Tag Archives: Crime

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson #BookReview @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks #Mustreads

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson, a must read for crime thriller lovers. Read on for my thoughts, but first the book description……

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Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

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Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson is the third novel in the Roy and Castells series, I know what you’re thinking ‘not another crime series’ but Blood Song is like no other crime series you’ve ever read. Johana Gustawsson the author weaves historical fact with fiction blurring the edges so the two stories fit perfectly together creating a dark and emotive read. The thing I admire about this author’s novels is the fact she can take a period in history, in this case Spain 1938 and the brutalities of Spain’s dictatorship, and incorporate them with crimes set in 2016, how can someone combine such distant periods into a credible story and intertwine them? and yet Gustawsson accomplishes both producing a story that’s harrowing, disturbing, but such a compelling and intensely heart wrenching read.    

The author transports the reader between the two timelines effortlessly creating a story which is fluid in its telling. Blood Song doesn’t make for an easy read, especially the scenes set during Spain’s dictatorship. Gustawsson vividly portrays the harsh conditions and the brutality of woman’s prisons and the children’s orphanages with such conviction these scenes are vividly brought to life, evoking so many emotions you wouldn’t expect to feel whilst reading a crime novel.  At the same time I feel it’s only fair to mention the scenes are relevant to the story rather than gratuitous.  

The crimes committed in present day including the murders of Aliénor Lindbergh’s family are just as horrifying, as those scenes set in wore torn Spain. Coupled with a plot that involves Swedish fertility clinics and Johana Gustwsson has written a book that takes the reader headlong into a story that’s dark and shocking.  Blood Song sees the return of French true crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy, I do like the author’s career choices for her two main protagonists, as it means the plot doesn’t feature heavily on police procedures, which I find can sometimes overwhelm a plot. Although we get an insight into their personal life’s the plot is the main focus of the book, rather than the characters.   

The tension that reverberates through Blood Song never looses momentum, each short chapter leaves you craving more, urging you on to its conclusion. This book has so much to offer the reader, with a gripping plot, moments of heartbreak, vivid scenes, and characters that will remain with you long after you’ve reached the final pages. With themes of fertility, child abductions, and child abuse the author has created a dark and disquieting story, and one that spans years of violence and abuse.  Blood Song is a ‘must read’ for any crime thriller love, and although it could easily be read as a stand-alone I would suggest you read the series in order you won’t be disappointed I promise. Highly recommended. 

It will come as no surprise but I’m giving Blood Song my Book hangover award.

How do I choose a book for this 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: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (19 July 2019)

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my ARC in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.

Other books in the series

 

 

Gone by Leona Deakin #BookReview #Gone @LeonaDeakin1 @HJ_Barnes @PenguinUKBooks #MustReads

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Gone, a debut Psychological  thriller from Leona Deakin.

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Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.

DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear? 

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I was sent a card in the post wishing me a “happy first birthday’ which immediately had me intrigued, but then reading the greeting inside YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.DARE TO PLAY? I must admit intrigue turned to excitement, like a fool I’m always the first to volunteer for a ‘dare’ but as they normally end in tears, I had my reservations about this one! That’s not the case for the four missing strangers in Gone by Leona Deakin, they jump in feet first with no thought of the consequences of playing a game they know nothing about! Despite my initial reservations Gone turned out to be a dark, psychological thriller, with lashings of intrigue and suspense.   

I must admit to begin with I wasn’t certain that Gone was a book I would enjoy as there are two simultaneous stories that run alongside each other, the first focuses on the missing persons, the other on a disturbed child called Seraphine. There are also several characters that are introduced to the reader fairly early on in the book, but once I had them sorted in my head, I found it a difficult book to put down as curiosity got the better of me. This isn’t your ‘typical’ missing person case, no one’s  been kidnapped or taken against their will, in fact the people who have disappeared seem to have gone voluntarily, leaving behind families, friends and family, without a backward glance. Why? How are they connected? How are they singled out? Are they victims or are they something far more sinister? What are the rules of the sick, twisted game? Are all questions Dr. Augusta Bloom a Psychologist who frequently works with the police and Marcus Jameson who worked for MI6 are intent on finding the answers too. 

I did feel the author barely scratched the surface of the main protagonists characters, but to be honest it didn’t matter one iota as my interest very much lay with the missing people and their story’s. Although in main the story is a hunt for the missing people, I found the most intriguing part revolved around the people who were invited to play.  It came as no surprise to find out the author is a psychologist, her knowledge shines through as she explains the psychological aspects of the game, and gets inside the heads of those playing. These are the characters I found this most intriguing, the most disturbing, and yet the most fascinating. 

With an imaginative plot and a fascinating psychologist-cum-private detective Gone made a refreshing change from most books in the genre, and although some may not enjoy the slower pace of this book, I would urge you to give it a go especially if you enjoy books featuring psychopaths that involve profiling (I found these bits a fascinating read). Although I guessed the ‘twist’ by the halfway mark, I still enjoyed how the author brought all the threads together.  A word of advice to those who fill out those inconsequential social media questionaries, Gone will definitely make you think twice about filling them out in the future, however harmless they may seem! Despite the slow start Gone turns into an accomplished first novel, and I’m looking forward to reading further books by Leona Deakin. 

