Tag Archives: Suspense

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel #BookReview @amyengle @niamh_anderson @HodderFiction #AuthorInterview #BlogTour

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Familiar Dark by Amy Engle. If you enjoyed the authors debut novel The Ronake Girls, then you definitely need to read this one. I’m also sharing an author interview that Amy kindly agreed too.

Read on for my thoughts, but first the book description.

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‘In other places, the murder of two little girls would have blanketed the entire town in horror. Here, it was just another bad day.’

Eve Taggert’s life has been spent steadily climbing away from her roots. Her mother, a hard and cruel woman who dragged her up in a rundown trailer park, was not who she wanted to be to her own daughter, Junie.

But 12-year old Junie is now dead. Found next to the body of her best friend in the park of their small, broken town. Eve has nothing left but who she used to be.

Despite the corrupt police force that patrol her dirt-poor town deep in the Missouri Ozarks, Eve is going to find what happened to her daughter. Even if it means using her own mother’s cruel brand of strength to unearth secrets that don’t want to be discovered and face truths it might be better not to know.

Everyone is a suspect.

Everyone has something to hide.

And someone will answer for her daughter’s murder.

From the bestselling author of The Roanoke Girls, The Familiar Dark is a spellbinding story about the bonds of family as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home. The Familiar Dark will blow you away.

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The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel opens with an unusual start to this harrowing tale, it begins at ‘the end’, it’s a powerful and haunting start to the book, and leaves the reader in no doubt that it will not be a ‘happy ever after’ kind of read. The authors poetic prose seem almost at odds with this stark plot, that features drug abuse, rural town poverty and abuse, and yet the two blend perfectly together creating a spellbinding story about the complexities of family relationships, and how even the most dysfunctional families can pull together in the face of adversary.

Set in the small rundown down town of Barren Springs in the Missouri Ozarks, tells the heartbreaking and brutal story of Eve, a young mother whose daughter is one of two 12-year-old girls found murdered in the towns dilapidated park.  The only way Eve can stop herself drowning in grief is to seek vengeance for her daughter’s Junie’s murder, a path that leads Eve to the town’s seedy criminal underbelly. A path that will open up old childhood wounds, as Eva’s own traumatic past comes back to haunt her. Eve’s relationship with her mother is based on neglect and abuse, she’s always been determined  to become her mother’s daughter, but without Junie, and with vengeance firmly on her mind, Eve finds that she is more like her mother than she cares to admit. 

The author vividly describes the experience of growing up in Barren Springs, a dirt poor town, where people live in trailers, patched up with tape, it’s town people are mostly drug addicts, and people live hand to mouth, living for their next fix of crystal meths and heroin. The town is as much a character as Eve. The town feels claustrophobic, seedy, and unclean, it’s a town everyone wants to escape from, but poverty and addiction keeps them in its clutches, it’s a place where the life is sucked out of you. Eve is a character that immediately finds her way into your heart, as her grief takes her through a spectrum of emotions, you feel her anger, and her pain, and her need for vengeance, these emotions are raw and intense, The relationship between Eve and her mother is a difficult one, and yet a bond is created through grief and wanting to do the right thing in the most appalling situation.

Despite its subject matter this book has a hidden depth, it explores the complexities of relationships, and dysfunctional families with sensitivity and incredible insight. Amy Engel’s visceral style of writing makes each of her novels memorable, The Familiar Dark and Eva’s tragic tale will stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. If you are looking for the ‘usual whodunnit’  then this may not be the book for you. If you enjoy a book that is very much character driven, with a dark heart then look no further. Highly recommend.

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (31 Mar. 2020)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Hi Amy I’m thrilled to welcome you to the book review café. The Familiar Dark revolves around such a difficult subject matter – a mother grieving for her daughter, lost in the worst of circumstances. As a mother yourself, how did you find the writing process? 

I had a hard time writing this book, I’m not going to lie. My daughter is only a few years older than Junie and there were times I had to walk away from the book for hours or even days at a time. It was incredibly stressful and painful to put myself in the shoes of Eve and imagine the aftermath of losing a child, especially in such a brutal and senseless way. 

As a former criminal defence attorney from a small town, how much of what you write comes from what you have lived?

I’m actually not from a small town; I was born in Lawrence, Kansas, but lived the vast majority of my childhood and adult life in cities. But my mom was from a very small town in Kansas and her grandparents lived there until I was in college, so I spent a lot of time in that environment and it served as fodder for my previous nove, The Roanoke Girls. The Missouri Ozarks, the setting of The Familiar Dark, is also a place I’ve spent a lot of time. It’s important to me that my books be set in places I know well. I like the settings to feel almost like another character in the story. I want readers to really be able to picture the environment, even if it’s someplace they’ve never visited.

The Familiar Dark is your second adult novel, coming after your bestselling The Roanoke Girls and fantastic young adult series The Book of Ivy. Did you prefer the writing process for young adult or adult fiction?

For me, the writing process wasn’t that different between genres. I always start with characters, and that doesn’t change whether I’m writing for adults or young adults. I do think, however, that adult novels allow for a little more exploration of the dark side of life, which seems to be my wheelhouse. 

Who is your favourite author?

Stephen King, hands down. And I love Tana French, as well. And Dennis Lehane. This list could go on forever.

What are your future writing plans?

