The Art of Death by David Fennell #BookReview

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Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

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star three and a half

I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book, it has a perfect vibe for a dark thriller (who doesn’t love that nice extra touch of some fake blood spatters on a cover eh) and I was really looking forward to reading this novel.

I enjoyed plenty of things about The Art of Death. First off, I found that the macabre vibe of the cover was reflected in the book as well and I LOVED that. It wasn’t there all the time and it didn’t domineer the story but at times there was this extra little dark touch that made my heart pump a little faster. I didn’t realise it at the time but the story really does grow more harrowing with every new chapter. At the start of The Art of Death three bodies (yes why not three at once) are found dead in a glass case for all to see. The killer has a weird sense of seeing dead bodies as art. How he can have a huge following and fans is beyond my comprehension but what do I know. Then, however, the author has a few other tricks up his sleeve that are effectively shocking. Like getting to know the victims quite well first and then witnessing their deaths. Seriously, I don’t want to read about formadehyde for at least three books now, what a way to die! There’s also one particular scene that I read while trying to divert my eyes a little (it didn’t help) and which really stood out for me, as well as one victim that I couldn’t help root so hard for to survive!

The only issue that I had with this book was that even though it had so much going for it and however much I enjoyed the team of Quinn and Archer, it didn’t surprise me enough. I knew what was what and not even the red herrings in the story could fool me. It was just too plain to see…

Another plot and another killer and I might love his next story so definitely one to watch out for. The author and the vibe of the novel reminds me a little bit of J.D. Barker so if the plot gets a bit more clever then he could mean some serious competition in the future.

I received a copy of this book via my Capital Crime Book Subscription box. This is my honest opinion.

The House Guest by Mark Edwards #BookReview

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A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers―let alone invite them into your home―but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

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star three and a half

After I read the brilliant novel Here to Stay (here’s my review) I bought a copy of his next book The House Guest, and then I also received it in my Capital Crime subscription box so with two copies on my shelves I felt the universe was telling me I really needed to read it soon. So 6 months later here we are ;-).

I absolutely loved the first part of the novel where we get to know the unexpected stranger Eden (it did make me smile that she turned up at Adam’s and Eve’s Ruth’s doorstep) and the tension starts to seep in because I could feel something was about to go wrong, and I wondered what Eden could be hiding. The bearded guy watching the place highly contributed to that feeling. Was he after her, was she in danger? The cut came rather too quick with Part Two of the story starting already after 58 pages and unfortunately what followed was an over the top plotline and one I personally don’t really enjoy reading about. I can’t really spell it out (although I wish it was mentioned in the book blurb) but if you know my taste you can probably guess the direction it took. There followed an action-packed part for Adam which held my attention because I love a good chase but the idea of this plotline was just a bit too far fetched even though it all fits together perfectly. It was quite spectacular in the end and not how I had envisioned a house-sitting to develop into at all.

Overall this story was okay. The House Guest was only not entirely my genre so not my favourite one if I have to choose. Oh well, I guess now that we have this subject covered, it won’t appear in the next novel so I can’t wait to read the next one!

I bought a copy (ok copies) of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides #BookReview

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St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most.

For Mariana Andros – a group therapist struggling through her private grief – it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it’s the tragic scene of her best friend’s murder.

As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its students.

Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.

A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders – and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana’s investigation – an obsession which will cost her everything…

The Maidens is a story of love, and of grief – of what makes us who we are, and what makes us kill.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Michaelides’s debut novel The Silent Patient was an amazing read and merits to be called a real bestseller, and the huge #WTF twist made this book so memorable that it went straight to my top 10 of 2019 (here’s my review). You can imagine how excited I was to read his next book The Maidens and how I jumped for joy when I was approved to read an ecopy on Netgalley.

The Maidens is a solid read but maybe my expectations were a little too high as for me personally it didn’t equal the first novel. One of the things I did however particularly enjoy about this novel were the references to Greek mythology, to the legend of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone who was abducted by Hades (to jog your memory: the turning of the seasons is liased to Persophone) and the Greek celebration of this legend (The Rites of Eleusis because Demeter went to look for her daughter at Eleusis). The (not quite so secret) little student club was quite intriguing and I could easily imagine secret rites among this group and there being someone who wants to share a message to the world. Mariana is quite hung up on the killer being the professor Fosca but the more she became obsessed, the more I became convinced that it couldn’t be him… even though I had no clue who was leaving intriguing calling cards.

