The It Girl by Ruth Ware #BookReview

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April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2 | 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars_1457015900_81_246_96_2

This was my fourth Ruth Ware novel (I have already reviewed The Lying Game, One by One and The Turn of the Key) and The It Girl is a wonderful addition, one that made me think and rethink about Neville’s involvement and other possible suspects.

I remember being slightly disappointed in one of her novels because the killer was too obvious for me but I promise you that The It girl kept me guessing and guessing some more. I thought I was a super sleuth but this novel certainly knocked me around.

The It Girl was a wonderful mystery to read. It provides an airtight case against Neville, one of the porters at Oxford University. Not only was he a seriously creepy guy, Hannah also saw him coming down the stairs and found April murdered minutes later. He always cried out his innocence though till the day he died in prison and it’s only when Hannah receives a tidbit of new information about April from a reporter that she wonders what was going on with April at the time. Did she know her at all? Why didn’t she tell Hannah, her roommate and best friend? She wants to get to the bottom of it so she visits her old college friends and it helps her to put the pieces together. Oh did I tell you that Will was April’s boyfriend and is now a soon-to-be father of Hannah’s child? I don’t know why I thought that would worth mentioning but I certainly found this an interesting turn of events.

Without divulging too much I can only say that I had a suspect and when this suspect was crossed out I found myself another one and it turned out in the end that I was wrong again. I love it when an author can wrongfoot me and she did so good! She put in several red herrings and the tension ramps up in the final chapters. I think I knew a little sooner than Hannah that she was in some kind of trouble but other than that I was as surprised as she was. There are lots of people who could have a reason to kill her but the real reason and finding out the background story preceding her murder was also an eye-opener for me.

The It Girl is the sort of novel that you just have to know who did it! It kept me turning pages at high speed. If you love playing detective and you enjoy books with multiple suspects then this is definitely worth putting on your readlist!

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

Demon by Matt Wesolowski #BookReview

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In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

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Demon’s the sixth book in the Six Stories series and one I’ve been very eager to read. If you’re new to the series I can only tell you that each novel can be read as a standalone because the only constant is the podcast presenter Scott King, who brings a new case each time to the reader’s attention where he interviews 6 people trying to gain more insight and to perhaps give a satisfying answer to why and what happened in the past. He’s not exactly trying to prove someone’s innocence like in many other novels, but still, by interviewing and hearing about the cases from different people there are always other viewpoints, other things they know and have seen and it changes things significantly. You start out with a very broad perspective but as you go on you start to see more nuance. It’s a wonderful journey how he peels back all these layers each time, twisting and turning the story as he goes, and – for lack of a better name – brings a sort of enlightenment in the end.

I do love finding out each time who the people are that he has lined up for the interviews, and this time around there were some unexpected guests on the show. He starts with a woman who lives in the village of the victim and the two teenage murderers. There’s never only a murder when Scott King is involved, there’s always some sort of legend involved, history that plays its own role, and certainly, again, there’s an atmosphere of creepiness and evil in the small rural town of Ussalthwaite predating the murders for decades.

Wesolowski really went all the way in this novel and for me it’s one that goes most deeply into the supernatural. It’s great but also the reason why it’s maybe not my favourite of the six books of the series. In the other novels there were clear answers and explanations in the end that satisfied me and in this case some of it remains rather trivial. I never thought I could get the heeby jeebies from the mention of a black stone that fits the palm of your hand. Such a stone is mentioned in relation to events in the seventies, the nineties and even in the present where it plays even a role in the life of someone who has nothing to do with Ussalthwaite. This person – for some reason – has summoned the wrath of the flies over herself too in the process and it was the first time ever I felt it was a little over the top, there was just too much of it you know?

I do hope this isn’t the last novel of the series although if it is, I think he did a brilliant job in every one of them. His writing is stellar in every novel! It’s also a great achievement for me that I read an entire series. If you need confirmation about the quality of the series, I think this tells you how great they are. If you want to read the reviews of all the novels, I’ve listed them, not in the order of publication but for you especially into my personal ranking:

Six Stories
Changeling
Deity
Hydra
Demon
Beast (frankly only because I remember the least about this novel now, also vampires are not my favorites to read about)

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This review is my honest opinion.

