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**PUBLICATION DAY** Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

I make no apologies by, again, championing this book which has been published today in paperback. I was a huge fan of Rosamund Lupton even before reading Three Hours but this, in my opinion, is her best so far. If you haven’t yet read it, I cannot recommend it highly enough, as the plot is one which will remain with me for a long time.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Children and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

My review can be read here.

**BLOG TOUR** The Last by Hanna Jameson

Historian Jon Keller is on a work trip to Switzerland when the unimaginable happens – nuclear bombs start dropping on the major global cities, signifying the end of the world. Holed up in a hotel with other survivors, Jon has no way of knowing whether his family back in the United States are still alive. Then, the body of a young girl is found at the hotel – one of the residents is a killer. As he investigates, paranoia begins to surface – just who, if anyone, can he trust and is he putting his own life in danger by trying to uncover the truth in a strange new world?

I had heard so many good things about this book so was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to read it as part of the blog tour and was equally pleased to find that it certainly lives up to the hype. I admit that dystopian novels have never been something that have interested me, but I loved the premise of the book and was so glad that I decided to expand my horizons (even if it was the crime element that pulled me towards it!).

One of my favourite books is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, where a group of people being murdered one-by-one realise that the killer is one of their number. It was for this reason that I wanted to read The Last, as there seemed to be echoes of this plot. This was not the case, however, and although there are certainly deaths in the book, I would not say that this is the main focus. Instead what we have is a thought-provoking tale of ‘what ifs’ – especially scary given the instability in the world at the moment. In an age where we are so heavily reliant upon the internet and other media sources, it was easy to imagine the panic of the people at the hotel, not knowing what was happening or whether their loved ones had made it to safety.

I liked the mix of characters and felt that the slow pace of the book gave the author chance to develop them fully. It was fascinating to read how personalities changed and that, faced with such extreme circumstances, some people stepped up to take control whilst others were keen to survive at all costs, no matter who they hurt in the process. There were some genuinely tense moments when they left the confinement of the hotel in search of supplies, not knowing if there were other survivors out there and whether they would make it back alive.

The Last is a very tense, claustrophobic read and one that certainly makes you question what you would do should you be faced with that situation. It is a very clever book that grabs your attention and holds onto it until the very last page. This looks like being one of the books of the year and one that could be easily be imagined as a TV mini-series. Highly recommended.

With thanks to Emily Burns at Brand Hive and Viking / Penguin for giving me the opportunity to review The Last.

 

 

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.

 

 

The Intruder by P. S. Hogan

William Heming is a trusted estate agent who has dealt with numerous house sales over the years. Each house he’s sold, however, he keeps a copy of the key and sometimes he visits them again. Waiting until the owners are out, he lets himself in and makes himself at home. He prides himself on the few times he’s nearly been caught but what will happen if he is ever found out? What will he do to stop his pastime from being uncovered?

If you live in a house that has once been owned by someone else, by the end of this book, you’ll be seriously considering having the locks changed! William Heming is your worst nightmare – an enemy you didn’t know you had! Hiding in plain sight, he visits your house, eats your food, sits on your sofa, looks through your most personal items… Definitely creepy!

The story is narrated by Heming and we first encounter him doing what could almost be described as a good turn for an elderly woman. This definitely lulled me into a false sense of security as I felt that he didn’t seem a bad character. How wrong I was! We first get an insight into his psychopathic tendencies when he discusses his early life. My opinion of him soon changed as he spoke about his misdemeanors, not showing an ounce of remorse for what he did. This attitude continued into his adult life as his crimes became more and more extreme, using his position as an estate agent as cover. As a result, I found myself disliking him more and more as the book progressed and willed him to get his comeuppance. You will have to read the book yourself, though, to see if this happens!

The Intruder is an intense, claustrophobic book with a detestable narrator but a compelling read nonetheless! Just keep looking over your shoulder…

With thanks to Rosie Margesson and Penguin Random House for my ARC.

The Text by Claire Douglas

Refused time off work for a girls’ weekend in Edinburgh, Emily Latimer is furious with her boss, Andrew. Angrily firing off a text to her boyfriend, she is horrified when she realises she has sent it to her whole office by mistake. To complicate matters even further, Andrew is murdered and Emily is the prime suspect when it is revealed that her text wished him dead. Adamant that the text contained a typo, can Emily prove her innocence?

