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Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

When former detective Kate Marshall discovers the body of a young man in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the cause of death of determined as a tragic accident. His mum is not so sure. A strong swimmer, fully aware of the risks, why would he choose to swim in such a dangerous place late at night, fully clothed? Managing to convince her that foul play is involved, Kate and her research assistant Tristan Harper take a closer look and are soon convinced that the boy has been murdered and that this is not the killer’s first victim. When another woman is taken, can Kate discover the truth before she too suffers the same fate?

A year after being introduced to Kate Marshall in Nine Elms, she is back with a bang. After being completely hooked by the first few chapters in the previous book, I couldn’t wait to read the sequel, putting it on my most anticipated books of 2020 list. I am so pleased to report that Shadow Sands is another outstanding read and deserves to be a huge hit for Robert Bryndza.

Although this could be read as a standalone, I would recommend that you read the previous book as some serious spoilers are revealed in this one. In Shadow Sands we see the development of the characters we have previously met and , in particular, we discover more about Tristan and what makes him tick. It was a clever move to use the missing woman to introduce us to his personal life and I enjoyed reading the difference in reactions between his sister and Kate when he makes his revelation. I love the relationship between the two main characters and how they trust each other implicitly, their skills complementing each other perfectly.

The plot is an engaging one and moves on at a good pace. What starts off as the discovery of a body deemed the result of an accidental death soon becomes a much bigger investigation when Kate realises that there is more to the local urban legends – what if there are more undiscovered bodies in the reservoir? The danger Kate and Tristan find themselves in is nothing compared to the horrors faced by the missing woman. Her experiences at the hands of her captor were horrific and I think I found the thought of them standing watching her whilst wearing night vision goggles the most disturbing part. The resilience shown by the woman, however, was nothing short of amazing and I willed her to get through her ordeal alive.

This is shaping up to be a fantastic series and I can’t wait to see where Robert Bryndza takes Kate and Tristan next.

With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere and Net Galley.

Before He Kills Again by Margaret Murphy

54454703._SY475_There is a predator stalking the streets of Liverpool, abducting women and making them endure the most unimaginable horrors. The hunt for the man known as The Furman has become personal for Detective Cassie Rowan after an undercover operation fails, leaving him free to continue his reign of terror. Unfortunately for Cassie, he knows who she is and soon he has his sights set on her…

This is the first in a new series to feature DC Cassie Rowan and after reading this, she is definitely a detective I will be getting to know better. A strong character with a mind of her own, she feels let down, at times, by her colleagues who think that she is not always a team player. I did not see her like this, however, feeling that she had such empathy for the victims of these heinous crimes that she would do anything to bring this man to justice. I admired her ability to work such long hours whilst acting in loco parentis to her younger brother after the death of her parents.

The perpetrator is a particularly horrible one, but for those who do not like reading anything too gruesome there is no need to worry as the author does not go into graphic detail. The setting helps to create an atmospheric backdrop to the plot, the fog adding to the tension as The Furman stalks the streets of Liverpool, looking for his next prey. If, like me, you are very familiar with the locations mentioned in the book, this also adds another air of menace – moreso if you find yourself at the scene of one of the abductions early in the morning like I did a few days ago!

The thing I most enjoyed about Before He Kills Again was the sudden plot twist which, although unexpected, made complete sense, the clues having been there throughout the book. This was where we really saw Cassie coming into her own and I admired her tenacity in following her own instincts even if this did mean putting herself into danger!

Before He Kills Again  is a great start to a new series and I look forward to seeing where Margaret Murphy takes Cassie next.

With thanks to Joffe Books and Net Galley for my copy.

 

The Resident by David Jackson

Serial killer Thomas Brogan is on the run from the police. With nowhere to turn, all appears lost until he chances upon a row of terraced houses, one of them being boarded up. After breaking in, he discovers gaps in the attic walls, giving him access to three other houses without ever having to go outside. Brogan likes playing games, and his unusual vantage point gives him the opportunity to spy on his new neighbours, discovering their secrets and allowing him to play the most twisted games he’s ever played…

As a huge fan of David Jackson’s Nathan Cody series, I couldn’t wait to read his next book and was intrigued to find that it would be a standalone. With hindsight, reading this in a room containing an attic hatch probably wasn’t my smartest move, although I was relieved that I have a lock to prevent this sort of activity happening!

Thomas Brogan is a very strong leading character and although the killer is incredibly frightening, David Jackson has done a good job in showing us his vulnerable side, helping us to understand why he is the way he is. As the book progressed, I found myself having sympathy for him, but never to the point where I wanted him to get away with his crimes! We see Brogan wrestling with his conflicting personalities and I thought that these conversations that he had with himself were a good way of moving the story on without having to introduce another character.

Although Brogan clearly knew how he wanted his games to end, he definitely enjoyed the build up and, again, we got to see the different sides of his personality. I particularly enjoyed his interactions with Elsie, and I grew fond of this old woman who found a new lease of life due to her time with the killer.

