Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

About this book..

If your husband was murdered, 

And you were a witness,
How do you explain it when he appears on your nanny cam?
You thought you trusted him.
Now you can’t even trust yourself.

Dark secrets and a terrifying hunt for the truth lie at the heart of this gripping new thriller.

 

My review..

Harlan Coben is one of the big name authors that you just know is going to turn out a top notch thriller. A new book from him more or less guarantees I will buy it just from seeing his name on the front cover. So I was very excited to have an ARC of Fool Me Once and oh boy, didn’t he just!!

Captain Maya Stern has returned from active service suffering from PTSD-scared to close her eyes at night for fear of the screams and pictures in her head. Her sisters murder while she was abroad has devastated her but then her husband Joe is also killed during a failed mugging. After a friend gives her a nanny cam for reassurance (now that she is raising her 2 year old daughter Lily on her own) she sees a shocking image on the screen-her apparently dead husband. Maya is forced to leave her daughter in the care of her brother-in-law and day care while she hunts down the truth about the murders that seems to follow her.

Well to be honest when I read the blurb for this my first thought was, haven’t you done this one before Mr Coben?? A dead spouse appearing apparently alive and well on a screen?? For the first third of the book I really wasn’t sure where it was going and was worried that the great Harlan Cohen had lost his touch! Then something just clicked and I couldn’t put it down. The book twisted and turned and then it twisted and turned some more until you had no idea what the truth was. I was well and truly fooled more than once!
I loved the cool and calm Maya who seemed so distant and uncaring at first but we start to realise this is due to her military training kicking in automatically. Her friends Eileen and Shane balanced this well with their affection for their friend and their concern for her well-being. They provide a humanity to their characters that contrasts to the machine like determination from Maya. Her quest was relentless and it really carried you through the story, increasing the tension until your head was spinning!

Although this hasn’t taken over from Tell No One or The Woods which are my favourite reads from this author, it is certainly an enjoyable twisty experience where I defy you to predict the ending! A standalone novel that will delighted fans both old and new.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

🌳🌳🌳🌳 4/5

Available to buy from March 24th

Available to pre order here

It’s Friday!

I’ve had a good week this week and enjoyed some fabulous books.

Sewing the Shadows Together by Allison Baillie

The Rise & Fall of The Miraculous Vespas by David F Ross

Hold Still by Tim Adler

And today I’m hoping to finish off Fool me Once by Harlan Cohen and get my review up on here before I start my copy of the #mysterythriller sent to me by the lovely Cara at Mira UK.

I enjoy the fact that I am getting sent “proper” books since I started blogging but thankfully I haven’t been overwhelmed. I have read recently that a few bloggers have become quite stressed out due to the number of requests and books they have to read. I’m making myself a promise that I won’t ever get to that stage. I love reading and don’t ever want it to become a chore. My blog is a pretty small fish in a big pond though! But I now have 28 lovely followers and over 300 on Twitter so things are moving in the right direction.

And my other exciting news is that I will be taking part in my first blog tour in May! Just need to have a guest author spot now and I will feel like I am a proper blogger (maybe!!) But I am still quite happy writing my waffle even if no one ever reads it!

Happy Friday everyone!

 

The Rise & Fall of The Miraculous Vespas by David F Ross

About this book..

Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t necessarily mean a band. It doesn’t mean a singer, and it doesn’t mean a lyric, really. It’s that question of trying to be immortal’ Malcolm McLaren
The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is the timeless story of the quest for such pop immortality. When a young Ayrshire band miraculously hits the big time with the smash hit record of 1984, international stardom beckons. That’s despite having a delusional teenage manager propelled by a dark, malign voice in his head … Can Max Mojo’s band of talented social misfits repeat the success and pay back the mounting debts accrued from an increasingly agitated cartel of local gangsters? Or will they have to kidnap Boy George and hope for the best? Featuring much-loved characters from the international bestseller, The Last Days of Disco, this is an absurdly funny, riotously ambitious and deeply human story of small-town rivalries, music, confused adolescence and, above all, hope, from one of Scotland’s finest new voices.

My review..

I must admit I hadn’t heard of David F Ross or his books until I was chatting to a fellow blogger who had highly recommended them (the first book was in her top 10 of last year!) So I jumped at an opportunity to see what all the hype was about and ended up back down memory lane reading this fabulous flashback to Scotland in the 1980s. I haven’t read the first book in the trilogy but as this isn’t strictly a follow on there will be no problem if you haven’t either as this can totally be read as a standalone (Last Days of Disco has been added to my wishlist though!)

This is the tale of The Miraculous Vespas and the road to their short lived success as a band. Grant Delgado, his girlfriend Maggie, the Sylvester twins Eddie and Simon all overseen by Dale Wishart-now known by his alter ego name Max Mojo (after a spell of being unconscious in hospital). It’s a tale full of local gangsters, friendships and dark humour set in a time where no-one knew about political correctness and Christmas dinner wasn’t allowed to interfere with the Top Of The Pops Christmas Day special.

As a teenager growing up in Scotland at the time this novel is set, I found it to be a totally realistic social commentary of that time! I loved the way it was told in local dialect (this may take a little time to get used to for some but my husband’s collection of Oor Wullie and The Boons annuals have always been a Christmas highlight for me!) as this makes it feel like your are just having a chat down the pub with your mates. Be warned though the language is VERY strong if you are easily offended but again this novel is committed to realism so that’s to be expected.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the memories this book has brought back-the songs and the pop culture media of the time. In fact I had forgotten about Look-In but now I can even remember the totally annoying advert for it (la la la la la look iiiiiin!)

This novel was a revelation for me, a breath of fresh air and I can honestly say I have never read anything like it. Roll on the final book in the trilogy!

Huge thanks to Karen at Orenda books for providing my review copy.

Available to buy here

 

Sewing the Shadows Together by Allison Baillie

About this book..

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend? 
More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

“Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.”

When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…

Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question:

Do we ever really know the people closest to us?

My review..

Wow-I feel like I have been on the proverbial emotional rollercoaster! This is probably one of the best books I have read this year so far and is looking likely to be in my top 10 reads of 2016. I downloaded a sample of this yesterday and after 6 pages bought it straight away and just continued to read-yes it was that engaging that I couldn’t put it down and totally ignored the other two books I had on the go….I NEVER do that!

Sarah is very typical of women her (my!) age. She is married to Rory, a famous tv journalist and they have twins who are now making lives of their own with their partners. Sarah also keeps an eye on her widowed mother Flora and every Sunday, Sarah cooks dinner for all the family. But Sarah is haunted by the murder of Shona, her best friend, when they were 13. Shona had an elder brother Tom who emigrated to South Africa after her death but he is back in Portobello to spread his mother’s ashes. His return also coincides with a school reunion and the release of Logan Baird, who has served time for Shona’s murder but it looks like he was innocent all along.

As I’ve said before, I adored this book from word one! It’s rare to find that book that really speaks to you and I am very lucky to have found one here. I empathise totally with Sarah and loved her. I especially liked the way each part of the story started with Sarah’s dreams entwined with her flashbacks. It set the tone and provided clues of what was to come. Her relationship with Tom developed slowly but deeply and I found it very believable. The setting of Edinburgh and its surroundings is one that I know quite well and that certainly added to my enjoyment as I felt I was back there, it was so vividly described! The mystery of Shona’s murder was only part of this book as it covered friendship, loss and how well do we really know those closest to us.

This is a wonderful debut from Alison Baillie and I can’t wait to read more from her. I just loved this book so much I didn’t want it to end!

A well deserved 5* from me!

Available to buy here

Hold Still by Tim Adler

About this book..

‘I photographed the moment of my husband’s death…’ So begins HOLD STILL, a nerve-twisting thriller from bestselling author Tim Adler. How much do we really know about those we love? Kate is visiting Albania with her husband Paul, a much needed break from Paul’s stressful website business. ‘Hold still,’ says Kate, taking a picture as Paul steps onto the hotel room balcony. ‘We’ll always be together,’ Paul responds. Suddenly there is screaming below and a blaring car horn. Kate stares down from the balcony at the broken body of her husband lying lifeless in the street. Overcome with grief, Kate can’t accept the truth of Paul’s tragic death, and replays the incident over and over again, searching her pictures for a vital clue to what really happened. When she meets the enigmatic Priest at a grief support group, they journey together into a dangerous world of violence and secrets as Kate realises what Paul really meant when he said he would never leave her……

My review..

Having read Surrogate by the same author a while ago (after being recommended it and enjoying it) I was looking forward to Tim Adlers 3rd book Hold Still. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as Surrogate, it was still a fast paced crime thriller that flowed off the page.

Kate Julia and her husband Paul have gone to Albania for Paul’s uncle’s funeral. After the funeral, Paul seems distant and emotional but back at their hotel room Kate and Paul make love. Afterwards, Paul receives a text on his phone and Kate playfully takes a photo of him. When she looks back up she realises he is no longer there and has fallen from their 7th floor balcony.

This is the seed from which this story grows-what would it be like to photograph the exact moment of the death of a loved one? Kate is devastated by her husband’s death but even more so when she realises she captured something unexpected in that last photo.

I think the main reason this novel didn’t quite work for me personally was that I found it rather unbelievable. The coincidences were just a bit too far fetched for me and the time scale seemed very quick as well. Just little things like being able to get a GP appt straight away and finding a support group having a meeting that same night!! Kate seemed rather hysterical at times-too much so to be also conducting her own investigation into her husband’s death. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad book! The backstory of Albania and the crimes taking place such as human trafficking, prostitution and cyber crime are very current and have been well researched. The way the book opens with Paul’s death is shocking and grabs your attention straight away. It drifts off a bit in the middle but the last few chapters are an adrenaline fuelled chase that again gets you turning the pages with an increasing speed to find out what the truth is. Although I had an idea of what had happened there were still a few surprising twists along the way.

A 3 star read for me.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in return for an honest review.

Released on March 17th

Available to pre-order here

 

A Savage Hunger by Claire McGowan

About this book..

The fourth in the crime series featuring forensic psychologist Paula Maguire by Claire McGowan acclaimed as ‘Ireland’s answer to Ruth Rendell’ by Ken Bruen.

Victim: Female. Twenty-two years of age.
Reason for investigation: Missing person.
ID: Alice Morgan. Student. Last seen at a remote religious shrine in Ballyterrin.

Alice Morgan’s disappearance raises immediate questions for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire. Alice, the daughter of a life peer in the Home Office, has vanished along with a holy relic – the bones of a saint – and the only trace is the bloodstains on the altar.

With no body to confirm death, the pressure in this high-profile case is all-consuming, and Paula knows that she will have to put her own life, including her imminent marriage, on hold, if they are to find the truth.

A connection to a decades-old murder immediately indicates that all may not be as it seems; as the summer heat rises and tempers fray, can Alice be found or will they learn that those that are hungry for vengeance may be the most savage of all?

 

My review..

This has been an interesting series so far and this recent addition really stands out for me. Dr Paula Maguire returns in this 4th book- a self contained mystery involving a missing person. It can be read as a standalone novel but to get the full appreciation of Paula’s relationships and history, it’s probably better to read the books in order of publication.

22 year old Alice has gone missing. At the church where she was working as a caretaker and was last seen, there is a lot of blood, an old photo and a missing religious relic. Paula, alongsIde Jane Corry, is brought in to investigate and quickly discovers another woman went missing from the same church nearly 30 years ago. What has happened to Alice and can Paula solve the case while also dealing with her complex personal life?

This is probably the most gripping of all 4 books that I have read so far. Paula is struggling with organising a major family event and overseeing building works while she trys to work out what has happened to Alice. We read snippets from Alice throughout the story. This helps us as we delve deeper into her problems with her family, and also her anorexia, providing us with more clues as to what has happened to her. I found both twisty threads really engrossing and couldn’t wait to see how they were brought to a climax by the author. And boy, talk about an explosive ending!!! The perfect way to leave your readers wanting more!!

If you’ve never read this series before I think you would get way more enjoyment of the plot if you start at book 1 in the series. Then I can guarantee you will want to read the rest pretty quickly to catch up! The background descriptions of the troubles in Northern Ireland make this a very detailed and unique police crime procedural written with a great knowledge and understanding of that time. Bringing a present day missing persons case into the mix but still making it feel relevant to the past is a very clever trick indeed. An intelligent and thought provoking read and I can’t WAIT to see where Paula goes from here!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

Available.to buy here

Trust No One by Clare Donoghue

About this book..

You probably think I’m just scared, don’t you? You might even think I won’t have what it takes to do it when the time comes, but you could not be more wrong. I always stand by my word. Always. I don’t make decisions without thinking. If I say something, I mean it. I will do it, and no one can stop me.

Marriage is complicated. It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes there are things you discover about yourself and each other which mean the marriage has to end. Sad, particularly when kids are involved – but all pretty normal.

Normal that is, until there’s a murder.

DS Jane Bennett and DI Mike Lockyer are called in to investigate one of South London’s most difficult and distressing cases yet – where family and friends come under scrutiny in the hardest of circumstances.

My review..

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series featuring DI Mike Lockyer and so was quite interested to see how this 3rd outing compared. This can be read as a standalone novel and it is a bit different to the first two as it doesn’t feature a series of murders, just the one.

A family barbecue conjures up pictures of sunshine, too much food and drink and time with friends and family-and that’s how we come to meet Richard Taylor and his two children Harvey and Olive. Next morning though, a 999 call sends police to Richards flat where the children have discovered his dead body. Suicide? Unintentional overdose or something much more sinister. DI Mike Lockyer and DS Jane Bennett are brought in to investigate.

I love these characters. Although they are part of a very well written and twisty police procedural, the reason it works so well is because we are shown their personal lives, with all their problems and emotions, which make them seem more realistic. Jane is struggling with the reappearance of her son’s father and her parents possibly moving away and Mike’s ex-wife is about to remarry. The dynamics of this case are slightly different as it twists and turns with multiple suspects being interviewed and a few red herrings thrown in for good measure! I thought I knew where it was going but even I have to admit that I didn’t quite get there! It did take me a little while to get into the style in which the story was told-the past as told by Richard, the investigation in the present with the occasional glimpse into the mind of a killer. Reading it in bed, I struggled to get into it so left until this morning when I was able to read the rest in pretty much one sitting.

There are so many crime series around at the moment that it does take something a little bit different or special to stand out and I think here that the authors strength is the character of Mike Lockyer. I have quite a soft spot for him myself!! He is like an iceberg, there are hidden depths there that I think the author will expose in future outings for this great detective team!

An enjoyable read for those who love a good police procedural.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

Available to buy now

 

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

About this book..

New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf returns with a chilling page-turner about a woman chasing clues into a decades-old mystery that could have shattering repercussions.

Everyone has secrets…
Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the town where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalised in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.
Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realises that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the rabbit hole of Jack’s past, but the farther she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a hard reality she may not be prepared for.

My review..

I have left this book until nearly publication day before I read it mainly for the reason that I was worried I was going to be disappointed! I have enjoyed Heathers previous books and I had seen some reviews that were less than complimentary. But I needn’t have worried as this is now possibly my favourite of her books that I have read since One Breath Away.

Sarah and Jack are returning to Penny Gate as Jacks aunt has had a bad fall from which she may not recover. It’s Sarah’s first time in Jacks hometown and even Jack himself hasn’t been back for over 20 years. Although Jack and Sarah have been happily married for many years with twin daughters now in college, Sarah realises how little she really knows about her husband now that he is back on his home turf. The death of his Aunt Julia, who brought up Jack and his sister Amy since they were teenagers, creates waves of mistrust and Sarah must question wherever she really knows her husband at all.

This book starts off with a fabulous prologue that brings you into the story with a short sharp shock! The normality of a mum waving her kids off to school, looking forward to school holidays to spend more time with them and planning a delicious treat for their tea but then an act of shocking violence! The story then moves forward to the present day and becomes more of a slow burner, building up to a breath-holding finale. It fitted that Sarah had a career in journalism as it added more realism to her search for the truth about what happened to Jacks parents. I did find her a bit naive at times and wondered why her inquisitive nature hadn’t kicked in when she first met Jack but that’s just a quibble as there were have been no story otherwise! And I loved the character of Margaret, her co-conspirator, who put her job on the line to help Sarah investigate her husband’s past. This is one of the strengths with Heathers books, and why I enjoy them, as she writes about communities and how they come together in times of crisis.

I was up until late finishing this book as I wanted to see if who I thought was responsible really was and, although I was right, I enjoyed the way it all came together. Normally I can fall asleep reading Heathers work but this is a compliment not a complaint-I find her writing style very relaxing! A recommended read for fans new and old.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

Available to buy here

Little Boy Blue by MJ Arlidge

About this book

Detective Inspector Helen Grace is no stranger to tragedy. But when a body is found in a Southampton nightclub, the death cuts too close to the bone.

Hiding her personal connection to the victim – and a double-life which must remain secret at all costs – Helen becomes a woman possessed, working her team around the clock to chase down every lead.

As the killer strikes again, the investigation takes its toll not only on Helen but also her senior officers. Tempers flare, friendships fray and Helen faces an impossible choice.

Confess her sins and lose control of the case? Or keep living a lie, protecting her darkest secrets, and risk getting trapped in this tangled web?

But whatever she does, this killer will not stop until the truth is revealed: there are some fates worse than death . . .

My review

There are very few series that I am totally addicted to but I have to admit that the Helen Grace series is right up there at the top. I absolutely love these books (some more than others admittedly!) and I had to fight hard to get an early review copy from netgalley. But, boy, it was well worth every begging email!!

DI Helen Grace is facing the most difficult case of her career so far. A murder has taken place at a fetish club in Southampton and Helen knows more than she is able to let on. Solving the case without confessing her own connections to the secretive BDSM scene is going to prove very difficult indeed. Her colleague Charlie has now been promoted but seems to still be struggling with her work life balance and it leads to some heated confrontations with her mentor and friend. Is this case too close to home for Helen or will she risk everything to find a perverted killer?

This was a fantastically jaw dropping addition to the DI Helen Grace series and I devoured it in one day. I love the way she is a very strong character but with a rather shocking secret life. The relationships she has with her friends and colleagues never really reveal the real Helen and I would definitely recommend that you read the other books first to get a true picture of why Helen acts the way she does. The tension was cranked up so high towards the final chapters that I felt my blood pressure rising by the minute and when I got to the end………OMG!!!! I hope to goodness that the author is writing the very next book as we speak!!!

I know I have said this before, but this would make a brilliant adaptation for tv. It’s a police procedural that’s got something a little bit different, an edge that is sometimes missing in a crime series. Helen is probably a bit of a “marmite” character but I personally love her and think she would work even better on the small screen.

Highly recommended 5* read for me and if you haven’t read the first 4 in the series then where have you been hiding? Read them NOW!!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review.

About the author

M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and, most recently,Undeniable. Currently writing for the hit BBC series Silent Witness, Arlidge is also piloting original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a No. 1 bestseller.

His début thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House and Liar Liar. Little Boy Blue is the fifth DI Helen Grace thriller and will be followed by Hide and Seek later in 2016.

Available to pre-order now

The Teacher by Katerina Diamond

 

About this book

You think you know who to trust? You think you know the difference between good and evil?

You’re wrong …

A LESSON YOU WILL NEVER FORGET

The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.

Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.

As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.

But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.

And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?

SMART. GRIPPING. GRUESOME.

My review

I’m not normally a fan of the taglines attached to the books title. You know, the ones saying the book has a “twist you won’t see coming” or similar. So when I saw this one I was a bit sceptical. I do think however that this is one tagline that really needs to be there!! It serves as a warning to anyone of a sensitive or nervous disposition that this book really isn’t for the fainthearted. Thankfully that’s not me but it does contain quite graphic violence even though that violence is very integral to the plot. So, if you are squeamish, then be warned as it also covers a rather disturbing subject matter in detail as well.

DS Adrian Miles has only recently returned to work after a suspension. He has been teamed with DS Imogen Grey, who also has a troubled past and has just been relocated from her previous police force. Together they set off to investigate the death of the head teacher at a prestigious boys school (where Adrians son coincidentally goes to school). When more deaths come to light, Miles and Grey face a race against time to work out why these gruesome murders are occurring and who is responsible.

It took me a while to get into this book even though it opens up with a pretty shocking murder! It travels backwards and forwards in time visiting multiple characters until it starts to settle down and the plot becomes clearer. The descriptions of the murders are pretty gruesome but I didn’t think they were gratuitous, although I wanted to read with my hands over my eyes and singing “lalalalala” to block out the images and sounds I was imagining!

I adored the pairing of Miles and Grey. In fact, at times it felt like I had already met them before and I hope the author will seize the chance to write them another case to solve. I loved them as they were both flawed, messed up characters who both came with baggage but who worked together as a true team with totally trust in each other. Without them I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book as much as I did. Saying that though, it is a truly difficult book to put down as there are twists aplenty that will keep the reader on edge waiting for the next mirder

I must also mention that cover!! it’s incredibly eye catching and manages to convey a real sense of evil lurking behind the innocent image of that classic “apple for the teacher”. That cover and the hype on social media surrounding this book will make it a sure fire best seller and although I didn’t love it, it’s a book that has really stuck in my head and I would be interested in seeing which direction the author goes in next.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

About the author

Katerina Diamond was born in Weston in the seventies. She moved to Thessaloniki in Greece and attended Greek school where she learnt Greek in just 6 months. After her parents’ divorce, they relocated to Devon. After school, and working in her uncle’s fish and chip shop, she went (briefly) to university at Derby, where she met her husband and had two children. Katerina now lives in the East Kent Coast with her husband and children. This is her first novel.

Available to pre-order now on Amazon