The Crying Boy by Jane E. James @jane_e_james @Bloodhoundbook

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4*

aboutthebook

Clayton and Avril Shaw have lost their little boy and are still grieving when they move into Swallow’s Nest on the Yorkshire moors. In their new house, Avril discovers a painting and is intrigued by the history surrounding it. When she learns that the boy in the painting was deaf, like her dead son, she starts to try and communicate with his ghost.

Meanwhile Clayton finds himself entangled in an equally undesirable friendship with a retired fire chief who knows more about the painting than he’s prepared to let on. Is The Crying Boy painting cursed and can numerous house fires be linked to it?  Struggling with their unstable marriage, the couple find themselves in further danger as an increasingly disturbing bond develops between Avril and The Crying Boy.

mythoughts

Holy flying Scotsman, what the heck was that?!

Really, there’s only one word that applies to this book and it’s “creepy”. Creeeeeeepy! The stuff of nightmares!

My in-laws used to have this painting on the wall in their living room. Even then, it freaked me out and I didn’t even know the story behind it back then. And no, before you ask, their house never burnt down.

I’d like to say that in the spirit of broadening my horizon, I picked up this book because I’m not normally interested in the paranormal or supernatural (unless it involves the Winchester brothers) but I’d be lying. The truth is, I kept seeing the cover pop up on my twitter timeline and I couldn’t forget about it. Then when I realised it was a “thriller”, I was too intrigued for my own good. So I had absolutely no idea what the book was about and I’m glad I didn’t.

Clayton and Avril move to Swallow’s Nest on the Yorkshire moors after the death of their son. They find a painting that looks remarkably like their little boy. But this painting of The Crying Boy is nothing like any other painting. It is steeped in mystery and believed to be cursed.

The painting itself kicks off the book by relaying events through its own eyes, so to speak.  Did I mention creepy? What a way to hook a reader! I would have loved to have seen more chapters like that one. As it is, it set the tone perfectly for what lay ahead.

This is one nailbiting read, where the action builds up from first page to last. I wondered what was going on and I couldn’t quite figure out how things would end up. And … well, if that ending doesn’t shock you to the core, then there’s no hope for you!

A dark and disturbing book, with the Yorkshire moors providing the perfect setting. Chilling, creepy, absolutely brilliant! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Jane E. James!

The Crying Boy was published in March 2017.

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Play Dead by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @Bookouture

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5*

aboutthebook

The dead don’t tell secrets … unless you listen.

The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess. Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A “body farm” investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.

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A procrastinator I may be but when I set myself a challenge, I’m like a dog with a bone. Competitive streak? Me? Nah! So there was no playing dead for me, or very little sleep as it goes (thank you insomnia), and I made it to book 4 in the Kim Stone series. I may have patted myself on the shoulder but you can’t prove it.

Things get a tad gruesome as we find ourselves on a body farm. Having read a lot of Kathy Reich’s books (which to my delight was mentioned), I knew what that was but still … gross.

The fresh body of a young woman is found on a body farm of not-so-fresh bodies. She’s been badly beaten and her mouth has been stuffed full of dirt. Well hey, if you’re going to dump a body, why not hide it in plain sight?

Meanwhile, Tracy Frost is trying to solve the mysterious murder of “Bob” whose body was found without his hands. Could the two cases be connected somehow?

This series just keeps going from strength to strength and this is another cracking read! The prologue already hooked me and it remains haunting as you carry on reading and realise the devastating effects of a damaged childhood. While the “why” may be clear at some point, the “who” is a whole different matter and the author kept me guessing until the end.

Not only do we get to know Kim better every time, the same goes for other characters which is just another thing to love about this series. Doctor A may quickly become a firm favourite of mine and I really enjoyed the involvement of Tracy Frost.

Another brilliant addition to a most excellent series. Now to find the time to move on to the next one!

Play Dead was published in May 2016.

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Behind The Lie by Amanda James

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3*

aboutthebook

Who can you trust, when you can’t trust yourself?

Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman has taken back control of her future.

Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go. Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth … her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

mythoughts

Holly used to be a model with a drug addiction. Until one day, Simon spots her on the runway and decides he wants her in his life. He helps her get her act together, they get married and are now expecting twins. Holly splits her time between a flat in London and a beach house in Cornwall. Life is good.

