The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood

HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?

Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.

That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t.

Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.

And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…

My thoughts on The Perfect Life…

Like Vanessa, I love looking at houses online, imagining where I’d like to live if I won the lottery and money was no object. Unlike Vanessa, I don’t book myself in for a viewing. I can see why she does though. Pretending to be someone else, even if just for a little while, is very tempting. Especially when your world is falling apart, which Vanessa’s definitely is.

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The Shadow Man by Helen Fields #bookreview

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggie and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
 
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
 
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
 
And he’s watching.

My thoughts on The Shadow Man…

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Helen Fields, whose ‘Perfect’ series I was addicted to for a while. As has happened with other series I’ve enjoyed though, I couldn’t stay caught up and – eventually – stopped reading them. It was nice, then, to see a new book with new characters. And what interesting character they were.

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Two Widows by Laura Wolfe #bookreview

I’d grown desperate for company since the discovery of the dead woman in town…

Gloria lives alone in an old farmhouse surrounded by empty land, miles from the nearest town in northern Michigan. Widowed and grieving her husband, mourning her broken relationship with her estranged son, lonely Gloria searches for answers in self-help books and has only faded photographs and stacks of unpaid bills for company. Her days all look the same.

Then the dead body of an unidentified young woman is found on the beach near Gloria’s house.

When freelance travel writer Beth arrives with her trailer to live on Gloria’s land, Gloria is relieved not to be alone. The police have no suspects in the murder and fearless Beth makes Gloria feel safe. Then Gloria discovers Beth is a widow too: the women become closer and begin to share their secrets.

But soon Gloria starts to wonder… what does she actually know about Beth? About what brought her to this isolated spot? About how her husband really died? Is it a coincidence that she’s arrived just as this small town has seen its first murder in decades?

Gloria thought that Beth had told her all her secrets. She was wrong.

My thoughts on Two Widows…

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The Tenant by Katrine Engberg #bookreview

They share a house.
And all its secrets . . .

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case.

They quickly establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her complex landlady, Esther. Esther is a budding novelist – and when Julie features as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows more urgent.

But is Esther guilty or merely another victim in a far more dangerous game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the secret that links them both . . 

My thoughts on The Tenant…

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The Doll by Yrsa Sigurdardottir #bookreview

It was meant to be a quiet family fishing trip, a chance for mother and daughter to talk. But it changes the course of their lives forever.

They catch nothing except a broken doll that gets tangled in the net. After years in the ocean, the doll a terrifying sight and the mother’s first instinct is to throw it back, but she relents when her daughter pleads to keep it. This simple act of kindness proves fatal. That evening, the mother posts a picture of the doll on social media. By the morning, she is dead and the doll has disappeared.

Several years later and Detective Huldar is in his least favourite place – on a boat in rough waters, searching for possible human remains. However, identifying the skeleton they find on the seabed proves harder than initially thought, and Huldar must draw on psychologist Freyja’s experience to help him. As the mystery of the unidentified body deepens, Huldar is also drawn into an investigation of a homeless drug addict’s murder, and Freyja investigates a suspected case of child abuse at a foster care home.

What swiftly becomes clear is that the cases are linked through a single, missing, vulnerable witness: the young girl who wanted the doll all those years ago.

My thoughts on The Doll

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Scandi Noir-style books (I know that technically Iceland isn’t in Scandinavia but there are a lot of similarities) and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. And I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed books by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. She has a wonderful way of crafting a story that is just that little bit different from your average police procedural.

The Doll is no exception. The opening is slightly spooky, with the dredging up of a doll from the sea bed and the death of the woman who found it before moving between a number of cases, all of which slowly come together in a way that makes perfect sense – even though you kind of know they shouldn’t.

The fact that they do work well together is down to the skill of Sigurdardottir and you have to marvel at that. I was pretty impressed too by the fact that, for quite a long book, there wasn’t any ‘saggy’ bits, the parts that drag and make you wonder if you should give up.

I never wanted to do that. What I wanted was to stay up late and keep reading. I thought the plot was great (though hard to write about without spoilers), and the characters interesting – the type you want to know more about. For me, this was a real page turner. The type of book I will be thinking about for a while – and will definitely be recommending to others.

Enjoy!

Emma x

Please note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

The Patient Man by Joy Ellis

The domestic bliss of Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman of Fenland Constabulary doesn’t last long. His nemesis, serial killer Alistair Ashcroft, is back in town and ready to tidy up unfinished business.

Ashcroft sends a sinister text to DS Marie Evans. His opening move in what will prove to be a lethal game of cat-and-mouse. Yet for all his taunts, where is he? In a county crawling with police on the lookout for him, Ashcroft is nowhere to be found.

EVERYONE JACKMAN CARES ABOUT IS IN DANGER

A LETHAL GAME WITH A VERY PATIENT MAN

CAN THEY FINALLY STOP ALISTAIR ASHCROFT?

My thoughts on The Patient Man…

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The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is found draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.  

Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.
 
As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline. 

What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

My thoughts on The Babysitter…

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Hostage by Clare Mackintosh #bookreview

You can save hundreds of lives.
Or the one that matters most . . .

The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours . . .

My thoughts on Hostage

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Fragile by Sarah Hilary #bookreview

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

My thoughts on Fragile

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Highway Blue by Ailsa McFarlane #bookreview

In front of me the long length of the road wound out, wound out and wound on under hot sky. And I drove…

Anne Marie is adrift San Padua, living a precarious life of shift-work and shared apartments. Her husband Cal left her on their first anniversary and two years later, she can’t move on.

When he shows up suddenly on her doorstep, clearly in some kind of trouble, she reluctantly agrees to a drink. But later that night a gun goes off in an alley near the shore and the young couple flee together, crammed into a beat up car with their broken past. Their ill-at-ease odyssey takes them across a shimmering American landscape and through the darker seams of the country, towards a city that may or may not represent salvation.

Highway Blue is a story of being lost and found; of love, in all its forms; and of how the pursuit of love is, in its turn, a kind of redemption.

My thoughts on Highway Blue

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