The Aidan Waits series by Joseph Knox

So, you’re a bookworm. And suddenly, you find you have the time to read as much as you’ve always wanted to. What better time to start catching up on series than right now?! I thought I’d offer some tips over the next few days/weeks/months (? Yikes!)

Today, I’m shining the spotlight on the Aidan Waits series by Joseph Knox.

| ABOUT THE AIDAN WAITS SERIES |

Infiltrating the inner circle of enigmatic criminal Zain Carver is dangerous enough. Pulling it off while also rescuing Isabelle Rossiter, a runaway politician’s daughter, from Zain’s influence? Impossible. That’s why Aidan Waits is the perfect man for the job. Disgraced, emotionally damaged and despised by his superiors. In other words, completely expendable. This is how we meet Aidan in book 1 of this series, Sirens.

Aidan Waits is extremely damaged, has some serious issues and is most definitely not detective hero material. Despite all of his issues, there is something rather likeable about him, something that makes you root for him, something that makes you want to reach out and help him somehow. He is by far one of the most complicated and multi-layered characters I’ve ever encountered. Yet, he also manages to make me chuckle from time to time because his sense of sarcasm knows no other.

Sirens was the book that first made me start thinking about blogging because I needed a place to shout about its awesomeness. Since then, Joseph Knox has been raising the bar, with each book being even stronger than the previous one. This entire series is masterfully plotted, immensely dark, extremely gritty and completely engrossing from start to finish. And let’s not forget to mention the setting, with the city of Manchester almost acting as a character all on its own, oozing atmosphere and providing the most delightful noir vibe throughout.

This series currently stands at 3 books. I don’t think there will be another book coming so this is the perfect time to binge-read them. And no, before you ask, you really shouldn’t treat these as stand-alones. There is a kind of journey Aidan makes throughout this series and actions have consequences. If the third book, The Sleepwalker, is indeed the end, then it’s absolutely perfect.

Joseph Knox is an incredible talent and the Aidan Waits series is absolutely outstanding. Every single one of these books has caused a massive book hangover. I can’t recommend these books enough! They NEED to be on any crime fiction fan’s bookshelf. I promise you, you will not regret it for one second!

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Other retailers : Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London.There he worked at head office Waterstones selecting the crimethrillers and classics for focus attention across the company.

Now writing full time, he runs, writes and reads compulsively.
His debut novel Sirens was a bestseller. The Sleepwalker is the third book in the DC Aidan Waits series.

The Henning Juul series by Thomas Enger

So, you’re a bookworm. And suddenly, you find you have the time to read as much as you’ve always wanted to. What better time to start catching up on series than right now?! I thought I’d offer some tips over the next few days/weeks/months (? Yikes!)

Today, I’m shining the spotlight on the Henning Juul series by Thomas Enger.

| ABOUT THE HENNING JUUL SERIES |

Two years after he lost his son in a fire, crime journalist Henning Juul starts working again. Emotionally speaking, he’s shot down, but he tries to pick up the pieces of his life. However, to do so, he must get to the bottom of what really happened when his son died.

The first three books of this series were published by Faber & Faber, the last two by Orenda Books. Why am I mentioning this, you wonder? I shall tell you. Because I didn’t actually know this at the time. If you have been following my blog, then you know that I am cursed (see what I did there?) by the logic that dictates I start a series from the very beginning. However, I read Cursed first, which is book four as I was unaware that there were three books preceding it. Then I read books one to three, and finally ended with book five. It made my head spin, I tell you.

Don’t be like me! There is some amazingly intricate plotting throughout this entire series, which you can only appreciate when you’ve read all the books in order, and to see all the pieces of the puzzle come together was just incredibly exciting. Watching Henning Juul’s character develop and mature throughout was an absolute delight. So do yourself a favour and start at the beginning so you too can enjoy the full experience and see the various threads unravel. It’s so worth it!

The good news, or the sad news depending on which way you look at it, is that this series has come to an end. Five books. That’s it. Come on! You can easily read those in a week! I challenge you! 😉. While it’s of course a shame to see any series come to an end, I will always prefer it being done in this way with a most satisfying conclusion, instead of having it dragged out and end up going nowhere. The ending is fitting, just perfect, and I’m glad the author chose to wrap things up the way he did.

