Close To You by Kerry Wilkinson | @kerrywk @bookouture

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Close To You by Kerry Wilkinson. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s see what Close To You is all about.

Author : Kerry Wilkinson
Title : Close To You
Pages : 284
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : October 17, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

I pinch the screen to zoom until I’m staring at the face of a ghost. A man with very short hair, staring directly at the camera with piercing brown eyes. 

He is as he was when I last saw him: wrinkles around the corners of the eyes and a knowing smirk. That’s the expression I see when I can’t sleep. 

My body tenses. It can’t be him. It’s not my ex-husband. It’s not David. 

I know that better than anyone because he didn’t walk out on me. 

He didn’t disappear two years ago and he’s not a missing person. 

I know that for a fact because I’m the one who killed him.

| EXTRACT |

THE NOW

SUNDAY

There’s nothing quite like a good hypocrite. The people surrounding me, not to mention myself, will spend our day-to-day lives telling people about the benefits of moderation. A small glass of wine contains around 120 calories, so moderation is the key. Let’s be moderate, people. Nothing wrong with a glass or two here or there, but let’s hold back on downing half-a-bottle a night, yeah? Let’s not even dream of putting away a full bottle of Asda’s own £4-a-bottle white on a Friday night. That’s probably 800 calories right there and all your good work will be for nothing. All true – but none of that stops our room of ‘fitness professionals’ putting away the booze like a meteor strike has been pencilled in for tomorrow afternoon.

The waiter ambles around to my side of the table and reaches for my glass. His bottle is angled ready to dump another couple of hundred calories, but I place one hand over the rim and wave him away with the other. ‘Not for me,’ I say. His lips twitch into something close to a smirk and then they instantly arch down again. Assuming he works at this hotel most Friday and Saturday nights through November and December, he’ll have seen this over and over. Grown adults who are one step away from teenagers in a park sharing a bottle of cider. It really is not for me, though – not tonight in any case. My relationship with alcohol is like my mother’s with back-to-back episodes of her favourite soaps. A brief taste and I’m slumped in a chair, drooling for the rest of the night.

The bloke two seats away from me has no such hang-ups. He manages a leisure centre but has that hipsterish, waxy beard-look about him, as if he’d rather be running his own craft brewery. He motions the waiter over and gleefully eyes the white nectar that’s emptied into his glass. When it’s nearly full, he raises it in my direction: ‘To us,’ he declares. I waft my almost empty glass of water towards him. ‘To beards,’ I reply. He either doesn’t hear me, or doesn’t care, as he downs half his glass in one go.

This is the problem with these sorts of awards dinners – the seating plans are thrown together like an expressionist’s painting of an orgy. It’s all a vague collection of limbs and there are dicks everywhere. Even though it’s a ceremony and not strictly a Christmas party, it is December – so the room is decorated with various wreathes and tinsel. There’s a giant Christmas tree in the corner and twinkly lights zigzagging across the ceiling. There was turkey for dinner, but, now that’s cleared away, the booze is flowing and it’s time for the main event. Well, almost time.

I am fighting back the yawns as the comedian compère is busy making himself laugh, which at least makes it one person who’s enjoying the act. Someone else on my table described him as ‘old-school’, which is essentially code for ‘a bit sexist’. A decade back and there would’ve been a few racist jokes thrown in for the old-timers. His act is drawing a mix of muted laughs, awkward silences and brainless cackling from a handful of people who’ve either been lobotomised or had too much to drink. When the comedian reaches for his water, he trips on the mic stand and gets the biggest laugh of the night. Life offers nothing quite as funny as a stranger falling over and then pretending it hasn’t happened.

When his act is done, there’s an excited hum to the room. This is the reason we’ve paid £80-a-head for bad food and unfunny comedy. On the stage at the front, some bloke in a suit is messing around with the PowerPoint display that’s being beamed onto the screen. He’s obviously making a hash of it because that’s what blokes in suits do. He jabs at a laptop, looks gormlessly to his mate off to the side, holds up both hands, and then has a hushed argument with someone else who ends up plugging in a cable. A slide finally appears, displaying ‘Eighth Annual UK Fitness Professional Awards’. It’s not exactly the BAFTAs and, as I sit through a series of prizes being awarded, I start to question a few of my life choices. I’ve done some bad things in my time, one in particular, but I’ve never stumbled onto a stage and thanked ‘God, the Queen and my Mum’ for allowing my branch of Total Fitness to win gym chain of the year. Most people here are of the eye-rolling variety. We know this is a farce, but it’s also the game we play. For personal trainers like me, winning these sorts of awards means more offers of work, more appearances, better contracts, perhaps even a book deal.

