Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan #BookReview @Lisalregan @Bookouture

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Book description

The little girl curled into a tiny ball as the chamber grew colder around her. “Please,” she whispered, rocking back and forth. “I want to go home.”

When Isabelle Coleman, a blonde, beautiful young girl goes missing, everyone from the small town of Denton joins the search. They can find no trace of the town’s darling, but Detective Josie Quinn finds another girl they didn’t even know was missing.

Mute and unresponsive, it’s clear this mysterious girl has been damaged beyond repair. All Josie can get from her is the name of a third girl and a flash of a neon tongue piercing that matches Isabelle’s.

The race is on to find Isabelle alive, and Josie fears there may be other girls in terrible danger. When the trail leads her to a cold case labelled a hoax by authorities, Josie begins to wonder is there anyone left she can trust?

 

IMG_3605I’m not one of those people who takes much notice of a book cover, I’m more of a “read the book description” and decide kind of reader, but when I seen the cover for the Vanishing Girls I loved it, and the cover just shouted at me “read me now”. So that’s the reason I choose to read this book and I’m so glad I did. I always get excited when I find a new crime series to read, despite being a huge fan of this genre I’m always looking for a series that’s different from the norm, but at the same time highly entertaining . I’m thrilled to write that Vanishing Girls is one of the best debut books in a crime series I have read in a long time.

Vanishing Girls opens with a chilling prologue and from then on in Lisa Regan doesn’t let up on the pace or the drama. Josie Quinn is a detective with the Denton, police department, currently on suspension. Josie like any good fictional Detective is not the kind of person to sit around waiting for her suspension to end, and when a local girl goes missing she can’t help but become involved in the investigation. Josie Quinn is a no-nonsense cop with a strong sense of justice, she’s capable and fearless, although there is a hint of vulnerability about her, as the author reveals snippets of a troubled childhood.

There is plenty of drama and  enough twists to keep the most hardened crime thriller reader engrossed. At times the plot felt very intense due to the dark and emotive subject covered, but on that note the plot never felt too grim and the author concentrates on the investigation rather than going into great detail about what the Vanishing Girls had to endure. Full of suspense with a gritty plot and a strong female lead whom you can’t help but warm to, I think the author has created a crime series that has all the hallmarks of a long running series. Would I recommend this book? It’s a most “definitely” from me.

Buying links: Amazon US 🇺🇸      Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Print Length: 345 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (17 Jan. 2018)

 

 

 

 

Close To Home by Cara Hunter #BookReview @CaraHunterBooks

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Book description

Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, CLOSE TO HOME is a pulse-pounding race against time and a penetrating examination of what happens to a community when a shocking crime is committed by one of its own.

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There are so many crime books on the market that involve children going missing, that I sometimes find myself picking them up with a “sigh” partly because I read so many crime thrillers it also means I’ve read lots of “children go missing” books. So for a book to stand out with this theme it has to be more than a “just so” read, it’s got to have an element of surprise or the “shock factor”, so when I picked up Close To Home I wasn’t convinced this book would have much more to offer than many other crime books dealing with the same subject. At this point I should apologise to the author Cara Hunter I take back all I said, Close To Home has to be one of the most exciting and riveting crime thrillers I’ve read in a long time.

Close to home is part police procedure and part psychological thriller, the novel follows DI Adam Fawley, a man who lost his own child, he finds himself leading the investigation into the disappearance of eight year old Daisy Mason. The author uses tweets, Facebook and witnesses interviews to good effect, it not only gave the book a very up to date twist, but as a reader I actually felt like I was part of the investigation. The date and timeline stamps peppered throughout this book added weight to the investigation, as the reader you can’t help but feel the tension, the frustration, and the frantic pace of the investigation.

Cara Hunter does a remarkable job in pointing the finger of suspicion at numerous dubious characters, I found myself going back and fourth looking for a motive and the culprit. The characters are complex and more importantly very convincing, you have the very odd and despicable Mason family who immediately rouse suspicion, and then you have Detective Inspector Fawley, like many fictional Detectives he has his demons, but unlike lots of crime thrillers the author has chosen to not reveal all and Fawley remains something of an enigma, I think part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much was the fact that Fawley’s character is secondary to the investigation and doesn’t overshadow the plot as some fictional Detectives tend to do.

The last ten percent of Close To Home is electrifying as the evidence mounts up, the author manages to keep the reader in suspense.  I found myself to-ing and fro-ing between suspects and scenarios,  it’s not often an author manages to keep me utterly engrossed to such an extent I found myself getting irritated every time I was interrupted, I even thought about locking myself in the bathroom, and believe me the thought crossed my mind once or twice. I think Cara Hunter has a bestseller on her hands Close To Home is  gripping, shocking  and made for an heart pounding read.  Personally I can’t wait to read the second book in this highly entertaining series, and just in case you haven’t guessed It’s one of those books I will be shouting about and recommending to anyone and everyone.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Paperback: 416 pages

Publisher: Viking (14 Dec. 2017)

**Blog tour** Hydra by Matt Wesolowski @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the Hydra by Matt Wesolowski blog tour. Hydra has to be one of the most original crime thrillers I’ve read in a long time, it’s definitely a book I will be recommending to anyone and everyone. Hydra is published by one of my very favourite publishers Orenda Books, you can buy it now for the kindle or the paperback version is available from the 15th January 2018. 

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Ann Cater for my ARC of Hydra, and for allowing me to be part of this awesome blog tour. 

Book description

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’.

Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose `Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden `games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

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Hydra oh WOW this has to be one of the most original and creepiest books I’ve read EVER! I loved Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski, but I loved Hydra more, it simply oozes menace from the opening chapter. Hydra is part crime thriller with more than a dose of the supernatural thrown in, and it’s a novel that’s guaranteed to capture the reader’s imagination. From the start the reader knows who committed the crime, it’s the “why” that the author explores in his series of six intriguing pod casts. Each one gives the reader a different perspectives of Arla, but which one is true? As Scott King, an investigative journalist slowly unravels a very deeply unsettling and disturbing tale I felt the first stirrings of fear that seeped into my bones and pretty much stayed with me until I reached the ending of this is wickedly creepy book.

Matt Wesolowski is a genius in my opinion using pod casts to narrate the story made Hydra a compelling read. As a reader I felt very much part of this book as the pod casts came to life through the authors incredible writing, so I actually felt like I was listening to them rather than reading them. If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to give me the heebie-jeebies it’s children in a fictional book, not your garden-variety ones, but the ones who have an aura of malevolence surrounding them, there right here in what has to be one of the  most hair raising books I have EVER read . The author introduces the reader to the black-eyed children,(not a spoiler, as it’s in the book description) who scared the living day lights out of me, so much so I had nightmares about them! I found myself gripped by an irrational fear that stayed with me long after I put Hydra down, in my opinion that’s testament to the authors remarkable writing skill.

With more than a hint of the super natural Hydra is a character study of a very troubled teenager, throughout you can’t help wondering what events caused Arla to commit such a terrible crime. Despite all this Hydra is such a beautifully written book, and considering it deals with some very ugly and disturbing subjects which I’m not going to go into as I would hate to spoil the read for others, the author tackles them with sensitivity and understanding. I think Matt Wesolowski has done a remarkable job in creating a novel that is both atmospheric and deliciously dark, it also has a modern twist to it which makes it very readable, and make an idea book club read, there is so much to discuss and debate. In my opinion the author has written a crime thriller that’s exciting, unpredictable, deceptive and down right menacing. Hydra is a must read and one I would highly recommend, despite it only being January I have a feeling this one is a BIG contender for my top reads of 2018 already!

I’m giving Hydra the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating, the first one of the year. 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 US 🇺🇸              Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Print Length: 320 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (24 Dec. 2017)

About the author

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more.

His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015, and his winning thriller, Six Stories, achieved massive critical acclaim, was a number-one bestseller in ebook, and was sold to Hollywood for a major motion picture. He is currently working on another installment in the Six Stories series.