The Resident is one of those rare books that while containing some chilling scenes, manages to retain plenty of dark humour, making me laugh many times as I pictured the scenes the author described so well. David Jackson definitely has a hit on his hands with this one!

With thanks to Viper and Net Galley for my copy.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Dead Tell Lies by J F Kirwan

A serial killer nicknamed The Divine has already killed six teenage girls and is about to kill a seventh. Managing to find his location, criminal psychologist Greg Adams joins a raid, helping to capture the sadistic killer and saving the girl. Ecstasy soon turns to agony, however, when, Greg discovers that his own wife has been brutally slain by another killer, The Dreamer.

A year later, unable to find the man who killed his wife, Greg’s life has taken a turn for the worse. With no job and a loaded gun ready to play Russian Roulette, he is stopped in his tracks by a phone call informing him that The Dreamer is dead and that he wasn’t the one who killed his wife. With renewed vigour, Greg returns to Scotland Yard, assisting in a re-examination of the case. If it wasn’t The Dreamer who killed his wife, then who was it? Greg soon finds himself revisiting the cases of his past, coming face to face with an adversary with a score to settle…

From the very first chapter, when we are introduced to Greg’s work as a criminal psychologist specialising in serial killers, I was hooked. By starting the book with a police raid, I was drawn straight into the action, and I loved how we were thrown a huge curve ball right from the beginning, setting the tone for what was to come.

I have read many books containing serial killers but I think that in The Dead Tell Lies, the author has managed to do something a bit different with this genre, mainly due to the lead character. By having the main protagonist as someone who has worked on several serial killer cases, these cases now impacting upon the present, we get the opportunity to explore each of these murderers and their modus operandi. I particularly liked how some of these killers were dead and some were in prison, leading Greg to wonder who exactly it was that was pulling the strings.

If you are a fan of serial killer fiction, then The Dead Tell Lies is a fast-paced read that you can really sink your teeth into.  Greg is a great character and there is definitely scope for him to return in future books so I hope that this is something that the author is considering.

Highly recommended

With thanks to Bloodhound Books and Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources.

Purchase Links 

UK  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Tell-Lies-absolutely-gripping-ebook/dp/B08CMXWF1X

US – https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Tell-Lies-absolutely-gripping-ebook/dp/B08CMXWF1X

**COVER REVEAL** Knock Knock by Chris Merritt

I love a good crime series, and I’m really pleased to be able to share the cover of a new series from Chris Merritt. Knock Knock, the first in the Detective Dan Lockhart series looks right up my street!

The Blurb

Natasha Mayston wasn’t expecting anyone to knock on her door so late at night and she has no idea that the face staring back at her is the last one she’ll ever see…

 As Detective Dan Lockhart is called to a wealthy London street to investigate Natasha’s death, he’s startled by the similarity to another case. Noticing the cable-tie restraints and the tiny scratches on Natasha’s wedding finger, Dan already knows what he will find if he looks in her throat – the small metal ball which choked her to death. He knows for sure that this isn’t the killer’s first victim and that he will strike again.

Months earlier, Kim Hardy was found in the same position in a hotel across the city – the same cable ties around her wrists, lacerations on her left hand and the same silver ball in her throat. But Kim’s murderer was caught and sent to prison – did they arrest the wrong man? Fearing that he’s dealing with a serial killer, Dan calls in psychologist Lexi Green to help with the case.

Then another body is discovered just days later, just as Lexi finds a clue online leading to the killer. Dan and his team aren’t convinced she’s found the right man, but Lexi reaches out to the suspect, putting herself in unthinkable danger. Dan thinks he knows who’s next on the killer’s list. But can he reach her before it’s too late?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Cara Hunter will love this thrilling new series from Chris Merritt. From an explosive start to a heart-stopping finale, you will not want to put this book down!

The Cover

About the Author

Hello! I’m a British author whose crime thrillers combine psychology, suspense, and characters you care about.

All my novels are set in London, where I live. My first trilogy starred Zac Boateng and Kat Jones, two detectives motivated by family, who tackle organised crime and police corruption. LAST WITNESS, the second Boateng and Jones book, reached #13 in the UK Kindle chart in 2019.

My second series features detective Dan Lockhart – an ex-soldier with a missing wife – and psychologist Dr Lexi Green, an American living in London. These novels are darker, more psychological serial-killer cases, with romantic relationships as a central theme.

I began writing fiction in 2014, after previous careers as a diplomat, based in Iraq and Jerusalem, and later as a psychologist working with victims and perpetrators of crime. I specialised in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which sparked my interest in telling stories about how people cope when faced with extreme adversity.

Now, I spend most of my time writing novels and drinking coffee while *thinking* about writing novels. When I’m not writing, I love climbing and playing basketball.

You can find out more about my work at www.cjmerritt.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @DrCJMerrit

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

After catching the notorious serial killer, The Nine Elms Cannibal, Kate Marshall saw her police career take a nosedive due to the circumstances surrounding the case. Now, fifteen years later, still traumatized by her past and working as a lecturer in a coastal university, the case is brought to the fore once again. A copycat killer seems to be emulating the murderer’s work, and Kate, along with her research assistant Tristan Harper, is drawn into the investigation. Fifteen years ago, however, Kate was the intended next victim – will the copycat be able to finish what the Nine Elms Cannibal started?