Thomas Enger is responsible for my introduction to the Scandi-Noir genre and for that reason alone, the Henning Juul series will always have a special place in my heart. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I did, if you decide to give it a go.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon UK | Waterstones

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date.

In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult).

Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

The Devil Wore Black by Mark Fowler | @MFowlerAuthor

Author : Mark Fowler
Title : The Devil Wore Black
Series : Tyler & Mills #3
Pages : 306
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : March 21, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

November 2003. When a priest is found crucified, following the desecration of local churches, hysterical media coverage focuses on terrorism, and a satanic cult operating out in the wilds of North Staffordshire. Panic grips the city. DCI Tyler and DS Mills are under pressure as the toxic atmosphere deepens.

One line of enquiry, involving historic allegations against the murdered priest, is close to home for Tyler and threatens to tip him over the edge. But Mills has a hunch that could lead the investigation in a different direction, until a serious complaint is made against him. The investigation appears to have stalled, when a second ritual murder is discovered. The pressure to find the killer mounts, and as winter closes in the detectives find themselves pushed to the limits. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

The Devil Wore Black is the third instalment in the Tyler and Mills series but reads perfectly well as a stand-alone. Things start out rather gruesome in this one when an unsuspecting jogger stumbles across the body of a priest nailed to a cross. The year is 2003. It hasn’t been that long since terrorism invaded the western world and so the media focuses on the terrorist angle but detectives aren’t convinced. There is after all a satanic cult operating in this area that could have something to do with this murder. Or was the priest hiding a dark secret? Plenty of angles for the detectives to investigate but for DCI Tyler, things may start to hit a little too close to home.

Several lines of enquiries then and all of them seemed perfectly plausible to me. But just when I thought I was getting close to figuring things out, another body is found in similar circumstances to the priest and it completely threw me off. I didn’t have a clue as to who was behind these murders or why.

Central to the story are allegations of abuse. Not only do these surround the dead priest in a “did he or did he not” kind of way, but abuse is also a big part of DCI Tyler’s background. Tyler is a difficult character to get to know, always playing things close to the vest, a tough nut to crack. But this investigation allows the reader to get a glimpse behind the facade. Do his experiences cloud his judgment though?

Different as they may be, as a team Tyler and Mills work quite well. Mills is a very different kind of person and often provides some of the comic relief with a witty remark or action, the latter mostly happening when biscuits are in his immediate surroundings. Despite their differences, they get along well. The banter between them covers up a multitude of feelings but also offers some hope that maybe some day there will be a friendship between the two of them.

I can’t deny I struggled a little bit with The Devil Wore Black at the start of the book and for some reason, I kept mixing Tyler and Mills up. That could quite possibly be down to me though as my concentration levels are shot to pieces (as I’m sure applies to many of us) and the pace was a bit too much on the slow side for me. But once the investigation really kicked off, I couldn’t stop until I knew what was going on. For the faint-hearted among you, while the murders sound brutal, none of it plays out on the page. But what I particularly liked is that the investigation isn’t nicely wrapped up in a bow. Maybe that’s something for Tyler and Mills to sink their teeth into in the future.

The Devil Wore Black is a well-plotted and intriguing police procedural with plenty of suspects and complex issues that will undoubtedly please fans of this series.

My thanks to Mark Fowler for the review copy. The Devil Wears Black is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Shardlake Series by C.J. Sansom

So, you’re a bookworm. And suddenly, you find you have the time to read as much as you’ve always wanted to. What better time to start catching up on series than right now?! I thought I’d offer some tips (though not necessarily all series) over the next few days/weeks/months (? Yikes!)

Today, I’m kicking things off with the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom. If you’re a fan of historical (crime) fiction, this series is for you.

The series currently stands at 7 books and they are sure to keep you busy for quite a while. Book one, Dissolution, is the shortest at 456 pages. Book seven, Tombland, is the longest and has 866 glorious pages.

| ABOUT THE MATTHEW SHARDLAKE SERIES |

We first meet Matthew Shardlake in Dissolution. Matthew is a lawyer, working out of Lincoln’s Inn in London in Tudor times, in the service of Thomas Cromwell. King Henry VIII has ordered the dissolution of the monasteries. At one of the monasteries, all hell breaks loose and a commissioner is found murdered. Matthew and his assistant are sent to Scarnsea to investigate.

