The Dry by Jane Harper #Bookreview @janeharperautho @LittleBrownUK

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Book description

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

So I’ve finally got around to reading The Dry by Jane Harper, shameful I know and I must be one of the last bloggers on the planet to read this book (hangs head in shame). This book was HUGE on it’s release way back in January 2017, everyone was talking about it well apart from me of course, book bloggers raved about it and it’s one of the most popular books on bloggers top reads of 2017. So was The Dry worth the wait? am I kicking myself for not reading it before now? Well here are my thoughts…… 

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This novel has the most intriguing prologue, it’s one of those that leaves you desperate to flick to the last chapter of the novel to read the outcome, I never I should add but I was very tempted. Atmospheric and beautifully written, The Dry is part police procedural, part murder mystery. This compelling novel transports the reader to a small farming community in Kiewaara Australia. the towns people are ravaged by feelings of resentment and distrust that are exacerbated by the worse drought in a century. The author paints a bleak but realistic portrayal of a town and it’s community. Jane Harper describes the town, the constant heat and the desperation of the towns people with such conviction, Kiewarra felt oppressively claustrophobic, and those feelings stayed with me until I reached the final pages of this captivating novel.

The Dry begins with the suicide of Luke, which could potentially be connected to a death years earlier. The protagonist, Aaron Falk, returns to Kiewarra for the funeral and finds himself investigating Luke’s death to determine what really happened. As he pursues the truth, secrets emerge, and passed resentments surface. The author has created an array of characters that are credible and well depicted, at some point I suspected each character of “wrong doings”, I just love it when an author keeps me guessing, it always makes for a more enjoyable read. The author narrates the story in the present, but she also includes extracts from Falk and Luke’s past, which explore the events leading up to Falk being accused of murder as a teenager, not only do these extracts give you insight to Falk’s character but they add to the simmering tension.

The Dry isn’t a fast paced mystery by any means, it’s more of an intricate slow reveal, the author entices the reader with small titbits, deftly leading the reader to a dramatic Conclusion. Now normally I’m not a fan of a slow paced thriller, but I’m actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel I relished the slower pace, the atmosphere, the characters and the intricate plot, so much so I read it at every opportunity. The author has written a tense and evocative thriller and one that’s worthy of all its hype, it’s definitely a book I would highly recommend to those who enjoy a murder/mystery where a fast pace is not your first priority. I’m thrilled I’ve read this book so late in the year, as it means that The Dry was my last read of 2017 so I definitely feel I have finished my year of reading on a high. I know one thing for sure, I won’t be leaving it a year to read Force Of Nature the second book in the series

Buying links:       Amazon UK 🇬🇧   Amazon US 🇺🇸

Publisher: Little, Brown (12 Jan. 2017)

Print Length: 336 pages

**Blog Tour** The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant @KillerReads @RachelSargeant3 #GuestPost #Review

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Today I’m thrilled to be hosting The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant blog tour. The Perfect Neighbours is a gripping psychological thriller that was published on the 15th of December by Harper CollinsKiller Reads, so just one “click” and it’s yours. I do have a review for The Perfect Neighbours which you can read further down this post.

To celebrate my stop on the blog tour Rachel Sargeant has written A day in the life of author…… post especially for the book review café, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as did.

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First of all I’d like to thank Lorraine for hosting my blog tour today. I’m so grateful for her interest in my new book The Perfect Neighbours and for letting it appear here.

My writing day begins at about 4pm after I’ve finished my day job. (I’m a school librarian.) After work I go for a swim. Although I walk the length and breadth of the school most days, my job is still fairly sedentary so it’s good to get in a hundred lengths at least three times a week. That isn’t as impressive as it sounds; it’s a small pool. I wrote my love of swimming into The Perfect Neighbours by making it my character Helen’s favourite hobby.

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Once I get home, I check social media to see whether authors I know have a new book out. Some I buy for my Kindle or order from the local library, and others – the ones I think I’ll want to keep – I buy from the town bookshop. I post reviews of books I’ve enjoyed on my blog and on the main social media sites. I keep telling myself that I should put down a couple of hours writing before I hit the book blogs but it’s like an itch; if I don’t scratch it I can’t settle to work.

An hour later I get down to business and commence editing a chapter of my current draft. If I’m editing on screen, I’ll be upstairs in the study, listening to the Ken Bruce show on iPlayer. If I’m editing a printout, it’s Smooth Radio in the lounge. I edit far more on the screen than I used to but find I still need to see the words on a piece of paper to capture all the changes.

