Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

EXCERPT: ‘So, what do you think happened, Al?’ L-Plate asked.

I didn’t tell her what I thought because, to be honest, I was scared as much as anything. I was excited, don’t get me wrong, all those professional instincts starting to kick in, but I was . . . wary. Right then, with a body cooling just yards away, it was no more than a feeling and I try to steer clear of those, with good reason. Eighteen months before, I’d had a feeling that the crack-head who’d invited us into his flat on the Mile End Road was harmless. If it hadn’t been for that, there wouldn’t have been any PTSD or any need for the variety of things I poured and snorted and popped into my body to numb that pain. I would not have ended up thinking that the people I loved most in the world were trying to kill me or that strangers could read my mind. I would not have hurt anyone.

ABOUT ‘RABBIT HOLE’: Alice Armitage is a police officer. Or she was.

Or perhaps she just imagines she was.

Whatever the truth is, following a debilitating bout of PTSD, self-medication with drink and drugs, and a psychotic breakdown, Alice is now a long-term patient in an acute psychiatric ward.

When one of her fellow patients is murdered, Alice becomes convinced that she has identified the killer and that she can catch them. Ignored by the police, she begins her own investigation. But when her prime suspect becomes the second victim, Alice’s life begins to unravel still further as she realizes that she cannot trust anyone, least of all herself.

MY THOUGHTS: Mark Billingham is an amazing author. His depiction of Alice Armitage is brilliant, his forays into her mind, scary.

Reading Rabbit Hole was a nostalgic experience for me. It reawakened a lot of memories of patients and incidents from my psychiatric nursing days, some amusing, some not. Billingham has done his research well.

I particularly loved his reference to ‘the seven dwarves of lunacy’ – Angry, Jumpy, Nervy, are the three he named, but let me add Twitchy, Dopey, Spacey, and Deluded to his list. He definitely hasn’t lost his trademark sense of humour, e.g. the Detective Constables who, when she can’t recall their names, Alice dubs French and Saunders. In fact, in Rabbit Hole, Billingham has been able to give his sense of humour free reign. He certainly got plenty of chuckles out of me! Neither do I think naming his main character Alice was a random inclination.

He also has a lot of fun with the nicknames that Alice gives her fellow patients, and I apprecited the run down we got on both them and the staff who care for them.

Billingham uses first person narrative to tell this story. Everything you see, you see from Alice’s perspective. So we are privy to all Alice’s erratic and, at times, manic thoughts, as well as her flashes of lucidity. But, just like Alice, we don’t know what happens when she has her blackouts, or even that they are occurring, which makes for very interesting reading.

Please don’t go into Rabbit Hole expecting a Tom Thorne thriller/police procedural. You will be disappointed. Instead, go into Rabbit Hole with an open mind and be prepared to enjoy a ‘locked room’ murder-mystery set in a (supposedly) secure acute psychiatric ward told from the not always reliable point of view of one of the patients. I had a ball with this read, and I hope that you do too.


#RabbitHole #NetGalley

I: #markbillingham @groveatlantic

T: @MarkBillingham @groveatlantic

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mentalhealth #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

EXCERPT: She looked down at the label on the file.


The clenched fist kept moving up her throat, every horrific detail she had suppressed over the last twenty three years threatening to choke her.

Callie’s terrifying phone call. Leigh’s frantic drive to reach her. The horrific scene in the kitchen. The familiar smell of the dank house, the cigars and scotch and blood – so much blood.

Leigh had to know for sure. She needed to hear it said out loud. Her teenage voice came out of her mouth when she asked, ‘Trevor?’

The way Andrew’s lips curved up to the left was so chillingly familiar. Leigh felt a tingle of goosebumps prickle her skin. She had been his babysitter, and then, when she was old enough to find real work, she had passed the job on to her baby sister.

‘I go by Andrew now,’ he told her. ‘Tenant is mom’s maiden name. We both thought it would be good to change things up after what happened with dad.’

‘After what happened with dad.’

