This Week in Books (November 6)

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.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Six friends trapped by one dark secret.

It was supposed to be our last weekend away as friends, before marriage and respectability beckoned. But what happened that Saturday changed everything.

In the middle of the night, someone died. The six of us promised each other we would not tell anyone about the body we buried. But now the pact has been broken. And the killing has started again …

Who knows what we did? And what price will we pay?

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.

Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last. 

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle. 

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.

Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought. 

Hopefully these will restore my reading mojo because it’s been slim pickings the last few weeks.

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

This Week in Books (October 2)

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.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men in women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? Why are they doing it? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers before the city’s newest, and tallest, residential tower has its Friday night ribbon-cutting.

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of The People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe: a decapitation in Germany, a public shooting at a university in Bordeaux; in Illinois, a sports team stands around the centre circle of the football pitch and pulls the trigger of the gun pressed to the temple of the person on their right. It becomes a movement.

A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.
But how do you stop a cult when people do not know they are members?

One week after the two witnesses jump to their deaths, twenty letters are opened across London that all say the same thing. Later that day, the strangers all know to meet at Tower Bridge. The Teacher will jump first. The Detective will be last…

As per usual, this list is subject to change because fickle reading mood is fickle. 🙄

Have you read any of these? Would you like to? What’s on your reading schedule this week? Do let me know. Happy reading! xx

This Week in Books (June 26)

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.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords. 

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts? 

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her. 

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recounting of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.

My next read may still change. I’m in a mood. 😂

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski | @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks @annecater | #blogtour #Changeling #RandomThingsTours #recommended

Thrilled to bits to join the blog tour for Changeling by Matt Wesolowski today! My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda for the review copy and to Anne Cater for the invitation to join the tour!

Author : Matt Wesolowski
Title : Changeling
Series : Six Stories #3
Pages : 194
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : January 15, 2019 (paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.

Elusive online journalist Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…

| MY THOUGHTS |

If you go out in the woods today …

Bloody hell! Like, seriously! WHAT?! I said it last time and I’ll say it again, Matt Wesolowski’s books are just impossible to review! My vocabulary doesn’t stretch far enough to find the words to describe the sheer level of awesomeness this author comes up with time and time again.

If you’re not familiar with the Six Stories series (OMG WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!), it’s centred around a true crime podcast in which Scott King investigates cold cases. This time around, the focus is on seven year old Alfie Marsden who disappeared thirty years ago and was never found. Alfie was officially declared dead in 1995 but questions remain. Now, via six stories from six different sources, will the answers surrounding Alfie’s disappearance finally be found and will we learn what happened to this little boy all those years ago?

This is one of those stories that worms its way under your skin, one that will just not let you go. Dark, disturbing and chilling, Changeling had my heartbeat racing throughout and I was gripping the pages so tightly that my knuckles turned white! This tremendously addictive page-turner is insanely thought-provoking and also absolutely terrifying, though possibly not in the way you might expect. Monsters are real. Also, I’m never stepping foot into a forest ever again!

With a fantastic plot that kept me on tenterhooks and even managed to leave me with a lump in my throat, Changeling is without a doubt fiction from the top shelf and worthy of all the stars and praise I can possibly shower it with. Matt Wesolowski deftly guides the reader through a realistic and, sadly, believable scenario and if that wasn’t marvellous enough, ends up sucker punching you in the final pages, leaving your head utterly spinning. You, sir, are a genius!

Changeling was one of my most anticipated releases this year. Thank goodness it was published this month or I may have just spontaneously combusted. Matt Wesolowski has most definitely done it again and Changeling is the best one in the series yet. Considering the brilliance of its two predecessors, that’s really saying something. I would undoubtedly like some more, please! In the meantime, you can be sure you’ll be seeing this book again when I compile my list of top books of the year in December.

Changeling is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for children in care and leads creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. 

Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015. His subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge | @sibelhodge @Bloodhoundbook | #blogtour #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge! My thanks to Emma at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity join. Author Sibel Hodge joins me today to talk about her writing day but first, here is what The Disappeared is all about!

Author : Sibel Hodge
Title : The Disappeared
Pages : 318
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : January 10, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

On a routine flight from Africa to England, Dr Mason Palmer is tragically killed when the light aircraft he’s travelling on crashes and disappears in dense bush land.

The Widow…

Ten months later, Nicole Palmer is still trying to block out the grief of her husband’s sudden death. Until one morning she receives a photo of Mason through the post, along with a cryptic message. A message only he could’ve written.

The Secret…

But when Nicole tries to find out if Mason is really alive and what actually happened to him in Africa, everyone she turns to for answers ends up dead.

Determined to find the truth, Nicole uncovers a conspiracy that spans the globe, and discovers there are powerful people who are prepared to kill to keep her silent.

Who’s lying? Who’s watching Nicole? And can she expose their murky secrets before they catch up with her?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Wordery | Goodreads

| GUEST POST |

My writing day…

I’m a morning person so I’m most productive first thing. My day starts at about 5 or 6 a.m., and after a cuppa while I’m checking out emails and social media I do a 30 minute yoga and meditation set. A banana and iced soya latte later and I’m good to go! 

