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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.

Killing Mind by Angela Marsons

When the body of a young woman is found with her throat cut and a knife in her hand and no evidence of forced entry into her flat, D I Kim Stone agrees with the initial findings – Samantha Brown has committed suicide. After visiting her family to give them the awful news, however, something doesn’t sit right and another look at the body confirms the worst – she was murdered. When a second body is found, also with his throat cut, it is not long before a link is made to a commune called Unity Farm as both murdered people were known to have spent some time there. With the commune residents refusing to speak and with no actual evidence that would enable her to get a search warrant, Kim knows that she must send in one of her team undercover, putting them in a potentially dangerous situation.

As soon as I pick up one of Angela Marson’s Kim Stone books, I know that I am in for a treat and Killing Mind is no exception. Over the years, I have almost come to regard Kim and her team as real people as I feel I know them so well, and it is the strength of the characters that makes this series so readable. I like how Angela takes her time to bed in new characters, giving you a chance to get to know them, first with Penn and now with Tiffany, or ‘Tink’ as Kim prefers to call her. Tink plays a huge part in this book and, after getting to know her in a previous installment, I was totally invested in her involvement in the case, hoping that no harm would come to her.

I found the setting of the book – inside a cult – fascinating and although on the surface, Unity Farm seemed almost like a countryside retreat, a place to get away from the problems engulfing your life, it was scary to see how these people target the vulnerable, manipulating them until they have a very skewed view of reality. As Kim and her team discover more about the history of Unity Farm, I began to fear for the safety of her undercover officer, not just in case their identity discovered, but also in case they found themselves sucked in to the cult’s ideals. This provided numerous heart-in-the-mouth moments as danger seemed to lurk around every corner.

The second plot in the book is also a good talking point. Bryant becomes aware that a killer is about to be released from prison, a killer who has haunted the detective ever since he was a young constable due to him being one of the first on the scene of the brutal rape and murder of a young girl. Convinced that he will kill again, Bryant believes that he should remain incarcerated to prevent another death. I really enjoyed this plot, and fully understood the detective’s obsession with the killer.

Killing Mind is another unbelievably entertaining book by Angela Marsons, one that had me gripped throughout and had me reluctant to put it down. Surely it’s about time we saw Kim Stone on the small screen?

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC.

Take a look at the rest of my reviews for the Kim Stone 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

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

Today, I am pleased to start off the blog tour for The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin, the claustrophobic tale of an impressionable young woman who has been drawn into a cult. My review can be found here, but I am really happy to share an extract with you!

The Blurb

Caitlin never meant to stay so long. But it’s strange how this place warps time. Out here, in the middle of nowhere, it’s easy to forget about the world outside.

It all happened so fast. She was lonely, broke, about to give up. Then she met Jake and he took her to his ‘family’: a close-knit community living by the lake. Each day she says she’ll leave but each night she’s back around their campfire. Staring into the flames. Reciting in chorus that she is nothing without them.

But something inside her won’t let go. A whisper that knows this isn’t right. Knows there is danger lurking in that quiet room down by the lake…

New York, new start, New York, new start, I repeat to myself like a slogan as the 1 train screeches hard around a bend. It’s not rush hour but the subway is still full, horizontal sardines packed together from Penn Station onwards, and I wonder whether anyone on board can tell that I have no destination. Here for the ride.

I stay on until the very last stop, watching the carriage grow gradually empty, and at Van Cortlandt Park I cross over the platform and wait for a train back downtown. A roundtrip, one end of the line to the other. And why not? The subway is soothing, the 123 line in particular because it has electronic screens listing when the next train is coming, and I like my environment to be predictable. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tackle the 2 train, all the way from the Bronx down to the farthest reaches of Brooklyn, its distance mind-boggling even when scaled down to fit onto an MTA map. The subway is cheap, after all, and I’m broke.

The platform is deserted, and it strikes me I’m a very long way from anywhere. This is the Bronx, unchartered territory for a tourist, and though my surroundings look leafy and harmless maybe going to the end of the line was a bad idea. Maybe something will happen to me here.

I know that in thinking this I’m only echoing my cab driver from JFK, who whiled away the drive with ominous nuggets like ‘girl like you should watch your back in the city’ and ‘whatever you do, don’t go east of Prospect Park’ and ‘nothing good happens past a hundred and tenth’. Right before he forced me to write down his number and told me to call him if I got lonely.

Nothing happens to me in the Bronx. Nothing happens to me on the train back downtown, and when I finally emerge at South Ferry I feel deflated, robbed of the false purpose that roundtrip gave me.

I need a job. After putting it off for as long as I could, this morning I finally sat down cross-legged on my hotel quilt and counted my remaining cash, crumpled dollar bills laid out corner-to-corner like a bleak mosaic. Adding up the cash with the figure on the ATM receipt, I have enough to get me through another two weeks, if I eat only two meals a day and don’t run up any more $60 tabs in moments of ostentatious desperation. I spent last night in a sparse midtown bar, the kind of place that seems sleek and empty even at its most crowded, feeling like this was the thing to do as a single girl alone in New York. Getting steadily more drunk, half-hoping that one of the sharp-suited Wall Street types would make a move, half-terrified of the same.

If one of them did buy me a drink and take me back to a high-rise apartment that feels closer to cloud than ground, the kind that envelops you in space and silence, I could stay the night and maybe stay forever, and my memory of home would fade like the street noise below, just faint enough to be soothing.

