Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Last Resort by Steph Broadribb

The Last Resort: A Lori Anderson Short Story (Rookie Bounty Hunter)
By Steph Broadribb
Published by Orenda Books (1 August 2017)

Publisher's description
Done with a life of exploitation and violence, Lori Anderson is training to be a bounty hunter. Holed up in the Georgia Mountains with her reclusive mentor, JT, Lori is determined to put her new skills into practice. Behind JT's back, she breaks his rules and grabs the chance she's looking for. Will her gamble pay off, or will she have to learn the hard way? 

My verdict
If you're a Lori Anderson fan, you're in for a treat with The Last Resort. You're also in for a treat if you haven't yet read Steph's Broadribb's Deep Down Dead, the first novel in her Lori Anderson series. This was the best action thriller I had read in a long time and it's sure to be in my top reads this year.

I'm not going to give anything away about the plot (other than the blurb above), because it is a short story. But The Last Resort is a fun quick read (with a rookie female bounty hunter with attitude and a sexy bounty hunter pro) while you're waiting for the next Lori Anderson book, Deep Blue Trouble, which is being published by Orenda Books in January 2018. We get a snippet of Lori's life while she was training with bounty hunter JT, well before their story in Deep Down Dead.

The Last Resort is also a great introduction to Steph Broadribb's Lori Anderson series, as you get the added bonus of the first three chapters of Deep Down Dead at the end - and they're certain to leave you wanting more. They left me wanting more, and this is my third time reading them, having read Deep Down Dead twice (yes, I am a 'bit' of a fan).

If you're a fan of Janet Evanovitch and Lee Child, buy this short story and buy Deep Down Dead! Oh, and pre-order Deep Blue Trouble too!

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Fierce Kingdom
By Gin Phillips
Published by Transworld (15 June 2017)

Publisher's description
Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.
'The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.'
When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.
It's a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.
But sometimes the rules are different.

My verdict
Fierce Kingdom was a powerful, intriguing and emotive story, with a chilling opening chapter, although it wasn't all as fast paced as I expected. It explores the behaviour of a mother and her young son during an emergency situation, rather than reading like an action-packed thriller all the way through.

The book focuses mainly on Joan and four-year-old Lincoln, who are caught up in a shooting incident at their local zoo. This is a place they know well, so Joan knows exactly where to hide when the shooting begins. The focus is on their relationship and the difficult decisions Joan has to make to keep them safe.

Fierce Kingdom is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of the zoo, although this did slow down the pace at times. Most chapters follow Joan's thoughts, as she works how to keep Lincoln calm at a time of immense danger. Being a typical young child, he gets bored easily, needs food and struggles to keep quiet. But we do 'meet' another couple of the people in hiding, as well as one of the gunmen.

The tension ramped up as the book progressed, once Joan and Lincoln left their hiding place in search of food. The ending was fairly dramatic but also a little abrupt, leaving me to wonder what had happened to some of the other characters. Plus, being set in a zoo, I would have loved more animal involvement.

Overall though, this was an enjoyable read and certainly made me think 'what would I have done in that situation?'

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

Maria in the Moon
By Louise Beech
Published by Orenda Books (15 August 2017)

Publisher's description
Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can't.' Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can't remember everything. She can't remember her ninth year. She can't remember when her insomnia started. And she can't remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges ... and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide...

My verdict
Maria in the Moon is yet another stunner from Louise Beech.

Set in Hull, just after the floods of 2007, the book focuses on Catherine Hope, who can't remember her ninth year. All she knows is that this was when her father died. She's volunteering at Flood Crisis, helping people resolve their own problems even though she can't deal with her own. She's filled with so many questions. When and why did her family stop using her full name (Catherine-Maria)?  When did her insomnia and other health problems begin? Why does she shy away from real love? Then her childhood memories start coming back.

Maria in the Moon features more humour than Louise Beech's other books, yet the underlying story is even darker and more evocative. The writing is simply stunning, so vivid and descriptive that it takes you right into the heart of the story and into the lives of her diverse, larger-than-life and highly realistic characters. I couldn't help but be transported into Hull at a time of crisis.

I wanted to read this book slowly, to savour every moment, yet found myself racing ahead, just to see what had happened to Catherine in the past and what was going to happen to her next. The book is filled with surprises - some good, some bad and some that turned me into a total wreck.

All of Louise Beech's books are different in subject and plot, yet they evoke the same emotions - or rather, all the emotions. I defy anyone to read her books with at least a tear in their eye, although it's more likely to be a trickle or maybe even a flood. Keep the tissues handy!

