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March 2018

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.

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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.

 

The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste

The Bone Keeper’s coming.

The Bone Keeper’s real.

He doesn’t stop.

He doesn’t feel.

He’ll snatch you up.

And make you weep.

He’ll slice your flesh.

Your bones he’ll keep.

 

 

51ixcMOrO9L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Everybody knows the tale of The Bone Keeper, but is it a ploy by parents to keep their children from playing in the woods or is there an element of truth? Detective Constable Louise Henderson certainly knows the story and now bodies are being discovered in local woodland. Could this be the work of the mythical serial killer? After burying the memories of her past, she must now face the fears of her childhood and go into the woods…

As a fan of Luca Veste’s previous books, The Bone Killer has been on my radar for quite a while and there’s has been a fair bit of buzz surrounding it as the publication date drew nearer. After attending the book launch at Waterstones Liverpool, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it, and see if it was as good as all of the glowing reviews said it was. After reading it in two sittings, I was definitely not disappointed!

The Bone Keeper grabs you right from the start when we are introduced to the legend by four children who are playing near a tunnel where the malevolent spirit is said to reside. Of course, things are destined to go wrong, with four children going into the tunnel but only three exiting. Has Matty been taken? Fast forward two decades and a woman has been found near a forest, severely injured, singing the song about The Bone Keeper that all local children have grown up knowing. With the police refusing to attribute the attack to the mythical creature, Detective Louise Henderson is a bit more accommodating, suspecting that there is more to the victim’s story than meets the eye.

Louise Henderson is a brilliant protagonist who is clearly blocking out something from her past. Even though I predicted part of what had happened, Luca Veste does a great job in showing parallels between her and Caroline, the victim, so that the waters are well and truly muddied. I had so many theories but was conflicted as to which character they applied to! This made for a very tight and satisfying plot with numerous twists and turns along the way.

The Bone Keeper is a very atmospheric read and many of the scenes are genuinely chilling. Due to his shadowiness, the titular character is probably one of the most eerie serial killers I have read about and I can fully understand why some people are saying they have been checking under their bed after reading this! I will certainly be having second thoughts about walking through the woods of Merseyside!

While I have definitely missed Murphy and Rossi, the main characters from Luca Veste’s previous books, Louise Henderson is a very worthy protagonist and is one that I hope we see much more of.

If you haven’t read any of Luca’s books before, you won’t regret starting with this one. Just make sure you keep the lights on…

 

Mind of a Killer by Simon Beaufort

51mHX+TCFHLPall Mall Gazette reporter Alec Lonsdale is working on a fatal house fire when he is accosted by a woman telling him that there have been more deaths and she has information on them. After a post-mortem reveals that the victim, Patrick Donovan, was murdered and that part of his brain had been removed, Lonsdale is determined to put his journalistic skills to good use and investigate what has happened. Assisted by his colleague, the feisty female reporter, Hulda Friederichs, when more bodies are found, their attempts to uncover the truth are thwarted at every step. Exactly who is stopping them from uncovering the truth?

One of the things I enjoy most about well-written historical crime fiction is the ability to transport the reader back in time, giving you the opportunity to experience the sounds, sights and smells of the era. Mind of a Killer certainly does this, evoking images of downtrodden Londoners, doing anything they can to make ends meet. In stark contrast, we see how life differed for the upper classes, and how vast the divide between the two groups was. Simon Beaufort certainly takes you back to Victorian London to a time when people were distrustful of the new underground rail system  and how journalists were reluctant to print celebrity stories!

By having journalists as the main protagonists, Mind of a Killer moves the story away from it being a typical police procedural. Lonsdale is a great character but he is usurped in every scene by the inimitable Hulda, a strong woman if ever there was one! I was fascinated to read that the character was based on a real journalist who worked for The Pall Mall Gazette. Obviously, the author has taken some artistic licence, but after reading that she was the first female journalist to work on the same   pay terms as her male counterparts, there is certainly an element of the fictional firebrand there!

