Crossed Out by Malcolm Hollingdrake

Crossed Out by Malcolm Hollingdrake
Crossed Out (DCI Bennett Book 6) 
by Malcolm Hollingdrake (Goodreads Author)

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EXCERPT: . . . once he had fully comprehended what was said and what was happening, (he) was about to protest again but the unseen, first flush of fluid had hit him in the face. His vision suddenly blurred and turned an opaque yellow as the acid started to destroy his eyes. It filled his mouth, numbing and swelling his tongue. What suddenly became apparent was the smell, the smell he could not identify but in fact was the stench of melting flesh. All that could be heard was a gurgled scream as his face began to burn, blister and melt. The rain on the roof had been drowned out. As the first liquid burned, his hand frantically rubbed his eyes trying to clear away the liquid but to no avail, they too simply began to slough and blister. The pain was so intense that he did not feel the second liquid strike as it was poured specifically over his exposed genitals and thighs. It would be the final act against (him); it was all that would be needed.

THE BLURB: DCI Bennett and his team are back and called to a house in Ripon that has collapsed into a sinkhole where a body is discovered.

Soon old weathered Remembrance Crosses are found dug up. Each one numbered.

DC April Richmond is assigned to help the team due to her impressive biblical knowledge and soon makes a startling discovery.

Meanwhile, Gideon Fletcher is walking around the streets of Harrogate distributing religious texts. Is there a link between Gideon and the crosses? Do the crosses have anything to do with the body in the house?

Bennett and the team find themselves wondering if the killer is exacting revenge or punishment and whatever the answer, they soon realise the clock is ticking.

Crossed Out is an intricate and gripping crime thriller from the best-selling DCI Bennett Series. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of authors like Joy Ellis, Faith Martin, LJ Ross & Angela Marsons.

MY THOUGHTS: It’s complex. But oh so interesting!

Crossed Out by Malcolm Hollingdrake is the sixth in the DCI Bennett series. Although I have read none of the series previously, it didn’t take me long to find my feet with the characters. Bennett is somewhat OCD, a neat freak with trust issues. He dresses nicely and has a passion for good manners. If this makes him sound ‘prissy’, I can assure you he is not.

His sidekick, David Owen, is somewhat his opposite, scattering crumbs and wiping his nose on his sleeve. Yet despite their differences, they have a healthy respect and honest liking for one another.

The characters are all well developed and fill a role in the plot. A new character, April Redmond, is brought into the team in this book. And some of Bennett’s previously concealed past is revealed. There is a little romantic interest, but at no point does it overshadow the true purpose of the book.

There are a few references to occurrences in the previous books, but nothing that is not adequately explained. Although this may be read as a stand-alone, I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series in order to reap the greatest enjoyment.

All in all, a very rewarding read, one that is tempting me to go back to the beginning of the series and read them in order. A very solid ☆☆☆☆.

Thank you to Bloodhound Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Crossed Out by Malcolm Hollingdrake for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2260896319

Dark Angel by Helen Durrant

Dark Angel by Helen H. Durrant
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Suddenly she fell quiet. Something was floating in the water only inches away from her. She must have dislodged whatever it was from the bottom. Megan strained to see in the dark. It was weird. At first it looked like a bin bag full of festival rubbish. Moving closer, she thought it might be a piece of old wood. In the weak moonlight, its surface looked like bark.

‘What on earth is it?’ she looked up at Leon,who had taken several steps backwards.

‘Don’t go near, babe. Look. There.’ He pointed.

Megan peered closer and recoiled, horrified. The dim light reflected off whitish bones. The remains of an arm and a hand were visible. Tendrils of dark hair floated like weed from what had once been a human head.

THE BLURB: Love gripping crime fiction? Discover Detective Stephen Greco, a meticulous policeman with a messy personal life.

Two young men break into an expensive house in Cheshire. They take money and jewellery — and a large amount of heroin. Within twenty-four hours they are found brutally murdered.