The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre #BookReview

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One hen weekend, seven secrets… but only one worth killing for

Jen’s hen party is going to be out of control…

She’s rented a luxury getaway on its own private island. The helicopter won’t be back for seventy-two hours. They are alone. They think.

As well as Jen, there’s the pop diva and the estranged ex-bandmate, the tennis pro and the fashion guru, the embittered ex-sister-in-law and the mouthy future sister-in-law.

It’s a combustible cocktail, one that takes little time to ignite, and in the midst of the drunken chaos, one of them disappears. Then a message tells them that unless someone confesses her terrible secret to the others, their missing friend will be killed.

Problem is, everybody has a secret. And nobody wants to tell.

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An isolated Scottish island and secrets, secrets and more secrets! How could I not get excited about that? I have read quite a few of books with a remote setting but The Cliff House definitely sticks out among the others. I knew I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to see how Chris Brookmyre (author of previously reviewed novels Black Widow and The Cut) would handle one of my favourite settings and if I would be able to suss the biggest secret of all.

Jen is soon to be married to Zaki and she has booked a very luxurious retreat for her hen weekend. She is joined at this remote Scottish island by a few friends from the tennis club (Nicolette and Kennedy), two of her oldest friends (Helena and Michelle), her soon to be sister-in-law Samira and Beattie, the sister-in-law of her first marriage to Jason.

There is instant tension from the get go between some of the characters and a whole lot more tension is added when they start to wonder who has the biggest secret. The plot switches smoothly between all the characters and the twists and turns follow each other up rapidly. In order to find their missing party member they have to work together in pairs and while they are trying to survive until they can alert someone or escape the island old grudges are brought into the open and there are quite a few. The truth flips opinions and there were some great secrets that I had not expected.

This story made me quite paranoid and I was suspicious of everyone, like a good old merry-go-round it made my head spin. I thought I knew where the story was going to take us in the end from the very beginning but I was completely off the mark, the page-turning plot is completely unpredictable!

The Cliff House (apparently also published as She Knows) was deliciously addictive and I can recommend this novel and this author in general to everyone who thinks they’re smart enough to figure things out with ease. Consider yourselves challenged!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Little Brown, Book Group via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh #BookReview

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HE’S WON EVERY TRIAL. BECAUSE HE’S BEHIND EVERY MURDER.

Ambitious District Attorney Randal Korn lives to watch prisoners executed.
Even if they are not guilty.

An innocent man, Andy Dubois, faces the death penalty for the murder of young girl. Korn has already fixed things to make sure he wins a fast conviction.

The one thing Korn didn’t count on was Eddie Flynn.

Slick, street smart and cunning, the former con artist turned New York lawyer has only seven days to save an innocent man against a corrupt system and find the real killer.

In a week the Judge will read the verdict, but will Eddie be alive to hear it?

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There’s not a doubt in my mind The Devil’s Advocate deserves five stars. It’s brilliant, bloody brilliant. I loved every second of reading this. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that courtroom procedurals are boring because they clearly haven’t read this one yet!

Eddie Flynn is a good lawyer – the very best if you ask me (I work at a law firm so it might be in my best interest to watch what I’m saying but I’m saying it anyway) but he’s looking at a hopeless case and even he’s not sure he and his team (Kate, Bloch and Harry) will be able to win the case he’s taken on because he believes in defending the innocent and battling evil. The evil in this case is Randal Korn, working as district attorney in a small rural town called Buckhead. There’s not a millisecond of doubt that he’s evil reincarnated as he gets his kicks from sending people to the electric chair, it doesn’t even matter if they’re guilty, he just wants to win and feel the power he has.

