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The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter – a review BLOG TOUR

I was very excited to be invited onto the blog tour for the latest novel by Karin Slaughter, The Last Widow. I have been a huge fan of Karin Slaughter since I read her first novel Blindsighted. This introduced us to Sara Linton, paediatrician and medical examiner and I have followed both that series and her later ones featuring Special Agent Will Trent.

In The Last Widow, Mother Michelle Spivey had been snatched from the shopping mall and despite extensive searches it is like she has disappeared into thin air. A month later partners Will and Sara are enjoying a nice afternoon having dinner at her mother’s house. When they hear an explosion, they both run to help. However things soon spiral out of control as Sara is taken and ends up at a remote commune at the mercy of a radical violent group. Will has to go undercover in the hope that he can save the woman he loves.

The Last Widow was a novel that I felt started quite unusually in that we see the same scene played out from different viewpoints. This gave the book an interesting start as the points all diverge into one as the action heats up. This repetition also gave the book what felt to be a slow start which draws you in and is actually needed as once you are in this is a very dark, brutal yet utterly enthralling story.

I find the idea of communes and ‘living off the grid’ fascinating (not that I would ever want to do it, how would I feed my Criminal Minds addiction without a tv) and this novel took that idea to a whole new place. The chapters from Sara’s point of view as she is help captive were really brought to life. There is lots of well researched background to the crime element that taught me more than I really wanted to know about some frankly abhorrent groups of people. All the more scary when you put this into the context of todays climate.

Despite the dark nature of a story that covers paedophilia, rape, murder, terrorist attacks, and germ warfare, this was a story with lighter elements too. One of the things I love about Karin Slaughter’s novels are the characters, and the sarcastic humour of Faith, and her interaction with Will are one of the best parts of the story. Although this is the latest in the series personally I think it can be read as a stand-alone as it is very much a plot driven novel, rather than a character driven one. However as with all series you will get a better understanding of the motives and the family if you have read previous novels.

I really enjoyed The Last Widow and would highly recommend this fascinating story. To find out what others thought of The Last Widow visit the other stops on the tour.

You can purchase The Last Widow here

 

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Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt – a review BLOG TOUR

Today I am pleased to be hosting my stop on the blog tour for Mel Sherratt’s latest novel Tick Tock.

Tick Tock begins with the discovery of a girl’s body. She went missing during a school cross country race and is then found having been strangled in broad daylight. A couple of days later a young mother is abducted, later discovered murdered in the local park. DS Grace Allendale is leading the investigation but it seems hopeless with no connection between the victims, until a third person is targeted and the clock is ticking.

I have read a number of Mel’s books before and always enjoy them and this was no exception.

In Tick Tock the story goes along at a good pace and there are plenty of red herrings thrown in to keep you hooked. I particularly thought that the portrayal of the teenage friends of the first victim, one of whom is the daughter of Grace’s boyfriend, was very natural and their changing emotions swept the story along. The tension builds up throughout the novel, until it reaches an ending that I didn’t see it coming at all.

Grace is an interesting character, she has a complicated family life and although she seems to have a perfect boyfriend on the surface, he is a local journalist. This causes tensions between them as he obviously wants to have the inside scoop on the killer, yet Grace is a professional who doesn’t want to jeopardise her case. As a character I very much like her and felt that she had a real empathy with those around her which is unusual for female detectives who are often portrayed as hard and uncaring.

Although the book can be read as a standalone I do think that you would benefit from reading the first in the series, Hush Hush, as it helps fill in the background. Tick Tock is a great read that will grab you from the opening scene and doesn’t let up until the end and I was very pleased to be part of this tour.

To find out what others thought of the book don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

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The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver – a review BLOG TOUR

Well you can imagine my excitement when the invite to be part of a blog tour for Jeffery Deaver’s latest book dropped into my inbox. Not only is he a great author, he’s going to be attending the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, so double bonus!

