Tag Archives: Suspense

The Guest List by Lucy Foley #BookReview #TheGuestList @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for The Guest List by Lucy Foley, I have a feeling this book is going to be one of this year’s hits. Read on for my thoughts but first the book description…….

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A REMOTE ISLAND. AN INVITATION TO DIE FOR.

A gripping, twisty murder mystery thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.

Past grudges.

Happy families.

Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.

One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.

One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

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Welcome to the wedding of the year.…I love a wedding, the romance, the chance to wear a new outfit and enjoy celebrating the union of two people,  but I’m so glad I didn’t receive an invitation to this wedding! No sooner have the celebrations begun, the unthinkable happens, a murder of all things! I’m not sure about you but I’ve been to some weddings that might have got a touch out of hand, but I can’t say I’ve ever attended one where there’s been a murder, so much for the ‘happy ever after’ it’s more of a case of ‘death do us part’. The Guest Party is the latest offering from Lucy Foley, and what an extremely entertaining, atmospheric murder mystery this book turned out to be.

The Guest List follows the high profile wedding of television presenter Will Slater and online magazine publisher Julia Keegan, the setting is a storm-swept island off Irish coast. The island gives the book an ominous atmosphere, it’s a bleak setting and one that’s shrouded in ghostly folklore. The story moves from the present to the past and back again. It is told from the perspective of multiple characters, this could have made the plot a muddled one, but this style of storytelling works really well I thought it added tension and mystery to the read. Like any wedding there are guests that are unpleasant, in this case it’s the ushers who are a bunch of arrogant bullies, entitled private old-public schoolboys who have a dangerous pack mentality,  not the most endearing qualities I have to say, but it’s their fears, secrets, lies and amidst the drink and drug fuelled wedding festivities which add an ominous air of impending doom.

There’s a mounting sense of unease as secrets from the past mix in a cauldron of anger, resentment, guilt and jealousy. There are a number of suspects, which made this book even more enjoyable to read, I felt like Mrs Marple as I discounted one suspect after another, although I must  admit I wasn’t surprised when the killer was unveiled. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this novel is the fact the murder victim isn’t revealed until the last few chapters, the author leads you down many a dead end, before we reach that point. The Guest List is a slow burner, but like any good author Lucy Foley uses this time to give the reader the background and dynamics of the characters, which builds on the tension and suspense.  I really enjoyed this deliciously dark murder mystery, it’s one I will definitely be recommending to fans of this genre. 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (20 Feb. 2020)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. 

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Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin #BookReview @Orionbooks

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin, a new author to me so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Read on for my review but first the book description……..

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She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all…

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There’s nothing I like more than picking up a book I know nothing about, it means I have no expectations, sometimes it can all go terribly wrong and I end up reading a book that’s really not my ‘cup of tea’ but thankfully that wasn’t the case with Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin in fact it was quite the opposite I ended up loving this twisted absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense.

True crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, is investigating a series of murders in the 1970s committed by teens Gabriel LeRoy and April Cooper. The victims included members of his own family. For Robin Diamond, a columnist, the podcast produces some startling evidence. When Quentin contacts her about it, and starts asking questions about April Cooper and tying her to Robin’s own mother, Robin isn’t convinced by his story, but the more she delves into the murders, the more she can’t help wondering.

Never Look Back moves between the present and 1976, mostly narrated by Quentin and Robin, past events unfold through a chilling number of journal style letters written by April Cooper. Using a dual time line to convey a story can sometimes confuse a story, or even worse make a story feel stilted, but that’s not the case here, as the two flow perfectly, enhancing the story rather than hindering. April Cooper’s letters made for a chilling read, but they give the reader an insight into a complex character and her relationship with partner in crime and murder Gabriel LeRoy.  I wasn’t convinced April was being completely truthful, she takes no responsibility for her part in the crimes.

The author has created characters who are compelling, you can’t help but become invested in their stories. Most of them are seriously damaged, or at least flawed! I chiefly felt for Gabrielle whose grief and anger is visible throughout his investigation. The plot is very much character driven, and what a fascinating array of characters they turned out to be, love them or hate them they each have a role to play in this must read thriller.