The killings have the hallmarks of a local drug baron. The two victims were also “angels” helping in a community project which seems to have been lowering the crime rate in the area.

Meanwhile, Detective Stephen Greco’s colleague and on-off girlfriend Grace is pregnant. He isn’t sure how he feels, and they haven’t told the boss.

This gripping and fast-paced crime mystery ends with a series of shocking twists.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

THE DETECTIVES
DCI Stephen Greco is a meticulous policeman with a touch of O.C.D. Easy to admire, but difficult to like. He has created a new team after a personal tragedy threatened to end his career, and is struggling to care for his daughter.
DS Grace Harper is an ambitious young policewoman with excellent people skills. Like Greco, she is a single parent and tries to balance work and childcare.

THE SETTING
The Northern city of Manchester is a place of great diversity, from high-end restaurants and clubs for the moneyed classes to grim housing estates riven by crime and drugs.

MY THOUGHTS: This is the fourth book by Helen Durrant that I have read, the second in the DI Greco series. My very favorite was Dark Murder, the first of this series.

I like Greco, mostly. He is OCD, has trouble relating to other people, but has this clinical ability to analyze situations and see things others miss. He doesn’t really understand emotions. He knows how he should feel/react, but it just doesn’t happen, which tends to cause havoc in his personal life. His team members see him as ‘a bit of a cold fish’.

Durrant strikes a good balance between the police procedural and the private lives of the main characters. She writes consistently good books that won’t disappoint. This, in particular, has a very clever twist that, despite the clues, I didn’t see coming. And I have the feeling that we haven’t seen the last of femme fatale Ava.

This is a series that it is preferable to read in order so that you get the full benefit of the character development and backgrounds.

Thank you to Joffe Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Dark Angel by Helen Durrant for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2266744546

Friday Favorite – The Burning Man by Solange Ritchie

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

It is almost three years since I first had the pleasure of reading The Burning Man by Solange Ritchie, and it is just as clear in my mind now as it was the day I finished reading it.

The Burning Man by Solange Ritchie
The Burning Man 
by Solange Ritchie (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: All day long, Stone thought of Consuelo Vargas, wishing he would find her, now reluctant he had. His men had searched for two days, plastering her face all over the county.

‘Connie’, as she was known to her family and friends, had been a person, with kids and a future. In this August heat, no one seemed to notice or care. Stone wiped the sweat from his brow. His search had turned up nothing but more questions, leading to pent up frustration and explosive nerves. At least now that frustration would be over.

People in this community of million dollar homes had faith in the system, a false sense of security. Consuelo Vargas would shatter that. People here wouldn’t sleep for weeks.

Stone’s gut wrenched. He wasn’t sure it was a woman.

His flashlight raced across the body, the acrid smell of acid eating at his lungs. It was awful. Stone longed for a blanket of clean air, sunlight, freshness.

Pete continued speechless, backing away from the corpse, as if putting distance between him and the body would make a bit of difference.

Stone knew it wouldn’t. Like the two women before. He thought how Consuelo Vargas’s face would become a nightly, non-mortal visitor, its dark features constantly shifting, changing. Like all the others, her mouth would open in the dream, but nothing would emerge except the screams of a woman being eaten alive by acid. Just like the others.

THE BLURB: It is a summer night in upscale Orange County, California. When young beautiful Consuelo Vargas turns up horribly mutilated and left for dead in a strawberry field, the Irvine Police Department call in top FBI Forensic pathologist/agent, Dr. Catherine (“Cat”) Powers solve a string of murders.

Charged with hunting down a twisted serial killer dubbed the “The Burning Man” as more bodies turn up, Cat embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Her actions will destroy the people she holds most dear. Her decisions will forever change the lives of those she loves.

Little does she know, The Burning Man waits for her, drawing her closer into his web of death, lies and deceit, so that he can take from her the ultimate prize. He waits for her in plain sight forcing her to make a choice no mother should ever have to make.

