Posted in Reviews

Mr Mercedes – Stephen King


In the frigid pre-dawn hours of a distressed mid-western city, hundreds of folk are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver ploughs through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up and charging again. Eight people are killed, fifteen are wounded, the killer escapes.

Bill Hodges is a retired cop, depressed, lonely and still haunted by the unsolved crime. When out of the blue he receives a crazed letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes killer, and threatening further acts of violence, Hodges becomes hell-bent on tracking him down and preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born and is preparing to kill again. Only Hodges together with a couple of misfit friends can apprehend the killer in this high stakes race against time, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.

OK. I admit it. Mr Mercedes is the first Stephen King novel I have ever read. Not that I haven’t tried before, but nothing has ever ‘grabbed’ me and made me want to follow it through to the end. That said, I’m not really a fan of the horror genre when it comes to my choice of reading material. Mr Mercedes isn’t a horror story, it’s a classic crime thriller and I loved it.

It took me while to get used to some of the characters as they certainly were a real rag-tag bunch of misfits, with Holly being the most difficult to frame in my mind, but the group dynamic was one that worked really well.  Bill Hodges is a truly depressed and broken man at the beginning of the tale, but once his ‘scooby gang’ is brought together the change is fast and you can see how he would have been a great detective in his police days.

In contrast the downward spiral of Brady Hartfield as the book progresses is slow, yet clearly visible and perfectly timed to the pace of the novel.  It was almost a delight seeing him lose his controls and clarity of purpose as Hodges closes in.

I’ve read many mixed or poor reviews of Mr Mercedes, and surprisingly most of these seem to have come from lifelong Stephen King fans. Personally I think this is probably down to the change in genre, because as a prolific crime fiction reader I think King has done a great job myself, so I’m really glad to note that this is the first in a trilogy as it means I have more to look forward too.

Posted in Reviews

Safe As Houses – Simone Van Der Vlugt


A single mother stands in the garden of her isolated house, hanging out the washing, when suddenly a man appears. When he grabs at her, Lisa runs, but she is not quick enough. Suddenly Lisa and her young daughter find themselves held hostage in their own home. In the following hours and days, Lisa will do the unimaginable to protect her child – all the time wondering why the only witness has not come back to help her…

Safe As Houses is a dark and gripping tale of life, love, lies and survival.

Two women, both fighting for their lives, the survival of one dependant upon the survival of the other.  Ordinary everyday women whose lives both take a deadly turn on the same fateful night.

Safe as Houses will have you enthralled as the story slowly unfolds around you, carefully and very deliberately ratcheting up the tension, before hitting you below the belt with a couple of cracking last minute twists.

Posted in Reading, Reviews

Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little


Janie owes everything to her mother.
Her looks. Her money.
Her murder conviction.

At 17 celebrity wild child Janie Jenkins was jailed for the murder of her mother. It was no secret she didn’t like her, but did she kill her?

Ten years later and Janie is out, her case overturned due to mishandling of evidence by the crime lab. Hiding from the media who believe she has escaped justice, Janie has travelled to a small town in the Black Hills, looking for the truth behind what happened that fateful night.

Following the tale of rich, pretty and overeducated celebrity Janie Jenkins in the days after her release from prison for the murder of her own mother, Dear Daughter grabs you firmly by the hand and doesn’t let go until you get to the end of this completely engrossing read. It’s a book chock full of contrasts, the socialite in the small town, the celebrity seeking anonymity, the sassy back chat against the quiet unassuming thought through response. It’s best displayed through protagonist Janie, a true wild child, constantly searching for the boundaries in the unlimited lifestyle of the privileged, who in order to find the truth, is forced to become the exact opposite of everything she has ever been.


Dear Daughter also portrays brilliantly the dynamics of both large families and small communities. In the Black Hills town there are the age old feuds and fall outs amongst the families, the parental misunderstandings of the children, the sibling rivalries, together with the matriarchs that are seen to ‘hold these things together’, even if they don’t. There is some part of familial relationships in there that anyone reading this book will be able to relate to immediately. It shows a delightful amount of insight and only adds to the pleasure of reading this novel.

It’s an excellent debut you won’t want to put down once you have started and with Dear Daughter, Elizabeth Little has well and truly earned her place on my one to watch list.

Posted in Reviews

The Directive – Matthew Quirk


After escaping the corrupt back rooms of Washington, DC, Mike Ford is again playing a dangerous game–this time the stakes are even higher.

Mike’s brother is in over his head in a powerful conspiracy to steal a secret worth billions of dollars from the little-known but unbelievably influential trading desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In an effort to help, Mike soon finds himself trapped by the dangerous men in charge–and forced to call on all the skills of his criminal past in order to escape.