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For most of the year I’m editing and barely write anything new. What works for me is to use the long school holidays for writing the first draft. The Perfect Neighbours started life as one of my summer projects even though a large part of the novel takes place in winter. For years, I had no idea what my daily word count was, just that I ended up with between sixty and eighty thousand words by September. This year I recorded my hours and word count in a lovely diary, a gift from my agent, Marilia Savvides at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. It turns out I produce an average of two thousand words a day, five days a week, and this can take me anywhere from five to eight hours a day. But I only keep this up for a maximum of eight weeks.

After dinner I may have some drafts from my writing buddies to read. I met some wonderful writers on my MA course and we continue to provide feedback on each other’s work. The Perfect Neighbours is dedicated to them for their endless encouragement and astute advice on many, many redrafts.

If there’s a decent crime drama on, I’ll round off the evening with an hour’s telly. I’m fond of re-runs of the very early Taggart. Writer Glen Chandler plotted the episodes brilliantly. Even though I go to bed far too late, I still read for at least half an hour. No day can end without a decent book.

About the book

Published: 15th December 2017 (HarperCollins Killer Reads)

‘Builds from a creeping sense of unease to a jaw-dropping climax and a denouement I defy anyone to see coming.’ Chris Curran, author of Her Deadly Secret

The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the expat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare.

Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.
When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.

Available from Amazon: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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There seems to be an influx of psychological thrillers that have the theme of neighbours at its core, and if I’m honest I’ve read a fair few that I have found a mediocre read so I did approach The Perfect Neighbours with some trepidation. From the off this book felt very claustrophobic, it’s bad enough having one difficult neighbour, but imagine have a street full of them! Within hours of moving into her new home, a street that houses fellow expat teachers from the local International School Helen soon realises her neighbours may appear “perfect” but something isn’t quite right.

As the reader is introduced to the assortment of neighbours I couldn’t help but feel disconcerted, in my opinion when people appear “too good to be true” they usually are. When I first began reading this book I immediately thought of The Stepford Wives as the woman of the neighbourhood play the part of the perfect housewife, doting on their far too perfect partners, it felt creepy and contrived. There are an array of characters in this book and it did take me a while to get a grips with them all and their back story’s. I must admit on the whole I found it difficult to relate to any of the characters, in fact they are the sort of neighbours I would definitely avoid at all costs, their arrogant, and controlling but there’s was a small part of me that was deeply intrigued by this bunch of misfits.

From the opening chapter the reader knows something bad has happened to Helen, but as to the why Rachel Sargeant entices the reader by slowly and deftly scratching away at the surface until the neighbours dark and deadly secrets are revealed in all there ugly glory. At times I would say the plot seemed a little far fetched but I’m of the opinion if you pick up a fiction book then it’s possible a books going to push the boundaries, and that’s fine with me as long as there are credible elements within the read. All in all I enjoyed The Perfect Neighbours and I would recommend it to those looking for a psychological thriller that’s very much character driven

 About the author

Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children. To learn more about the author and her writing, please visit her website: www.rachelsargeant.co.ukhttps://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3https://www.facebook.com/rachelsargeantauthor/

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The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson #Review @CorrieJacko @BonnierZaffre

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Book description

Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily’s world falls apart.

Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie’s troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man – she trusts Charlie with her life.
Then Charlie flees.

Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she’s drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily’s unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts.

As she begins to question Charlie’s innocence, something happens that blows the investigation – and their friendship – apart

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I haven’t read a book by Corrie Jackson before, but when this one came through my letter box I thought I would just take a quick peek at the first chapter, BIG mistake once I read the “OMG” shocking first chapter I just kept reading! This is the second book in the Sophie Kent series, which I didn’t realise, as I do love to start a new series at the beginning, fortunately The Perfect Victim can be read as a standalone.

I found The Perfect Victim to be a crime novel with a huge difference, its told from the point of view of Sophie Kent a journalist working for the London Herald. For someone who reads a huge amount of crime thrillers it made a refreshing change to read a crime thriller where the police investigation wasn’t paramount to the plot. Sophie is like a breath of air, and a highly likeable character, yes she has her flaws and demons that keep her awake at night, but she’s spunky and determined, qualities you just have to admire.