With Matthew, C.J. Sansom has created a wonderful protagonist. As a hunchback, Matthew is often not taken seriously, somewhat underestimated. He struggles with his beliefs, he is often in pain and vulnerable, but he’s also incredibly intelligent and astute. His disability will not stop him from getting to the truth, no matter who tries to block his way. But the Tudor times were turbulent, in case you didn’t know and although Matthew is richer and more privileged than most people, he is still powerless in the midst of the political schemers like Thomas Cromwell and Richie Rich. Matthew may not be at court, but he’s close enough and with unpredictable people around him at all times, you just never know where the danger will be coming from.

To me, the Shardlake series offers the best of both worlds. I love crime fiction and I love historical fiction, especially set in Tudor times, and in this case I get both. It’s clear a humongous amount of research goes into these books. You end up learning quite a lot but it never turns into a long boring history lesson. C.J. Sansom has managed to create engaging characters, some of which come back time and time again so you can see them develop and there’s a fabulous balance between Shardlake’s private and professional life.

Big books do not scare me. I read the Game of Throne series, everything after that seems like a breeze. The books in the Shardlake series never felt too long for me, despite their page count. The investigations Shardlake undertakes are always fascinating and the books have me absolutely hooked from start to finish. I’m not normally one who reads a book more than once but these have a special place on my bookshelves and I know that I will return to them at some point.

I don’t know if there will be an eighth book, though I fiercely hope so. If there ever was a perfect time for you to get caught up, then this is it. C.J. Sansom is an outstanding author and he is, in my most humble opinion, head and shoulders above anyone else in this genre.

So, are you tempted?

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Other retailers : Amazon UK | Hive UK | Kobo | Waterstones

Massively grateful shout-out to Leah for the recommendation!

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björn Ægisdóttir | @evaaegisdottir @OrendaBooks

Author : Eva Björn Ægisdóttir (trs by Victoria Cribb)
Title : The Creak on the Stairs
Series : Forbidden Iceland #1
Pages : 400
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : March 14, 2020 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day …

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it’s too late.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh dear. Every time I try to cement my resolve of not getting hooked on a new series, up pops something I can’t possibly resist and the resolve goes right out the window. And of course it’s going to happen with a book published by Orenda because let me tell you, people, in case you haven’t been paying attention here, the Orenda Books authors are on FIRE!

Let me just say, in case you didn’t know this, I absolutely hate the cold and everything that goes with it, from snow to ice and everything in between. Yet, I seem to be spending an awful lot of time in Scandinavia lately. Bookish-wise, that is. And I absolutely love it! There’s a certain je-ne-sais-quoi in the Scandinavian crime fiction genre that always manages to win me over.

The Creak on the Stairs introduces us to Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who after years away living in the bright lights of the big city, returns to the town of Akranes. But if at any time she thought she’d get an opportunity to settle in and put her life back together, she’s quite quickly proven wrong when the body of a woman is found at a lighthouse. Together with her colleagues Sævar and Hörður, Elma starts investigating this mysterious death. Who is this woman and where did she come from? And is her death a suicide, an accident or murder?

Now, I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately where books are concerned, in that way where I need something that pulls me in from the get-go and that allows me to race through the story as if I’m watching some kind of action film. My brain is all over the place! Yet, The Creak on the Stairs isn’t like that and it managed to grab my attention from the first page just fine, thank you very much. I wouldn’t call it fast-paced at all, more slow and steady and boy, does it do the trick. As the reader, you end up getting a real sense of place, a chance to get to know some of these characters and the time to soak up the atmosphere that oozes from the pages.

Throughout the story, we are offered a glimpse into the past when someone’s childhood is laid bare. This young girl’s life is a tough one and these chapters are dark and harrowing. It’s done remarkably different to what I’m used to seeing in the crime fiction genre, though. No disturbing details, no graphic explanations, nothing about it is gratuitous. But you know what happened, you feel what happened somewhere deep down and then you wait and wonder what effect these events will have down the line. Because you know it’s coming, you just don’t know when or how.

