He Said / She Said – Erin Kelly

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Don’t be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed.

 

I must have a thing about eclipse stories at the moment, because this comes hot on the heels of Frances Brody’s eclipse set Death in the Stars.  Two novels, which could not however, be any more different.  After the cosiness of the 1920’s, I have been catapulted into the late nineties with a story the begins in Cornwall during the 1999 total eclipse, and continues on right until 2015 spanning the lives of Kit, Laura and Beth, along with the lives of the people surrounding them, affected over the years by their actions.

During the total eclipse of 1999  Laura witnesses an event that will follow her around from that moment on, one she struggles to come to terms with the aftermath of, the impact on the lives of all of those involved, and the ultimate unravelling of history.  As truths about those who share the ordeal become known, Laura struggles to come to terms with everything, hiding from the past seems her only option, striving to live a full life in the shadows, just as the sun hides behind the moon during an eclipse.

Switching back and forth between her current life and the unfolding memories of the past 15 years, He Said/She Said is told with all of the amazing ability I have come to expect from Kelly, ensuring that you are compelled to keep reading because you can’t wait to see how the tales intertwine, and slowly unwind all whilst combined with a reminder of how there are often many sides to every story…

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A Justifiable Madness – A B Morgan

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Can you really tell the difference between madness and sanity?

Mark Randall goes to great lengths to get himself admitted to an acute psychiatric ward and, despite being mute, convinces professionals that he is psychotic. But who is he and why is he so keen to spend time in a psychiatric hospital?

When Mark is admitted, silent and naked, the staff are suspicious about his motives.

Dealing with this, as well as the patients on the ward, Mark’s troubles really begin once he is Sectioned under the Mental Health Act. When decisions about his future are handed to Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Giles Sharman, Mark’s life is about to go from bad to worse.

Drugged, abused and in danger, Mark looks for a way out of this nightmare. But he’s about to learn, proving that you are sane might not be easy as it seems…

Flippin’ eck! What a rush! Another one of those books that is both good and not so good for insomniacs…. Picked it up to read one night when I couldn’t sleep, and then couldn’t go back to sleep because I just could not put it down.

What is really creepy about this book is that whilst it is something that should never happen in modern society, it is equally something the could happen. Cleverly written with all sides misreading the words and actions of others, simply due to their differing points of view of the same subjects, and the belief that the intentions of others are honourable.

A Justifiable Madness contains moments of subtle humour, that shine a light on a dark and troubling situation, a story that has some roots in truth, and shows how easily power can be abused, and people can come to believe that what they’re being told is the truth, even when it’s not.

 

Follow Me – Angela Clarke

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imageLIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM …

Absolutely bloody loved it.

Still living the student life, years after finishing university, Freddie Venton scrapes by in the world by sleeping on the sofa in the lounge of her shared accommodation and working at Espress-oh coffee. She dreams of being a full time journalist, but is resigned to writing free web copy on student life for ‘The Family Paper’.

After a run in with her annoyingly chipper, all round company man and Espress-oh manger Dan, Freddie has a chance encounter with ex-school friend, Nasreen Cudmore, and as her journalistic insights kick in, she ends up finding herself dressed as a forensics expert and stranded in the middle of a brutal murder scene.

I have to say picked up Follow Me on a bit of a whim, due to its bargain 99p Amazon price tag, and I’m glad I did, I absolutely bloody loved it.

I really enjoyed the realistic way the twitter followers of the #Murderer are depicted, at first joining in with the ‘game’ and then turning when they realise the horror of what is actually happening, the whole playing out of the crimes on social media was brilliantly done, meaning even those readers who don’t ‘get’ / use the various platforms will be able to follow the whole tale.

One of my favourite parts was the way that each of the chapters was entitled with a popular piece of text speak and its explanation, and perfectly summed up the action to follow.  Put together with the way Freddie talks to herself in headline asides, Follow Me is a gripping read that successfully deals with terrible events, without going over the top and becoming too dark for many readers.

Freddie Venton is a great character, feisty, go getting, determined to succeed, and yet staying grounded by the very real devastation being caused all around her.  Her ex-schoolfriend Nasreen is far more straight-laced, and down the line desperately trying to succeed.  I didn’t really warm to her character initially, but as the back story of what happened between them eight years before unfolds I began to change my mind.  I’m certainly hoping we get to hear more from Freddie in the future.

Evil Games – Angela Marsons

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imageThe greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

…a genuine one sitting read….

Back in the Black Country, back with DI Kim Stone, who in this cracking sequel finds herself locked in an evil mind game, with a deadly opponent.  If you enjoyed Silent Scream, you will love Evil Games. Faster, and more adrenaline fuelled, and with a truly evil antagonist who is destined to get under the skin of the troubled yet feisty DI, it’s a genuine one sitting read, as its villains heinous plan is slowly revealed.

It’s another gripping plot that will enthrall you, and make you question just how easily one person can manipulate another.  Beginning in court with the trial of a mother accused of trying to kill her child, a series of unrelated crimes are slowly revealed to be linked but only Stone knows who is behind it all. The difficult part is finding, someone, anyone who believes what she knows and can help her prove it.

I’m still amazed that this is just the second outing for Angela Marsons, serial character DI Kim Stone, as the writing is solid, the characters even more intriguing and the cracks in Kim Stone are cleverly picked at, giving us greater glimpses of both her weakness, and her inner strength.  A character with such a mixed and difficult background that I’m already looking forward to the next installment.