The mystery is a particularly gruesome one with people being found murdered, horrifically disfigured with their cerebrum removed. It soon becomes apparent that there is more than one killer on the loose and that there are several other conspirators bound to keeping the operation secret. Despite the nature of the crimes, the actual murders are mainly kept off the page meaning that it never becomes too much to read for anyone of a nervous disposition.

Mind of a Killer is a great read which will hopefully become part of a series. Lonsdale and Friederichs definitely have more to offer.

With thanks to Severn House Publishers and Net Galley for the ARC.

**BLOG TOUR** Trafficked Girl by Zoe Patterson

Today, I am so pleased to be one of the blogs featuring on the tour for Trafficked Girl by Zoe Patterson. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

When she was taken into care at the age of 13, Zoe hoped that her life was about to take a turn for the better. Abused at home from a very young age, Denver House was a fresh start, away from the physical and emotional violence she had experienced. Little did Zoe know that her life was about to go from bad to worse as she found herself being bullied by older girls who forced her into going to ‘parties’ which were actually further ways of abusing her. Soon, Zoe found herself being trafficked around the country with no one in authority willing to help put a stop to it. Trafficked Girl is the story of a girl who truly experienced rock bottom yet managed to fight back.

It is hard to read a book like this without asking the question, ‘How was this allowed to happen?’ The quote at the start of the book is actually a dictionary definition of the word ‘care’ and this is precisely what Zoe never managed to experience. From being physically and mentally abused by her mother and sexually abused by the older men she was forced to spend time with, Zoe really had no chance in life whatsoever. Perhaps what really sickened me the most, however, was the attitude of those who were tasked with her protection. How could the police turn a blind eye to what was going on? How could the staff of Denver House be so blasé about what their charges were doing? How could social services not put a stop to what was, seemingly, happening in several authorities at the time? The list of questions could go on.

In recent years, there have been countless stories that have emerged about the failings in the care system and while these are horrific to read, hearing the words of one of the children actually involved gives you a whole new understanding. My heart went out to Zoe as she moved from place to place, each time hoping that this would be where she would finally belong. It was also quite poignant to see how, despite her mother’s abuse, she still tried to keep contact with her dysfunctional family only to find herself still the subject of ridicule.

Trafficked Girl shows how all it takes for someone to turn their life around is the trust and belief of another person, this person being Pam, who took Zoe under her wing and gave her the strength to fight back and take on the system that had failed her repeatedly. It was thanks to Pam that Zoe is now able to take steps towards moving on in her life and, although the memories of her past will probably remain with her for ever, she is now in a position to achieve the things she always wanted but was never able to.

It has been a long time since a book has made me so angry and I applaud Zoe Patterson for having the courage to tell her story. Trafficked Girl is a highly emotive read on a subject that should never be brushed under the carpet. These children, now adults, deserve their justice.

With thanks to Rosie Margesson and Harper Collins for my ARC.

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour:

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**BLOG TOUR** Taken by Monty Marsden

I am thrilled to be the next stop on the blog tour for Taken, the brilliant new book from Monty Marsden.

It’s been two years since serial killer Giacomo Riondino escaped the clutches of the police, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Not able to come to terms with the murder of his friend, Greta Alfieri, Dr Claps has been on a mission ever since to find the man responsible. Now an American girl has gone missing in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. With no witnesses, the girl seems to have vanished into thin air. Convinced that this is the work of Riondino, Claps heads to Ecuador where he is sure the serial killer is residing. Will he finally be captured or will this obsession finally be the undoing of Claps?

After the dramatic ending of the previous book, Hunted, I had hoped that there would be a continuation of the Riondino story so was thrilled when I saw that there was. Riondino is probably one of the most horrific fictional serial killers I have ever come across and yet, due to his psychiatric condition, probably one of the most fascinating. The killer has a multiple personality disorder, each ‘person’ displaying completely different traits. Jack is the one in control who chooses which personality can come to the fore and it is Jack who we see most in this book. While some of the personalities have been suppressed, there are others who also make an appearance such as Hannibal, the murderous one and Julia, the gentler soul. Each play their part in this fantastic tale of a man’s mission to rid the world of this evil.

