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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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Rogue Killer by Leigh Russell – BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of writer Leigh Russell and so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel Rogue Killer. In Rogue Killer we again meet up with Detective Geraldine Steel. She is still living in York and starts to investigate when a man is killed, and suspicion falls on a gang of opportune muggers. Geraldine Steel is the only one who thinks this is work of a murderer. When two more victims are found, the muggers are tracked down. However, it soon becomes clear that it isn’t them, and that a killer is on the loose. One who seemingly believes that he is invincible despite there being DNA found. Yet he hadn’t banked on the tenacity of Geraldine.

Rogue Killer is an interesting story that kept me hooked throughout. I felt the story was very clever, and especially enjoyed the setting in York. This is one of those stories that walks you through the streets of the city it is set in and as a York dweller myself you can imagine the routes taken.

Although the crimes are pretty gruesome, this isn’t a graphic novel with most of the violence happening off the page which I think can often make things even more chilling. There were also chapters from the killers point of view, which personally I always really enjoy, although I suppose enjoy isn’t really the right word they were rather disturbing.

Although this is the latest in a long series it can still be read as a standalone. There were plenty of background references given, and you can soon work out the relationships between Geraldine and her two very different sisters and the tension between Geraldine and her now superior officer Ian. One of the things I really like about Leigh Russell’s books is the attention given to somewhat peripheral characters, in this case the gang of muggers. The interaction between the three was interesting and showed a sense of vulnerability alongside the arrogance and unpleasantness that makes you think they deserve whatever they get. Of course the standout character is Geraldine, and despite her being a little annoying at times when she can be a bit slow on the uptake, she is a character that on the whole I like.

I very much enjoyed this story and would recommend Leigh Russell’s series to anyone who likes a gritty thriller.

To find out more about Rogue Killer pop over to the other spots on the Blog Tour tomorrow is the turn of Short Book and Scribes.

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His Perfect Wife by Natasha Bell – a review BLOG TOUR

His Perfect Wife follows artist Alex who lives a perfect life with her husband Marc and their two children in York. When she goes missing, at first it’s thought to be an abduction, until her clothing and belongings are found near the riverbank and the police think it’s a murder case. However, Alex hasn’t died, she is being kept against her will far away from her family. Marc is determined to find out what has happened to his wife, even though it means uncovering secrets proving he didn’t really know her at all.

Told from the point of view of Alex, the story switches backwards and forwards between the past and present. Alex imagines the scenes at home after she has gone, alongside replaying how her and Marc met and built their life together. We also find out about Alex’s previous and rather exciting life as a performance artist in New York via letters from her former roommate. These letters show a slightly different side of our perfect wife, who gave up a glamourous career to be with the man she loved.

This was an interesting take on the domestic set novel that I really enjoyed. Clearly you know that the perfect marriage portrayed at the start is going to start tumbling down as soon as Marc starts investigating. Yet the way this pans out led to an ending I did not see coming and actually made me re-read some chapters to see what I had missed.

The character of Alex is frankly annoying from the start which did make the reading a little uncomfortable at times as you know you should feel sorry for her but it’s a struggle. Yet despite not feeling sorry for her the story kept me gripped. I was a little disappointed that the setting of York didn’t make more of an appearance. Although you knew it was set in the city as it said so, it could have really been in any city with a river, but that is probably because I am a bit biased.

I’m not sure how true to life this is, without wishing to give away any spoilers there are certain parts that just would not be possible. Yet as I always say with fiction you can get away with stretching boundaries somewhat. Overall it was an easy enjoyable story that I thought had a clever twist.

Thanks to Penguin Random house for my copy of His Perfect Wife. Available here.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out more.

 

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