I received an Advance Reader Copy.

Friday, 11 August 2017

The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter
By Karen Dionne
Published by Sphere (13 June 2017)

Publisher's description
'I was born two years into my mother's captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I would have been a lot more understanding of my mother. I wouldn't have adored my father.'
When the notorious child abductor known as the Marsh King escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.
No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena's past: they don't know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve - or that her father raised her to be a killer.
And they don't know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone... except, perhaps his own daughter. 

My verdict
I loved The Marsh King's Daughter from the first page. It hooked me in straight away and I couldn't put it down. I read most of it in one sitting - being reluctant to leave the house and socialise until I finished it. I ended up reading it late into the evening, realising I wouldn't sleep until I knew the full story. Not many books recently have had such an impact on me.

This is the story of Helena, a girl born in captivity after her father abducted her mother, who was a young teenager at the time. Now Helena is an adult with a family of her own. When her father escapes from prison, Helena suspects he's coming for her - and decides to turn the tables on him, knowing him better than anyone else.

This book is certainly a fast-paced read, with beautifully flowing writing. It's very visual too, with chilling descriptions of the marshland setting. I love Helena - she's a fantastic gutsy lead character, a mother determined to do whatever she can to protect her family. As for the underlying plot - wow! This may be a child abduction novel, but it's certainly in a league of its own.

The Marsh King's Daughter is totally different from anything else around at present - a breath of fresh air, although it's very very dark and haunting. A book that's difficult to forget. I urge everyone to buy it and read it! I just wish I hadn't left it on my reading pile for quite so long.

Highly recommended!

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Susie Steiner

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...

The Dry by Jane Harper. Astonishing that this is a debut. Best opening pages I’ve read in a long, long time. Kate Atkinson with her Jackson Brodie series, which some might not see as crime novels in the traditional sense. These are the books that I was emulating in writing Missing, Presumed. Jackson is a wonderfully laconic, hang dog private eye and the writing is to die for. Funny and clever. It’s that mix of literary riffing with page turning plot which really floats my boat.

The Third Man directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene. I saw this at a cinema screening and it totally blew me away. So scary and gripping but also artistic and modern. That music. That fairground scene. 

I loved The Night Of – US crime drama starring John Turturro as a physically unappealing lawyer defending a Pakistani student on a murder charge. The latest series of Happy Valley was extraordinary, with such a subtle ending.
Always Line of Duty. Always.
I’m learning a lot about structure from the current adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. 

I can’t remember any! And I wouldn’t want to tell you who did it, anyway. 

Maeve Kerrigan in the series by Jane Casey. I loved her latest, Let the Dead Speak, which is so twisty and well plotted. This is book 7 in the series, but I began with it – so you don’t have to have read the earlier ones to dip in. 

Tony Last being made to live out his days in Brazil reading Dickens aloud to Mr Todd in A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh. What could be worse? 

There is a scene at the end of Susan Hill’s amazing The Various Haunts of Men (the first in the Simon Serrailler series) that shook me to the core. I’ll never forget it. I can’t tell you what it was without a giant spoiler, but it was so brave and it totally wrong-footed me. Read it. Hill is fearless in delivering a double twist/blow in this book. 

For interesting jobs for your characters, try: 

Think of your first draft as an undercoat. Just slap it up. Don’t try and beautify it because lots of it won’t make the cut. I think the best, most important and most enjoyable work in the construction of a novel, is in re-drafting. As Michael Crichton said, ‘Books are not written, they’re rewritten.’ 

I get through a shocking amount of Tassimo Americano coffee. 

Susie Steiner is the author of three novels, including two in the Manon Bradshaw detective series. The first, Missing, Presumed, was a Sunday Times bestseller and has sold more than 200k copies. Its sequel, Persons Unknown, has just been published and is also a top ten bestseller. It was described as ‘Strikingly modern’ by the  Sunday Times. ‘It is refreshing to see a detective grappling with real life dilemmas but they never get in the way of the plot, which is clever and original. A series to watch from a confident writer who draws even minor characters with care and sympathy.' She is working on a third Manon Bradshaw novel.

