? The police in the quiet Swedish town where she lives are investigating but Anna’s husband, Erik, decides to start a bit of detective work of his own. Soon he discovers his wife, and the people of their ‘perfect’ town had secrets they would rather stay hidden. The only person who can solve the mystery of the attack is the very woman who is lying in a hospital bed. Will Anna ever be able to reveal the truth?

It is fair to say that this book did not go in the direction I was expecting and the subject matter was most definitely a surprise! As a result, some of the very descriptive scenes were slightly uncomfortable to read, although they were integral in explaining Anna’s state of mind. What started off as a straightforward ‘whodunnit’ soon became a twisted tale of passion, infidelity and unhealthy fixations. To muddy the waters further, once the main suspects began to cross paths, more and more motives began to rise to the surface.

Each chapter is devoted to one of the main players in the plot. In addition to Anna and Erik, we also have Daniel, a student with an unhealthy interest in Anna; Iris, a local librarian and close friend of Anna, and Rolf, the artist husband of Iris. Initially, I found this quite confusing but once the characters were established, it provided the author with a way of exploring the same event from the perspective of multiple characters. I found it difficult to like any of the main characters, especially as more and more secrets began to emerge, and could fully appreciate how any one of them could be the guilty party.

There were several times in the book when I wanted to shake Anna for the poor decisions she was making, especially when dealing with the Daniel situation, and felt that the whole sorry affair could have been avoided if only she’d spoken to someone about what was happening. Of course, this would not have made a good plot, though!

I think I must have suspected every character at some time whilst reading When I Wake Up, so when the perpetrator was revealed, it was not a huge surprise. Although others had a motive, in the end, for me, there was only one person who could have possibly have done it and I feel that Jessica Jarlvi has chosen the correct one.

This is a great debut and I thank Net Galley and Aria for the ARC.

About the Author

Born in Sweden, Jessica moved to London at the age of 18 to obtain a BSc Hons degree in Publishing and Business. She worked in publishing in the UK for a number of years before heading to Chicago where she edited a magazine for expats. Back in Sweden, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing. Since 2010, Jessica has taught journalism and media at a local university, and has spent the last five years as the marketing and PR manager for a British firm. Last year, she was one of the winners in the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Jessica is married with three spirited children, and although she’s known for her positivity, her writing tends to be rather dark!

Follow Jessica

Facebook: @JessicaJarlvi

Twitter: @JessicaJarlvi

Website: http://www.jessicajarlvi.com

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Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

51gh4mWIeqLFifteen years ago, something happened to change the lives of three young girls. Kitty, now brain damaged, lives in a care home, frustrated that no one can hear her thoughts; Alison, now an art teacher, looks fine on the surface but is harbouring a secret she hopes will never come to light, and Vanessa, well Vanessa has paid the ultimate price… Someone is not content with letting the past stay in the past, however, and wants revenge.

Blood Sisters is told from the perspectives of two half-sisters, Alison and Kitty, over two time frames – 2001 and 2016. From an early age, Kitty was the ‘chosen’ one, favoured by her parents and closer to her friend, Vanessa, than her own half-sister. In the sections of the book set in 2001, it was hard to find any redeeming qualities in the spoilt Kitty whereas my sympathies lay firmly with Alison, the academic child who longed for the love of her mother once again. By 2016, however, my feelings towards Kitty had completely shifted and I felt the pain of a young woman who was desperate for a ‘normal’ life that didn’t involve wearing a crash helmet to keep her brain together and yearned for a voice that could be understood.

Although Alison appeared to have the ‘normal’ life that Kitty longed for, it was obvious that she was a very damaged woman due to the events of her past and taking a job as artist-in-residence at an open prison was never going to end well. It is fair to say that you have to suspend reality a fair bit as there are numerous coincidences that happen to Alison, but these events are essential in telling the story.

There are numerous plot twists throughout the book which kept me on my toes as I wondered which way it would turn next. This culminated in a final twist that I did not see coming – changing my opinion of one of the characters completely!

I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Sisters, reading it in a couple of sittings. Highly recommended!

With thanks to Penguin and Goodreads for the ARC.

Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham

LoveLikeBloodWhen DI Nicola Tanner’s partner is killed at her own home, she enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to catch the culprits. Convinced that the murder has occurred as the result of a case Tanner has been working on, Thorne soon finds himself drawn into the disturbing world of honour killings as he embarks on a hunt for a pair of contract killers who he suspects have killed before.

Love Like Blood is the fourteenth of Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne books, a series that is showing no sign of losing its touch. Never one to shy away from emotive issues, Billingham deals with probably the most controversial to date with the subject of honour killings. We find out quite early on in the story that the perpetrators are mercenaries who, with the aid of a go-between, are killing and disposing of people whose families feel have brought shame upon them. This potentially explosive topic is dealt with in a sensitive manner and the author has obviously done extensive research on the subject, drawing his inspiration from the real-life murder of Banaz Mahmod in 2006.

In Nicola Tanner, we have a worthy accomplice for Thorne – a woman who, despite threats on her life, will stop at nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice. I had to admire her tenacity, even if at times I feared for her safety! For me, though, the best relationship throughout the Thorne series is the one he shares with the tattooed, pierced pathologist, Phil Hendricks – two men who, on the surface, appear to have nothing in common but who are the best of friends. It was interesting to see how well Tanner and Hendricks got on and hope that we get to see more of Nicola Tanner in future books.

There are several twists in the story that make you cast doubt on some of the characters, keeping you interested right until the end, making this a highly recommended book.

With thanks to Net Galley and Grove Atlantic for the ARC.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Day of the Dead by Mark Roberts

51ekD0+0VCLToday I am incredibly pleased to be the next stop on The Day of the Dead blog tour.

When a paedophile is found tortured to death in Liverpool, all evidence points to Vindici, a notorious killer who escaped from custody the previous year. With many people pleased that a threat to their children is off the streets, DCI Eve Clay and her team know that they are going against public opinion in trying to bring the killer to justice. When a photograph of Vindici surfaces, however, showing him at a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico, Merseyside Police had to reevaluate everything they thought they knew – if the man himself is in another continent, does that mean that there is a copycat killer stalking the streets on Liverpool?

I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this blog tour as I read the first in this series, Blood Mist, earlier in the year and loved it! This is the third of the Eve Clay books and, in my opinion, is even better than the first. This is a very clever book, as due to the nature of the crime – the killing of paedophiles – it is easy to see why the police may have conflicted feelings. One one hand, the man is ridding the streets of men who have committed one of the most heinous crimes possible, but conversely, he is still a murderer and so has to be brought to justice.

This is very much a multifaceted plot with numerous aspects that will keep you guessing until the very end. Although the mystery of the true identity of Vindici was not difficult to work out, the circumstances behind the murders provided a plethora of twists and turns that culminated in several big reveals. Towards the end, the plot moved so quickly, I could not put the book down!

Day of the Dead deals with a very emotive subject matter and I was pleased that, although the murders are quite detailed, there were no graphic accounts of what had happened to the children. Instead, I thought that the reactions of the officers dealing with the cases gave enough insight into how sickening and depraved the crimes were.

This, for me, was a particularly engrossing book as, being from the city where it is set, I could visualise exactly where the action was taking place. On several occasions, though, this did unnerve me slightly, as a couple of streets where I have friends and family were named! Thankfully, this is a work of fiction and not true crime!

I thoroughly enjoyed Day of the Dead and would highly recommend it.

With thanks to Clare Gordon and Head of Zeus for my copy of the book.

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Take a look at the rest of the blogs participating in the tour.

Trust Me by Angela Clarke

51O73PAHCPL__SY346_While undertaking some online research for her work, Kate stumbles upon a live video which is seemingly showing a young woman being murdered. After calling the police, she discovers that the video has disappeared and that people are reluctant to take her seriously. How can she prove that this was not a figment of her imagination and that, somewhere, is a girl in need of help? Meanwhile, Sergeant Nasreen Cudmore and her friend Freddie Venton are working on a missing persons case – could the two incidents be connected?

Trust Me is the third of Angela Clarke’s Social Media Murders series, following on from Follow Me and Watch Me and, again, deals with the dark side of the internet. This time the spotlight is on Periscope and how people, anywhere, can watch video clips that are put online. It is, in many ways, a modern twist on the Agatha Christie classic, The 4.50 from Paddington, where instead of Elspeth McGillicuddy witnessing the strangling of a woman when passing on a train and nobody believing her, we have Kate witnessing the rape and murder of a young woman online and the video being removed before her story can be corroborated.