The Creak on the Stairs is full of suspense and intrigue. Not only did the mystery surrounding the body of the woman at the lighthouse have me gripped, I also really enjoyed getting to know Elma and her new colleagues. Each and every one of them is hugely engaging and the kind of character you can get behind, you want to root for and you really, really want to see more of. There is bags of potential there. I do so hope there is more to come and that this is the superb beginnings of a series I will gladly and without a second’s hesitation make room for on my shelves. Chilling, absorbing and I absolutely loved it!

Also, shout-out to Victoria Cribb for the seamless translation!

Thanks to the publisher for my early review copy!

The Creak on the Stairs is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in May.

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Black River by Will Dean | @willrdean @PtBlankBks @margotbookpr | #BlackRiver #Tuva3

Many thanks to Margot at Point Blank and Will Dean for my signed proof copy!

Author : Will Dean
Title : Black River
Series : Tuva Moodyson #3
Pages : 363
Publisher : Point Blank
Publication date : March 12, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

FEAR 

Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing.

SECRETS

Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?

LIES

Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?

| MY THOUGHTS |

If ever I dreamt of moving to a small village near a big forest in Sweden, Black River would seriously make me reconsider that.

Four months ago, Tuva Moodyson left Gavrik and moved down south. But now, her best friend Tammy has gone missing and Tuva races back to Gavrik, fearing for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her and why? Where is she? When another woman goes missing, the small police force of Gavrik finds itself spread too thin. But if there is one thing we’ve learned about Tuva, it’s that she’s fiercely stubborn and determined and she will stop at nothing to find Tammy. Even if that means getting into dangerous situations herself.

The creepy factor is high in Black River. You’d think the long summer days and the upcoming event of Midsummar would lift the doom and gloom that seems to hover above the small town of Gavrik. But no. If anything, it seems worse. Not only are there the multitude of seriously aggressive bugs all over the place, flying in your face, getting stuck in your hair, biting and stinging like you’re some delicious buffet … but the residents. Goodness me, the residents. To define them as creepy almost seems like an understatement. Many of them have secrets they are desperately trying to hide, some act suspicious and some just make you feel so uncomfortable and dirty you’d like to take a really long, hot shower. Quirky and eccentric, yes. Also, just plain weird.

Despite the fact that it’s Summer, Black River manages to keep that extremely claustrophobic feeling Will Dean’s previous books had. Somehow the town seems to be getting smaller and smaller, the forest bigger and darker, this feeling of impending doom growing ever stronger and all the while that chimney of the liquorice factory looms over the town like some harbinger of bad things to come. I may have had some suspicions as to who was responsible for the women going missing but I was completely on the wrong track (I mean, let’s face it, the list of potential suspects is long for such a small town!) and even now, while I’m writing this review, I’m still unable to decide how the ultimate conclusion made me feel. I can say I didn’t see it coming! I was shocked and horrified but also, sad.

Black River is a creepy and chilling story with plenty of characters that will make your skin crawl. Gripping and compelling, yet not fast-paced, which you might expect. Black River doesn’t need the fast pace. It wouldn’t work. Slow and steady does the trick perfectly; allowing the reader to soak up the atmosphere, which is every bit as important in this story as the plot and the characters are. It isn’t until the last few chapters that your heart may be pounding out of your chest and you may be left gasping for breath, when the race against the clock amps up tenfold.

I’ve been saying it a lot lately but it’s not my fault with these authors who constantly raise the bar, so wait for it, here it comes …. best one in the series! I’m not entirely sure what’s next from Will Dean but I DO know I will be there with bells on! And you should be too!

PS : Mind the snakes.

Black River is available to buy in ebook format. The UK hardcover will be published on March 12th, with the paperback to follow later in the year.

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Other retailers : Amazon UK | Goldsboro | Hive | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

The Burning Men by Will Shindler | @WillShindler @HodderBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #blogtour

Delighted to join the blog tour for The Burning Men by Will Shindler today! My thanks to Jenny at Hodder for the opportunity to join and for the fab review copy!