The evidence against the young man is massive, he was seen arguing with the victim, his dna was found under her fingernails and she scratched him, and he confessed twice to the murder. Still Eddie Flynn believes he’s innocent. I thought this was a mission impossible but Flynn is the Tom Cruise to save the day. Korn plays it unbelievably dirty but I loved how Flynn and his team parried every move. This game they play was incredibly compelling. This novel only consists of twists and turns and I loved how inventive Flynn was (his first mission is of course talking to his client and that alone requires some ingenuity). The author also had a few cleverly placed red herrings in store, one of them even a heartstopping moment that I could hardly even handle.

The case is airtight, the evidence speaks for itself and the testimonies are either against Andy Dubois or people don’t want to talk, but Flynn wouldn’t be the best if he didn’t find something to use in his favour. Is it enough to save Andy though, and who is the real killer of Skylar then and why would this popular girl be killed? There are a lot of questions to be answered in this novel and the answers were so surprising, it was a delight.

The Devil’s Advocate is a riveting novel and so cleverly written. I can’t recommend this one enough!

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor #BookReview

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He framed her. Now she’ll destroy him.

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was wrongfully convicted of plotting to murder.

Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals: repair her relationship with her daughter, clear her name, and bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her? Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life…

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OF COURSE I enjoyed C.L. Taylor’s latest novel, she’s never been a hit or miss for me. The Guilty Couple kept up the mystery and had me guessing until the very end why Olivia’s husband accused her of planning to murder him. When Olivia is released after five years she is looking for answers but she isn’t allowed to contact him so she has to be really sneaky about it and I loved all the sneakiness throughout the novel! One of the absolute best scenes where I was literally holding my breath was her stealthy attempt to steal potential evidence from her husband with a little help from her friends.

Olivia reaches out to four friends who really go to the limit for her when the occasion rises; her old business partner, her last cellmate in prison, and two other friends she’s known for a long time. On the other side she fears Dani, a police officer who she thought was a friend but who testified in her husband’s favor. Dani has her own agenda and her biggest concern is finding money to get her sister in a rehab clinic. She’d do anything to help her so she turns to Dominic, Olivia’s husband to get 30.000 dollars, only she notices that Olivia keeps popping up and that unnerves Dani more than a little bit.

Dominic is very secretive all of the time and he’s counting down to something and I had no idea what he had planned but this deadline put the pressure on Olivia’s quest, while that other danger is looming over her too, namely getting caught and being sent back to prison. There were some surprises along the way but the biggest one was definitely at the end. Life after being released from prison certainly isn’t easy for her and it’s difficult to know who you can trust. I can’t say whether she’ll be able to prove her innocence but justice comes in many different ways so I was quite satisfied how the story was wrapped up in the final chapters. The only issue I had was that I wasn’t entirely convinced about her husband’s motive for framing her (I never really got any hate vibes off of him towards his wife and I kept thinking why else he would take such drastic measures) but I readily admit that that doesn’t mean he’s a good guy because he’s most certainly not. So in the end I still wanted pay back for Dom, the sort of husband you better not have!

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

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen | Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough #Audiobooks

AudioBookReviews

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Wealthy Washington suburbanites Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all—until Marissa is unfaithful. Beneath their veneer of perfection is a relationship riven by work and a lack of intimacy. She wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband. Enter Avery Chambers.

Avery is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counseling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.

When they glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I really enjoyed listening to Karissa Vacker and Marin Ireland, the narrators of this audiobook. Karissa takes on Marissa’s voice and Marin is Avery’s in this story. That way we hear from Marissa and her husband Matthew who seek Avery’s unconventional therapist’s support. Marissa fears her husband’s reaction about her infidelity so she confesses in the presence of Avery and hopes she can give them the tools to overcome this and stay together.

Avery knows Marissa is holding back something and is determined to find out what it is. She likes to dig in deep and her methods are unorthodox but thorough. I loved hearing from Avery and she was the most interesting character of the novel.