When I’m working on my first draft I always aim to write 3000-5000 words per day. I’m a pantster, not a plotter, so I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write until the words tumble out of my head, and it’s not until I finish my first draft, when I really know I’ve got something solid, that I can properly relax. My first draft can end up anything between 45,000-70,000 words, and I tend to write shorter and add more later, rather than longer and cutting anything. Then for the editing process, which means going through it and through it, tweaking, filling plot holes, adding character’s personality, more dialogue, bits of research, etc.

Even when I’m not writing, you can often find me staring into space, thinking about the book—an idea, what I need to do next, working out a problem, imagining a character. And I can’t escape the book in my sleep because I dream about it too. There have been so many times I’ve woken up with my characters having conversations with each other, and I keep a notebook by my bed in case inspiration strikes as I’m falling asleep or during a dream. I’m living it full time, completely immersed in it. I always think being an author is like being an actor, except an author is playing all of the characters at once, getting inside all their heads and going through what they’re going through, and they’re in every scene, which can be exhausting mentally and emotionally at times. 

I write mostly at a standing desk, which I love. It’s actually a really rustic piece of wood shaped from a tree trunk. Or sometimes I’ll be sprawled on the sofa with my laptop on my knees, and often accompanied by up to seven cats that all want to get in on the action and type gobbledygook on my keyboard just for a laugh. 

It’s got to be dead quiet when I’m working. No music for me. No one talking. I need silence and calm to concentrate. Although the calmness doesn’t extend to my work space. I’ve got notes everywhere when I’m writing a novel. Snippets of ideas and dialogue, bits of research, things I need to add in. Sometimes I can have hundreds of pieces of paper scribbled with stuff. 

At my house, we (read : I) call that organised chaos 😉. Thank you, Sibel, for stopping by and sharing your writing day with us!

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Sibel Hodge is the author of the No 1 Bestsellers Look Behind YouUntouchable, and Duplicity. Her books have sold over one million copies and are international bestsellers in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Canada and Germany. She writes in an eclectic mix of genres, and is a passionate human and animal rights advocate.

Her work has been nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Harry Bowling Prize, the Yeovil Literary Prize, the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition, The Romance Reviews’ prize for Best Novel with Romantic Elements and Indie Book Bargains’ Best Indie Book of 2012 in two categories. She was the winner of Best Children’s Book in the 2013 eFestival of Words; nominated for the 2015 BigAl’s Books and Pals Young Adult Readers’ Choice Award; winner of the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery Book from a Series Award in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013; winner of the Readers’ Favorite Young Adult (Coming of Age) Honorable award in 2015; a New Adult finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s International Digital Awards 2015, and 2017 International Thriller Writers Award finalist for Best E-book Original Novel. Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the top forty books about human rights by Accredited Online Colleges.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena @sharilapena @ThomasssHill @TransworldBooks #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Shari Lapena
Title : An Unwanted Guest
Pages : 304
Publisher : Bantam Press / Transworld
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

mythoughts

Bless the insane heatwave and a nice bout of insomnia which allowed me to read this one in one sitting until the wee hours of the morning. I found myself so incredibly captivated from the first page that I didn’t even notice how late/early it was.

This Agatha Christie-esque scenario of a bunch of strangers trapped in a remote location will never get old, if you ask me. While the Inn sounds absolutely delightful when the guests arrive, things soon become a bit more creepy when the power goes out and you realise how many nooks and crannies this place has. Most of the time, I felt like was stumbling around in the dark just as much as the characters were.

After being introduced to the visitors to the Inn, I almost felt like a witness myself. Lounging on a sofa near the fireplace, checking out the people sitting around me, trying to figure them out and wondering what they were about. I had the urge to make a little spreadsheet, filling in what little information I was offered, adding tiny clues along the way. This is one of those stories, where I take a breather after each chapter, letting the new information I’ve gained sink in and try to figure things out before they are revealed to me.

I had a suspect in mind from the start, for reasons I obviously can’t divulge. There was a point where I briefly changed my mind but ultimately I went back to my original idea. To my surprise, it turned out I was right and I felt rather smug. Although, I couldn’t quite guess as to the motive behind it all.

An Unwanted Guest had me utterly engrossed from the very first page. With intriguing characters and no idea if there’d be another victim and who that would be, the nail-biting tension had me in its clutches until the end. Brilliantly written and intensely absorbing, I can see this murder mystery being in my list of top books of the year come December. And now I should really go check out some of Shari Lapena’s other books!

My thanks to Thomas Hill at Transworld for my review copy!

An Unwanted Guest is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

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Book 9 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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Playing With Death by Simon Scarrow & Lee Francis @SimonScarrow @headlinepg @annecater #blogtour #excerpt #RandomThingsTours

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Playing With Death by Simon Scarrow and Lee Francis! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and for the extract I’ll be sharing with you, right after I tell you what the book is all about.

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Author : Simon Scarrow
Title : Playing With Death
Pages : 400
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

A UNEXPLAINED DEATH

The discovery of a horribly mutilated corpse launches FBI Agent Rose Blake into a puzzling investigation. The victim was alone at home with no signs of forced entry. Who – or what – burnt him to death?

THE GAME BEGINS

Strips of rubber melted to the body emerge as evidence that the victim was wearing The Skin, an innovation that takes users deep into a virtual world.

