Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

26245850On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

A chance meeting in a farmers market leads to Scott Burroughs being invited to fly to New York on the private jet of a woman he barely knows. Along with her family, and two of their friends, they take off on a foggy night…only for Scott to come to in the ocean 15 minutes later. Initially, he thinks he’s the lone survivor. Then he hears the cries of four year old JJ. The two are alone. It is cold, it is dark. Scott is injured. But he starts to swim.

The next morning, they are found – alive – on the beach, Scott having swum 15 miles. He is hailed a hero. At first. Then the questions start. The media aren’t convinced. Neither are the FBI. His story seems to good to be true. After being hailed, Scott starts to be hounded, hunted down as he tries to lay low and come to terms with what happens.

It’s uncomfortable reading, but very believable. I find it amazing that in this day and age, we find it so hard to believe people don’t have an ulterior motive or something to hide. But I think that that’s true. We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop…and the media, the 24 hour, instant access nature of it, plays a large part in this…as it does here.

In the meantime, Scott is trying to pick up the pieces. Suddenly things he thought were important aren’t and he isn’t sure of anything, including what happened. The accident is a blank for him. As investigators try to figure it out, searching for remains and the black box, you – as the reader – get to hear the stories of everyone else on the plane.

Chapters, which alternate with what is happening in the present to Scott and JJ, present snapshots of their lives, who they were (the good, bad, and ugly) and how they ended up on their plane. You see their hopes and dreams. And you slowly start to paint a picture of what happened.

It’s an interesting way to tell a story, and it meant this wasn’t a fast paced read. It was enthralling though and kept me engaged all the way through. I started to create scenarios in my head (none of which came to pass) and found myself really coming to like Scott and feel for JJ. The writing here is excellent, and the reflection of modern life and our obsession with social media and 24-hour news rang true. I really enjoyed this, from start to finish, and would definitely recommend it to any and everyone.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Publisher
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback – first published 31st May, 2016)
Pages: 391
Format: paperback
Genre: suspense, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

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The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

31443401Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

Red, the colour of anger and revenge, and the colour Zoey imagines inside herself as she prowls the streets of New York looking for people who need saving. It’s not all altruistic though, it’s her way of taking control of her life, something she doesn’t feel and hasn’t had since her parents were killed and she was left for dead 10 years previously. No one was ever arrested for the murders but Zoey knows who is guilty and, now, she feels strong enough to start making them pay.

On the outskirts of New York, Claudia is looking to start afresh, having left the city and moved into a run down farmhouse left to her by her father. Her plan is to rebuild and refinish the farm, creating a life away from the grind of the city for her and her daughter. Like Zoey, Claudia has a past touched by violence – her daughter, Raven, is possibly the result of rape. She has never wanted to know but it has coloured her and Raven’s lives.

As Zoey and Claudia’s stories unfold over alternating chapters it starts to become clear that violence isn’t the only thing that links them and that their lives are on a collision course, destined to intersect and putting them all in danger again. Just how this happens I won’t say (spoilers) but I will say Lisa Unger brings it all together very well, building the tension slowly and steadily until the final scenes.Read More »

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

31393997Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

1999.  In a field at an eclipse festival, 21 year old Lara comes across what she instinctively believes is a rape. Something about the look in the man’s eyes, the blankness in the woman’s, the harness of the scene. Despite the man (Jamie) saying it was consensual, not what it looks like, and the woman (Ruth) saying nothing at all, Laura calls the police – setting in motion a chain of events that will change her life and that of her boyfriend (Kit) in ways neither could have predicted.

2015, Laura is six months pregnant and suffering from anxiety.  She and Kit are married and he is about to leave her for a trip to another eclipse festival, bringing back memories of that fateful summer and what happened next.  Told in chapters that move between 1999 and 2015 and Laura and Kit’s stories, He Said/She Said slowly unfolds into something more than I originally expected (though given Erin Kelly’s other work shouldn’t have been surprised about).

Slowly, a tale unfolds not just of rape but of it’s impact, on the victim, the perpetrator, families, friends and witnesses.  He Said/She Said looks at consent and sexuality, why we view women’s in one way and men’s in another.  Somehow it does all this not only well but in the context of a thriller that had me turning the pages, desperate to know what would happen next.  It is a real testament to Erin Kelly that she can weave such a tale sensitively but also with such darkness and edge.

