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New Mexico

**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.

 

**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.

 

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