Suspenseful from the first page, this novel traces the painfully real struggles of a driven woman torn between her career demands and single motherhood, a family saga involving Cat’s young son and his loss of innocence at the hands of a madman and explores the bond shared by a mother and child as they combat pure evil. Cat knows only that she will do anything to catch this killer and keep those she loves alive. But will it be enough?

MY THOUGHTS: ********** If I could award this book 10 stars – I would!

It is exciting to find a debut work by a new author of this calibre.

The writing is clear, concise yet incredibly suspenseful. Solange Ritchie takes us on an exhilarating journey in this compulsive and chilling novel where both characters and plot are complex without being confusing.

Dr. Catherine (“Cat”) Powers is called in to solve a string of grisly murders perpetrated by a twisted serial killer dubbed “the Burning Man’. Little does she realise that her endeavours to identify and apprehend this killer will place everything she values at risk – including her young son – as the killer watches and manipulates her.

The Burning Man should come with a warning to clear your schedule before starting to read…….I paused only to go to work – and then I took the book with me. I resented every moment I was unable to spend immersed in The Burning Man.

A definite 5 stars from me, and a note to the author –“More please!”

Thank you to author Solange Ritchie for providing a digital copy of The Burning Man for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1282183304

The Sunday Summary

I have decided to move taking a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the next week and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley to Sunday instead of Wednesday.

So here we go –

I’m going to start reading as soon as I finish this post.

The Daughter

You lost your daughter. You will never forgive yourself. And now someone’s determined to make you pay…
Seventeen years ago, something happened to Jess’s daughter Beth. The memory of it still makes her blood run cold. Jess has tried everything to make peace with that day, and the part she played in what happened. It was only a brief moment of desire… but she’ll pay for it with a lifetime of guilt.

To distance herself from the mistakes of the past, Jess has moved away and started over with her family. But when terrifying things begin happening in her new home, seemingly connected to what happened to Beth, Jess knows that her past has finally caught up with her. Somebody feels Jess hasn’t paid enough, and is determined to make her suffer for the secrets she’s kept all these years.

And while I was mowing the lawns earlier,  I started listening to

Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3)

In the third novel of this bestselling series, London investigator Maisie Dobbs faces grave danger as she returns to the site of her most painful WWI memories to resolve the mystery of a pilot’s death

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe. Every once in a while, a detective bursts on the scene who captures readers’ hearts — and imaginations — and doesn’t let go. And so it was with Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, who made her debut just two years ago in the eponymously titled first book of the series, and is already on her way to becoming a household name.

A deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world.

In accepting the assignment, Maisie finds her spiritual strength tested, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission also brings her together once again with her college friend Priscilla Evernden, who served in France and who lost three brothers to the war — one of whom, it turns out, had an intriguing connection to the missing Ralph Lawton.

Following on the heels of the triumphant Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies is the most compelling installment yet in the chronicles of Maisie Dobbs, “a heroine to cherish (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review).

WHAT I AM PLANNING ON READING THIS WEEK-

This is How it Ends

There’s plenty of intrigue, sex, and drugs in this fast-paced mystery, set against a backdrop of gentrifying London.

Ella Riordan is a community activist who became famous when she was beaten by police during a social protest. Now Ella is a squatter in a building where the owners are evicting tenants so they can convert it into luxury condos, and she’s determined to stay and defend the few holdout tenants, despite death threats.

One night after a rooftop party with her fellow holdouts, Ella finds a horrible scene awaiting her in her apartment. In a panic, she calls her neighbor Molly, who convinces her that the police won’t believe she’s innocent. Together the two women concoct a gruesome plan to hide the body down the building’s elevator shaft.

But the secret won’t stay buried for long. As truth hangs in the balance, a neighbor tells Molly he had heard Ella arguing with a man in the hallway and mistrust grows between Ella and Molly, as repercussions of that night threaten to change both women’s lives forever.