And it is a dark book, one that makes you question yourself and your assumptions and doesn’t shine any of the characters in that good a light.  As Kit and Laura’s stories unfold you realise that nothing is quite as it seems, that truth – odd as it sounds – can be subjective and is often also about perception, what we perceive to have happened.

Given the subject matter, this isn’t always an easy read, but is a good one.  Laura and Kit are so well drawn I felt I knew them.  I was happy when they did the right thing, disappointed when they didn’t. Ruth and Jamie meanwhile became larger than life, seen as they were only through Kit and Laura’s eyes.  Did I believe them, like them, loathe them?  Hard to say at points.  I definitely didn’t trust them or their truths.

And, by the end, wanting to the know the truth was consuming me as much as it was Laura.  I didn’t just want to know, I needed to know.  And what I found out left me shocked.  It wasn’t the ending I expected.  It was, though, probably the right ending for this twisted tale, one I highly recommend and liked a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

 

 

 

 

 

What Goes Around by Julie Corbin

29286951What Goes Around is the story of two women – Ellen and Leila. Ellen is the ex-wife and Leila is the new woman, living in Ellen’s house, sleeping with Ellen’s husband. Each woman has her own secrets to keep. Leila’s brother is back in her life and is determined to rake up their past while Ellen is out for revenge. She wants her home back and she wants Leila to pay for breaking up her marriage. Her plan will make her do things she never thought herself capable of – but it will also put her in danger. Because Ellen has no idea what sort of a woman Leila is and when she finally finds out, it could already be too late…

One of the women will end up dead. But which one?

I have never read any Julie Corbin before but have heard great things about her books and I have to say they were no exaggeration.  She is a great writer, creating in What Goes Around a tense story with interesting characters and plenty of twists and turns.

It starts pretty simply.  Ellen’s husband has left her and, as a result, she is a mess.  Living in rented accommodation and suffering from OCD, she spends most of her time afraid.  The rest she seems to spend thinking about the b***h Leila, the woman who stole her husband.  And the woman who is living in the house she pretty much built from the ground up and raised her wo children in.  The woman who is destroying that house, making changes and making it her own.

Then when Ellen is looking for a therapist to help her with her anxiety, Leila is recommended to her and she can’t resist.  She wants revenge and figures getting her foot in the door is the first step. The rest she’ll play by ear…but, bottom line, she wants Leila to pay.

Leila, meanwhile has problems of her own.  She has a dark past, a son who is addicted to drugs and, if she’s completely honest, life with Tom (the husband/lover) isn’t quite what she thought.  In theory, it should be.  After fighting for everything in her life, she finally has everything she wants – a nice house, a rich, handsome husband, and a chance to work for herself.  But being with Tom means being someone she isn’t.  And this is harder to do when her estranged brother reappears demanding she revisits their childhood traumas.

For the reader, who slowly gets to know both characters and see just what is going through their minds in alternating chapters, it’s fascinating (or at least I thought so).  Both women are so much more complex than they first appear, especially Leila, and I found my sympathies shifing back and forth as the book progressed.  In the end, I’m not sure there is a “bad guy” (or woman) here.  It’s just two women who don’t understand each other and are too wrapped up in their own lives to maybe care that much anyway about what the other is feeling.

Then you throw the brother in the mix and things really heat up.  The tension rises when it becomes clear that he is dangerous.  What isn’t clear is just how much so and what he will do to get his way and reconnect with Leila.  Hints are dropped and as I reader I had to pick them up and put htem together.  I managed to (yay me!) but it wasn’t easy.  It was, though, a lot of fun.