I have read two of Claire Douglas’s previous books (Last Seen Alive and Local Girl Missing) and loved them so was pleased to see that she had written a short story. The idea behind the book is a good one and is something that many people can relate to – who hasn’t sent a text with a typo? Hopefully, though, it never resulted in a dead body being found!

This is a very short story – only 40 pages long – and as a result, it appears rushed, especially when the murderer is revealed. I was expecting a little more than a full confession from the killer. I liked Emily’s character and feel that, if this book was slightly longer, more could have been made of the relationship between her and her boyfriend as this ends up playing a fairly big role in the plot.

If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, then this is not the book for you, but if you’re after a quick, free, easy to read mystery, then this could be what you want! It can currently be downloaded from Amazon for free.

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

51gh4mWIeqLFifteen years ago, something happened to change the lives of three young girls. Kitty, now brain damaged, lives in a care home, frustrated that no one can hear her thoughts; Alison, now an art teacher, looks fine on the surface but is harbouring a secret she hopes will never come to light, and Vanessa, well Vanessa has paid the ultimate price… Someone is not content with letting the past stay in the past, however, and wants revenge.

Blood Sisters is told from the perspectives of two half-sisters, Alison and Kitty, over two time frames – 2001 and 2016. From an early age, Kitty was the ‘chosen’ one, favoured by her parents and closer to her friend, Vanessa, than her own half-sister. In the sections of the book set in 2001, it was hard to find any redeeming qualities in the spoilt Kitty whereas my sympathies lay firmly with Alison, the academic child who longed for the love of her mother once again. By 2016, however, my feelings towards Kitty had completely shifted and I felt the pain of a young woman who was desperate for a ‘normal’ life that didn’t involve wearing a crash helmet to keep her brain together and yearned for a voice that could be understood.

Although Alison appeared to have the ‘normal’ life that Kitty longed for, it was obvious that she was a very damaged woman due to the events of her past and taking a job as artist-in-residence at an open prison was never going to end well. It is fair to say that you have to suspend reality a fair bit as there are numerous coincidences that happen to Alison, but these events are essential in telling the story.

There are numerous plot twists throughout the book which kept me on my toes as I wondered which way it would turn next. This culminated in a final twist that I did not see coming – changing my opinion of one of the characters completely!

I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Sisters, reading it in a couple of sittings. Highly recommended!

With thanks to Penguin and Goodreads for the ARC.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

Out of the blue, Francesca Howe receives a phone call. It’s the call she has dreaded for so long: the body of her best friend, Sophie Collier, has been found. Last seen nearly twenty years previously, the only clue was a trainer that had been left behind on an old pier. Convinced that someone knows more than they are saying, Sophie’s brother, Daniel, summons Francesca (or ‘Frankie’ as she was known when she was younger) back to the seaside town where it all happened to assist with his enquiries. Soon, though, as ghosts from the past emerge, she wishes she had stayed away. Someone out there knows something, but will it be at the expense of another life?

Having one of the main characters die in the first chapter is certainly one way of drawing you into the book! From the outset, it is obvious that there is much more to the story than a simple ‘whodunnit’ and the further Frankie and Daniel probe, even more secrets from the past threaten to rise to the surface. Just who is sending Frankie threatening notes and what secret are they referring to?

The story is told from the point of view of the two main protagonists. With Frankie, of couse, we explore the investigation being undertaken by herself and Daniel and also find out about her life at the time Sophie went missing. Sophie’s story is told in a series of diary entries which contain clues (and red herrings) about what exactly happened to her. The character of Sophie is that of a tragic young woman who has gone through so much in her short life whereas Frankie is the girl who appears to have it all. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and it is definitely a case of no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.

The book contains numerous twists and turns and the ending was not one I saw coming. There was one aspect of the plot that I had figured out but even that wasn’t fully! I had one issue with the ending but, thankfully, the epilogue contained at the end explained my concern.

In Local Girl Missing, Claire Douglas has succeeded in creating an edge of your seat thriller with a satisfying ending. Well, I say  ‘satisfying’, there still could be another incident waiting to be played out…

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for the copy of the book.

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