Stillhouse Lake

Stillhouse Lake

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Ebook
Expected publication 1 July 2017
302 pages
Kindle First

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This was my Kindle First choice for June.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

EXTRACT 

Gina never asked about the garage.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought Stillhouse Lake was an excellent read, a top notch psychological thriller. I liked the concept, not something I’ve really come across in the thriller genre before. The book opens with a bang with the skinned body of a woman being found as a result of a drunk driver crashing into the side of a garage unleashing terrible dark secrets. I knew I had to read on when I read this corker of an opener. I liked the characters. Gwen has had to become tough to take care of her kids in the fallout from her husband’s crimes and distance herself as much as possible from gullible, easily duped Gina Royal. I enjoyed the way the tension really builds in the novel from the moment the first body is found and Gwen struggles to hold onto the fragile life she’s built. Stillhouse Lake is the definition of a page turner. What spoiled it for me was the cliff-hanger ending. I’m not opposed to them as long as they work and there are enough unknowns to make a second or third book work. This isn’t the case with Stillhouse Lake. I felt the story concludes and there’s no need to drag the plot out for a second book. If there will be one otherwise a cliff-hanger is pointless. Stillhouse Lake is good and recommended but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

BLOG TOUR: Winter Downs ARC

BLOG TOUR: Winter Downs ARC

winter-downs-cover-by-jan-edwardsWinter Downs by Jan Edwards
Published by Penkhull Press
Ebook
Published 3 June 2017
238 pages
ARC

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I was given an ARC by the author and voluntarily reviewed it. I am delighted to take part in the blog tour

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

Winter Downs is first in the Bunch Courtney Investigates series.

OPENING 

The first gunshot flushed a clamour of rooks into a yellowish sky to circle their tribal elms.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really enjoyed Winter Downs. This book has a charming feel of an old fashioned mystery novel in the vein of Miss Marple or something similar. I thought the characters were great, well written, made of flesh and blood. I loved Bunch; the name suits her better than her real name, Rose. She’s a great heroine, feisty, determined to prove her friend and sometime lover did not kill himself and refusing to back down even though everyone else thinks she’s barking up the wrong tree. I loved her. I really liked the plot as well, how all the little seemingly unconnected threads (Frampton’s death, the murder of a Land Girl and her soldier lover) are gradually, bit by bit revealed to be linked. I kept second guessing what was going on and I’m glad to say I was barking up the wrong tree. I liked the way Winter Downs ended. I really enjoyed the book, would like to read the entire series and recommend the book.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Dead Man’s Prayer

Dead Man’s Prayer

NETDead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin
Published by Killer Reads
Ebook
Published 2 September 2016
309 pages
NetGalley

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I was given a review copy by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT 

Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

EXTRACT 

Father Ignatius Boyd lifted the crystal tumbler to his mouth and gulped greedily at the brandy, his shaking hand causing the glass to knock unpleasantly against his teeth.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I thought Dead Man’s Pray was great. I loved that it was set in Dumfries. Being Scottish, I have a weakness for fiction of any kind set here, especially crime fiction. I also love police procedurals. I loved the way this novel was paced, fast and intense, my favourite kind of book. I was hooked from start to finish. I liked the link to the church which isn’t found a lot in crime fiction. I loved the characters; they were made of flesh and blood and came to life. The plot really holds together in Dead Man’s Prayer. This novel is packed with twists and turns and I love that in crime fiction. I was second guessing all the time and often wrong. Dead Man’s Prayer is great and highly recommended.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Missing, Presumed

Missing, Presumed

NETMissing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
Published by The Borough Press
Ebook
Published 25 February 2016
417 pages
NetGalley

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT 

A MISSING GIRL

Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.

A DESPERATE FAMILY

Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.

A DETECTIVE AT BREAKING POINT

The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing person’s case becomes a murder investigation?

EXTRACT

She can feel hope ebbing, like the Christmas lights on fade in Pound Saver. Manon tells herself to focus on the man sitting opposite, whose name might be Brian but could equally be Keith, who is crossing his legs and his foot bangs her shin just where the bone is nearest the surface. She reaches down to rub it but he’s oblivious.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought Missing, Presumed was a decent read. I liked the blurb but the book didn’t quite reach it’s potential. I thought the writing was very good, Steiner know how to tell a story. The description really brought things to life. Dialogue can be hard to pull off in a book and I’ve read a few where it’s flat and clunky – Steiner nails it in this book. I also felt the police procedural aspects came off well. Two aspects fell short for me.  I didn’t feel like I engaged with the characters as well as I’d hoped. The thought DS Bradshaw was well written but the other characters lacked something. I also didn’t like that some crime elements were pushed aside to focus on DS Bradshaw. I did enjoy Missed, Presumed though and it got much better towards the end. Missing, Presumed is worth a read and I’d recommend it.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

Everything But The Truth

Everything But The Truth

NETEverything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister
Published by Penguin
Ebook
Published 9 March 2017
432 pages
NetGalley

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Just how much can you trust the person you love?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth.