My only niggle with this book is the epilogue.  I have said it before I know but I am just not sure they are needed nine times out of ten.  That was definitely the case here.  I was completely satisfied with the ending and left with a few “what ifs” I could mull over in my own time.  Then these were answered and I felt, if anything, a bit cheated and – because of that – it moved this book from a loved to a liked a lot, though still a recommended read.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Publisher
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback)
Pages: 323
Format: paperback
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fell by Jenn Ashworth

imageWhen Annette Clifford returns to her childhood home on the edge of Morecambe Bay, she despairs: the long empty house is crumbling, undermined by two voracious sycamores. What she doesn’t realise is that she’s not alone: her arrival has woken the spirits of her parents, who anxiously watch over her, longing to make amends. Because as the past comes back to Jack and Netty, they begin to see the summer of 1963 clearly, when Netty was desperately ill and a stranger moved in. Charismatic, mercurial Timothy Richardson, with his seemingly miraculous powers of healing, who drew all their attention away from Annette… Now, they must try to draw another stranger towards her, one who can rescue her.

I think the first thing I want to say about Fell is that it is beautifully written.  A week after finishing the book, I am still haunted by some of the language and the images it created.  It is an otherworldly book and the words perfectly match the subject matter.  I felt carried along by them from the first page through to the last.

The story was a bit harder for me to fall into if I’m honest, though by a third of the way through I was there and living it along with the characters.  The beginning, though, just jumped too much for me.  The past, the present, and the who was telling the story.  This was Jack and Netty, or the spirits of Jack and Netty and they spoke as a we.  Sometimes the time would change mid-chapter and it took me a while to get used to this and understand what was happening.

I have to say too that, by the end, I’m still not quite sure what had happened.  I don’t want to give anything away because of spoilers but , whilst I got where everyone ended up, I still don’t quite know how they got there and how much Jack and Netty had to do with it and how much their telling the story was just a good way to, well, tell the story.

I feel like there are things I should have picked up on, especially around the lodger Tim, that I just didn’t – which was a bit frustrating – and I am not quite sure why Annette was where she was in her life.  Yes, her mother had been ill when she was a child but were the repercussions such that she was so lost?

I think in part, this is down to the fact it’s Jack and Netty telling the story.  You get to know them, really well, with all there good and bad points.  You see all their mistakes and shake your head as they continue to make more.  But Netty is ill.  I get it.  But because of that you only really see Tim and Annette on the surface.

Jenn Ashworth tries to resolve this by having Jack and Netty able to see Tim and Annette’s thoughts but I never felt like I really got to know them.  And I wanted to because I cared about what was happening.  The fact that I didn’t has left me in two minds about the book.

I loved the writing, as I said, and the concept.  I loved Netty and Jack.  But Tim and Annette didn’t work for me as characters because I couldn’t get to know them and so, as a result, I feel like I’ve missed out on something in the story.  So, where does this leave me? Liking, but not loving the book I think.  If I still did star ratings I’d go for 3.75, almost but not quite a 4.

Have you read this? What did you think – or am I alone in being conflicted?

Emma

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Sceptre
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback)
Pages: 292
Format: paperback
Genre: fiction, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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 Murder Game by Julie Apple

29619695Ten years working as a prosecutor have left Meredith Delay jaded and unsure of what she wants out of life. She’s good at her job, but it haunts her. Her boyfriend wants her to commit, but she keeps him at arm’s length. Then Meredith is assigned to a high-profile prosecution involving the violent murder of a fallen hockey star. At first, it appears to be just another case to work. But when her old friend Julian is accused of the murder, it takes on a whole new dimension.

Meredith, Julian, Jonathan, and Lily were a tight-knit group in law school. But now, Jonathan’s defending Julian, and Lily’s loyalties aren’t clear. And when Julian invokes a rare—and risky—defence, Meredith is forced to confront their past.

Has something they played at as students finally been brought to death?

So, for those who aren’t already aware, Julie Apple is the pseudonym of Catherine McKenzie, who happens to be one of my favourite authors, and The Murder Game is a book written by one of her characters (the same Julie Apple) in the book Fractured.

In Fractured, The Murder Game is a huge hit.  It is about a group of law students who play at planning murder.  Then a fellow student is murdered. The question is just how much did the students know – did they manage to plan a perfect murder after all?  Although a work of fiction, there was a death at Julie’s college and so fans and critics alike want to know just how much of her book was real, just how involved she was in the murder of a fellow student.  And by the end of Fractured, you, the reader, are also wondering just where the truth lies.

At no point, though, do you get to read the book or find out a huge amount about it (Fractured is more about Julie fitting into a new neighbourhood and running from her past).  And you don’t here, at least not quite – because the murder victim isn’t a college student but a former hockey star, one convicted of molesting a child.  The killer, though, is one of a group of law students, a group of four who sat around planning just how they would kill someone and get away with it.

The students are Meredith, the central character and whose voice you hear throughout as she is also the story teller; Julian, the killer who owns up to the murder and finds himself on trial; Lily, his sometimes girlfriend who has an IQ of 164 and strives for perfection in all things; and Jonathan, Meredith’s on again / off again boyfriend and Julian’s defence attorney.  As characters, all four are fascinating to read about and get to know.

They are so well drawn that I felt I knew them….and disliked them, even Meredith who felt like the underdog, the odd one out and the one I should be rooting for (especially as she was looking to put her friend away for murder).  Whilst I did at first, slowly, through flashbacks to their college years, I started to realise maybe she wasn’t as innocent as she first appeared. She has a darker side, one that makes her more interesting but definitely less likeable.  Or maybe that darker side was more about her not being confident in herself, which meant she was easily led and I should feel more sympathy for her.  Throughout the book, right till the end, I went back and forth and am still not sure how I feel about her.

It’s one of the things I love about Catherine McKenzie – she creates complicated people that seem to leap out of the page.  And it wasn’t just Meredith, it was all four characters,  Each had so many quirks and character flaws, so many things that might make you love or hate them – that made you wonder if their behaviour was because they were young or spoilt or just too bright for their own good or if they were fundamentally flawed as human beings.  Again, I went back and forth throughout the book about how I felt.

For me, the flashback scenes were the best as I felt I was getting to know each of them more and I had the chance to put the pieces together, figure out if it was a game or just a coincidence that they had all ended up where they had, in a courtroom facing off against each other.  The whether Julian was guilty of not, which took place mainly in the courtroom, was almost secondary (though probably shouldn’t have been).  I wanted to know how they had gotten there and why.  Plus, if I’m honest, I am not the biggest fan of courtroom dramas and so these bits, which lots of questioning of witnesses and the stand aren’t something I normally enjoy reading.  Not enough action.

Thankfully I got the action in the college scenes and the chapters on Meredith’s life, which kept me more than satisfied.  And I learnt something about the Canadian legal system, and a little learning is never a bad thing.  I also got a great story with plenty of twists, turns and red herrings  – things that kept me guessing.  It wasn’t my favourite Catherine McKenzie book but it was still a really good one.  I liked this a lot – a recommended read!

Enjoy!

Emma x

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Source: Purchased
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Pages: 300
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction / mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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The Escape by C. L. Taylor

32790943When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

After reading more than one good review of C. L. Taylor’s books, I felt I needed to read at least one myself.  Seeing The Escape on Netgalley seemed the perfect opportunity, especially as it was a standalone and I am not sure I could leap into another series at the moment when I already have so many on the go.

The Escape starts as it means to go on, by throwing you right into the action and not letting up until it’s all over.  It opens with Jo walking to her car, running late for picking up her daughter.  She never leaves her office this late and she’s in a rush.  Just in these first few sentences you realise that Jo is tightly wound, no more so than when a stranger comes up behind her whilst she is trying to get into her car.  You see her internal struggle – does she know the woman? is she really a neighbour? should she offer her a lift? and now that’s been asked for, should she say yes?

All Jo’s instincts are telling her no, not to let the woman (Paula) into her car, not to agree to a lift, but she ignores them – thinking instead about how she will appear and questioning whether her concerns are genuine.  It turns out they are, genuine that is – Paula threatens her and her daughter.  The problem is no one else seems to take her seriously, not least her husband (Max) who won’t even contact the police.  He’s convinced it’s Jo’s imagination, running away with her because of mental health problems, and that there is a perfectly rational explanation.

From this first, slightly scary but potentially harmless meeting, things spiral  quickly and the threats to Jo become more real and more dangerous.  Someone has invaded her life and is determined, it seems, to make it a living hell.  As a reader, you know she’s not loosing her mind, you can read the thoughts of the person who is after her in short chapters interspersed through the book. Still, though, Max won’t believe her – no matter what she says – which is incredibly frustrating but possibly understandable as you start to understand Jo’s history and the reasons she isn’t being believed.