And, sorry but I can’t bring up a cover image, Dark Angel by Helen Durrant

DARK ANGEL by HELEN H. DURRANT

Love gripping crime fiction? Discover Detective Stephen Greco, a meticulous policeman with a messy personal life.

Two young men break into an expensive house in Cheshire. They take money and jewellery — and a large amount of heroin. Within twenty-four hours they are found brutally murdered.

The killings have the hallmarks of a local drug baron. The two victims were also “angels” helping in a community project which seems to have been lowering the crime rate in the area.

Meanwhile, Detective Stephen Greco’s colleague and on-off girlfriend Grace is pregnant. He isn’t sure how he feels, and they haven’t told the boss.

This gripping and fast-paced crime mystery ends with a series of shocking twists.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

THE DETECTIVES
DCI Stephen Greco is a meticulous policeman with a touch of O.C.D. Easy to admire, but difficult to like. He has created a new team after a personal tragedy threatened to end his career, and is struggling to care for his daughter.
DS Grace Harper is an ambitious young policewoman with excellent people skills. Like Greco, she is a single parent and tries to balance work and childcare.

THE SETTING
The Northern city of Manchester is a place of great diversity, from high-end restaurants and clubs for the moneyed classes to grim housing estates riven by crime and drugs.

AND FINALLY, THE ARCs I HAVE BEEN APPROVED FOR FROM NETGALLEY THIS WEEK-

The Friend      The Girlfriend

and one that was sitting on my request shelf for months that I had given up on ever being approved for

Anything For Her

That is the reading plan for my week. I look forward to you sharing your plans with me. I love to see what everyone else is reading.

Happy reading!

 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger
The Red Hunter 
by Lisa Unger (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Claudia stood beside Raven’s locker while the girl stuffed her belongings – i-pad, binder, dirty gym clothes – into her knapsack. Claudia had hated school – the ugly lights, the cafeteria smells, the gym class, the pathetic social hierarchy where looks and athleticism trumped brains and character (not that that ever changed). The scent of the hallway – what was that smell? – brought it back vividly.

‘It’s not my fault,’ said Raven, slamming shut the locker door.

‘It never is, is it?’ said Claudia.

That glare, those dark eyes in that ivory skin. That full, pink mouth and those ridiculously long eyelashes. Raven’s beauty was shocking, frightening in its intensity, in her utter obliviousness to it. ‘We need to get a burka on that kid,’ Martha had joked. ‘A body like that? On a fifteen year old? It should be illegal.’

Luckily, Raven’s gorgeousness was tempered by the boyish way she carried herself. She loped. If Claudia didn’t insist on showers and hair brushing, the girl would look most of the time like she had been dragged through a bush. And still, the way they stared. Men, boys, the same stunned goofy expression, eyes wide, the same wolfish expression on faces young and old. Raven didn’t even see. Claudia took to taking pepper spray in her bag. ‘She’s a baby’, Claudia had to keep herself from screaming. ‘Don’t you look at her like that!’

THE BLURB: What is the difference between justice and revenge?

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house–one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past–and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course–because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the terrifying monsters at the door.

MY THOUGHTS: I am a sucker for stories about old houses, and for old houses themselves. Throw in a bit of menace, and I am one happy puppy. Lisa Unger didn’t disappoint. The plot is intricately woven, her characters beautifully drawn and all too human, characters that come alive for the reader, characters we can relate to.

The Red Hunter is written from multiple points of view, and over different time lines. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, in this case it isn’t. Unger’s writing flows seamlessly and the suspense she creates will have you turning the pages well into the night. I would never have guessed the ending!

I listened to the audiobook of The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger, narrated by Julia Whelan and published by Simon and Schuster. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2143976963

Friday Favorite- The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

This is a debut novel by a new author that just blew me away!