Until Holly gives birth and only one of her twins survives. She’s convinced her son is alive and will stop at nothing to find him.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the psychological genre and I are having some sort of relationship crisis. We’re at that stage where there’s angry shouting and door slamming and maybe some plates you never really liked will end up in pieces on the kitchen floor.

Based on the description, Behind The Lie had a lot of potential. I was expecting an intricate plot with lots of twists and turns but unfortunately for me, I figured the whole thing out quite early on and I thought it all became too predictable and slightly far-fetched.

I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. They all came across as highly unlikeable, which doesn’t always have to be an issue but in this case, for me, it was. I couldn’t even muster up sympathy for Holly, which felt all kinds of wrong since she’d just lost a baby.

However, I did enjoy Amanda James’ writing. Since this was my first time reading a book written by her, none of what I said will stop me from reading another one at some point. This is quite clearly a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” and the psychological thriller genre and I desperately need some time away from each other.

Many thanks to HQ Digital UK and Netgalley for my advanced copy.

Behind The Lie will be published on April 21st.

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Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell – @Caroline_writes @Bookouture

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4*

aboutthebook

Close your eyes … Just pray you don’t wake up.

A killer stalks the streets of East London. All over the area, murdered young women are discovered, their bodies posed into a sickening recreation of fairytale princesses.

Detective Ruby Preston is determined to hunt down a disturbed individual who is using the women to realise his dark fantasies. But when body parts are found at the home of her former lover, Nathan Crosby, Ruby is torn between her job and her heart. Convinced that he is being framed, Ruby must catch the killer before Nathan becomes the number one suspect. But as more victims are found, it becomes harder to prove his innocence.

As Ruby starts to close in on the twisted individual, can she stop him before he strikes again? And how well does she really know the man she loves?

mythoughts

Sleep Tight is the second book in the Ruby Preston series by Caroline Mitchell and it’s every bit as great as the first one.

There’s a creepy killer on the loose. His targets are prostitutes. He means to make them beautiful and poses their bodies as fairytale princesses. This is one brutal and disturbing serial killer who has no conscience whatsoever.

When the first body is found, Ruby and her team quickly find a suspect. But is he the killer? Things become even more complicated when Nathan Crosby finds himself entangled in the murder investigation. Ruby is convinced someone is trying to frame him. But is he really that innocent? How well does she know him anyway?

This is what makes the series so unique and why I keep coming back for more : the complicated life Ruby is living. On the one hand, she’s a detective out for justice. But on the other hand, she’s romantically involved with Nathan, head of one of the biggest criminal families in town. He’s on the wrong side of the law that she is trying to uphold. You can’t help but wonder how that will play out because surely at some point, something’s got to give.

Brilliantly constructed and gripping plot with a great twist that I didn’t see coming at all. I love it when that happens. I’m looking forward to book 3 and can’t wait to read what’s next for Ruby.

Many thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for my advanced copy, which I chose to review.

Sleep Tight was published on April 20th.

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A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride @StuartMacBride

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5*

aboutthebook

Welcome to the Misfit Mob. It’s where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can’t get rid of, but wants to : the outcasts, the troublemakers, the compromised. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy turns up at the Oldcastle tip, it’s his job to find out which museum it’s been stolen from. But then Callum uncovers links between his ancient corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting.

mythoughts

First let me say, I am a huge Stuart MacBride fan. His Logan McRae series is one of my most favourite things ever. Like right up there with wine and boots. That’s saying something.

So when I first heard that he’d written a stand-alone, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I miss the characters I’ve loved for so long? Would it be as brilliant as everything else I’ve read by him?

The answer is : of course it’s as bloody brilliant! And actually, the Misfit Mob made for a nice change from the usual characters. We’re still in a dark, gloomy, wet and slightly depressing area of Scotland. We still have a host of fabulously realistic characters. And of course, the humour.

The Misfit Mob is made up of officers that Police Scotland can’t get rid of. If you think that knowledge creates some kind of bond between them, you’d be wrong. What it does provide, is banter and lots of chuckles.

DC Callum MacGregor’s life has been going downhill for a while now, and it’s not getting any better. For reasons you’ll have to discover yourself, he’s not exactly accepted. But things will soon become a whole lot more interesting.