I say possibly because if I was Jo I would have gone on the run a lot sooner than she did and I wouldn’t have tried to reason with Max (though there wouldn’t have been much of a story then I guess).  With the running, the book ratchets up another notch because now is Jo not just trying to escape Paula, she is hiding from the police, and trying and failing to come up with credible lies for the people she comes in contact with.  Whilst you hope for the best, that she can keep her head down till it all blows over, you know that isn’t going to be the case and I felt tense waiting for it all to come crashing down.  And come crashing down it did in a great, big, page turning finale.

If you can’t tell, I really liked this book.  It was such a fast paced, edge of seat read.  Jo was a great character, nice and unpredictable which kept the story moving along, and there were a few twists in the tale I really didn’t see coming and changed how I was feeling about more than one character.  There were, as always in these books, a few times when I had to suspend belief slightly to allow for a plot twist but that was more than o.k. for this book, which I highly recommend.  Liked it a lot!

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 23rd March, 2017
Pages: 433
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

 

The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson

Wimagee all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmell has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a stranger arrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple.

Everyone is suspicious of this stranger, except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart.

I was really looking forward to reading The Stranger – not just because I had enjoyed the other book I had read by Sarginson (Without You) but because the opening, which I used for last week’s Tuesday intro, completely drew me in.  I found it beautifully, though simply written and it painted a picture in my head that I still haven’t quite shaken.

The prologue (from which the intro was taken) has a young girl, a new mother, giving away her baby for adoption.  It is heart breaking.  It also suggests darker things might follow; “After all the hate, there you were.”  And, given the type of books I normally read, I have to admit I envisioned an angry and bitter son appearing years later with an axe to grind, figuratively and literally.

This wasn’t the case though and, whilst what I got was still a thriller, it was a much more nuanced and thoughtful piece of writing than I had maybe being expecting.  The prologue, rather than hinting of what was to come was rather an explanation of some of the behaviours of the central character, Ellie.  These are further explained by flashbacks to her teenage years, which show how she has become the woman she has.

Most of the story, though, takes place in the present and in Kent, a region on the front line of the migrant crisis that played out on our screens the last few years.  Migrants, their role in our lives (picking the food we eat, offering cheap labour) and our attitudes towards them (anger, distrust, general wariness as well as compassion) are front and centre in this book.  Sarginson manages to highlight these issues without being preachy and turns their plight and our response to it into a gripping read, one that kept me turning pages.

She does this by making it about human beings and about love.  Yes, this is a novel full of suspense but it is also a story with love at it’s heart (not a soppy love story but one about caring for and about people).  The question is, who does Ellie love and who is lying to her, because there are two men vying for her heart and each believes the other is the bad guy, the one she can’t trust.  It’s up to Ellie to figure it out, slowly unpicking the web of lies she has found herself at the centre of and which could end up threatening her life.

Possibly the only downside to the book is the who became clear a bit too early for me as I like to be kept guessing  BUT to make up for this there were other twists in the tale I didn’t see coming at all and which kept me reading.  And, I have to remember this wasn’t a standard domestic thriller of girl meets boy, boy turns out to be a psychopath.  It was deeper than that and better for it.  I liked it a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: 23rd March, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

The Dead Room by Chris Mooney

6679766When CSI Darby McCormick is called to the crime scene, it’s one of the most gruesome she’s ever seen. But the forensic evidence is even more disturbing: someone watched the murder unfold from woodland behind the house – and the killer died in a shoot-out two decades earlier.

The deeper Darby digs, the more horrors come to light. Her prime suspect is revealed as a serial killer on an enormous scale, with a past that’s even more shocking than his crimes, thanks to a long-held secret that could rock Boston’s law enforcement to its core.

Is it possible to steal an identity? Or are dead men walking in Darby’s footsteps? The line between the living and the dead has never been finer.