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

OPENING 

It ended with an accusation I never thought I’d make, thrown across the room at him like a grenade.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really enjoyed Everything But The Truth. This is a different sort of thriller than I’m used to and I really liked it. This novel is packed with tension and is quite intense and uncomfortable at times. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading the book. I geared myself up for a run-of-the-mill thriller about someone with dark secrets and got something very different. I thought Rachel was a great character and I loved her voice. I had complete sympathy for her – her quest to uncover the truth after discovering enormous lies was very believable. I would have acted the same way she did. I really didn’t like Jack at times. Given what happened, I understood his motivations but found myself furious with his botched way of handling it and the lies he kept telling Rachel. I wanted to slap him across the face. In the end, when Jack tells Rachel the whole truth my opinion of him completely changed. I thought Everything But The Truth was great. I’d recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Here And Gone ARC

Here And Gone ARC

NETHere And Gone by Haylen Beck
Published by Crown Publishing Group
Ebook
Expected publication 20 June 2017
304 pages
NetGalley

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I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.

Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention and finds herself on an empty road in Arizona, far from home. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.

As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining…

Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller.

OPENING 

The road swayed left then right, the rhythm of it making Audra Kinney’s eyelids grow heavier as each mile marker passed. She had given up counting them; it only made the journey slower. Her knuckles complained as she flexed her fingers on the wheel, palms greasy with sweat.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

Here and Gone is a well-paced thriller, full of twists and turns and brilliant misdirection. This is the kind of book you can’t put down. As I read I found myself compelled to read on to find out what the hell was going on and to see the cops get their comeuppance. The novel starts brilliantly, with a seemingly innocent encounter turning brilliantly menacing. My jaw hit the floor! Even though I knew from the start what had happened to Audra’s kids this didn’t spoil the book in any way. The enjoyment was from watching Audra’s gut-wrenching ordeal as she’s demonised and wondering when the cops would finally slip up. I loved the way the novel is paced, getting more and more intense as it rattled towards a very satisfying conclusion. I had a great time with Here and Gone and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

A Game Of Ghosts

A Game Of Ghosts

A Game Of Ghosts by John Connolly
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
Ebook
Published 6 April 2017
464 pages
Owned

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

It is deep winter. The darkness is unending.

The private detective named Jaycob Eklund has vanished, and Charlie Parker is dispatched to track him down. Parker’s employer, Edgar Ross, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has his own reasons for wanting Eklund found.

Eklund is no ordinary investigator. He is obsessively tracking a series of homicides and disappearances, each linked to reports of hauntings. Now Parker will be drawn into Eklund’s world, a realm in which the monstrous Mother rules a crumbling criminal empire, in which men strike bargains with angels, and in which the innocent and guilty alike are pawns in a game of ghosts . . .

EXTRACT 

A new fall of snow had settled upon the old, like memories, like the years.

WHAT I THOUGHT

This is the 15th Charlie Parker thriller and the books get better each time. I’ve been a rabid fan of Parker’s strange cases since the first book, Every Dead Thing which means I have been reading the author for more than 15 years. That gave me quite a chill. Anyway, I thought A Game of Ghosts was amazing. This book deals with a lot of repercussions of the novel, A Time of Torment especially in relation to Parker’s relationship with his daughter Sam and his already tenebrous relationship with his ex, Rachel. I look forward to seeing where this will lead but something tells me it’s not going to be good. This was quite a dark book. I’ve noticed the books have gotten darker since Parker almost died in The Wolf in winter. I wonder where this will lead. Parker is getting old. Angel is one of my favourite characters and his health is starting to ail. What is the exact nature of Sam’s gift? Who or what is the Dead King? Will he rise? What will the consequences be? I sense the end coming for Charlie Parker and I expect it to be nothing short of spectacular. I thought A Game of Ghosts was amazing and would highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING