Five Books I Would Like to Find Under the Christmas Tree

Firstly, a huge thank you to all the wonderful people who have encouraged, supported and followed my blog. Yesterday I reached my first 100 followers. A milestone that 3 months ago, I never would have envisaged reaching.

Today, instead of featuring a Friday Favorite, I will tell you about 5 books that I would like to find under my Christmas tree.

And So It Began by Owen Mullen

PI Vincent Delaney thought he was done with the NOPD until a string of seemingly unrelated child murders brings an unexpected invitation from the FBI, and his old boss.

A serial killer is roaming the South, preying on children appearing in pageants, and the police want him to go undercover using his own family. Accepting would mean lying to people he loves and maybe even putting them in harm’s way.

In Baton Rouge, a violent criminal has escaped and is seeking revenge for the brother Delaney shot dead. But Delaney isn’t going anywhere. He has unfinished business.

Meanwhile, north of the French Quarter, shopkeepers are being extorted and ask for Delaney’s help. Extortion is a matter for the police.

But what do you do when those responsible are the police?

Delaney has his work cut out and he’ll be lucky if he makes it out of this alive…

Yes, I know that I have read it, and read it more than once, but I love this book. And yes, I know that I have it on my Kindle,  but when I really love a book, I like to have a hard copy of it.

Scrumptious

The eagerly anticipated follow-up to Homemade Happiness, Everyday Delicious and At My Table.

Chelsea Winter has become a saviour in the kitchen. Discover why with this utterly scrumptious collection of recipes.

Packed with irresistible recipes for mouthwatering lunches and dinners, indulgent baking and wickedly good desserts, Chelsea Winter’s fourth cookbook is sure to become your new go-to for any occasion. There’s even a section on Chelsea’s festive favourites for Christmas! The 90-plus recipes are easy to follow, use ingredients on hand in your fridge or pantry, and will certainly earn you rave reviews from your family and friends.

Chelsea’s Homemade Happiness is my most used cookbook. I love the little stories she writes about each recipe, and the recipes themselves are delicious and aren’t fiddly. She uses ingredients that we mostly have readily available, and I can usually get the dishes looking remarkably like the ones in the beautiful photos. This book had somehow slipped by my radar until I went to a friend’s for Christmas drinks last week and complemented her on the delicious festive cheese log she served. She laughed and said ‘Chelsea Winter’, then ‘Scrumptious’. It wasn’t until I was browsing her shelf of cookbooks that I got what she meant. This is definitely going to be added to my collection even if I have to buy it myself.

A Killer Harvest

A new thriller from the Edgar-nominated author of Trust No Oneand Joe Victim about a blind teenager who receives new eyes through corneal donation and begins to see and feel memories that he believes belong to the previous owners a detective and a serial killer.

Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It’s taken away his biological parents, robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason his father Logan, the detective who raised him, is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. The suspect, Simon Bowers, is killed by Logan’s partner Ben, whose intentions are murkier than expected.

After this tragedy Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: a new pair of eyes. But a mishap during the surgery leads to Joshua unknowingly getting one eye from his father, and the other from Simon. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what his eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. Memories, truths, and lies Joshua discovers a world darker than the one he has emerged from. What else has he failed to see?

Meanwhile, Simon’s accomplice Vincent is bent on revenge, going after the loved ones of those involved in Simon’s death and Vincent is drawing closer and closer to Joshua.

Thriller virtuoso Paul Cleave is back with another riveting story of hidden secrets and unspeakable horrors that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

☆New Zealand author alert!☆

I love the work of this home grown author. He approaches situations from a whole new angle. I really can’t praise his writing enough. I have to clear the day and sequester myself when I start one of his books.

A Question of Trust

A Question Of Trust is vintage Penny Vincenzi: rich with characters, life-changing decisions, glamour, love, desire and conflict.

1950s London. Tom Knelston is charismatic, working class and driven by ambition, ideals and passion. He is a man to watch. His wife Alice shares his vision. It seems they are the perfect match.

Then out of the blue, Tom meets beautiful and unhappily married Diana Southcott, a fashion model. An exciting but dangerous affair is inevitable and potentially damaging to their careers. And when a child becomes ill, Tom is forced to make decisions about his principles, his reputation, his marriage, and most of all, his love for his child.

For a great family saga, dripping with moral dilemmas, you just can’t beat Penny Vincenzi. This is her latest offering and I just can’t wait to get my hands and eyes on it.

The Deep Dark Descending

Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife’s death, even when he believed that a reckless hit and run driver was the cause. But when he learns that in fact she was murdered, he devotes himself to hunting down her killers. Most of his life he had thought of himself as a decent man. But now he’s so consumed with thoughts of retribution that he questions whether he will take that last step and enact the vengeance he longs for.

On a frozen lake near the US-Canadian border, he wrestles with a decision that could change his life forever, as his hatred threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent a career bringing to justice.

I have read two of Allen Eskin’s previous books, The Life We Bury and The Heavens May Fall. His characterisation is superb and I just want to read everything he has ever written.

Happy Reading all! I hope you get all the books you have wished for under your tree.

What are you looking forward to reading over the Christmas break?

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine
Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake, #2) 
by Rachel Caine (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: …she’s someone’s daughter.

She’s standing on the balls of her feet, straining to keep her balance, because if she relaxes at all, the noose bites into her neck. It’s deliberate and cruel and finely calculated, just like the tools hung on pegboard, arrayed in order on the walls. On the wooden workbench, toolboxes stand open to display wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers . . . all color-coded, aligned in precise rows in the drawers.

Precise in his barbarity.

There are two other people in the room. One man adjusts lighting, ignoring the girl and her horrible struggle. Another one adjusts the focus on a video camera on a tripod. Both look completely normal, and it’s horrifying to see that this is just work to them. Just another day.

THE BLURB: Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

MY THOUGHTS: My first encounter with author Rachel Caine and the second book in her Stillhouse Lake series, Killman Creek, just blew me away. And I haven’t read the first in the series. But I will.

Action packed, stunning, horrifying, thought provoking, compelling and so damned real! I feel battered and shattered.

I couldn’t understand why I had never before come across this author. Looking her up, she is a prolific writer, but this is a new genre for her. I hope it is one she will continue with.

Thank you to Thomas and Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Killman Creek by Rachel Caine 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/2185445188?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

No Rest for the Dead

No Rest for the Dead by Andrew Gulli
No Rest for the Dead 
by Andrew Gulli (Editor)Jeff Abbott (Goodreads Author)Sandra Brown(Goodreads Author)Jeffery Deaver (Goodreads Author)Diana Gabaldon(Goodreads Author)Tess Gerritsen (Goodreads Author)Peter JamesJ.A. Jance(Goodreads Author) , more…

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: There is always that case, the one that keeps me awake at night, the one that got away. It’ll always be there, gnawing at the edges of my mind. It doesn’t matter that ten years have passed, it doesn’t matter that the case is officially closed. An innocent woman was executed, I was the one who helped make it happen, and on the sad night when the needle was inserted into her arm, injecting her with death, part of my life ended too.
It never felt right, never made sense. Sure, there was motive and opportunity, there was the physical evidence. But if you met her, if you knew her the way I got to know her . . . It wasn’t until later, after I’d taken a step back from the case, that I realized it had angles I hadn’t seen, layers I hadn’t uncovered, back when it mattered, back when I could have saved her….

THE BLURB: More than twenty New York Times bestselling authors team up to create a first-rate serial novel — a collaboration that combines the skills of America’s greatest storytellers to produce a gripping, spellbinding mystery.

Alexander McCall Smith. Sandra Brown. Faye Kellerman. J.A. Jance. Jeffery Deaver. Kathy Reichs. Lisa Scottoline. Jeff Lindsay. These are only a handful of the names that make up the all-star lineup of authors behind No Rest for the Dead, a tale of vengeance, greed, and love that flows seamlessly, in the words of David Baldacci, “as it passes from one creator’s mind to the next.”

When Christopher Thomas, a ruthless curator at San Francisco’s McFall Art Museum, is murdered and his decaying body is found in an iron maiden in a Berlin museum, his wife, Rosemary, is the primary suspect, and she is tried, convicted and executed. Ten years later, Jon Nunn, the detective who cracked the case, is convinced that the wrong person was put to death. In the years since the case was closed, he’s discovered a web of deceit and betrayal surrounding the Thomases that could implicate any number of people in the crime. With the help of the dead woman’s friend, he plans to gather everyone who was there the night Christopher died and finally uncover the truth, suspect by suspect. Solving this case may be Nunn’s last chance for redemption … but the shadowy forces behind Christopher’s death will stop at nothing to silence the past forever.