Considering the subject matter I expected gory crime scenes, but these never materialised and I’m grateful for that (a first for me as I’m not averse to some gore!) as this book is very much about the mystery surrounding April. One thing I wasn’t expecting to find in this book were the powerful emotional scenes that explore the anger and guilt that fester for those that are left behind. This book reminded me of Bonnie & Clyde, I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended but it worked for me. Never Look Back has it all Lies and betrayal, painful secrets and events, Murder, and oodles of mystery. Highly recommended 

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (4 July 2019)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to Orion Books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Liar Liar by by Mel Sherratt @writermels @AvonBooksUk #BookReview #BlogTour #LiarLiar

Today I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for Liar Liar by Mel Sherratt, alongside my partner in crime (excuse the pun!’) Kaisha, you can find her review at https://thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com/. 

Liar Liar is published today so you don’t even have to wait to get your hands on a copy, just one click and it’s yours. Before I share my thoughts, here’s the book description…..

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The truth can be a dangerous thing…

When a young boy falls from a balcony in a block of flats, DS Grace Allendale witnesses the shocking aftermath of the tragic event. But strangely, no one will admit to seeing anything – and the parents will only tell the police that it was an accident.

Determined to sort the truth from the lies, Grace is thrown into a case that takes her to the darkest corners of the criminal world – and strikes closer to home than she could have ever imagined…

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Mel Sherratt’s back! with Liar Liar the third instalment in the DS Grace Allendale series. As the title suggests there are so many lies, and half truths buried within this story, Grace has her work cut out that’s for sure! The book opens with a shocking scene when a young boy called Tyler falls from a balcony in a block of flats. From the start of the investigation it’s apparent the boy’s parents are being evasive, their story doesn’t quite ring true, but why would they lie? Did Tyler fall over the railings? Or is there a far more sinister reason behind his accident? The author leads the reader a merry dance through a tangled web of lies and deceit. As I mentioned this is the third book in the series, however Liar Liar could be read as a standalone, although if you are anything like me I prefer to read books in order! It’s won’t be any hardship as it’s shaping up to be a cracking crime series. 

For the residents of Harrison House there’s a familiar mantra around the investigation ‘I never saw nothing, ‘I never heard anything’ seems to be the favourite. Residents don’t trust the police, hell they don’t even trust their neighbours! Living day in, day out,  alongside crime, the residents have their own code, ‘you never tell the police anything’, after all no criminal wants to be labelled a ‘grass’! The book alternates between chapters that follow one of the main characters past, and the present day investigation, sometimes I find that dual time lines get over complicated, but that wasn’t the case with a Liar Liar, but it’s these past chapters that provide the reader with an insight into one of the characters, and their motivation for the choices they make. 

Liar  Liar’s focus is set firmly On the back story of its characters, Grace has a much smaller part to play in this book, which worked really well, as the main plot wasn’t overshadowed by police procedures and the investigation. Thinking about it Liar Liar felt very different to the last two books in the series, but I mean that in a good way as it’s great to see an author not stick to a specific formula for each book. One of Mel Sherratt’s strengths is her capacity to delve into the darkest corner of the criminal world and create unlikable, violent and authentic ‘shady’ characters. The tension ramps up as the lies begin to unravel, and more crimes are committed. Liar Liar made for a gritty, hard-hitting read, and although I wouldn’t consider this a fast-paced read, there’s plenty to keep the crime lover eagerly turning the pages.

  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (10 Feb. 2020)

Buying link:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧

About the author

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I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and makes liberal use of my hometown as a backdrop for some of my books.

I’m not sure which I am most proud of – being on the list of Stoke-on-Trent’s top 100 most influential people 2018 or after years of rejection going on to sell over one million books.

Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes.

I regularly appear at festivals, conferences and events across the country – my favourites being London Book Fair and Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate.

So that’s me in a nutshell. Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow the blog tour….

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The Murder House by Michael Wood #BookReview @MichaelHWood #CrimeFiction @0neMoreChapter_ #TeamDarke @HarperFiction #MustReads2020

Today I’m sharing my review for The Murder House by Michael Wood, it’s the fifth book in the ‘Matilda Darke’ series, and it’s one of my favourite crime series. Read on for my thoughts….