This is a long book but at no point does it ever become boring. There’s a fabulous backstory that will leave you itching to find out more. There’s a serial killer with one of the most innovative ways to murder someone that I’ve ever read. There are twists and turns and I was so utterly engrossed that I stayed up way too late to finish.

So, no, I shouldn’t have worried. Stuart MacBride knows exactly what he’s doing and I can’t wait for his next book. Whether it is another Logan McRae, another Misfit Mob maybe or something else, I’ll be first in line. I’ll be using elbows, people. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

(Note : Since writing this review, it’s been revealed a new book is coming in November and it’s a Roberta Steel spin-off! I may have wet myself. Or scratched my boobs, in honour of the fabulous lady *ahem* herself. My elbows are greased! Is it November yet? How about now?)

Many thanks to Harper Collins UK and Netgalley for my advanced copy, which I chose to review.

A Dark So Deadly will be published on April 20th. That’s TODAY! Go get it RIGHT NOW!

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This Week in Books (April 19)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

If you read my twitter over the Easter weekend, then you may have seen that I have some family stuff going on and my reading has taken somewhat of a backseat since it’s quite hard to concentrate on anything. On Saturday, I got word that my mother is in hospital and things are not looking good. There’s no way of knowing what the next few days will bring so my Wednesday update is probably subject to change. I just wanted to put this out there in case I disappear for a bit or am a tad antisocial.

Anyway, onwards with today’s post.

Last book I finished reading :

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Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of a young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.

Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

The book I’m currently reading :

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How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?

A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

What I’m reading next :

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Two sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations.

In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins – the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heartbreaking betrayal that will divide them forever. Decades later, the efforts of one reckless act still echo – but how long will it be until their past returns?

What will you be reading this week?

Cursed by Thomas Enger @OrendaBooks

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5*

aboutthebook

 What secret would you kill to protect?

When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests.

Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

mythoughts

If you’ve been following my blog and reviews, then you know that I am cursed myself by a little something I call Dee-Logic, which dictates I start a series from the very beginning. So why did I now start in the middle, you ask? Well, I will tell you. First of all, because I’d seen this book around so much that I got too curious for my own good. And secondly, I didn’t actually know the previous ones had been translated to English. It’s okay, you may laugh.

This one actually reads pretty well as a stand-alone as you get a lot of information from events that happened in the previous books. Nevertheless, I did buy the other books and will be reading those at some point too. It’ll be another thing I’ve never done before, go backwards in a series. I’m obviously all about broadening my horizons these days.

What I really enjoyed was the fact that the main characters are journalists. It made a nice change from having detectives investigating cases.

Henning Juul’s job as a crime reporter has led to devastating consequences. He lost his son in an arson attack and he and his wife have gone their separate ways. Juul is determined to find out who was responsible.

Meanwhile, Nora is approached by the husband of an old friend. She’s gone missing and the police aren’t much help. Nora sets out to investigate and quickly realises her friend’s husband may not have known her as well as he thought he did.

I didn’t know what to expect but I was hooked from the first page. This is one brilliantly constructed plot with various threads and layers that will keep you gripped right until the end. Thomas Enger has a beautifully descriptive writing style. I’ve never been to Norway but I could visualise it without a problem. The characters are truly realistic and believable, flaws and all. There’s also a reference to events in European history that I knew very little about.

It’s fair to say my first introduction to Scandi-Noir went well and I see another book in this genre in my near future. I should also mention that I don’t normally read translated books as I always have this feeling some things get lost in translation, but that wasn’t the case here at all.

And so now, I shall rather impatiently await book 5. Can’t wait! Although, hopefully I’ll have enough time to read the other ones first.

Cursed by Thomas Enger was published in January 2017.

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The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay

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4*

aboutthebook

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They called her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number : a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum, it’s not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts. The sender claims to be her birth father. He has been looking for his daughter. And now he is coming to take her back.

mythoughts

 Zoe and Ollie have tried for years to have a baby but things didn’t quite work out for them. They turned to adoption and were approved to adopt a little girl from birth, Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved from London to Yorkshire and things are very different. Not only is there the addition of baby boy, Ben, but the relationship between Zoe and Ollie has changed quite drastically.

