all the missing girls – megan miranda

All The Missing Girls – Megan Miranda

I received an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nicolette Farrell has returned to her rural hometown to help her brother to tie up things on their father’s house now that his dementia has forced him to be put into a home.

It’s been ten years since she left, she now has a huge rock on her finger from her hot-shot city lawyer fiance, her brother’s wife is heavily pregnant and everything about her life feels so much more grown up.

So, it feels rather perverse when her ex-boyfriend’s young girlfriend suddenly goes missing in circumstances very similar to the disappearance of her best friend ten years ago, with an intrusive investigation that centred on her circle of friends.

We follow Nic until the day of the second girl’s disappearance, and then skip two weeks ahead when the story is told backwards day by day.

Life in a rural town is really explored well in this book, and the heat and oppression of a stifling summer mirrors the suffocation felt in a small town where everybody knows everybody else’s business.

The drip-feed of information and knowledge kept the tension high, and towards the end of the book it became a real page-turner.

However, even though I really enjoyed the story, I’m not altogether sure that the backward storytelling actually added much to it. I occasionally found it a bit distracting as I was always trying to think “Well, wouldn’t somebody have mentioned that fact the following day again?” So, an interesting concept to explore, but I’m almost tempted to read each day in the right order to make sure it makes sense ūüôā

I definitely enjoyed it though – tense and well-paced.

All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda will be published on 28th June.

are you watching me? – sin√©ad crowley

Are You Watching Me – Sinead Crowley

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Liz Cafferky has her own past, but she is pushing through this to promote the work of the drop-in centre for men where she has been working for a while, to try and pay her dues to founder Tom, who rescued her from her own demons.  However, when men start being murdered, and their only connection is the centre where she works, Liz starts questioning everything Рeven whether she could be the next to die.  Can Liz escape her past Рand the killer?

I hadn’t read ‘Can Anybody Help Me?’ which was the d√©but novel from¬†Sin√©ad Crowley, and apparently her first featuring Sergeant Claire Boyle of the¬†Irish Garda in Dublin. And having read this second in the series, I don’t really feel that it is necessary, as the book definitely stands alone. However, I understand that there may be some who have read the first and may have a vested interest in this novel as they may have already bonded with Claire, especially as she has returned to her role after a few months maternity leave – and all that brings for her and her family.

Coming to this book as a Crowley virgin however, I almost felt that there was too much emotional and personal content about Boyle, and I didn’t buy into it. I understand that all those that HAVE read the first book may already feel that they have a history with her, and may have got more from those parts of the story.

The actual thriller was OK, no great shakes, but cruised along as a fair enough page-turner. I DID actually want to know what happened, I was invested enough to care, but didn’t feel that there was enough excitement to make it stand out amongst others that I have read.

The parts with Boyle and her baby and her husband kind of slowed the pace down, and that may have been on purpose, to add to the next in the series, but as a brand new reader to the Boyle series, it was just an irritation. Perhaps you actually NEED to read ALL the books in this series!

Are You Watching Me? by Sinéad Crowley will be published on 2nd July 2015.

if i should die – matthew frank

If I Should Die

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Joseph Stark isn’t your average Trainee Detective. As the Met investigation team’s newest and youngest member, he expects the going to be tough – but he’s used to that. An Afghan veteran, he has been left severely injured by an attack that killed his comrades.

Of course, his new colleagues don’t know the full story, and Stark isn’t about to start confiding in them – he wants them to accept him on his own merit.

His first investigation concerns a gang that seem to have been viciously attacking homeless people, apparently without motive. But when one victim fights back, and the attack results in murder, Stark’s team are called in.

On the gritty streets of South London, Stark realises that the truth may strike a little closer to home than he would have wished.

This is Matthew Frank’s debut novel, and billed as ‘Joesph Stark #1’ on Goodreads, I am assuming that this is planned to be the first in a series featuring the broken young detective.

It’s a good introduction. If a little repetitive at times. That was one of my very few criticisms – Stark’s thoughts went over and over the same things quite a lot. But in reality, they definitely would have done. On the plus side, it made him feel extremely real, and I completely ‘got’ his motivations, but on the flip side of that, it doesn’t really make great reading.