  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (9 Aug. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to Penguin publishing for my Arc of a Gone in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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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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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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**Cover reveal** Torment by Mark Tilbury #Torment @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook

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Today I’m so excited to be revealing the cover for Torment by Mark Tilbury. Expected publication day is August 5th 2019. I have read an ARC of this book, and all I can say is ‘Mark Tilbury fans new or old, or in for a real treat’. Before I share the cover here’s the book description to pique your interest…….

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.

Without further ado here’s the cover for Torment in all its glory

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What do you think? Personally I really like the cover and love the tag line.

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

 

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza #BookTrailer #MustReads @RobertBryndza @TheCrimeVault @kirsteenastor

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Today I’m thrilled to be sharing something that I’m really, really excited about, it’s a trailer for the awesome Robert Bryndza’s latest book Nine Elms. In case you don’t follow my blog I’m a huuuuuuuge fan of the author’s books and I can’t wait to read this one, of course I’ve already pre-ordered my copy! This is the first book in a brand new series featuring Kate Marshall, and as I mentioned it’s available for pre-order right now links included below Here’s the very intriguing book description first…….

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Robert Bryndza is ready to take the world by bestselling storm again with the introduction of Kate Marshall, a woman with a dark secret and a powerful sense of justice.

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and driven, with a talent for getting into the minds of criminals, she solved several high-profile murder cases.

But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her instinct and ability to immerse herself in violent worlds couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.

Now, years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.

  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (1 Nov. 2019)

pre-order links:   Ebook published 1st November 2019 Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

Hardback:  published 9th January 2020 Amazon UK 🇬🇧

About the author

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Robert Bryndza is a crime writer and his books have sold 3 million copies, and they’ve been translated into 28 languages. He’s British and lives in Slovakia. In addition to writing crime fiction, he has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels.

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller THE GIRL IN THE ICE, which is the first in my Detective Erika Foster series, and to date, it has sold over one million copies. There are six books (so far) in the Erika Foster series, and they can be read as a series, and also work as stand-alone books, so can be read in any order;

THE GIRL IN THE ICE
THE NIGHT STALKER
DARK WATER
LAST BREATH
COLD BLOOD
DEADLY SECRETS

NINE ELMS, the first book in new crime thriller private detective series, is now available to pre-order, and it will be published in the USA and UK on November 5th 2019.

You can find out more about him at www.robertbryndza.com

and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza

Sign up to his New Release Mailing List here: http://eepurl.com/UITxz

And now what you’ve all been waiting for

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Here you go click on the link below to watch the trailer ⬇️⬇️

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza trailer

Well what did you think? I 🖤🖤this trailer it literally gave me goosebumps and now I’m even more eager to read Nine Elms. And don’t forget ⬇️⬇️

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

Today I’m sharing my review for The Closer I Get By Paul Burston, this book has been sat patiently on my TBR shelf for far too long, but it’s one that was definitely worth the wait. Before I share my review here’s the book description…

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Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

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When I was young, many moons ago, trolls were cute plastic dolls with sticking up hair, and social media was unheard of it, fast forward a decade or three! and social media is something we’ve convinced ourselves we can’t do without. In someways I embrace social media but I have had always had reservations about the negative side of social media, the trolls, the vicious comments, it goes on and on.  After reading The Closer I get by Paul Burston I find I’m even more  paranoid about my own use of Twitter,  in fact it made me want to delete all my accounts! The author explores online relationships and how the most innocent interactions can turn into something far more disturbing. We are privy to the characters turmoil as we get pulled into a living, breathing nightmare, where fragile online friendships turn to an all consuming obsession. The Closer I get is a powerful, dark tale, brimming with raw emotion and  malice, but oh such a compelling read. 

Tom Hunter is a successful novelist, well his first book was a major hit anyway. His fame comes at a cost and he finds himself being stalked by Evie, a young woman who he met at a book signing and befriended. As the stalking escalates, Evie finds herself in court, and is given a restraining order. The Closer We Get is told in both past and present we learn how Tom and Evie’s relationship turned from innocent tweets into something far more disturbing, and the chapters told in the present explore the impact on Tom and Evie after the court case. Told from both Tom’s and Evie’s points of view the reader is given the opportunity to delve deeper into both characters psyche, which alone makes for a very disquieting read. 

There’s nothing I like I more than an unreliable narrator, but when you get two unreliable characters for the price of one, it’s difficult to know who to believe, or to distinguish the truth from the lies. For me I also felt the lines between the hunter (Evie) and the hunted (Tom) were hazy, is Tom really innocent of any wrong doings? Is Evie as much a victim? I can’t say I particularly liked either of the characters, without a doubt Tom is a victim, but  I found  him to be arrogant and pompous, where as poor Evie is clearly deranged, unstable, and unable to separate fact from fiction, but strangely enough this made the read all the more enjoyable! the author has created two unforgettable characters, which in my mind is testament to Paul Burston’s writing. 

Don’t think for one minute this is your typical ‘stalker’ Psychological thriller, it’s anything but! after all we’re talking Orenda Books here whose books are never, ever, predictable. As the story reached its hugely satisfying but unpredictable conclusion, the tension becomes unbearable as a growing sense of foreboding radiated at the turn of every page.  This is a story that Is highly relevant to today’s society, it’s shockingly credible, unsettling, and brilliantly executed. The Closer I Get has all the ingredients I enjoy in a psychological thriller, unreliable characters, an unpredictable plot, it’s one that encourages you to ponder the perils of social media, which reminds me I need to go and deactivate my accounts! Highly recommended 

  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; None edition (11 May 2019)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Karen Sullivan for my review copy in exchange for a honest and unbiased review. 

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