I love a book with a real-life setting, and such is the way Guayaquil is used, it almost becomes another character. As someone who knows little or nothing about Ecuador, I found myself googling places that were mentioned and became fascinated by the La Peñas steps. By using these steps as the location where the American girl went missing, the author has created a superb mystery – just how, exactly, could she go missing without anybody seeing where she went?

It soon becomes apparent that Claps is right to think that Riondino has set up home in Ecuador but not before several carefully executed pieces of misdirection by the author. With regards to Riondino, you know that a gruesome murder is probably round the corner, but in Taken, his modus operandi has changed. As a result, there were several points in the book where I could sense something was about to happen but was left with feelings of anticipation when it didn’t happen when I thought it would!

Monty Marsden

I really enjoyed the previous book but Taken was even better. In Riondino, Monty Marsden has the perfect villain and his superb writing really brings him to life – not that I would ever want this killer to actually exist! The plot is brilliantly chilling and provides more than one ‘heart in mouth’ moment. A must-read!

With thanks to Net Galley and Melanie Price at Aria/Head of Zeus for the ARC and for organizing the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the tour:

 

**BLOG TOUR** 29 Seconds by T. M. Logan

29 SECONDSToday, I’m really pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for 29 Seconds by T. M. Logan. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book so am pleased to be able to share an extract with you!

The Blurb

Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A NAME TO GIVE. DON’T THEY?

 

The Extract

Sarah lay in Laura’s spare bed, exhausted and fuzzy-headed from red wine, but unable to sleep. Staring at the glowing red numbers of the clock radio on the bedside table as they clicked onwards, minute by minute.

3.09.

It still felt like a dream. All of it. The little girl, Aleksandra, the scarred man, Volkov and his unbelievable offer. It all seemed to belong to another life, a different person. Not her life. She wanted it to be a choice that someone else had to make, someone else’s problem to solve. She floated in that for a minute, halfway between sleep and wakefulness, hoping that it was all just a product of her imagination.

You give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.

But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. It was her life.

Her choice.

A choice between reason and passion. Between logic and emotion. And when had that ever been a fair fight?

She had not asked for more details, and she realised now that this had been a mistake. What did disappear even mean? It could mean all kinds of things. Was it that they were sent away, far away, and never came back? That they were threatened, to make them flee the life they knew, or face the consequences? Paid off and set up in a new life somewhere far away?

None of these options seemed very likely. Not as likely as the most obvious answer. The obvious answer being that they vanished . . . permanently.

She thought about the little phone Volkov had given her. Did it even have any charge?

She should turn it on and check, just in case. Bad idea. Because turning it on would mean she was another step closer to looking at the single number stored in its memory.

And then she’d just have to dial the number and say two words:

Alan Lovelock.

And her problems would vanish – if the offer was to be believed. Laura had nearly persuaded her, almost convinced her, that she should take Volkov’s offer – without even realising what she was saying. Almost, but not quite.

Sarah turned on the bedside light, reached down to her handbag, burrowed inside it until her hand closed around the smooth plastic shape of the mobile she’d been given.

What had he called it? A throwaway phone. She held it in her palm, the case cool to the touch. It was the only thing she had, the only evidence, that she had not imagined the whole encounter with Volkov – this little rectangle of black plastic was proof that it was real, that he was real, that his offer was real. She turned it over in her hand, feeling the weight of it. Just a few ounces. Nothing more.

She flipped the phone open.

Just switch it on. It probably hasn’t got any charge left anyway. Just switch it on to check.

Where’s the harm in that?

Her thumb hovered over the power button.

TM Logan
T. M. Logan

 

29 Seconds is pubished by Zaffre and is available now.

With thanks to Emily Burns for organising the blog tour.