ESCAPE OR DIE…

When a body with identical wounds is discovered, Rose realises that in the darkest corners of the Dark Web, a brutal killer is playing a deadly game. A game with no rules – and no mercy. To stop it, Rose must play too…

extract

1

Seven months later
September

Rose is in the kitchen, peeling the cellophane from the tray of snacks. The scars on her hand have virtually disappeared. It’s been a cold day and she is wearing a thin wool sweater over her black pants. She takes a sip from her wine glass as she considers the arrangement on the tray and then moves a few of the sushi wraps so that the layout is neatly symmetrical. Outside, in the dining room, she can hear the voices of her husband, sister and father. Jeff ’s voice is deep, but loud, as he holds forth with an amusing tale of the latest scandal breaking on the Hill. The others listen in silence and then there is laughter.

Rose smiles. She loves him and she loves the fact that Jeff is popular. It allows her to bask in the satisfaction that he chose her for his wife when she felt he could have done better for himself. She still feels it, which is why she is determined to give him no reason to regret what she sees as his mistake. And why wouldn’t other women want Jeff for themselves? He is tall and athletic with a full head of light brown hair, almost blond, with a ready smile and devastating charm. He is intelligent and has a job with prestige, even if the salary is not in the big league. Jeff is taking a sabbatical from San Francisco State University to serve as social media adviser to Democratic senator Chris Keller, who is fighting to keep his seat in the Senate in Washington. If Jeff is on the winning side then he may go all the way with Keller. She is pleased at the thought that the best is yet to come for her husband. All going well, he might one day work at the White House.

The future of her own career is a source of less optimism.

Thirty-nine years old – three years younger than Jeff – she knows that the time she took off work to have their son, Robbie, and raise him through infancy until school age meant that she lost vital years of experience and seniority that pushed her promotion prospects back. Then there was the Koenig case . . . But there’s really no contest when she weighs up her love of her job against her love for her son. Her family comes first.

‘Rose, you about done out there?’ Jeff calls. ‘You’ve got three in here ready to sign up to Anorexics Anonymous.’

There is more laughter and Rose joins in, picking up the tray and crossing the kitchen before pushing the door open with her shoulder. The room beyond is large, and the walls are panelled, like many of the early-twentieth-century properties in the neighbourhood. Their house on Oak Avenue is in a pleasant, leafy suburb with views over San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge on the skyline.

Places have been set either side of the table. Opposite Rose’s seat is Jeff, grinning at her as he winks through his neat frameless glasses. Sitting next to him is Rose’s sister Scarlet, and next to her is their father, Harry Carson.

Scarlet, thirty-three, is short, with dark dyed copper hair and a voluptuous figure. The younger, more reckless, sister has recently divorced and is enjoying her new-found single status, especially as her oleaginous weasel of an attorney gouged her former husband for every available cent. She still works as a real-estate agent though. She is good with people and is skilled at closing deals. She tops her wine glass for the third time that evening, grabs her smartphone and takes a picture of herself posing with the wine glass.

‘Gotta get that on the ’gram,’ she says, before cropping the picture and applying a filter so her skin looks smoother. She slides the smartphone onto the table. Rose is concerned about her obsession with social media and has, on more than one occasion, asked her to limit her screen time in the presence of family.

Their father, seventy-two, a retired master sergeant from the marine corps, has salt and pepper hair. He sits quietly and Rose wonders if he is thinking about her mother, who disappeared without trace many years ago. It’s an open wound in the family, but one too painful to discuss. Harry is listening politely to Jeff, whose politics he does not share but has learned to tolerate for his daughter’s sake. There’s something about Harry’s expression that concerns Rose. A listlessness. He’s starting to forget things and is confused from time to time, and she hopes that he is not starting the slide into senility.

‘At last!’ Jeff pretends to gasp. ‘You had me worried there, girl. Thought you were gorging on the dainties and leaving the rest of us to starve.’

Scarlet shakes her head. ‘Hope the main course isn’t delayed the same way. Man, I’m hungry.’

‘You always are,’ says Harry, slipping her a fatherly wink.

Rose sets the tray down in the middle of the table and takes her seat. Her guests don’t wait to be asked and begin to eat. Scarlet reaches for a second snack as she glances at Rose.

‘So, Ro’, how’s business? Catch any more bad guys lately?’

Rose shrugs. ‘You know how it is. Ninety per cent paperwork, ten per cent TV reality show where we get to chase guys down dark alleys with guns and flashlights.’

‘Really?’ Scarlet arches a plucked eyebrow. ‘How about Mulder and Scully? They solved The X-Files case yet?’

‘Old joke, Scar. Don’t go there.’
‘So tell me, seriously. What’s new at the Bureau?’
She’s referring to the failed case that nearly cost Rose her life, that burned her out, that some of her colleagues had even quit the Bureau over. Shane Koenig. The serial killer who had been preying on women and a handful of men across the West Coast, videoing their deaths. One of the vlogging news sites, ‘The Gab’, had named him the Backwoods Butcher, which got picked up by the TV networks, leading to a surge in audience figures.

Rose is reluctant to say anything. Koenig slipped through their fingers and there has been no sign of him since. The grisly human remains recovered from the cabin and the video files on his laptop prove beyond doubt that Koenig is the Backwoods Butcher. And now he’s out there, Rose reflects bitterly, waiting for the right time to resume his serial killer career.

The online and press fallout had been vitriolic – the FBI Twitter feed is still a target for internet trolls lamenting the Bureau’s failure, and hers. But luckily her superior, Special Agent Flora Baptiste, stepped in. After a fairly ineffective psychological debrief, Baptiste had eased Rose’s workload for the last few months. From time to time Rose still mentors undercover agents in training, and with additional therapy on the quiet, she has just about made it work. She glances at Jeff, imploring him not to say anything about it. He smiles before reaching for the wine bottle and topping up the glasses. Scarlet leans forward.

‘Oh, come on, Rose. What’s the latest?’

For the last six months Koenig seemed to have been wiped from the face of the earth. All manner of surveillance had been running, including facial recognition, licence plates, GPS tracking, IP searches, but the task force had drawn a blank, despite intense pressure from the media and relatives of the victims. They’d even asked one of the technology giants to hack a cellphone recovered from the cabin, but the corporation denied their request and increased their encryption instead. The FBI’s Cyber team had tried to crack it, but they were unsuccessful.

There had been a chance to take him down. But Rose had blown it. She had taken her shot at Koenig and missed. She briefly closes her eyes, trying to shut out the rest of the thorny memory.

Sometimes, the monster wins.

Harry shifts in his seat. ‘Scarlet, please, maybe your sister doesn’t want to talk about all this.’

‘Oh, come on, Dad. Rose is a pro. She can handle it.’

Rose rolls her eyes at Scarlet. ‘If you must know, we found out what he was doing with the body parts. They were trophies. He’d store them in secret locations, burying them and then auctioning them online to the highest bidder. When the money was paid he’d release the geotag coordinates.’

Scarlet’s eyes open wide. ‘That’s gross . . .’

‘We didn’t release the details, but the media still got to hear about it somehow and . . . Well, I’m sure you’ve seen the stories. How Koenig used to keep the mutilated genitalia and other body parts. In jars, with printouts of their profile pictures on the outside. We found and confiscated what was left, but most of the buyers were clever and masked their IPs. As for the rest of the remains of his victims, he ate them. That enough detail for you?’

Scarlet lowers her half-eaten finger of seaweed and rice. ‘Oh God . . .’
‘Nice, Rose. Thanks for the overshare,’ says Jeff.
‘She asked.’
Rose feels a ripple of anxiety, which she quells by picking up the wine bottle. A figure emerges from the den at the other end of the living room. The light sensor detects his presence and a lamp fades into life, bathing the boy in its warm glow.

Harry raises his glass. ‘Robbie! How’s my boy?’

The youth walks across the room and stands at the end of the table. He is fourteen, and tall for his age. He has Jeff’s good looks except for his acne and the glasses. But there’s something missing in his expression. He returns the smiles of the adults around the table and then nods to Harry. ‘I’m fine, Grandpa . . . How are you?’

‘Just swell. How’s school?’

Robbie looks to his mother. Rose feels a sudden surge of concern for her son and quickly steps in. ‘He’s doing well. Top of the class in math and science. We’re very proud of him.’

Rose turns to her husband. He surreptitiously sends a text, sliding his smartphone away, something he has been doing more and more frequently of late.

‘Surely that can wait?’ she asks with a tight smile. ‘You’re at home now. Your time belongs to the family.’

‘If only it was that simple. But you know how it is. We don’t work nine to five. The campaign runs 24/7, and we have to run with it.’

‘Huh . . .’ Rose glances at her watch. ‘Anyway, who are you texting at this hour?’
‘Oh . . . my assistant. Pandora’s printing some notes for tomorrow.’
‘She’s the one I met at the last fundraiser? Dark hair. Young.’
Jeff nods. ‘That’s her.’

His eyes meet hers with a hint of challenge and she decides not to pursue the matter right now.

Harry chuckles. ‘Boy, how things have changed. Time was when your home was your own and no one could bother you once you closed the front door. Now they can get you anytime, anywhere. You’ll all be screwed up in the head if the world carries on this way, I tell you.’

‘Hear, hear,’ Rose says, smiling.
Scarlet checks her smartphone.
‘Oooh, my pic’s got sixteen likes.’ She scrolls down.

‘He looks cute. See?’ She holds up the phone to reveal a cheesy shot of a slick-haired guy in a business suit, tanned and expensively dentured. She reads the profile. ‘Oh no, he likes jazz. Sorry, babe.’ She flicks the profile away.

‘Harsh,’ Jeff says. ‘I mean, Rose likes country music, but I still married her. No one’s perfect.’

‘Well with this I can find Mr Perfect.’

There’s a single electronic tone from Rose’s smartphone and she reaches into her jacket pocket and takes it out. She reads the message on the screen and stands up.

‘Excuse me for a moment.’
‘Trouble?’ Jeff frowns. ‘At this time of night?’
‘Criminals don’t work nine to five,’ Rose replies. ‘Or haven’t you heard about that?’
There’s laughter as Rose retreats to the kitchen and hits the quick-dial button. A deep female voice coughs before speaking.