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They were the perfect family. It was the perfect crime.

The new gripping DCI Matilda Darke crime thriller about the dark secrets that lie within a perfect family. For fans of Patricia Gibney and Angela Marsons.

It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…

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I have been (im)patiently awaiting the fifth instalment of the Matilda Darke crime series, as hand on heart I can say ‘ I absolutely love this series’. When I  enjoy a series so much I always worry the book won’t be as good as previous books in the series, but I’m delighted to report that any worries I had were unjustified, in fact I would say The Murder House is the author’s best book yet, it’s dark, erring on the gory side with an intriguing plot that will leave you blurry eyed as you forsake sleep for ‘just another chapter or ten!’

Give Michael Wood his due he knows how to get the reader’s attention from the off, the first chapter opens with a wedding and ends in a bloodbath when three members of the same family are murdered in the most appalling way. On first appearance the victims appear to be the ‘perfect’ family, pillars of the local community, they regularly fundraised and contributed to local causes, so why would someone want them dead? What possible motive could they have?  I must admit rather like Matilda and her team I had no idea! 

 For me a crime thriller is never more satisfying, than when you have a list of suspects as long as your arm and the author makes it’s almost impossible to guess the culprit, for me it makes the read that more thrilling as you try to search for clues, hold on to the suspects every word looking for the slightest slip up. I felt like a detective (admittedly an amateur one!) working alongside Matilda to capture the murderer, each character came under scrutiny. 

As for Matilda I love the way her character is evolving, she’s strong and determined and yet she has a sense of vulnerability mostly due to a cold case that haunts her, Matilda feels she failed missing child, Carl Meagan, who was never found. The case is a disturbing one and one which has a big impact on the team, when you add in budget cuts, and personal issues you realise this is a team that could buckle as they are tested to the limits. These are characters with feelings, real emotions, and depth which made the read that more authentic. As the case gains momentum,  the tension intensifies urging the reader onwards, through red herrings and misdirection. 

Although this book could be read as a stand-alone I would urge you to start at the beginning, just because this is such a cracking series, it would be a shame if you missed out on the four previous books. I almost shrieked in frustration at Michael Wood as he winds up the The Murder House with the biggest teaser yet! Such an ingenious ploy as now I’m left counting down the days to the next book in the series.The Murder House is fast-paced read ‘whodunnit’, that I would happily recommend to all crime thriller lovers.  

Publisher: One More Chapter (31 Jan. 2020)

Pages in book: 400

Buying link:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

Other books in the Matilda Darke series

 

The book review café book of the month for **January 2020**

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Here we are in February, thank god for that is all I can say! January wasn’t the best for me I’m afraid I was laid up with flu! and I mean the flu I have never felt so ill or felt so completely worn out it knocked me for six, so I’m hoping this months going to be a better one. Roll on the summer, 😎 I hate the dark nights, and I’m definitely not a lover of the cold.

As usual I’m digressing here in January I read some brilliant books, with a fair few of them belonging to the Orenda family. Can I just say? what fabulous books Karen Sullivan founder of Orenda Books, publishes.  Each books,  highly original, captivating and brilliantly written which brings me to my next dilemma, two books really stood out for me last month, but my rule is ‘one book for one month’ so after much thought, deliberation and tossing and turning, here’s my book of the month……….

The Home by Sarah Stovell

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I’m not sure I can convey just how much this book affected me, The Home by Sarah Stovell is a book that will swallow you up, and then spit you out, your heart will break, you will live and breathe the tragic and horrifying story of three young girls Hope, Lara and Annie. These characters will burrow their way into your heart and mind leaving you bereft as this haunting tale reaches its final pages. The Home is part mystery, part thriller, and yet it’s so much more, it’s an emotive, deeply moving, and tragic tale of those who live amid abuse and poverty. You can read my full review here….The Home by Sarah Stovell @sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks #BookShelfReads #BookHangoverAward

Highly recommended

You can read my reviews here…..

