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All His Pretty Girls

**BLOG TOUR** The Toybox by Charly Cox

Fear surrounds Albuquerque, New Mexico, after several teenage girls and young women disappear with no clue as to what has happened to them. After a body is found, Detective Alyssa Wyatt finds herself desperately trying to uncover what is happening, especially when the friend of her daughter goes missing. With no apparent link between the victims, Wyatt and her partner Cord, find themselves involved in an investigation into criminals much more depraved than they could ever have imagined. Can they locate the girls before they suffer the same fate as the murdered girl?

One of my favourite books of last year was this author’s debut, All His Pretty Girls, the first book in the Alyssa Wyatt series. As someone who doesn’t tend to read many books set in the US, this one completely blew me away and I  couldn’t wait to read the next in the series. I wondered how Charly Cox would be able to live up to the standard of her first book and I am so pleased to say that she has managed it with ease!

The subject matter is not for the faint of heart, dealing with the horrendous crimes of sex trafficking and physical abuse. This is so well written, however, that the author does not actually need to describe the extent of the suffering that these young women are having to endure as enough is implied so that you know what is happening without actually having to read it. This is, I feel, more powerful than seeing the events written down in front of you as your imagination can fill in the gaps, leaving you feeling nothing but horror about what is unfolding before your eyes. These women were incredibly brave despite their circumstances and I found myself desperately hoping that they would be freed from the predicament without anything even more horrendous happening to them.

One word of caution I will give with The Toybox is that there are spoilers aplenty about the previous installment, to the point that some pretty major twists are revealed. The events in All His Pretty Girls have definitely helped to shape Alyssa and some of her actions and feelings can be explained by what has gone before. Alyssa is a great character with a stable family life and a partner who she trusts implicitly. This is something that is often missing in other police procedurals so I really like how we can focus on the investigation rather than on the private life of the detective.

This really is a superb series and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are looking for a gritty police procedural with believable characters and a gripping plot, then The Toybox may just be the book for you.

With thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side for organising the blog tour and to Hera Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

My Books of 2019

2019 has seen some amazing books being published and it has been hard to find my favourite ten out of all of the great books that I have read. Yesterday, I finished an amazing book, Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton, but I’ve decided that, as it isn’t published until January 9th, I will save it for next year’s list!  After much deliberation, this is my list, in no particular order.

First Blood by Angela Marsons

Bookouture published a surprise sequel to the Kim Stone series and what an absolute corker is is! Great for existing fans of this series but, also, a great introduction for anyone who hasn’t yet read any of the previous books.

 

All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox

As someone who isn’t a huge fan of police procedurals set in the USA, this debut completely blew me away. With a breathtaking, fast-paced serial killer plot, I really hope this isn’t the last we see of Detective Alyssa Wyatt.

 

Sleep by C L Taylor

With a claustrophobic plot reminiscent of a modern-day Agatha Christie novel, Sleep was one of those books that definitely lived up to the online hype. A tense thriller with some great twists.

 

Avaline Saddlebags by Netta Newbound & Marcus Brown

This graphic serial killer novel was like a breath of fresh air with its gritty plot and light-hearted moments. I am sincerely hoping that we see more of the likeable DI Dylan Monroe.

 

The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey

This twisty tale of a potential miscarriage of justice is one of those books where no matter how hard you try to figure it out, there is always a nagging doubt at the back of your mind. The ending genuinely made me gasp!

 

On My Life by Angela Clarke

This well-researched novel about a possible miscarriage of justice and life inside a women’s prison is one of those plots that will stay with me for a long time to come. I’ve loved all of this author’s books but this one is special.

 

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

If awards were being given out for the most apt title, then this would definitely win! Just when you think you have it all worked out, Steve Cavanagh hits you with yet another twist and makes you rethink everything once again!

 

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham

This, the sixteenth book in the DI Thorne series, is probably one of my favourites. Do we always know the people closest to us?

 

The Body in the Mist by Nick Louth

This is the third book in the DCI Craig Gillard series but, if you haven’t read the previous books, it can be read as a standalone. This story of a hit and run and the exposure of decades-old family secrets is one that you can immediately visualise on the small screen.

 

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson

The one that all fans of the Nathan Cody series had been waiting for – we found out more about the clowns! If you haven’t read any of this series, I cannot recommend it highly enough!

 

I’d love to know your thoughts. Are any of these books on your ‘best of…’ list?

Monthly Roundup – October 2019

With only two months left in the year, I’m starting to think about which books are going to make it into my ‘best of 2019’ list. October has certainly brought a couple of books which, I am sure, are going to feature!

Books I Have Read

Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney

The seventh book in the Lottie Parker series sees the detective investigating a spate of murders which were originally deemed to be suicides. With plenty of shady character, this book will keep you guessing right until the end.