‘Baptiste.’
‘I got the message,’ says Rose. ‘What’s up?’
‘Hey, sugar, there’s something I want you to take a look at. There’s been a fire in Palo Alto. Possible arson. One person dead. Happened a few hours back. Local PD are handling it. Or were, until we got the call.’

‘Who from? I mean, since when did the Bureau deal with this kind of thing? Arson? Suspected arson? What’s that got to do with us?’

‘Normally? Nothing. But this isn’t exactly normal.’ ‘What do you mean?’
‘You’ll see for yourself when you get there. I’m on the scene now and I’ll send you the address soon as I hang up. Get there as fast as you can.’

‘Now? Tonight?’
‘Yes, tonight,’ Baptiste replies testily.
‘But I’ve got my family here. At dinner. Can’t it wait until morning?’
‘No chance. This has come down from the top.’ Baptiste lowers her voice slightly. ‘Seems that someone at the Defense Department has requested our assistance.’

‘Defense?’ Rose feels a twinge of anxiety. ‘But this isn’t their jurisdiction, any more than it’s ours.’

‘Technically, no,’ Baptiste admits. ‘But someone at the Pentagon has asked for our help, so we’re to head up the case with our experience, our labs. Seems there’s a computer angle to it – that’s where Defense comes into it. In any case, Palo Alto PD hasn’t got the budget for this kind of investigation.’

Rose sighs. It is true local police forces are undermanned and struggling to deal with the rising tide of crime. Civil offences and minor crimes are all but overlooked, and many forces have ceased to even investigate them. The amount of technology-related crime has soared in recent years, everything from bitter ex-partners posting intimate pictures online to fraud on a massive scale, but departmental budgets including the Bureau’s have not increased to cope.

Baptiste continues. ‘What I have been told is that the vic has recently been accused of stealing defence contractor secrets, which is our jurisdiction. Defense want a tight lid on it. I don’t know any more than that. We’ve just been given the word and told to deal with it, like now. And now I’m telling you. So you better skip from soup to nuts in five and get in your car. They want our best agents on the case and you’re still my best agent.’

Rose sighs. She owes Baptiste.
‘All right.’
‘That’s my girl. You can get to the scene in forty-five minutes. Make it forty.’ Her faintly husky smoker’s voice softens: ‘Sorry to get you at home . . . but I really need you to take a look at this, while it’s hot, so to speak. This isn’t your usual murder scene.’

‘Murder? I thought you said it was arson?’

‘Feels like murder to me. It could be just a damn fire, but the DoD wants to be sure. At any rate, this one’s unusual, and then some. Christ . . . It’s a fucking mess. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Our forensics guys are already on the road.’ There’s a brief pause. ‘Hope you haven’t eaten anything tonight.’

The line goes dead. Rose bites back on her frustration and anger before she thumbs the off button and thrusts the smartphone back in her pocket. She takes a deep breath and leaves the kitchen. Maybe a new case is what she needs, so she can let Koenig go.

‘Guys, I gotta run.’
‘Right now?’ Jeff asks, his soft voice hardening.
‘Sorry, honey. It happens. You’ll have to take over. The salmon is in the oven. Sauce in the microwave. Make sure Robbie gets to bed before ten thirty and no games after ten.’

He nods.

Rose hurriedly kisses her son, her sister and Harry. Jeff cranes his neck to kiss her on the lips but Rose deflects his kiss onto her left cheek. His texting to Pandora has been very regular lately. It’s hard to avoid being suspicious.

‘See you later, guys.’
‘Be careful,’ Jeff calls after her.

There’s a locked desk in the hall. Rose slips her key in,opens a shallow drawer and picks up her badge and the Glock 22 .40 cal in its holster. She pockets the badge and tucks the holster clip over her belt. Her palm presses against the cold metal grip of the gun so it hangs neatly over her right hip.

As soon as she steps outside she is no longer a mother and wife. She’s Bureau through and through. It’s a trick she has made herself learn. You can’t mix two different worlds at once, not without fucking them up. That’s one thing Rose holds on to. By the time she reverses her navy Changan out into the street, the dinner party is a distant memory. She feels a familiar quickening of her heartbeat as she drives towards the crime scene and the gravelly voice of Baptiste echoes inside her head.

It’s the uneasy tone that troubles Rose. Baptiste had served fifteen years before Rose joined her team. There was nothing that she had not seen in that time, and nothing unsettled her.

Well, almost nothing.

Rose remembers the aftermath at the cabin, when Koenig had escaped. She had noticed Baptiste sitting alone on a felled log, facing away, in a moment of private reflection. She seemed to be crying. Rose drew back, knowing she’d witnessed a rare, intimate moment for her boss, but Baptiste had looked up and seen her. She’d wiped her face and fixed it into a frown as she stood up. They’d never spoken about it then, or since.

As Rose drives towards Palo Alto, she wonders: what could possibly have unsettled Baptiste tonight?

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If you’d like to read more about Rose and The Backwoods Butcher, you can as Playing With Death is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Simon Scarrow

Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. After a childhood spent travelling the world, he pursued his great love of history as a teacher, before becoming a full-time writer. His Roman soldier heroes Cato and Macro made their debut in 2000 in UNDER THE EAGLE, and have subsequently appeared in many bestsellers in the Eagles of the Empire series, including CENTURION, INVICTUS and DAY OF THE CAESARS.