Find Susie Steiner on her website and on Twitter - @SusieSteiner1


Publisher's description
Manon Bradshaw is back.
As dusk falls a young man staggers through a park, far from home, bleeding from a stab wound. He dies where he falls; cradled by a stranger, a woman’s name on his lips in his last seconds of life.
DI Manon Bradshaw can’t help taking an interest – these days she only handles cold cases, but the man died just yards from the police station where she works.
She’s horrified to discover that both victim and prime suspect are more closely linked to her than she could have imagined. And as the Cambridgeshire police force closes ranks against her, she is forced to contemplate the unthinkable.
How well does she know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder? 

Persons Unknown was published by The Borough Press on 29 June 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Author catch up - Mary-Jane Riley

I've had Mary-Jane Riley's two books - The Bad Things and After She Fell - on my Kindle for a very long time (an embarrassingly long time). But I finally managed to read them a few months ago. And I'm so glad I did.

Both books feature journalist Alex Devlin, who is investigating crimes and cases that are personal to her. As a journalist, I do have a soft spot for crime fiction featuring journalists although only when they're portrayed realistically, as Mary-Jane Riley has done here.

In The Bad Things, Alex is looking into the abduction and murder (15 years earlier) of her sister Sasha's two small children - Harry's body was discovered soon afterwards, but Millie's remains have never been found. When the woman who was jailed as an accessory to murder is released, Alex is determined to discover what really happened all those years ago. She wants her troubled sister to find closure as Sasha still struggles to cope with the aftermath of the past.

In After She Fell, Alex is investigating the death of the teenage daughter of an old friend. Seventeen-year-old Elena was found at the bottom of the cliff near her boarding school. In this book, we hear Elena's voice in the form of her diaries, providing a snapshot of her life - the teenager is portrayed realistically.

I loved both of these books. Alex is a very believable character. She's warm and sensitive when she needs to be, but also determined and not one to take no for an answer. These books are as much about the characters as the investigations.

Both books are filled with family dynamics, secrets and lies. They are well plotted and gripping, with enough tension and pace to keep me intrigued all the way through. Mary-Jane Riley certainly kept me on my toes, with her twists, turns and red herrings. The endings were unexpected, but also neat, leaving no loose threads.

You could read After She Fell as a standalone, but it does reveal information about The Bad Things, which could act as a spoiler. It's probably best to read this books in the right order.

I look forward to seeing what's next from Mary-Jane Riley.

About the books

The Bad Things
Published by Killer Reads (August 2015)

Publisher's description
Alex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha's two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.
Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.
But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us?

After She Fell
Published by Killer Reads (April 2016)

Publisher's description
There are so many ways to fall…
Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.
When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.
Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall…

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop
By Rachel Joyce
Published by Transworld (13 July 2017)

Publisher's description
1988. Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk – as long as it’s vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need. 

Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann.

Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind ... 

My verdict
The Music Shop is a heartwarming character-driven novel with rhythmic writing, descriptive prose and gentle humour. It's a quirky and nostalgic easy read and should appeal to most people.

Set in the late 1980s, it prompted me to reminisce about the music and culture of my teenage years. This was a great time of change, with the housing boom and property development, and within music itself, with the rise of shiny CDs and synthetic pop bands. Yet Frank, the key character in The Music Shop, doesn't like change. Instead, he loves his old vinyls and the other small high street shops. He has a gift for choosing music to suit his customers' needs, yet he ignores his own.

The Music Shop has a love story at its heart, but not just between Frank and the mysterious Ilse. It's about loving yourself, your community and the changing world. This is a book about dealing with change, whether it's sticking to your principles or accepting that the world is moving on around you - and that you'll be lost if you don't take the plunge yourself.

The ending is a bit 'cheesy' and maybe a little rushed. But overall, this relaxing read provides much food for thought.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher (through Lovereading).

Monday, 7 August 2017

The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone - Extract - Blog Tour

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone. The Darkness Within was published by Avon on 13 July 2017.

Here's the extract ...
(Pages 87 to 90)

Jacob got off the bus and headed for the bank. It felt good being out by himself, in control, and away from the rectory and his parents. They were doing his head in and it had to stop. Freedom rules, he thought, for now he’d done it once – reclaimed his independence – it would be easy to keep going. He had plans. A car was next. A decent one. He’d had an old banger that had finally given up on him just before he’d become ill. Originally he’d been going to save up for another car but that wasn’t going to happen with no salary coming in, and he couldn’t wait for ever. He’d been researching new cars online and had found there were some really good deals. Decent cars, fast ones that would give him power and status, that didn’t need much of a deposit. Once he’d met up with Chez and got his stuff, his plan was to go to the showrooms in town. He’d already spoken on the phone to a guy called Gary there who’d said that if his credit was OK, he could drive a car away. He felt his heart step up a beat at the thought. A new, flashy fast car was just what he needed.

‘Shit!’ Jacob said aloud, arriving outside the bank. A sign over the cash machine read: Out of order. We apologize for any inconvenience. ‘Shit,’ he said again. How long was the queue at the counter? He couldn’t risk being late for Chez.

Inside the bank he was relieved to see that there wasn’t a queue, and one of the cashiers was already free. He went up to the counter and the cashier, blonde and attractive, smiled at him, greeting him with a bright, ‘Good afternoon. How can I help you?’, like she was genuinely pleased to see him.

‘Good afternoon. My day just got a lot better. Unfortunately, I just want your money for today.’ He held her gaze and saw her blush. He liked that, shy, not confi­dent and overpowering. Eloise had become far too assertive lately and often reminded him of his mother.

She passed him the PINsentry reader and he inserted his card and entered his PIN. He slowly slid the card reader back across the counter and didn’t immediately remove his hand, so that as she took it her fingers brushed his. He saw her flush again.

‘How would you like your money?’ she asked.

‘However you’d like to give it to me,’ he said sugges­tively, holding her gaze.

The cashier sitting next to her heard and in a loud whisper, intended for him to hear, said jokingly, ‘You’d better watch that one.’

He laughed. ‘Twenties will be fine, thank you. Has anyone told you you’ve got a lovely smile?’ It sounded cheesy but it worked.

‘Thank-you,’ she said shyly.

He watched as she counted out his money. He could tell his gaze was making her self-conscious, unsure of herself.

‘Thank you so much,’ he said charmingly, taking the notes she passed him. ‘I’ll know where to come in future.’

She threw him a small smile and he moved away so she could serve the next customer. He stood to one side and sorted out his money. One hundred pounds in his pocket for Chez and the other fifty he tucked into his wallet.

Before he left the bank he turned and caught the blonde cashier’s eye. He grinned at her and she smiled back. His day was getting better by the minute. Next time he came in – and there would certainly be a next time – he’d ask her for her name.

Outside, his phone bleeped with a text message. It was from Chez. Meet in 10. Perfect timing, Jacob thought and texted back, OK. I’ll be there. He began a steady walk up the High Street towards the end of the town. After a couple of minutes he felt his heartbeat quicken as the adrenalin kicked in, just as the doctor had explained it would. Although he probably didn’t have this kind of exercise in mind, Jacob thought to himself – most likely he’d been thinking along the lines of using a treadmill in a gym rather than going to buy weed.

About The Darkness Within

The Darkness Within
By Lisa Stone
Published by Avon (13 July 2017)

Publisher's description
You know your son better than anyone. Don’t you?
When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.
However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?
Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.
When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

Did you follow the Blog Tour?

Friday, 4 August 2017

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Little Deaths
By Emma Flint
Published by Picador (Hardback & e-book - 12 January 2017; Paperback - 24 August 2017)

Publisher's description
It's the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.
Noting Ruth's perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can't help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.
Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive - is she really capable of murder? 

My verdict
Little Deaths is a compelling whodunnit set in the 1960s, based on a real case. It's more character led than plot led, with a focus on morality and society at that time. I'd read a lot of hype about this book and was interested to see if it lived up to expectations.

Ruth Malone is a mother on the verge of divorce. She's struggling to make ends meet and wants more out of life. She's prepared to take risks to do so, going beyond society's norms, even when her children go missing. Her neighbours steer clear of her, her soon-to-be ex-husband doesn't understand her and the police suspect her of murder. Little Deaths is a fascinating look at the attitudes of disproving neighbours, intrusive press and bigoted police towards women at the time.

The mystery of what happened to Ruth Malone's two young children intrigued me, with lots of twists, turns and red herrings. The mesmerising writing certainly sucked me into the story straight away. The characters felt very real and the interaction between them is what, for me, kept the story going. Ruth, in particular, was a complex character, judged by her appearance and behaviour rather than what was inside. The period setting was very well described and highly atmospheric, transporting me right into the heart of 1960s New York, with the sights, sounds and smells of city life in the summer heat.

I wasn't 100% sure about the ending, feeling it was a little neat and rushed. But overall, I really enjoyed Little Deaths.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh. This Beautiful Life was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 27 July 2017.

This Beautiful Life
By Katie Marsh
Published by Hodder & Stoughton (27 July 2017)

Publisher's description
What happens when you get the second chance you never expected?
Abi is living her happy ending. She's in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance at life. But during Abi's illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband Johnhas made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.
Set to the songs on Abi's survival playlist, this is the story of what happens next as Abi tries to rebuild her family. Can she bring the people she loves most in the world back together again... before it's too late?

My verdict
Katie Marsh has done it again. Smiles and laughter sprinkled with tissues and tears are how I would describe her books.  Or maybe tissues and tears sprinkled with smiles and laughter. I can't decide which combination was triggered the most while I read This Beautiful Life, a stunning book that's honest, beautifully written and filled with raw emotion.

I loved both of her previous books, and still she's managed to top them. Yet again, she's tackled a health issue that will be close to people's hearts - the impact of cancer on the whole family. A terrible disease that leaves few families untouched. Abi is in remission from cancer and now needs to put her family back together. I lived these characters' lives as if I were a fly on the wall - or rather, inside their heads, reading their thoughts, feeling their feelings... Abi's family felt like mine - and could be mine as I feel I know them all so well.

This Beautiful Life left me an emotional wreck, taking me on a family's rollercoaster journey as they look towards the future. Just as well I finished reading this late at night after the rest of the household had gone to bed, as I was clasping a box of tissues in my hand. There's a Spotify playlist associated with the book. The song titles are scattered between chapters, making this book seem ever so real and ever so personal. I tried to read it slowly, but couldn't put it down.

Bring on the next Katie Marsh book. I'll be waiting with tissues at the ready, prepared for more tears, smiles and laughter. This is going to be one of my favourite books of 2017.

I received an Advance Reader Copy.

Follow the Blog Tour

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran. Her Deadly Secret was published by Killer Reads on 21 July 2017.

Her Deadly Secret
By Chris Curran
Published by Killer Reads (21 July 2017)

Publisher's description
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…

My verdict
Her Deadly Secret is a twisty psychological thriller that gained pace halfway through.

The story focuses on the disappearance of a teenage girl and the impact it has on her family, liaison police officer and sister of a girl who was murdered 15 years earlier. The first half of the book is a slow-burning build up, establishing the background of the characters, main plot and setting, and I did wonder at first if it was going to be a book for me.

However, I'm very happy that I persevered. The second half of the book is written at a much faster pace, filled with revelations, twists and turns. These two families are tied together by circumstances, lies and secrets. Alternating narratives by the different characters gradually revealed that everything in the first half that seemed so straightforward wasn't straightforward at all.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Follow the Blog Tour

Monday, 31 July 2017

The Pinocchio Brief by Abi Silver

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for The Pinocchio Brief by Abi Silver. The Pinocchio Brief was published by Lightning Books on 23 July 2017.

The Pinocchio Brief
By Abi Silver
Lightning Books (Ebook - 10 July 2017; Paperback - 23 July 2017)

Publisher's description
A 15-year-old schoolboy is accused of the murder of one of his teachers. His lawyers, the guarded veteran, Judith, and the energetic young solicitor, Constance, begin a desperate pursuit of the truth, revealing uncomfortable secrets about the teacher and the school. But Judith has her own secrets which she risks exposing when it is announced that a new lie-detecting device, nicknamed Pinocchio, will be used during the trial. And is the accused, a troubled boy who loves challenges, trying to help them or not? 

My verdict
The crime market is flooded with psychological thrillers and domestic noir, so it was a welcome change to read The Pinocchio Brief, which is a courtroom drama and legal investigation.

The story centres around quirky & academically gifted 15-year-old Raymond, who has been accused of murdering his teacher at his private school. The two other main characters are his legal team - Judith (the older, experienced and more reserved one) and Constance (younger, more reckless and very enthusiastic).

Abi Silver has a great knack of describing her characters, both in terms of appearance and their thoughts and feelings. The chapters alternative between the points of view of Raymond, Judith and Constance. But, unusually, within every scene you get inside each person's head (known as head hopping). I don't often see this in crime fiction.

The premise of the novel - a lie-detecting device used in courtroom trials - is an interesting and intriguing one and instantly grabbed my attention. You can tell that the author has a legal background and is also a great researcher, as there's a lot of information packed within the pages. The book is divided into four parts, but I really found it to be a book of two parts. The first half (parts 1 and 2) contained a lot of scene setting, developing the characters and the build up to the courtroom drama. The second half (parts 3 and 4) was written at a much faster pace with lots of surprises.

Abi Silver certainly kept me guessing and knows how to plot a twisty book. I'll be interested to see what she comes up with next.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Abi Silver talks about The Pinocchio Brief

Follow the Blog Tour