Author : Will Shindler
Title : The Burning Men
Series : DI Alex Finn #1
Pages : 352
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters runs in to save a man spotted at the window.

They come out without a body. They quit the service. They plan never to speak to each other again.

Five years later one of them is set alight at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did that night. What they chose over their duty. And there are still three men left to burn . . .

DI Alex Finn and his new partner DC Mattie Paulsen are an unlikely pairing, but they need to discover who is behind these killings before the next man faces the fire.

| MY THOUGHTS |

I often have a serious talk with myself about the need for a new crime fiction series in my life. There are so many to keep track of and as we all know, there are only so many hours in the day. There have been times where I have had to make the hard decision of letting a series go and firmly decided that “no”, there is no room in my life or on my book shelves for another series. And then The Burning Men happened and all my good intentions went out the window.

Five years ago, there was a fire at a development site in South London. Four firefighters rush into the building to rescue a person they saw waving at the window. They return without a body and one by one, they quit the service and vow never to speak to each other again. Now, one of the firefighters is set on fire on his wedding day. He is the first, but he won’t be the last. Someone seems to know what happened that day five years ago. But what?

Enter DI Alex Finn. He is more of an academic type than your typical detective inspector. Maybe somewhat lacking social skills, doesn’t seem to have any friends, but he’s fiercely intelligent. Alex really shouldn’t be at work, having just lost his wife but he needs something to sink his teeth into, something that will get him out of his empty flat. With a DI not quite functioning to his full capacity, can this intriguing case be solved though? As if Alex doesn’t have enough to deal with, he’s lumbered with a new partner, DC Mattie Paulsen. They make a most unlikely pairing. She’s damaged, flawed, doesn’t seem to go out of her way to make friends either and to be honest, I found her incredibly unlikeable. Yet, somehow, the partnership between Alex and Mattie works.

This is one of those book descriptions that just grabbed my attention from the get-go. The first chapter introduces the reader to the events from that day five years ago. But if you think you’re going to get the answer to that burning question (see what I did there?) of what actually happened, you’d better think again. That information is revealed along the way, allowing the reader to try and figure things out on their own. The bigger mystery, I thought, was who is responsible for these brutal murders! Needless to say, some of those scenes were a tad gruesome. Try as I might, I had no idea who the culprit was and Will Shindler kept me guessing until the end. And if at any moment I thought THAT part was exceedingly thrilling, which it was, don’t get me wrong … there was more to come and just … whoa!

I had a good feeling about this book from the very beginning and I was definitely not disappointed. Although, admittedly I was quite wary of the whole male/female partnership but Will Shindler soon put a stop to that. The Burning Men is immensely gripping, intense, addictive, a brilliant way to kickstart a new series and a really impressive debut. So, no, I really don’t need a new series in my life but you know what? I’m making room for this one and I can’t wait to spend more time with Alex and Mattie when they investigate their next case.

The Burning Men is available to buy!

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Will Shindler has been a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC for over twenty-five years, spending a decade working in television drama as a scriptwriter on Born and Bred, The Bill and Doctors.

You can currently find him every weekday on the radio reading the news headlines, whilst writing crime novels in the afternoon. Will has previously worked as a television presenter for HTV, a sports reporter for BBC Radio Five Live, and one of the stadium presenters at the London Olympics.

Perfect Kill by Helen Fields | @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK | #blogtour

Delighted to join the blog tour for Perfect Kill by Helen Fields today! My thanks to Sanjana at Avon for the opportunity to join and for the fab review copy.

Author : Helen Fields
Title : Perfect Kill
Series : DI Luc Callanach #6
Pages : 385
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

He had never heard himself scream before. It was terrifying.

Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me. Where do I even begin?

In Perfect Kill, the reader gets a double dose of depravity as DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach work separate cases. Ava and her team are up in Scotland, while Luc has joined up with a former colleague at Interpol in France. Soon these cases will collide, with lives at stake on both sides of the Channel.

Few people manage to come up with the most evil and disturbing characters quite the way Helen Fields does. Characters that get under your skin, characters that make you want to take a really long shower, characters that have you glaring at the pages of the book, wishing you could hurt them somehow. They are truly vile and utterly despicable.