I’m working on a new novel right now. It’s dark psychological suspense set in rural Kansas and involves a woman who is serving a life sentence for the murders of her entire family when she was a teenager. 

About the author

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Amy Engel is a former criminal defence attorney living in Missouri with her family. Her debut adult novel, The Roanoke Girls, was a #1 ebook bestseller, a Richard and Judy book club pick and has sold 100,000 copies across formats to date. The Familiar Dark is her second adult novel.

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

Follow the blog tour……

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Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten #BookReview @nholten40 #BlogTour @KillerReads @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity @HarperCollins #MustReads

Today I’m over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten. One of my most anticipated reads of the year, was it worth the wait?  you can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description……

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The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…

They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…

But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.

Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…

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I have been impatiently awaiting Dead Wrong, the second book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series, it seems like forever since I read Dead Inside by author Noelle Holten. The author knows how to draw the reader in from the off, even more so when you realise one of Raven’s victims is named after you! I would forgive you for thinking this could sway my review, but you would be dead wrong! (See what I did there?). Personally I think Dead Wrong is even better than the first book in the series, it’s what I would describe as a ‘heart-pounding, page-turner with a dark, gritty heart’.

Raven, admitted he killed three women and is serving a life sentence for his crimes, but fast forward to present time and body parts of his said victims start turning up, so he must be innocent right? And Raven makes an appeal to the courts to be set free, so begins a nightmare for DC Maggie Jamieson’s, as she attempts to solve the case once and for all. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a crime thriller that features a chilling but intriguing serial killer, and Raven is one such character, he lacks remorse, he’s callous, a master of manipulation, and a pathological liar. The heart of the plot focuses on Raven toying with Maggie, is he lying? Or is he mentally ill? Was he coerced by Maggie, admitting to crimes he didn’t commit? So many questions, but for those of us who love playing the amateur detective, it’s the perfect crime read to get those brain cells working. 

Hallelujah! DC Maggie Jamieson isn’t your standard stereotype you often find in a crime thriller, she’s not an alcoholic, nor is her character bogged down by personal problems or a shady past which makes a refreshing change. That doesn’t mean Maggie lacks depth, on the contrary her character is continuing to develop, she’s relentless in her pursuit for the truth, committed,  and has literally no personal life, I’m sure there are a lot of DC’s who can relate to that!  It’s obvious the author has an incredible insight into the justice system and the way different agencies work together, which adds an authentic feel to the plot, I find some crime thrillers lack this vital ingredient, mostly because authors have relied heavily on research, rather than personal experiences. 

Dismembered victims turning up in pieces made for a gristly read, but these scenes are paramount to the plot, and add a profound sense of tension to the overall plot. Like any good crime thriller there are many read herrings, and well-plotted twists, and that ending! Let’s just say it will leave readers desperate for the next book in the series. Noelle Holten’s writing goes from strength to strength, her writings bold and confident, she has a vivid imagination, her plots are exciting and gripping. If ever there was someone who was born to write crime thrillers, it’s this author. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a crime thriller. 

  •  Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: One More Chapter (14 March 2020)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

About the author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast.

Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the book love via her blog. 

Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson. 

Connect with Noelle on Social Media here:

Twitter: (@nholten40) https://twitter.com/nholten40

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noelleholtenauthor/

Blog FB page: https://www.facebook.com/crimebookjunkie/

Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

Website: https://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk  

Bookbub Author page : https://bit.ly/2LkT4LB

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

Follow the rest of the blog tour…..

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The Other People by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks #MustReads

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! You can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description…

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She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

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It’s not often these days I read a book in “one sitting” but that’s what happened with The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I knew was what I read in the book description, ‘A man travels up and down the motorway, searching for a car that took his young daughter Izzy’, which meant I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! The Other People is a thriller that captured my imagination, it’s dark, very creepy, and completely gripping.

I’m not going to rehash the plot details, for me this book held so many surprises,  I would hate to spoil the read for others. Gabe is a character that I honestly felt for, he’s a man drowning in grief, after losing his daughter Izzy, his grief is palatable, as he clutches at the proverbial straw, he’s convinced he’s seen his little girl’s face in the rear window of a car. No one believes him,  but he’s determined to keep looking come hell or high water. I felt my heart pounding as Gabe’s own investigation took him into ‘danger territory’, the tension grew tenfold, my nails took a beating as I nervously bit on them in anticipation of what lay a head.

The Other People is told from multiple POV so it’s evident all the characters have a connection someway or another, all I will say ‘is the best of luck working out how they fit together’. The author moves flawlessly between the different POV, never sharing too much, so the reader is left second guessing where the plot is headed. This book has so many elements it’s Part mystery/suspense, with a hint of the supernatural, all these elements fit perfectly together creating a creepy, thought-provoking and very clever, and riveting read. 

Like other books from the author it has a supernatural element running through it, but it’s not the main focus,  but  hell the ‘ Clickety, clack’ sent shivers down my spine, and that’s all I’m saying! Some reviews I read have compared The Other People to the The Chain . I have to disagree, this book is so much better,  the story is frighteningly plausible, the tension never waivers, and the characters are far more likeable. I found I was fully immersed and totally intrigued until the very last page. A brilliant read that has more twist and turns than a roller coaster, my recommendation? Buy yourself a copy and buckle up for a hell of a ride.

  • Print Length: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (23 Jan. 2020)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

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

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