Tag Archives: #BookShelfReads

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)

 

Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis #BookReview 

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Book description

TWO GIRLS GO TO A PARTY, ONLY ONE RETURNS ALIVE

Toni, the surviving teenager, is found delirious, wandering the muddy fields. She has been drugged and it’s uncertain whether she’ll survive. She says she saw her friend Emily being dragged away from the party. But no one knows who Emily is or even if she’s still alive. . .
Meanwhile the drowned body of another girl has been found on an isolated beach.
And how does this all relate to the shocking disappearance of a little girl nearly a decade ago, a crime which was never solved? The girl’s mother is putting immense pressure on the police to re-open the high-profile case.

EACH ONE OF THEM IS SOMEONE’S DAUGHTER AND THE POLICE MUST GIVE THEIR FAMILIES JUSTICE AND CLOSURE

DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans of the Fenland police are stretched to the limit as they try to bring the perpetrators of these shocking crimes to justice.
There is evidence of an illegal drinking club run by a shadowy group of men, who are grooming teenagers. And the team come across a sinister former hospital called Windrush which seems to house many dark secrets.

img_1258Don’t you just love it when you pick up a book by an author you’ve never read before, with no expectations and it’s just so darn good you’re left wondering why and how you’ve never read this authors books before. That’s exactly how I’m feeling after picking up The Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis, my god it’s good, in fact it was that good it made for an outstanding and engrossing read and definitely one that I was reluctant to put down.

This is the second book in Jackman and Evans crime series but it can be easily read as a standalone. From the opening chapter when a young girls body is found on the beach I just knew this one was going to grip me and it certainly did not disappoint. As the plot evolves the reader is presented with many threads a missing girl, a cold case and illegal drinks club. The author expertly links them together and slowly but deftly reveals horrors that are unimaginable.

Jackman, Evans and the rest of the team are an interesting bunch, they are very much a team which is pretty unusual in a crime thriller as most police teams have some animosity between them, that’s not a criticism in fact I found it refreshing. The back drop of the Fens give this book an atmospheric feel, and running throughout is a sense of evil that I found at times overwhelming. As the plot becomes more complex Joy Ellis throws in some deliciously twisted turns that I never seen coming. I loved the way the author expertly drew all the threads together in a way that left me open mouthed with its very imaginative conclusion.

Despite the subject matter the author doesn’t go into the finer detail, so this book never made for an uncomfortable read, but it certainly made for a suspense filled one. Although the plot line may not be the the most credible at times, this in no way spoilt my enjoyment of The Lost Daughters. Dark and menacing, this book was one I found hard to put down and I really am kicking myself for not reading this authors books before.

Paperback: 329 pages

Publisher: JOFFE BOOKS (27 Mar. 2017)

Amazon Uk 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

The One Man by Andrew Gross #BookReview @panmacmillan 

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Book description

Auschtwiz 1944. Physics professor Alfred Mendl is separated from his family and sent to the men’s camp, where all of his belongings are tossed on a roaring fire. His books, his papers, his life’s work. The Nazis have no idea what they have just destroyed. And without that physical record, Alfred is one of only two people in the world with his particular knowledge. Knowledge that could start a war, or end it.

Nathan Blum works behind a desk at an intelligence office in Washington, DC, but he longs to contribute to the war effort in a more meaningful way, and he has a particular skill set the U.S. suddenly needs. Nathan is fluent in German and Polish, he is Semitic looking, and he proved his scrappiness at a young age when he escaped from the Polish ghetto. Now, the government wants him to take on the most dangerous assignment of his life: Nathan must sneak into Auschwitz, on a mission to find and escape with one man.

The One Man, a historical thriller from New York Times bestseller Andrew Gross, is a deeply affecting, unputdownable series of twists and turns through a landscape at times horrifyingly familiar but still completely compelling.

Print Length: 475 pages

Publisher: Pan; Main Market Ed. edition (22 Sept. 2016)

img_1258I’ve read quite a few books by Andrew Gross over the years and always enjoyed his writing but The One Man marks a significant departure from his previous suspense novels. The author has boldly changed direction and written a novel that is part historical and part thriller. Andrew Gross visits the horrors of Auschwitz in this harrowing yet compelling thriller. I was stunned by the overall impact this story had on me, I spent much of this book reading through my tears. It’s a novel that’s exciting, harrowing, riveting and haunting.

I read lots and I mean lots of books and normally once I’ve finished a book I move on to the next one no problem, but I found that days later I’m still thinking about this book. I would be the first to say I’m not normally a huge fan of historical fiction but after reading The One Man I would certainly read more books in this genre if they were all of this high standard. This is a story of the human will to survive against all the odds. Nathan Blum escaped from the Polish ghetto by the skin of his teeth. Now, the government wants him to take on the most dangerous assignment of his life and sneak into Auschwitz, on a mission to find and escape with one man Alfred Mendl. What follows is a heart pounding adrenaline fuelled read. It brings to life the horrors that occurred inside the concentration camps. It also shows how strong and courageous man can be when met with evil.

The One Man only contains a small band of characters, but they were so well depicted I found myself immersed in their story, hence the very emotional read. Although Auschwitz is central to the story it was never the authors intention to write the definitive book on it, as he felt the atrocities there have already been well recorded. True to his word Andrew Gross depicts terrible and heartbreakingly realistic scenes, but it never felt gratuitous within the context of the story as they are very much a backdrop to the main story. Although the scenes do make The One Man an emotional and haunting read.

I found my heart racing constantly as the plot progressed, a sign that this was a truly “thrilling” read. Masterfully told The One Man makes for a disturbing and highly emotional read, both gripping and intelligent I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

 

The Abattoir Of Dreams by Mark Tilbury #Bookreview @bloodhoundbook @MTilburyAuthor

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Book description

The past is never far away. Michael Tate has not had an easy life. With his
father in prison, and his mother dead, Michael was sent to Woodside Children’s Home.

Now an adult, Michael wakes up from a coma inhospital suffering from amnesia and paralysis.Confused and terrified, he is charged with the
fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Becky. He also learns he attempted to end his own life.

Detective Inspector John Carver is determined that Michael is sent to prison.With no way of defending himself, Michael is left in his hospital bed awaiting transfer to remand.But then strange things begin to happen and his childhood comes back to haunt him.

Can Michael ever escape the past?

Will he ever discover the truth about Becky’s murder?

And why is DI Carver so eager to make him suffer?

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Hells bells what a book! Abattoir Of Dreams by Mark Tilbury Is definitely going to be one of my top reads of 2017, it’s dark and very disturbing due to the difficult subject it covers. At times it’s pretty graphic but in the authors defence while it never felt gratuitous within the context of the story, I can see that this won’t be to everyone’s tastes. This is certainly a book that packs a punch, its gut wrenching and makes for an uncomfortable read at times but it’s also offers so much more, it’s a bitter sweet story of murder, innocence and abuse.

Michael Tate wakes from a coma in hospital with no recollection of how he came to be there, but he finds himself at the heart of a murder investigation. With no recollection of events leading up to accident, he relives his childhood memories in the most extraordinary way and my god those secrets well let’s just say they are shocking, harrowing and very, very sad and that’s all I’m going to say about this superbly plotted tale, as it’s definitely one the less you know the better the read.

Mark Tilbury has created an array of fascinating characters, my heart broke for Michael as his past is revealed, it’s brutal and heart breaking, but amid it all there’s hope, friendship and laughter. I do have to mention Detective Inspector John Carver never have I disliked a character so much, he’s the worse kind of monster and one that made my stomach churn. I always think an author is doing his job well if I have strong feelings either way about a character, and the author certainly manages to achieve this with Carver.

The Abattoir Of Dreams is darkly impressive the tension and sense of foreboding that radiated from each page made this a hard book to put down, despite how disturbing this book was I still found myself racing through it. Mark Tilbury has written a roller coaster of a thriller for sure, but this novel is also a rich and harrowing story of the psychology of evil and those who strive to stop it, this is certainly one read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book. Mark Tilbury is a new author (this is where I kick myself) to me but this certainly won’t be the last book I read by this author. If you enjoy a crime thriller that isn’t the norm and you don’t mind a disturbing read then this book is definitely one you don’t want to miss.

Print Length: 497 pages

Publisher: Bloodhound Books (28 Feb. 2017)

You can get a copy of The Abattoir of dreams here…… Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