 

Silent Scream – Angela Marsons

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imageFive figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

I picked up Silent Scream not just as a fan of crime fiction, but also because finally there is a book that has been set where I grew up.  My Great Great Grandfather’s portrait hangs in the pub in The Black Country Museum, and if you mention the names of either of my Grandmothers to many of the staff working there, they’ll know exactly who I am. I’m a proud direct descendent Black Country girl, who’s moved away from home, and the memories that have been brought to mind of the places I lived, played and went to school have been a delightful aside.  I also believe it’s one of the things that helps with the mystery and intrigue of Silent Scream. With so many modern-day novels set in big cities or rural backwaters, it’s fantastic to see something in a setting more accessible to many, with its own quirks and issues of just who polices whom.

I absolutely loved the character of Kim Stone, and not only because of a shared loved of Kawasaki motorbikes.  I enjoyed the way that rather than being given a motorbike as transport in an effort to ‘butch up’ her personality, our feisty DI is but a true petrol head with a passion for bikes old and new.   She’s a sarcastic, rule breaker who, despite her childhood, cares more for her team than she’d like to let on.  Gritty, and determined, this DI is one fantastic character you’ll immediately want to get behind with a great line in sarcasm that will genuinely make you smile.

With a great cast of supporting characters around her, all of whom are well-developed and will have you keen to learn more about them, what’s most surprising about Silent Scream is that it is a debut novel. It’s cleverly put together with an intriguing plot that pull you in and have you whizzing through pages.  I’m definitely adding Angela Marsons to my ‘authors to watch’ list.

The Nightmare Place – Steve Mosby

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Sometimes, there’s a thin line between love and hate. Or at least that’s one theory for DI Zoe Dolan, tracking the Creeper – a stalker who’s been breaking into women’s homes and attacking them. But the Creeper’s violence is escalating and there’s no pattern, no clue as to how he’s getting in, and no clue as to who’s next.

Until Jane Webster gets a call to the help line where she volunteers. It’s meant to be a confidential service and Jane is torn – it could be a hoaxer, but the soft voice at the end of the line has the ring of truth about it. He says he loves these women – but it’s a love that ends in blood.

When Jane tells the police, it should be the lead that Zoe needs – but it only pulls her further into a case that is already taking her dangerously close to the past she’s never fully escaped. For Jane, Zoe and all the other young women of the city, suddenly nowhere is safe. Particularly their own bedroom at the dead of night…

 Whatever you do, don’t read it alone at night.

Your own home,  the one place you’re guaranteed to be safe, aren’t you? In the case of The Nightmare Place this is one thing that is just not so. ‘The Creeper’ is finding a way into women’s houses, through locked doors and closed windows.  No one knows how he is getting in, they just know the pain, devastation, and increasing level of violence that is going on once he is inside.

DI Zoe Dolan is trying to find out who he is and how he is getting in and Jane just might hold the key, but for her talking to the police means breaking the fundamental rule of the help line where she works, trust is paramount and confidentiality is guaranteed.  Can she reconcile passing on what she knows with breaking the rules of the organisation?

Despite its difficult and violent content, it’s got some well portrayed, down to earth characters and a with its fabulously woven plot it is an easy book to read and become enthralled by.  The Nightmare Place is a brilliant, and brutal book.  It will scare you, play to your paranoia and have you checking your locks. Whatever you do, don’t read it alone at night.

The Life I Left Behind – Colette McBeth

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image“I’m the only one who knows the secrets her friends have hidden, the mistakes the police have made.  I’m the only one who can warn her she’s still in danger. I know exactly who attacked her.  He’s the same man who killed me.”

Six years ago Melody was attacked and left for dead. She survived by burying her memories, confident that her attacker was convicted and imprisoned.  The the body of another woman, Eve, is discovered.

The women were strangers.  But Eve knew all about Melody’s life,  She has left behind her story, the clues that will force Melody to confront her own lies.  The clues that will put her life in danger all over again.

Want to start the New Year with a big book bang?  Published on January 1st, The Life I Left Behind is the book to do it with. After her cracking debut novel Precious Thing, Colette McBeth returns with the legendary ‘difficult second novel’ and immediately proves that there is no such thing.

Written from the perspective of three main characters, Eve, Melody and DI Rutter, The Life I Left Behind is a compelling read, pulling you into its web of intrigue as the individual narratives intertwine brilliantly in order to allow the mystery to unravel and the killer to be revealed.

From the outset the murder of Eve Elliot appears to be an open and shut case. The man responsible for the attempted murder of Melody years before has just been released from prison, and the attacks are strikingly similar. DI Rutter isn’t so sure, not one for cutting corners she doesn’t believe that it is quite so straightforward. With her old boss, the man responsible for solving Melody’s attack keen for Rutter to follow his lead and close the case, she has her work cut out for her, making sure they have the right man.

In the meantime, Melody, now reclusive and withdrawn from the world, is about to discover the true price of her attack, how much of her life she really lost on that fateful day, and just how little has changed in the years since.

I absolutely loved The Life I Left behind, Eve and Melody are well drawn characters that have you keen to find out more about, to find out what happened and to see how everything turns out, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself still sitting reading two hours after you picked the book up to squeeze in a few quick chapters. With a plot you can easily lose yourself in, that has a devilish twist in the tale The Life I Left behind comes highly recommended.