Buddy Waleski had disappeared. He’d abandoned his wife and son. No note. No apologies. That’s what Leigh and Callie made it look like. That’s what they had told the police. Buddy had done a lot of bad things. He was in debt to a lot of bad people. It made sense. At the time, all of it had made sense.

Andrew seemed to feed off her dawning recognition. His smile softened, the upward curve of his lips slowly smoothing out.

He said, ‘It’s been a long time, Harleigh.’


Only one person in her life still called her by that name.

Andrew said, ‘I thought you’d forgotten all about me.’

Leigh shook her head. She would never forget him. Trevor Waleski had been a sweet kid. A little awkward. A lot clingy. The last time Leigh had seen him, he had been drugged into oblivion. She had watched her sister gently kiss the top of his head.

Then the two of them had gone back into the kitchen to finish murdering his father.


Leigh Coulton has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defence attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilised – her life is just as unremarkable as she’d always hoped it would be.


But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average… a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.


Then a case lands on her desk – defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It’s the highest profile case she’s ever been given – a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realises that it’s no coincidence that he’s chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.


If she can’t get him acquitted, she’ll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Callie, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice…

MY THOUGHTS: A definite thriller that kept me guessing!

Where do I start with this review? Slaughter never fails to surprise me. False Witness is a complicated (I mean that in a positive way) story of abuse on many levels. Paedophilia, alcohol, drug, and parental abuse are all a part of False Witness, as is the Covid-19 pandemic.

I am not going to talk about the plot, because I don’t want to give anything away. I will say, however, that I didn’t much like False Witness to start with, thanks to Ms Slaughter’s realistic and graphic portrayals of drug addicts their habits, of Buddy Waleski and his proclivities. It made me feel dirty, like I wanted to go stand under a hot shower until the water ran out. I didn’t like Callie, although by the time I had finished, I had a sneaking admiration for her. And although she could not resist the siren song of heroin, she was incredibly strong in other ways. As was Harleigh who, although facing a major moral dilemma, put both her daughter’s and her sister’s welfare first.

There are many surprising twists to this story, and the characterisation is wonderful. I particularly liked the elderly vet, teetering on the brink of dementia, that Callie worked for. And despite everything else that occurs in False Witness, the violence and the cruelty, no animals are harmed. Another thing I absolutely loved was Callie’s conversations with and about her cat. Purr genius! (The pun is deliberate.)

False Witness is an intense, dark and gritty read that won’t be for everyone. There were times I doubted that it was for me. And it is overly long, with a fair bit of repetition which, really, wasn’t necessary. It was like the author was taking up a sledgehammer to ram home certain points.

While I can’t say I enjoyed this read, I am glad that I read False Witness. Slaughter is making statements about our society that need to be heard. Not only heard, but taken on board. And not just in America.

Kathleen Early made an excellent job of the narration. She made me forget that I was listening to an audiobook. I felt like I was right in amongst the drama.


#FalseWitness #NetGalley

I: @karinslaughterauthor @blackstonepublishing

T: @SlaughterKarin @BlackstonePubl1

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 21 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and PIECES OF HER. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is in development with Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Grant County and Will Trent series are in development for television.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Blackstone Publishing – Audiobooks via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of False Witness by Karin Slaughter for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver

EXCERPT: The man identifies himself as the county medical examiner. After we sit, he assumes the same forward-leaning angle as the counsellor. He withdraws two photographs from a file folder, asking me if they are of my wife, Patience Susan Addison. Here, in Martinsville County, Massachusetts, one doesn’t identify the corpse itself by looking at the body in a file cabinet tray, the way it works in TV shows and perhaps other jurisdictions.

The pictures are color printouts, four-by-fives. Maybe they’ve discovered that larger pictures are more likely to ignite hysteria.

I look at the heart-shaped face, her eyes closed, complexion understandably paler than when she was among the living. There are no scars or bruises. She died of a broken neck. A different camera angle would have revealed that, I know.

I regard a second photograph. The tattoo of a ginkgo leaf on her ankle.

‘Yes. That’s her.’

ABOUT ‘CAUSE OF DEATH’: Jon Talbot is a history professor who makes sense of the past by examining facts. He also knows how to speculate about the what-ifs. Jon’s doing both following the death of his wife, Pax. Driving home late from a volunteer assignment, she plunged off a mountain highway and died. The police find nothing suspicious about the facts: a deer in the road, a blown tire, a broken neck. But the what-ifs are leading Jon down a twisting trail of secrets. After five years of marriage, he is finally getting to know his wife.

MY THOUGHTS: Jeffery Deaver has written a gripping short story about a history professor investigating his wife’s death. Unusually for a short story, the main characters are really well fleshed out. Jon Talbot deals with life the same way he teaches history: in microscopic pieces. And he uses the same method to investigate the death of his wife, even though the police have ruled it accidental, when he discovers a few inconsistencies, such as a burner phone. Why would an aid worker need a burner phone?

Cause of Death is gripping, exciting, entertaining and tense. I enjoyed getting to know Jon, and through him, his wife.

A highly recommended one-sitting read.


#CauseofDeath #NetGalley

I: @officialjefferydeaver #amazonoriginalstories

T: @JefferyDeaver #AmazonOriginalStories

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #mystery #shortstory

THE AUTHOR: Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He has served two terms as president of Mystery Writers of America, and was recently named a Grand Master of MWA, whose ranks include Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Mary Higgins Clark and Walter Mosely.

The author of more than forty novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of awards.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Original Stories via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I tried to take Luke to the library to borrow some books a couple of weeks ago, but he told me he wanted to keep the books forever, so we didn’t go. I had a book to return yesterday, so I took him with me and he brought 4 books home, and suddenly it’s a really good idea to borrow books then take them back and swap them for new ones. These were his selections:

Currently I am reading and loving Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham. I can see myself reading late into the night tonight despite having an early start tomorrow so that I can get done what I need to before going for my Covid vaccination.

I am also reading A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, a new author for me. I have to admit it was the cover that first attracted me. I just wanted to plonk myself down on the sand and soak up the view. The Adirondack chair? Am I the only person earth who finds these uncomfortable? It probably has something to do with my short legs…. But however I came select this, I am enjoying this warm, gentle read.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, but I have All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss ready to go.

Deep in the tobacco land of North Carolina, nothing’s the same since the boys shipped off to war and worry took their place. Thirteen-year-old Lucy Brown is curious and clever, but she can’t make sense of it all. Then Allie Bert Tucker comes to town, an outcast with a complicated past, and Lucy believes that together they can solve crimes. Just like her hero, Nancy Drew.

That chance comes when a man goes missing, a woman stops speaking, and an eccentric gives the girls a mystery that takes them beyond the ordinary. Their quiet town, seasoned with honeybees and sweet tea, becomes home to a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp—and more men go missing. The pair set out to answer the big question: do we ever really know who the enemy is?

This week I am planning on reading Stolen by Tess Stimson

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worast.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

And The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

If you hear it, it’s too late. Can two sisters save us all?

In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse .

I received 8 new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️

Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh – I was excited by this as I have been requesting this author for some time, and this is my first approval.

The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown

Darkness Falls by David Mark

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Plus Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver. This is an excellent novella which I read last night. Watch for my review later this week.

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker which I am reading this week

A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, which I am currently reading

And the audiobook All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, which I will start tomorrow.

I have travelled mainly in USA this week, Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Porto Rico; Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts; Martinsville County, also Massachusetts; with side trips to Porthteal,Cornwall; and Hendon, a suburb of London. Where have you travelled this week?

Have you read any of the books I have coming up, or are they on your TBR? Or have I tempted you to add them to your TBR?

Have a wonderful week. Stay safe and keep on reading!❤📚

A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer

EXCERPT: Ali reached into the bag and pulled out a tiny onesie in a soft, buttery yellow. Her heart shifted, and she met Meg’s eyes. Meg was watching her with a smile. ‘I know,’ she said quietly. ‘It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? That the baby inside of you now, will one day – soon! – be in your arms.’ She reached out to touch Ali’s arm. ‘You’ll be her mother, her whole world. You’ll do anything for her.’ She smiled. ‘It’s wonderful, really.’

Ali nodded again, a moment of understanding swirling around them. Meg was right. Ali would do anything to keep her baby safe, away from anyone who might harm her. Wasn’t that the very reason she’d come here? In the midst of this turmoil, her daughter was the most important thing. This pregnancy was special, and no one should ruin that – nothing should ruin that. If Ali focused solely on her baby, she didn’t have to let even one day be darkened by fear or uncertainty.

‘Thank you,’ she said, then turned and went into the night, clutching the yellow onesie like a guiding light.

ABOUT ‘A MOTHER’S LIE’: My darling child… all I’ve ever yearned for. But how do I keep you safe?

When Ali retreats to her seaside cottage, all she wants is to be alone. To reconnect with a place that has always felt like home until her baby is born.

But then her life collides with the people living in the house next door, Michael and Meg, and she is immediately welcomed into their perfect life with their beautiful baby Jem. As they help her prepare for her own arrival, Ali knows she has made the right choice for her baby in returning to Seashine Cottage.

When Michael leaves suddenly for a work trip, and Meg impulsively invites Ali to move in, it becomes clear things aren’t as perfect as they first seemed.

Meg is holding on to a dark secret. And as her behaviour becomes ever more erratic – leaning on Ali for increasing amounts of help – while Michael shows no signs of returning, Ali begins to worry.

Does she need to protect herself and her unborn child from the new friend she thought would help keep her safe? And what about her own devastating secret… the one she’s been running from?

This book was previously titled ‘Safe From Harm’.

MY THOUGHTS: It took me a week to read A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer. I found it difficult to relate to the characters of Ali and Meg, even after the revelations. Ali’s and Meg’s stories were dramatic, but almost soap-operaish.

The most interesting facet of this book for me was Violet’s story, which both intrigued me, and broke my heart. Violet seemed very real to me, more so than Meg or Ali.

The story is told over two timelines: in the present by Ali, and 2018 from Violet’s perspective, her past being recalled in memories.

I’m sorry I didn’t like A Mother’s Lie so much, particularly as I loved Leah Mercer’s last offering, Ten Little Words.

I don’t recommend reading this book if you are pregnant.


#AMothersLie #NetGalley

I: @leahmercerauthor @bookouture

T: @LeahMercerBooks @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #domesticdrama #mentalhealth

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah can’t remember a time when she didn’t love writing. From creating fake newspapers to writing letters to the editor, scribbling something was always on the agenda. Even the rejections she received after completing her first novel at age 13 didn’t dent her enthusiasm.

So it makes sense, then, that she pursued a career in anything but writing. Public relations, teaching, recruitment, editing medical journals — even a stint painting houses — until she finally succumbed once more to the lure of the blank page.

When she’s not being jumped on by her young son or burning supper while thinking of plot-lines, Leah can be found furiously tapping away on her laptop, trying not to check Twitter or Facebook.

Leah also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

EXCERPT: ‘By the way, what’s Safi short for?’

‘Saffron,’ he responded. ‘Boy! That takes me back. She hated it – changed it when she was ten, if you can believe it!’ He chuckled suddenly. ‘She was the most pig-headed brat you ever saw. Call her Saffron and she’d just ignore you – even Mum.’

‘So . . . who is she, Charlie?’

There was a brief silence. ‘My – our – sister. I forgot you wouldn’t know. How did you come to hear about her, anyway?’

‘I found her photo. What’s the big mystery, Charlie? How come none of you boys, let alone Mum and Dad, ever mentioned her to me? Did she die?’

ABOUT ‘THE HEARTWOOD HOTEL’: The Heartwood is the core of this district. It always has been so, but it’s still just a building. It’s your family – you and Adam and old Tiger – who animate it, keep the heart beating, so to speak.’

In the abandoned railhead town of Tewinga, now almost a ghost town, Lyn and Adam Portman struggle to keep the Heartwood Hotel afloat. Lyn loves her husband and longs to be a mother. But she’s kept busy caring for her elderly father, her community, and Max, the young worker who reminds her of the brother she’s lost and dearly misses.

When he fails to return from a day trip, Lyn’s concern deepens as the length of his absence grows, the more so with rumours of criminal activity at a nearby station. Meanwhile, a chance meeting uncovers a family bombshell that leaves Lyn reeling. The community must pull together as never before, proving that sometimes the smallest towns have the biggest hearts – and hide the darkest secrets.

MY THOUGHTS: Set in the remote hinterland of Queensland Australia, somewhere between Hamilton and Charters Towers, Tewinga, home to a pub, with petrol, a one man Police Station, a general store and a camp ground, is the setting for this multi-layered outback mystery.

Who is Safi?

Where has Max disappeared to?

What is the secret behind all the wealth at one of the stations?

Tewinga may almost be a ghost town, but there’s always plenty going on. Monthly CWA dances, gossip in the bar. The way everyone pulls together when there’s a crisis. McGinnis has truly captured the spirit of the outback. I felt right at home here. The characters are so real that I’m sure I’ve met some of them on my travels.

An author I will be reading more of.



I: #kerrymcginnis #penguinbooksaus

T: @PenguinBooksAus

#australianfiction #crime #familydrama #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and, at the age of twelve, took up a life of droving with her father and three siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener, stock-camp and station cook, eventually running a property at Bowthorn, near Mount Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir and now lives in Bundaberg.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to fellow Waitomo District Library Book Club members, Betty and Elsie, for recommending The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

EXCERPT: January 2019
Wendy is as good as her word, and the Raven Hall invitation is delivered to Sadie’s flat the next day, along with an incredibly chic, old-fashioned suitcase with Sadie Langton printed on the luggage label. Sadie studies the front of the heavily embossed card: ‘You are cordially invited to play a game at Raven Hall.’ She flips it over to read the details: ‘Saturday 19th January. Chauffeur to collect you 5:00 p.m. Drinks in the drawing room from 7:00 p.m. Dinner and the game to commence 7:30 p.m. in the dining hall.’ Beneath this is a handwritten line in looping blue ink: ‘Thank you so much for agreeing to join us – it will be a weekend to remember!’

ABOUT ‘THE PERFECT GUESTS’: A very quick read that hooked me almost immediately. The Perfect Guests takes place over two timelines.

1988: Beth is an orphaned teenager who is fostered out to a couple with a daughter of a similar age, Nina. They live at Raven Hall.

2019: Sadie, a struggling actress, is offered the very well paid role of a guest at a murder-mystery weekend at….Raven Hall.

The story is told from the perspectives of Beth and Sadie, and occasionally from that of another character, whose identity is not revealed until over halfway through the book.

I really liked this book initially, it swept me along, my feelings of apprehension and anticipation skyrocketing. But then it all began to get a bit untidy, repetitive, and a little loose, for lack of a better word. It started to lack cohesion, became a bit random and awkward. And the ending? Yeah, okay, I might have rated it a little higher if it were not for ‘The Return to Raven Hall’ – the last two chapters were just a step too far.

BUT, I will be interested to see what this author comes up with next.


#ThePerfectGuests #NetGalley

I: @emmarousaithor @littlebrownbookgroup_uk

T: @EJRous @LittleBrownUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #mystery #suspense

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emma grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before starting to write fiction. Emma lives near Cambridge in England with her husband and three sons, and her rescue dog and cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Little Brown Book Group UK for providing a digital ARC of The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

EXCERPT: ‘Message four, received today, 12.17 p.m.’

Crackles on the line. Clicks and whistles.


It’s him. It’s Daniel.

And yet something in his voice – dark, alien – isn’t Daniel at all. In an instant, Lucy knows she’s utterly unprepared for how bad this might get.

Around her, the playground darkens. The sound of children’s voices fades. Time slows, then stops completely. Parents and offspring become graveyard statues welded to a tarmac sea. Colour seeps from their skin, their clothes. Lucy feels no wind in her hair, no speckling of rain on her cheeks. Her heart doesn’t beat. The blood in her veins doesn’t flow.

The phone is clamped so tightly to her ear that the hiss and burr of static fill her head. She concentrates hard, as if by deciphering those electronic shrieks she can divine Daniel’s location, his intent. She hears wind, or what sounds like it. A chaotic symphony of whistles and chirrups, as if the broadcast is reaching her from deep space.

Lucy feels sure the connection is about to drop entirely. And then, with a buzzing that makes her wince, the clarity on the line is restored and she hears something else, something she didn’t expect, another voice, fainter than the first, one that she recognizes as clearly as her own: ‘Daddy, no-‘


The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .

MY THOUGHTS: In a market awash with pale imitations, The Rising Tide is a true psychological thriller. I was thrilled from the first page to the last; never quite on an even keel, always a little off balance, never entirely sure who to believe. That was one enjoyable, wild ride, and I want to do it all over again!

All the words that are bandied about, hold true for this, Sam Lloyd’s second novel. Intense. Thrilling. Suspenseful. Breathtaking. Twisty. Heart pounding. Jaw dropping. Chilling. Compelling. And even all banded together, they don’t do The Rising Tide justice. It is all those things and more. Sam Lloyd scares me. He had me on the edge of my seat, nails digging into my palms, crying out, ‘No, no, no, no!’ as I read. Twenty four hours after finishing The Rising Tide, I still get breathless thinking about it.

Who are these people, Sam Lloyd’s characters? Is Daniel a monster? Or a loving father and stepfather? Is Lucy cold, calculating, cheating and manipulative? Or is she a loving mother who has had her world ripped apart?

My favourite characters are the delightful Bibi Trixibelle Carter, a very sharp eighty something year old, and the doomed Detective Inspector Abraham Rose and, of course, Lucy’s daughter Billie.

The Rising Tide is at the very top of my favourite books list for 2021, and I seriously doubt that anything is going to displace it. Five stars are simply not enough. The Rising Tide deserves a whole galaxy.


#TheRisingTide #NetGalley

I: #samlloyd #randomhouseUK

T: @samlloydwrites @BantamPress

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #fivestarread #psychologicalthriller #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, where he learned his love of storytelling. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl.

DISCLOSURE: A huge thank you to Random House, Transworld Publishing, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

I’m late!

It’s been a hectic few days. A stomach bug has been raging through town. My neighbour and friend Helen is down with it. My husband came home from work today with it. I have staff off work with it which resulted in my working 11 1/2 hours yesterday. Fingers crossed that I can avoid it.

So, although it’s Monday, here’s my Sunday post.

Currently I am reading The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

Set in north Queensland outback, I am enjoying this read. Thanks Elise from the Waitomo District Library book group for recommending this. I will be reading more from this author.

I am also reading The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. It’s excellent!

And A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer which I have only just started. This was previously titled Safe From Harm.

I am listening to Safe Witness by Karin Slaughter

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game–and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined–even with damage from a fire decades before–but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

And The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

The only relationship she can’t save is her own . . .
Alison is a marriage counsellor. Her job is to help couples who fear they have reached the end of the line. But the trouble with spending your time sorting out other people’s problems is that you tend to take your eye off your own. Even when her husband’s ex Lydia arrives on the doorstep demanding to see her son, Alison thinks she can handle it. But what Alison doesn’t realise is that Lydia is the one person who has the ability to destroy their perfect family. And sometimes the cracks can run so deep that even a marriage mender can’t repair them . . . 

I received only three new ARCs this week, two Kindle format and 1 audiobook, False Witness by Karin Slaughter, which I started this morning.

Summer Island Sisters by Ciara Knight

And The Little Island Secret by Emma Davies

This week I have been to The Isle of Shura in Scotland, briefly to Riva in Italy, and Stockholm, Sweden. Where have your reading travels taken you this week?

Happy reading!

Silver Tears by Camilla Läckberg

EXCERPT: The studio lights were blinding. Faye had lost track of time. She had no idea how long the interview had been going on for, or how long was left. The audience was seated in rows of banked seating – a hungry, amorphous mass, on the alert for every word, every shift in her facial expression.

Usually she thrived in these situations. There was a little diva inside her who liked sitting in front of an audience, feeling the nerves of recording for TV. But today she felt strained and anxious.

Thinking about the shares being bought had kept her awake most of the night, tossing and turning. She had gone over the conversation in advance – conversations with women she would need to persuade to keep their shares without revealing in any way what was happening. No easy task – it would take both tact and finesse.

A slightly too long silence wrenched her away from her thoughts. She had been asked a question and was expected to answer.

‘The plan is to expand to the USA,’ she heard herself say. ‘I ‘m here in Stockholm for a month or so to meet potential investors and put together the final details. And I want to personally oversee the issue of new stock.’

It was horribly warm. A trickle of sweat ran down the small of her back.

Fredrik Skavlan, the Norwegian talk show host, sat up straight.

‘But this hunger . . . What is it that drives you? You’re already a billionaire. A feminist icon.’

Faye strung out the silence. The other guests were an American Hollywood actor, a female professor of linguistics who had just published a non-fiction bestseller, and a woman who had climbed Mount Everest with prosthetic legs. The Hollywood star had been flirting ceaselessly with Faye ever since she arrived at the studio.

‘Before my best friend Chris died, I promised her I would live life for both of us. I want to see how far I can get, what I can build. My biggest fear is dying without achieving my full potential.’

‘And Julienne, your daughter who was murdered by your ex-husband. What does her memory mean to you?’

Fredrik Skavlan leaned forward and the tension in the studio increased.

She didn’t answer right away, letting the temperature rise even further. Reach boiling point. The answer was learned by heart, but it was important it sounded natural.

‘She’s with me in everything I do. When the longing and pain get too much I bury myself in my work. I’m running Revenge, trying to make it grow, so that I don’t lie down and die myself. So that I don’t end up as just another woman silenced in the shadows of a man’s actions. So that he – the man I once loved, but who killed our daughter – doesn’t succeed in killing me too.’

ABOUT ‘SILVER TEARS’: Faye Adelheim has had to fight hard her whole life. But now, she is rich, her business has become a global brand, and she is hidden safely away in Italy with her daughter, where her violent ex-husband, Jack, can no longer harm them.

But Faye’s world is turned upside down when she discovers Jack is no longer behind bars, and she is forced to return to Sweden.

Just as Faye is in the fight of her life to keep her family safe, the dark truth about her childhood, which she has kept buried for years, is dramatically uncovered. And Faye is about to discover that even the best kept secrets have the power to destroy everything…

MY THOUGHTS: I loved Camilla Läckberg’s Patrik Hedström series. This series is completely different.

I should have felt sympathetic towards Faye. I didn’t. I found her cold and calculating, yet also strangely vulnerable. But I didn’t like her. At times I rooted for her. But I didn’t like her.

Another thing I didn’t like was the very graphic and superfluous sex scenes that pepper the book. They add little to nothing to the story and I felt that the majority of them were entirely unnecessary.

Was I bored by the story? No, definitely not. But neither did I love it. I didn’t skim anything other than some sex scenes, and I never considered not finishing it, but I didn’t love it. I liked it, but not a whole lot. It has all the ingredients that should make me love it: secrets, love, betrayal and revenge.

If I had been given this book with no indication of who had written it, I never would have picked Camilla Läckberg. I read the first book in this series after I was declined it on Netgalley, and while I didn’t love it either, I liked The Golden Cage more than Silver Tears. The ending of Silver Tears makes it apparent that there is another book to come. It is one that I won’t be putting my hand up for.


#SilverTears #NetGalley

I: @lackberg @harpercollinsaustralia

T: @camillalackberg

#contemporaryfiction #crime #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Before she became one of Sweden’s most popular crime writers, Camilla Läckberg (b. 1974) worked as a marketing director and product manager for several years.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for providing a digital ARC of Silver Tears by Camilla Läckberg for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.com