Unfortunately the author doesn’t pull the line entirely through and The Maidens themselves were ultimately not as interesting as I expected. The characters of this group were not developed so I didn’t really care much whether they could be a next victim and if you ask me to describe them I wouldn’t really know what to say. I’m in two minds at times as well though because I’m not a fan of reading about cults and rites (remember my review of The Furies) so I was on the other hand quite happy I was spared having to read such scenes.

I did love that a few characters from the first novel are named in this novel too, they are intricately woven into this plot. Don’t worry though, you don’t need the first novel, it’s just a reference made at some point but it was cool!

I quite liked the big twist in the end, he tried to pull off another one of his unexpected twists and although it was for me partially successful, it was a bit radical. I thought the book was leading somewhere but it actually takes a whole different direction in the end, which is amazing, only I don’t deal well with such startling turnarounds.

The Maidens is a psychological thriller with a gothic edge. Don’t take your eyes off the first part is the only advice I can give you and maybe you’ll be more triumphant in discovering who did it than I was.

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.

The Creak on the Stairs / Girls Who Lie by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #BookReviews @OrendaBooks

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When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice before it’s too late.

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I read a sampler of The Creak on the Stairs with the first chapters of this novel almost two years ago and I immediately knew this novel was very promising. This sampler stayed on my mind for a very long time so I was super excited when I finally had the full novel in my hands. I haven’t read a lot of nordic crime yet but after reading The Creak on the Stairs I have to conclude that I really don’t know why that is. I have to admit that the Icelandic names needed some getting used to… there’s a pronunciation guide before the first chapter which I thought was very cool and at first I did give it a try to read every name very carefully the way it was pronounced. I gave up on my mission fairly quickly though and even glossed over some long names (Elma’s mother for example) when I started to recognize them by sight; knowing which character was meant was ultimately enough for me.

The Creak on the Stairs is quite unsettling and much more than a simple whodunnit. It is wonderfully complex and there’s a whole history behind the murder which is divulged throughout the story but was only becoming stunningly  clear to me at the very end. And then apart from the present day investigation by Elma, there’s also a narrative starting in 1989 which describes the childhood of the woman who died. It wasn’t cheerful or an easy upbringing, and I felt a pain and sadness while reading these pages. There are a lot more characters that make an appearance which include several members of the same family and their spouses (Ása and Hendrik, their son Bjarni and his wife Magnea, the husband’s brother Tómas and his wife Ásdis) as well as several witnesses who crossed Elísabet’s path in the past and present. All have a story to tell, so it was impossible to know if any of them were connected or relevant to the story (of course they are) but their individual stories kept me enraptured.

Did I tell you that this story was wonderfully complex? It was complex and utterly tragic and Elma was a great character, someone who has it in her to sink her teeth into it and unravel the truth. I’d like to get to know Elma even better but I liked her and I loved the sort of chemistry in the air between her and her colleague Saevar even though neither one of them is really open to it, and Elma still misses David, the man who she was with for 9 years.

The further into the story the more unsettling it reads and the final revelations were quite unexpected. Finally a novel that was able to surprise me… and that’s not all, in the final pages Elma reveals something that caught me completely off guard!

This is the first novel in the ‘Forbidden Island’ series and what a debut it is! A great novel that makes me want to dive into the next one of the series right away! I’m a standalone type of reader but for this series I’m very happy to make the exception!

I received a copy of this novel in the Capital Crime Book Club box. This is my honest opinion.

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When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

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The e-book is out on 22 May, you can pre-order the paperback as it’s publication date is set at 22 July 2021.

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I didn’t think it was possible but the second novel in the series about Elma, the female police inspector in Iceland pleased me even more than the author’s debut. Without a doubt this will probably stay my favorite novel even in the future, when there are many more books in this excellent series. The plot, the characters, the brilliant twists… everything was amazing. 