There is a lot going on in both Marissa’s life and Avery’s lives which make this audiobook anything but dull. There are some interesting side characters too who add to the story in Marissa’s bubbly shopping assistant and Avery’s love interests Derek and Skip. There is also an undercurrent of danger and threat that seems to be related to the complaint Avery made in name of a client, another plotline in the story, but when I found one plotline slowly seeping into the other, I questioned even that and I couldn’t wait to see how everything was related to each other.

There was absolutely nothing I can put my finger on that made me like but not love The Golden Couple. Even if it’s not my favorite title from one of my favorite authors, it was still entertaining and cleverly crafted.

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Insomnia

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In the dead of night, madness lies….

Emma can’t sleep.

Check the windows….

It’s been like this since her big 4-0 started getting closer.

Lock the doors….

Her mother stopped sleeping just before her 40th birthday, too. She went mad and did the unthinkable because of it.

Look in on the children….

Is that what’s happening to Emma?

Why can’t she sleep?

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I loved reading Behind Her Eyes in 2017 and Cross Her Heart in 2020 so this was the author’s third book for me. Insomnia definitely leans towards Behind Her Eyes with the story hung up on one shocking twist. Even though I’m not a fan of unrational things I could get behind what she had planned all along so I didn’t feel cheated in the end. My patience was pushed to the limit at the beginning however and I have to congratulate myself for seeing it through.

This was one of the biggest slow burner novels I have read in the last years and it was only at 40% into the story that the first big exciting thing happens that pulls the story open and presents at least a mystery I could perhaps get my head around more. Up until that point Emma Averall is having weird thoughts, she has numbers in her head, she recites certain words (which will stick in your head too by the end of the book!) and there are a few other strange things happening that remind her of her childhood. She’s worrying about her 40th birthday coming soon because her mother went crazy on her 40th birthday and she wonders if the same is happening to her. The author doesn’t give anything more to cling to so despite all this weirdness I felt a little bored at times and I didn’t feel as much tension as was probably intended. Thankfully a suspicious death marked the turning point and I became more interested in Emma and her family from thereon.

I didn’t really feel the connection with Emma but that didn’t deter me from my goal to find out the truth. Emma is an unreliable narrator so during the whole story I was left wondering if she really did have mental health issues and whether she had anything to do with this death. I didn’t want to believe so but there was always some degree of uncertainty. The author seemingly enjoyed keeping her readers in the dark, only ramping up the craziness a few notches as the story progressed so, much like Behind Her Eyes, I had to wait till the end for it all to make sense.

You have to undergo this story and wait for the surprise but if you do hang in there is a great twist waiting for you in the end.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney #BookReview

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Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

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Alice Feeney outsmarted me once again. It’s clever, very clever indeed how the author twisted the story in Rock Paper Scissors.

Amelia and Adam are having some marriage problems and the weekend away at Blackwater Chapel – the most remote place you can imagine – is their last hope to salvage their marriage. From the beginning I was wondering if either of them really wanted to though if the thoughts they’re having about each other in the car ride to their destination were anything to go by. Even before they set foot at their retreat I learned that Amelia lied to her husband claiming he forgot to pack his phone so I wondered what else she would lie about with just as much ease?

While following the couple around in this strange, creepy place and witnessing how their marriage is barely holding up, it did make me wonder how they reached this lowpoint. Inspired by Adam’s manuscript Rock Paper Scissors where a man writes letters to his wife, even after her death, Adam’s wife decides to do the same for each year of their marriage. I think I enjoyed these letters most of all in this novel – they are titled with the traditional wedding gift for that year and a not so commonly known ‘Word of the Year’ so I took away quite a few things from this book – because the letters were a means to let me have a peek into their marriage and all the trials and tribulations that they faced. Adam’s focus on writing a screenplay for the famous author Henry Winter made him forget to spend time with his wife and she in return struggled with the fact that they didn’t have children yet… Even though I was suspicious of Amelia’s intentions towards her husband during their stay, the letters indicated she was sincere and someone to root for.