The Devil's Claw by Lara Dearman
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Naked, her breasts and hips were heavier than he thought they would be and he wondered if he should feel disappointed, but he forced himself to concentrate on her slim waist and her skin. Her skin was perfect. White, like moonlight. He thought how wonderful they must look together, two beautiful people, happy and free, and how important this was, that he saved her. From the filth and the alcohol and the little people and the loathsome, repellent men, whose hands would never touch her again. She ran to the water. He followed. Their bodies clothed in darkness, their footsteps silent on the soft sand, their splashing obscured by the breaking of the waves, he pulled her towards him. Stroked her arms, from her wrists, over smooth skin, soft hairs tickling his fingers, to her elbows, which were bony and rough, and then up to her shoulders. She shook. Laughed. He pushed her under. She was smiling as her head dipped below the water, her hair fanning out on the surface, spun gold, like in a fairy tale, rippling and flowing, a life of its own. She didn’t struggle, not at first. It took her a moment, he supposed to understand. And then he felt her, bucking and thrashing, her screams silent, carried away with the tide. Gently, but firmly, he held on. And then she was still. So, so still. He held her limp body against his in the water. Absorbed the heat as it left her. Stayed there for as long as he could, until he was sure he had taken as much of her warmth as he could.

THE BLURB: Jennifer Dorey thinks she is safe.

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.

After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.

Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.

But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.

And home is the last place she should be.

MY THOUGHTS: The Devil’s Claw is a debut novel by Lara Dearman. And it is good. Amazingly good. I knew that after the first five minutes of reading. It just felt so right. Don’t mind me, I have a book hangover. Hours after finishing, the plot and the characters are still buzzing around in my brain. Not even a trip to the supermarket for the weekly shop has dampened my enthusiasm.

I felt like I was there, in the novel, living alongside the characters, experiencing what they were. The story is mainly told from Jenny’s point of view, and that of DCI Michael Gilbert, with occasional flashbacks from the unknown killer starting in 1959, and moving forward a decade with each kill.

I had three suspects in mind for the killer, and I am pleased to say was right with one of them, though he wasn’t my first pick. Dearman has crafted an intricate plot, full of misleading clues, that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

Along the way, we learn quite a bit about the history of Guernsey, its legends and folklore, all of which adds to the atmosphere Dearman has so cleverly created.

There was nothing I didn’t like about The Devil’s Claw. A very enthusiastic ☆☆☆☆☆ from me for this slow burning book that develops into a raging bonfire. I sincerely hope Lara is busy writing #2 in the series.

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2259600121

Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan

Vanishing Girls by Lisa  Regan
Vanishing Girls (Detective Josie Quinn #1) 
by Lisa Regan (Goodreads Author)

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EXCERPT: She only went outside if her mother, father or sister were out there. For a long time he disappeared. She stopped sensing him, stopped hearing him. She almost believed that he had gone back to wherever it was he came from. Maybe she had conjured him after all.

Then one day her sister was hanging clothes on the line while she flitted to the other side of the yard, chasing the yellow monarch butterflies that proliferated on top of the mountain. A white sheet fluttered on the clothesline, blocking her from her sister’s view. She got too close to the treeline. A hand shot out and clamped down over her mouth, silencing her screams. An arm wrapped around her waist, lifting her off the ground. Holding her tightly against his chest, he dragged her through the forest that used to be her friend. One thought rose above her panic. ‘He was real.’

THE BLURB: She was close enough to see that the girl had written a word on the wall in bright, warm red blood. Not a word, actually. A name…

Everyone in the small American town of Denton is searching for Isabelle Coleman, a missing seventeen-year-old girl. All they’ve found so far is her phone and another girl they didn’t even know was missing.

Mute and completely unresponsive to the world around her, it’s clear this mysterious girl has been damaged beyond repair. All Detective Josie Quinn can get from her is a name: Ramona.

Currently suspended from the force for misconduct, Josie takes matters into her own hands as the name leads her to evidence linking the two girls. She knows the race is on to find Isabelle alive, and she fears there may be others…

The trail leads Josie to another victim, a girl who escaped but whose case was labelled a hoax by authorities. To catch this monster, Josie must confront her own nightmares and follow her instinct to the darkest of places. But can she make it out alive?

