Category Archives: Book blog

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone @MichaelJMalone @OrendaBooks #BookReview #MustReads #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for In The Absence Of Miracles by M J Malone, a potential contender for my book of the year read on for my thoughts…

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A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

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There are books that are shocking and twisted, and then there’s In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael Malone! Shocking, doesn’t even come close to describing this remarkable book. This isn’t a book I feel fits into one particular genre, it’s part domestic noir, suspense, and crime thriller all rolled into one to create one of the most compelling, powerful and emotive reads I’ve had the pleasure to come across in the last few years.  This book reminds me of one of the author’s earlier books A Suitable Lie   that still remains one of my favourite reads. In The Absence Of Miracles is the heartbreaking story of one dysfunctional family, it’s a story that pulls no punches and one that will rip your heart out.

John Docherty’s mother suffered a massive stroke and is now receiving around the clock care in a nursing home. It’s left to John to clear the family home, buried among boxes he finds evidence that he has a brother, John has no memory of the brother and what follows is the story of John’s journey to discovering the truth. The truth will cause John heartbreak, pain, bewilderment and shame, as repressed memories from his childhood begin to emerge, he finds the truth is far more shocking than anything he could ever had imagined. Each page of this book crackles with emotion, it’s intense, dark, gritty and yet hidden amongst the pages are the fragile threads of hope.  

The author has showed great sensitivity and understanding and in creating an all too believable character, John Docherty is one of those rare characters who consumed my every waking moment, he’s a man in turmoil, determined to self destruct, he’s  a man drowning in guilt, resentment and disgust. His story will grab at your heart and squeeze it so tight it might just explode. The author has created such an incredible character it’s impossible not to become consumed by his story, add to that the author’s extraordinary prose which describe John’s emotions perfectly I found my heart shattering into a million tiny pieces. I’m sure I felt every emotion John felt whilst reading this book. As John’s repressed memories began to surface and you see a man teetering on the brink, I wanted to tell him ‘everything would be alright’ but because of the nature of the book I wasn’t convinced there could be a ‘happy ending’.

I think the author has taken a brave decision, in writing a book that explores a taboo subject matter, that’s seldom discussed so fixed is the stigma attached to this subject. In some author’s hands this would have just made for a shocking read, but Malone strikes the right balance and has produced a masterpiece, it’s subtle, sensitivity written, wrought with emotion and has to be one of my most captivating, heartbreaking reads EVER! Michael Malone is one of those rare author who appears to be able to write in any genre and turn what could be an interesting read, into something extra special, definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time to come. In The Absence Of Miracles is certainly a contender for my book of the year and one I will be recommending to anybody and everybody

  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (19 July 2019)

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

And yes in case you hadn’t already guessed I’m giving In The Absence Of Miracles my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for giving me the opportunity to read this fabulous book. I received this ARC in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.

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**Coming soon** new feature on the book review café #BookBloggers wanted What’s on your Book Shelf?

 

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I know I haven’t done much blogging lately, but I will definitely be making more of an effort in September after I return from my holiday. When I come back I will be running a brand new weekly Wednesday feature What’s on your book shelf? Not particularly original I know 😂

Anyway I have had a tremendous response to my plea for bloggers to take part, and I would love it if more book bloggers signed up so I can make it a long running feature. It doesn’t matter what genre you read as long as you have a book blog and books of course 😂 you’re welcome to take part.

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One of my book shelves

Basically I will be asking you questions about your book shelves, favourite books etc there are only eight questions so hopefully this won’t put you off. It would be great if you could include photos of your book shelves, books etc and a bio of yourself and links to your blog.

If your interested contact me @ thebookreviewcafe.mail.com and I will send the questions across to you. Please note this is a weekly feature so it may take me a while to get to you.  Also I will be running this feature in the order bloggers send their answers back, please let me know in your email if there’s a particularl day/month you don’t want your feature to appear.

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Some of my own signed books ♥️

Torment by Mark Tilbury #BookReview #Torment #BlogTour @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Torment by Mark Tilbury blog tour. Torment is a stand-alone Psychological thriller published by Bloodhound Books.

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Who can you really trust?

Beth Cruikshank couldn’t be happier. She is eight weeks pregnant and married to the man of her dreams. But after returning home from a celebratory meal, she finds a wreath from her sister’s grave hanging above the bed and a kitchen knife embedded in her pillow. There are no signs of a forced entry. Nothing is stolen. And no one other than the cleaner has a key to the house. 

And then a campaign of terror begins. Beth becomes increasingly paranoid as it becomes clear that someone close to the family is behind these disturbing events. 

But who would want Beth dead?

Can Beth find the answer before it’s too late?

Torment is a story of misplaced loyalty, revenge and sacrifice.

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When I pick up a book by Mark Tilbury I’m never certain what to expect, and that’s why I love this author’s books I always think ‘expect the unexpected’ and the author normally delivers. Torment is the author’s latest stand-alone psychological thriller, it’s not as dark or gritty as some of his previous books but it still made for a heart stopping read. 

When someone wants you dead is there anywhere to hide? For Beth Cruikshank it appears not, unless she moved to a desert Island, but then where would be the fun In that? It appears eight week pregnant Beth has a stalker, an unbalanced one at that! First she finds a wreath from her sister’s grave hanging above the bed and a kitchen knife lodged in her pillow (enough to freak out even the most fearless amongst us) but that’s just the start. So begins a campaign of terror, that will push Beth to the edge, its obvious someone wants Beth dead, but to the who? and why? you will just have to read Torment to find out.  

Mark Tilbury is a master in creating the most loathsome characters, their complex, calculated, and unlikable, they are the type of characters that make your skin crawl, their auras are surrounded by malevolence.  Beth’s stalker is such a character and although you have no idea who it is, it’s obvious they are one sick and troubled individual. You can’t help but have some sympathy for Beth’s predicament, and sense her growing panic and fear, as the stalkers psychological torment towards Beth escalates the sense of foreboding increases. Mark Tilbury keeps the reader engaged throughout as you are never sure what the stalker has planned next for poor Beth. 

I have to admit I guessed the offender, and worked out the ‘why’ quite early on in the book, but I must apologise to the author as I thought he had gone for a much-used plot that’s been done to death (no pun intended). I really thought that meant the book would hold no surprises for me, but guess what? The author still managed to combine an element of surprise, with a deliciously deceptive twist in its tail. 

Torment is the type of book where paranoia flourishes, each character raises suspicion, which added tension to the overall plot. I read a lot of psychological thrillers, plenty can produce the suspense but very few give the element of surprise that I crave in a book of this genre, but Mark Tilbury managed to accomplish both. For me personally I enjoyed the second half of the book the most, it’s here the author’s vivid imagination really comes into play. I read Torment literally in two sittings (always a sign of a good read) so absorbed was I in this tale of escalating terror. Highly recommended to those who enjoy a fast-paced narrative with a good deal of tension.

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodhound Books (29 July 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had six novels published by Bloodhound Books, including his most recent release, You Belong To Me.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

Social Media Links:

Author website: http://www.marktilbury.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Tilbury/e/B00X7R10I4/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor/

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor@MTilburyAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marktilburyauthor/@marktilburyauthor

My thanks to the author and Bloodhound books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

Follow the blog tour…….

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THE JULY GIRLS BY PHOEBE LOCKE @PHOEBE_LOCKE @WILDFIREBKS #REVIEW #TheJulyGirls #SummerMustReads #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The July Girls by Phoebe Locke, I have a feeling this book is going to be one of this summers top reads. You can read on for my thoughts……….

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Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost. 

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.

Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives . . .

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I’m not going to beat about the bush here, I absolutely loved The July Girls by Phoebe Locke, this is the first book I’ve read by the author, although I have since bought her debut novel The Tall Man. If from the book description you thought this was a run of the mill ‘serial killer thriller’ you couldn’t be more wrong. This book has so much more to offer the crime thriller lover, it’s a book that’s superbly written, an extraordinary and highly original tale, told through the eyes of a brilliantly drawn character, ten-year-old Addie.

Set in London, The July Girls tells the story of two sisters, Jessie and Addie, whose lives become unintentionally entangled with a serial killer. Every year, on the 7th of July, a young girl is snatched from the streets of London by the killer, leaving behind no clues or forensic evidence. The story begins with The devastating event of 07/07 terrorist attacks, for many, lives will never be the same, and unfortunately for Jessica and Addie so begins their worse nightmare, as on the same night their dad comes home covered in blood and when they find items in their home belonging to a missing woman believed to one of the victims of the ‘Magpie’ killer. Addie’s sense of confusion, distress and loss are palatable throughout The July Girls, making for a disquieting read.

The reason I enjoyed this book is very much down to the innocent narrative of Addie, which compliments the sinister undertone that runs through the book’s pages.  The relationship between the two sisters is superbly depicted, by the author it’s impossible not to become involved in the lives of her characters. Jessica is thrown into the position of surrogate mother, she adores Addie and will do anything to protect her, even if that means lying to hide the shocking truths hidden beneath the surface of their dysfunctional family. You can’t help but admire Addie from a young age through to her teens she retains Addies her integrity, her sense of ‘right from wrong’ even though this will cause her stress and upset. Addie is a troubled ten-year-old, there are things she has seen that she can’t forget, they keep her awake at night, they are things that niggle at her conscious and force her to question the very person who she should be able to trust, her own father. Is everything at it seems? or does Addie have a over active imagination like many a ten-year-old? I’m not saying as you really need to read the book to find out! 

Phoebe Locke shows that you don’t need to write graphic crime scenes to capture the reader’s imagination, it’s a disturbing story but subtle, leaving the reader to summon up their own vivid scenarios! Although I wouldn’t consider this to be a fast paced read, the beauty of The July Girls is the author’s incredible ability to build on the tension and suspense, whilst giving the reader an incredible insight into the life of her characters. The author takes familiar subjects such as family dynamics, relationships and turns them into a compelling, extraordinary read, and one that’s impossible to put down even for a few minutes. I’m still not sure I have conveyed just how good this book is, but it’s definitely one of my top read this summer. So on that note if you only buy one book this summer, you should definitely consider The July Girls,  it’s a book I will be happily  recommending to anyone and everyone.

And yes I’m giving The July Girls my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wildfire (27 Jun. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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The book review café book of the month **July 2019**

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Oh WOW can you believe we’re in August? and even more incredible is the fact that I’ve managed to post on the 1st of the month 😂

I have read some fabulous books again this month, and go me I’m still on a mission to make my book of the month, actually ONE book, can I manage to complete a whole year, well here’s hoping😂.

How do I choose my book  of the month?

I go for a book that I find particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

So without further ado here’s my book of the month for July.

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Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

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Once again the author has written a crime thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat, taut with tension and bursting with malevolence and trepidation, it’s a book that crime thriller lovers will race through. Angela Marsons has again delivered a riveting read, with an original plot, all to human characters and a style of writing that immerses the reader from the start. I cannot wait for the next book in this ‘unmissable’ series. My full review can be found here…….Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

Highly recommended

 

 

 

You can read my full reviews here…..

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah #BookReview #SummerReads @HQstories @KiaAbdullah

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager #BookReview #SummerReads @riley_sager @EburyPublishing @penguinrandom

#Inborn by Thomas Enger #BookReview @EngerThomas @OrendaBooks #BookShelfReads

The closer I get by Paul Burston #Review @PaulBurston @OrendaBooks #MustReads

Books I’m hoping to read in August

I’m hoping to have an Orenda binge this month which I’m really looking forward to, along with a couple of other books I’m hoping to fit in.

 

 

 

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah #BookReview #SummerReads @HQstories @KiaAbdullah

Today I’m sharing my review for Take It Back by Kia Abdullah, a powerful and emotional court drama. Read on for my thoughts but first the book description……

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The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Whose side would you take?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a glittering career at the Bar. All before hanging up her barrister’s wig to help the victims who needed her most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

Jodie’s own best friend doesn’t even believe her claims that their classmates carried out such a crime. But Zara does. And Zara is determined to fight for her.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

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Take It Back by Kia Abdullah is a modern day story that explores some pretty tough but current themes, sexual assault, racial tensions, prejudice, and poverty. Some readers may give this book a wide berth because of the subjects mentioned, personally I would ask you to think again, its one of those books that offers so much more, it’s a book that’s thought provoking, a relevant if not disturbing tale of our times. This is one of those books that would make the perfect book club read, it explores current and relevant topics that will make for lively, thought-provoking discussions.

Sixteen-year-old Jodie Wolfe enters a sexual referral centre, wanting to share her story,  she reveals an appalling tale to lawyer Zara Kaleel, a horrific crime has been committed and Jodie firmly points the finger at four Muslim boys. This sets the scene for an explosive courtroom thriller, where no one could foresee the far-reaching consequences for Jodie, Zara, four teenage boys, their families and the local Muslim community. It’s very much a case of ‘she said’ versus ‘they said’ but whose to be believed? Jodie a young girl who is bullied and tormented for her facial deformities, dragged up by an alcoholic mother? Or the four teenage boys, handsome, popular and from decent hardworking families? The odds aren’t stacked in Jodie’s favour that’s for sure! 

Jodie Wolfe couldn’t foresee her case would develop into a high profile one,  steeped in controversy, where everyone has an opinion, and sides are taken. Kia Abdullah ensures the reader is kept captivated, with a cast of unreliable characters,  it’s nigh on impossible to know who to believe. Truth and lies become blurred, the opinions of professionals, the evidence from witnesses, I found my thoughts constantly changing throughout the court scenes, making for a tense and unpredictable read. 

Characters are such an essential part of a well-told story, and the author has created some exceptional ones, Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds appears strong and determined but look under the flawless, public front and you will find a woman burdened with guilt at not being the perfect ‘Muslim girl’ that her family want her to be. Then you have Jodie who will pull at your heartstrings, dragged up by a mother who resents her, bullied and ridiculed by her peers for being disfigured, her story is desperately sad and yet very credible. There are other characters that will make your blood boil, or rouse sympathy but one thing I can guarantee you, you will question each one’s variation of the truth!  

The author keeps the reader on tenterhooks almost to the very last page, there were many surprises hidden within the pages that were unexpected but added to the over all tension. I have seen reviews that compare Zara Kaleel‘s writing to that of best seller Jodi Picoult, in many ways I would have to agree, the format feels the same, but I think the author has created her own style, the court scenes felt far more tense and hard-hitting, and I found the characters to be more relatable, the plot to be far from predictable.  Take It Back is a touching and powerful novel that makes for a disquieting read but it’s one I would highly recommend to those who appreciate a count drama, with a challenging storyline. 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQ (8 Aug. 2019)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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Child’s Play by Angela Marsons #BookReview @WriteAngie @Bookouture #ChildsPlay #CrimeSeries #MustReads

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for one of my favourite crime series Child’s Play by Angela Marsons, but first the book description……..

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Finally we’re playing a game. A game that I have chosen. I give one last push of the roundabout and stand back. ‘You really should have played with me,’ I tell her again although I know she can no longer hear.

Late one summer evening, Detective Kim Stone arrives at Haden Hill Park to the scene of a horrific crime: a woman in her sixties tied to a swing with barbed wire and an X carved into the back of her neck.

The victim, Belinda Evans, was a retired college Professor of Child Psychology. As Kim and her team search her home, they find an overnight bag packed and begin to unravel a complex relationship between Belinda and her sister Veronica.

Then two more bodies are found bearing the same distinctive markings, and Kim knows she is on the hunt for a ritualistic serial killer. Linking the victims, Kim discovers they were involved in annual tournaments for gifted children and were on their way to the next event.

With DS Penn immersed in the murder case of a young man, Kim and her team are already stretched and up against one of the most ruthless killer’s they’ve ever encountered. The clues lie in investigating every child who attended the tournaments, dating back decades.

Faced with hundreds of potential leads and a bereaved sister who is refusing to talk, can Kim get inside the mind of a killer and stop another murder before it’s too late?

The addictive new crime thriller from multi-million copy, number one bestseller Angela Marsons explores the dark side of child prodigies and will have you absolutely hooked.

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I’ve thought long and hard about writing a review for Child’s Play by Angela Marsons, not because I didn’t enjoy it, in fact I bloody loved it! But it’s the eleventh book in the series and I’ve reviewed every book,  and I’m not sure I have anything original to say, unlike the author! Am I biased towards the author? Definitely not if I love a book i will shout about it, if I dislike a book  I tend to keep my opinions to myself! I keep expecting this series to lose momentum, or the latest book to be a pleasant read, but not one that sets my heart racing with excitement, and yet the latest instalment of the ‘Kim Stone’ series is just as good, or even better than previous books in the series, and just as thrilling, Angela Marsons is an author who was born to write crime thrillers.

Child’s Play opens with a blood curdling scene, there’s no slow build up here the author goes straight for the jugular, no pun attended! Which immediately draws you into Child’s Play. Diverting from her usual format the author has uses two plots to engage the reader, personally I sometimes find this affects the flow of a book, but that’s definitely not the case with Child’s Play. The first focuses on the investigation of the gruesome murder of Belinda Evans, a retired college Professor of Child Psychology. The second focuses on DC Penn whom we were introduced to in a previous book. By weaving both plots together we learn more about Penn’s personality and learn more about his strengths  and weaknesses during a reopened investigation.

The strength of this series lies in its characters, Kim Stone and her team are so well developed, they jump out of the pages. Like any team they each have a place, they have their disagreements, their banter is second to none and yet they are a ‘work family’ who always have each other’s back.  The relationship between Kim and her sidekick Bryant goes from strength to strength, the humour better the pair adds light relief to the contrast of a dark plot. A new member temporarily joins the team, Tiffany aka ‘Tinks’  her character fits in really well with the dynamics of the team, even if Kim finds her irritatingly cheerful! I hope she makes a return in future books, as I think she would definitely make a worthy addition to the team.  

As I’ve come to expect the author’s research into her plot and characters is impeccable, she also gives an incredible insight into the psyche of her troubled characters. In this book the author spotlights child prodigies, a subject which I found intriguing but at the same time alarming, these children are often seen as oddities, they are bullied, ostracised, isolated because they are ‘different’. Marsons explores the difficulties child prodigies face, alongside the ramifications on siblings and families. Child’s Play seems such an innocent title, it’s one that conjures up images of children’s laughter, and childhood games, but Angela Marsons turns it into something dark and far more sinister. 

Once again the author has written a crime thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat, taut with tension and bursting with malevolence and trepidation, it’s a book that crime thriller lovers will race through. Angela Marsons has again delivered a riveting read, with an original plot, all to human characters and a style of writing that immerses the reader from the start. I cannot wait for the next book in this ‘unmissable’ series. Highly recommended by me. 

  • Print Length: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Bookouture (11 July 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

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