I’ve more or less switched off when my best friend, Jane, leans over to me. She’s more excited than I am: ‘Is this your award?’ It takes me a second to catch what she’s said but, when I look up, I realise that she’s right. Jane hasn’t said much all evening, although she doesn’t really know anyone. I would have come with Andy, but he’s busy with his scout troop. That sounds like a euphemism, but isn’t – there really is a scout troop. I was happy to come by myself, but Jane said she’d be my plus-one and that was that. I could have mentioned a midwinter trip to the Antarctic with Piers Morgan and she’d have still volunteered to come. I think that’s what happens when there’s a 16-month-old at home. Any excuse for a night away. She won’t say it out loud, but she’s definitely missed work since giving up her job to have Norah.

The slide on the screen has changed to read ‘Personal Trainer of the Year’ and then ‘Seven Nation Army’ pulses in the background as Steven, the organiser, runs through a list of the nominees. Before today, I’d only met him via emails. He has that comic-book airline-pilot-look going on. All neat hair, stiff upper lip and moustachy. There are five of us nominated for the award, with our photos flashing across the screen as our names are announced. ‘Jason McMahon’, whose head is like a cork atop a barrel, gets a big cheer from his table. The next three names get polite applause and I tense as my own face appears on the screen. It’s one of the shots from my portfolio, the one that I convinced myself was a good idea after reading a New Year, New You article and, presumably, temporarily losing my mind.

‘ And finally,’ Steven says, his moustache practically audible, ‘after all she’s been through, Morgan Persephone.’There’s a gentle wave of applause that gets louder as people realise who I am. He’s pronounced my name wrong, making it rhyme with ‘telephone’, instead of ‘per-sef-oh-knee’. A shiver creases along my back, but not because of the mispronunciation. After all she’s been through. Maybe they are; maybe they’re not – but I can feel everyone watching as I give the watery, closed-lip smile that I’ve become so good at over the past couple of years. I can sense the whispers, if not hear them. People telling those next to them that my husband disappeared two years ago.

There is mercifully little time to dwell as Steven rips open the envelope like a kid with a Christmas present. And the winner is…’ He pauses, thinking he’s Simon Cowell waiting to tell some Mariah wannabe that she’s one step closer to being a little-known answer to a pub quiz question.

‘…Morgan Persephone.

’Steven gets my name wrong again and there’s a second or two in which I can’t quite take in what he’s said. It’s like we’re in different time zones with a slight delay. Jane leans in and gleefully hisses, ‘You won!’ – and then I find myself clambering to my feet. Jane adds a quick ‘Smile!’, which is when I realise I’m stumbling blankly to the front, like a drunk at closing time. I wave to a pair of women I don’t know on one of the front tables, largely because they’re clapping and cheering. I’ve seen those award shows, where winners guff a load of nonsense about not expecting their victories. This isn’t that. I had an inkling ever since the nominations went out in a barely noticed press release a couple of months back. I suspected I’d probably win, if for no other reason than everyone loves a good redemption story. That doesn’t prepare me for the wall of noise, all from strangers. The eruption is disorientating and hard to prepare for.

I head onto the stage and Steven passes me a golden trophy that’s in the shape of a treadmill. I expect it to be heavy, but the metal is plasticky and cheap. No matter – it’s the title that counts. A weird thought creeps into my mind that I’m going to need new business cards. ‘Personal Trainer of the Year’ sounds a lot better than ‘Personal Trainer’.

Everything is a bit of a blur – but it’s been like that since it all happened with David. After all she’s been through. Sometimes it feels as if someone else is steering the ship and I’m watching myself go through life. Not now. In this moment, I’m completely aware that nobody wants to look like the bitch who prepared a speech in advance. I run through the mental list of things to say while attempting to make it seem as off-the-cuff as possible. I remember to thank the organiser Steven; the gyms where I work and a few other industry types. To an untrained eye, it probably seems as if I know what I’m doing. That’s the game, really. That’s life. Nobody cares if a person actually knows what they’re doing, as long as they look like it.

When I’m done, Steven re-takes the mic and I hustle back to my table while shaking hands like a low-level Royal opening a community centre. When I get to my seat, more people come over to offer congratulations and pass across business cards, like I’m a hooker heading to a London phone box. I know very few faces, only a handful of people from the speaking circuit. Jane gives me a hug, but it’s awkward because we’re both sitting. The drunken leisure centre manager downs the rest of his wine and winks. There are more nods and waves and then, finally, Steven hushes everyone and continues onto the next category.

It’s late and, despite the rush of the past few minutes, I have to stifle a yawn. I’ve never really got these people that can do all-nighters. I’m a drowsy mess after about 11 and, with my trophy in hand, the hotel bed is calling. Steven runs through the nominees for Fitness Brand of the Year and, after another blast of ‘Seven Nation Army’, he names the winner. There’s a big cheer from the table at the front and then, after a chaotic speech with half a dozen people trying to talk over one another, the ceremony is finally put out of its misery. Jane uses the table to push herself up and is clear-eyed as she rubs my upper arm. ‘You deserve this,’ she says. ‘It’s only an industry award.’ ‘Your industry, though. It’s amazing… especially after everything you’ve been through.’ There’s that line again…

She smiles and then adds: ‘Are there photos?’ ‘I hope not.’ Jane nods over my shoulder, to where Steven is beckoning together the winners. ‘I’ll keep an eye on your bag,’ she says. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I’m back to my wedding day. Back with David. I have to blink away the moment. I think of him every day – but it’s never the Saturday we married; it’s always what happened at the end. Someone says, ‘Where is everyone?’ and then it’s all, ‘Stand here’, ‘Look there’, ‘Smile’, ‘Don’t smile’, ‘Point there’, ‘Laugh’, ‘Roll over’ – and so on. Possibly without the rolling over. There are around thirty winners in all and we’re divided into various groups for the picture-taking on the stage. At the rear of the room, the staff bustle back and forth clearing the tables. Steven continues to take photos, but Jane and others are there, too, with their phones. Nothing can happen nowadays without it being captured and sent to the cloud. Steven asks all the winners to smoosh closer together. I make sure I’m angling with my left side away from him, hiding the purple-brown scar at the base of my neck from the camera’s unrelenting gaze. He takes a few more photos and then puts his camera down.

We’re all ready to stop tensing our muscles when Jane calls, ‘One more’ and then she clicks a final photo or three. After that, we are finally done. Everyone offers weary smiles and drifts back to their colleagues. One of the other winners asks if I want a drink to celebrate, but I’m already batting away yawns. Sex and chocolate are good – but there’s nothing quite like a good sleep. Before I can get back to the table in order to collect my bag, Steven corners me at the edge of the stage. He is wearing the looks of a man who’s relieved it’s all over. ‘Congratulations,’ he says, rubbing my arm while he does so. I’d tell him to stop, but it already feels awkward. ‘Thank you.’ ‘I know it’s been hard after everything you’ve been through.’ ‘Yes…’ I almost reach for the mark on my neck. I used to rub the scar all the time – but I’ve been working at stopping myself for months now. Stephen’s stare flickers across it without lingering. He leaves my arm alone long enough to smooth his moustache, even though it doesn’t look like a hurricane would put a hair out of place. There is a moment in which he angles forward and I wonder if he might try to kiss me. Perhaps it’s ego on my part. I brace myself to flinch to the side, but he slants away at the last moment to whisper in my ear. ‘I voted for you,’ he says. ‘Thank you.’ ‘You’ve been very brave about everything. ’He speaks as if I’ve done a lengthy stint in Afghanistan and am finally back in Blighty. I don’t know what to say, so give him a slim smile and a half-hearted ‘thanks’. He pats my shoulder and then disappears off to talk to someone else.

Back at the table, the leisure centre manager has disappeared, along with the remnants of the table wine. Jane hands me my bag and we step to the side as the staff continue to clear the tables to make way for a dance floor. ‘You look tired,’ she says. ‘This isn’t really my thing,’ I reply. Jane finishes her water and passes the empty glass to one of the staff. I’ve only had a single glass of wine and she’s not had any alcohol at all. We’re a right pair of lightweights. I’m only thirty-three but can sense my teenage-self disapproving. ‘I’ve got to head back,’ Jane says, ‘I don’t like being away from Norah for a night… not a whole one, anyway.’ We’d spoken about this beforehand and brought two cars. I’m staying at the hotel where the awards are taking place, while Jane is driving home.

She starts to fish into her bag: ‘Do you want to see the photos?’ ‘How do I look in them?’ ‘Fit.’ ‘Let’s see then.’ She retrieves her phone from her bag and flicks through the images before passing it across. The device is one of those plus-sized ones that’s closer to a TV than a phone. Give it a few years and mobiles will be the same size as the bricks that used to pass for phones in the 80s. I suppose fashion really is cyclical. I refuse to use the word ‘phablet’. I’d bring back capital punishment for inventing words like that. 

The thing about a photograph full of fitness professionals is that we are, by definition, fit. Almost everyone in the picture will have to stay in shape as part of the job. That brings a natural competition. Almost all the women are wearing tight, low-cut tops or dresses, while the men are in custom-cut slimming suits. Everyone is flexing their arms, either subtly or not. At one time, everyone desired the biggest muscles; now it is all about getting lean. I glance at Jane’s photo and clock myself at the side. I’ve got my back straight, chest puffed up, chin solid, smile fixed. Give it the old tits and teeth. Half of us are turned towards Steven’s camera while the others are looking towards Jane. It’s all quite the mess. I’m about to hand the phone back when I spot a face at the very back. It doesn’t belong to the group, it’s not one of the winners, it’s simply there.

A man with very short hair, facing sideways but staring directly at the camera with piercing brown eyes. My body tenses and I can’t quite take in what I’m seeing. I pinch the screen to zoom until I’m staring at the face of a ghost. He is as he was when I last saw him: wrinkles around the corners of the eyes and a knowing smirk. That’s the expression I see when I can’t sleep. ‘Are you OK?’ I glance up to see Jane frowning in my direction. She has released her hair from its bun and the curly waves have dropped to her shoulders. She seems ready to leave. ‘Yes, um…’ My gaze flicks to the screen once more. ‘Could you send this photo to me?’ ‘Sure. ’Jane takes back her phone and swipes around the screen until she says ‘Done’.

The thing is, I recognise the man in the background of the photo. How could I not? It’s just that it can’t be him. It’s not my ex-husband. It’s not David. I know that better than anyone because he didn’t walk out on me. He didn’t disappear two years ago and he’s not a missing person. I know that for a fact because I’m the one who killed him.

I don’t know about you but that certainly got my attention! I’m sure you’d like to find out more so why not go ahead and grab yourself a copy of Close To You today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down. 

Last Night by Kerry Wilkinson @kerrywk @bookouture #blogblitz #LastNight

It is such a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for Last Night and wish Kerry Wilkinson a happy publication day! My thanks to Noelle at Bookouture!

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Author : Kerry Wilkinson
Title : Last Night
Pages : 340
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : March 28, 2018

aboutthebook

It’s the early hours of the morning and Rose Denton wakes up behind the steering wheel of her car. She’s off the road, through a hedge and in a field.

There’s blood on the windscreen and bonnet – but it’s not hers and there’s no sign of anything or anyone she might have hit. The last thing she remembers is being in a hotel on a business trip but now she’s miles away.

Back home and her daughter’s boyfriend is missing. The last thing he did was argue with Rose over money. He left no note, no text, no clue as to his whereabouts.

The police have questions – and so does Rose’s family. But those are little compared to the ones she has for herself.

What happened last night? And, perhaps more importantly, does she really want to know the answer?

mythoughts

Kerry Wilkinson is one of those authors where you just know that as soon as you pick up one of his books, you’re in for a bumpy ride and a thrilling afternoon. Last Night is no different and it makes for one entertaining reading session.

Rose Denton wakes up behind the wheel of her car in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no idea how she got there. She was in a hotel, wasn’t she? Why is she in her car? What’s all that blood on the bonnet and the windscreen? It’s not hers, thankfully, but it has to belong to something. Or someone. On her return home, Rose discovers her daughter’s boyfriend has gone missing. Surely Rose isn’t responsible?

As you can see, there are a lot of questions and very little answers. What Kerry Wilkinson does so well is create utter confusion and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s like this dense fog you can’t see through. Just when you think you know what’s going on, there’s a dead end and you’re steered into a completely different direction. I had theories left, right and centre. None of which came even remotely close to the ultimate conclusion!

This is a well-paced, gripping and twisty story. Full of red herrings, it left me feeling suspicious of just about everyone. I started to doubt everyone’s intentions and motivations, just like Rose does and she has the added bonus of even doubting herself. Because there are other things going on in her life that aren’t mentioned in the book description so I won’t either but it all adds up to a compelling read that had me guessing until the end.

If you haven’t yet read anything by Kerry Wilkinson, you really should. He always delivers the goods, always keeps you guessing and always comes up with the most satisfying conclusions and he should most definitely be on your radar! I thoroughly enjoyed his last offering and very much look forward to more.

Last Night is out now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 bestsellers in the UK, Canada, South Africa and Singapore, as well as top-five books in Australia. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

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The Girl Who Came Back by Kerry Wilkinson @kerrywk @bookouture #blogblitz

** advanced copy received via publisher **

Delighted to be kicking off the blog blitz for The Girl Who Came Back by Kerry Wilkinson today, alongside a bunch of other fabulous bloggers! Many thanks to Kim Nash for the opportunity to join!

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Author : Kerry Wilkinson
Title : The Girl Who Came Back
Pages : 303
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : September 8, 2017

aboutthebook

Thirteen years ago Olivia Adams went missing. Now she’s back… or is she?

When five-year-old Olivia Adams disappeared from her back garden, the small community of Stoneridge was thrown into turmoil. How could a child vanish in the middle of a cosy English village?

Thirteen years on and Olivia is back. Her mother is convinced it’s her but not everyone is sure. If this is the missing girl, then where has she been – and what happened to her on that sunny afternoon? If she’s an imposter, then who would be bold enough to try to fool a child’s own mother – and why?

Then there are those who would rather Olivia stayed missing. The past is the past and some secrets must remain buried.

mythoughts

Cor! Kerry Wilkinson strikes again with this absolutely incredible page turner!

Thirteen years ago, five year old Olivia disappeared from her back garden. Now she’s back. Or is she? Her mother is convinced her daughter has returned but not everyone shares her conviction. Is the girl who came back Olivia or merely an imposter?

With The Girl Who Came Back the author has once again delivered a brilliantly executed plot. It is completely engrossing and compelling with tons of complex, and some quite unlikeable, characters. Its slow pace works like a charm, as does the setting of this sleepy village where everybody seems to know everybody’s business. Although maybe not quite because how is it possible that a five year old can just disappear like that?

Slowly but surely family secrets will be revealed and some skeletons will fall out of the closets. And in the middle of all of that, there’s the always interesting topic of nature versus nurture that has you wondering if things might have turned out differently in an alternate universe.

Tension bubbles away underneath the surface throughout the story and there was this subtle threatening vibe that had me on the edge of my seat. There are tiny clues along the way that are sometimes quite easy to miss but when you pick up on them, they’ll have you wracking your brain trying to figure out what’s going on. And just when you think you know, there’s a twist or two that’ll make your head spin.

This is quite a quick read but utterly absorbing. Kerry Wilkinson is an amazing writer whose stories constantly manage to reel me in and keep me hooked. All I can say is, I’d like some more, please.

Many thanks to Bookouture for the opportunity to join the blitz tour and my advanced copy, which I received via Netgalley and as always, chose to review honestly!

The Girl Who Came Back is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Kerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

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TGWCB - Blog Tour

Two Sisters by Kerry Wilkinson @kerrywk @bookouture

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Author : Kerry Wilkinson
Pages : 350
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : June 23, 2017

aboutthebook

They told us he had been missing for nearly two days, that he probably drowned. They told us a lie.

Megan was ten years old when her older brother, Zac, went missing among the cliffs, caves and beaches that surround the small seaside town of Whitecliff.

A decade later and a car crash has claimed the lives of her parents.

Megan and her younger sister Chloe return to Whitecliff one summer for the first time since their brother’s disappearance. Megan says it’s to get her parents’ affairs in order. There are boxes to pack, junk to clear, a rundown cottage to sell. But that’s not the real reason.

Megan has come to confront her family’s past after receiving a postcard on the day of her parents’ funeral. It had a photograph of Whitecliff on the front and a single letter on the back.

‘Z’ is all it read.

Z for Zac.

mythoughts

Ten years ago, Megan’s brother Zac goes missing in the seaside town of Whitecliff. He was never found. Now, after losing their parents in a car accident, Megan and her sister, Chloe, head back to Whitecliff for the first time in a decade. Supposedly to get their parents’ affairs in order but Megan has other plans. She has come for answers. In such a small community, surely someone must know what happened to Zac all those years ago.

Now, Whitecliff. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Well, you’d be wrong. It is the creepiest of creepy villages ever. On the surface, it all looks normal but underneath there’s something bubbling that’s just not quite right and the author does a brilliant job in creating that slightly eery atmosphere. It’s that feeling you get when you know something’s coming but you don’t know what.

Two Sisters has a slow-burning and intense plot with a host of incredibly well developed and realistic characters. It took me a while to get into this book. The pace was a bit too slow for me at the start but that didn’t mean I wasn’t gripped. Obviously, I too wanted to know what happened to Zac all those years ago and while I had an idea of some of the things going on in the village, I couldn’t figure out how these events were connected.

Megan isn’t the most likeable character ever. She’s flawed, complex and has a lot of issues. But I could totally sympathise with her and I admired her dogged determination to find out the truth. There are a lot of skeletons in various closets and of course there are twists and turns. Although some I felt were a tad predictable, there were also some I didn’t see coming at all.

This is my first introduction to Kerry Wilkinson. I know, I know! Where the heck have I been, right? But it definitely won’t be my last!

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

Two Sisters will be published on June 23rd.

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Vigilante by Kerry Wilkinson @kerrywk #guestreview

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Author : Kerry Wilkinson
Pages : 300
Publisher : Pan
Publication date : February 14, 2013

aboutthebook

A killer behind bars is still killing…

Dead bodies are piling up for Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel.

Usually when a serial killer is on the loose, the pressure would be building to find the perpetrator but the victims are all hardened criminals themselves.

The national media can’t believe their luck with an apparent vigilante on the streets, while Jessica’s new boss seems grateful someone else is doing their job for them.

But things aren’t so straightforward when forensics matches blood from the apparent killer to a man already behind bars.

christine

Wow, I’ve found myself another wonderful go-to author! This is the fourth Kerry Wilkinson book I’ve read in the last couple of months, and I am thrilled to have discovered him and his works. I wonder what took me so long to find him?

In this, the second installment of the Jessica Daniel series, we are dealing with a serial killer who appears to be picking victims who are, shall we say, members of society not known for their altruism and community service. Hence the moniker Vigilante.  Though I enjoyed book one of the series, this one is definitely a step up. Mr. Wilkinson has crafted a very clever story that will keep readers guessing to the very end. I have to say my fingers were dizzy from pointing in so many directions. I finally got to the stage where I was confident how this was going to all work out. In fact I was so confident, I told my book buddy I was going to keep my thoughts to myself in order not to spoil it for her. Look who has egg on her face now! I was dead wrong. And I love it that way! Nice work, Mr. Wilkinson.

The story is fast paced and well written. The POV is a refreshing 3rd person narrative with a few intriguing peeks inside the Vigilante’s head. There is minimal time shift. We get suspense, some interpersonal relationships (no way can I call this romance), and comic relief.