Well, there’s nothing like throwing in a curveball at the start of a book, and there are a few huge ‘gasp’ moments within the first 10% of Nine Elms. This was an incredibly clever start to the book and made sure that I was hooked right from the off. I would be surprised if anybody saw this early twist coming, and it definitely made me want to read what happened next!

Due to her experiences, Kate is a complex character, battling her demons every day. I admired her tenacity, however, when she put aside what had happened in the past to help locate a missing girl, thought to be an early victim of the Nine Elms killer. This was not an easy thing for her to do as it was sure to stir up unpleasant memories from the past. I enjoyed her, almost motherly, relationship with Tristan, and look forward to seeing how their private investigation sideline develops in subsequent books.

Although the book is named after the original serial killer, the main focus throughout the book is on the copycat, and what a truly horrific person he is! This is someone with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and his actions constantly made my skin crawl. His depravity was echoed in the original killer and several revelations about him made me feel quite ill!

I don’t want to say too much about Nine Elms, as I feel that this should be one of those books where it is best going in completely blind. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster series, then you are going to be completely blown away by this. Nine Elms is a superbly-written, chilling start to a new series and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK and Net Galley for my copy.

**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.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney

When the body of a woman is found hanging in her home, wearing a wedding dress, it is initially thought that it is a case of suicide. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when a second woman is found dead, also wearing a wedding dress. This is too much of a coincidence for D I Lottie Parker, who immediately starts to look for evidence of foul play. When it is revealed that one of the women had a young daughter who has seemingly gone missing, it becomes a race against time to catch the perpetrator before more bodies are discovered.

It is hard to believe that Broken Souls is the seventh book in the Lottie Parker series, the first book, The Missing Onesonly being published in 2017. In this short time, we have seen Lottie grow as a character, dealing with the grief of her lost husband and now contemplating marriage to one of her colleagues. Her family is as dysfunctional as ever, with the added bonus of her half-brother, Leo, disrupting the equilibrium even further! After events in previous books, I was pleased to see Lottie’s family taking more of a back seat in this one – there is only so much trauma one family can take!

With there being two deaths near the beginning of the book, and a lot of characters introduced,  I initially struggled to remember who everybody was. As the book progressed, however, and the cases began to intertwine, I developed more of an understanding of each character and how they were connected to the dead women. The setting, a place where everyone seemed to know everybody else, helped to muddy the waters when trying to find the culprit as there were so many shifty characters! A few hints were dropped throughout the book, but I did not predict the outcome at all.

As this is now the seventh book, I feel that I have come to know the characters really well and so I was left reeling at the revelation at the end of this installment. There is a genuine, ‘”Noooo!” moment in the final pages, and I really hope that Patricia Gibney resolves this issue in a pleasing way! To find out what it is, you will just have to read the book!

If you have never read the Lottie Parker series, then I cannot recommend it enough. With great plots and characters, Broken Souls is a great addition to an already brilliant set of books.

With thanks to Bookouture & Net Galley and to Sarah Hardy for organising the blog tour.

 

The Six by Luca Veste

Six friends, marriage and babies on the horizon, decide to spend a few days revisiting their youth by attending a 90s music festival. The atmosphere of a great few days takes a macabre twist, however, when somebody dies. Knowing that their life will never be the same, the six make a pact never to speak about what happened the night that they buried the body. Now, though, a year later, somebody seems to know what happened and the killing has started again…

I’m a big fan of Luca Veste’s Murphy and Rossi series and really enjoyed his standalone The Bone Keeper, so The Six was a book I had been looking forward to for a while. As the majority of serial killer plots tend to be police procedurals, I was also interested to read one from a different angle. Told from the perspective of Matt, one of the six, we immediately get an inside view of what is going on, his fears and neuroses showing us how greatly the death and subsequent events have affected his life.

Told in the present day and also in flashbacks to their time at school and university, The Six transports you straight back to the 90s, Luca Veste nailing the musical references, providing me with a pleasing nostalgia trip! I did smile at the Britney Spears reference, knowing the author’s penchant for “…Baby One More Time” thanks to his work with The Fun Lovin’ Crimewriters! The flashbacks provide a perfect insight into the pasts of some of the characters, helping us to understand the present-day friendships and also giving hints as to what really happened at that music festival.

From the start, I had convinced myself that I knew where the plot was going to go, only to find my theory actually discussed by one of the characters! This definitely took the wind out of my sails and made me even more desperate to find out what was happening. I was happy with how the story culminated, if a little shocked!

I have purposely avoided talking too much about the plot as I feel that this is a book where you will get more enjoyment by going in completely blind. All I will say is that if you enjoy a creepy serial killer plot that will have you listening out for strange noises at night, then The Six is the book for you!

With thanks to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster for my ARC.

Take a look at my reviews for other books by Luca Veste:

Bloodstream

It Never Leaves You

Then She Was Gone

The Bone Keeper

 

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