Beware the Past by Joy Ellis

beware the past

With Beware the Past, I am once again back on the Lincolnshire Fens, a place that sounds beautiful but is also dangerous and deadly.  Here, the dead are three young boys, killed almost 30 years ago.  Their murderer is the one that “got away” from Detective Matt Ballard, a veteran officer now – much loved and respected by his team – but a rookie back when the bodies were found.  The murders have haunted him ever since.

Now, they are doing more than haunting.  They are becoming reality, as another dead boy is found and Matt’s team begin to receive photos from the first murders that make them think the killer is still alive, kicking, and about to kill again.  This time, though, he seems set on dragging Matt into his deadly game, taunting him with the photos and phone calls and putting though closest to the Detective in danger.

So, as you’ll already know if you read my blog, I am a huge fan of Joy Ellis’ crime series staring Nikki Galena.  I love the setting – also the fens – and the characters – one of whom, the pathologist, appears here.  More though, I love the plots.  They are clever, complex, and always leave me guessing.  All of these apply here in what is a standalone police procedural that kept me turning the pages and on the edge of my seat throughout.

I loved Matt, who was passionate, caring and just a little messed up, and his team – who were all so well drawn that I felt I’d known them for ever.  Each had their own voices, their own personalities and were not afraid of standing up to their boss.  I am really hoping that this might be the start of series as I think it would make a good one.   A great read and highly recommended!

About the book…

A new standalone crime thriller.

Detective Matt Ballard is haunted by one traumatic case he never solved. In the 1990s three boys were murdered in the same area, the remote and bleak Gibbet Fen. When the main suspect was killed in a hit-and-run, the killings stopped. But Matt was never satisfied that the real murderer had been caught.

25 years later, Matt gets a photo in an unmarked envelope. It’s of the Gibbet Fen crime scene. Taken before the murder.

Another killing takes place, with some of the hallmarks of the old case. Has the killer returned or is this just a sick copycat determined to ruin Matt’s life and reputation?

Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Joffe Books
Publication Date: 19th December, 2017
Number of Pages: 369
Rating: 5 / 5

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

marriage pact

The Marriage Pact was not a book that first appealed to me if I’m honest.  In theory it should have been right up my street, a psychological thriller where a young, newly married couple, find themselves in trouble with a group of mysterious, powerful, strangers.  But it also sounded a little silly and I wasn’t sure if I would like it.  Then I read a batch of good reviews and decided to give it a go.

Was it worth it?  Yes, on balance, definitely.  BUT you do need to be able to suspend belief because the story is all a bit silly and far-fetched.  It doesn’t start out that way but – by the end – the situations Jake and Alice find themselves in get increasingly unbelievable.  Perhaps, if they had been in some dystopian future they wouldn’t have been but, for something set in the here and now, I couldn’t quite see it myself.

Saying that though, there was a lot to recommend this book.  Michelle Richmond sets a great scene and managed to draw me in enough at the beginning that I found myself turning pages till the very end, staying up late into the night to finish the book, despite my not quite falling for the plot.  The central characters, Jake and Alice were a big part of that – they were complex and complicated and, as everything was told from Jake’s point of view, I could never be quite sure who Alice was and what she was thinking; this mean the final twist at the end did have me guessing as to which was she would fall.  It didn’t go as I expected but there is nothing wrong with that.  A story that can leave me saying I didn’t see something coming is always a good thing in my book.

So, a mixed bag, but not a bad one at all.  Would I recommend the book? Yes, I would but with the proviso to leave any need for a plot without holes or leaps of logic at the door.  Still, an enjoyable, fast paced, and fun read.

Emma x

About the book…

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Penguin UK – Michael Joseph
Number of Pages: 415
Publication Date: 14th December, 2017 (paperback)
Rating: 3.75 / 5

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Beneath The Skin by Caroline England

imageBeneath the Skin is one of those books that had made it on to my TBR but which, when I came across a copy at the library, I couldn’t for the life of me remember why (please tell me I’m not the only one with that problem).  Beyond the title, it rang no bells.

Still, I knew it was on the list of books I wanted to read and I knew I had heard good things at some point so I picked it up and settled down to read.

At first, and partly based on the blurb, I thought I was settling into to read a psychological thriller, one of those books where – thanks to secrets being kept – a young woman finds herself in danger.

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Killman CreekIn the second book of the Stillhouse Lake series, we are a few months on from the end of the last book, with Gwen and her kids (Lanny and Connor) on the run from her ex-husband Melvin, a serial killer who is pure evil.  He has escaped from prison and seems to have one objective, to get Gwen.

Tired of hiding, Gwen makes a decision.  Along with her friend Sam (whose sister, Melvin murdered) she is going to go on the offensive.  Leaving her kids with friends, she heads out, determined to find Melvin and end things once and for all.

Finding him, though, proves more difficult than they might have thought, with the trail leading them across country and into some dangerous situations with men you wouldn’t want to cross on a good day.  It means a tense story, one with twists, turns and “I didn’t see that coming” moments.  I loved this bit of the book.

Bongo Fury 2: Holiday for Skins by Simon Maltman

Bongo Fury 2

Fast-talking, foul-mouthed, Jimmy runs a record shop in Belfast, selling weed on the side to help bring in the cash.  He’s the type of character that could be hard and dark but, written by Simon Maltman, he comes across as someone I think I might actually want to meet.

I don’t know as much about him as I should as I haven’t read the first book in this series of novellas (book two is only 47 pages long), but what I do know, I like because he’s sharp and funny, even when the police are breathing down his neck as they are in Bongo Fury 2.

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Margaret TudorMargaret Tudor was the oldest sister of Henry VIII and the wife of James IV of Scotland.  For someone who is more than a bit fascinated by the Tudors, I realised on seeing this book up for review, I knew nothing about her – something I immediately felt the need to rectify.

What I found was a woman who seemed to be passionate, determined, and unable to not make the wrong choices (so when her husband died, his will said that she would be regent for their baby son as long as she didn’t remarry – which is what she went and did pretty much straight away, spending the next decade then fighting for her right to rule and to see her son).

Cops Lie! by Leonard Love Matlick

35683982When I was asked to review Cops Lie! I spent a bit of time on Amazon reading the reviews because I have to be honest here and say that the title didn’t appeal and neither did the cover (which you know is a big thing for me, shallow as I am).  The reviews convinced me though that it was a worth a go with three and four-star ratings and promises of a gritty book about dirty cops. 

There is definitely grit in this book.  The story revolves around two honest cops in a sea of police officers on the take or up to no good, shaking down drug dealers and making false arrests.  There is a reference in the book to Serpico and I wonder if that is what the author was trying to do, tell a similar story.