The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

The extraordinary life of sam hellWhen I occasionally daydream about writing a book, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is the type of book I dream about writing.  A book that creates incredibly memorable characters, that paints a picture of a life lived and a person I would like to get to know.

I probably will never get round to writing such a book but, thankfully, Robert Dugoni – better known to me for his Detective Tracy Crosswhite series – has so I don’t have to worry.

I apologies if I’m waxing a little lyrical here but I just really enjoyed this book.  There wasn’t a thing about it I didn’t (meaning you can probably guess the rating if you don’t have time to read the rest of my review).

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin Deep Liz NugentSkin Deep is one of those books with a killer opening, literally.  Cordelia wakes up hungover, wondering what to do with the dead body in her flat.  To try and give herself time to think, she heads out, looking for food, company and alcohol.  As her evening spirals, she starts to realise she has nowhere to turn, nowhere to go and she is out of options.

Where Liz Nugent goes from here is back to the beginning, to the small island off the coast of Ireland that Cordelia (not that she was Cordelia then) grew up on, to a family tragedy that changed her life, and then on through mistake after mistake and bad decision after bad decision till she ends up in a room on the French Riviera and a dead body.  

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

The Good LiarWhere to start with this review.  It’s been over a week since I finished The Good Liar and I am still thinking about it and still feeling in awe of Catherine McKenzie and her ability to take me outside of myself when I’m reading her books.

This is now the fifth book of hers I’ve read and the fifth one I’ve fallen in love with.  Why?  Her characters mainly.  They are so well written – so messily real – that I can’t help getting completely caught up in their lives.

Here, there is Cecily, a grieving widow the world has fallen in love with; Kate, a wife and a mother who is trying to outrun her past; and Franny, Kate’s given-up-for-adoption daughter, who has found her mother only to lose her again.

The Fear by C. L . Taylor

The Fear

When Lou’s father dies, and after a bad break-up with her boyfriend, she decides to up sticks, leaving London and returning to her childhood home, one she hasn’t been back to for 18 years.

Given what happened when she was last there, it’s possibly not the smartest idea, but she feels she needs to to confront her demons and start living her life again.

The what happened is she ran away with her teacher, a much older man.  Or at least that’s the cliff notes version.  As The Fear unfolds, so does Lou’s story, which is much more frightening than it first appears and explains a lot about why she is who she is.

Come and Find Me by Sarah Hilary

come and find meDI Marnie Rome is back and, for me, it couldn’t come a moment too soon as I was in need of a book in my favourite genre that left me feeling completely satisfied and a lot less grumpy that I been with recent reads.

I love Marnie because, whilst she’s go baggage, she’s also normal.  Her past bothers her, colours her present, but isn’t all consuming.  She still manages to have normal relationships with her partner and her team and she doesn’t go running off on her own every two seconds to prove something to herself.  

Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

Bring me backFinn’s life seems pretty perfect.  He has money, a house in the country and a beautiful and caring fiancé.  Things probably couldn’t get much better, especially when you think that ten years previously he had been suspected of murdering his then-girlfriend, Layla, while they on vacation.

No body was found though and the evidence there was, was circumstantial.  Slowly, he rebuilt his life till he found himself where he was now – happy, or as happy as he thinks he can be, and waiting to get married.

Then he comes home to find his fiancé, Ellen, in a strange mood.  She’s found a small Russian doll on the wall outside their house.  A doll that looks remarkably like the one she always thought her sister, Layla, stole from her when they were children.  Yes, the same Layla that Finn was dating.  Do you get the feeling that things might be about to get complicated?

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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