The Never Game introduces us to Colter Shaw. He is a reward hunter who makes his living from chasing down rewards being offered by families of missing people. When a young girl goes missing Colter Shaw heads to Silicon Valley to see if he can find out what has happened. When another  victim is kidnapped Colter starts to think that actually it could all be linked to a video game – The Whispering Man. In the game the player has to survive after being trapped somewhere with only five random objects. It seems that someone is bringing the game to life and whoever it is will stop at nothing to carry out their work.

I am a big fan of the Lincoln Rhyme series so it’s always a gamble when a new series by an author you love comes along. However this didn’t disappoint. The Never Game was a fast paced story that had all of the twists and turns you expect from Jeffery Deaver. I think ‘a rollercoaster read’ would be a good description, it starts of with a bang and then slows but just as you get comfortable it shoots off again.

I have to say that I am not really a fan of the indestructible protagonist. The type who get run over, loses a leg, has a knife in their eye but can still jump out of a helicopter Annika Rice style, stop the criminal and be in bed with the lead detective smoking a cigarette before daylight. On the surface of it Colter Shaw does seem to be a bit like that. He is a survivalist having been brought up by a father who dropped out of civilization and roams the country rescuing people . Yet Colter is a more complex intellectual character who has a quiet strength about him that is evident in the way he conducts himself. His way of solving crimes is to assess the percentages and work out the most likely options rather than just go in gung ho which gives a different perspective to the story. There are insights into his childhood and family life throughout which help get to know the character whilst not distracting from the mystery.

The Never Game is a great read, and despite not being a ‘gamer’ myself I found the computer game element interesting. The idea of the games being brought to life is quite terrifiying. This was a great start to what is obviously going to be a new series and I can’t wait to see Jeffery Deaver talking about this at the festival.

Thanks to Harper Collins for my copy of the novel. You can buy your own here.

To find out what others thought make sure you visit the other stops on the tour:

 

 

 

 

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Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham – a review

As regular readers probably know already, I am a huge fan of Mark Billingham (although not quite such a big fan as the sister who is a borderline

The stalking Sister

stalker at events!) so you can imagine the excitement in my house when through the letterbox came a copy of his latest novel ( ‘Not another bloody book’,  ‘Meow’)

Their Little Secret is the newest Tom Thorne novel. It begins when he is called to a body on the trainline that is an apparent suicide. However Thorne has a feeling that things are not that simple and starts to look into the woman’s past, and especially her relationships. Meanwhile Sarah seems to be just a normal mother picking up her son from school and chatting at the school gates with the other mothers, until she meets Conrad who soon whisks her off her feet. Yet not all couples are good together, and some become postively evil.

This was another cracking story that I really enjoyed. There was a bit of back story as you would expect, in what is the 16th in the series, but frankly it is needed for people like me with a shocking memory so it’s helpful to remind us. The character of Thorne is one of those characters that I actually feel I know as I’ve followed him for so many years. I really like the relationship he has with pathologist Phil Hendricks and they are back on form in ‘Their Little Secret’

The character of Sarah was an odd one and her actions a little far fetched. Admittedly I have only limited experience at picking up children from school but when I have the other parents are on any new blood like flies so it is surprising that Sarah gets away with what she does. However that is only a very minor issue and the story itself will keep you hooked throughout.

There was a twist at the end that was surprising, despite the clues being there with hindsight. I have to admit to a bit of frustration when I finished as it felt like there were loose ends that needed tidying up, however without giving away any spoilers there were some historic references in the book that made you realise why this might have been done, life doesn’t always tie up the loose ends!

I would definitely recommend Their Little Secret and despite the references to the previous novels it can be read as a stand alone. Yet I would say in the unlikely event that there are any crime fiction fans out there who haven’t yet read Mark Billingham then you are in for a treat and I’d start at the beginning so you get the fun of them all!

Thanks to the fantastic Little Brown and Laura Sherlock PR for my copy. You can get your hands on your own copy of Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham which is out today here

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Sleep by CL Taylor – a review BLOG TOUR

I’ve read a few novels by CL Taylor so was very pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest book, Sleep.