The Dead Room has been sat on my kindle for a while, a long while (around about five years) and was released earlier than that (2009).  I have to say, finally opening it up I was feeling rather guilty about having waited so long to read it and I was also rather nervous.  I had it in my head it wouldn’t be any good or I would have read it by now.  Thankfully, whilst the guilt didn’t go away, the nerves did after a few pages because this was a pretty good read.

Darby is the type of strong female character I like – determined, driven, incredibly smart and incredibly loyal to her partner (and best friend) Coop, who finds himself in the middle of her investigation and not in a good way.  This is because it takes place in the Boston suburb he was born, raised and still lives – a suburb that was once run by Irish gangs and has never quite gotten over it.  There is still a code of silence that it’s residents live by, even when the bodies of dead girls are found buried in the basement of a house, and secrets that not even Coop are willing to share.

How these bodies link to the murder of a young mother in another part of Boston and the trail of destruction being left by a mystery gunman is for Darby to figure out, whilst trying not to get killed.  She does manage it but not before heading down more than one dead end and getting into more than one dangerous situation.  Thankfully, she’s pretty handy with a gun as well as a forensic kit and can take care of herself.

Because I haven’t read the first two books of this series (this is the third) I am not sure how Darby got to be so handy with a gun or why a crime scene investigator also seems to be in charge of the investigation of a murder (people seem to defer to her at each stage).  I have to say, I feel like I have missed something as a result, some part of her past which explains who she is and how she behaves.

It wasn’t the end of the world but it did bring me up short a few times in reading the book and pull me out of it.  I did find myself wishing I had started at the beginning of the series or had a cheat sheet of characters and their backgrounds. This probably wouldn’t be the same for everyone but for me it meant it didn’t quite stand alone.  That said, it was the one downside in a well written, fast-paced, book which I had thought might feel a bit dated but wasn’t at all.  I liked it a lot and will definitely read Chris Mooney again.

Enjoy!

Emma x

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Source: Purchased
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 31st May, 2012 (first published 1st August, 2009)
Pages: 464
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

 

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary

imageIt’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing

London, in winter.  It’s not the most welcoming place and, for three ex-offenders, it’s also not the safest.  When each are found with increasingly violent injuries (eventually leading to murder), Marnie and Noah aren’t sure if they have a vigilante on their hands or a series of random crimes. They are leaning towards vigilante but it’s a strong word and not one their new boss (DCS Ferguson) wants to hear, even if it might be the truth.

The question is, if it is the truth, why have these victims been picked.  What is it about them that made them targets (other than their records) and how are they connected to a missing child and London’s street gangs.  Marnie knows that if they can find the link, she can find the killer.  What she doesn’t expect to find is a link back to her, and her own past – one where her parents were killed by their foster child – and which she has never really recovered from. It all makes for a tense read and real page-turner of a book.

It’s also quite a complex read, with lots of threads weaving together and then unravelling just when you think you have it all figured out.  I liked this about it and thought Sarah Hilary did a great job of keeping things interesting without making them confusing. When I was thinking of how to describe this book, I kept coming back to the word relentless – it really didn’t give you a moments pause or let up for a second.   I didn’t feel bored for an instant and found myself challenged to guess who dunnit (I did, but only a few pages before Marnie so it was pretty obvious by then).

There is an intensity to the writing and to Marnie.  She’s another complicated female, my favourite kind, but compared to some I’ve read recently pretty stable and down-to-earth.  I got a chuckle when she says “Maverick detectives don’t exist outside of fiction”.  She’s probably right and isn’t someone I would describe as a maverick, just a very good policewoman – albeit one who is damaged by her past so slow to let people in and definitely married to her job.  It felt refreshing that she didn’t keep running off on her own and ignoring her team or her boss.  I also liked Noah, the other main character who has his own story (which nicely intercepts the main plot) which helped make him real, not just a side-kick to Marnie.

In fact, there isn’t really anything I didn’t like here (other than realising I haven’t read the third in the series).  It is well written, with great pace and interesting characters.  I felt involved in the story all the way through and was a bit disappointed when I had to say goodbye to it.  For those who haven’t read the other books, it works well as a standalone.  So, all in all, a great read that I highly recommend and liked a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Publisher
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 9th March, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: paperback
Genre: crime fiction

Pre-order on Amazon UK

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