But nobody approached me, and I wandered back to my no-frills solo-traveller-friendly hotel at the very tip of downtown Manhattan, and watched Good Will Hunting on Netflix until I fell into five hours of twitchy sleep.

And now I have a stack of CVs and a head full of caffeine, and I’m trying to get a job against the odds. I have thought none of this through.

‘You Australian?’ the barista asks. She’s chubby in that uniquely wholesome, self-confident American way, the kind of girl who could say ‘There’s just more of me to love,’ with a straight face. She wears a name badge that tells me she’s Marcie.

‘English,’ I answer. People always guess Australian. My accent morphs involuntarily when I’m in America, probably betraying my desperation to belong.

‘Cool. We’re actually not hiring right now, they just made cutbacks.’

‘Oh. Sorry.’

‘Yeah,’ Marcie shrugs. ‘But I’m still here, so.’

 

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

With thanks to Clare Gordon and Head of Zeus for arranging the blog tour.

Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan

51VFfTURZKL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_When Sophia returns to her family home, she is not prepared for the sight that greets her. In the garden, she finds her mother hanging from a tree and her father, close to death in a pool of blood. As far as the police are concerned, it is an open and shut case of attempted murder-suicide but Sophia is not convinced. When a few strange things start to happen, she begins to feel that there is someone watching her, leaving her to wonder just exactly what the circumstances are behind this terrible tragedy.

I loved Helen Callaghan’s previous book, Dear Amy, so was thrilled to have the opportunity to read Everything is Lies pre-publication. I was expecting something in a similar vein for the follow-up but Everything is Lies is completely different to what I was expecting although equally gripping. From the blurb, I envisaged a whodunnit with intrigue but from the moment we are introduced to the notebooks left by Sophia’s mum, detailing her younger life spent in an infamous cult, I knew that this story was going to go in a completely different direction.

At first, I was not totally enamoured with the notebook sections as I was desperate to know more about the investigation into the death of Sophia’s mum. I was soon drawn in, however, after realising that these notebooks would give the background knowledge to understand exactly what had occurred. I could imagine how difficult it was for Sophia, trying to visualise her quiet, neurotic mum as this free-willed young woman as portrayed in the notebooks. I think that deep down, Nina (Sophia’s mum) knew that there was more to this cult than met the eye, but the draw and excitement was too much for her to walk away from, even when the alarm bells began to ring for her.

The cult scenes were well-written, Helen Callaghan showing how easy it is for an impressionable young woman to be swept along with the whole situation. From the outside, looking in, it was apparent how self-centred and obnoxious the cult leader was, and I was willing Nina to come to her senses before tragedy struck. The other members of the cult were equally unlikeable but, in spite of this, the author manages to keep you reading, wanting to know more.

In the present day, as well as trying to find out the true cause of her mother’s death, Sophia is struggling with her own personal and work life after several incidents at the firm where she works. When her work appeared to be sabotaged, this added to the general unease she was already feeling. Was it related to her aborted assignation with a colleague or is it linked to the notebooks that her mother was seeking to publish? I got to the point where the only person I felt I could trust was Sophia herself as I tried to figure out exactly who was to blame for the numerous mysterious occurrences.

As the book progressed, I did have an inkling as to what the outcome would be with regards to one part of the plot and I was pleased to find I’d worked it out! My theory helped to add to the general unease I felt throughout the book as Helen Callaghan delivered more and more intriguing problems. Everything is Lies is definitely one to be watching out for in 2018!

With thanks to Penguin UK -Michael Joseph and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

***BLOG TOUR*** The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

I am pleased to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Emma Dibdin’s debut, The Room by the Lake.

Tired with life in London after the death of her mother and dealing with an alcoholic father, Caitlin moves to New York where she hopes her problems will become something of the past. With her money quickly dwindling and feelings of loneliness appearing, her life seems to be looking up when she meets Jake, a handsome man who lives in a commune in the woods. With their emphasis on group therapy, healthy eating and exercise, this looks exactly like the sort of escape Caitlin needs. She soon realises, though, that there is more to this lifestyle than meets the eye and finding her way back out may not be as easy as she thinks.

From the start of the book, I had great sympathy for Caitlin and could understand why she felt the need to escape from her life. Underestimating how lonely it can be in a big city, however, was certainly her downfall and it was easy to see how she became smitten with Jake, the good-looking stranger who went out of his way to make her feel wanted. As the reader, alarm bells were immediately ringing when he suggested she go to meet his family in an isolated house in the woods and it was good to see how Caitlin had the same reservations, her feelings towards Jake suppressing these thoughts however.

Considering that the majority of the book takes place in a vast forest, Emma Dibdin has succeeded in creating a tense, claustrophobic setting with an air of foreboding. It is not really a spoiler to say that the commune Caitlin finds herself part of is not exactly what it seems but the author has done a fantastic job in skewing reality to the point that, even as the reader, you do not know what is real and what is in Caitlin’s head. There were several occasions when Caitlin was having doubts and I was willing her to trust her instincts and get out of there as fast as she could but such is the quality of the brainwashing that she never acted on her thoughts.

I admit that this is not the sort of book that would usually grab my attention, but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read it as it was a fast-paced, easy read filled with tension. This is a great debut and I look forward to reading more of Emma Dibdin’s work.

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

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

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