But then another voice enters into the story, someone who’s watching that couple and I had no idea who it was or if this person meant to do them harm (before they harmed each other really). The author gives the story a big spin from there and this mysterious person was tied into the story in unexpected ways. Henry Winter, the author Adam had put on a pedestal plays a bigger part in all of this too but I’ll let you discover the rest of his personal story.

I have enjoyed all of Feeney’s novel and she has written another winner for me with a great twist that even I didn’t see coming. Clever, very clever indeed.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Pact by Sharon Bolton #BookReview

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A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . .

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Sharon Bolton was always a writer I could depend on and I loved reading her novels. Unfortunately the last novel I read before The Pact – in 2020 – put a little dent in that love (this one if you want to know). When I saw her new title The Pact it was calling out to me though and when a chance to read it presented itself I grabbed it with both hands (I had to wait more than 3 months to receive the novel from the UK btw thanks to Belgian customs so there was a ‘small’ delay in reading it).

Anyway I have good news to tell you, I really enjoyed reading The Pact. The start of the novel was a thrilling ride, quite literally, but also one that didn’t end well and the teenagers fear the consequences of their joyride. Their admission to the university of their choice is in danger of being compromised. I have to admit that I found it a tiny bit unbelievable that anyone would take the blame in lieu of others but then of course Megan probably didn’t expect to be convicted to 20 years in prison. She told her friends they owed her though and they all agreed she could ask them anything. They agreed to a lot of things actually but none of them came true. I guess they didn’t think things through because 20 years later Megan is back and she wants to cash in!

Megan’s demands were outlandish but I loved them and in a small way I agreed with her. Five people  were able to build a life, to find love, have children and a career thanks to her. It’s only normal that she gets a piece of that right? Well surprise surprise, the others certainly don’t think so. Urgh they were all terrible people and I can’t believe Megan sacrificed herself for those people. Her old friends Felix, Daniel, Xav, Amber and Talihta try to turn the tables and go after Megan but will she just let that happen? Strange things happen but I wasn’t sure who was behind it.

I loved the action and reaction in The Pact and I raced through it. The novel also raises many questions about conscience and morals and gave me serious food for thought. In the end I gave it four stars because I found it hard to believe someone would agree to do this, and I also didn’t buy Megan’s memory loss. The other reason is that I would have liked to understand the reasons for the behaviour of one of the characters at the end of the novel better. The writing overall was excellent and I loved the idea of this plot so now I’m putting her next novel on my wishlist already!

I received a free paperback copy from the publisher for review. This is still my honest opinion.

Dead Ground by M.W. Craven (Washington Poe Book #4) #BookReview

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Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier . .

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I can hardly believe I already read four books of the same series. M.W. Craven consistently delivers great mysteries so I’m trying to keep up with it and it’s working out really well so far.

So as I mentioned, Dead Ground is the fourth title about detective Washington Poe and his genius (quite literally) sidekick and analyst Tilly Bradshaw, who both work for the Serious Crime Analysis Section of the National Crime Agency. The fifth title The Botanist will be published this summer so I couldn’t think of a better reason to pick this one up now.

The novel has a great start with a weird bank heist which was as amusing as it was surprising when I found out what was in the safe they tried to open. The plotline then picks up again with Poe and Bradshaw being called in to assist with a murder at a pop-up brothel. What could possibly be the link between both of these scenes? Your guess as good as mine. The team, assisted by the FBI and MI5, find out there’s a lot to be discovered about the man who was murdered – he is definitely a man with a history – and that’s only the start of it. I still couldn’t work out how his past would link him to the bank heist that happened a few years earlier but everything became a lot clearer in the third part of the novel.

I love an intriguing mystery where one clue leads to another discovery and then another and another and Poe and Bradshaw are not the type of people to miss anything so there were many exciting moments throughout this novel. Bradshaw is so smart (yet so socially awkward it sometimes creates embarrassing moments for her colleagues) that she could overshadow Poe but I was happy to see that she is not the only brains and in the end, like the great Poirot, it’s Washington Poe who enlightens the reader and makes the astonishing revelation of the killer’s identity. It wasn’t a complete surprise for me even though I thought at one point I had the wrong end of the stick, and I had already accepted it. But no, it was another twist of events the author had up his sleeve. While it was a lucky guess about the identity I read with growing curiosity why things had happened the way they did. I was surprised and would never have imagined it would take me towards a military setting.