In this innovative storytelling approach, each of these twenty-five bestselling writers brings their distinctive voice to a chapter of the narrative, building the tension to a shocking, explosive finale. No Rest for the Dead is a thrilling, page-turning accomplishment that only America’s very best authors could achieve.

MY THOUGHTS: I have to admit to being a bit sceptical about how well a book with more than twenty different authors was going to flow. I need not have worried. No Rest for the Dead was a great read, the difference in writing styles only adding to my enjoyment of this book, produced for cancer charity.

I was hooked from very early on in the book, and remained captivated throughout. There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns, a lot of red herrings, a lot to keep your mind busy.

This is a worthwhile read, and it still would be without the charitable aspect.

I listened to No Rest for the Dead narrated by James Colby, Richard Ferrone and Carol Monda, via OverDrive. 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/2198360370

City of Masks by Daniel Hecht

City of Masks by Daniel Hecht
City of Masks (Cree Black, #1) 
by Daniel Hecht

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Beaufort was frowning slightly, as if engaged in some internal calculus that gave him difficulty. But perhaps he wasn’t really such a smug bastard. His scepticism was understandable. Likewise his unfamiliarity with Psy Research Ltd’s methods. He had every right to vet what he considered a wacky Seattle outfit before handing over money. There were plenty of idiots and con-artists in the field and, however dubious, he was going through with it, honouring the request of his sister Lila who had called Cree last week sounding very distraught and desperate. Clearly there was more to him than the persona he felt he had to project.

THE BLURB: In City of Masks, the first Cree Black novel, parapsychologist Cree and her partner take a case in New Orleans’s Garden District that leaves them fearing for their own lives. The 150-year-old Beauforte House has long stood empty, until Lila Beauforte resumes residence and starts to see some of the house’s secrets literally come to life. Tormented by an insidious and violent presence, Lila finds herself trapped in a life increasingly filled with childhood terrors. It takes Cree’s unconventional take on psychology and her powerful natural empathy with Lila to navigate the dangerous worlds of spirit and memory, as they clash in a terrifying tale of mistaken identity and murder.

MY THOUGHTS: I admit to having a love affair with New Orleans, and a book set in New Orleans is an automatic starter. I love reading books set in the south. City of Masks by Daniel Hecht is no disappointment. It was everything I had hoped it would be.

Recently I read and reviewed Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and was a little disappointed. City of Masks has more than made up for it. This is a cracking good ghost story with a suspenseful story line. Although I didn’t find it scary, it was definitely suspenseful with an excellent plot.

Hecht has captured the atmosphere of New Orleans beautifully and his characters are superbly crafted. We have a family matriarch, her beloved husband dead, as is her adored younger brother. Her son is a ‘man about town’ feckless and bordering on alcoholic. And her daughter Lila, always a little unstable since her teenage years, is seeing ghosts and is hysterical. They say that they are a family without secrets, and to all intents, they seem to be, until Cree starts listening to the ghosts, because ghosts don’t have to keep secrets. . .

4.5☆ I see that there are 3 books in the series. I am looking forward to reading the remaining two,  Land of Echoes and Bones of the Barbary Coast.

I listened to City of Masks by Daniel Hecht, narrated by Anna Fields, on audiobook via OverDrive. 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/2203295561?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate

Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate
Somebody at the Door 
by Raymond Postgate

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: “The German, too, is a possible line. Refugees are a Home Office matter, and Inspector Atkins deals with them. But I remember him telling me one, who sounds very like this man, whom Grayling was making a dead set at. I can’t remember the name, but Atkins will when he comes in. Grayling had written both to us and to the Home Secretary charging the man with being a spy, possessing a bicycle and a radio, and passing himself off falsely as a refugee, using the name of someone the Nazis had, in fact, killed. We didn’t pay much attention, because Grayling had recently become very violent about such things and talked rather wildly. But I seem to remember Atkins spoke as if an arrest wasn’t unlikely.”