The reading experience is elevated by putting the reader right there, in the middle with the potential victims. We meet Bart, who wakes up one morning and realises he isn’t in his cosy bed at his mother’s home. Instead he finds himself chained in a dark and windowless place, location unknown. And then there’s Elenuta from Romania, who came to Scotland with the promise of a better life. Need I say more?

Some of these chapters are immensely uncomfortable to read. I winced, I felt sad and angry, I feared for these characters’ lives. These chapters are upsetting, powerful, raw and brutal. I often needed a moment to recover from the horror and brutality, the absolutely horrendous ways some people treat other people for sheer pleasure and entertainment, for money, and all the while it unfortunately all felt so incredibly realistic and believable. It’s sadly easy to imagine that these things do actually happen and these thoughts will linger on your mind long after you’ve finished the book.

So, not exactly for the faint-hearted, I suppose, but that’s something I’ve become used to from Helen Fields. Perfect Kill has many themes that haunt modern society, which lift this book to a whole other level in the crime fiction genre. The “Perfect” series has always been able to stand out from the crowd but this latest addition is really something else altogether. Gritty and raw, I perversely loved every minute of it. I’m not entirely sure what that says about me.

Due to lack of time, I often need to make the tough decision to drop a series because I can no longer keep up but I feel quite confident that this series right here will never be one of them. It is just that good and all that’s left for me to say is : bring on book seven!

Perfect Kill is available to buy!

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Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister.

Every book in the Callanach series claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag.

Her previous audio book ‘Perfect Crime’ knocked Michelle Obama off the #1 spot. Translated into 15 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition.

Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and last year released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’.

She currently commutes between Hampshire, Scotland and California, where she lives with her husband and three children.

Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb | @crimethrillgirl @OrendaBooks | #recommended

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the review copy!

Author : Steph Broadribb
Title : Deep Dark Night
Series : Lori Anderson #4
Pages : 320
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : March 5, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…

Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces, one by one. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.

When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.

And that’s just the beginning…

| MY THOUGHTS |

AIR! I NEED AIR! CAN’T BREATHE!

If there is one thing I should have learned from reading the Lori Anderson series, it’s to have an oxygen tank at the ready because her adventures always leave me gasping for breath and Deep Dark Night is no different! Throw your gym membership in the bin (not that I have one)! This will leave you with the same amount of adrenaline and energy to get you through three marathons. Just not so sweaty. Bonus!

Lori and JT head to Chicago to work an off-the-books operation for FBI Special Agent Monroe. Using a priceless chess set as bait, Lori must try to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family and hopefully finally get Monroe off her back along the way. But during a high-stakes poker game in the penthouse suite of one of Chicago’s tallest buildings, the power goes out and shit hits the fan. Things what I learned : stay away from penthouse suites. And poker games. And I should probably add mafia to the list as well.

To say Deep Dark Night is action-packed seems like a massive understatement. It’s pretty much all systems go, all the time. Absolutely relentless! It’s also dark in more ways than one and oftentimes immensely claustrophobic. On top of that, people start dropping like flies all over the place and suddenly all you can think about is if Lori and JT will make it out of this precarious situation alive! Because Steph Broadribb has no qualms whatsoever in putting her characters through the wringer and pushing them to some quite extreme limits.

Steph Broadribb knows how to pull a reader in and keep them enthralled from start to finish. I felt I was right there with Lori and JT, in that high-rise building in the dark, desperately trying to find a way out in one piece. Deep Dark Night is an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter of a book, that at times had my heart pumping so hard I thought it would jump right out of my chest. When I finished it, I felt so darn energised I considered running a few laps around the block. And I do not run, people!

The Lori Anderson series is yet another series that just keeps going from strength to strength and all the books would make excellent movies. Each and every book in this series is utterly gripping and addictive. Lori remains one of the fiercest female protagonists out there, most definitely giving all those muscly showing-off kind of male stereotypes a run for their money. I have to say it …. wait for it …. BEST ONE YET and I’ll be first in line to find out where Steph Broadribb takes this series next. Bring it on!