Simon Scarrow is also the author of a quartet of novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte, YOUNG BLOODS, THE GENERALS, FIRE AND SWORD and THE FIELDS OF DEATH; a novel about the 1565 Siege of Malta, SWORD & SCIMITAR; HEARTS OF STONE, set in Greece during the Second World War; and PLAYING WITH DEATH, a contemporary thriller written with Lee Francis. He also wrote the novels ARENA and INVADER with T. J. Andrews.

For exciting news, extracts and exclusive content from Simon visit www.simonscarrow.co.uk, follow him on Twitter @SimonScarrow or like his author page on Facebook/OfficialSimonScarrow

Lee Francis

Lee Francis worked for several years in the world of film, TV and advertising as a script reader and assistant director on major productions such as Harry Potter, The Woman In Black and Spooks. He has a BA First Class in Film Studies. He enjoys travelling, running, gaming and listening to cheesy techno. He has travelled the USA, New Zealand, China and Europe.

PLAYING WITH DEATH, written with his former lecturer Simon Scarrow is his first novel. It is published in the UK by Headline and foreign sales around the world have already begun.

For exciting news, extracts and exclusive content from Lee visit www.leefrancisauthor.com, follow him on Twitter @leefrancis or like his author page on Facebook/leefrancisauthor

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Kill For Me by Tom Wood @TheTomWood @millieseaward #Sphere #blogtour #excerpt #KillForMe

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Kill For Me by Tom Wood! My thanks to Millie Seaward for the invitation to join and for providing the excerpt I’ll be sharing with you today. First, here is what Kill For Me is all about.

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Author : Tom Wood
Title : Kill For Me
Series : Victor the Assassin #8
Pages : 480
Publisher : Sphere
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

Victor is the killer who always delivers…for the right price. And Heloise Espinosa, patron of Guatemala’s largest cartel, is ready and willing to pay him just that to eliminate the competition–her sister. Heloise has been battling Maria for control of the cartel in an endless and bloody war. Now Victor decides who survives. An easy job if it weren’t for the sudden target on his back.

Victor’s not the only one on the hunt. Someone else has Maria in their crosshairs and will do anything to get the kill. In the middle of cartel territory with enemies closing in from all sides, Victor must decide where to put the bullet before one is placed in his head. His only chance at survival is to team up with the one person who may be as deadly as he is…

extract

The beach was white sand, stretched in a crescent around the bay. Dark waves lapped against the shore as feral dogs foraged along the water’s edge, searching for scraps left by backpackers. On the furthest spur of sand two wild horses ran back and forth in some ritual Victor couldn’t hope to comprehend.

The seller he was meeting called himself Jairo. He was old and tanned, short and hairy. He had a beard that rose to his cheekbones, pure white and bushy. His shirt was opened to his sternum, revealing a thatch of colourless chest hair. Gold neck chains gleamed from among the curls. His eyebrows were still black, and almost met in the middle. He smelled of rum, else local aguardiente – Victor hadn’t spent enough time in Guatemala to be able to differentiate between them by scent alone.

The last of the sun was disappearing over the horizon, but the heat of the day remained. Victor’s clothes were lightweight and loose, pushed taut against him by the breeze. It came from the east, from out across the Caribbean Sea, somehow cool and warm at the same time.

Jairo was from across the border in Honduras, and he dressed like a bum. His shirt was dotted with grease stains from a couple of days’ worth of messy eating. Threadbare denim shorts hung to his knees. The legs that protruded from the shorts were thin and weak. He wore rubber sandals that revealed the skin of his heels was cracked and split. He had tattoos on his forearms. They were too old and faded, and his skin too tan, for Victor to make out what they portrayed. He was no international arms trafficker. He was no Vladimir Kasakov. He was no Georg, even. He was just a small-time gun runner. He was just a man in possession of an expensive rifle. How he came across the weapon, Georg hadn’t passed on to Victor, and Jairo hadn’t offered its history. He hadn’t even wanted to show it to Victor without seeing the money

‘I check the weapon is in good condition,’ Victor had said. ‘Then you get to see the cash.’

Jairo shook his head. ‘That’s not how this works.’

They spoke in English, because Victor didn’t want Jairo to know he spoke Spanish as well as he did. Better, even.

‘It works how I say it works.’

Jairo was silent. He glanced at the wild horses.

‘Don’t forget that you want to sell the gun more than I want to buy it. I can walk away at any point and keep my money. You’ll still have a rifle you don’t want.’

Jairo thought for a while. He didn’t blink a lot, but he rubbed one palm with the other thumb.

He shrugged. ‘Okay, you can check it. Make sure it’s legit.’

He was nervous while Victor did. He couldn’t stop moving He couldn’t stop fidgeting. If he wasn’t shuffling his weight, he was rubbing his palms together. If he wasn’t rolling his shoulders, he was scratching the back of his neck. Victor took in all the tell-tale signs and acted as if he didn’t see them, as if he didn’t understand. He wanted to buy time. He wanted to assess the situation.

The Accuracy International AX50 was a big piece of engineering. It came in a case made from toughened military-grade polymer large enough to hide a person inside – dismembered, but doable. Victor had squeezed bodies into less. Inside the case, thick foam rubber encased the component parts, isolated and identifiable to Victor’s gaze. He checked each part in turn, acknowledging that every one was as it should be, as expected. Accessories came in a separate compartment, and were, like the weapon itself, all good. Too good.

