Katy’s bookshelf 2017

 

IMG_6413The Birthday Girl, Sue Fortin
Joanne invites her old friends carys, Zoe and Andrea to her fortieth birthday mystery weekend in an isolated croft where she has planned some adventures, mind games and challenges for them. But things soon take a sinister turn. Someone has a secret and Joanne is planning to reveal it at this party to die for.

A compelling read. Although I guessed the villain’s identity early on and did find some aspects far-fetched I was more than happy to be swept away by this thrilling psychological tale. It would make a great TV drama.

 

The Wicked Cometh, Laura Carlin 

Hester, a bright young woman brought up by a poor couple in London after being orphaned is desperate to escape life in the slums. After a chance encounter she finds herself thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family and her new tutor Rebekah. Together with Rebekah she embarks on an investigation into a series of mysterious disappearances but whispers from her past threaten to poison her new life.

I was immediately drawn into this story by the brilliant, atmospheric descriptions of grimy, gas-lit 19th century London and the strong, likeable character of Hester. The mystery unfolds gradually as does the romance but it held my interest throughout

The Last Post – BK Duncan, Bloodhound Books

It is April 1918. May Keaps is a twenty-year-old ambulance driver stationed at The Front. As if transporting hideously wounded soldiers, sleep deprivation and constant shell bombardment weren’t enough, she becomes unwittingly entangled in the untimely death of a young captain, Tobias Fairfax.

Newly-arrived in Northern France he was found with a discharged pistol by his side; rumours on the battlefield were that it wasn’t an accident and he had taken the coward’s way out, committing suicide.

Whatever the explanation, Tobias left a dangerous legacy that puts May in the line of fire. But she is not the only one with a reason to want to uncover the truth. And in a world where life can be extinguished in the blink of an eye, May might regret her search for answers…

An engrossing read. This beautifully written novella is a great introduction to a series featuring May Keaps. The scenes are very well described and the characters fully rounded and convincing

1000 Kilos, Ted Jonsson 

Smart, Beautiful, Yasmin Spiteri is a professional businesswoman and queen of deception. As a luxury liner approaches Valletta harbour, a small, unmanned submarine slides out from the hull and makes for Kalkara. But it doesn’t make it as it veers off course and right into Yasmin’s path. On board is 1000 kilos of cocaine belonging to the Russia mafia,with a street value of 100 million euros. The Russians will stop at nothing to get the drugs back. When Yasmin’s daughter Cydel goes missing she realises it’s not just the mafia she has to fear

This is a thrilling, fast-paced, action-packed novel I found hard to put down. I was quickly drawn in by the exotic location and the feisty main character and had to keep turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next

Threads of Awen

A thoroughly enjoyable collection of short stories and poetry, perfect for dipping into on the journey to work or in spare moments. There’s always something to surprise you. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author

Fire Damage, Kate Medina, Harper Collins

Pschologist Dr Jessie Flynn is brought in to unlock the memories of a traumatised four year old. Sami will only say “The girl knows” but who is the girl? He also talks about a Shadowman. Meanwhile, Jessie’s former patient Capt Ben Callan is investigating the suspicious death of an officer in Afghanistan.  When a body is washed up on a Sussex beach a link is found between the two cases and it becomes clear the Afghanistan mystery starts with a secret closer to home.

I started this book a while ago and came back to it recently. I’m glad I did as the pace picks up in the second half. It is an intriguing and complex story featuring an interesting main character, which has good potential for a series. The puzzle is gradually unravelled and the multiple plot lines brought together in a satisfying way.

