New parents Alice and Tom seem to have it all. A loving relationship. A new born baby, Joanne, who is the apple of their eye. But as Tom returns to work from his parental leave things start to fall apart. The baby is not sleeping through the night at all, leaving him physically and emotionally shattered. His wife, Alice, is equally as shattered, but is on the cusp of a huge career breakthrough as a reporter, thanks to a series of murders in their village. It soon becomes clear the murders are the work of a serial killer. The killer soon turns their focus on Tom and his family. As if that is not enough, a series of bruises are appearing on baby Joanne. Who is responsible? Tom and Alice suspect the child minder, Tom’s ex junkie brother, one another…. 

This story starts out as a new family, happy in the countryside, life is wonderful story. It quickly changes pace, and develops a darker undertone, and keeps the reader guessing where it is going next. There was great use of stepping back in time at the right point in the story to build the characters up as required. At the end it was not quite as much a plot twist, as a lot could be deduced along the way, but it was still a very enjoyable read, with a really interesting and engaging story.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Ready or Not by Alex Lake

Allie and her husband Rav have just moved to a new house in the quaint village of Pluckley. It seems like a perfect place to raise their children, toddler Mina, and newborn baby Leo. Their new house is a cute cottage which has been sitting empty for a while so needs some work. Cobwebs cleared, a bit of a clean, and it will be perfect, won’t it? But not long after they move in Allie starts to get some very unsettled feelings. There are scratching noises that no one else hears. Something in the woods. A sensation of someone is in the room behind her. Then the dreams start. But are they dreams?

Allie starts to research the history of the house and what she finds makes her even more unsettled. The town of Pluckley already has a reputation for being the most haunted town in England. Now her house has a history tied up in witchcraft and danger.

On paper this book sounds like a great read. However, in reality, I found it dragged a bit. It was slow to get started, and really only picked up pace towards the end. But I nearly gave up a few times along the way. The character development is a bit hit and miss, some that you expect will become integral to the story fade away. And others who remain, don’t amount to much. When the story did pick up I was enjoying it, and looking forward to a good, dramatic ending. I just don’t feel like it quite got there. There were so many opportunities to make this story so much more terrifying, creepy, disturbing, horrific – take your pick on a direction to go. In the end it feels like there was not quite a commitment to a direction, which was a shame, as there was potential. A good read if you don’t like too much scare in your scary stories.

*I received this copy from Netgalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Woman In The Woods by Lisa Hall

This book is one in a series of detective novels by Joy Ellis. All I can say is lead me straight to books one through to seven, because this book gripped me from start to finish. While it did reference previous aspects of cases from other stories, I didn’t find myself at a disadvantage reading it. However I did find myself wanting to delve into these characters further, read more of their stories, and what has formed them to be as they are, and what inspires them to work as they do.

In this book, there is a seemingly low level criminal at play. He breaks into houses at night when everyone is sleeping, but not to burgle. It then transpires he is taking one single thing. A photo of their young child. At first it seems just a disturbing and creepy occurrence. But then an elderly lady falls to her death. Only she didn’t fall by accident. The escalation happens fast, and the police have to race to keep track of the game the mystery man is playing.

As the body count starts to rise DI Jackman and DS Evans have to work fast to find out what is happening, and before it is too late. I loved this book, as there are almost more twists and turns than you can keep track of, and you won’t see the ending coming. With a captivating storyline, and a side plot that is just as gripping, you will be on the edge of your seat until the very end. 

*I received this copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Night Thief by Joy Ellis

Let me start by saying that the DC Maggie Jamieson series is one of the best new series in a long time. In a quite saturated field, these books always manage to be gripping, fresh, visceral, and engaging from cover to cover. In this new gruesome adventure a burned body is found in a building. Deliberately set on fire, someone was either covering tracks, or torturing the victim – or both. As the investigation unravels, DC Jamieson discovered the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues. This is only the beginning of what becomes a very dark and complex investigation. As more burned bodies begin to crop up, Jamieson and her team desperately try to find the connection between them to stop the killer. Just what is the connection between these seemingly unconnected people? And why is the killer taking their teeth? The answer needs to be found, and quickly, before the body count continues to rise.

