Sweet Pea By C J Skuse

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead… I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once. Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret. Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list. A kill list. From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge. Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

A dark read with a bucketload of humour, graphic kills, sex and kill lists. It shouldn't work, but it did! 

We are taken through internal monologues with Rhiannon and get to know her through these diary entries as well as her daily life. 

I enjoyed the humour within the read and found myself not only laughing, but agreeing with her kill list. I was also in fear as if she met me I would have made the list more than once. 

This was such a refreshingly different read, but I did find maybe on the whole it was slightly too much...maybe due to the partly light-hearted way of telling and there were a few threads I would have like to have investigated further and found maybe a few ideas less in the book would have been more. 

I didn't love or hate it, and if a sequel was written I would be interested enough to read on. 

I found the ending a bit weak, but not sure how the story would have benefited with an alternative. 

Dark, humorous and worthy of a read - it is a marmite book, but I am sitting on the fence with this one. 

Nearly Dead By Conrad Jones

This is the Prequel to The Child Taker - you can read this first, after, or in between the series as I did, in whichever order, don't miss out. 

The renovation of a remote farmhouse on the outskirts of Liverpool uncovers a chamber of horrors but the crimes are historical. DI Alec Ramsay must sift through the evidence to identify both the victims and the perpetrators, while trying to dismantle the dangerous drug gangs that plague the city. The prequel to The Child Taker, this book is a must for fans of the Alec Ramsay series.

The renovation of a remote farmhouse on the outskirts of Liverpool uncovers a chamber of horrors but the crimes are historical. DI Alec Ramsay must sift through the evidence to identify both the victims and the perpetrators, while trying to dismantle the dangerous drug gangs that plague the city. The prequel to The Child Taker, this book is a must for fans of the Alec Ramsay series.

I don't know what possessed Jones to write a prequel, but I am pleased he did. 

The child taker in one sick character, and I am half way through the series...but, when I saw this was out I needed to backtrack to read it, before reading on. 

Wow, it is like falling down a grim hole and you have to fight your way through the mire, grit and gruesome minds of the characters, to come out the other side and breathe fresh air again. 

A squirmy read that is as unsettling as it is brilliant. 

I highly recommend to read this new addition to the series. 
An array of perfectly written baddies, that you need to know what the out come for them is. 

Jones is a gritty writer with a talent for showing some humanity in a few of his characters that are the sludge of mankind. 

Leaving you needing to know what happens next, even though the grimness leaves you little desire to read on. 

Whether you have previously read this series or new to it, this is a book you must read. 

Untainted Blood By Liz Mistry

Ccontinuing DI Gus McGuire's epic journey. 

this is the Third in the series. I recommend reading them in order

Unquiet Souls

Uncoiled Lies

 

In a city that is already volatile, tensions mount after a Tory MP in Bradford Central is discredited leaving the door open for the extreme right-wing candidate, Graeme Weston, to stand in the resultant by-election. However, Graeme Weston is not what he appears to be and with secrets jeopardising his political career, he must tread very carefully.  Meanwhile, a serial killer targets Asian men who lead alternatives lifestyles and metes out his own form of torture.  As DI Gus McGuire’s team close in, the deranged killer begins to unravel and in an unexpected twist the stakes are raised for Gus.  Are the murders linked to the political scandals or is there another motive behind them?  DI Gus McGuire and his team are back and this might be their toughest case yet.

In a city that is already volatile, tensions mount after a Tory MP in Bradford Central is discredited leaving the door open for the extreme right-wing candidate, Graeme Weston, to stand in the resultant by-election.

However, Graeme Weston is not what he appears to be and with secrets jeopardising his political career, he must tread very carefully.

 Meanwhile, a serial killer targets Asian men who lead alternatives lifestyles and metes out his own form of torture.

 As DI Gus McGuire’s team close in, the deranged killer begins to unravel and in an unexpected twist the stakes are raised for Gus.

 Are the murders linked to the political scandals or is there another motive behind them?

 DI Gus McGuire and his team are back and this might be their toughest case yet.

D.I. Gus McQuire is back, he is still battered and reeling from his last case. 