It took a little while for me to get into a book. That might be because I felt wrong-footed. I was expecting a ‘stabby thriller catchy killer’ book, and the opening scene is of a soldier (Stark)¬†being ambushed. there was nothing wrong with it, I just hadn’t been expecting it, and I’m a bit of a girl when it comes to ‘war stuff’ – I’m not that moved by it. (NB: I’m not saying that girls don’t like war books full stop).

There were some great little twists and turns that hadn’t been entirely obvious throughout the book, and I really enjoyed the ‘unexpected’ ending.

The characters were extremely well written. I loved the banter between Stark and his new boss Fran, and I absolutely love her boss, Groombridge. He’s just SO cool ūüôā

Great debut! It will be interesting to see if the series manages to develop seeing as so much seems to have been resolved in Stark’s¬†psyche within this first book – what other surprises can he possibly be holding out?

the murder pit – jeff shelby

The Murder Pit

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Daisy Savage is living the real life Brady Bunch dream. She’s back with her high school sweetheart, very much in love and their respective¬†families (her two girls and a boy, him one girl) get along great. They’ve also bought a beautiful old house in her hometown that she has been completely charmed by, even though it is more than a century old, with all the problems that come with that.

The problem that she didn’t expect to come with it though is a dead body hidden beneath it. ¬†What’s more, the body turns out to be of someone that she knows. Even worse, it becomes clear that her fellow citizens of Moose River seem to believe that SHE is the prime suspect.

Can Daisy find out what happened and clear her name?

This is an extremely light read – there’s not a lot of brain power that needs to be invested into it, which is obviously quite a relief sometimes after harder reads (I was also reading a book about a murdering paedophile, so the lightness and humour was rather inviting!)

Daisy has a strong voice, and is a very likeable realistic character, as is her husband Jake and a couple of the lesser cast members that we meet along the way. However, other than the son (for obvious reasons), the children kind of merge into one.

I liked the coziness of Daisy’s relationship, which fit in will with the ‘coziness’ (read ‘unbearable closeness’) of living in a small town – where everyone knows everyone, and everything that have got up to with everyone else. Where people jump to conclusions, and cast their own judgement without any evidence.

To be honest, the actions of her fellow townsfolk didn’t really ring true to me. There was far more accusation and blaming than I personally would have expected. I’d have thought a murder would have brought everyone out and gossiping, and trying to get closer to the limelight.

Of course, Daisy wanting to clear her name was her motivation for ‘solving the case’ – but I think the absolute ostracism felt far less believable than finding a corpse while trying to deal with your frozen pipes.

However, it was quick, light and easily enjoyable.

dead gone – luca veste

Dead Gone

I received this book as a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

The body of a City of Liverpool University student has been found in a local park.  Another murder for DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi? Well, not quite. This is the first murder that Murphy has had to face since he went through a horrific personal experience around a year before, leaving his nerves and confidence knocked.

On top of that, there is a note left with the body that seems to suggest that this may not be a ‘straightforward’ murder. Not wanting to read too much into it, Murphy believes it to be a crank – but when another body turns up with another letter, the victim also linked to the University, Murphy realises that he may well be dealing with the sick, twisted mind of a serial killer.

As hunty-thriller-catchy-killer books go, this was a good one. There’s an intro that after a while you realise isn’t quite what you originally thought. DI Murphy is a great character, rather broken, as you expect with fictional detectives, but he doesn’t always get it right – he feels more real. He’s not a super-detective. His flaws are many, but his humanity is all. I’m pleased to see that this book is described as (DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi #1) on Goodreads, which hints at it being the first of a series featuring them.

A lot of it seemed to play out very cinematically in my head – and I’m not sure whether that was because the author drew on ‘known’ detective-style scenes, or because the descriptions cast a very strong visual in my mind. Either way, it meant that I could see this transferring to the small screen very easily.

I also liked the way that you strongly know quite a way into the book, exactly who the killer is, but then other events occur and you’re left guessing whether you’d misread it. ¬†It all ties up well in the end.

I’ll look forward to the next one!

the troop – nick cutter

The Troop – Nick Cutter

I received this book as an Advance Review Copy in return for an honest review.