I read this book in one sitting. I was gripped by the storyline. I couldn’t stop turning the pages, racing along with Jamieson and her team trying to find the clues to stop the killer. This book really keeps you on the edge of your seat. The entire series is a twisted joy to crime/thriller novel junkies, and I can’t wait until the next one is released!

*I received this copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten

Ten years ago, Jonah Colley’s young son vanished. Being a police officer, didn’t make it any easier to cope with. The case was eventually closed, resolved as an unfortunate accident. Jonah threw himself into his work, and tried to move on. His marriage fell apart, and he drifted apart from his best friend at the time. Then, out of nowhere, his old best friend, Gavin, calls, begging for help. He asks Jonah to meet him urgently at Slaughter Quay, as Jonah is the only one he can trust. What follows next is a brutal attack. Jonah is left for dead. There are bodies in the warehouse building. Suddenly Jonah goes from police officer, to prime suspect. The worst part of it all – he has no idea what is going on.

He quickly gets drawn into a tangled web, the more he explores, the more tangled he becomes.  What does all of this have to do with what happened ten years ago? And who can Jonah trust? Old wounds from the past are reopened, and Jonah has to relive the torment he has been trying to bury for years.

This was a gripping read, with lots of twists and turns and lots of drama and suspense. The characters were developed really well. Jonah, for all his flaws and faults, really came across as a person you could feel real pity for, and could see how tortured he had been all these years, and wanted him to succeed in his investigation, not only to clear his name, but to relieve his anguish.

Highly recommended reading, I can’t wait for more in this series!

*I received this copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Lost by Simon Beckett

A New Years Eve party takes place in 1962. A reveler drives home after the party – and is found dead in his card the next morning, after crashing in a snowdrift. It is the coldest Christmas in years, and the snowstorm has shut down much of the country. So when WPC Loveday is called in to investigate, initially it looks like the high society party goer was just the victim of unfortunate circumstances. But she has teamed up with county coroner Clement Ryder. At the scene of the crash Ryder notices some signs on the crash victim that make him suspicious. Loveday notices a possible second set of footprints leading from the car.

Concerned that there may be more at stake here than a simple tragic accident, they investigate, and get pulled into a series of investigative threads that seem to pull them deeper and deeper into investigating the case as a murder. Everyone is lying to them, and it seems like multiple people wanted the victim dead. The only question is, who followed through on their desire to see him die?

I really enjoyed this mystery. I loved the more old fashioned take on the police crime thriller novel, and the partnership of Loveday and Ryder is wonderfully drawn. I had not read any of this series before, and while there was much intonation of previous cases and previous relationship development between them, I didn’t find myself unable to enjoy this book for lacking the previous reads. I will, however, make it a mission to read the previous books in the series. I could not wait to get to the end and see where good old fashioned detective work brought the case, and the delightful characters were gracious to bring us along on their adventure.

*Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: A Fatal Night by Faith Martin

Six old school friends set out for a weekend retreat to a remote island. They are seeking a reunion, a chance to reconnect through the passions that first brought them together in school – rock climbing, abseiling, and adventure. Shell Island seemed like the perfect location. Abandoned, save for a single keeper for the bird sanctuary, and reluctant host. They quickly realise the weekend is not going to be the idyllic retreat they envisioned. From their first adventure when one of their group gets badly injured, to their accommodation being less than ideal, and their host seeming incredibly resentful of their presence.

Things quickly start to fall apart, and as their group dynamic breaks down, they all turn against one another. Any mistrust and hurt that has lingered over the years comes out, and deep secrets begin to come to the surface. However, when one of their group goes missing, things really take the most sinister turn, and the pieces unravel at an even more frantic pace.