 

All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox

When a woman is found, barely alive, in the mountains, Detective Alyssa Wyatt is plunged into the search for a particularly nasty serial killer. One of the best books I have read this year – it is hard to believe that this is the author’s debut.

 

Sleep by C L Taylor

A woman trying to escape from a traumatic experience finds herself in more trouble than she realises when she relocates to the remote Scottish island of Rum. Working in a hotel, it is not long before she discovers that one of the guests has murder on their mind – her murder. A tense, claustrophobic read.

 

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

A cautionary tale of how we don’t really know the people around us. Two neighbours are envious of each other’s lives, without really knowing what is going on behind closed doors. Soon, this envy turns into something much more serious and a life is put in danger… Review to follow as part of the blog tour.

 

Reputations by John Nixon

The latest in the Madeleine Porter series sees the genealogist investigating a crime from the 1960s after a friend is murdered. Are the two incidents connected?

 

Books I Have Acquired

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping for the night with his brother Leo. When Ben woke up, he was covered in blood, and his brother had gone. Days later, Ben was facing a charge of murder. 

Ben’s girlfriend, Ana Seabrook, has always sworn he was innocent. And now, on the hottest day of a sweltering heat wave, a body has been unearthed in Ana’s village. A body that might be connected to what really happened between Ben and Leo that fateful night. 

DCI Jansen, of St Albans police, is sure that Ana has something to hide. But until the police track down the identity of the body, he can’t work out how everything’s connected. Will Ana’s secrets stay buried forever? Or can Jansen bring them to light?

 

No matter how far you run . . . 
He’s never far behind

Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.

But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought. 

What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?

And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?

 

 

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead. 

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

 

 

In Victorian England, a mother is on the run from her past—and the truth about what she did.

Birmingham, 1880. Angelica Chastain has fled from London with her young son, William. She promises him a better life, far away from the terrors they left behind.

Securing a job as a governess, Angelica captures the attention of wealthy widower Stanley Hampton. Soon they marry and the successful future Angelica envisaged for William starts to fall into place.

But the past will not let Angelica go. As the people in her husband’s circle, once captivated by her charm, begin to question her motives, it becomes clear that forgetting where she came from—and who she ran from—is impossible.

When tragedy threatens to expose her and destroy everything she’s built for herself and William, how far will she go to keep her secrets safe? And when does the love for one’s child tip over into dangerous obsession?

 

 

Investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil’s instincts tell her when a story is worth pursuing. And the death of an elderly priest on the altar of his Glasgow church, just as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of an infamous Magdalene Institution, tells her a sinister cover up is in play. 

DI Alec Davies is appointed to investigate the priest’s death. He and Oonagh go way back. But now they’re united in uncovering not only what happened to the lost babies secretly born in the Institution, but what happened to the young women that survived by vowing loyalty to one another… forever. 

The doors of the Magdalene laundries hid the most harrowing secrets from the world – secrets Oonagh is determined to reveal, whatever the price…

 

I’m really looking forward to reading these books. I’m especially intrigued by the Steve Robinson one as I love his Jefferson Tayte series, so I can’t wait to read something different!

Finally, a big thank you and hello to all of my new subscribers. I hope you find something good to read – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox

When a young couple find a savagely beaten, naked woman in the New Mexico mountains, Detective Alyssa Wyatt is plunged into a particularly testing case. The woman, Callie McCormick, is seemingly the latest victim of a mysterious psychopath who is linked to a string of deaths, but who has, so far, left no clues as to his identity. When Wyatt finds herself close to a breakthrough, she unwittingly puts herself straight in the firing line. The killer knows who she is and wants her to know his name, even if it means destroying everyone around her…

I don’t often read crime books set in the USA, preferring, instead the more familiar UK criminal justice system. There was something about All His Pretty Girls that grabbed my attention, however, and piqued my interest enough to make me want to read it. All I can say is, I am so glad I did! It is hard to believe that this is the author’s debut, as it is a confident, well-written serial killer novel with some fantastic twists and turns!

Alyssa Wyatt is a great character with an emotional backstory which has shaped her police career. I liked the relationship she had with her team, particularly her partner, and thought it made a refreshing change to see a united team, all focused on the job in hand. In books like this, I am accustomed to seeing the detective having an erratic home life so it was pleasing to read scenes involving her supportive, well-balanced family – even if there is a little bit of animosity towards her mother-in-law!

The killer in the book is a particularly heinous one and there are several descriptive scenes which should come with a health warning! His shadow box containing ‘mementos’ of his previous victims was particularly graphic, and you could feel the panic Callie was feeling as she wondered what her fate would be. In a clever piece of writing, I also felt some sympathy towards the killer as we read about his childhood, and realised what a horrific start to life he had.

All His Pretty Girls is a fast-paced, breathtaking read and is one that I struggled to put down. This will definitely be making my list of favourite books of 2019 and I sincerely hope that this is not the last we see of Alyssa.

With thanks to Hera Books and to Sarah Hardy from Book on the Bright Side.