Sleep tells the tale of Anna who was involved in a crash that she struggles to come to terms with. She blames herself for the tragic outcome of it and is suffering from severe insomnia and paranoia. Believing that she is being targeted by a stalker, she moves to a remote island in Scotland to work at a guest house. With only 36 residents on the island she believes that it is a safe place. However when the first guests arrive, a storm follows quickly after them. It is so severe that it traps Anna and the guests on the Island with no internet or phone signal. As things go from bad to worse Anna’s paranoia escalates and it soon becomes clear that all the guests are hiding secrets, and she believes someone is out to get her.

Sleep was an interesting novel. It reminded me a bit of a ‘locked room’ Agatha Christie style crime, but with an entire island and peripheral characters involved. The main character of Anna was a sad and slightly annoying person in my opinion. Clearly the guilt she felt was overwhelming her, but it did feel a little as though her self pity was the only element of her character involved. However this flaw in her added to the tension in the novel which was palpable. The fact that you didn’t know if it was just her paranoia or if there was really someone out to get her made this a real page turner.

The story itself was good and it has some really creepy elements to it. I like a claustrophobic feel to a crime story and this has that in waves. The plot zips along with speed, and each time you  felt like you were closing in on the truth more red herrings were thrown in. CL Taylor’s novels are always entertaining and will keep you gripped throughout and Sleep is no exception. Thanks to Avon books for my copy.

You can purchase Sleep here.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops of the blog tour:

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A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas – BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for author Bev Thomas’s debut novel A Good Enough Mother.
A Good Enough Mother follows Ruth Hartland, the Director of a trauma therapy unit in London. She is well respected psychotherapist with a fantastic career, yet her personal life is in bits. Tom her seventeen year old son has been missing for two years and has had no contact with anyone, her marriage has crumbled, and she has a difficult relationship with her daughter Tom’s twin sister. When a disturbed patient is referred she is shocked by the fact that Dan looks exactly like her missing son, and things soon start to spiral out of control as her professional boundaries start to blur.
This is a story of families told from the perspective of a mother dealing with both grief and guilt about her own part in the breakdown of the family. It was a gripping tale that I found fascinating. The author was a trained clinical psychologist and that comes across in the writing. As well as learning about Dan we also find out about other patients, they are background characters but give us a great insight into how Ruth usually works to contrast with her relationship with Dan.
This isn’t necessarily an easy read as it is emotional and sad. The quality of the writing draws you in as it weaves through to its inevitable car crash which I found quite shocking. The character of Ruth is intriguing. For someone who is supposedly at the top of the tree in her career she certainly makes some annoying mistakes, yet that is partly a consequence of her emotional state.
A Good Enough Mother is part mystery and part emotional drama both of which are utterly compelling. I would highly recommend this debut novel.

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Keep Her Close by MJ Ford – a review BLOG TOUR

Keep Her Close by MJ Ford is a police procedural set in Oxford. It opens with DS Josie Masters in therapy as she tries to come to turns with the horrific events of her past. When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College swiftly followed by two more, it soon becomes clear that this case is personal. As Josie hunts for the kidnapper she is also struggling to move on from her past with a new relationship she is in danger of ruining with her paranoia, unless of course her paranoia turns out to have a basis.

Clearly Keep Her Close is the follow up to MJ Ford’s debut novel Hold My Hand which sadly I hadn’t read, and although this does work as a standalone I wish I’d read that first as it sounds great. Saying that I did enjoy Keep Her Close. The character of Josie is the usual mess of clever detective and dysfunctional social skills which work together to make her a very interesting protagonist. The story itself I thought took a little bit to get going which I suspect was down to the amount of background needed to fill us in with her past, but once some connections had been made between the girls it really picked up.

I have to say I had my suspicions about who was to blame all along but I did keep changing my mind throughout which is the sign of a good storyteller that can throw in enough red herrings to make you doubt yourself. Once the final chapters revealed it I could have kicked myself for not sticking with my original assumptions.

Overall I enjoyed Keep her Close, it was a good story and I will definitely keep a look out for more about Detective Josie Masters.

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