This book surprised me. I thought it was going to be a fun read about a girls weekend, with a little drama. How wrong was I?! The author did a fantastic job of setting the scene, and building the characters to the right point, and working in just enough backstory to get us to the real grit of the tale. So when things start to rapidly fall apart we feel we have gotten to know the people involved, so are all the more shocked when secrets are revealed. The twists in this tale are fantastic. The group of friends were frantically running around the island trying to escape, to survive, to figure out what was happening. I felt like I was just as madly dashing trying to keep up with them, turning pages, desperate to know, just who dunnit?? A wonderful read, and all the more welcomed because I had not expected it.

*Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book for review, but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett

I devoured this book in one sitting, frantically turning pages, trying to keep pace with a whole book full of psychopaths. On paper, we should hate the lead character. Chloe appears to be a social media gripped, bubbly, starbucks drinking, legging wearing, first year college student. Who also happens to be a manipulative, remorseless, psychopath. Not in a manner of speaking. But a medically diagnosed, 100% genuine psychopath. She is part of a secret clinical study taking place in the college of a group of people just like her. Young psychopaths, trying to be normal. The study is trying to establish a method of them fitting fully into society, and proving that not all psychopaths are murderers.

Until suddenly there is a murder on campus. Swiftly followed by another. And another. The finger quickly points to a psychopath from the group. Who else would be a suspect? It doesn’t help that Chloe’s sole purpose for attending college is to kill Will Bachman. Yet she insists she is not a killer. Finding themselves working together, some of the study’s participants try to put aside their mistrust of one another to find the real killer. Provided it is not one of them that is. 

I was enthralled by this book until the very end. Then I wanted more. To read it over immediately. It was an absolutely gripping read. Chloe is the epitome of antihero, telling us from the start she wants to kill someone. Yet you find yourself rooting for her. Don’t tell me that it was just me and my darker side?! She really wins us over. The complexity of a book filled with uncaring, unemotional psychopaths who struggle to make human connections, and to understand emotions, suddenly finds you caring more for them than they ever could for themselves – or have they just manipulated you?

*I received this book for review from NetGalley but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

Who doesn’t like masked outlaws who rob from the rich and give to the poor? Particularly when the poor just need medicine to stay alive. Our protagonists, Tessa and Wes, are the epitome of this, stealing medicine and food, and distributing it to those who need it most. Night after night they make their rounds and save as many as they can. But the sickness is getting worse. And the medicine is more and more of a risk to procure in the castle grounds.

When Wes is captured and killed, Tessa risks all to sneak into the castle but for what, she is not sure. Assassinate the king? Spark more of a rebellion? But everything goes badly awry when she is captured by the horrific Prince Corrick, and she is forced to work alongside the royal brothers to try and save the kingdom. But all is not what it seems. 

This story had an air of Robin Hood from the very start, and perhaps worked in underlying fears from the 2020 pandemic. The writing style kept me engaged, switching viewpoints from one character to another, keeping you on your toes. Kemmerer’s descriptive writing was also spot on, not too over used, yet really had you visualising the contents of tables, imagining you could see just what the precious moonflower looked like, and more. I welcome the next in this series, as I can see it being popular!

*I received this book for review from NetGally but all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Jeffery Deaver never fails to deliver, and this installment of the Lincoln Rhyme/Amelia Sachs series was no exception. As usual, there is a criminal terrorising New York City, and it is up to the team to stop them before things go too far, and too many innocent lives are lost. This time, one of humanity’s deepest fears is preyed upon. You feel safe at home. You lock your doors, and keep the danger at bay. But what if no lock can stop Him? No alarm system can alert you to his presence. He can come into your home whenever he wants. He will watch you sleep, eat your food, take your kitchen knives and leave you a message. How can He be stopped? Most importantly, what happens when he is no longer content to only watch you, but starts using the knives he carries??

The pressure mounts on Rhyme to sift through the minimal evidence and help catch Him. However Rhyme suddenly finds himself on the outside. At blame for a criminal kingpin escaping judgement at trial. Nobody on the force is allowed to work with him. Just how will he crack this case? Like with all Deaver novels, there are many plot twists, keeping you guessing until the end. It is fun, engaging, and keeps you engrossed until the very last page. 

*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.

The Midnight Lock by Jeffery Deaver