 

Monthly Roundup – September 2019

I’m at that stage where my Net Galley TBR list doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller! I’ve tried not to get any more books but am failing miserably! I have nearly completed my GoodReads challenge, however, so it’s not all bad!

Books I Have Read

The Posing Playwright by David Field

In the fifth book in the series, Jack and Esther Enright investigate the disappearance of a peer on a train and Jack also finds himself mixed up in the trial of famous playwright, Oscar Wilde. Not my favourite in the series, but there were some good moments.

 

The Six by Luca Veste

In this standalone from the author of the Murphy and Rossi novels, a serial killer with a particular modus operandi crosses paths with a group of six friends and soon, they are fighting for their lives. A cracking read.

 

The Quiet Ones by Theresa Talbot

After a famous football coach is found murdered and there is not the usual outpouring of grief in the media, investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil’s interest is piqued. She soon uncovers a well-hidden secret that has ruined the lives of numerous men and realises that someone is about to bring it all into the open. A hard-hitting, well-written book.

 

Where the Silence Calls by M J Lee

After the body of a man is found burned to death in his flat, DI Ridpath embarks on a case that  is much bigger than he first imagined, taking him back to Manchester in the 1990s. This is becoming one of my favourite series.

 

Expiry Date by Alex Walters

After he discovers the body of an unknown man, DI Alex McKay is drawn into the world of human trafficking, realising that the case brings him closer to home than he ever could have imagined. This is part way through a series, but can be read as a standalone. Review will be published soon.

 

The Hidden Lives of Jack the Ripper’s Victims by Robert Hume

A look into the lives of the women who became the victims of the infamous Jack the Ripper, with much less emphasis placed on the actual crimes. There are some great photos which really bring the women to life.

 

 

Books I Have Acquired

Seven guests. Seven secrets. One killer. Do you dare to SLEEP?

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

 

I’m alive. But I can’t be saved . . .

When a woman’s body is found submerged in icy water, police are shocked to find she is alive. But she won’t disclose her name, or what happened to her – even when a second body is discovered. And then she disappears from her hospital bed.

Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey follow their only lead to the home of the Corrigans, looking for answers. But the more they dig into the couple’s lives, the less they understand about them.

What’s their connection to the body in the river?

Why have other people they know been hurt, or vanished?

And can they discover the dark truth of their marriage before it’s too late?

 

‘She shivered, though the kitchen was warm. Icicles of foreboding trickled down her spine. With trembling hands she whipped back her hair at the nape of her neck. As she turned away from the window, she missed the shadow passing by.’

One dark winter’s morning, bride-to-be Cara Dunne is found hanging in her home, dressed in her wedding dress, with a lock of hair removed. Detective Lottie Parker is first on the scene. Looking at Cara’s bruised and battered body, she wonders who could have hated her enough to kill her at the happiest time of her life.

The case takes a darker turn that afternoon with another shocking discovery – the broken body of a second young woman, pushed from the roof of the hospital where she worked. Fiona Heffernan was also due to be married, and her body is clad in a wedding dress, a lock of her hair cut off.

The killings seem so personal that Lottie is convinced the girls have been killed by someone they knew. When she goes to break the news to Fiona’s family, she’s on the alert for anything suspicious. But then she makes a discovery that causes her blood to run cold – Fiona’s eight-year-old daughter Lily didn’t return home from her dance recital that afternoon. Terrified that Lily will be the next victim of a twisted and dangerous individual, Lottie takes the case into her own hands, risking her life when she comes face-to-face with the killer…

 

Detective Alyssa Wyatt is hunting a serial killer.

She doesn’t know that he’s hunting her.

A woman is found naked, badly beaten and barely alive in the New Mexico mountains. The shocking discovery plunges Albuquerque Detective Alyssa Wyatt into a case that will test her to the limit.

It appears that Callie McCormick is the latest plaything of a shadowy psychopath that leaves a long shadow on the streets of New Mexico – an individual linked to a string of deaths but leaving no evidence.

But when Alyssa makes a breakthrough that just might reveal the killer, she unknowingly puts herself in the crosshairs of a brutal maniac – one with an old score to settle.

Because the killer knows Alyssa very well, even if she doesn’t know him. And he’s determined that she’ll know his name – even if he has to extract his deadly revenge on her and everything she loves.

 

When one-hundred-year-old Violet Ross is found dead at Eden’s End, a luxury care home hidden in a secluded nook of the Lake District’s Eden Valley it’s tragic, of course, but not unexpected. Except for the instantly recognisable look in her lifeless eyes… that of pure terror.

DCI Jude Satterthwaite heads up the investigation, but as the deaths start to mount up it’s clear that he, and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran need to uncover a long-buried secret before the killer strikes again…

 

 

I’ve just started the latest Patricia Gibney book and know that I’m going to enjoy it as much as I have all of her others. Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? What did you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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