Queenie by Kimberly Chambers @kimbochambers @fictionpubteam @flisssity #BookReview #Queenie #BookHangoverAward

All The Rage by Cara Hunter #BookReview @CaraHunterBooks #AllTheRage @DIAdamFawley @penguinrandom @PenguinUKBooks

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell #BookReview @Caroline_writes @BOTBSPUBLICITY @AmazonPub #BlogTour #thriller #thomasandmercer

#Beast by at Matt Wesolowski #SixStories @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken #HangoverAward

Nine Elms by @robertbryndza @LittleBrownUK @BooksSphere #NineElms #MustReads #BookHangoverAward #BlogTour

Mine by Case Kelleher @CaseyKelleher #Mine #psychologicalthriller #MustReads2020

When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell @emmamitchelfpr #BookPromo #WhenStarsWillShine #HelpForHeroes

Books I’m hoping to read in February

As you know I have cut right back on the blog tours, which gives me plenty of freedom to read ‘what ever takes my fancy’ so here are just a few of the books I may or may not read depending on my mood 😂 some of them are ARC’s but I’m determined to read more books off my own personal bookshelf this year too.

Which books that you read in January would you recommend? Did you have a favourite? Please feel free to leave a comment I’m always looking for new books to add to my TBR pile 🤣

All The Rage by Cara Hunter #BookReview @CaraHunterBooks #AllTheRage @DIAdamFawley @penguinrandom @PenguinUKBooks

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for one of my favourite crime series. All The Rage by Cara Hunter, but first the book description…….

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History doesn’t repeat itself. Does it?

A distressed teenage girl is found on the outskirts of Oxford. The story she tells is terrifying: grabbed off the street, a plastic bag forced over her head, then driven somewhere remote and subjected to an assault.

DI Adam Fawley is doing the best he can to investigate, but the teenager refuses to press charges. All he can do is try to ignore the sickening feeling he’s seen something like this before…

But when another girl goes missing, Fawley knows his time is running out.

Because if he ignores the past any longer, this girl may not be coming back.

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I have eagerly been waiting to get my hands on a copy of All The Rage by Cara Hunter, as it’s definitely one of my all-time favourite police procedure/crime thriller series. The author has a unique way of presenting her story (more about that in a while) which make her books such an exciting read. Although All The Rage could be read as a stand-alone, I would urge you to start at the beginning because this really is an addictive crime series, and you will have a better understanding of the history of the characters.  

The book description doesn’t give much away, and I’m not going to spend time on rehashing or expanding on the plot details. One of the strengths of this book is DI Fawley and his merry band of team members, each one has grown as the series has evolved. As with any good team, the team members are a diverse bunch, their focus is set firmly on solving the case.  As the investigation intensifies  Fawley and his team seem no nearer  to obtaining a breakthrough in the case, the team’s frustration is obvious. In this book Fawley is pivotal to the investigation, and we see a different side to the DI as the plot evolves. 

Unusual in a book, there are no chapters which some readers may find strange, but as there are no lulls or breaks in the story, it keeps the reader’s attention firmly on the investigation. One of the things that make this series such an original read, is the author’s use of social media, we are privy to the chat rooms on the dark web, and the poison they spout (which made for an uncomfortable read). There are also tweets, from key board warriors and sympathetic members of the public, which serve to make the story feel current. Cara Hunter also incorporates eye witnesses’ statements, psychiatric reports, court transcripts, and suspect interviews to make the investigation even more authentic.

Some of the crimes committed, coupled with certain subject matters, made this book a disquieting read but I appreciated the author’s sensitive handling of the plot lines. Like every book in the series so far the plot is packed full of twists which made it impossible to predict what would come next, in fact at one point I had one of those  ‘I never saw that coming’ moments’, I love it when an author manages to shock me. Red herrings are perfectly placed, tension increases tenfold, and remains that way, right up to the shocking conclusion. Cara Hunter has away of writing that immediately draws you in, when you add to this her unique way of including various media’s to tell a story,  and Voila,  you have another cracking read from Cara Hunter. Highly recommended and a MUST read for crime thriller lovers. 

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (23 Jan. 2020) Kindle (19 Dec.2019)

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My thanks to fellow book blogger Jen at https://jenmedsbookreviews.com/ for sending me her spare ARC.