Then Evie starts receiving letters and gifts from someone who claims to be her birth father.

True to form, this book offers a lot of twists and turns. Even when I thought I knew what was going on, the author managed to make my head spin so much I couldn’t remember what was what. At one point, I suspected pretty much every character of not quite being who they pretended to be. Red herrings and surprise events in abundance, which I absolutely love!

Yet it’s also a powerful story about families and about adoptions. Does Evie act out and behave a bit strangely because she’s jealous of her baby brother? Is she struggling because she’s adopted? Does she feel her parents treat her differently from their biological child? Or is there more going on?

The setting in the Moors was so descriptive it added an extra layer to the atmosphere of the story. Beautiful yet treacherous. The characters were believable and realistic, even though I didn’t warm to them. Zoe in particular makes some choices that boggled my mind. But the despair and devastation she felt did make me sympathise more with her.

The Stolen Child is a highly absorbing and suspenseful read. Having read and enjoyed the author’s previous book, Bone by Bone, I’m very much looking forward to what comes next.

The Stolen Child is available for purchase now.

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Lost Girls by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @Bookouture

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5*

aboutthebook

Two girls go missing. Only one will return. The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

When nine year old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping. And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for DI Kim Stone and the squad. Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive are getting smaller by the hour.

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Continuing on my quest to catch up on the DI Kim Stone series before the latest one is published and here we are at book 3. Which is even better than the previous one! How do you ask? I don’t know! But Angela Marsons raises her game every single time and it blows my mind!

A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare. But this kidnapper is playing a whole different kind of game. He’s not just taken one little girl, but two. And he’s pitting their families against each other by auctioning off one of the girls to the highest bidder. The other girl will die.

I mean, really. What kind of disturbed mind comes up with something like that?

The first chapter sets the pace and if you’re not hooked from then on, there is something seriously wrong with you! It’s all systems go until the very end and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. This book is action-packed, on the edge of your seat gripping and highly emotional. Some of the scenes make for some very uncomfortable reading but those were necessary to bring home the depraved mind of the evil Kim is hunting.

DI Kim Stone continues to steal my heart. Still flawed, still deeply determined, still willing to go that extra mile, still kicking ass and taking numbers. And as we go along, we also learn more about her colleagues, which I love.

This series is absolutely brilliant! I feel I can’t quite adequately bring across my excitement about this series and I’m kicking myself for leaving it this long to get caught up. As it is, I’m re-arranging my schedule every day just to be able to squeeze the next one in somehow. And you should too! What can I say? I’m a fan!

Lost Girls was published in November 2015.

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Keep You Near by Robin Roughley @Bloodhoundbook

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4*

aboutthebook

How far would you go to find your missing sister? A normal day in the park turns into a nerve shredding nightmare for eleven year old Marnie Hammond when she finds herself in a desperate chase to stop the “bad man” from abducting Abby. Fifteen years later, Manie is a Detective Sergeant but the memory of her missing sister still haunts her dreams. When it becomes clear that someone is stalking the streets of Kirkhead, DS Hammond has her hands full, and after remains are discovered buried in dense woodland, Marnie fears the worst. But this is only the start of a nightmare that will unearth more bones, more victims and the terror that Abby might be among the dead.

mythoughts

 I’m not at all familiar with Robin Roughley, who’s the bestselling author of the DS Lasser series. But since Keep You Near is the first book in a brand-new series featuring Marnie Hammond, I thought it was a good place to start my introduction to this author.

When Marnie was eleven years old, she was unable to stop a bad man from kidnapping her sister. Now fifteen years later, Marnie is a Detective Sergeant and her current case hits a bit too close to home as skeletal remains are discovered in woodland.

Such a thrilling backstory to kick off a new series with. That right there already kept me hooked. Throw in a disturbed serial killer and you have the makings of a compelling story.

There are quite a few threads in this book, some of which I couldn’t quite figure out the importance of, but it all became clear in the end. If you’ve ever wondered why a serial killer stops killing, then this is the book for you. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book as we get to explore the fragmented mind of this troubling soul.

This book is gruesome, with some incredibly descriptive may-just-lose-my-breakfast scenes but it’s also really brilliant and sets quite the tone for the next one in the series.

Keep You Near was published in March.

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