MY THOUGHTS: This is a series that I am going to follow with great interest! Reminiscent of, but definitely not a copycat of, Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone series, Lisa Regan has laid the groundwork for a riveting and compelling series.

The plot kept my attention, and while I didn’t always understand why the author was writing what she was writing, it mostly all became clear. I had one or two minor issues, which was enough to drop one star from the rating, which I won’t go into because of issues with spoiling the plot for those who have not yet read Vanishing Girls.

The pace is reasonably fast and the quality of writing excellent.

While I frequently didn’t like Josie, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. It will be interesting to see how young Noah Farley develops in the coming books. He has great potential. And I just loved Josie’s grandma. I defy anyone not to!

4 very expectant stars for Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan. I am eagerly awaiting Josie Quinn #2.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2254362948

The First One to Die by Victoria Jenkins

The First One To Die by Victoria Jenkins
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: She felt him behind her, then everything happened so quickly. A hand touched her back for the briefest of moments before a firm shove sent her flailing from the ledge. She tried to break her fall,twisting desperately through the air, but there was nothing to catch hold of, nothing with which she could stop herself.

A single scream cut through the night air.

THE BLURB: Four friends. A house full of secrets. And a killer picking them off one by one…

She tried to break her fall, twisting desperately, but there was nothing to catch hold of, nothing with which she could stop herself. Her single scream cut through the night air.

Keira North falls to her death at a party. It initially seems like an accident, but Detectives Alex King and Chloe Lane suspect foul play: they are convinced they are dealing with a murder.

When the detectives start to investigate, they soon find that all of Keira’s closest friends have secrets that someone might kill to keep.

And as Alex and Chloe are fighting their own demons and struggling to stay on top of the case, Keira’s killer is circling the group of friends, who one by one find that their lives are in danger…

The First One to Die is a heart-stopping and shocking detective thriller that will have you gripped until the very last page. Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Angela Marsons, and Val McDermid.

MY THOUGHTS: I just loved the plot, although as I was reading, I felt that it went a little overboard in places. However, once all was revealed, it made perfect sense. There are plenty of twists and turns, and no shortage of suspects. There is a good balance between the investigative story and the characters private lives.

So, I can hear you thinking, why only 3 stars? I liked this book, but I didn’t love it or even like it greatly. I didn’t find it anywhere near heart-stopping, nor was it shocking. And no, I wasn’t gripped. It was an adequate read, but that was all.

I found the writing mostly flat. Occasionally there would be a brief flirting with suspense, but it wasn’t maintained. Also it seemed that large tracts of text were repeated, like the author didn’t want you to forget certain things about the characters. And in these places, I skimmed. And the characters? I felt nothing for any of them. I just could not get involved in this read.

Would I read more from this series? Probably not.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The First One to Die by Victoria Jenkins. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. So if you enjoyed the excerpt and like the sound of the blurb, please go ahead and read The First One to Die, and be sure to let me know how you feel about it. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2256810485

Aunt Bessie Assumes by Diana Xarissa

Aunt Bessie Assumes by Diana Xarissa

 

EXCERPT: Elizabeth Cubbon, known as Bessie to her friends, rubbed her eyes and checked the clock by her bed. It was 6:06, which meant her internal alarm was a few minutes off today. She frowned as she sat up in bed and pushed back her warm duvet. Slippers in place, she padded over to the window and looked out. The glow from the nearest street lamp gave her just enough light to see the sheets of rain that were falling. She would definitely have the beach to herself this morning.

Half an hour later she was dressed and waiting impatiently for the sky to lighten up a bit. Sunrise, this early in March, was still half an hour away. As rainy and overcast as it was, the sun wasn’t going to make much difference, but she waited for it anyway. A hot cup of tea and toast with honey and homemade strawberry jam helped to pass the time as she watched out the window for the sun to come up.

THE BLURB: Aunt Bessie assumes that she’ll have the beach all to herself on a cold, wet, and windy March morning just after sunrise, then she stumbles (almost literally) over a dead body.

Elizabeth (Bessie) Cubbon, aged somewhere between free bus pass (60) and telegram from the Queen (100), has lived her entire adult life in a small cottage on Laxey beach. For most of those years, she’s been in the habit of taking a brisk morning walk along the beach. Dead men have never been part of the scenery before.

Aunt Bessie assumes that the dead man died of natural causes, then the police find the knife in his chest.

Try as she might, Bessie just can’t find anything to like about the young widow that she provides tea and sympathy to in the immediate aftermath of finding the body. There isn’t much to like about the rest of the victim’s family either.

Aunt Bessie assumes that the police will have the case wrapped up in no time at all, then she finds a second body.

Can Bessie and her friends find the killer before she ends up as the next victim?

MY THOUGHTS: I have never been a great fan of the ‘cosy’, but every now and then I stumble across one that whets my appetite, and Aunt Bessie Assumes certainly did that. So much so, that I went straight on to read the second book in the series, Aunt Bessie Believes.

Xarissa’s Aunt Bessie is a warm hearted, independent woman who has spent the majority of her life on the Isle of Man where this series is set. She is a great fan of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and in the enviable position of knowing everyone and everything about them. But if, as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, then does having a lot of knowledge place her in even more danger?

The writing is very descriptive, which I enjoyed, and the characters a mixed bunch. I gave up trying to figure out who dunnit early on, and just went along for the very enjoyable ride.

If you are looking for a start to reading ‘cosy’ mystery series, I can recommend the Aunt Bessie series. I have the rest of the series on my TBR list.

I read the Kindle edition of Aunt Bessie Assumes by Diana Xarissa. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2045821289

Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker

Keep Her Safe by Richard Jay Parker
Keep Her Safe 
by Richard Jay Parker (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Maggie waited, her heart feeling as if it was frantically clawing it’s way up her chest. She still didn’t move. Her thoughts were rewinding to the previous week, when she’d been sick with terror outside another door. . .

THE BLURB: How far would you go to protect your child?

Maggie’s daughter Penny is her whole world… and she’d do anything to protect her. So when Maggie wakes one night to find a strange woman in her home, she runs to lock herself in her bedroom with her child. But Maggie knows why she’s come…

Someone has been targeting mothers and offering them a choice: do as he says or their child disappears. This stranger in her home has until dawn to follow his orders… but Maggie too has the ‘choice’ to make. Can she put the pieces together to stop the cycle before her time is up?

MY THOUGHTS: Once I got beyond the first chapter of Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker, I found this very fast paced and action packed thriller to be a quick and easy read. The problem with the first chapter was that although there was obviously only one person attacking Maggie in her home, the author constantly referred to the attacker as ‘them’, ‘they’ and ‘their’, making the script unwieldy, clumsy and irritating to read. A short example – ‘Maggie kicked again, and this time caught their chin. As they grunted, she wrenched her ankle from their grip and slid away. . .’. I think that the author has written it this way in an effort to hide the sex of Maggie’s assailant. But, as this is given away by the blurb, Maggie knows, and it is revealed just pages later, it seems an unnecessary and detrimental precaution.

As I said, Keep Her Safe is fast paced and action filled, but I found it to be a bit OTT and lacking in depth for my taste. There could have been a lot more made of the psychological aspects motivating the person manipulating the women, but this is glossed over and ‘rushed’.

If I had to use just one word to describe Keep Her Safe, it would be ‘lurid’. This is a book that relies on sensational action scenes to keep the reader’s interest rather than well-developed plot twists and good characterisation. I certainly wouldn’t class it as a psychological thriller, but do believe that it would make a popular movie. I don’t think that this is an author I will be reading again, but that is purely personal preference. There will be a good market for this book, and if you enjoyed my excerpt and find the blurb interesting, I urge you to pick up a copy of Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker and give it a try.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2250134183