Category Archives: book review

The Sixth Wicked Child by JD Barker – a review

I read the Fourth Monkey by JD Barker a while ago and loved it. I then got sent the Fifth to Die which sat on my bookshelf for a while forgotten, until the Sixth Wicked Child landed loudly through the letterbox. The problem with these novels is that they are pretty hefty tomes. As someone who does most of my reading whilst travelling, large books tend to get overlooked in favour of the handy kindle type. So on my recent week off I decided to treat myself by reading Fifth to Die, swiftly followed by Sixth Wicked Child, and what a treat!

6thThe Sixth Wicked Child is the final novel in the 4MK trilogy. The story takes off immediately following Fifth to Die, the hospital is in lock down due to the threat of a virus outbreak, and Detective Sam Porter is on the run. The body count is increasing, and the only link is the words ‘Father Forgive me’ written near them.  Porter is still hoping that he can catch Anson Bishop, the main suspect in the killings. Yet when Bishop hands himself in Porter realises that actually in this deadly game of cat and mouse he is not necessarily the cat.

The Sixth Wicked Child is a novel I literally couldn’t put down (luckily I was on holiday!) This is definitely a story where you need to have read the first two before you get to the final one, but they are a treat in themselves. I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of these novels and honestly feel that they are one of the best series I have read for a long time. The crimes are gruesome but the pace of the novels meant that you don’t dwell on that bit. The characters are all well rounded, yet the twists just keep coming, and the final reveal is just not something I saw coming at all.

All the stories are told with the inclusion of diary entries, none of which I  have been keen on. Certainly in the Sixth Wicked Child I didn’t feel they worked as diary entries, to me personally they didn’t sound like they were actually written like someone would write a diary. However forget the diary part and read them as ‘flashbacks’ and they add an extra layer to the story.

This is one of those stories where you feel you get to know the characters and can separate good from bad. Then something happens and suddenly you feel like you don’t know who to trust after all. Although this is meant to be a review of The Sixth Wicked Child it is impossible to review it as a stand alone. I am actually really pleased that I had waited to read Fifth to Die because it meant that when I got to the end of it I didn’t have to wait to start the next one. These are a gripping, gruesome, superb novels that I would highly recommend. Just beware that once you start you won’t to stop.

The Sixth Child is available here.

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The Secret of Cold Hill by Peter James – a review

I am a big fan of Peter James and so when his latest popped up on netgalley I downloaded it onto my kindle ready for a trip to Birmingham.

The Secret of Cold Hill is the sequel to The House on Cold Hill. The house itself has been torn down and in its place a new estate has been created. When James and Emily move in they believe they have found their perfect home. James is an artist and there is a studio room with fabulous views. Kate is a chef running her own business and there is plenty of space for her to create her ideal professional kitchen. This is a house with all the mod cons you could ask for, and even the slightly odd neighbours or the unfriendly locals can’t dampen their enthusiasm. However when things start to go wrong they begin to question their move. Anyone who has ever read any fiction with a ‘state of the art’ house will know that things are always going to go wrong, and this is no exception.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this creepy story. It was an interesting take on the haunted house theme using a brand new building, but with old style creepy house storytelling. The noises and odd occurrences are soon escalating as the story takes hold through to an ending that I most definitely did not see coming.

I wasn’t too keen on the main couple to be honest, I found them both a little annoying and did feel that they jumped straight to the idea of ‘haunting’ a bit quickly. Personally I would have thought it was more likely an electrical fault. However the way the couple acted actually added to the tension. You weren’t sure whether they were overreacting or if it really was something more sinister. I particularly liked their interaction with the odd couple over the road. The Penze-Weedells were funny caricatures’ of your neighbourhood snobs, which added a great humour to the story yet didn’t give any kind of let up to the creepiness.

I have read most of Peter James’ books and although the Roy Grace series is still my favourite I hope I haven’t seen the last of Cold Hill House.

The Secret of Cold Hill is available here

 

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The Chain by Adrian McKinty – a review

I am unfortunately not the type of person who wins things. I rarely enter competitions as I know I won’t win, I don’t buy lottery tickets and when it comes to any kind of race, well suffice to say I have absolutely no competitive spirit whatsoever.