THE BLURB: One bleak Friday evening in January, 1942, Councillor Henry Grayling boards an overcrowded train with £120 in cash wages to be paid out the next day to the workers of Barrow and Furness Chemistry and Drugs Company. When Councillor Grayling finally finds the only available seat in a third-class carriage, he realises to his annoyance that he will be sharing it with some of his disliked acquaintances: George Ransom, with whom he had a quarrel; Charles Evetts, who is one of his not-so-trusted employees; a German refugee whom Grayling has denounced; and Hugh Rolandson, whom Grayling suspects of having an affair with his wife.

The train journey passes uneventfully in an awkward silence but later that evening Grayling dies of what looks like mustard gas poisoning and the suitcase of cash is nowhere to be found. Inspector Holly has a tough time trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, for the unpopular Councillor had many enemies who would be happy to see him go, and most of them could do with the cash he was carrying. But Inspector Holly is persistent and digs deep into the past of all the suspects for a solution, starting with Grayling’s travelling companions. Somebody at the Door,” first published in 1943, is an intricate mystery which, in the process of revealing whodunit, “paints an interesting picture of the everyday life during the war.”

MY THOUGHTS: Oh dear. I was so looking forward to reading Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate. I usually love these old murder mysteries with their ambience. Unfortunately, this falls a little short.

Somebody at the Door, and I really can’t see the relevance of the title, could easily have been a short story, or novella. The actual mystery itself, although a little obvious, is entertaining. What killed the book for me was the interminable back stories for each and every suspect in Grayling’s death. Each one examined and relayed every minute detail starting from the suspect’s childhood through to the present time. Each one could have been a book on its own. And most of it was irrelevant to the plot. ‘Filling’ I think they call it. I skimmed large tracts of text.

I could not make up my mind between 2 or 3 stars, so 2.5 it is.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. A lot of people will like this book more than I did, therefore if you enjoyed the excerpt and like the sound of the blurb, please take a chance and read Somebody at the Door. I will enjoy reading your reviews.

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/2205016042

Talkabout Thursday

Why is it that the closer we get to Christmas, the faster the time seems to go! Here it is, Thursday again already. And so it’s time to talk about what I am currently reading, what I am hoping to read in the coming week, and the ARCS I have been approved for.

 

So firstly, what is it that I am currently reading?

City of Masks (Cree Black, #1)

In City of Masks, the first Cree Black novel, parapsychologist Cree and her partner take a case in New Orleans’s Garden District that leaves them fearing for their own lives. The 150-year-old Beauforte House has long stood empty, until Lila Beauforte resumes residence and starts to see some of the house’s secrets literally come to life. Tormented by an insidious and violent presence, Lila finds herself trapped in a life increasingly filled with childhood terrors. It takes Cree’s unconventional take on psychology and her powerful natural empathy with Lila to navigate the dangerous worlds of spirit and memory, as they clash in a terrifying tale of mistaken identity and murder. Daniel Hecht portrays the ambience of New Orleans perfectly, and this book is deliciously creepy in the right places.

Somebody at the Door

One bleak Friday evening in January, 1942, Councillor Henry Grayling boards an overcrowded train with £120 in cash wages to be paid out the next day to the workers of Barrow and Furness Chemistry and Drugs Company. When Councillor Grayling finally finds the only available seat in a third-class carriage, he realises to his annoyance that he will be sharing it with some of his disliked acquaintances: George Ransom, with whom he had a quarrel; Charles Evetts, who is one of his not-so-trusted employees; a German refugee whom Grayling has denounced; and Hugh Rolandson, whom Grayling suspects of having an affair with his wife.

The train journey passes uneventfully in an awkward silence but later that evening Grayling dies of what looks like mustard gas poisoning and the suitcase of cash is nowhere to be found. Inspector Holly has a tough time trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, for the unpopular Councillor had many enemies who would be happy to see him go, and most of them could do with the cash he was carrying. But Inspector Holly is persistent and digs deep into the past of all the suspects for a solution, starting with Grayling’s travelling companions. Somebody at the Door,” first published in 1943, is an intricate mystery which, in the process of revealing whodunit, “paints an interesting picture of the everyday life during the war.” I love murder mysteries from the ‘Golden Age ‘.

Sleeping Beauties

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

I started this some time ago, but had to abandon it due to an influx of Netgalley reads all due to be published within a short period of time. Bad planning on my part and I resolve to try and be a bit more organized in the coming year. I am really enjoying this collaboration and will never again look at cobwebs the same way.