Deep Dark Night is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published on March 5th.

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All The Best Lies by Joanna Schaffhausen | @TitanBooks @Sarah_Mather_15

Author : Joanna Schaffhausen
Title : All The Best Lies
Series : Ellery Hathaway #3
Pages : 385
Publisher : Titan Books
Publication date : February 11, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

FBI agent Reed Markham is haunted by one painful unsolved mystery: who murdered his mother? Camilla was brutally stabbed to death more than forty years ago while baby Reed lay in his crib mere steps away. The trail went so cold that the Las Vegas Police Department has given up hope of solving the case. But then a shattering family secret changes everything Reed knows about his origins, his murdered mother, and his powerful adoptive father, state senator Angus Markham. Now Reed has to wonder if his mother’s killer is uncomfortably close to home.

Unable to trust his family with the details of his personal investigation, Reed enlists his friend, suspended cop Ellery Hathaway, to join his quest in Vegas. Ellery has experience with both troubled families and diabolical murderers, having narrowly escaped from each of them. She’s eager to skip town, too, because her own father, who abandoned her years ago, is suddenly desperate to get back in contact. He also has a secret that could change her life forever, if Ellery will let him close enough to hear it.

Far from home and relying only on each other, Reed and Ellery discover young Camilla had snared the attention of dangerous men, any of whom might have wanted to shut her up for good. They start tracing his twisted family history, knowing the path leads back to a vicious killer—one who has been hiding in plain sight for forty years and isn’t about to give up now.

| MY THOUGHTS |

FBI agent Reed Markham’s mother, Camilla Flores, was stabbed to death forty years ago, while baby Reed was in his crib in the next room. The case was never solved but recent events have made Reed wonder if the killer is closer to home than he ever thought. Determined to find out what happened to his mother, Reed enlists the help of the only person he feels he can trust right now : his friend Ellery Hathaway.

All The Best Lies is the third book in a series and unfortunately for me, that was something I wasn’t aware of when I picked it up to read. I personally don’t feel this can be read as a stand-alone. There’s a huge history between Reed and Ellery, which has an impact on their relationship, their dynamics and their lives. While there is enough background provided to get the gist of things, I was left to feel like I was missing out on vital information. It’s a fine line for an author to walk in a series as you obviously don’t want to bore readers that have been with you from the start and you don’t want to alienate new readers. What I’m trying to say is that Joanna Schaffhausen did this quite brilliantly but I just needed that little something more to get fully behind the characters and understand how damaged and flawed they are, and why.

That said, this book is an extremely compelling ride. Cold cases always get my blood flowing that little bit quicker. Forty years is a long time. If there were any witnesses, what do they remember after all this time? Are they even still alive? Evidence may have been lost, accidentally or otherwise. On top of that, Reed’s adoptive family is getting nervous about Reed digging into the past like this as Reed’s adoptive father is a politician and worried about the possibility of a scandal. Or could there possibly be more to it than that?

For the longest time, I couldn’t at all figure out who so brutally murdered Camilla. Was it someone she knew? Was it a random attack? Why would anyone have wanted to harm her like that? What kind of person kills a mother while her baby is next door? I did my best to find my way through the forest of red herrings and twists and was ridiculously pleased with myself when I had a lightbulb moment and zeroed in on one suspect.

From the bright lights of Las Vegas to California and back again, All The Best Lies is a gripping crime thriller and police procedural combination. Once I got past that gap in my background knowledge, I actually really started to enjoy it. With complex and multi-layered characters, there is a lot to like about this story. My only niggle, and again this is personal preference, is the romantic angle. There’s no doubt there is an abundance of chemistry between Reed and Ellery and I’m sure plenty of readers are rooting for them but I’m here for the brutal murders, the gore and the mayhem and I often find the “will they, won’t they” extremely distracting. It’s just not something I need in my crime fiction.

All in all though, a thoroughly enjoyable and twisty story that made me wish I’d been with this series from the start. In all honesty, the odds that I’ll ever get caught up with the first two are small (because who has that kind of time?!) but I may just keep an eye out on the next one in the series.

My thanks to Titan Books for the review copy!

All The Best Lies is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive |Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery