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The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood

Looking online at houses that are for sale is something that many people enjoy and Vanessa is no exception. When she wants to escape from reality, she finds a home and arranges a viewing, adopting a different persona each time in order to convince the seller that she is a serious buyer. All harmless fun until one of the householders is found murdered and Vanessa is the main suspect.

Vanessa is the classic unreliable narrator. Clearly suffering from mental health issues due to events in her past, she has created a fantasy world for herself, one that sees her pretending to be in the market for an expensive property. While at first this seems an innocent pastime, we see this quickly becoming an obsession, especially when she starts to take little mementos from the houses.

Told in two time frames, we find out about Vanessa’s past, her ex-boyfriend, Connor, featuring prominently. We see how Vanessa is being manipulated by her controlling partner, even if she cannot see it herself. This helped to explain the situation she finds herself in as time goes on and helped me to develop a sympathetic attitude towards someone who could, potentially, be a killer.

As the book progresses, the plot starts to take a more sinister turn when Vanessa starts to realise that someone has been watching her. Could this person prove her innocence or even her guilt and what exactly do they want from her?

I have enjoyed Nuala Ellwood’s previous books and was just as gripped by this one. The Perfect Life has a gripping plot with superb characters, something I have grown to expect from this author’s writing.

With thanks to Penguin and Net Galley for my copy.

Hunt by Leona Deakin

When Dr Augusta Bloom is summoned to speak to the Foreign Secretary, she is intrigued. He is being held under the Terrorism Act and needs Bloom’s help to track down his niece, Scarlett, who he has not seen for a decade. She appears to have links to Artemis, a feminist group led by the charismatic Paula Kunis, but why has she distanced herself from her family? In order to find out, Bloom must go undercover, infiltrating the ranks at Artemis to find out exactly what their agenda is.


Hunt is the third in the Augusta Bloom series and, in my opinion, is the best so far. Augusta’s skills are put to the test as she finds herself deep undercover, trying to find out the true motives behind Artemis, an organisation who claim to be empowering women. While on the surface, this does appear to be the case, it does not taks Augusta long to realise that this is more like a cult, and one that it seems impossible to escape from. The tension became palpable as we begin to realise just how much danger Augusta has placed herself in and this kept me turning the pages as I tried to discover how she was going to get out of this terrifying situation.


We also get to understand a bit more about Augusta’s business partner, Marcus Jameson in this book, and it was good to see more of his investigative work, drawing upon his previous career to help him. The spectre of Seraphine is always hanging over Marcus and I enjoyed seeing this odd relationship rear its head again, albeit in a different way from the previous books.


The cult aspect of this book was fascinating to read and it was easy to understand how the women might be coerced into becoming part of it, parallels being drawn to the likes of Waco and Jonestown. I think the most terrifying part was how easy it was for these women to become indoctrinated, their families desperately trying and failing to make contact with them.


Hunt is a fast-past read that has left me eagerly awaiting the next installment.

With thanks to Transworld Digital and Net Galley for my copy.

***BLOG TOUR*** The Rule by David Jackson

Chaos ensues when Daniel, not realising his own strength, unwittingly kills a man. His parents know that if the murder is discovered, their vulnerable son will be taken away and will be unable to cope away from everything he knows. Disposing of the body, they hope that it is all done and dusted but little do they know that this is only the beginning. With the police closing in and others with less than honourable intentions looking for them, just how far will they go to protect Daniel?

David Jackson is one of my favourite authors and his previous book, The Resident, was one of my favourite books of last year. The Rule is another standalone, filled with the great writing and dark humour that I have grown to expect from this author.

Daniel is an absolute delight and, although there are other people we see more of, he is the character that, in my opinion, has the most impact. I spent the book willing him to be safe and hoping that his father could do whatever he had to do to protect him.

Daniel’s father, Scott, is another fantastic character. A good man who would do anything for his family, we see how one unfortunate event can change everything you once believed in. He is far from being a criminal mastermind, his naivety showing throughout the book as he gets himself into some terrifying situations. This is where David Jackson’s wonderful writing comes to the fore, turning some genuinely tense moments into humour in the blink of an eye.

It is always a pleasure to read a David Jackson book and The Rule is no exception. Fast paced and exciting with a plethora of well-written, believable characters, this deserves to be a huge hit!

With thanks to Sahina Bibi for organising the blog tour and to viper Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

Take a look at my reviews of some of David Jackson’s other books:

A Tapping at My Door

Hope to Die

Don’t Make a Sound

Your Deepest Fear

The Resident

The Family Tree by Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry

After taking a DNA test, Liz Catalano is shocked to discover that she is adopted. Feeling that her whole life has been a lie, she is determined to find her biological family in order to discover where she actually came from. What starts as a family search soon turns into something more sinister – her DNA is connected to a notorious serial killer who has been operating for decades. The Tri-State killer abducts pairs of young women, keeping them hostage before killing them and it would seem that time is running out for his latest victims. With Liz desperate to get to know her new family, is she walking straight into a trap that will see her becoming the next victim?

As a family historian who loves reading books about serial killers, the blurb for this book ticked all of the boxes for me. I have enjoyed reading genealogical fiction for many years but it is only recently that I have seen authors venture into the world of DNA, something that I feel opens up so many potential storylines. In The Family Tree, this is used with great effect as we see Liz dealing with not only the news of her adoption but that her biological family contains an active serial killer.

I really felt for Liz and although I felt her treatment of her adoptive family was, initially, very poor, I could understand her desire to seek out her roots. Even after she discovered the reality of her biological family, it was easy to see why she did not want to break this newly-found bond, even if it was with a serial killer.

The story moves on at a good pace, providing clues and red herrings about who the killer is. We do get to read about the unnamed killer in flashback chapters where we are introduced to his particularly sadistic crimes. This is one terrifying individual, the scenes made even more chilling with his captives’ realisation that others have gone before them.

The Family Tree is an easy to read book with a great plot that kept me more than entertained. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Avon Books UK and Net Galley for my copy.

The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo

When a Salvation Army singer is shot dead on the street, detective Harry Hole has very little to go on, leading him to think that this is a professional hit. When it emerges, however, that the wrong man has been killed, Harry finds himself investigating a case that leads him to the former Yugoslavia. With a case that takes in the homeless, drug addicts and people who want to stay hidden, Harry knows that he has his work cut out to bring the killer to justice befor he strikes again.

The sixth book in the Harry Hole series introduces us to a professional killer known as The Redeemer. Through flashbacks, we find out about his early life in the former Yugoslavia and how he has become the man he is today. I liked how the author gave us this information about the killer, a direct contrast to the chapters when we see him slowly unfolding after he realises that he has killed the wrong man.

Harry Hole, once again, shows how much of maverick he is by investigating areas that haven’t been thought of by his colleagues. Taking himself to Croatia to try to discover more about the killer, he soon realises that there is more to the story than meets the eye, leading him back to Norway to investigate a series of crimes involving the Salvation Army that have remained hidden for years.

The Harry Hole series is one that I like to dip into every now and then and my appetite has been whettted for the next one.

**BLOG TOUR** The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

Beth and Tom Hardcastle live in the sort of village where everyone knows everyone else’s business. It doesn’t take long, therefore, for news to travel when the police appear at Beth’s door. Thinking that something bad has happened to her husband, Beth is shocked when she is told that Tom is helping them with their enquiries into the disappearance and possible murder of his former girlfriend. As the evidence begins to mount, Beth begins to wonder how much she actually knows her husband. The villagers have other nagging doubts, though: surely as his wife, Beth must have suspected… mustn’t she?


This debut from Alice Hunter takes the traditional serial killer book and turns it on its head by not having its focus on the perpetrator or the police investigation. As the title suggests, we see most of the story from the perspective of Beth, a woman with a successful cafe, a young daughter and a seemingly loving husband. We soon realise however that, despite her ‘perfect’ life, she appears quite lonely with no family and no real friends. This adds to the devastation when her husband is arrested as she doesn’t really have anyone close who she can turn to. I liked how the author developed the character of Beth and enjoyed reading a book about the killer’s wife rather than the killer – something I haven’t read about in many books.

It is no spoiler to reveal that Tom is a killer as this is more than suggested in the title of the book, so the focus isn’t on if he did it but whether or not there is evidence to prove it. As the book progresses, we find out more about his life before he met Beth, building up a complete picture of the character that is trying to prove his innocence. I liked how, as a reader, there is no ambiguity about his character, but we have nagging doubts about Beth. Has she been covering up for him or did she genuinely not know?


The Serial Killer’s Wife is a slow burner of a book, but this does not mean that it is not a gripping read – far from it! I raced through it, eagerly awaiting the outcome and was totally taken aback by the twist at the end. This is one of those books where you know something is coming, but can’t figure out what and Alice Hunter keeps us waiting right until the end to hit us with something that will truly make you gasp.


This is a superb debut and, on the strength of this, I can’t wait to read Alice Hunter’s next book.


With thanks to Ellie Pilcher and Eleanor Slater at Avon for my ARC and for organising the blog tour.