A group of Boy Scouts are with their Troop Leader for a fun survival weekend on the tiny uninhabited Falstaff Island, just off of Prince Edward Island on the East Canadian coast.

However, survival soon becomes more pertinent, when a haggard stranger appears out of nowhere looking extremely sick – in fact close to death. ¬†The ‘close to’ becomes redundant before the night is out, and the boys realise that dealing with his death is the least of the problems, as it is apparent that the cause of his illness is holy unnatural, and a hidden threat to them all.

Will any of the troop manage to escape the island alive?

Billed as ‘Lord Of The Flies’ meets ‘The Ruins’, this sounded a good, old-fashioned horror / thriller.

Cutter managed to give each of the boys enough character to care what happened to them, and be rooting for most of them to survive, but without going into too much boring, irrelevant back-story.

The actual ‘horror’ itself reminded me very much of Infected by Scott Sigler. This is a favourite of mine and my hubby’s. A little bit silly, but toe-curlingly gross-out it in places. ¬†There’s nothing worse or more gruesome than a scary monster that you can’t fight as it’s already inside you.

The Troop was a mixture of the ‘live action’, and post-action official reports and articles, giving it a newsy, realistic feel.

Good, dark fun. Easy to read and gave me decent spine-shivers.

The Troop by Nick Cutter will be published on 7th January 2014.

until you’re mine – samantha hayes

Until You’re Mine

I received this as an Advance Review Copy from the publishers via NetGalley for an honest review  (although it did actually come out in June!)

Told in their own voices, Until You’re Mine tells the intertwining stories of Claudia, Zoe and Lorraine.

Claudia seems to have everything Рbeautiful, rich, very happily married with twin four year old stepsons and now happily eight months pregnant with a baby girl to complete her family.  With her Navy husband away for long periods of time, Claudia is taking on a nanny to ease her home-life, and enable her to carry on working.

Zoe seems the perfect nanny – more mature, and therefore less flighty, great with the boys and very protective (perhaps too much so) of Claudia and her unborn daughter.

Elsewhere, Lorraine and her husband are trying to repair the wounds in their marriage, whilst still working together – this time on a case where a heavily pregnant woman has been killed in her own home.

As Zoe spends more time in her home, Claudia begins to suspect that she isn’t quite all that she seems – does she really have any cause for concern?

An easy to read psychological thriller, the story plays full into the run of emotions and fears that women have as expectant mothers.

The main characters were all strong in their own ways, and their voices were separate and recogniseable.¬† Just as a kept thinking “Oh, I know what’s going on here”, a spanner would be thrown into the works, and I would be left wondering whether I really did.

It was a proper page-turner / button-clicker, and kept you on your toes right til the end.

Well thought out, well executed, tense and very enjoyable. Big thumbs up from me!

safe house – chris ewan

Safe House

I picked this up on Kindle for 20p back in December when Amazon were having one of their seasonal special deals.  It is now £3.29.

Set on the Isle of Man, plumber Rob Hale wakes up in hospital with head injuries sustained in an accident he has had on his motorbike.  In pain, dazed and confused, he asks after Lena Рa woman he had met the day before and who he had been giving a ride to when he crashed.

When he is told that no woman was brought in with him and that the house he believed he picked her up from was deserted, he wonders whether it’s his mind playing tricks on him.¬† She did bear a strong resemblence to his sister who died recently – perhaps his combined head trauma and grief has somehow merged the two events?

But then his parents bring in Rebecca, a PI from London, to investigate his sister’s suicide.¬† together they start uncovering things that seem to point to Lena’s existence and a possible connection to his sister.

From the start, this had me gripped – there’s nothing like a disappearing hot chick mystery to draw you in.¬† It didn’t relent from there.¬† The action was fast-paced, and Rob has a great and believable voice – and he loves his grandpa and his dog Rocky, so can only be a good guy, right? ūüėČ

There’s intrigue, death, and a huge conspiracy theory – what more can you want from a thriller?¬† OK, the plot seems a little thin or confusing at a couple of points, but overall it does what it says on the tin – it thrills, has great pace and a likeable and real protagonist.