He kept his thoughts to himself for the moment, still assessing. Jairo was growing even edgier, because in the dim light he couldn’t see Victor’s eyes in the shadow of the khaki cap and he couldn’t read the expression beneath.

‘What do you think?’ Jairo asked when he couldn’t stand the silence any longer. ‘You like it?’

‘It’s beautiful,’ Victor said.

Jairo was picking something from his teeth. ‘You gonna buy?’

Victor kept his gaze on the rifle. ‘How much do you want for it?’

‘A hundred thousand is the price agreed by the middleman. You have the cash? You buy?’

The rifle retailed for a fraction of that, even with all the accessories, but there was a heavy premium on black-market weapons. Jairo was adding a considerable premium to that premium, but for such a weapon it was a seller’s market. If Victor wasn’t prepared to overpay he was never going to be able to acquire what he needed. Whatever he had said, he wanted the gun more than Jairo wanted to sell it.

He rubbed the gun oil from his fingers. ‘Where did you get the weapon?’

Jairo shrugged and adjusted his footing. ‘What does it matter? I’m not gonna ask you where you got your money from. You brought it, yes? In your truck?’

Victor nodded.

He had his pickup parked where the sand dunes became prickled with long grass. Jairo’s own vehicle – another pickup – was parked on the beach itself, out in the open as agreed. Victor had arrived early, but Jairo had been earlier. He had been drinking. There was a sheen to his skin and a glaze to his eyes.

‘Let me see it.’

Victor shut the case and thumbed the catches. He dragged it from the load bed of Jairo’s pickup. Even for Victor’s strength, it was heavy. The rifle alone weighed almost twenty kilos. He carried it in his left hand. He led Jairo to his truck. Led, because Jairo didn’t move fast. He followed at a slow pace. In part because his stride was short like his height; in part because he had poor footwear for traversing sand; in part because of all the nerves.

‘A hundred grand is a lot of money,’ Victor said as they walked, ‘even for a weapon like this. Black-market rates are black-market rates, I get that, but this rifle is brand new. There’s still packing grease on the components. Someone tried to wipe it away, but you can’t do that. You have to use it. You have to get it dirty first. You have to put it together and fire rounds and strip it apart again and scrub and clean and oil it. Then you get rid of the packing grease. Good try all the same.’

Jairo acted confused. ‘What does it matter if it’s brand new? You’re getting a good deal.’

‘That’s my point. The price is too good, black-market rates and all, for a brand-new weapon. This has never been used. It’s mint in the box. So, where did you get it?’

Jairo shrugged. ‘I don’t own the gun,’ he explained. ‘I’m only the seller.’

The light was fading fast and the blue pickup Victor had bought for cash looked almost black. He set the heavy case down in the load bed and dragged forth a sports bag. He shoved it into Jairo’s waiting grip and ripped open a packet of beef jerky from a container of supplies.

‘Want some?’ He offered the packet to Jairo.

Jairo glanced up. ‘Looks disgusting.’

Victor shrugged as he chewed. More for him.

Jairo wasn’t hungry. He was wasting no time, unzipping the sports bag and peering inside, smiling when he saw the bundles of American dollars.

‘You know,’ Victor said after swallowing, ‘at first I wondered if you were part of a sting operation. A non-proliferation thing. That’s always the biggest risk when buying this kind of hardware. I figured there could be binoculars and cameras on me, officials and cops waiting out of sight behind the dunes, ready to rush in when I showed the money. Until then, I’d committed no crime. So, I was weighing up my odds, wondering if they had a clear shot of my features, wondering what repercussions I would face further down the line. Just because I had committed no crime didn’t mean there wouldn’t be fallout. A man like me can’t afford to be on someone’s radar.’

Jairo was half listening, because he had noticed something about the bag. He reached inside.

‘All those nerves you had,’ Victor continued. ‘I figured they had you over a barrel, and you’d get them off if you gave up your buyer. Me. But then I found the packing grease. No way an official sting operation would use brand-new weaponry like that. No way they could get hold of it, even to lure out an utterly deplorable person such as myself. They would use what they had, what they had confiscated. So, this has to be something else. I overthought it. The simplest explanation is usually the right one.’

Jairo pushed his hand deep into the bag, drawing out one of the thick bundles of cash. They appeared to be straps of hundred-dollar bills, a hundred bills per strap, secured with a rubber band. Jairo peeled back the first bill to see that the rest were nothing more than rectangular pieces of blank paper.

‘No, no, no,’ Jairo muttered.

‘You didn’t think I would bring a hundred grand in cash to make a deal in the middle of nowhere, did you? That’s how you get yourself killed.’

‘You’ve made a huge mistake.’

Victor said, ‘When I’ve already made so many, why stop now?’

‘You don’t know who you’re dealing with.’

Victor’s tone was wistful. ‘If only the reverse were true, Jairo, we could save ourselves an awful lot of inevitable unpleasantness.’

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Uh, oh. I don’t know about you but me thinks Jairo may have landed himself into a spot of bother there. If you’d like to read more, Kill For Me will be published tomorrow!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Tom was born in Burton Upon Trent in Staffordshire, England, and now lives in London.

He is the author of THE HUNTER, BAD LUCK IN BERLIN and THE ENEMY.

Tom’s books are known by different titles in some countries so please be careful when purchasing.

Author links : Goodreads | Twitter | Website

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I, Witness by Niki Mackay @NikiMackayBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n @orion_crime #blogtour #IWitness

Delighted to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for I, Witness by Niki Mackay! My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

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Author : Niki Mackay
Title : I, Witness
Series : Madison Attalee #1
Pages : 352
Publisher : Orion
Publication date : April 19, 2018

aboutthebook

They say I’m a murderer.

Six years ago, Kate Reynolds was found holding the body of her best friend; covered in blood, and clutching the knife that killed her.

I plead guilty.

Kate has been in prison ever since, but now her sentence is up. She is being released.

But the truth is, I didn’t do it.

There’s only one person who can help: Private Investigator Madison Attalee, the first officer on the scene all those years ago.

But there’s someone out there who doesn’t want Kate digging up the past. Someone who is willing to keep the truth buried at any cost.

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Six years ago, Kate Reynolds was sent to prison for the murder of her best friend, Naomi. Despite pleading guilty, Kate says she’s innocent. She returns to her home town, the scene of the crime, and enlists the help of private investigator, Madison Attalee, to find out what really happened that night.

Boy, oh boy, I do so enjoy stories involving dysfunctional families and this one really takes the cake. With family secrets galore and skeletons in various closets, I quickly found myself caught up in a web of deceit and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for a number of characters and all the things they went through.

I took to Madison Attalee right away. Recently divorced and having lost custody of her daughter, everything is pretty much a struggle. But despite the immense load of baggage she’s carrying around on her shoulders, she’s quite a no-nonsense character with a potty mouth, who made me chuckle quite a bit with her self-depricating and dry sense of humour.

The theme of motherhood and bad parenting is woven throughout the story. I sometimes found myself getting increasingly frustrated with some of the characters’ behaviour concerning their children. Ah, the longstanding nature versus nurture debate. That’ll never get old.

I don’t believe in evil people as such. I don’t think it’s born, which means it must be created.

There were quite a few perspectives in this story and part of me feels maybe things would have benefited a bit more from having a few less. That is not to say it wasn’t executed well or broke the flow in any way. It’s more of a personal preference. Nevertheless, all these chapters give an incredible insight into how pretty much everyone is affected by the choices that were made in the past.

I, Witness is incredibly suspenseful and intriguing. The chilling prologue pulled me in right away. It took me a while to figure out how to fit the pieces of the puzzle together but it all led to the most satisfying conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed this first instalment in the Madison Attalee series and I can’t wait to see what kind of case will land in her lap next.

I, Witness is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

I am a writer and a bookworm. I studied Performing Arts at the BRIT School. It turned out I wasn’t very good at acting but quite liked writing scripts. I went on to take a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Drama. I later won a full scholarship for an MA in Journalism.

I love words in many varied forms, and read widely, but my first love is crime-fiction. I am interested in people and what makes them tick: class, prejudice, and feminism. My debut novel ‘I, Witness’ is out on the 19th April 2018 with Orion. It is the first in a series featuring private Investigator Madison Attallee and is set in Kingston-upon-Thames.

Author links : Goodreads | Twitter

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Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager #20BooksOfSummer

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Author : Riley Sager
Title : Last Time I Lied
Pages : 368
Publisher : Ebury
Publication date : July 12, 2018

aboutthebook

Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…

mythoughts

This one time … at summer camp … three girls went missing. They were never found and nobody knows what happened to them. Now, fifteen years later, Emma returns to Camp Nightingale and hopes to lay old ghosts to rest. Because the events of that summer still haunt her. After all, she lied.

Right off the bat, you’re left to wonder if Emma is a reliable narrator. What did she lie about fifteen years ago? How many times did she lie? And why? Does she know what happened to the three missing girls? The storyline switches between events in the past to the now. Both threads kept me guessing until the very end. I found both threads to be incredibly gripping and was lucky enough to finish the book in one sitting, desperate to know the outcome before bed.

Creating an unsettling and threatening feeling is something Riley Sager does extremely well. Even when it seems there’s little going on, I half expected someone or something to jump out from behind a tree or whatever else creepy hiding place. The setting of the camp and the nearby lagoon lends itself to this perfectly. There’s a constant dark, creepy and chilling atmosphere that had me utterly captivated.

Just like Emma, I tried to follow the clues, got the wrong end of the stick multiple times and just couldn’t figure things out at all. It seemed like just about everyone had a secret they were trying to hide and few characters came across as likeable. And then Riley Sager hit me with the most brilliant epilogue ever! Did NOT see that coming! Fabulous!

I was slightly in the minority where Riley Sagar’s previous book, The Final Girls, was concerned. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t entirely sure it was as special as the buzz surrounding it made it out to be. Personally, I feel Last Time I Lied was much better. Tense and intriguing, full of suspense and with a deliciously awesome mystery to solve, this is one of those books that is really hard to put down. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Riley Sager’s next book!

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

Last Time I Lied is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

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Book 6 from my 20 Books of Summer list

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