Therefore I was completely surprised to find out that I had actually recently won a giveaway by the lovelyEmma at Damppebbles to get a book of my choice from Book Depository. Now normally like a kid in a sweetshop it would take me hours to decide what book to pick, I’m not good with a lot of choice. However for once this decision was easy. Whilst at the TOPCWF I went to a session with both Adrian McKinty and Ian Rankin and thought that Adrian’s book sounded fascinating so that was my first choice. Well I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The Chain starts with Rachel picking up the phone to hear a stranger tell her that her daughter has been kidnapped. In order for her daughter to be freed Rachel will have to kidnap another child. Any child ill do but if she goes to the police her daughter will die, if she doesn’t kidnap a child her daughter will die, if she deviates from her instructions in any way her daughter will die. Rachel is now part of the chain.

This was a novel that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go. The story moves along with a terrific pace as Rachel suddenly turns from mild mannered mother to gun-toting kidnapper.

I liked the fact that despite the main focus of the book being The Chain and the kidnappings, the main characters were all well rounded and had back stories that meant the crimes they had to commit were even more out of context. Rachel is a divorcee who thinks that the cancer she thought she had beaten has returned. Her brother in law who becomes her partner in crime is Pete who is an ex-forces man suffering PTSD and a drug addict. The story shows us the fall out of the crimes and how the characters try to move on with their lives which is impossible when the chain still exists.

I did feel that the first half was a little better than the second. The second half gives us the insight into the perpetrators and what led to the creation of the chain which was interesting. Yet  I felt it slowed a little in the middle, until the pace suddenly kicked up again towards the end. Saying that you almost needed the slight breather in order to continue on until the end. The premise of this story is something that I find really interesting, how far will ‘normal’ humans go if they are backed into a corner? This is a novel that explores exactly that.

I think this is the first novel I have read by Adrian McKinty and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to thank Damppebbles for my copy.

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Time for the Dead by Lin Anderson – a review

When I was asked to join the blog tour for the latest novel by Lin Anderson I was convinced that I had read previous by her, and the blurb for this one was so intriguing of course I said yes. However it actually turns out I don’t think I have read any of her’s before (this is why I need to start writing down everything I read) Well I have to say if Time for the Dead is anything to go by, I will definitely be reading the rest of her novels as this was terrific.

Time for the Dead is the 14th book in the Rhona MacLeod series and this one is set on the Isle of Skye. Forensic scientist Rhona is recovering from a hideous ordeal that has left her quite traumatised. Rather than go to the rehabilitation centre that is suggested she takes herself off to the remote island, agreeing to keep in touch with her colleague DS McNab via regular skype calls. When she finds what seems to be some kind of crime scene her curiosity kicks in. A body is then found at the base of the famous cliff known as Kilt Rock and Rhona begins to suspect that a group of army medics visiting the island after a tour of Afghanistan might not be just on the island for a holiday.

Time for the Dead was a cracking read that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of those novels where the setting is as much a character as any of the people being written about. I loved how the remoteness of the island added to the tension of the plot. As well as following the investigation on Skye, we also have chapters set in Afghanistan where we find out more about the medics and what they went through during their time in the country. These chapters were quite harrowing at times to read and the heat of Afghanistan contrasted darkly with the cold of Skye.

Rhona MacLeod was definitely one of the best characters I’ve read recently, especially once she teemed up with Blaze, the detective dog (well search and rescue but detective dog sounds better) I found her slightly frustrating, yet also incredibly strong and resilient. I liked her interaction with both McNab who has his own investigation to contend with, and with Detective Olsen who was visiting Skye on a walking holiday.

I do feel that I would have enjoyed this book even more had I read the previous novels in the series, yet there was enough background in this to ensure I knew what was happening. I very much enjoyed my first Rhona MacLeod story and will definitely be reading more.

To find out what others thought visit the other stops on the tour. Time for the Dead in available here.

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Truth or Die by Katerina Diamond – a review BLOG TOUR

I have read a couple of previous Katerina Diamond’s books and so was pleased to be invited to join the blog tour for her latest novel Truth or Die.

Truth Or Die starts with the death of a teenager after falling from a building. This is followed quickly by the body of a professor being found in his private office having been brutally murdered. DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles are sent to Exeter University to investigate as this body is only the first of many. Someone is playing a deadly game and Miles gets caught up in it in a very personal way. As the body count rises the past comes back to haunt the detectives.

I have to say that it wasn’t until I started reading this that I realised I had obviously read the novels out of order. This was actually the 5th in the series, yet it did work as a standalone. As with most series I think you get the most out of them if you read them in order but then this is definitely a series that you should want to read from the start.

The dynamic between Grey and Miles is interesting and this slow burn of a relationship is at the centre of the narrative. They are both characters who have had issues in the past and struggle to trust other people which is part of what draws them together. I enjoyed the interaction with the characters and felt that this was a couple I want to see work out.

The actual mystery part of the story was also good, and the reasons behind the murders was quite disturbing. However I did feel that it lacked a bit of motive at the end and seemed a bit of a rushed ending to what was a good story. I enjoy a bit of grisly murder and this didn’t disappoint with the crimes and descriptions. We also see the return of a previous character and for me that really ramped up the tension as they are one of those characters whose calm menace really jumps off the page.  This is definitely as it says on the cover ‘not for the faint hearted’ and I think it shows the quality of the writing that you flit between reading about gruesome murder and caring about characters without blinking.

I would recommend Katerina Diamond’s novels if you like a good crime thriller with a twist, but I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series in order to enjoy them at their best.

Truth or Die is out now, get your copy here. To find out what others thought of Truth or Die don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas a review – Blog Tour

I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for the latest novel by Claire Douglas as she has been a firm favourite of mine since we first met her in Harrogate a few years ago.
Then She Vanishes begins with the shooting of Colin and his elderly mother. When Heather is then found with a self inflicted gun shot wound the small seaside town they live in is stunned. Why would a seemingly happy young mother go on an apparently random shooting? Reporter Jess is sent to investigate the story and is horrified to find out the shooter is her best friend from school. Jess and Heather had been inseparable when young, until their friendship started to fall apart when Heather’s older sister went missing and was never found.
This was an interesting story focusing on two main narratives. Present day as we delve into why Heather would carry out a shooting with seemingly no motive, and past times looking at what happened around the disappearance of Heather’s sister. I personally enjoy this dual timeline way of telling stories and this was done masterfully.
The characters themselves were not particularly ones I warmed to. Jess was quite a cold person, she had had to leave her previous job due to scandal yet I felt she seemed to blame everyone but herself including her rather downtrodden boyfriend. Heather we know more from the chapters about her past and whilst there is sympathy again I felt she was a bit self centred. However this is actually what pushes the story along so well. All of the characters are entwined by circumstances yet they can’t see the wider picture.
The story itself was a slow burner that I found gripping. As with all good crime fiction all of the characters have secrets which lay hidden until the end, and this is no exception. The story picks up pace and the ending really did surprise. I had suspicions of who was to blame throughout, yet suffice to say I was way off the mark.
I would highly recommend Then She Vanishes for an interesting domestic crime fiction story that will keep you turning the pages until the unseen end.
Find out what others thought of Then She Vanishes by visiting the other stop so on the BlogTour.

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – a review

sister

My latest read has been My Sister, The Serial Killer. No this is is not autobiographical (Well as far as I know, bearing in mind the Sister lives with our parent’s and they are both very much alive and fighting fit so I assume if she had murderous tendencies the patio area might have been much extended by now!)
My Sister the Serial Killer is actually the debut novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Set in Nigeria, it tells the story of Korede, the elder sister of Ayoola. The sisters are very close. So much so that Ayoola can ring Korede any time of the day or night knowing that she will drop everything to help her. Even when that help involves bleach, rubber gloves and the ability to move a body, for the third time.
I picked this novel up on a whim whilst browsing Waterstones, at the time I hadn’t realised that Oyinkan was appearing at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival next weekend. Well once I started reading I couldn’t stop and I read this pretty much over two nights.
My Sister, the Serial Killer was a really engaging novel. This wasn’t a long book, and had it been formatted like a normal book I imagine it would have been very small but that was part of the charm. It felt like quite a simple story, yet for some reason it is one that really gets under your skin. It is a slow story that is hard to explain, as it feels like nothing happens, yet it also includes murder galore.
The sisters are two very different people. One is glamourous and exciting, the other is rather dowdy and dull yet they are bound together by a bond that only siblings will understand. I found the interaction between the two sisters interesting. There were moments where you just want to give Korede a good talking too and make her stop enabling her sister’s murderous ways. Yet equally you feel for her as she is trying to make the best of a situation that she didn’t create but is stuck in. This is mainly a story about relationships rather than murder. The writing is full of short quick sentences and the rather macabre topic is lifted by the deadpan humour of Korede.
I would highly recommend My Sister, the Serial Killer for a quick engaging read and I am very much looking forward to hearing Oyinkan speak next week.

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