The Perfect Victim opens with a shocker of a chapter, and that’s what hooked me, I just love it when an author does that. Just imagine how you would feel if one of your friends was the prime suspect in a murder investigation and then you found out they were hiding some rather dark and disturbing secrets, this is exactly what happens to Sophie, convinced Charlie is innocent and sets out to prove it, even putting her reputation at risk. As to Charlie and Emily Swift the Instagram-perfect couple, I’m not sure what to say about the pair without revealing spoilers, but the words dysfunctional and twisted spring to mind, and yet they were such fabulous depicted characters I found myself fascinated by the pair and their relationship.

Corrie Jackson has done a fantastic job with this book, she constantly adds new pieces to puzzle, even when I reached the last quarter of The Perfect Victim I found I had more questions than answers. Deviously plotted the author heightens the suspense by casting doubt on the main characters throughout. As for the last quarter of the book I’m sure my heart was pounding as the author delivered more than a few shocking surprises. It’s a long time since I’ve read a book where I’ve been kept in such suspense and I didn’t get even close to working out how this book was going to end. I found The Perfect Victim to be an addictive and absorbing crime read, and one I would highly recommend.

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Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 448 pages

Publisher: Zaffre (16 Nov. 2017)

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd #Review.

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Book description

A young schoolteacher falls for a man on Death Row whom she believes is falsely accused, only to begin wondering after their marriage – and his release.

Twenty years ago Dennis Danson was arrested for the brutal murder of Holly Michaels in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer-style true crime documentary that’s taking the world by storm – the filmmakers are whipping up a frenzy of coverage to uncover the truth and free the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Samantha may be thousands of miles away in Britain, but she is as invested in Dennis’s case as any of his lawyers. Perhaps even more so, as her letters to the convicted killer grow ever more intimate. Soon she is leaving her life behind to marry Danson and campaign, as his wife, for his release.

But when the campaign is successful, and Dennis is freed, events begin to suggest that he may not be so innocent after all. How many girls went missing in Red River, and what does Dennis really know?

My review

When I read the book description for The Innocent Wife I knew it was one I had to read. I’ve often wondered about the woman and men who write to prisoners on death row, and then go on to fall in love with them. I’m sure the reasons are complex and way beyond my comprehension, but intriguing never the less. If you are a fan of true crime documentaries then this is a book you won’t want to miss, as it’s a story which reads very much like a true crime story.

As you will see from the book description The Innocent Wife is a thriller about Samantha who strikes up a friendship with Dennis a prisoner on death row. What start’s out as a relationship based wholly on writing to each other, soon escalates into something far more intense. The author has created a very intriguing but flawed set of characters, I found myself sympathetic to Dennis’s predicament one minute, and then a couple of chapters later I found myself questioning his innocence and his motives for marrying Sam.You would think a character who has spent twenty years on death row would be the only flawed character, but no Sam is just as flawed, she’s obsessive with HUGE trust issues, not a good combination and doesn’t bode well for “a happy ever after”.

The Innocent Wife is told mostly in a documentary style, eye witness accounts and documents which gives the reader an in depth look into Dennis life and his personality. The plot is very much based on did he do it? Or not? So throughout the book has a sinister and threatening feel to it. I did think this book lacked any real drama or excitement, but then the focus is very much on the did he or didn’t he? conundrum. The author kept me guessing right up until the last few chapters, which is always a bonus and guaranteed to heighten my enjoyment of a book. Twisted and compelling The Innocent Wife is well worth a read if your looking for an original thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the final chapter.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 356 pages

Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (6 Oct. 2017)

**Blog Tour** The House by Simon Lelic @PenguinUKBooks #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be hosting The House blog tour. The House is written by Simon Lelic and will be published by Viking Books in paperback on 3rd November 2017. If you can’t wait until then, the eBook version is available now.

 

Book description

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

My review

Moving into your dream home should be the happiest of times right? Wrong!, take Jack and Syd ,their dream home turns into there worse nightmare. This is going to be one of those reviews that may seem vague but in truth it’s a difficult book to review without giving away major spoilers. The one thing I will say is the book description very much leads the reader in the wrong direction, of course the house is pinnacle to the plot, but this novel has far much more to offer. Although the descriptions of the house provide the reader with a creepy and atmospheric setting, it’s the undertone of malevolence that made this novel such a compelling and disturbing read.

The story is narrated in the alternating perspectives of Syd and Jack, the author chooses to narrate The House in a very distinctive style concentrating on the perspectives of Jack and Syd told in the style of a journal. To begin with I found this style of writing difficult to follow at first it appears to be a hotchpotch of memories, thoughts and events. As I got use to the style of writing I found it was actually a very effective ploy as we learn about the backgrounds and personalities of the couple, as well as the progressively mysterious and creepy events that start to take place in their home. It’s only when you reach the second half of the book you realise just how cleverly Simon Lelic has misdirected the reader.

The House has a very gothic feel to it which certainly puts the reader on edge, the sounds, the smells and the secrets hidden within the house add to the anxiety I felt as a reader. I would never have guessed where this novel was heading as the author always manages to keep one step ahead, which I find always heightens my enjoyment of a book. I do love the unexpected and this book certainly has plenty of those “OMG” moments, there were so many twist and turns my head was spinning. This is the first book I have read by Simon Lelic and I’m impressed, The House is complex, creepy full of surprises and definitely a book I would recommend if you like a twisted thriller.

Print Length: 342 pages

Publisher: Penguin (17 Aug. 2017)

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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I was born in Brighton in 1976 and, after a decade or so living in London and trying to convince myself that the tube was fine, really, because it gave me a chance to read, my wife and I moved back to Brighton with our three young children. That Barnaby, Joseph and Anja’s grandparents happened to live close enough by to be able to offer their babysitting services was, of course, entirely coincidental.

As well as writing, I run an import/export business. I say this, when people ask, with a wink but I fool no one: I am more Del Trotter than Howard Marks. My hobbies (when I have time for them) include reading (for which I make time, because I can just about get away with claiming this is also work), golf, tennis, snowboarding and karate. My weekends belong to my family (or so my wife tells me), as does my heart.

I studied history at the University of Exeter. After graduating I was qualified, I discovered . . . to do an MA. After that I figured I had better learn something useful, so took a post-grad course in journalism. I know, I know: so much for learning something useful. After working freelance and then in business-to-business publishing, I now write novels. Not useful either, necessarily, but fun and, in its own way, important.

Links to the author: Website     Twitter

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Copy Cat by Alex Lake #BookReview @Alexlakeauthor @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK @flisssity

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Book description

Your stalker is everywhere.
Your stalker knows everything.
But the real problem is that your stalker is you.

Sarah Havenant discovers–when an old friend points it out–that there are two Facebook profiles in her name.

One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house.

She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why?

But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now–almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile–that her problems really start…

My review

Imagine if someone set up a fake Facebook profile in your name, not only that but they posted up to date photographs of your family and inside your home, and wrote things about your life, things only the closest people to you would know, I know it would seriously freak me out! This is pretty much the premise for Copy Cat. From the opening chapter when Sarah Havenant comes across her fake profile she soon realises it’s not an elaborate joke or a mistake, it’s deliberate, she has a stalker who will go to extraordinary lengths to terrorise her and make her life a living nightmare. If you thought the Facebook profile seems creepy, it’s gets a whole lot worse for Sarah.

The short chapters told by an unknown narrator made for a riveting read, full of venom it’s obvious the person is holding a huge grudge, they won’t be happy until they’ve ruined Sarah’s life, as you read more of these chapters you realise this is one seriously warped Individual. As her family and friends begin to doubt her Sarah’s life begins to unravel in the most spectacular fashion, what follows is a very tense and disconcerting read. as to the whom? and Why? Alex Lake weaves an intricate and chilling tale and keeps the reader very much in suspense until the last few chapters. With a large array of suspects, this is one of those novels where you find yourself getting paranoid about each and every character, conjuring up motives at every opportunity.

When I first picked up Copy Cat I thought it had similarities to Friends Request by Laura Marshall with Facebook and social media being the central theme, but that’s where the similarities end Copy Cat is darker, more disturbing and definitely more creepy. I have read a couple of reviews that state the ending is far fetched, yes it probably is but then again when an author writes such a gripping and disturbing book I’m happy to suspend belief, after all at the end of the day it’s a fictional book. This is a very compelling psychological thriller and a sharp reminder about the consequences of sharing our personal information on social media, you only need to read this book to see where it can lead. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers that are unnerving, twisted and gripping then look no further Copy Cat is definitely the book for you.

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 416 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (7 Sept. 2017)

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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)