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Girl A by Abigail Dean – a review

Girl A is the debut novel by Abigail Dean. It was a book I had seen all over social media so when browsing the lovely Fox Lane books recently I purchased a copy.

Girl A tells the story of Lex who is Girl A and is one of the survivors of a horrific family abuse scandal. Lex has moved away to New York and has a successful career as a lawyer having put her past behind her. However, when her mother dies she has to return to the UK and it seems the past is something that can’t be escaped.

I thought this was an astonishing debut story. It flits between present day Lex who is trying to deal with her mother’s estate as well as her elder brothers upcoming wedding, and a young Lex living at home with her brothers and sisters as their father slowly descends into madness.

This genuinely was a novel that I couldn’t put down (luckily I was on holiday when I read it) The skill of the writing meant that every time I thought I had a handle on what was happening something threw me off kilter. The story was excellent and the backwards and forwards timeline was handled really well. The character of Lex was an interesting one and even now I can’t decide if I like her or not, clearly she had survived a horrendous childhood but some of her actions made her hard to like.

This was a story that was heartbreaking at times, yet within the darkness there were also moments of humour that lifted the story. To me the quality of the writing was superb, all the characters were well rounded and believable.  The twist at the end was both upsetting but somehow fitting as the story concluded.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone and it’s one that will stick with me for a long time to come.

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Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell – a review

I am a huge fan of Patricia Cornwell so I was very excited to be accepted to get a proof copy of her latest Kay Scarpetta novel, Autopsy.

Autopsy picks up the story a few years after ‘Chaos’ in a world changed by a global pandemic. Kay and husband Benton have returned to Virginia to take over the medical examiners office. Following alongside are trusty sidekick Marino who is currently married to Kay’s sister, and her niece Lucy who is struggling to cope with the loss of her wife and child. When Kay arrives in Virginia she is thrown into the deep end when a murder victim turns up on the train tracks, and all the clues lead back to Marino’s community. Alongside this investigation, Kay has to contend with a top secret visit to the White House to investigate a crime in outer space.

I love a Kay Scarpetta novel and this was no exception. I must admit that some of the past novels in the series have been getting a bit technical for me, with too many long descriptions of weapons and cyber stuff, but this felt like a real return to form. It had all the hallmarks of a classic Patricia Cornwell with great characters, helicopters, lots of guns and a gripping story full of red herrings and corrupt officials.

This is one of the few series of books that I have read from the start more than once and it felt like a return to an old friend. I love the main characters, especially the interactions between Kay and Marino and it was good to see them working together again. The storylines were good. The space station crime has some fascinating insights into life within a shuttle, alongside a tricky case a bit closer to home. If I have one slight issue it’s that the ending felt a little rushed. Reading on a kindle meant I wasn’t aware of how close to the end I was, so it all came as a surprise how quickly everything finished. However that was only a very small complaint. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and it was a welcome return to what Scarpetta does best – solving murders.

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Black Reed Bay by Rod Reynolds – a review BLOG TOUR

Rod Reynolds is fast becoming a favourite author of mine and therefore I was delighted to be able to join the blog tour for his latest Black Reed Bay.

Black Reed Bay starts with a panicked phone call to the police from a woman who is running away from an upmarket gated community and believes her life is in danger. The call gets disconnected before the police can find out any more information. Detective Casey Wray is sent to investigate when it seems that the young woman has disappeared without a trace. At first she thinks it is just a simple domestic dispute gone wrong, until more bodies appear and more secrets are uncovered.

This was an interesting story that I very much enjoyed. What I really liked was the pace of the novel, the only way I can think to describe it is an ebb and flow of a novel. Everytime I felt like it was slowing down and I was going to take a break something shocking was thrown in and I had to keep reading. This is a really atmospheric book and the contrast between the perceived privedged background of a rich gated community and the dark misery of the criminal world gives it an extra depth.

The character of Casey was interesting, there was enough of a back story given to make her seem real, yet there was a sense that there were hidden depths not explored in this story. She works hard and clearly cares about her cases but not to the detriment of everything else.

There was lots going on within Black Reed Bay and at one point it’s difficult to see how on earth things are all going to be tied up. However Rod Reynolds manages to wrap all of them up neatly in a satisfying end. Overall a great story.

To find out what others though of Black Reed Bay visit the other stops on the tour.

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Deep Cover by Leigh Russell – a review BLOG TOUR

I was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for Leigh Russell’s new novel Deep Cover, book 16 in the Geraldine Steel series.

In Deep Cover Geraldine is still in York, whilst her partner Ian both in work and life has gone to London for a special assignment. When the body of a sex worker turns up Geraldine tries to put her turbulent personal life and worries about her ‘missing’ colleague behind her to track down the killer. However the trail soon goes cold and Geraldine and her new colleague Matthew are stuck hunting dead ends until the arrival of a second body. Meanwhile in London Ian has gone undercover to try and track down a group of drug dealers, but this is a personal quest too as the group are threatening Geraldine and Ian is determined to help her and her sister.

I enjoyed this novel, which was definitely a tale of two halves switching as it did between York and London. I must admit I preferred the York based story rather than the London one, but then I live in York so am probably a bit biased. I enjoyed the relationship between Geraldine and the new character Matthew and felt they bounced off each other well.

The narratives from Ian and Geraldine were interspersed with chapters told from Thomas’ point of view as the killer which I did enjoy. I felt these gave an interesting element to the story as you sensed how he was spiralling out of control. This is a fast paced novel and I found myself staying up late to finish ‘just one more chapter’

Deep Cover is the 16th novel to feature Geraldine and I think it would be difficult to read as a standalone as there is a lot of back story to cover, but also you are in for a treat if you have not yet read any of the Steel series so I’d definitely recommend starting at the beginning.

Find out what others thought of Deep Cover at the other stops on the blog tour.

You can buy Deep Cover here from No Exit Press

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