Enjoyable beach / holiday light reading type book.

three graves full – jamie mason

Three Graves Full

I was lucky to be able to get this as an Advance Review Copy.

Jason Getty is a quiet unassuming man – softly spoken and mild-mannered widower of a wife that he adored.¬† That’s why he finds it so hard to come to terms that there is a body slowly decomposing in his back garden – a body that HE put there.

That’s why, when there are workmen digging up his garden, he nervously awaits the inevitable call to “see what they’ve uncovered”.¬† However, when he finally manages to control his quaking legs and walks out of his back door, he finds them staring aroound a whole in the ground, not at the back, near the fence, but in a flower bed, right near the house.

Jason joins them, confused, and finds himself staring at a human skeleton.¬† But this isn’t HIS skeleton! Who the hell has buried a body in his garden.¬† As the book title suggests, another body is soon found, that also isn’t the one that Jason is accountable for!

Just as Jason had thought that he had to finally face the music for what he had done, he now wonders if there is a chance that he may be able to get away with it after all.

I loved this book as I loved the disparate nature of the main characters, that all came together so imaginatively.  There is a fantastic drip-feed of information that kept me turning the pages (well, clicking my kindle button) well after I should have been asleep!

It is a brave author who introduces one of their main characters as a murderer, and then has to work so hard to ensure that the reader does not make a snap judgement of them.  It was also unusual to feel on the side of both the police AND the person that they were trying to apprehend.

I can imagine it making a film with very ‘squidgy’ gross parts to it.¬† One section especially comes to mind, “There wasn’t enough firm substance left in the pile to technically fall on Harris, so the finale was more of a splashy dive into him. Eww!

There are a few parts that I highlighted as there were some really lovely phrases used.¬† And one of the best characters is that of Maggie, the faithful dog of one of the detectives – she’s fab!

It has a Coen brothers / Carl Hiassen, Christopher Brookmyre feel to it, and was a great romping read.

Three Graves Full will be published on 12th February 2013.

cold remains – sally spedding

Cold Remains

I received this as a review copy via the publishers.

Heron House in Carmarthenshire the eerie setting for this supernatural thriller bridging the late 40s and 2005.

Londoner Jason Robbins signs up for a creative-writing course to be held in the sprawling property that has seen better days.  Jason is enamoured by cook Helen who meets him from the station, but is wary of sinister elderly Davies cleaner & gardener duo who seem to have some kind of hold of their scheming employer Monty Flynn.

When Helen & Jason find a local old lady dead in her home, they both start experiencing things that they can’t explain.¬† Strange stains and smells in Heron House appear and disappear, books fly across the room and they both start seeing strange scenes and hearing the same voice 0 that of Magriad.

But who is Magriad? What does she have to do with Heron House?  Why does Monty Flynn suddenly need to rush off to London?  And what does this all have to do with the events of 1946?

This book felt like it took me an age to finish – but I was determined to, even though I dreaded reading it every time I picked it up.

I know that I have had a lot on my mind recently, but even taking that into account, I found this horrendously confusing.  Because of the two storylines, there were two sets of characters, and the cast for each seemed to be rather large.  I got quite lost as to who various people were, and where they fit in.

I can’t fault Spedding for creating an atmospheric setting, but I wasn’t quite as convinced with her huge cast of characters.¬† Jason & Helen felt believable enough, and seemed pretty well realised, but I couldn’t really understand the motivations for the rest of them – so it felt that no matter how they acted, it confused me!

It also felt unnecessarily graphic at some points.¬† I kind of get why, but perhaps because I didn’t buy into many of the characters, it really felt disturbingly harsh.¬† There was really only one sexual scene, but then I have have never read a story with so many references to a woman’s period – it felt almost sick.¬† Yes…there was eventually a reason to it, but I felt that every few pages I was having to read about it, and the end by no means made up for the uncomfortable reading.

And I am in no way a prude by a long shot!

I’d be interested in finding anyone else who has read this, to see whether it’s just my current state of mind that made this so unenjoyably confusing.¬† I can’t say I would pick up another one of her books.

**UPDATE** In contrast to my own review, there is another more complimentary one here: 

I like to be fair!

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