I have deliberately left this weeks reading list light as I am working extra hours until Christmas, we have two Christmas work parties to attend, and a friend and I are off to see Jack Johnson in concert under the stars Sunday evening. This week I am only planning on reading two books, and if I find myself with reading time to spare I will pick something from my backlist.

The Runaway Children

A heart-wrenching, unforgettable story of two evacuee sisters during the Second World War… Perfect for fans of Orphan Train, Nadine Dorries and Diney Costeloe.

London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?

As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…

They must run from danger and try to find their way home.

Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?

An unputdownable novel of unconditional love, friendship and the fight for survival during a time of unimaginable change. The Runaway Children is guaranteed to find a place in your heart.

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake, #2)

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

And only one ARC approval from NetGalley this week, but I have 10 sitting in the pending pile, quite a few of which are wishes I am hoping will be granted. My one approval this week was for

Kill Creek

At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creeknow.

Love that cover!!!!!!

So happy reading my friends, and I ‘ll see you tomorrow for the Friday Favorite!

 

Evil Crimes by Michael Hambling

Evil Crimes by Michael Hambling
Evil Crimes (DCI Sophie Allen #6) 
by Michael Hambling

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: . . . I think she’s convinced herself that there might be something wrong, and she wants to nip it in the bud before we have another death on our hands. If it is the same woman behind these two deaths, then she’s right to push hard. Killers can soon get addicted to what they do. The boss is worried that she might have already chosen another victim. If that’s the case, it’s a race and we’re handicapped because there’s so much we don’t yet know.

THE BLURB: A young man’s body is spotted in the stormy sea off Dancing Ledge in Dorset.

Did he lose his footing in the gale force winds and fall in? Or is there a more sinister cause of death?

Detective Sophie Allen’s team discover some curious links to a suicide that happened six months earlier.

A strikingly attractive female student connects the cases. Alarming facts slowly come to light as the team probes more deeply.

Is the young woman as evil as she seems or is someone else manipulating her?

DCI Sophie Allen races against time to uncover the tragic secrets behind the crimes and stop any more deaths.

MY THOUGHTS: How have I previously missed out on Michael Hambling? How many times have I said that I wished someone would give me a strong female lead detective who isn’t carrying loads of baggage and lives a relatively normal life? A female Alan Banks.

Well, here she is. DCI Sophie Allen is happily married to the father of her two daughters, one coming up eighteen, the other a little older. She has a great relationship with both her daughters and with her mother, who’s quite a colorful character. She works well with her team. A nice woman who gets the job done. A breath of fresh air!

And if you think that sounds boring, you’d be wrong. The characters are well portrayed, the plot unusual and interesting. I liked this so much that I am planning to gorge myself on the earlier books in the series over the Christmas break.

And, in case you are wondering, Evil Crimes works perfectly well as a stand alone.

Thank you to Joffe Books via Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of Evil Crimes by Michael Hambling 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/2203231397?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Her Best Friend by Sarah Wray

Her Best Friend by Sarah Wray
Her Best Friend 
by Sarah Wray

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: As I step back inside, I see it on the mat and acidic saliva forces itself up my throat.

Another brown envelope.

This time I don’t wait. I rip the envelope straight open and shove my hand inside. It’s cold, metal; a thin chain. When I pull it out and hold it up, the room feels as if it spins like a fun house. It’s the gold chain with the heart shaped locket, the one they said Victoria was missing that night, that never turned up.

My fingers are shaking but I am eventually able to turn it over – the ‘VP’ engraving is there like I knew it would be.

Before I wasn’t sure. Now I am certain. Someone knows what happened to Victoria that night and this is a message.

THE BLURB: Two girls. A murder. And a secret that binds them forever.
As a teenager, Sylvie Armstrong’s life was shattered when her best friend, Victoria Bland, was murdered. The killer has never been caught – and Sylvie has never spoken about what happened that day.

Now, two decades have gone by and after the death of her mother, Sylvie is forced to return to her home town, along with her newborn daughter – only to be confronted by the secrets that she has been running from for twenty years.

But then Sylvie receives the locket Victoria was wearing on the night she died – and it becomes clear that somebody knows what really happened to Victoria.

As Sylvie struggles to discover the truth behind the lies, she finds herself in increasing danger from those who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets. Someone who threatens not only Sylvie, but everything she loves…

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.’