In a timely fashion which I found quite astonishing the author also mentioned the Russians in his novel, even though it’s now clear the statement in the novel has proven to be false: “It is beyond doubt that the capabilities of the American military is the only thing stopping the Russians from reforming the 3rd Shock Army and rolling it across their borders.”

I really enjoyed reading this but when I’m comparing all titles in the series it’s perhaps not my favorite title. All of them are very cleverly plotted so it’s mainly because of the military component that was included, with a few minor details that made me snap out of the bubble of reading, like someone from MI5 asking what luminol is. I mean puh-lease, that’s just unthinkable. Everyone knows that, right?!

What I’m definitely taking away from this is that you should never ever use a charging cable that isn’t your own. It’s dangerous and I hadn’t given it any thought before I read Dead Ground.

I’m happy to recommend Dead Ground to anyone who loves to be challenged with a good detective novel. I already look forward to this summer and his next novel.

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay #BookReview #BlogTour @HoZ_Books

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Night Shift by Alex Finlay. A sincere big thank you to the publisher Head of Zeus for the invitation to read and review this novel that I enjoyed very much!  

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What connects a massacre at a Blockbuster video store in 1999 with the murder of four teenagers fifteen years later?

It’s New Year’s Eve of 1999 when four teenagers working late are attacked at a Blockbuster video store in New Jersey. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, four more teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.

In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre, who is forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who is convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller, who must delve into the secrets of both nights to uncover the truth about the Night Shift Murders…

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review-2

I really enjoyed Every Last Fear so I was thrilled with the chance to read Alex Finlay’s second novel The Night Shift. An added bonus for me was the setting of part of the story in the late 90’s, an era I love reading about. I confess I’m nostalgic like that. It’s been a long time but I vaguely remember that I visited the local video store quite a lot back then. I can still see the rows and rows of grey video cassettes behind the counter. I don’t quite remember the person manning the station but it could very well have been someone like Steve, the first person who was introduced in the novel. Following his interactions with his employees I was already going through a lot of emotions before the story had well and truly started.

If you enjoyed Finlay’s first novel you’ll certainly going to enjoy this one too. Just like in his first novel The Night Shift dives into the action right away. The term slowly easing in definitely isn’t in this author’s dictionary :-). I love this style of writing and I simply couldn’t protect myself from reeling! Right when you think you’ll get to know a character better and you start to feel an affinity he’ll kill them off! The lead up to murder was short and the shock value was high. I was dying to know WHY and WHO asap

The investigation was really compelling with the past history linked to the present with another serial killing 15 years later. I don’t know what the secret ingredient exactly was, whether it was the pace, the plot or something else but it had me hooked! I also loved there were so many different characters to intrigue me as a reader. There are two final girls, a suspect on the run for 15 years, the brother of the suspect who still believes he’s innocent and of course FBI agent and 8-month pregnant Sarah Keller assigned to work the case with Union County detective Atticus Singh. They are a wonderful duo even if it felt a bit of a strange combination at first, they really were great together. Several of these characters are looking for answers though, not only the FBI so with the race for solving these mysteries on, it made for very animated reading.   

With the different POV’s switching at high speed I didn’t have much time to think things through but I didn’t want to take a break from reading to start analysing everything that I read so it’s not so surprising that I missed the who and why entirely. Maybe the why could have been expanded a little more but the story had deaths, danger, secrets, lies… everything you need for a great book. All of this combined with a very skilled writer who loves to do things just a little differently, someone who doesn’t always take the beaten path in writing (he isn’t even on Twitter btw), makes this one well worth reading. 

I find Alex Finlay a bit of an understated author and I’m happy I was introduced to his work. I already can’t wait to read his next book!

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

 

               NightShift_13 March 2022  NightShift_blogtour