The Silent Suspect by Nell Pattison

When sign language interpreter, Paige Northwood, receives a call asking her to assist at the scene of a house fire, she arrives to find client Lukas alive and well but his wife trapped inside the burning building. As her lifeless body is brought out, it becomes apparent that she was dead before the fire started. Lukas signs to Paige that he knows who killed his wife but refuses to share his thoughts with the police, leaving him as the prime suspect. Feeling that he is hiding something, Paige sets out to help, but is he guilty or afraid of something or someone?

This is the third in the Paige Northwood series and while there are references to the previous two, it can be read as a standalone. There are some spoilers, but nothing that would prevent someone from going back and reading the earlier books.

My attention was grabbed right from the start as the scene is set almost immediately, introducing us to Lukas and why he needs Paige’s help. It was apparent very early on that Lukas had something to hide but was he trying to protect someone or was he scared to tell the truth? Some twists and turns along the way keep you asking these questions until the end, suspicion being placed on several characters until the big reveal.

I think the main strength of these books is the accurate portrayal of the deaf community, something which I do not recall being a subject in any other books. Nell Pattison shows how vital people like Paige are, helping deaf people to access the things that the rest of us take for granted. I did find myself getting frustrated by Paige several times, however, and I wish that she would take her own advice about trying to stay out of trouble!

This is a series that I am really enjoying and I look forward to seeing how repercussions from events in The Silent Suspect affect Paige in future books.

With thanks to Avon Books UK and Eleanor Slater for my copy.

A Poison Tree by J E Mayhew

When the barefoot body of a girl is found in a Wirral country park, alarm bells start ringing as soon as the missing shoes are identified – they originally belonged to a girl who was murdered over forty years ago. A coincidence or has the killer surfaced again? DCI Blake identifies a connection to a local man, Victor Hunt, who lies dying in a hospice. The truth lies somewhere in his complicated family tree but as the body count rises, can the detective find the killer before they complete what they set out to do?

A Poison Tree is the first in the DCI Blake series and it is a fantastic introduction to a character that I know I am going to love. Like many fictional detectives, he has issues in his home life, but I can honestly say that this is the first book I’ve read where the source of his demons is a rather vicious cat with a mind of its own! In a story dealing with a horrible serial killer, this provided some great light relief, and was also a way of letting us know about another traumatic incident that has occurred in his past.

The story is quite a complex one due to it being about seemingly connected murders, decades apart. Although I initially had trouble keeping up with the plethora of characters, I found that as the story progressed, the plot became clearer and I started to build connections between the two sets of characters from the two time frames. This is essentially a book about family and the secrets that lie beneath the surface and, after reading, I saw how apt the book’s title was.

With several twists along the way and a plot that kept me engrossed throughout, I will definitely be continuing this series to see where the author takes Blake next.

Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

Detective Kim Stone has visited some horrific crime scenes throughout her career but nothing could prepare her for what she was about to see. The body of a man has been found at an industrial estate, death being a release after suffering unimaginable torture. When the news of his death is shared with his wife, Kim realises that something is amiss, a theory which appears correct when the family go missing. When another body is found in similar disturbing circumstances, Kim and her team need to discover what connects the victims before others suffer the same fate.

When you pick up an Angela Marsons book, you know you are going to be in for a good read and Twisted Lies is no exception. This is a series that is still just as fresh as it was at the start and, fourteen books in, the author is showing no sign of losing her touch!

The plot is a particularly gruesome one and tests the skills of Kim and her team. Like in previous books, one of the main strengths of this series is the characterisation and over the course of the previous books, I have begun to see Kim, Bryant et al as old friends. This is a series where the characters feel very real and even off-topic conversations between them are a joy to read.

For me, I have always enjoyed any scene between Kim and her journalistic adversary, Tracy Frost. The relationship between these two strong women has always been tumultuous, each of them secretly admiring the other. In Twisted Lies, we see this relationship ramp up to provide some truly comical moments but, at the same time, showing a thaw in the frostiness (if you pardon the pun!) between them. Frost’s tenacity has never been in doubt, but here we see her using her journalistic skills to the max, and she has certainly gone up in my estimation after reading this.

With an engrossing plot and likable, well-written characters, Twisted Lies promises to be yet another hit for Angela Marsons. Keep them coming!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my copy.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

Silent Scream

Evil Games

Lost Girls

Play Dead

Blood Lines

Dead Souls

Broken Bones

Dying Truth

Fatal Promise

Dead Memories

Child’s Play

First Blood

Killing Mind

Deadly Cry

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