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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.

My Eagerly Anticipated Books of 2020

I’m pleased to say that the books I was most looking forward to in 2019 were all I hoped them to be. This year, as always, I will be hoping for new books from Patricia Gibney, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Angela Marsons, Steve Robinson and David Jackson amongst others. Here are the books I am looking forward to in 2020 which already have publication dates:

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus on 6th February 2020

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?

 

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus on 1st October 2010

PS: Thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…
And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…
And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

 

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Published by Orion on 23rd July 2020

Two sisters on trial for murder. Both accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

Alexandra Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife.

Sofia Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom.

Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury.

But one of these women is lying. One of them is a murderer. Sitting in a jail cell, about to go on trial with her sister for murder, you might think that this is the last place she expected to be.

You’d be wrong.

 

Buried by Lynda La Plante

Published by Zaffre on 2nd April 2020

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.

Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

 

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

Published by Sphere on 20th October 2020

A DETECTIVE IN FREE FALL
After solving an all-too-personal case that almost cost her everything, Kate Marshall is struggling. And when she discovers two disembowelled bodies floating in a local reservoir, things go from bad to worse.

UNTIL SOMEONE MAKES HER AN OFFER TOO GOOD TO REFUSE
But Kate is given a chance to get her life back on track when she is asked to solve a decades-old mystery. The Shadow Sands reservoir was plagued by gruesome deaths for years, and now the murders have started again.

NOW, SHE’S BACK ON THE HUNT FOR A LEGENDARY KILLER
Kate and her assistant Tristan are dragged into a shady world of family secrets, deadly legends and grisly murders. It’s a case that throws up more questions than answers, and someone is desperate to keep the truth buried at any cost. The clock is ticking and Kate must delve deep into the past if she wants to stop more victims turning up dead at Shadow Sands.

 

The Body in the Snow by Nick Louth

Published by Canelo on 31st January 2020

A young detective is out for a jog on a snowy winter morning. Then she sees something terrible: a murder in the park, sudden and inexplicable. A woman has been killed by a passing hooded cyclist.

It’s just DCI Craig Gillard’s luck that he’s on duty. The body is that of Tanvi Roy, one of the richest women in Britain and matriarch of a food empire. With a tangled web of family and business contacts and jealousies, Gillard’s job just got even more complex.

As he delves deeper into the Roy family, it’s clear that everything is not as it seems. As the investigation threatens to unravel, Gillard realises it’s only the beginning of his problems. Trouble of a different sort is brewing close to home…

 

Are you looking forward to reading any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

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.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

51mCV12k+uL__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Receiving a Facebook friend request from a girl she knew at school should have made Louise Williams happy, but there was one major problem: Maria Weston has been dead for over twenty years. Knowing that she was partly to blame for the girl’s disappearance at a school leavers’ party, Louise is forced to make contact with people from her past as she tries to discover just who is behind the Facebook account. When a school reunion is organised, and another school friend’s body is discovered in the woods by her old school, Louise knows that she cannot trust anyone in her quest to find out exactly what happened to Maria.

I opted to read Friend Request after seeing so many positive reviews from fellow bloggers and I am so pleased that I did. Switching between the years 2016 and 1989, we first meet Louise as the divorced mother of a young boy before learning about her formative years at Sharne Bay High School. It is obvious that Louise has changed a lot in the intervening years, largely down to the incident involving Maria Weston. Bullying plays a pivotal role in the plot and although Maria was the target, I did have a lot of sympathy for Louise as she struggled to be accepted by the ‘cool kids’ whilst maintaining friendships outside of that clique. It is interesting to think that these events happened before the advent of social media and dread to think what would have happened to Maria if it had existed in 1989.

Throughout the book, Louise becomes more and more isolated as she doesn’t know who she can trust, suspicion being cast everywhere. This made for a tense read, especially when ‘Maria’ ups her game and makes it obvious that Louise is firmly in her sights. I liked the fact that there were several examples of misdirection so that you didn’t know which incidents were down to ‘Maria’ and which had a perfectly logical explanation.

The author’s characterisation is very authentic, especially when writing about the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl at secondary school. I’m sure everyone reading could relate some of the characters to people they knew during their own education.

For a debut novel, this is an excellent story which is well-written, pacy and gripping. I look forward to reading more of Laura Marshall’s work.

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

 

The Domino Killer by Neil White

imageThe murder of a man, found beaten to death at a Manchester park, looks like it will be solved quickly by Detective Constable Sam Parker and the rest of the investigating team. Of course, nothing is what it seems, and when the victim’s fingerprints are found on a knife from another crime scene, it looks as though there is something even more sinister afoot. Across the city, Sam’s brother, Joe, a criminal defence lawyer has come face to face with a man he has waited years to see again. A man who threatens to tear apart everything he has worked for…

It was only when I began reading that I realised that this was the third book in a series featuring the brothers. This always fills me with slight trepidation – what if I don’t understand what is happening due to not having read the previous two novels? Thankfully, I am happy to say that being a newcomer to the series was not a hindrance as, even though previous events are referred to, it did not spoil my understanding of the story. I particularly liked the fact that there is not too much given away in the blurb as this made much of the plot an unexpected surprise.

I found that I really liked the two lead characters as they seemed very real as they battled with their consciences about doing the right thing. As a stark contrast, the man they are trying to convict, Mark Proctor, is a thoroughly nasty piece of work who you desperately hope justice finally catches up with.

The plot is, at times, quite intricate, and it was because of this that I started to question the killings – I think all of the crime books I have read over the years have given me the skills I need to be a detective! I did, therefore, suspect something quite early on in the book and was happy to be right! I won’t divulge what it was, as it would spoil the ending!

This is an excellent, exciting, fast-paced book and one that really makes you think about the plot as it is unfolding. I am now looking forward to reading the first two books in the series!

With thanks to Net Galley and Little Brown Book Group UK for the arc.

 

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

51qMqw4BKtL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_I received this book from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

When three-year-old identical twin, Coco Jackson, disappears during her father’s birthday celebrations, it soon becomes apparent that there is more to this story than meets the eye. Due to the calibre of guest at the party and her father’s wealth, there is soon intense scrutiny on all the family as the whereabouts of Coco are investigated.

The story is told in two timeframes – the weekend Coco goes missing and twelve years later at the funeral of her father, Sean. Funerals are always an occasion when family and friends reunite and this one is no exception. The only difference is that soon ‘The Darkest Secret’ will be revealed…

Alex Marwood writes the characters in such a way that you take an immediate dislike to most of them and you just know that one or more have to be involved in some shape or form. There are a few exceptions, however, and the story of Claire, Coco’s mother, is a particularly sad one as we see how the events of twelve years ago have changed her completely. The blossoming relationship between Ruby (Coco’s twin) and Mila, Sean’s daughter from a previous marriage, is another highlight as we see how people are drawn together through tragedy.

Although it is easy to predict quite early on what has happened to Coco, this does not detract from the brilliance of the story as the relationships between the characters is what makes this book so intriguing. There is, however, a slight twist which provided a very satisfying end.

Highly recommended and definitely worthy of a five star rating.

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