The author has also stepped up his character development in this installment. Jessica is evolving and it’s really fun to see that. I would like to know more about her past—I think that info would enlighten us about certain aspects of her personality. In this story, Jessica comes across as extremely driven, almost to a fault. She is often brash and “in your face.” She can be unkind, very unkind, but we see the reasons for that. She also has a heart of gold buried in there, especially towards very good people who are being victimized through no fault of their own. Mr. Wilkinson also introduces new members to the team. If he continues with this in future books, I think it will go far in helping keep things fresh.  I do see lots of potential in this author and hope his writing continues to grow as the series progresses.

There are a couple of instances where the believability factor is raised in this novel, but I elected to just roll with it, and those events did not tarnish the story for me.

If I had to compare Kerry Wilkinson to someone, I would pick Mel Sherratt, another favorite of mine. Both can clearly can write in different genres and do it well. Like Ms. Sherratt’s, Mr. Wilkinson’s crime fiction/thrillers are gritty, though not terribly gory.  Mr. Wilkinson also puts a lot of emphasis on his characters’ lives, which is again similar to Ms. Sherratt’s MO.

I highly recommend Kerry Wilkinson’s Jessica Daniel series based on the first two books that I have read. I advise they be read in order to fully appreciate the ongoing character development, though the plots are stand-alones. This is a series I definitely plan to read all the way through.

Vigilante is available now!

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Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson @kerrywk @bookouture #guestreview

Handing the blog over to Christine today who shares her review for Ten Birthdays.

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aboutthebook

“There are going to be so many things I wish I could’ve told you in person, Poppy. I won’t get the chance to do that, so perhaps this is my only way…”

It’s Poppy Kinsey’s birthday.

She should be blowing out candles and opening presents – but hers falls on the type of heart-wrenching, agonising anniversary she would far rather forget.

The worst day of them all. The day her mother died.

But this year is special because the person she misses most in the world has left her a set of letters, one for each of her next ten birthdays.

As Poppy opens them year by year, she discovers that no matter how tough life gets, her mum will always be by her side, guiding her along the way.

christine

Gosh, I hated to see this end—such a sweet story! I have just recently discovered Kerry Wilkinson as he has within the past year signed on with one of my favorite publishing houses Bookouture. He appears to be quite versatile, writing crime fiction, fantasy, dystopian/science fiction, and now real life stuff. Most of his novels are crime fiction, with two series ongoing. He is really prolific for a younger author; for example, his Jessica Daniel series has eleven installments already. He also has five books coming out in the next year, including four standalones. Ten Birthdays is a nice change of pace for Mr. Wilkinson, something very different from all of his other books. I am a big crime fiction/thriller fan and loved the first book in the Jessica Daniel series. I am also fascinated with authors who can successfully write in different genres so thought I would give this one a go.

The protagonist of Ten Birthdays is Poppy Kinsey, age 16 at the start of the story. This is a shorter novel and consists of 10 chapters, each one focusing on Poppy’s birthday between ages 16 and 25. Poppy’s mum died on her daughter’s 15th birthday. She left Poppy 10 letters, one to be read on each of her next 10 birthdays. What we get are 10 slices of Poppy’s life, each accompanied by a thoughtful note from her deceased mum who continues to guide her daughter with sage advice regarding this difficult thing called life.

It was so fun to watch Poppy grow and mature in her thoughts, her relationships, and her confidence. And to follow her journey with those most important to her—her two best friends, Mark and Freya, and her father. I must say, Mr. Wilkinson does an excellent job portraying thoughts, gestures, and talk of older teens and young women. He nails their emotions beautifully. The author states in a letter to the reader at the end of the book that many of Poppy’s thoughts and experiences are his own, which made the book all that more endearing to me.

One small criticism I have is that I wish the book had been a little longer in order to bring out Poppy’s character just a bit more. I would have liked a little more depth to her thoughts regarding the impact of her mum’s letters, the reasons why she did not embrace her artistic talent early on, and her complex feelings about Mark. But again, we are dealing with one day a year in 10 years of Poppy’s life, and I respect that this format does not lend to maximal character development.

Overall, this little tale was a joy to read. I am smiling from ear to ear with the knowledge that I have a lot of Kerry Wilkinson ahead of me. I plan to read all his thrillers, but would definitely love to see more in the vein of Ten Birthdays! Highly recommended.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for an electronic copy of this book. The opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

Ten Birthdays was published in April.

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