The Teacher by Katerina Diamond #Review

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Book description

You think you know who to trust? You think you know the difference between good and evil? You’re wrong…

The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.

Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.

As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.

But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.

And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?

 

I must be one of the few book bloggers on the planet who hasn’t read The Teacher by Katerina Diamond, but I’ve finally rectified that. Prior to publication of The Teacher, I remember there was a lot of hype on social media regarding this book, add to that a tag line definitely “not for the faint-hearted hearted” and you would think I would have bought it straight away but no me being me I decided to wait until all the hype had died (excuse the pun!) down, also with a huge TBR pile I just never found the time I’m afraid.

My review

I really have mixed feelings about The Teacher it was a book I really enjoyed reading, but there was a small part of me that was expecting something far more gruesome, now this could be because I read such a large amount of crime books I’ve become accustomed to descriptions of murders that might turn other readers stomachs, but I really don’t think it was that disturbing or gruesome. On the other hand if you don’t like well described murder scenes this may not be the book for you I’m afraid.

To begin with I admit I found myself confused each chapter introduces new characters, so by the half way mark there were an array of characters that I found difficult to keep tabs on, but then it happened! The Teacher began to make sense and I realised just how clever the author had been, she set the scene and then cunningly bought all the characters together in a dark and troubling tale. From the title I pretty much had the plot worked out in my head, but rather like the book nothing was as it seemed and it wasn’t long before I realised I had been pretty much misdirected by the blurb.

The Teacher introduces a new partnership DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles, and I’m intrigued by the pair as I’ve come to expect in a crime thriller they both appear to be messed up, but I’m interested to see how there partnership will evolve over the series. The Teacher is very much about good V evil, I never expected to have any sympathy for a killer that could do such awful things to other people, but I did, as to the reasons why, well I’m not about to giveaway spoilers so you will just have to read the book and see.

Although I enjoyed The Teacher I did find it a slightly disappointing read, I think because of all the hype surrounding this book I expected something more, but in fairness that’s my problem and not the authors. I do think The Teacher was a great start to a new crime series, deliciously dark with an eclectic mix of characters and I will certainly read the next two books in the series at some point.

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Avon; UK (10 Mar. 2016)

When You Disappeared by John Marrs #BookReview

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Book description

When Catherine wakes up alone one morning, she thinks her husband has gone for a run before work. But Simon never makes it to the office. His running shoes are by the front door. Nothing is missing–except him.
Catherine knows Simon must be in trouble. He wouldn’t just leave her. He wouldn’t leave the children.

But Simon knows the truth–about why he left and what he’s done. He knows things about his marriage that it would kill Catherine to find out. The memories she holds onto are lies.

While Catherine faces a dark new reality at home, Simon’s halfway around the world, alive and thriving. He’s doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the truth.

But he can’t hide forever, and when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he is.
And wish she’d stayed in the dark.

Revised edition: Previously published as The Wronged Sons, this edition of When You Disappeared includes editorial revisions.

My review

Imagine one day your husband disappears, you have no idea what has happened to him, as time passes you grieve, you go on to build a life without him and then when you least expect he turns up on your doorstep, I’m sure you would be shocked to say the least! and even more so when he reveals what he’s been up too! And this is pretty much the premises for When You Disappear. The story opens with the day Simon left and follows the impact this has on his family, and on Simon himself, when he reappears twenty-five years later, Catherine will finally learn who he really is, and that’s when the book gets really interesting as there are shocks and dark buried secrets galore. 

I absolutely loved The One by John Marrs so I really wanted to read When You Disappeared the author’s debut novel. Although it made for a good read I did have mixed emotions regarding the book as a whole some parts I really enjoyed and other parts I struggled with. Personally I felt this book read more like a mystery until just over the halfway mark when the psychological thriller element kicked in. I do have to mention Simon what an evil, cold hearted individual John Marr’s has created he doesn’t have one endearing feature, and at times he literally made my blood boil, sometimes I think having strong feelings for a character even if they are negative ones can actually heighten my enjoyment of a book, but unfortunately I disliked him so much it actually distracted from my enjoyment of When You Disappeared.

When You Disappeared is told in alternating chapters past and present from the two main characters POV, unfortunately I did find the constant change sometimes made the chapters feel disjointed. Although I can see why the author used this ploy I did find it slightly distracted from my enjoyment of this book. I would describe this book as a Character driven family drama and so I found the pace quite slow, although I do feel the author builds on the suspense and tension as he slowly reveals Simon’s darkest secrets. There is no doubt the author has written a captivating tale that many readers will enjoy with an original plot. It’s an impressive debut and one I’m sure many readers will enjoy.

Buying links:   amazon UK 🇬🇧     amazon US 🇺🇸

Length: 350 pages

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (13 July 2017)

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite #BookReview @BCopperthwait @Bookouture

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Book description

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

My review

This is pretty much how I must have looked when I finished Her Last Secret……

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OMG I must applaud Barbara Copperthwaite what a fabulous and twisted psychological thriller Her Last Secret turned out to be. Christmas is a time for families, to make memories, surrounded by unwrapped presents and feeling uncomfortable from eating too much rich food, but then I picked up Her Last Secret and all those Cosy thoughts were obliterated before I even got to the first chapter. Her Last Secret opens when the police are called to the Thomas’s London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

The reader is taken back a few days before the tragedy, and through various family member’s POV you learn of the disturbing secrets they kept from each other. The Thomas’s  appear to be the “perfect” family living the “dream”, but then the author peels back the layers and reveals a very different picture, some of the characters turned out to be flawed, weak and very unlikable, this is a family whose life was awash with untold secrets and resentment. Some of the characters I loved and some I loathed but they all had one thing in common at different points through this book I found I didn’t trust any of them, (well apart from the adorable Mouse, who deserves a mention because she was just so damn cute) which made for a very disconcerting read.

I do enjoy a book so much more when I find myself experiencing numerous emotions throughout the read, and even better when the emotions are ones I wasn’t expecting to feel. There are many  emotive themes running through this book, you can’t help but feel overwhelming  saddness at what happens  when you are unable to share your thoughts and fears  with those closest to you.

This isn’t a fast paced book by any means, but I’m glad it wasn’t as Barbara Copperthwaite spends time intricately unravelling the mysteries of this family, which in turn heightens the suspense of what’s to come, you know it’s going to be bad, but to the why and wherefore’s, well let’s just say they were definitely worth the wait. I do enjoy a book that challenges me to guess the outcome, just when I thought I had it all figured out Barbara Copperthwaite threw an almighty curveball that left me reeling. Shocking, sad and very twisted this is definitely a book I would highly recommend.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 408 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (13 Oct. 2017)

 

Small Talk by Robert T. Germaux @RGermaux 

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Book description

A serial killer has the people of Pittsburgh on edge, and Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked Special Assignment Squad are working feverishly to solve the case before more innocent lives are lost. But the killer proves to be a formidable foe, whose viciousness appears to be matched only by his ability to elude capture.

Throughout “Small Talk,” the reader is given glimpses into the mind of this cunning and sadistic murderer, an individual who seeks a face-to-face confrontation with his pursuers, a confrontation Daniel is only too willing to provide.

IMG_2357I’m not sure what a psychologist would make of me, although there again I could probably hazard a guess! I admit I do enjoy reading a crime thriller that features a serial killer, you never quite know “who” you are getting. I’m always hoping to find a “unique” serial killer (not literally may I add quickly!), as I read so many crime thrillers they need to be different and stand out from the usual “serial killer on a rampage” kind of novel. Set in Pittsburgh I had high hopes for Small Talk by Robert T. Germaux as I always find crime thrillers set in the USA seem darker and bolder.

Detective Daniel Hayes is leading the investigation alongside his hand-picked Special Assignment Squad (SAS) as they attempt to find a ruthless serial killer who stalks and brutally murders young women. Robert Germaux has created a well developed and credible bunch of characters, Hayes especially has an unique background which makes him a very interesting character. The dynamics of the group also add an air of credibility to Small Talk, as the investigation intensifies each member of the teams commitment to the case shows no bounds, adding a sense of urgency to the read.

I did have one small niggle the “romantic element” between Hayes and Lauren, yes I know everyone’s allowed to have a love life! But when I read a crime thriller I much prefer to concentrate on the nitty gritty and not get waylaid by chapters focused on relationships, I find it slightly distracts from my enjoyment of a book, that’s only my opinion of course and Small Talk still made for a very compelling read.

Although the chapter related to the serial killer made for an intriguing read, I wouldn’t say they made for a disturbing read, I was expecting them to be darker and make for a spine chilling read, unfortunately they felt “diluted” almost as if this author didn’t want to make them to gruesome or upsetting to readers. Perhaps because I read so many books in this genre I’ve come to expect these sort of novels to be darker and more disturbing than normal, but that’s my problem not the authors. Yes I did enjoy Small Talk it’s a very accomplished crime thriller with great characters and a decent plot line and well worth a read if you prefer a crime read that isn’t to dark or gruesome.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 266 pages

Publisher: Robert T. Germaux (4 Mar. 2015)

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent #BookReview @lizzienugent

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Book description

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbours, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

IMG_2357Imagine if people you met through life, neighbours, family, and friends narrated the story of your life would it make for an interesting read? Or would it make a disturbing one? That’s precisely what happens in Unravelling Oliver. You know from the first chilling sentence “I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her” where Oliver is talking about Alice his devoted wife that he isn’t a pleasant man, but I never expected such a shocking and gripping unveiling of a sociopath, as seen from different people’s viewpoints. The author expertly “unravels” the psyche of a very damaged Oliver in a gripping read that I read in one sitting.

One night Oliver beats Alice and she ends up in a coma. What happened to make Oliver a handsome, charismatic, and successful author do something so terrible? Various characters narrate Oliver’s story friends, family and acquaintances even Oliver himself. Slowly layer by layer each characters story “unravels” Oliver and the events that have shaped him into the person he has become.

This is a relatively short book at 240 pages, but even if it had been much longer I would still have had to read it in one sitting. Unravelling Oliver isn’t a fast paced novel by any means as it’s character led, but don’t let that put you off as it’s the extraordinary characters that make this novel such an exceptional read. Every character has their story to tale about Oliver some more chilling than others, Liz Nugent has managed to breathe life into each and everyone of her characters, and it was extraordinary reading how one person could shape some many people’s life’s in the worse possible ways.

I couldn’t help but have some empathy for Oliver as you learn more about him you realise how damaged he is, there are so many strands to Oliver, his childhood, his marriage and his relationships which made for a throughly compelling read. I found Unravelling Oliver to be a real page turner, an intelligent psychological thriller with heart. I’m ashamed to say this is the first book I’ve read by Liz Nugent and I’m kicking myself as it’s obvious the author is one very talented author.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧 Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Penguin (9 April 2015)

 

In Your Name by Rob Ashman #BookReview @RobAshmanAuthor @bloodhoundbook

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Book description

A chilling serial killer thriller from The Mechanic trilogy

Police detective Lucas has become consumed with tracking down the deranged killer, known as Mechanic, and bringing the murderer to justice. Nothing else matters, not even his wife. His marriage is falling apart.
Mechanic has not killed for eight months and the trail has gone cold, then Lucas receives a terrifying letter. In a desperate bid to reignite the case, he tries to convince his boss to mount an operation in Baton Rouge where the letter was posted.

But was the letter really sent by Mechanic?

Not knowing where to turn, with his marriage in turmoil and his career on the rocks, Lucas begins to spiral out of control and when Mechanic meets the head of a drug smuggling cartel the situation takes a grave turn.
Meanwhile, a bizarre set of murders are taking place in Vegas and Detective Rebecca Moran is put on the case. She will stop at nothing to make a name for herself.

Is there a link between the murders and Mechanic?
Can Lucas apprehend the killer this time or will Mechanic remain one step ahead?

IMG_2357Now I don’t know about you, but when I pick up the next book in a series I do so with trepidation. I’m always concerned that the next book won’t live up to expectations. I actually loved Those That Remain by Rob Ashman, the first book in the Mechanic series and I would go as far as to say it’s one of my top reads of 2017, so unfortunately for the author I was expecting great things for In Your Name. I’m not going to keep you in suspense as far as I’m concerned Rob Ashman has only gone and done it again and written another dark and gripping addition??? to the Mechanic series. This is one crime series you don’t want to miss!

Detective Lucas’s every waking moment is consumed with catching the cold hearted and sadistic serial killer known as The Mechanic, even if it means putting his career and marriage in jeopardy. From the opening chapter where Lucas is stood over a grave, you get an immediate sense of foreboding and just know things are about to get a lot worse for Lucas as he tries to bring the mechanic to justice. Poor Lucas as if he didn’t suffer enough in the last book, he returns to his job a broken man in both body and spirit, but like the saying goes “you cant keep a good man down” Lucas is filled with rage and won’t rest until he catches Mechanic.

Just like the previous book Mechanic is one seriously twisted and cunning killer always managing to keep one step ahead of Lucas, taunting him at every opportunity. Rob Ashman has created a monster there’s no doubt about it, but the Mechanic is a complex characters and once again I did find myself having just a smidgin of sympathy for them especially when you know their back story. I’m so intrigued by Mechanic, they are one seriously sick and twisted individual, I was hoping this would be a long running series alas it looks like there is only going to be one more book in this highly compelling series.

I thought this series couldn’t get any better but I’m pleased to report I was wrong, if anything this book is darker, and definitely more gruesome, the pace is relentless so you don’t have time to catch your breath before the next big shock comes along. I should point out all though Rob Ashman is a British author this novel reads very much like it’s been written by an American, the settings are authentic and the scenes frighteningly disturbing just the way I like my crime thrillers. In Your Name is fast paced, brutal and addictive, each book leaves you desperately wanting more, luckily we don’t have to wait long as the third book in the Mechanic series Pay The Penance is out the beginning of August and I can’t wait!

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to hear I’m giving In Your Name the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic 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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Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧 Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 290 pages

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (13 July 2017)

 

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You can read my review for Those That Remain here….Those That Remain

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel #Bookreview @HALeuschel

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Book description

Five stories – Five Lives.

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

There are five short stories:
The Narcissist
Tess and Tattoos
The Spell
Runaway Girl
My Perfect Child

img_1258Manipulated Lives is a very different read to my usual crime/thriller reads but never the less I was intrigued by the book description. Here’s the thing after spending years working in mental health I’ve always been intrigued by the human psyche and behaviour so the concept for Manipulated Lies fascinated me . What makes someone become a manipulator and more importantly how does someone find themselves caught up and damaged by a Manipulative individual?

In this collection of five short stories we meet the masters of manipulators, we also meet the victims ordinary people trying to lead normal life’s, there’s no specific gender, (although interestingly a high percentage of men are classed as manipulators) or age group, or characteristics that sets these victims apart. It literally could happen to anyone.

The five stories are all very different, each one gives a troubling insight into the workings of a manipulator, their ability to lack compassion and the devastating impact their behaviour has on their victims. Although each story is fairly short they certainly don’t lack depth, each one will stay with me for very different reasons. The Characters were an intriguing bunch and they were really well developed which took my by surprise as sometimes a short story doesn’t  give the author time to develop the characters.

The story that stands out for me is the third in the book The Spell, it features Sophie who unwittingly becomes entangled in the lives of a young boy and his father, both running from something or someone…it shows how a perfectly normal relationship between a couple can turn into something much darker and sinister. I’m not sure where or how but H A Leuschel manages to give such an incredible insight into the subject of manipulative behaviour, I couldn’t help but wonder was she writing from experience or has she researched the subject throughly?

Each story very much highlight the fact that anyone has the ability to be a manipulator, just like everyone has the potential to become a victim so Manipulative Lies not only made for a disconcerting read but a thought provoking one too. I’m not sure this book gave me all the answers I was looking for, but it certainly gave me a better understanding of the subject and made for a very compelling read.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (28 Jun. 2016)