The Woman Downstairs by Elisabeth Carpenter

Today I have a review of The Woman Downstairs by Elisabeth Carpenter. Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for my blog tour invite and review copy of the book.

What’s this book about?


Can you ever really know your neighbours?

When human remains are found in a ground floor flat, the residents of Nelson Heights are shocked to learn that there was a dead body in their building for over three years. 

Sarah lives at the flat above and after the remains are found, she feels threatened by a stranger hanging around the building.

Laura has lived in the building for as long as she can remember, caring for her elderly father, though there is more to her story than she is letting on.

As the investigation starts to heat up, and the two women become more involved, it’s clear that someone isn’t telling the truth about what went on all those years ago…

My review

I’ve read all of Elisabeth Carpenters books now and I have to say that…OMG THIS IS MY FAVOURITE SO FAR!! Now this will be a no spoiler review but I have to say that when you get to the end of part one, I 100% guarantee that you will flick back to what you have read before whilst your brain catches up with what your eyes have just discovered!! Honestly, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I think Elisabeth Carpenter is clearly very VERY good at what she does to pull this off!

I read a book with a similar plot before where human remains have been found in a property but this book takes that idea and delivers an intriguing narrative that winds its way around two women living in the same block of flats. There’s Sarah, living apart from her husband after his affair but happy with her cosy life as a single mum and her job at the local cafe. But after the human remains are discovered at Nelson Heights she notices someone hanging round and that makes the journalism student very suspicious indeed. And then there’s Laura who’s had a tough time recently after her father has passed away. She’s taken a leap into the workplace after being his carer for years but struggling with her mental health after being relentlessly bullied when younger. She’s lived at the flats longer than Sarah so maybe she has clues to why someone someone living there hasn’t been missed by anyone for nearly two years?

The Woman Downstairs is a twisty, suspenseful thriller that I physically couldn’t put down once I picked it up. It was my favourite type of psychological thriller-one where I suspected everyone but didn’t have a clue where it was going until it hit me across the face with its brilliant plot twist. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about the twist here (even though it’s an absolute corker!!) but the characters of the two women who kept me gripped throughout. Both had very different lives but they intersected in a way they could never have dreamed of and I loved how it all came together.

The Woman Downstairs is an utterly brilliant, addictive read and one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and it’s a highly recommended from me!

Meet the author

Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family. She completed a BA in English Literature and Language with the Open University in 2008. 

Elisabeth was awarded a Northern Writers’ New Fiction award, and was longlisted for Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 and 2016) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015). She loves living in the north of England and sets most of her stories in the area, including the novel she is writing at the moment.

Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham #herlastbreath

I’m thrilled to be part of the Her Last Breath blog tour today. Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for my blog invite. And although I was sent a review copy of the book I had already bought my own last year!

What’s this book about?

The body count is rising…and the clock is ticking.

When a young woman is attacked and left fighting to survive in hospital, the police are pulled into a race against time to save her life. But just 24 hours later, she dies and a deadly tattoo is discovered on her body. 

And when another young woman disappears, Detective Francis Sullivan and his team fear a serial killer walks the streets of Brighton. 

His team identify a suspect, Alex Mullins, son of Francis’s lover, Marni. Can Francis forget their shared past and save the next victim before it is too late?

A gripping crime thriller from the author of The Tattoo Thief.

My review

I absolutely loved The Tattoo Thief so was thrilled to pick up a copy of Her Last Breath when I was attending Morecambe and Vice last year. I think it can be read as a stand-alone but you definitely could do with reading The Tattoo Thief first if you fancy more of an insight into Francis and his relationship with Marnie Mullins and their backgrounds.

Her Last Breath was just as good as The Tattoo Thief, if not better!! It was gripping, gory and gruesome with a fantastically dark and intriguing storyline. Detective Francis Sullivan is called in when a girl is found injured after an attack. When she later dies and another woman is snatched off the streets, Francis realises a serial killer is once again stalking the streets of Brighton. And if that’s not enough, he also has to face the “Tattoo Thief” trial plus the son of his ex lover is now a prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend. I’m not even going to mention the other problems he is facing but it’s safe to say that nothing is going well for DI Sullivan…

I was blown away once again by how involved I became in this case. Alison Belsham writes a disturbing yet fascinating narrative that winds its twisty way down the path of suspense until that shocking conclusion. Yes, the clues may have been there but I didn’t see them coming and was totally in awe of the plot development that crept up on me, hidden by some great camouflage! I think I suspected everyone whilst still suspecting no one!

Alison Belsham got this second book just right. It can be hard to follow up on a debut crime novel that has been so well received but Her Last Breath worked perfectly for me. It’s a stylish thriller with a likeable “closed book” main character who always leaves me wanting to know more.

Highly recommended by me!

Meet the author

Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel,The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher #blogtour #audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review of the audiobook The Wives by Tarryn Fisher as part of the audiobook blog tour.

What’s this book about?

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, you see your husband only one day a week. Thursday. But you don’t care, you love him that much. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself…

And then, one day it all changes.

You thought you were fine with this, with only having a fraction of a husband. But you can’t help yourself, you start to dig. Begin tracking them down, the other days… Who is Monday and why does she have bruises on her arms? Is she being abused? By who? Her husband? Your husband?

What else is he keeping from you?

And who is he, really?

My review

Wow!! This was such a tense listen and I just couldn’t get enough of it! I listened to it at every opportunity I could get and as I got towards the end it become so utterly and completely addictive that I physically couldn’t press that pause button! In fact at one point my husband came out of the house wondering why I was still in the car when I had arrived home from the shops 30 minutes beforehand but I was so immersed in the final few minutes of this heart pounding narrative that I had to stay put until it had finished! And what an ending it was!

The premise of this book reached out to me immediately as it had a fascinating plot. Thursday by name is also Thursday by nature as that’s the one night that her husband comes to her. She dresses up and prepares a delicious gourmet dinner for him and then he stays the night. But Thursday and Seth aren’t your typical married couple as he has two other wives that share him with Thursday. And she’s okay with this…until one day she sees a text on Seths phone and becomes obsessed by the other two women in his life.

The Wives is the first book I’ve ever listened to (or read) by Tarryn Fisher but it certainly won’t be the last. Her style is so wonderfully involving that it totally drags you into the lives of her characters until you feel like you’re actually in the book with them, an invisible interloper, spying on their most private moments. There are so many unexpected twists and turns as Thursday tries to find out more about the two women that Seth spends the rest of his week with. What sort of women are happy to share the love of their life with others? Thursday has to know but that’s when things start to look very, very wrong indeed.

The Wives is a tale of tortured love, of obsessive desire and how far someone is prepared to go to keep possession of the object of that craving. I had no idea where it was going and, to be honest, I was enjoying it so much that I really didn’t care! This is one of those books where you just surf the waves of suspense until you’re washed ashore, exhausted but exhilarated after the rollercoaster ride of your life! Have you gathered yet that I loved this book?!

Enticingly compulsive from start to finish!

Meet the author

Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of nine novels. Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington, with her children, husband and psychotic husky. She loves connecting with her readers on Instagram.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

I’m delighted to be sharing my review today as part of the blog tour for The Foundling by Stacey Halls. Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for my blog tour invite and review copy of the book.

What’s this book about?

Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything . . . 

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. 

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart. 

From the bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds . . . 

My review

I adored The Familiars and so The Foundling was high on my list of anticipated reads for this year. Thankfully Stacey Halls didn’t let me down and has written a compulsive drama with beautifully drawn characters and a fascinating storyline. To know that the Foundling hospital and the way in which it operated were based on fact made this story even more poignant and shocking in its authenticity. And as I followed the journey of this mother who had acted in desperation, the emotional pain of her decision and the resulting fallout left me shocked that these tragedies had occurred as part of our social history.

When Bess gives birth to an illegitimate child she knows she isn’t in a position to keep her so she takes her child to The Foundling Hospital. Here, a bizarre lottery takes place in front of the local gentry to decide which babies are allowed to stay. Mothers who successfully make the cut are able to leave their baby at the hospital but must register them by leaving them a token of their family so that they can be recognised if ever they are claimed. Bess leaves a whalebone token given to her by her lover and vows to return when she is able to support her child properly. But when she returns 6 years later she is told her child had already been claimed and is no longer there…

The Foundling is a dark and sometimes upsetting story of a mothers search to reclaim her daughter. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Bess to give up her baby without knowing if she would ever see her again. But she’s a gutsy heroine, never giving up even though the figures used to explain how many children were actually reclaimed by their parents from places like that is absolutely shocking. I loved the idea of the little tokens the mothers left with their babies so as to be able to recognise them if and when they did return to take them home. But the system obviously had some flaws especially when Bess goes to collect Clara and finds out she has already been removed-and by someone claiming to be Bess! Only once Alexandra is introduced to us does the mist start to clear and things become clearer…although my sympathies never wavered!!

The Foundling is an intelligent and insightful historical drama that kept me gripped throughout. A well deserved 5 stars from me! And Stacey Halls is now one of my recommended “must read” authors.

Meet the author

Stacey Halls was born in 1989 and grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, The Independent, The Sun and Fabulous. Her first book The Familiars was the bestselling debut novel of 2019. The Foundling is her second novel.

Watching From The Dark by Gytha Lodge #watchingfromthedark

Today I’m sharing my review of Watching From The Dark, the new DCI Sheens novel from Gytha Lodge. Many thanks to Ella Watkins for my review copy of the book.

What’s this book about?

Aidan Poole logs onto his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. But to his horror, he realises she is not alone. 

Completely helpless, all he can do is listen to the sounds of a violent struggle. 

And then a chilling silence. 

He’s desperate to find out if she is OK. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police? 

When his messages finally reach them, DCI Jonah Sheens and his team take the case. 

And discover the body. . . 

Watching from the Dark is an enthralling new thriller that you won’t want to miss.

My review

I adored She Lies in Wait so this next book to feature DCI Jonah Sheens was high on my 2020 wish list! And it was so lovely to meet him again as he attempts to solve another crime. If you haven’t read She Lies In Wait then please be assured that Watching From The Dark reads like a stand-alone so you won’t feel like you’re missing out (even though you are, ofcourse, because She Likes In Wait is AMAZING!!).

The premise of Watching From The Dark grabbed me immediately. In this era of social media and online interactions, it’s a fascinating concept to have someone murdered whilst they are Skyping or FaceTiming and for the other person to witness it. So when Aidan Skyped his girlfriend Zoe, the last thing he expected was to hear her being attacked by a person unknown and unseen. But Aidan doesn’t call the police…WHY?! Surely he could have got someone to check out where Zoe lived just incase she was still alive and could be saved. But no, he did nothing apart from make an abandoned call to the police where he didn’t even leave his name. And as the plot unravels we find out more about their relationship and why things weren’t quite as rosy as he says they were…

This is an intriguing and twisty crime thriller where no one is quite who they say they are and secrets and lies have eaten away at the happy lives they should all be living. Jonah played his part in the investigation alongside his team as they dig deeper into Zoe’s private life. We also have flashbacks to Zoe and Aidans meeting and the progression of their relationship, in the hope of some clue as to why she has been murdered and by whom.

Watching In The Dark was a gripping crime thriller with a satisfying conclusion, even though I worked out quite early in the narrative what was going on and what had happened the night Zoe was killed. I really like Jonah and this crime series so hope there is more to come.

Watching In The Dark was published on February 6th by Michael Joseph.

Meet the author

Gytha Lodge is a writer and multi-award-winning playwright who lives in Cambridge. After studying creative writing at UEA, she was shortlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Arts’ Council England fiction awards, and developed a large online following for her young adult and children’s writing, with over five million reads accrued on platform Wattpad. She Lies in Wait is her debut novel.

The Alibi Girl by C.J. Skuse

It’s my turn on the blog tour today for The Alibi Girl by C.J. Skuse. Many thanks to HQ for my review copy of the book.

What’s the book about?

JOANNE HAYNES HAS A SECRET.
THAT IS NOT HER REAL NAME.

And there’s more. Her flat isn’t hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.
 
Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis.
 
In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.
 
But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….

My review

Having read Sweetpea and it’s sequel In Bloom, I was really looking forward to The Alibi Girl. And that anticipation was well placed as this is one of the best books I’ve read this year and is one that I wanted to read all over again the second I had finished it. C.J. Skuse writes so beautifully with a dark humour that really appeals to me and here she has created a complex character who I absolutely adored from the first moment I met her. But who did I actually meet on that very first page? Was it Mary Brokenshire? Or is it Joanne Haynes, a woman unable to maintain a single identity.

I was completely hooked on The Alibi Girl, immersed in the life of a girl who was so completely different from the one I was expecting from that woman sitting in the hairdressers with her 5 week old baby. There were some unexpected twists and turns and some great supporting characters who were well drawn, even though nearly everyone was hiding behind some sort of mask and not just Joanne! I felt very maternal towards Joanne as she seemed very young for her age and eventually we come to understand why and that’s when I just wanted to cry for her!!! The narrative certainly didn’t take the path I had expected and that helped to make The Alibi Girl one of the best books I’ve read for some time!

But if I thought I’d been surprised enough throughout The Alibi Girl then I was in for another shock on that last page!! That ending!!!! I mean, what the actual hell?! It was perfection but I don’t think I can forgive the author for giving me one of the most thought provoking endings in a very long time!

In short, The Alibi Girl is dark, gripping and thoroughly addictive from start to finish and one of the easiest 5 stars I’ve given in a long time. If this book isn’t in my top 20 reads of 2020 then I’ll eat my paperback copy!! Loved it loved it LOVED IT!!

Meet the author

C.J. SKUSE is the author of Pretty Bad Things, Rockaholic, Dead Romantic, Monster and The Deviants. She was born in Weston-super-Mare. She has first-class degrees in creative writing and, aside from writing novels, works as a freelance fiction consultant and lectures at Bath Spa University.

The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley #thewreckage @Tr4cyF3nt0n @TrapezeBooks @rmorganbentley

Today I’m delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley especially as today is publication day! Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite and my review copy of the book.

What’s the book about?

Things will never be the same again…

Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to the school where he works.

A day like any other, except for Adam, who in a last despairing act jumps in front of Ben’s car, and in killing himself, turns the teacher’s world upside down.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, Ben develops a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could Ben go too far in trying to make amends?

Gripping and sinister, The Wreckage is guaranteed to keep you up all night…

My review

The Wreckage has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and I’m glad to report that it didn’t disappoint! This creepy and compulsive psychological thriller slowly unravels with a tension so tightly strung that you just know that it is leading somewhere you aren’t expecting. And the twist when it comes is certainly unexpected!

The opening few pages are quite horrific as the aftermath of a horrendous car accident is detailed and it becomes obvious a fatality has occurred. We are then introduced to Alice who wakes up and gradually comes to realise that her husband Adam isn’t home. She finds a letter in his office and, after asking her neighbour to watch her 7 year old son Max, she rushes to search for her husband-a search that won’t end well…

It was the characterisation that kept this storyline afloat for me and kept me invested in the narrative. Ben, the driver of the car that kills Adam, is an interesting character-a nice, well mannered and good looking chap-but I was never quite sure about him or his intentions. The relationship he develops with Alice became one where I was never convinced of who was in control or where it would lead so I found it fascinating to watch them heading for the “car crash” collision that emerged from the liaison that they formed.

I thought the ending was inspired and it really did give me food for thought about what had come before and how our characters behaviour had lead to their fate. I don’t think I ever particularly liked Ben or Alice, I found them both to be very damaged individuals and instead of feeling sympathy towards them, I often felt frustrated by their tunnel vision and inability to see that the toxicity of the aftermath was clouding their character judgment. It was refreshing though to see a more detailed account told from a male point of view and the emotional fallout following such a life changing experience.

The Wreckage isn’t a fast paced adrenaline fuelled thriller but more of a sophisticated slow burner that delivers a disturbing and uneasy premonition of impending disaster. It’s gripping, involving and a very uncomfortable read at times and delivers a narrative that will probably divide readers sympathy’s.

The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley is published on February 6th 2020 by Trapeze Books.

Meet the author

After graduating with a First Class degree in Modern and Medieval Languages, Robin worked for five years at Google. Since 2014, he has worked at Audible, where he runs their podcast,Audible Sessions. He has interviewed multiple authors including Paula Hawkins, Fiona Barton, Clare Mackintosh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Anthony Horowitz and Jeffery Deaver, and these conversations inspired him to start writing.