 

The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell #BookReview @Caroline_writes @BOTBSPUBLICITY @AmazonPub #BlogTour #thriller #thomasandmercer

Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers taking part in the blog tour for The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell. Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m a huge fan of the authors crime books. The Perfect Mother takes the author in a different direction, so I did pick up this book with some reservations. Read on for my thoughts…..

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She thought they wanted her baby. But they won’t stop there.

Roz is young, penniless and pregnant. All she wants is to be the perfect mother to her child, but the more she thinks about her own chaotic upbringing, the more certain she is that the best life for her baby is as far away as possible from her hometown in Ireland.

Determined to do the right thing, Roz joins an elite adoption service and can’t believe her luck. Within days she is jetting to New York to meet a celebrity power couple desperate for a child of their own. Sheridan and Daniel are wealthy and glamorous—everything Roz isn’t. Her baby will never go hungry, and will have every opportunity for the perfect life. But soon after Roz moves into their plush basement suite, she starts to suspect that something darker lurks beneath the glossy surface of their home.

When Roz discovers she isn’t the first person to move in with the couple, and that the previous woman has never been seen since, alarm bells start ringing. As the clock ticks down to her due date, Roz realises her unborn baby may be the only thing keeping her alive, and that despite her best intentions, she has walked them both into the perfect nightmare…

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The Perfect Mother is certainly different to Caroline Mitchell’s previous crime thrillers, described as a psychological thriller, it’s a book that kept me glued to my kindle screen. For me this book show cases  what an accomplished author Mitchell is, whether  it be a crime or psychological thriller it’s evident the author puts her heart and soul into her writing. Guess what? I absolutely loved The Perfect Mother,  it’s creepy, chilling, and very dark. It’s a story of motherhood, and the lengths people will go to to protect those they love. 

Roz is broke and pregnant and wanting the best life for her baby. A life she feels she can’t provide based on her own upbringing, in desperation she turns to an ‘elite’ adoption agency that connects her with a wealthy celebrity couple celebrity Sheridan and Daniel, they can provide the baby the sort of life Roz could only fantasize about. She moves into the couples opulent home, to await the birth of her baby, and here’s where things take a very sinister turn. 

If you think The Perfect Mother’s plot isn’t an imaginative one,  believe me once you pick up the book,  you will realise it’s an unique plot. The Perfect Mother is a combination of plot and character driven, and what an eclectic bunch they turned out to be! Sheridan is a celebrity, she’s one of those characters that gets under your skin for all the wrong reasons, she’s cold, calculated and definitely deluded, she actually made my skin crawl and fear for Roz’s baby. Roz is naïve, a lost soul, wanting only the best for her baby. Her naivety puts her in a situation that turns out to be her worse nightmare.

I really thought I had the plot all worked out, but to my surprise Caroline Mitchell threw in a couple of brilliant twists that left me speechless, no mean feat!  Whilst reading this book I was accompanied by an increasing sense of dread as the story unfolded. This is one of those books that’s addictive and before you know it you are half way through the book. With an enticing plot, twists and turns, an unlikable character, one chapter turns into another and another. The Perfect Mother has such an innocent title, but don’t be fooled, inside it’s pages there’s a dark and twisted tale lurking. A superb read full of suspense, mystery and plenty of drama! Highly recommended.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (14 Jan. 2020)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to the author, Amazon publishing and Sarah Hardy at Book On The Bright Side for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

About the author

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New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and International #1 Bestselling Author. Shortlisted by the International Thriller Awards for best ebook 2017 and the Killer Nashville Best Police Procedural 2018. Over a million books sold.

Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, she has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time.

Caroline writes psychological and crime thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached No.1 in the Amazon charts in the UK, USA and Australia and was the winner of the Reader’s Favourite Awards in the psychological thriller category. It has been described as ‘brilliantly gripping and deliciously creepy’.

You can follow Caroline on Twitter at @Caroline_Writes and www.Facebook.com/CMitchellAuthoror www.caroline-writes.com

Sign up to join her Reader’s club for access to news, updates and exclusive competitions and giveaways. http://eepurl.com/IxsTj

Follow the blog tour……

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