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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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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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Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman – a review BLOG TOUR

I have read and enjoyed many of Laura Lippman’s novels therefore it is always a thrill to receive an email inviting me onto a blog tour for her latest one and I’m delighted to be closing this tour with my thought’s on Lady in the Lake.

The Lady in the Lake is set in Baltimore in the 60’s and tells the story of Maddie. Having married young she has decided that she wants more for herself and so has left her husband and teenage son to try and build a new life. She gets a job at the local paper helping out with the problems page. However she is keen to move up the ladder, and therefore when she discovers the body of a missing girl she thinks that finding out what happened to Cleo could be the story she needs.

Like all Laura Lippman’s novels this was a good story. I enjoyed the historical element of it and thought that it painted a good picture of a country that was changing. The novel touches on race, equality, religion, all blended into a mystery that was intriguing.

The story is mainly told from the perspective of Maddie, however between each chapter from her there is also a chapter from someone else’s point of view. I must confess that some of these I found a bit unnecessary. I appreciate that it was a way of moving the story on and it was interesting in parts as it did show how things that Maddie did affected other people, yet some of them were just a little annoying as I wanted to get back to the story.

The Lady in the Lake is almost two different stories in one. There is the mystery element surrounding Cleo’s death and why she was left in a fountain (not a lake like the title, still not sure why that is) Then there is the story of Maddie and her trying to find herself. Whilst she wasn’t the most likeable character I did feel for her and I like to see a woman making courageous choices.

As is often the case with Laura Lippman’s writing this was a slow burner of a story but the atmosphere that is created keeps you hooked. I would recommend this especially if you enjoy reading novels set during this period of history.

Thanks to Faber and Faber for my copy. To find out what others thought of this visit the other stops on the blog tour.

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Life Ruins by Danuta Kot – a review Blog Tour

I waLife Ruins Cover (1)s a big fan of Broadchurch and the Missing, therefore when a blog tour invite came through with a book that was apparently for fans of both I could hardly say no.
Life Ruins by Danuta Kot introduces us to Becca, Jared and Kay, all of whom think that they have reached rock bottom. Becca has been thrown out of university and had to move away. She now works at a homeless kitchen. Jared is suffering both emotionally and physically after being involved in a caving incident. Kay has lost her husband and is struggling to move on. Jared is witness to a brutal attack that leaves a girl in a critical condition. Becca believes she knows who the victim is but no one will believe her, except Kay who used to foster the troubled teenager. As they meet they begin to realise that the danger could be heading for them all.
Life Ruins was a book that drew me in from the start. Told from the viewpoints of the three main characters the three plots start off as very separate apart from the odd phone call between Kay and her foster daughter. We find out slowly what happened to Jared and why he is addicted to painkillers, what happened to cause Becca to leave University and about Kay’s shattered life. These three stories individually I found fascinating. As they start to come together things I felt slowed down a little yet not to the detriment of the book. This to me wasn’t a story that was particularly shocking, instead it was the character led nature of it that drew me in.
Kay I especially felt for as she was clearly lost without her husband and stuck living a life that had been her husbands dream rather than her own. Jared was an interesting character, wracked with guilt he struggles to even get up in the morning after once being an accomplished potholer. I have to say as someone with a fear of getting stuck in a small place there was one description of a cave that I found incredibly difficult reading. A credit to the writing talent that drew such a vivid picture I had to put the book down and stick my head out of the window.
Life Ruins is set along the coast between Bridlington and Whitby so it’s a coast I’ve often travelled over the years and it was brilliantly painted in this novel. The descriptions with Kay out walking her husbands dog are moving and very atmospheric.
I thoroughly enjoyed Life Ruins by Dakota Kot and will definitely be looking up her previous novels.
Life Ruins by Dakota Kot is available on amazon 
Thanks to Anne Cater and Simon Schauster UK for my copy.

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One WayOut by A.A. Dhand – a review BLOG TOUR

As part of the fantastic York Literature Festival in 2018 I went to a Northern Noir session featuring Robert Scraggs and AA Dhand. At the time neither of them were authors I had read before but of course I can’t possibly leave an event without buying new books and both of the authors soon became firm favourites. Therefore I was very pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for AA Dhand’s latest novel One Way Out.

One Way Out CoverOne Way Out is the fourth in the Detective Harry Virdee series and as always it is set in Bradford. One sunny afternoon Harry is with his Mother and Son at the Park. When an alert comes through, he only has minutes to get his family to safety before the bomb goes off. Worse is yet to come however as this was just a warning. A terrorist group called the Patriot’s have planted a bomb in one of the cities Mosques and in return for saving the lives of those at Friday prayers they want the four leaders of a radical Islamist group Almukhtaroon handed over to them. The Government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists even when thousands of lives are at risk. Therefore Harry must find his own way to negotiate through a case that is deeply personal, as his wife is inside one of the Mosque’s.

This was an absolutely fascinating novel that I really couldn’t put down. The story itself was gripping, and what could have been a relatively simple, hero takes down baddie and defuses bomb narrative, was infinitely more complicated. Every time you thought you were heading down one path something else got thrown in and you were sent down a different one.

However what I really enjoyed was learning more about the family dynamics and the cultures involved. The characters are all intriguing in their different beliefs and personalities. Harry is a bit of a rebel who will go off on his own if he thinks it’s the right thing to do. His wife Saima is an incredibly strong woman who will give her life to save her child. Harry’s Mother was a real revelation in this book, Harry was disowned for marrying a Muslim and his father has no relationship with him or Harry’s son. Yet when Harry’s Mother has to look after the little boy she will protect him at all costs even if it means going against her husbands wishes.

The writing style is one I personally love, with nice short chapters that will keep you saying ‘just one more’ and ultimately being late for work! I would definitely recommend this novel and although it is part of a series it works as a standalone.  We hopefully haven’t seen the last of Harry Virdee and I, for one, can’t wait to find out what happens next. 

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour:

One Way Out Blog Tour Poster

To purchase your own copy of One Way Out by A.A. Dhand visit Amazon

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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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