Untainted Blood has many political themes that are current, running throughout and it leaves me disheartened to knowing the reality isn't far from the fiction, or actually is worse. 

Liz delivers the storylines with immense insight without it being too dry or at the cost of entertaining us, by being too flippant.

The story left a sleazy feel of greasiness to it, like you had touched something dirty that made you flinch.

Within this Gus and his team work together in a positive way that had you routing for them to get the case solved with minimal damage to all involved.

Gus is fast becoming one of my favourite characters and we journey with his battles throughout. Mistry, gives Gus humanity and fragility, without undermining the threads in the storylines. I would love to spend a day with this character and his family, but maybe with a take-away for dinner!

Untainted Blood was perfectly pitched without compromise, or being overly dramatic, but tension fuelled to the last. 

The Honeymoon By Tina Seskis

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight's retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise. But it's turned into a nightmare. Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they've been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all - where has her husband gone?

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight's retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy.

It should be paradise. But it's turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes.

After everything they've been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all - where has her husband gone?

I found the narrative interesting, unreliable, claustrophobic, a locked in mystery to the disappearance of your newly wed husband in a location of paradise and wow!!

I didn't connect as well as I would have liked with the main characters, even the ones that weren't in the story much. Especially Gemma, however I don't know if we were supposed to and that is what made it interesting reading. 

The chapters flicker back and forth from past to present with ease and the timelines were well structured. 
This is quite a slow burn book in revealing what is happening these usually annoy me, but the setting, cast of characters the shadows of who and what kept me turning the pages and I really enjoyed this read. With some really, wow that is an interesting turn of events I wasn't expecting.

Right to the last - brilliant story

Strategy By Anita Waller

This is the follow on the Anita Waller's 34 Days, please read this first to get the full effect of this tragic story. 

A gripping psychological thriller from an international best-selling author How much can one family take? Jenny Carbrook murdered three people to make it look as though there was a serial killer at work in Lincoln, when the only person she wanted to kill was Ray Carbrook, her father-in-law, who had raped her the week before her marriage to Mark, Ray’s son. Jenny wrote letters detailing her crimes in order to protect everyone she loved, but was forced to go into hiding before retrieving the evidence against her.  Not only did she leave the letters behind but also her young daughter, Grace. Now Jenny has a plan, a strategy, to get the letters back. But it’s not only the letters that Jenny has in her sights…   Strategy is the follow up to the international best-seller 34 Days, it can be read as a sequel or an unmissable stand-alone. Anita Waller is the best-selling author of Beautiful, Angel, 34 Days & Winterscroft

A gripping psychological thriller from an international best-selling author

How much can one family take?

Jenny Carbrook murdered three people to make it look as though there was a serial killer at work in Lincoln, when the only person she wanted to kill was Ray Carbrook, her father-in-law, who had raped her the week before her marriage to Mark, Ray’s son.

Jenny wrote letters detailing her crimes in order to protect everyone she loved, but was forced to go into hiding before retrieving the evidence against her.  Not only did she leave the letters behind but also her young daughter, Grace.

Now Jenny has a plan, a strategy, to get the letters back. But it’s not only the letters that Jenny has in her sights…

 

Strategy is the follow up to the international best-seller 34 Days, it can be read as a sequel or an unmissable stand-alone.

Anita Waller is the best-selling author of Beautiful, Angel, 34 Days & Winterscroft

Wow and wow again, after reading 34 Days and thoroughly enjoying it, I was satisfied with the ending...  Anita Waller took on the task and has written an astonishing follow up that is astoundingly heart breaking and twisted.


We got right in to the minds of the characters from the aftermath of 34 Days and it packed a punch.


I found Strategy highly addictive reading, that was such a page turner I couldn't put it down, and with such deliverance in emotional trauma! 

Highly recommend these two books that will take you on a journey you don't expect. With tension running deep throughout.

Till The Dust Settles By Pat Young

Published by Bloodhound Books, 27/7/17 available at present in E format and Paperback. 

A gripping & unmissable debut thriller Two women will never meet, but their lives are about to collide.  Lucie married young. Her husband has become abusive, controlling and violent. Having lost everything as a result of the marriage, Lucie decides it is time to walk away.  As she leaves the house on the morning of September 11th, heading to a job interview at the World Trade Centre and the promise of a new life, the unthinkable happens. On a street in New York, choking on the dust, Lucie stumbles upon an opportunity to start again.  She thought the grass would be greener but starting again is never that simple. And sometimes, what lies ahead is even more deadly.

A gripping & unmissable debut thriller

Two women will never meet, but their lives are about to collide. 

Lucie married young. Her husband has become abusive, controlling and violent. Having lost everything as a result of the marriage, Lucie decides it is time to walk away. 

As she leaves the house on the morning of September 11th, heading to a job interview at the World Trade Centre and the promise of a new life, the unthinkable happens.

On a street in New York, choking on the dust, Lucie stumbles upon an opportunity to start again. 

She thought the grass would be greener but starting again is never that simple. And sometimes, what lies ahead is even more deadly.

The beginning of Till the Dust Settles was intense and within the first few pages I was hooked, really invested in the character Lucie. 

Who is Lucie? What life is she running away from? 

She took an opportunity and literally ran from it. 

There then was a real sense of better the devil you know, the more you read, the more you wanted to keep reading! 

Pat brought an interesting character in to a situation that due to it's reality gave the book strength, plausibility, and what if? While giving us a fictional take, the clever placement of the beginning events woke up the horror of what happened on 9/11 and took me back to when I just stood watched, shocked and shaking my head with disbelief. 

Pat used these events with sensitivity to weave her characters story around survival. 

 A superb debut novel that had my heart in my mouth many times. 

I found it an extremely well written debut, that was an intense read, where peoples lives are at the centre and survival is the game. 

RED Is The Colour By Mark. L. Fowler

Published 25/7/17 by Bloodhound Books. 

available as E Copy and Paperback. 

A GRIPPING NEW POLICE THRILLER Bullying. Corruption. Murder. It is the summer of 2002. The corpse of a 15 year old boy, who has been missing for thirty years, is discovered in Stoke-on-Trent. The city is on the cusp of change and Chief Superintendent Berkins wants the case solved quickly.  DCI Jim Tyler has arrived from London under a cloud, moving to Staffordshire to escape his past. He is teamed up with DS Danny Mills to investigate the case, but there is tension between the detectives. When the dead boy’s sister comes forward, describing a bright, solitary child, she points a finger at the school bullies, which puts important careers at stake. Then one of the bullies is found brutally murdered and when Tyler and Mills dig deeper they start to suspect a cover-up. What is the connection between the death of a schoolboy in 1972 and this latest killing?  With the pressure building, and the past catching up with DCI Tyler, will he and DS Mills be able to put aside their differences in order to catch a cold-blooded killer?

A GRIPPING NEW POLICE THRILLER

Bullying. Corruption. Murder.

It is the summer of 2002. The corpse of a 15 year old boy, who has been missing for thirty years, is discovered in Stoke-on-Trent. The city is on the cusp of change and Chief Superintendent Berkins wants the case solved quickly. 

DCI Jim Tyler has arrived from London under a cloud, moving to Staffordshire to escape his past. He is teamed up with DS Danny Mills to investigate the case, but there is tension between the detectives.

When the dead boy’s sister comes forward, describing a bright, solitary child, she points a finger at the school bullies, which puts important careers at stake.

Then one of the bullies is found brutally murdered and when Tyler and Mills dig deeper they start to suspect a cover-up.

What is the connection between the death of a schoolboy in 1972 and this latest killing? 

With the pressure building, and the past catching up with DCI Tyler, will he and DS Mills be able to put aside their differences in order to catch a cold-blooded killer?

DCI Tyler and DS Mills have a fractious relationship to say the least. 

I found this brought a different tension to the story, but did not take away from the main elements of the uncovering of the crime...or if there had been one committed at all. This kepts me interested in watching there relationship develop while hoping they could work it out enough to focus on what had happerned previously, 30 years ago. 

When the layers of the story began to unfold, I found myself absorbed back in to the days of the 70's. Mark captured the era so well and being born in the early 70's, there was slight reminissing also. Bullying at school was different to now, but no less innocent, just because there wasn't devices. 

I found this a wrenching read to get to the heart of why? it was full of suspense with a touch of who done it nature, however this was cleverly balanced with newer up to date crimes. 
The timelines worked while reading and you weren't left floundering of where/when you were reading about. 

It is always uncomfortable to read about childhood deaths, as they are our future. Mark gave this story such believability it grabbed me heart and soul, and he was clever at holding his cards to his chest while revealing the information as we needed it. 

I am keeping this series on my radar and looking forward to where Tyler and Mills go on from here. A story to definitely invest your time in. 

Cragside by LJ Ross

Cragside is book 6 in the DCI Ryan Mysteries, I suggest reading them in order to fully appreciate Ryan, and he is worth appreciating!

Are you afraid of the dark..? After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realise that all is not as it appears. When a second body is found, terror grips the close-knit community and Ryan must uncover the killer who walks among them, before they strike again... Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

Are you afraid of the dark..?

After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realise that all is not as it appears.

When a second body is found, terror grips the close-knit community and Ryan must uncover the killer who walks among them, before they strike again...

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

We catch up with the team after the breath taking ending from High Force.
Cragside sounds like an idyllic place to recover until Ryan is caught up in a true old style Agatha Christie, locked room who dun nit!

L.J. Ross brings to life the amazing sounding mansion and although an old style format is given to the story it has been brought kicking and screaming into the modern times.

With Ryan and his team totally flummoxed with very little to go on. Within trying to work out what is going on, brought in to the mix are some changes at work that are affecting the team in various ways.

It was wonderful to catch up with the characters and find out what is happening next....

You get so much more than a mystery within the pages, you are entangled into the lives of Ryan and am really enjoying to see some of the other main players coming into the forefront, especially Phillips and MacKenzie.

I have a feeling that it won't be long until we are back and heading into more unchartered waters.
I am excited to read about what part of Northumberland L.J. will be bringing to life, or death next in the future novel of DCI Ryan.

 

Those That Remain By Rob Ashman

Lucas is coasting towards retirement in a mundane Florida police precinct when a brutal serial killer, codenamed Mechanic, lands on his patch.  Three years ago, they thought Mechanic was dead. But Mechanic is very much alive and no family is safe from the savage, ritualistic murders that the sadistic killer is compelled to commit. Mechanic is always one step ahead and Lucas is forced to operate outside of the law.  But who can he trust and who is Mechanic?  Soon Lucas will learn that the truth is more terrifying than he could ever imagine and in order to find the answers he needs, he might have to put his life on the line… 

Lucas is coasting towards retirement in a mundane Florida police precinct when a brutal serial killer, codenamed Mechanic, lands on his patch. 

Three years ago, they thought Mechanic was dead. But Mechanic is very much alive and no family is safe from the savage, ritualistic murders that the sadistic killer is compelled to commit.

Mechanic is always one step ahead and Lucas is forced to operate outside of the law. 

But who can he trust and who is Mechanic? 

Soon Lucas will learn that the truth is more terrifying than he could ever imagine and in order to find the answers he needs, he might have to put his life on the line… 

Those that Remain is a one of the highest quality debut novels I have read, and not only that it is the start of a trilogy...

The book is written mostly from the perspective of the teams uncovering's, who are working with Lucas to find out who the Mechanic is and why have the killings started after a three year gap! I particularly liked his partner Bassano, not only did they make a great team, the character combination seemed an effortless read, and they gelled so well together.

Lucas is clear and precise in his thinking and is engaging. He wants to stop the Mechanic as quickly as possible, especially as each targeted family is a multi hit.

I was soon immersed in the storylines with the gritty and assured nature of the murders and although told mostly from Police Perspective it isn't dripping in details of technicalities.

This truly is an exceptional read, with a serial killer with a fascinating way of hunting the victims. which kept me involved with the plot and hooked all the way through.


This book is an impressive debut novel, and it isn't often that the first book in a series gets a 5 star rating, as you know the next will have the layers of intrigue set, but this is so clever, devious and twisty, that it deserves a 5 star and to be a best seller... an author to watch out for! and a publisher to keep a look out for more new exciting reads.