It takes a little bit of time before the real developments in the investigation of Maríanna’s murder take off but in the meantime I still had a lot to sink my teeth in. The author explored Hekla’s – Maríanne’s daughter – life and throughout the whole novel there are also extracts that start with the shared feelings of how tough life is for a young mother with a newborn who doesn’t have anyone to rely on. Those snippets continued at regular intervals in the novel detailing the strenuous relationship over 15 years, the struggles of a mother with a girl who doesn’t seem to behave like other girls. So many emotions arose inside me, all wanting to come out. At first I was furious with the way she treated her infant but at times I felt just as much compassion, sensing she might have post-natal depression. Was it all it was though, was she actually an evil person, or was it the child who was really different, making her harder to love?

Who murdered Maríanna? You’d almost think her own daughter Hekla had the most to gain because she loved her weekends at her foster parents much more than staying with her own mum, but wasn’t that a little presumptuous? In the course of the novel several characters appear to be a perfect candidate. There’s so much to uncover and it’s wonderful how deeper into the story, I had the feeling Elma and myself were in way over our heads… where was this going to lead?

I thought I knew what was going on, but the author had some very VERY clever red herrings up her sleeve. The story is much more complex than I initially expected and the characters have a fascinating complexity as well. Eva Björg AEgisdottir twists and turns the story quite literally until you hardly know which way to go… I loved how everything changed by the end and I was SO surprised yet again!

This book and this entire series is absolutely brilliant so far. I highly recommend the series to all readers who set the bar high and who are often let down by the simplicity of other novels because this is anything but! I have become a big fan over the course of these two books and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Elma!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher, Orenda Books, for review. This is my honest opinion.

 

The Skylight by Louise Candlish, a #QuickReads2021 title #TheReadingAgency

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Do you know what Quick Reads is? A ‘quick’ introduction:

One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and one in three people do not regularly read for pleasure.

Quick Reads – a programme by The Reading Agency, a national UK charity – plays a vital role in addressing these shocking statistics by inspiring emergent readers, as well as those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit, with entertaining and accessible writing from the very best contemporary authors.

This year Quick Reads is celebrating its 15th Anniversary, which means that over five million copies of Quick Reads titles have been distributed since the life-changing programme began in 2006. To celebrate this year there’s this amazing deal:

“Buy one, gift one:

Buy a Quick Read this summer and Quick Reads will gift a copy to help someone discover the joy of reading.”

And all of the Quick Reads are available in paperback for purchase at just £1.

There is something for everyone in the six 2021 titles:

  • The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic);
  • The Skylight by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster);
  • Saving the Day by Katie Fforde (Arrow);
  • Wish You Were Dead by Peter James (Macmillan);
  • How to Be a Woman, abridged by Caitlin Moran (Ebury);
  • The Motive by Khurrum Rahman (HQ).

I’m very grateful to the lovely publishing team of MIDAS PR for sending me the title of my choice, a copy of The Skylight by Louise Candlish.

Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”

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They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…

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I haven’t read any of her novels yet but I wanted to get to know this author’s work after reading so many appraising reviews for The Other Passenger and hearing Our House is now in development for a major TV series, so this Quick Reads title seemed like a perfect introduction. I’m normally not a big fan of short stories so it did set the bar rather high. If Louise Candlish could convince me in only 89 pages then I’d definitely want to read more of her novels, if not, well then that would be too bad but at least I’d know. Well I can say that I read the book in one sitting (that’s also a first and I loved it that I didn’t have to put it down in between reading this) and really enjoyed it 🙂

Louise Candlish had no trouble convincing me of her writing, I liked Simone right away I was practically as shocked as she was when I read about her discovery. I don’t know if I’d follow the same course of action (well I don’t think so) but I was with her every step of the way and with such a limited number of pages it still managed to hold the necessary amount of menace and mounting tension that would happen in a full paged book of 300 pages. I could actually foresee the ending a little bit but I hadn’t actually anticipated the big twist. I didn’t actually mind the ending too much, it was ok as a wrap up and one I could live with. I certainly want to read more of her books now so I think that’s mission accomplished.

This Quick Reads title was a nice surprise. They’re not easy to find here in Belgium but if I’d came across them in a bookstore I’d certainly pick up a few more new authors who seem interesting to me.

I received a free copy of a QuickReads title from publisher MidasPR. This is still my honest opinion.

Sleepless by Romy Hausmann #BookReview

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It’s over, my angel. Today I’m going to die. Just like her. He’s won.

It’s been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she’s wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven – free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss – kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to be able to refuse.

The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer . . .

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I know there were a few weeks of silence but a combination of not enough sleep (the cat still keeps me awake every night from around 3 am), 8 hours of work already on the computer each day and some other things filling my head (my apartment’s final delivery is coming up but there are still things that need to be solved, just to name one), well it drained my energy and made my reading and reviewing suffer. I can’t even promise to be back next week, I’ll have to see how it goes, although I do hope to feel more energized and full of inspiration to write reviews soon (it’s amazing that I had so many visitors in between though, now I feel even more guilty for not keeping up).

Anyway, I want to let you know my thoughts on Sleepless by Romy Haussman today. I was a big fan of Romy Hausmann’s first novel Dear Child so I was thrilled with a chance to read Sleepless. There’s no comparing the two novels though, this new title did have an altogether different feel to it, even though it is also themed as a psychological and mystery novel.

I was already a good portion into the story before the connections between the characters made sense, especially at first it felt quite confusing. A young girl Nelly is having an affair with a salesman who stays at her parent’s inn whenever he’s travelling but it was impossible to work out what her appearance had to do with Nadja, especially because it happened in a different time frame. I couldn’t place what happened in the past to Nelly in any context and this thread is left then as well so other then introducing another character into the story, I did not see the relevance right then but eventually it does become clear in the end.

Nadja Kulka is quite a mysterious character, she was arrested when she was only 15 for committing a terrible crime and now she’s in the heat of the fire again when she’s called for help by Laura, a friend she made while working at a Gero van Hoven’s law firm. I’m always team underdog so I liked her but with everything that happened the author managed to make me have my doubts too… Is Nadja the perfect victim or is she in fact the one orchestrating and lying most of all? Who is the real villain of the story, Laura, her husband Gero van Hoven, or Nadja, it isn’t always clear and changes a over the course of the story too.

I absolutely love novels with fascinating characters that make me want to analyse them and Nadja was the most fascinating of all. Laura was a cheat and Gero a shark (he’s a lawyer after all) who didn’t listen when his client said he was innocent, so I catalogued them as the other party from the start and there was no love lost on them but Nadja, yes she was the one worthy of trying to figure out. Haussman is at her best on the psychological front and I enjoyed this part the most again. Nadja’s childhood was addictive to read and the story also came full circle with Nelly’s story tied into the great emotional ending of the novel. The story is about sacrifice but you’ll have to read it to learn who is being sacrificed. I found it a tad unbelievable, in light of how it all started but maybe I’m too severe, who knows. Let me know when you read it so we can exchange viewpoints.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Missing Pieces by Tim Weaver #BookReview #BlogTour @MichaelJBooks

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You don’t know your darkest secret.
But someone else does . . .

Rebekah Murphy knows too much. . .

She knows she’s alone on an abandoned island with a killer on her trail.
She knows that to get home to her children, she must survive long enough to understand why this is happening.
She knows someone tried to kill her for a secret.
What she doesn’t know is what that secret is . . .

Detective Frank Travis doesn’t know enough . . .

He doesn’t know where to find Louise Mason. He doesn’t know how and why she vanished into thin air three months ago. He doesn’t know the identity of the man last seen talking to her. Not yet.
But what he does know it that he’s a week away from retirement — and if he doesn’t find out where Louise went, no one will.

What neither Rebekah nor Detective Travis realise is that each holds a missing piece from the same puzzle — and it will cost them everything they love to finally solve it . . .

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We toss the term addictive around quite easily sometimes but you must take my word for it, Missing Pieces is crazy addictive!

It’s laughable in hindsight but when I had the book in my hands I was a little intimidated by how heavy it was, it counts 500 pages so I was a little scared to start with… but I flew right through them. It was an amazing read, and you know why I read it as fast as I could? Because nearly every chapter ended with a splendid cliffhanger. I swear sometimes I would think about stopping at the end of the chapter but then I would reach the end and I just found I COULD NOT STOP READING. 

It’s as much a survival story as it is a very compelling mystery and while I’m not always so into survival stories because they often show the same precut elements (being chased, struggling with the simplest survival skills etc.), it was a completely different story in Missing Pieces. Rebekah, the main character of the novel, is awesome, she’s very resourceful, she’s got what it takes and she’ll do anything to see her two children again.

The novel opens with Bek alone on the island but then also shifts between the time before she arrived there and detective Travis’s final days before his retirement. There’s one case Travis hasn’t cracked and with the hours ticking away he finds himself pushing himself to try and find some answers. I couldn’t work out at all how Louise Mason could be connected to Rebekah because artsy Louise seemed very far removed from mum-of-two Rebekah and they certainly didn’t seem to know each other.   

While Rebekah wonders why someone tried to kill her she is trying her best to survive in this utterly desolate place called Crow Island. The imaginary of the island itself was vivid and movie-worthy and it wasn’t even her struggle to find food that worried me the most but I was more afraid the lack of interaction with other human beings might prove to be the bigger threat for a deterioration of her state of mind. I rooted so much for her that I felt I couldn’t abandon her sometimes. Does that sound crazy? I know it does but really, I sometimes wanted to continue reading just to see how she would tackle a certain challenge. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in her, I just wanted to see what she would do and how and rather see her do it sooner than later. I did hold my breath at one particular time though when a situation that was built up over the course of the book became so tense and dangerous, it was really a make or break kind of moment and when I thought I could breath out again, I found it wasn’t over at all.

How are the women connected, is Travis going to solve the case, what happened to Johnny, who is after Rebekah, what ‘secret’ does she know, how is this all going to end? The questions just kept on coming and I was strung for answers. I highly anticipating the moment the ‘missing pieces’ of this puzzle would fall into place and the author certainly pulled it all perfectly together in the end. Missing Pieces is an incredible pacy read with a taut and compelling plotline that I hugely enjoyed. 

Where was I all these past years and why hadn’t I read any of his novels? I seriously regret not having read any of this author’s books before… what a big mistake! Missing Pieces is a brilliant standalone novel. Gripping is an understatement for this un-put-down-able mystery!

A big, big thank you to Chrissie Antoniou of Michael Joseph for the free paperback copy of this spell-bounding novel. This is my honest opinion.

* Do check out the other stops on the tour *

Missing Pieces Blog Tour

 

The Whispers by Heidi Perks #BlogTour #BookReview @arrowpublishing

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A MISSING WIFE. FOUR FRIENDS. WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.
She has a loving husband and a son she adores. Surely she wouldn’t abandon them and her perfect life. . .

But what has happened to her?

At the school gates, it’s not long before the rumours start. Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers, and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And a the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks. . .

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The wait was long but it’s fiiiinally my day to boast about this novel! Just so you know what’s coming up ahead ;-). I absolutely loved Heidi Perks’s novel Now You See Her (it made my top 10 of 2019) so I couldn’t be happier with the chance to read her latest novel The Whispers and – I can repeat my words from a few years ago – I absolutely loved it! The Whispers made it definite, Heidi Perks is on my auto-buy list from now on. I love the massive twists she incorporates in her stories. She really took me by surprise again this time and I was ready for anything but this.

The prologue starts with the discovery of a dead body (it’s in the first sentence so it doesn’t count as a spoiler I think) and then jumps to four months before, when Grace Goodwin shows up with her daughter Matilda at the local school in Clearwater, where she grew up herself. She’s looking for Anna, her childhood friend – they were even more like sisters then – but when she sees her it’s clear that Anna’s three new friends don’t really want to share Anna.

It is impossible not to sympathise with Grace who feels all alone and only wants to revive the friendship they once shared but her old friend doesn’t seem interested in reminiscing about the past. Anna’s friendship with Nancy, Rachel, and Caitlyn made alarm bells go off in my head, the circle of friends felt all wrong and Nancy came over as having quite an intimidating and domineering personality, I didn’t like her one bit. Then Anna goes missing after a night out with her besties and NOBODY seems inclined to involve the police. At least she has one good friend, Grace of course, who tries to find answers. Nancy, Rachel and Caitlyn were the last ones to see her so surely one of them (or maybe all 3 together) are keeping secrets? Would they really hurt her though, and if so, why? I was still able to hear Anna’s thoughts through her sessions with a therapist and I knew something was eating at her but she doesn’t immediately share what it is so the anticipation was a wonderful slow build of tension.

Cue an invisible break in the story where there’s a shifting of gears which put some of the things I thought I knew and felt in an entirely different perspective. I fell from one surprise into another and could hardly believe my eyes. I suddenly felt ambiguous towards both Anna and Grace and unsure what to think about the three musketeers,… Whose story to believe? It’s brilliant how she managed to make me feel throughout the story and made me change sides again and again, only to finally leave me with a astonishing ending. The ending should have felt righteous and justified and yet I couldn’t help feel sad for this person. Believe me I wouldn’t change the ending at all and I loved how tragic it is, it’s just one of the things that makes the impression of this novel long-lasting.

The Whispers is a fabulous psychological type of novel. I’d love to read more books of this type so I’m going to add the ones I haven’t read yet and I’ll definitely keep my eye out for the next one!

Many thanks to Rachel and the Arrow Publishing team for asking me to take part in Heidi Perks’ blog tour for ‘The Whispers’, and for supplying me with an ARC to review. This is as always my honest opinion.

* Do check out the other stops on the blog tour here *

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Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay #BookReview #BlogTour #AlexFinlay @HoZ_Books

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay and a big thank you to Chrissie of Head of Zeus for the invite to read and review this great debut novel!

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University student Matt Pine has just received devastating news. Nearly his entire family have been found dead while holidaying in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI aren’t convinced – and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy thrusts his family into the media spotlight again. Seven years ago, Matt’s older brother, Danny, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his teenage girlfriend. Danny has always sworn he was innocent, and last year, a true crime documentary that claimed he was wrongfully convicted went viral.

Now his family’s murder is overlapping with Danny’s case, Matt is determined to uncover the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison. Even if it means putting his own life in danger, and confronting his every last fear.

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That opening chapter of Every Last Fear… BAM! I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be so in your face right from the start. The discovery of Matt’s dead family was a little bit shocking, yet intriguing and it certainly made me want to dive right into the story, so as far as first chapters go, I’ve got to give it credit, it’s easily one of the best I have come across in quite some time.

In general terms, I very much enjoyed the writing style of the author as well as the special format of the story building and it didn’t take me long at all to know that this was going to be a novel to devour and that I would need more hours in a day. There are several mysteries up in the air at the same time making Every Last Fear quite a rollercoaster read. The first being of course the murder of the family which had me guessing wildly why anyone would want to murder an entire family (assuming it wasn’t an accident of course but I thought that was a safe bet) but I could not see any reason for a very long time. The other plotline involves the possible false imprisonment of Matt’s other brother Danny. Matt is absolutely sure Danny’s guilty but his father Evan and sister Maggie were never convinced he did it and never stopped trying to prove otherwise. The small matter of fact is that Danny actually confessed, just to make things more complex. What happened 7 years ago isn’t just told in cold hard facts nor in flashbacks like is often the case in these type of novels, no it’s through the family’s investigation as well as parts of a documentary made after Danny’s arrest that an image took shape in my head until the rest was filled in at a much later point in the novel. 

There’s also a detective in the story, Sarah Keller, but – another surprise – she’s not appointed to investigate the family’s deaths (because they were claimed to be an accident) but leading a money-laundering investigation into Marconi LLP, the firm Evan Pine was employed at before he was made redundant. Did that mean we have to search in the direction of corporate fraud or were the answers lying elsewhere? It’s not Keller who leads us single handedly to the truth in this novel but there was a wonderful mix of leads being followed and progress brought on by several of the family’s characters. There were also parts of an interview with Evan Pine interspersed between the chapters which were intriguing to read and I hoped they would help me build a picture of what happened with Danny Pine and possibly hold a clue in them somewhere that could be useful later into the story.  

At around 60-65% I started to have a small inkling about some of the answers but it was really only in the last 10% of the novel that it all started to make a lot more sense. I absolutely loved that the author was able to keep me in suspense for so long, and although I’m still in two minds about whether the (entire) family really had to die and the motive, I enjoyed the outcome very much. 

Finally, a word of appreciation for making me feel the pain of losing this wonderful family. I knew four members of the family were dead right from the start, yet I couldn’t help hoping for another outcome at the end of the novel. They were so alive in all those pages, Maggie a wonderful tenacious investigator and Evan such a wonderful father, it made it all the more tragic.

Every Last Fear is a very commendable debut novel. I love the author’s fresh ideas and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from Alex Finlay in the future!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is as always my honest opinion.

* Do check out the other stops on the tour here *

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🎬 🔪 The Cut 🎬 🔪 by Chris Brookmyre #BookReview

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Millie Spark can kill anyone.

A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence.

Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed.

Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life – until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief Jerry.

Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night . . . and someone doesn’t want them to find out why.

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I had only read Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre before and I found that one so very, very clever (you can read my review here) that it made it into my top 10 the first year after starting the blog. So when I saw The Cut and read the first line of the novel (‘Millie Spark can kill anyone’) I was immediately intrigued and wanted more than only this sublime catchphrase.

Millie and Jerry proved to be a brilliant and dynamic combination in this novel, even if you wouldn’t put them together at first sight. On the one hand there’s Millie (Millicent) who is in her seventies and lives with two other older ladies after her release in prison where she spent 25 years after being arrested for killing her partner. At the start of the novel she isn’t anyone’s best friend, her reactions keep everyone at a distance but at the end of the novel she’s transformed into a much friendlier woman, someone who can make jokes and who can have fun after all, and it might just be that Jerry played a role in making that transformation happen. Jerry is a student who studies film. He’s always been extremely interested in horror movies (or video nasties as they are called) and he knows just about every movie title and every actor. The story starts with alternating plotlines introducing these two characters and it was fun to see how their lives intersect and seeing them discover how much they have in common in their passion for the job on a movie set for Millie and love for the end product the actual film, for Jerry.

The story really kicks off when Millie – in Jerry’s company – finds a photo of her boyfriend of the time and doesn’t know who the other people in the photo are. A quick phone call only raises more questions about the night the picture was taken and unwittingly she happens to draw the attention to herself by someone who doesn’t wish her well exactly. She and Jerry don’t really have a choice but to embark on a thrilling and dangerous adventure in search of answers about who her dead boyfriend really was, while trying to figure out who is coming after them and why. 

The Cut is a story that plunges the reader into the movie business, horror movies in particular, and it entails everything from a little history about how the genre came to life to urban legends, while also making you feel as if you’re a fly on the wall on a movie set. Even though it’s not my genre to watch at all, I thought it was very interesting to read about.

The status of horror movies is negative by association. There are rumours of people dying who watched a horror movie or worked on one, and have you never heard media say that crimes that were committed stem from watching this type of movies? In the book they also talk about some cult movie, Mancipium, which was never shown because it’s supposed to be too disturbing for the public. Is it a myth, is it real, who knows? It does play a role in the story but not how I had anticipated at all. I did struggle a little bit following the political influences involved and the powers financing a movie and I thought this would ultimately lead me to the path of destruction and danger but I could never have been more wrong so you don’t need to worry when it sounds a bit complicated because the author created some wonderful red herrings only to lead you to the truth in the end, and what a stunning and shocking revelation it is! Much to my satisfaction, I loved how the story ramped up on speed and tension and the story turns out to be something completely different than I had thought, but in the best way.

The Cut is another great book by Chris Brookmyre, it’s one to sink your teeth in! Very compelling, highly recommended. I can’t wait to read more of his books after reading this one!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.