 

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

51wTNZH99oLWhen fourteen-year-old Dianne Lake encountered the enigmatic Charles Manson and his ‘Family’, little did she know the huge effect it was going to have on her life. Now, fifty years later, Dianne is telling her story – a first-hand story of her experiences with one of the most heinous characters in American history, and what a story it is…

Over the years, I have read several books about Charles Manson, including one written as a result of interviews with the man himself. Where this book differs, though, is that it is affording us a first-hand account of someone who lived through the free-love era of late-1960s America as part of Manson’s ‘Family’.

The first third of the book details Dianne’s early life, which was far from conventional. Born into a seemingly typical family, secrets begin to rear their heads and soon, her parents make the decision to ‘drop out’ of normal society. This action set the tone for the rest of Dianne’s life, as they moved from place to place, taking drugs and living in several communal habitations. When she made the decision to go it alone, I found it hard to remember that she was only fourteen at the time. It was clear to see that she craved some normality and would have loved to have had the opportunity to attend school and make something of herself. The actions of her parents, though, were the first steps into pushing her towards Manson.

When we finally meet Charlie Manson, there is no immediate indication of what is to come. Initially, Dianne gets what she yearns for – a family who look out for each other. As time progresses, though, Manson’s true nature begins to emerge and it is interesting to read that, with hindsight, Dianne wished that she had noticed these signs and got away whilst she had the chance. Such was Manson’s pull, though, and the fact that she felt she was in love with him, she remained in his clutches until he was arrested. It was difficult to read about the abuse she endured during her time with the ‘Family’ and how her skewed idea of what was normal didn’t give her the impetus to run away.

If you read this hoping to find out more about the Tate/LaBianca killings, then you are going to be disappointed as this is not the purpose of the book. Dianne was not part of the atrocities but became aware of them after the fact. Repulsed by what she found out and realising the true nature of the man she adored, it became a relief when they were finally picked up by the authorities and she could start to remove traces of the cult from her life. It was pleasing to read how Dianne managed to turn her life around, thanks to the kindness of a police officer and also how she found happiness with a husband and the real family she had always longed for.

Member of the Family is a fascinating, well-written read and I sincerely hope that Dianne continues to live a happy life, free from memories of the past.

With thanks to Rosie Margesson and Harper Collins UK for my copy of the book.

 

No Safe Place by Patricia Gibney

When the body of a young woman is found at the bottom of an open grave, Detective Lottie Parker fears that it could be Elizabeth Byrne who, only days earlier, vanished after getting on a train. The case stirs up memories of a past case for Corrigan, her superior officer, when another young woman from Ragmullin disappeared a decade ago in a similar way. A coincidence or could there be a connection? When two more women vanish in a similar fashion, Lottie fears that there is a serial killer at large. With major problems of her own and a new boss to contend with, this looks like being one of Lottie Parker’s most difficult cases to date.

No Safe Place follows on from the previous book The Lost Child but as this could still be read as a standalone, I will refrain from giving any spoilers! Lottie is still struggling with events from her past so when she discovers that her boss is going to have an operation and his post is being covered by someone she dislikes immensely, it is inevitable that she will, once again, turn to medication to get her through the day. Lottie is an incredibly tragic character yet at the same time is tenacious and totally committed to her job. I think most fans of this series are desperate for her to have a bit of luck in her life and it’s about time her and Boyd sorted themselves out once and for all!

The mystery is a fascinating one. Young women are going missing on a train and there are very few, if any, witnesses. Several suspects are put forward and it is not until the very end of the book that we finally discover the culprit and the reason behind them doing what they are doing. Patricia Gibney has done a fantastic job in concealing who the guilty party is to the point where the clues given could apply to more than one character. I liked how all the sub-plots linked together and whereas in some books these links could be tenuous, this was not the case here. All loose ends were tied up nicely and the conclusion was realistic and satisfying.

As in previous books, the author has thrown in a few curveballs which will, hopefully, be explored in subsequent books. One in particular (which linked to the previous book) was a shocker and I can’t wait to see what happens there!

This is a series that is going from strength to strength – Lottie is becoming one of those familiar fictional characters that seems as though they have been around forever. I hope there is much more to come!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for the ARC.

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