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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 Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen #OmgthatTwist @panmacmillan

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Book description

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

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I’m one of those readers that is always sceptical when I come across a book that’s receiving a lot of hype on social media, and if I’m honest I normally avoid them like the plague, as I nearly always find the hype doesn’t quite meet my expectations and I’m often left wondering what all the fuss was about. Well I must say The Wife Between Us deserves all the hype surrounding it and much more, in fact this is one of those books that you want to shout and scream about to all and sundry. It’s one of those books that will make you question everything you read and everything you think you know, it will have you flipping back through the pages making sure what you read was correct, it’s expertly executed and such an addictive read.

Some books come with such lengthy book descriptions that give far too much away, but fortunately that’s not the case here, despite the vague book description I still made assumptions from the opening chapter, assumptions that surprisingly were way off the mark. I’m not usually one for giving away spoilers, but I must confess it’s one of those books you want to reveal all just so you can discuss every minute detail of this deviously plotted tale. You may think a story about a husband, wife and a mistress is hardly original and I would agree with you there, but authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have written one of the most original psychological thrillers I’ve read in a long time. The tension in The Wife Between Us is intense and it pretty much stays that way to the last jaw dropping chapter.

Hand on heart The Wife Between us is one of those book you just have to read “just one more” chapter, extremely well written the authors have created a psychological thriller that stands out from the norm, its twisted, deviously plotted and one that is full of surprises, It’s not often a book can keep me guessing right up until the last chapter, and I think that’s why I enjoyed this book so much as the authors constantly wrong foot the reader by throwing in well placed twists. This is one book that certainly lives up to its hype, I’m convinced this will be one of the best psychological thrillers published in 2018, a bold statement I know, but it’s not often I get so excited about a book, just in case you haven’t already guessed I loved this book and will be recommending to anyone and everyone.

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Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 352 pages

Publisher: Macmillan (2 Jan. 2018)

Save Me by Mandasue Heller #Bookreview

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Book description

Save Me, is a gritty crime novel by the bestselling author Mandasue Heller.

When Ellie Fisher misses her train home one night, she has no idea that being in the right place at the wrong time will change her life forever.

That night she comes across Gareth, a young man about to take his own life. As far as he’s concerned there is nothing left to live for. Putting her own life in danger, Ellie convinces Gareth there’s always something left. Her own life is no bed of roses, she explains, but she always pushes on.

However, good deeds aren’t always repaid the way we want. Has Ellie unwittingly put her life in danger, or is the real danger a lot closer to home?

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Mandasue Heller’s books, so I couldn’t wait to get my grubby paws on a copy of Save Me the latest offering from the author. I have to say this book took me by surprise as it’s very different to Mandasue Heller’s usual gritty crime thrillers, Save Me reads more like a thriller. Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed the change of direction, there’s still plenty of tension and suspense to keep the reader engaged.

Save Me isn’t fast paced by any means, but like any good thriller the author build on the suspense by setting the scene and introducing the characters.
Ellie’s life isn’t great by any means, but it takes a downward turn when fate plays a hand and Ellie comes across Gareth on her way home from work. Ellie doesn’t realise but her one good deed will have a disturbing impact on Ellie, her husband and family.

Although the plot isn’t one I consider to be highly original with themes such as obsession and stalking at the forefront, it’s Mandasue Heller’s style of writing that makes this book an intriguing read. Her attention to the smaller details of her characters such as dialogue, and their relationships with each other add weight to the plot. Although I was particularly fond of many of the characters, this no way spoilt my enjoyment of this book. As for Gareth well the author has certainly created one hell of character, a manipulator who preys on the venerable and downright creepy to boot, he’s certainly one character I won’t forget in a hurry.

Although I enjoyed Save Me I must admit I found it an underwhelming read, I think this was because two thirds of the book are taken up with developing the characters and the plot, and it’s only as you reach the last third of the book it really takes off, in my opinion the last part of the book felt rushed with a disappointing conclusion. Although I enjoyed this book unfortunately it isn’t one of the best books I’ve read by Mandasue Heller, but I still think it will do really well with her legion of fans and I have read some glowing reviews for Save Me in the authors defence, so perhaps it just wasn’t the book I was expecting it to be.

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 384 pages

Publisher: Macmillan (28 Dec. 2017)