In Trust Me, we see a different side to Freddie’s character in that she is struggling to come to terms with feelings she has never felt before. This angst does not stop her impulsiveness, however, and she is soon infuriating her friend, Nas, who is more adept at playing by the rules. There are times, though, when we see Nas acting without thinking, showing that the friends’ personalities are beginning to rub off on each other.

One of the things I liked most about this book was that, although it is a police procedural, it is not a traditional whodunit. The naming of the culprit is secondary to the actual investigation and the police search for the girl in the video. It is still a fast-paced story, though, especially in the last fifth of the book when one of the characters is placed in mortal danger.

I’ve enjoyed reading all of the books in this series so far and I hope that Angela Clarke has some more in the pipeline!

With thanks to Net Galley and Avon Books UK for the ARC.

 

Monthly Round Up: May 2017

Where did May go?! I’ve managed to read a few really good books this month, although two of the reviews aren’t live yet due to them being part of a forthcoming blog tour. Here  is my month in books:

Books I’ve Read

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

This tale of a sister investigating the disappearance/death of her twin wasn’t the thriller I hoped it was going to be but was still an enjoyable and entertaining read.

 

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The Sixth Victim by Tessa Harris

A great first book in a new series featuring the psychic medium Constance Piper. Set against the backdrop of 1888 Whitechapel, during the reign of terror of Jack the Ripper, Constance is tasked to discover the whereabouts of a missing woman.

51bS5O6yIKLWhen I Wake Up by Jessica Jarlvi

This debut novel was not what I expected but was, nevertheless, an intriguing tale of infatuation and revenge. Full review will follow as part of the book’s Blog Tour.

Child Taken by Darren Young

When a child disappears from a beach, has she drowned or has she been abducted? The child’s mother knows that she has been taken but no one will listen to her. An excellent debut from Darren Young.

 

51zeLbgjVpLOn Copper Street by Chris Nickson

The fifth of the Tom Harper series set in Victorian Leeds has countless murders and a seemingly unprovoked acid attack. A great read for any fans of historical crime fiction.

 

51ekD0+0VCLDay of the Dead by Mark Roberts

When a paedophile is found brutally murdered in Liverpool, it looks as though the escaped killer known as Vindici has struck again. Is it him or is a copycat emulating the ‘work’ of their idol? This is the third in the DCI Eve Clay series – a full review will follow as part of the blog tour.

Books I’ve Acquired

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Years ago, Fortune gave up on his daughter, Sophie, after a troubled adolescence. Now she’s gone missing, vanished without trace. And after weeks of investigation, the police have given up on her, too.

Driven by guilt, and a determination to atone for his failures as a father, he takes on the search himself. He soon finds that his daughter had been living in fear of a vicious online troll who seemed to know far too much about her. Could Sophie’s disappearance be linked to this unknown predator? Fortune is about to discover that monsters which live online don’t always stay there…

 

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The young woman standing on Lottie’s step was a stranger. She was clutching the hand of a young boy. ‘Help me,’ she said to Lottie. ‘Please help me.’

One Monday morning, the body of a young pregnant woman is found. The same day, a mother and her son visit the house of Detective Lottie Parker, begging for help to find a lost friend.

Could this be the same girl?

When a second victim is discovered by the same man, with the murder bearing all the same hallmarks as the first, Lottie needs to work fast to discover how else the two were linked. Then two more girls go missing.

Detective Lottie Parker is a woman on the edge, haunted by her tragic past and struggling to keep her family together through difficult times. Can she fight her own demons and catch the killer before he claims another victim?

 

YOU SAW IT HAPPEN. DIDN’T YOU?

What do you do if you witness a murder…but no-one believes you?
When Kate sees a horrific murder streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who her killer is.
Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but tensions in the police force are running high and time is ticking. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?
Dark, gripping, and flawlessly paced, Trust Me is the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.

I’m currently reading Trust Me and am looking forward to reading the latest of Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne series.

Happy reading!

 

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