If I had to sum up The Directive by Matthew Quirk in one word it would be quite simple…


Pacy, without being too fast, it’s one of those rare novels where there was no one thing I could put my finger on to say what I was really enjoying about it, just that the whole package was one that meant I was unable to put the book down.

The Directive is an enjoyable thriller, with a good plot at its heart, and even if you think you’ve figured out who is behind it all before it’s revealed in the final showdown, there is plenty in there to keep you second guessing yourself all the way to the end.


Posted in Reviews

The Dead Ground – Claire McGowan


A month before Christmas, and Ballyterrin on the Irish border lies under a thick pall of snow. When a newborn baby goes missing from hospital, it’s all too close to home for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who’s wrestling with the hardest decision of her life.

Then a woman is found in a stone circle with her stomach cut open and it’s clear a brutal killer is on the loose.

As another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula is caught up in the hunt for a killer no one can trace, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

The Dead Ground is the second outing for McGowans forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, and opens just a few weeks after the events of previous novel The Lost. Maguire is having to come to terms with the consequences of her recent actions, an unplanned pregnancy with two potential fathers, both of which come with their own sets of problems.

Maguire is a woman used to being able to make decisions about her own future, and McGowan deals well with issues she faces as a woman seeking a solution to a life changing situation in a country where abortion is still illegal.  She also handles well the strained relationships and fine political lines being walked both between the Serious Crime division and MPRU, as well as between the Northern and Southern Ireland police forces.

With an intelligent plot, and a killer most won’t see coming, The Dead Ground is a great read, and for those of you who haven’t read the first book, don’t be put off picking this up and reading it first.  It works well on its own, with enough information from The Lost to help you understand Maguires situation, and not enough to spoil your enjoyment of the book should you choose to go back and read it later.

Posted in Reviews

Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is getting desperate. She’s running out of leads in the search for Jimmy Poletti, who was caught selling more than cars out of his New Jersey dealership. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find the criminal wheeler and dealer.

Stephanie’s No. 1 temptation, Ranger, is also struggling. There’s a killer in town with a personal vendetta against him. If Ranger wants to survive, he’ll need Stephanie’s help – and to reveal a piece of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins and highly untrained assassins are all in a day’s work for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum!

I always love getting hold of a the latest Stephanie Plum installment, and Top Secret Twenty One was no exception.  As usual I switched off my phone, shut down my computer, settled into my comfiest chair with a fresh cup of coffee, and there I stayed from page one until I finished.  Reading a new plum is like finding an old pair of jeans that you thought you’d lost, slipping them on and discovering a £5 note hidden in one of the pockets.  Full of characters and places you know and are comfortable with, and containing a delightful hidden surprise.

There are some great twists and turns, and the usual collection of interwoven storylines, with my favourite part being about Ranger. Usually Stephanie’s ‘go to guy’ when in danger, this time round, he’s having his own issues which bring to light his own areas of weakness.  This humbling and humanising of him was perfectly well crafted, it was just enough to display more of who he really is, without taking away the mysterious, almost godlike, level of his character.

In all, Top Secret Twenty-One sees Evanovich back with a bang (or four) and on top form for this latest Stephanie Plum adventure.  It’s full of the usual mayhem, madness and murder, and with more intrigue and danger than ever. It’s yet another amazing read that devotees will devour in hours, and will easily ignite the curiosity of the newbie to investigate and indulge in the previous twenty plus books and novellas.


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Look Behind You – Sibel Hodge

20140508-174704.jpgChloe Benson wakes up kidnapped and bound in an underground tomb with no memory of how she got there.

She escapes through deserted woods with her life, but no one believes her story.

When she begins to suspect her husband is lying to her, Chloe is forced to retrace her past, following in her own footsteps to find the truth and stay alive.

But who is following Chloe?

Look Behind You. You never know who’s out there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began to read Look Behind You, as a psychological thriller is about as far away from the normal chick-lit novels that Hodge usually writes as you can get. What I discovered was a cleverly plotted thriller that grips you from the very beginning and with every turn of a new page will have you second guessing all that you think of the story so far…..

When Chloe escapes from her underground prison, she finds that she has lost the last seven weeks of her life, the last memory she has being of the evening of her husbands birthday party.  Everyone around her believes that she is making up her story, saying that this has happened once before and was due to a breakdown following a miscarriage for which she has recently been hospitalised.

As Chloe tries to rebuild the missing weeks and resurrect her lost memories the story begins to twist and turn. Who kidnapped her? Is she really going mad? What really happened? and Who can she trust? Her search for answers will have you enthralled, and the first person point of view will put you firmly in her head, ensuring you experience her fear and frustration as she tries to prove the truth of what happened to those around her.

If you’re loading up your e-reader for your summer holidays, then this one is definitely worth adding.




Posted in Reviews

Land Of Shadows – Rachel Howzell Hall


Along the ever-changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, a seventeen-year-old girl is found dead at a construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished condominium.

Homicide Detective Elouise Norton and her new partner Colin Taggert, fresh from the Colorado Springs police department, are assigned to investigate. He assumes it’s a teenage suicide, but Norton isn’t buying the easy explanation. For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self-made millionaire, and the man Norton believes responsible for her sisters disappearance 30 years before.

As Norton investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases, but as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. The race is on to bring him to justice, or become his next victim….

If you’re planning on reading Land of Shadows any time soon, I recommend you clear your schedules before you do. It’s the most addictive book I’ve read this year, and I’m already viewing it as a likely contender for my best books of the year, it’s simply that good.

Elouise Norton is a brilliantly written character that you can’t help but like immediately. Tough and feisty, a hard-working woman who has come from a poor background to be the successful cop she is today. Sensitive and vulnerable, worried about her husbands fidelity and the state of her marriage. Still troubled by the unresolved disappearance of her sister, and with a blind determination to bring to justice the man she believes to be responsible for it.

One of my favourite touches to the tale comes as the story moves back and forth, between the present day and the day her sister disappeared, demonstrating the contrasting fortunes of the teenagers she knew then with the adults they have become.  The characters were so believable it felt a genuine reflection on the way life in poorer communities works, and how people change their fortunes or re-live their mistakes.  I found it provided an excellent background to the whole story.

As for the plot, it twists and turns with ease, ensuring that if you’re the sort of person who wants to guess ‘whodunnit’ first you will be spinning round in circles trying to get there. 

Land of Shadows is, for me, an amazing novel, and Detective Elouise Norton is a character I certainly see a great future for, a future I can’t wait to read all about.

Posted in Reading, Reviews

Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well – Nancy Atherton


The sleepy Cotswold village of Finch is filled with curiosity when young Australian Jack MacBride arrives to wrap up his late uncle’s affairs, but when Lori Shepherd volunteers to help Jack clear out his uncle’s overgrown garden, they discover something even more surprising.

After making a wish in the newly uncovered well, Lori is later baffled to find it seems to have come true, and as word of this granted wish spreads though the village, locals begin to turn out in droves in order to make their own wishes.

The village soon descends into chaos however, as one man’s wish can be another’s worst nightmare, and it’s up to Lori, together with some otherworldly help from Aunt Dimity, to find out what is really going on.

One of the great things about bookbridgr from Headline is that it is a brilliant way of discovering new authors. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I discovered Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well was actually the 19th book in its series, as it was one I had never heard of before and I love cosy crime mysteries and suspense novels.

I personally felt that Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well falls somewhere between two of my favourite writers MC Beaton and Paul Magrs, so if you enjoy either of them you will love these. It was a thrilling read with an intriguing supernatural side that will keep you turning pages until you suddenly realise that several hours have passed, and you’ve been unable to put the book down.

It has charming, well thought through characters, and an enchanting setting. As someone who lives on the outskirts of the Cotswolds and likes to visit villages much like the fictional Finch it’s well drawn. I also found that I had no need to have read any of the previous 18 novels in order to enjoy this one. To me, Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well was a delightful tale that left me feeling light-hearted and with a pleasant smile on my face as I closed the book. By the time I have sourced the rest of these novels, as I now surely must, my book shelves will be groaning!

Posted in Reading, Reviews

The Chase – Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg


The Fox and the Hare are back and the chase is on!

The newest target for the FBI’s secret odd couple is Carter Grove, the ruthless leader of a private security company who has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, an artefact whose theft was covered up and one the Chinese now want back.

In order to avoid an international incident should the truth come to light, Nick and Kate must operate under the radar in order to steal the piece back. As the chase for the artifact moves rapidly around the globe from Washington DC, to Shanghai and even to the Highlands of Scotland the heat is on to prove no one can outsmart Fox and O’Hare.

The Chase is another glorious riot of a romp from Evanovich and Goldberg, that left me wondering exactly what it is I like most about these books.

I’m not sure if it is the spirit and fun of the “will they? won’t they?” (of course they will) relationship, the audacity of the cons they pull, the pure escapism of the plots, or the breakneck pace of the novel which caused me to delightedly tear through the book in a matter of hours. One thing I do know is that these books deliver pages and pages of fun.

With a cast of wacky, yet bizarrely believable characters, its cheeky style, range of humour, and fabulous sense of adventure I think that this is going to be another winning series for both Evanovich and Goldberg. Certainly from my point of view, as I for one am already looking forward to more impressive cons, thrilling takedowns and the next adventure from this deceptive duo.