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January 2019

Day of the Accident by Nuala Ellwood

After waking up from a coma, Maggie is told that the car accident that put her in hospital claimed the life of her young daughter, Elspeth. With no memory of the event, she is shocked to learn that Elspeth drowned after the car she was in plunged into the river. Refusing to believe that this could have happened, Maggie demands to see her husband Sean, only to discover that he was last seen on the day of their daughter’s funeral. Just what did happen on that fateful day and where is Sean? Also, why does Maggie seem convinced that her daughter is not dead?

Maggie is the ultimate unreliable narrator. Her pre-accident life has disintegrated and she has been left completely on her own to try to pick up the pieces. My heart went out to her as she tried to come to terms with her new life after realising that she no longer had anything she once held dear. I also had much admiration for her as, once her recovery began, she developed a new-found strength to uncover the truth behind the day of the accident.

Throughout the book, we get the opportunity to read letters from an unnamed child to their mother, and this definitely pulled at the heartstrings. It was horrible to read the words of this poor child, seemingly abandoned by her family and yet never losing hope that they were out there somewhere and would return for her one day. This definitely backed up Maggie’s theory that Elspeth was still out there somewhere but also helped to muddy the waters for the readers. Were the letters from Elspeth or was this part of some elaborate game?

It is obvious throughout the book that there are some unseen forces working against Maggie, but who? The author introduces several characters who we don’t really know too much about. Could one of these be responsible? There is also Sean, Maggie’s errant husband – what has happened to make him go or is his disappearance as a result of foul play? One of the minor characters, in particular, was a favourite of mine, and I was desperate to know that she was not involved in any subterfuge.

Day of the Accident is full of twists and turns, some of which I managed to figure out but some I didn’t get anywhere near! This made it an incredibly enjoyable read with a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. My Sister’s Bones by the same author was one of my favourite books of 2017 and I am so pleased that this book, too, was of the same quality.

With thanks to Penguin and Net Galley for my copy.

 

 

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The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

Joe Thorne is back in the town where he grew up. The town that everyone tries to escape from as soon as they can. The town that saw something strange happen to his little sister. One night, many years ago Annie Thorne went missing, taken from her own bed. Searches followed, but there was no trace of the child. Then, strangely, 48 hours later, she returned, refusing to say what had happened to her. Something was different about her, though, and she was no longer the same. Now, it looks as though it has happened again to another child…

C. J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man was one of my books of 2018 and so I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into The Taking of Annie Thorne. Set over two time frames, we meet Joe, an unreliable narrator is ever there was one! A teacher with a huge debt hanging over him, he has lied to get his current job and lives in fear of his past catching up on him. We see a different side of him, however, in the past when he is with his younger sister, Annie and also when he encounters a child being bullied. Then, he shows a caring, compassionate side, one that certainly endears him to the reader.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that all is not well in the village of Arnhill and that while some are intent on finding out the secret, there are some who will do anything to stop it from being uncovered. Joe appears to know something of what happened, but the death of another child in the area has stirred up memories of his sister, Annie, and the strange event that happened to her all those years ago. His interest in the case causes problems in Arnhill, with people stopping at nothing to express their displeasure. Just how are they connected and can it help to explain why Annie seemed different on her return to the family home?

The story is told in two time frames: the present and the time when Annie went missing. I always enjoy books that are written in this way as I feel that it helps you to fully understand the characters and explain their actions in the present. The story flows well and moves between the two times seamlessly, never once appearing confusing.

It is easy to see how much the author has been influenced by Stephen King and there is more than a nod to one of his books. Throughout the book, there are signs that there is some sort of supernatural force at play and so the conclusion wasn’t a huge surprise. If fiction involving the supernatural is not your thing, don’t be put off. I am not a big fan of this genre, but felt that the ‘ghostly’ references were minimal and the story was more of a thriller.

The Taking of Annie Thorne is an easy read and I can see it being another huge success for C J Tudor.

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for my copy.

 

 

 

 

 

The Asylum by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

After seemingly completing one of his research cases, forensic genealogist, Morton Farrier feels that there is more to this story than meets the eye. Further investigation leads him to the suspicious death of a woman in an asylum many, many years ago. Morton must now ensure that all of his facts are right before revealing the awful and life-changing truth to his client.

The Asylum is a prequel to Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s Morton Farrier series and as it is only 93 pages long, is an excellent introduction to anyone who has not yet come across this brilliant series. For regular readers, like me, you will be pleased to know that as well as the mystery being investigated, we also get a chance to discover how Morton met his partner, Juliette.

The mystery is an emotive one, dealing with the controversial issue of asylums and the reason women could find themselves incarcerated. Again, we see the steps Morton took to solve the mystery, using the sources that would have been available at that time. There were also some light-hearted moments, though, and I particularly enjoyed reading about his solo trip to the asylum and his realisation when studying a photograph in more detail.

The Asylum is another great addition to the series and I hope it won’t be too long before we get to read the next one.

The Murder of Patience Brooke by J. C. Briggs

5A5C8CE0-06A8-4483-886B-8D2789653866It’s 1849 and the celebrated writer, Charles Dickens, has established Urania House, a home for fallen women in London. With opposition from many, he knows that he will have more of a battle on his hands after the matron’s assistant, Patience Brooke, is found hanging, covered in blood, outside the property. With the help of his friend, Sam Jones, a Superintendent from Bow Street, he sets out in search of the unknown man with the crooked face, his investigations taking him to the dark side of London. Just what secret was Patience hiding that has made someone kill to prevent it from being revealed?

The Murder of Patience Brooke is the first in a series of books to feature Charles Dickens as the chief investigator. As someone who showed an interest in crime, and wrote about some of the darkest parts of the Victorian underworld, he is an inspired choice as a sleuth, and it was great to read a fictional account of this real person.

The author’s description could have come straight out of a Dickens novel, creating a vivid image of London’s underbelly at a time when the gap between rich and poor was horrendously huge. By including real places such as Dickens’ home for ‘fallen women’, Urania Cottage, there is an air of authenticity throughout the book, making it a great read for anyone with an interest in the Victorian era. Such is the quality of the writing, not only is it easy to picture the squalid abodes, but you can almost smell the poverty.

As well as the superb description, there is also a great murder-mystery with some truly horrible characters being sought by the police. The man with the twisted face was a villain straight out of a Dickens book and his crimes, and those of an even more barbaric character, made my skin crawl. I enjoyed the culmination of the story with the race against time for Dickens and Jones to get their man and thought that the conclusion was fitting and in keeping with the rest of the story.

The Murder of Patience Brooke was an excellent, atmospheric read and I am already looking forward to reading the next in the series, Death at Hungerford Stairs.

With thanks to Caoimhe O’Brien at Sapere Books for my copy.

The Slum Reaper by David Field

The year is 1894 and a slum clearance is in operation in the East End of London. With some of the tenants refusing to leave their homes, Sergeant Percy Enright is rightfully concerned when five local people are found dead. With those in charge of the clearances claiming the deaths were as a result of accidents, Enright knows that they were murdered. When his nephew and colleague, Jack, and his wife Esther are informed that the niece of one of their neighbours has gone missing, Percy fears that there could be a connection. Again, Esther is called upon to go undercover to find the true extent of what is happening.

Although he has been a prominent character in the previous three books, The Slum Reaper sees Percy taking more of a central role. Injured in the course of duty, Jack has been sidelined, placed behind a desk in the records department and hating every moment! Of course, this doesn’t stop Percy from using Jack’s new role to his advantage, causing problems for his nephew in the process! It was good to see more of Percy in this book, a character who has no problems about bending the rules to secure a conviction.

Again, Esther plays a pivotal role in the plot, this time using her skills as a seamstress to infiltrate the house of a suspect. Her evidence leads to the case taking a rather unexpected turn, giving the police the proof that they need to take the case forward. Esther is a character I enjoy reading about, a traditional Victorian wife in one respect but a forward-thinking modern woman in another.

With the launch of a new department, I look forward to seeing what the future holds in store for Percy and Jack and I’m sure it won’t be too long before I read The Posing Playwright!

 

My Eagerly Anticipated Books of 2019

2019 looks like being another great year for books, in particular crime fiction. Here are the books that I am already looking forward to reading:

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

Published 7th February 2019 by Quercus

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters telling him to ‘go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent who is buried there’. He is shaken, not only because children are very much on his mind, with Michelle’s baby due to be born, but because although the letters are anonymous, they are somehow familiar. They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?

Meanwhile Ruth is working on a dig in the Saltmarsh – another henge, known by the archaeologists as the stone circle – trying not to think about the baby. Then bones are found on the site, and identified as those of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared thirty years ago.

As the Margaret Lacey case progresses, more and more aspects of it begin to hark back to that first case of The Crossing Places, and to Scarlett Henderson, the girl Nelson couldn’t save. The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

 

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C J Tudor

Published 21st February 2019 by Penguin

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

 

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

Published 24th January 2019 by Orion

BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

 

 

A Date With Death by Mark Roberts

Published 2nd May 2019 by Head of Zeus

All they wanted was to find their happy-ever-after… Instead, they met their deaths.

Three women have been killed in Liverpool. The MO points to a stranger, and now DCI Eve Clay is on the trail of a vicious man who preys on lonely women on dating sites. He signs off the same way with each message: “Kiss kiss, night night.”

His crimes are escalating – and Eve has to stop him before another girl dies. But first she needs to find him. And that means going undercover online, and posing as his perfect victim…

 

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson

Published 16th May 2019 by Zaffre

‘…They’re here. They’re-‘
The message on Sara Prior’s phone contains the last words she will ever hear from her husband. Racing to find him, she discovers he has been brutally murdered.
While the police struggle to uncover evidence around this shocking crime, it becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. And she is not the sort of woman to let things lie. Following a hidden clue in her husband’s last desperate phone-call, Sara follows the trail to the house of the last person she’d expect . . .
Meanwhile DS Nathan Cody finds himself drawn into the darkest and most twisted case of his career. And this time things are about to get very very personal.

 

Dead Memories by Angela Marsons

Published 22nd February 2019 by Bookouture

She ruined their lives. Now they’re going to destroy hers.

‘Someone is recreating every traumatic point in your life. They are doing this to make you suffer, to make you hurt and the only possible end game can be death. Your death.’

On the fourth floor of Chaucer House, two teenagers are found chained to a radiator. The boy is dead but the girl is alive. For Detective Kim Stone every detail of the scene mirrors her own terrifying experience with her brother Mikey, when they lived in the same tower block thirty years ago.

When the bodies of a middle-aged couple are discovered in a burnt-out car, Kim can’t ignore the chilling similarity to the deaths of Erica and Keith – the only loving parents Kim had ever known.

Faced with a killer who is recreating traumatic events from her past, Kim must face the brutal truth that someone wants to hurt her in the worst way possible. Desperate to stay on the case, she is forced to work with profiler Alison Lowe who has been called in to observe and monitor Kim’s behaviour.

Kim has spent years catching dangerous criminals and protecting the innocent. But with a killer firmly fixed on destroying Kim, can she solve this complex case and save her own life or will she become the final victim?

 

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Published 28th February 2019 by Transworld Digital

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.
What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

 

Just some of the books I’m looking forward to reading although, as always, I’ll be hoping for a new Tennison book from Lynda La Plante, and books from Luca Veste, Steve Robinson and Nathan Dylan Goodwin amongst others. Are any of these on your list or are there others I should be looking out for? I’d love to hear what you think!

**BLOG TOUR** She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

51xSXTTs1CLRose and Bel Enright haven’t had the best start in life. After the death of their parents, they are sent to live with their grandmother who wastes no time in packing them off to boarding school, albeit the exclusive Odell. Heath and Sarah Donovan are also at Odell, but as teachers, starting a new life after a scandal threatened to tear them apart. All is not as it seems at the school, however, and one night there is a murder on campus. Who has been killed and who is the perpetrator? The lives of all involved will never be the same again…

The idea of a boarding school is quite an alien concept to those of us who have never experienced anything of the sort and Odell is definitely not the sort of school I am used to! From the outset, we see the rift beginning between the sisters when Bel, already beginning to go off the rails, ingratiates herself with the ‘cool’ crowd. Rose, on the other hand, is keen to experience all that Odell has to offer, working hard and befriending her tutor, Sarah Donovan. This is a stark contrast to Bel, who is more than keen to develop a friendship with Sarah’s husband, Heath…

From quite early on in the book, we learn that the murdered person is one of the sisters, but we do not know which one. This was very clever as, due to the way the story progresses, both had a motive to kill the other one, and, indeed, there may be more people who would want to see one, or both, of the sisters dead. As both of the sisters find themselves deeper into situations beyond their control, the tension mounts and there is a definite sense of foreboding. One part of the book, in particular, left a nasty taste in the mouth – the incident leading up to the major rift between the sisters. I do not want to go into detail as I do not want to spoil the plot, but I will say that I was incensed by the attitude of some of the adults in the book who did not seem to think that there was anything wrong with what happened.

Throughout the book, I had the most sympathy for Sarah Donovan, a woman trying to bring up her family and work in a particularly demanding job, not knowing if there is any truth to the whispers that are spreading round the school. I willed her to investigate further and found myself fearful that something untoward was going to happen to her.

She Was the Quiet One was a fantastic fast-paced read that shows how quickly life as we know it can change as a result of the decisions we make. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Joe Thomas at HQ / Harper Collins for allowing me to review this fantastic book.

 

 

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