Hunters Moon, Lynda Renham, Raucous Publishing

Wow, what a read! Dark, shocking and thrilling. Flora Macintosh, an interior designer who want a baby and her husband Adam, the Home Secretary, move into an intriguing old gothic stone house in an Oxfordshire village called Hunters Moon. But this seemingly idyllic house complete with boating lake hints at some dark secrets which a suspicious bunch of villagers seem to be guarding. I love the way the different strands of the story are brought together and would definitely recommend this book to other fans of psychological thrillers

my rating: 5 stars

Bethel Manor, Beatrice Fishback

I’m always attracted to stories about houses with secrets so Bethel Manor was an obvious choice for me. Love conquers all in this romantic Victorian tale in which James who was brought up in an orphanage in Bristol embarks on a journey to East Anglia to discover why he was abandoned at birth. There he meets the intriguing but hostile Clare and has to overcome other obstacles put in his way by an unscrupulous person. I loved the settings, especially the magnificent manor

IMG_6358Bethel Manor Reborn

In this engrossing sequel to Bethel Manor Clare has to deal with blindness after the birth of her son. Her husband James feeling shut out seeks solace from a friend but will it develop into something more? Meanwhile an old enemy is out for revenge…

I jumped at the chance to revisit Bethel Manor and read this in one sitting. It didn’t disappoint. Plenty of intrigue and twists as familiar characters come up against new challenges

IMG_6336The Surrogate, Louise Jensen

When childless Kat’s former best friend Lisa offers to be a surrogate there are so many reasons she should say no given what has happened in their past but one very good reason to say yes. At first sight this seems quite a simple situation but as the past event that is hinted at early on is gradually revealed and the relationships between characters are shown to be more and more tangled, anything could happen.

100% my kind of book! I loved the creeping tension between characters, the gradually revealed back stories, the foreshadowing and the gorgeous, succinct descriptions. The twists keep coming and the ending doesn’t disappoint. I’ll definitely be reading more books by this author

my rating: 5 stars

IMG_6354The Eleventh Floor, Shani Struthers

Devastated by the deaths of her parents, Caroline travels to her mother’s hometown in Pennsylvania but is caught in a snowstorm and forced to shelter in the Egress Hotel. From the moment she walks in there is a sense that this is no ordinary hotel. As the storm intensifies the mystery deepens – who are these people she is stranded with and what secrets are they hiding?
Another gripping and haunting read by Shani Struthers, author of The Venetian. I loved the descriptions of the hotel and the eeriness that grows ever more nightmarish as Caroline starts to question what is on the eleventh floor. A superbly structured book with clever twists and plausible characters. I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in its pages
My rating: 5 stars

 

Revolution Day, TE Taylor, Crooked Cat Books
IMG_6303This powerful and tragic tale charting the rise and fall of a dictator had me gripped. After 37 years in power Carlos Almanzor is convinced that someone – perhaps someone very close to him – wants to betray him. Who can he trust and what lengths must he go to to protect himself and hold onto his position? The book is so well written – superbly structured, the pace keeps up and I loved the narrative voice, especially Juanita’s viewpoint.

my rating 5 stars

IMG_6198Coattails and Cocktails
Thoroughly enjoyable 1920s murder mystery – an intoxicating mix of glitz, glamour and tangled relationships. The crime takes place at a dinner party thrown by a Chicago tycoon at his country mansion with a group of intriguing guests from a Hollywood starlet to a young journalist who all find themselves suspects. I love the way the story is structured like a menu

IMG_6247All The Colours In Between, Eva Jordan, Urbane

I was engrossed in this portrayal of contemporary family life with all its highs and lows by the author of 183 Times a Year. ‘It’s not life, it’s an adventure’ is the theme that runs through the book which is peopled by multi-dimensional, plausible characters. Nothing is black and white in their lives. Mum Lizzie is embracing her new career as a writer while dealing with her troubled children and the impending death of her father. The different viewpoints are perfectly balanced and work beautifully

I received a free copy of this book from the author and have reviewed it voluntarily for The Book Club (TBC)

My rating: 5 stars

Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays, Lucy V Hay

What I loved about this book is that it shows what makes a story a thriller instead of a drama and on what makes it sell. To be honest,  I’ve never attempted to write a screen script and might never do so but am fascinated by how they are created and what makes them work. This is a comprehensive book with lots of examples showing cliches and pitfalls to avoid,  and the need to come up with an idea that’s ‘the same but different’, backed up by advice from experts

My rating: 5 stars

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Oz, Bobbie Darbyshire, Cinnamon Press

Mark Johnson’s life is a mess. He’s been cheating on his wife and fears his marriage is over but can’t bear to leave his boisterous daughter Matilda (7). Then his mother is killed in a road accident. Shocked and grieving, he decamps to her house but makes a discovery there that turns his life upside down and sends him and his daughter on a whirlwind search for the truth.

I loved this book – didn’t want it to end. It’s a poignant, engrossing tale of love, lies and missed opportunity with brilliantly drawn characters that I know will stay with me

My rating: 5 stars

The Foster Child, Jenny Blackhurst, Headline

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of a troubled, introverted foster child she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous. She’s Determined to prove that Ellie is just a sad, angry child trying to come to terms with the deaths of her family in a house fire. Is she taking too much of a risk by getting so close? Anyone who has read The Silence will understand that a story about a distrubed, barely verbal child would be right up my street!

This is a spooky, disturbing and thrilling read with a killer twist at the end. A well structured tale with complex and compelling characters that I could easily imagine it as a tv drama. This is the first book I’ve read by Jenny Blackhurst but I’ll have to put that right!

My rating: 5 stars

The Fallen Tarn Richardson, Duckworth

If you enjoyed The Damned you’ll love this fast paced, action-packed sequel. The stakes are raised for the main characters who must come together to fight an even bigger battle than the horrific warfare going on around them.  A must-read for lovers of fantasy/horror fiction with a heart

My rating: 5 stars

 

The Damned, Tarn Richardson

A dark, thrilling, compulsive read combining the brutality of WWI with the shadowy fantasy world of the Inquisitors and their outcasts. Refreshingly different from anything else I’ve read. A fantastic imaginative feat but the historical details also seem very well researched. I’ve already got my nose in the sequel!

My rating: 5 stars

IMG_6169The Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante

The Story of a New Name continues to follow the complex friendship, love and rivalry between the two young women in My Brilliant Friend and the world that surrounds them. Lila is adjusting to married life and being part of the family business while Lenu has chosen to improve her future prospects by studying so the course of their futures looks clear. But a holiday in Ischia changes everything. I loved the first book in this series but felt this one was even better as the struggles and conflicts are more intense. I really felt I knew the characters and could empathise with them. I can’t wait to see how things will develop for them in the next book.

my rating: 5 stars

The Watcher, Eli Carros

Chilling, thrilling and visceral, this serial killer thriller will have you on the edge of your seat. A psychopathic killer is stalking and killing young women, leaving a token behind with each of the bodies. DI Jack Grayson has to stop him before he chooses another victim. Definitely not for the squeamish – but I think the cover is a good indicator of that.

 

Death in Dulwich, Alice Castle, Crooked Cat Books

IMG_5556A must for lovers of cosy crime fiction. Widowed single mum Beth Haldane gets a job as an archivist in a prestigious school in aspirational Dulwich Village. But her first day doesn’t quite go according to plan and that’s putting it mildly – she discovers the brutally murdered body of the boss she dislikes. Aware that she must be one of the suspects she sets out to unmask the murderer. This is a good old-fashioned whodunnit with a great cast of characters. Beth felt absolutely real and was very easy to sympathise with. I can’t wait to see what her next case will be

my rating: 5 stars

My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante, Europa Editions

The first in the Neapolitan quartet exploring the friendship and rivalry between two girls growing up in poor but vibrant Naples in the 1950s. I’m always drawn to books about Italy and have wanted to read this for a long time. I loved the portrayal of the main characters as well as of their city and country at a time of great change

my rating: 5 stars

IMG_5791Barefoot and alone, Ted Jonsson
The first in a series featuring private investigator Rose Smith. In 1945 Rose takes a job assisting a private detective and becomes involved in the hunt for a serial killer. I very much enjoyed reading this and think it has great potential for a series. Rose is a strong, brave and sympathetic character with a very tricky case to solve and I’m looking forward to her next case

My rating: 5 stars

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The Women Friends: Selina by Emma Rose Millar and Miriam Drori, Crooked Cat Books

Little is known about the painting The Women Friends produced by Gustav Klimt in 1917 but the two women in it are thought to have been lovers. This story is narrated by Selina, one of the women in the picture. She leaves her conservative country home in the Tyrol to try and find her fortune in Vienna and discovers a bohemian lifestyle. Asked to model for the artist, she falls in love with Janika, Klimt’s muse. But the relationship becomes complicated and over the years the mood in Vienna starts to change as a dark political movement sweeps in. Selina finds herself caught up in the terrifying events as the Nazis gain power.

I found this an engrossing read – bold, beautifully written and utterly convincing. Selina doesn’t always make the best decisions but she feels real. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is intrigued by Klimt’s paintings and wants to get a glimpse into the world that surrounded him.

my rating: 5 stars

My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier, Virago

Philip Ashley dreams of revenge against the woman who married and, he suspects killed, his guardian Ambrose. But when Ambrose’s widow arrives at the Cornish estate Philip finds himself drawn to Rachel and falling in love, dismissing his former theory as jealousy. Until suspicion starts to grow again…

A wonderfully gothic psychological drama. I’ve been meaning to read this book for years, having read almost everything else by Daphne du Maurier, and have only just got round to it but it lived up to all expectations. Rachel is a fascinating, compelling character and Philip is very easy to sympathise with. The story is deliberately ambiguous so if you like a nice neat ending and clear guidance from the author then it might not be the book for you but I love the way that as the reader you’re pulled this way and that, just like poor Philip. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves Rebecca.

my rating: 5 stars

IMG_5582The Scond Sister, Claire Kendal, Harper

The Second Sister tells the story of a woman’s struggle to find out what happened to her sister who vanished ten years ago, leaving behind a baby son. This is a fabulous book, one I couldn’t put down. It’s fast-paced, cleverly constructed and genuinely thrilling. Although  I found the second person narrative took a bit of getting used to it did reinforce the closeness between the sisters, making it believable that Ella (Melanie) would still talk to Miranda and hear Miranda’s voice. A common criticism of thrillers is that they can lose pace and get soggy in the middle but in this book the opposite is true – the action ramps up with the introduction of a new character who is compelling in a Hannibal Lecter way and it all leads to an explosive climax.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book which I chose to review

my rating: 5 stars

The Lies Within, Jane Isaac, Legend Press
Grieving mother Grace Daniels finds herself on trial for the murder of a woman she had until recently thought of as friend. Can DI Jackman find the killer before Grace is convicted?

A pacy, compelling novel that keeps you guessing. This is the third Will Jackman book I’ve read in quick succession and for me it’s easily the best. I love the courtroom drama and the growing tension between Grace and Faye. Their characters were really well portrayed and I also felt I got to know Will Jackman better in this one.

I won this as part of a set of three books from Legend Press in a competition with no obligation to review. My rating: 5 stars

Beneath the Ashes, Jane Isaac, Legend Press
When a body is found in a burned out barn in Warwickshire DI Will Jackman is called to investigate. Nancy Faraday wakes up on her kitchen floor to find that the house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. Can Jackman discover the truth about the body in the barn and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

A dark and sinister puzzle with a clever twist. I found the sections that were in Nancy’s point of view more compelling although it was interesting to watch Jackman piece together the puzzle.

I won this as part of a set of three books from Legend Press in a competition with no obligation to review. My rating: 4.5 stars

Before It’s Too Late, Jane Isaac, Legend Press
After an argument with her boyfriend Min Li is abducted. Trapped in a dark pit she is at the mercy of her captor. DI Will Jackman investigates her disappearance. But as another student vanishes and Min grows weaker time is running out.

An intelligent, thoroughly-researched, well crafted police procedural. The opening drew me in – I really got a sense of Min’s fear and helplessness. From then on the truth is revealed gradually during Jackman’s investigation. I loved having the two viewpoints which helped bring Min’s character to life.
I received this book from Legend Press as a competition prize with no obligation to review

My rating: 4 stars

The Girl in the Snow, KT Finch, Byrd Books

Nick Croft has the perfect life but his past is about to catch up with him. An act of heroism, pulling two children from a car just before it plunges into Lake Washington, makes him a hero but being recognised is the last thing he wants. KT Finch has come up with another fantastic premise and I thought the opening was superb. I enjoyed the interrogation and his growing anxiety although the ending was unexpected and very sudden. I would have liked the book to have been longer which would have enabled the author to develop the characters and backstory a little more but apart from that I found it a very enjoyable read. My rating: 4 stars

Topaz Eyes
When Keira Drummond receives a mysterious invitation to Heidelberg she finds herself drawn into a group of strangers and embarking on a treasure hunt spanning several different countries for a collection of jewels once owned by a Mughal emperor. Uncertain who to trust, she finds herself irresistably drawn to the smouldering Californian Teun Zeger but it soon emerges that someone is on their tail…

If you love romantic novels, especially with the addition of a mystery and a selection of beautiful foreign city settings you’ll love this. Despite having a bit of trouble keeping up with all the names and wishing I knew how to pronounce them I found it an intriguing and absorbing read and loved seeing the characters piece together the clues. A wonderful holiday read! My rating: 5 stars

IMG_5252Skin Deep, Laura Wilkinson, Accent Press

A powerful, haunting and perfectly structured story about a boy with a facial disfigurement who becomes the muse of a young artistwhose past as a model made her miserable. The characters are complex and compelling, the setting of 1980s Manchester feels very authentic and the ending works beautifully. My rating: 5 stars

Good Girl Gone, KT Finch, Byrd Books
A compelling, quick read. I was immediately attracted by the stylish cover of this novella and the snappy three-word title. The girl who has gone is called Molly and she is ten years old. Although she disappears early in the story, she has a strong presence and I really liked the way she was portrayed which of course made the shock of her disappearance even worse. I also found it easy to sympathise with her father Tom, a single parent who faces one of the worst situations imaginable for any parent. As well as being desperately anxious for her safety he is forced to question the integrity of everyone close to him and finds that he is also a suspect. The story ended quite suddenly which was a shame as I would have happily read more.

IMG_4716Behind the lie, Amanda James, HQ

Ex-model Holly has turned her life around. She is married to a millionaire surgeon and expecting twins. She is devastated when one of the twins dies at birth but an anonymous note informs her that he is in fact still alive. No one believes her, not her husband, her mother or her best friend, but she is determined to get to the truth and find her missing child.

Superb! This is the first book I’ve read by Amanda James but it certainly won’t be my last. I was hooked from the first chapter. The main character Holly is likeable and believable. Her situation felt very real and her decisions are logical. The story builds gradually as she battles to get to the truth until it reaches an explosive end.

My rating 5/5 stars

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Keep Me Safe, Daniela Sacerdoti, Headline

When Anna’s marriage breaks down her young daughter Ava is so badly affected she stops talking. When she starts talking again she recalls times with her “other mother” and an island where she used to watch dolphins. In order to help her daughter, Anna finds the Hebridean island of Seal and takes her there but Ava’s “memories” multiply. On the island Anna encounters Sorren who blames himself for the death of his sister Isla when they were teenagers – a girl who resembled Ava. This book is beautifully written – very elemental with evocative descriptions of the sea and sky and kept me turning the pages.
My rating 4/5 stars
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keep you close, Lucie Whitehouse, Bloomsbury

When brilliant artist Marianne Glass is found dead in her snow-covered garden, Rowan Winter, her once best friend, is certain her death is no accident. Marianne had vertigo and would never have gone so close to the edge. As Rowan pieces together what happened she also has to confront the reason why she and Marianne stopped talking. A thrilling read with a brilliant twist ending. I was so caught up in the characters and Rowan’s conflict I was torn between racing to get to the end to find out the truth and slowing down because I was enjoying it so much.
My rating 5/5 stars

IMG_4398The Idea of You, Amanda Prowse
Lucy’s life appears to be going well but under the surface it’s full of sadness. She has repeated miscarriages while all around her people make insensitive remarks and produce children with ease. To add to the pressure on her new marriage, her husband Jonah’s daughter from an earlier marriage moves in with them and brings her own problems.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book but found it a compelling, emotional read. Although the main theme is very sad and there is an awful inevitability to the pregnancies there is also warmth and a twist involving a secret from the past. Anyone who has had a miscarriage will sympathise with Lucy. I liked the way the story unfolded and the characters gained depth.
My rating 4/5 stars

Thank you netgalley for a copy of this book.

Attention to Death, Ailsa Abraham, Crooked Cat Books

Called to the scene of a brutal murder on an army base, military police investigators Captain Angus Simpson and Staff Sergeant Rafael Landen uncover a sinister plot – but they too have something to hide.

I was completely absorbed by this book. The grisly details of the murder are juxtaposed with the emotional struggle of the two men as they at first battle to keep their feelings secret from each other and then from everyone else in a very homophobic environment. The story is well-paced and structured and kept me reading to the end. I hope there will be more books to follow featuring these likeable characters.

My rating 5/5 stars

Apple Tree Yard, Louise Doughty (Faber & Faber)

I read this after seeing the televised version partly out of curiosity to see how it was written and how closely the television programme had followed the story. Even though I was familiar with the plot I found it an addictive read. The second person narrative was a bit hard to get used to at first but I thought the book was really well-written, especially the courtroom scenes and I will definitely look out for other books by this author.

My rating 5/5 stars

Dark Deceit, Cathie Dunn, Crooked Cat Books
Geoffrey de Montaigne, under-sheriff of Gloucester and spy for the Empress Matilda, goes to the aid of a dying knight caught in an ambush. He promises to take care of the knight’s only daughter so he stays at her manor while investigating the murder. Alleyne de Bellac, the knight’s daughter reluctantly accepts Geoffrey’s support but an old friend Will d’Arques also offers help. With her life in danger and her inheritance at stake, how does she know which man to trust?

I found this an engrossing read and a lovely bit of escapism into the 12th century after the contemporary books I’ve been reading. Cathie Dunn really brings the period to life. The novel is very well researched but the historic details are delivered subtly so I didn’t feel bombarded by facts or as if I was being given a history lesson. The story is skilfully teased out so the reader is kept guessing until the end. My rating 5/5 stars

Isolation, Neil Randall (Crooked Cat Books)

Office worker Nigel Barrowman receives a photograph in the post showing a grisly murder. He dismisses it as a prank but then an identical murder takes place, setting off a chain of events.

I was completely absorbed by this. It’s nightmarish, psychological and very cleverly crafted. Nigel finds himself trapped in a world where things happen before they really happen and people aren’t who they appear – including, it seems, himself. I really didn’t know how it would end but it all made perfect sense when it did. My rating 5/5 stars

Written in Bones, James Oswald (Penguin)

DI McLean returns to work after a three-month suspension and is plunged into an investigation over a body found in a tree – a body he recognises. The mystery deepens when the young boy who found the body says he believes it was dropped there by a dragon. McLean begins to suspect the body has been left as some sort of message but what does it mean?

A well-structured novel with a likeable main character and a spectacularly-written opening scene. I haven’t read the other books in this series (there are seven) which put me at a slight disadvantage as there were several references to past events and characters that other readers would recognise but these weren’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves procedural crime novels.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a review copy of this book. My rating 4 stars

He said/She said, Erin Kelly (to be published by Hodder and Stoughton)
Laura and her boyfriend Kit go down to Cornwall to watch the eclipse but on the same evening they witness an incident which will change all of their lives. Certain that what she saw was rape Laura calls the police and the two of them end up giving evidence in court. But as events unfold they start to seem a little less clear. Who is the real victim and who is being kept in the dark?

This is a very engaging and thought-provoking tale with some super twists. It’s told in two viewpoints by Laura and Kit so we see how they each react to the incident, the trial and the reappearance in their lives of the accuser and the accused. Information is introduced gradually, casting things in a different light and then a different one again and building up to a dramatic finale. The motif of the different stages of the eclipse echoing the shadowy uncertainty and gradual revelation of the truth worked for me and I’d definitely recommend this book.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a review copy of this book. My rating 5/5 stars

Nowhere Child, Rachel Abbott

Tasha (now calling herself Harry) is sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester. She dreams of being able to return to the home she knew for a short while but after her attempt to take her baby brother in the last story she doesn’t know if she can trust her stepmother or the police enough to let them know where she is. When her friend is attacked and she takes the risk and returns.At first it seems to be the right decision but it soon becomes clear she is leading the people she loves into even greater danger.

I loved Stranger Child by this author (see my 2016 bookshelf) so couldn’t miss the opportunity to find out what happened to Natasha afterwards. This is another compelling read that kept me turning the pages. It would probably still be a good read if you hadn’t read Stranger Child but to get the most out of it I would recommend reading the earlier book first. My rating 5 stars

Letting You Go, Anoushka Knight (Harlequin Mira)

A tragic accident leads to a lifetime of guilt. When Alex’s mother is ill she is forced to return to the home she has stayed away from and finds herself plunged back into the past. She still blames herself for the death of her little brother and her father blames her too. But it gradually becomes clear she is not the only one who feels guilty and everyone has something to hide.

I loved the dynamics of this story – a group of people forced back together, each trying to guard their secrets. I was a bit confused by the location – the language was very American (full of goddamns and gottens and things happening on the porch) so I had to keep checking that it was set in England. I was also a bit frustrated by Jem’s real secret which was easy to guess and took a long time to reveal. But I liked the characters, especially Finn who I loved, and I really enjoyed the way everything came together at the end.

My rating 4 stars

Kill Me Again, Rachel Abbott (Black Dot Publishing)

When Maggie Taylor accepts a job in Manchester she’s sure it’s the right move for her and her family despite her husband’s reluctance. But she comes home from work one day to find her husband Duncan has disappeared, leaving their two young children home alone. His phone is dead and she has no way of contacting him. Maggie starts to suspects she’s not the only person looking for him and when a woman who looks like her is found brutally murdered she realises how little she really knows about Duncan. Should she trust him or betray him?

Brilliant – a psychological thriller that really lives up to its name.  The characters are believable, the tension keeps ratcheting up and the plot keeps twisting until the very last page. I’d definitely recommend this book.

My rating 5 stars

The Sixth Victim, Tessa Harris (Kensington – publication date, June)

It’s 1888 and the foggy streets of London have become a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper. But there’s doubt over his sixth victim – was the Ripper really responsible for the Whitechapel murder or was it the work of someone else? Flower seller Constance Pike begins to suspect she has psychic abilities but will they lead her to the truth?

A real treat for Fans of the Thomas Silkstone series and anyone  interested in Jack the Ripper. Tessa Harris skilfully conveys the state of terror that must have existed during that period. As with her Silkstone books she does a great job in evoking the period feel and has clearly done a lot of research. I should say that if you don’t like gory descriptions of Ripper style murders this won’t be the book for you – but then you would probably have guessed that. Constance, the main character, is brave, principled, curious and keen to better herself. She has lots of potential to carry the series forward. I’ll certainly be looking out for the next one!

My rating 5 stars

Everything But the Truth, Gillian McAllister, (Penguin – publication date 9th March)

A compelling thriller about how much or how little we can trust the ones we love. When Rachel sees an email she starts having doubts about her boyfriend’s identity…

I loved this! The first page drew me in and I stayed hooked throughout. The characters, especially Jack, are minutely observed and Rachel is very easy to empathise with. On the face of it her decision seems easy to make. Should she, a pregnant woman, risk staying with a man who is at best not being entirely truthful and at worst could be a danger to the lives of her and her baby? But her recent experience, her trust issues and Jack’s personality make everything more complicated. Her obsessive investigation throws up more clues while increasing the tension between Rachel and Jack. Meanwhile the contradictions in Jack’s story multiply. I felt the ending was logical and believable.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

My rating 5 stars

The Mistletoe Murder, PD James (Faber &Faber)

A collection of four short stories for Christmas in a beautiful little hardback book  with a foreword by Val McDermid.  The stories are fun to puzzle out and I found the endings very satisfying. The title story is a classic country house whodunit, the second is about an affair that leads to murder and the third and fourth feature her famous detective Adam Dalgleish. I must confess I hadn’t read any PD James before but I now intend to put that right. Rating 5/5 stars

The Witness for the Prosecution and other stories, Agatha Christie (Harper Collins) 

A superb collection of stories. I only wish there were more. I got drawn in immediately by the characters and their situations and loved the twists.

My rating 5 stars

Review policy: these are books I’ve chosen to read and that I would recommend to others. I don’t review books I don’t like but I do give an honest opinion on aspects I like most and least.

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