Her Best Friend by Sarah Wray is deceptive. For around the first third of the book, I thought it was okay, but nothing really special. But what it actually is, is a cleverly crafted, slow burning read. Like one of those fireworks that appears to be fizzing, gives a couple of experimental spurts, then bursts into a beautiful technicolor display of pyrotechnics. The second third of the book had me reading avidly, and the final third? You couldn’t have paid me to put the book down.

You may not like the characters, but they are well drawn and realistic. The story takes place over two timelines, now and twenty years previous. Sylvie, the pivotal character, is no more self assured now than she was then. She revolved in Victoria’s orbit, followed her lead, was her acolyte.

Relationships between the characters are more complex than they first appear. I had several suspects in mind for the death of Victoria. I changed my mind several times throughout the read. I settled on two, but couldn’t make my mind up which of them it was, and was wrong. Completely and utterly way off base. Which pleases me greatly.

4.5 sparkling stars for Her Best Friend by Sarah Wray which came to me in the form of a digital ARC from Bookouture via Netgalley, for which I thank them. 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/2185446623

Dying Breath (Detective Lucy Harwin #2) by Helen Phifer

Dying Breath by Helen Phifer
Dying Breath (Detective Lucy Harwin, #2) 
by Helen Phifer (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Right there and then he’d known that he was different to most kids, probably most people. They were all scared of death and dead people, whereas he was fascinated with them and couldn’t get enough. He needed to see a real dead person – he wanted to see if they looked as beautiful as his girls had. He wanted to touch one, stroke their skin, run his fingers through their hair. He wouldn’t think twice about kissing one; he wanted to know what it would feel like to put his lips on theirs. He thought about Carrie. He would have kissed her.

THE BLURB: Take a breath. Pray it’s not your last.
Just a few months after a terrifying case that nearly took her life, Detective Lucy Harwin is back with her squad in the coastal town of Brooklyn Bay – and this time, she’s faced with a case more horrifying than anything she’s encountered.

Along with her partner, Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy is investigating what appears to be a vicious but isolated murder; a woman found bludgeoned to death on a lonely patch of wasteland.

But when a second victim is discovered strangled in an alleyway, then a young family shot in their own home, Lucy and the team must face the unthinkable reality – a killer is walking the streets of their town.

While Lucy and the team try to find the link between these seemingly unconnected murders, they uncover a disturbing truth – these murders are replicating those carried out by infamous serial killers.

Lucy must get to the killer before he strikes again. But he’s got his sights on her, and is getting ever closer… Can she save herself, before she becomes the final piece in his twisted game?

MY THOUGHTS: There are some absolutely chilling moments in Dying Breath by Helen Phifer. “He turned to take one last look at the man who had changed from a monster into his hero, and he grinned at him.” is one of them. It may not seem like much on its own, but when read in context you will feel chills up your spine.

Dark and twisty, Dying Breath had me wondering just who this child had grown up to become, because we never knew his name. . .but we knew what he had become and his life ambition. There are several people he could be, all of whom have some type of fixation on Lucy.

Dying Breath is deliciously suspenseful. Highly recommended ☆☆☆☆

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Dying Breath by Helen Phifer 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/2199969913

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo

(Kate Burkholder series #3)

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo
Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder, #3) 
by Linda Castillo (Goodreads Author)

30817744

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Pickles was midway to his cruiser when his radio cracked to life. “What now?” he growled.

“Pickles, I got a ten-fifty-two out at the Slabaugh farm. David Troyer just called, said they got three people down in the manure pit.”

“Shit.” Pickles fumbled for his lapel mike. Back in the day, a cop had a radio in his cruiser. If he chose to ignore a call, he could. Now, you carried the damn thing around like some weird body part, one end clipped to your belt, one end stuck in your ear, and a microphone pinned to your chest like some damn medal. “You call EMS?”

“They’re en route. Thought you might want to get out there.”

Pickles heaved another sigh; he’d just about had all the mud and shit he could handle for one night. But he knew a manure pit could be a dangerous place. There were all sorts of nasty gases that would do you in faster than a gas chamber if you weren’t careful. “What’s the twenty on that?”

“Three six four Township Road Two.”

Pickles knew the area. It was a dirt track south of town that would be hell to traverse without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Figuring this was the end of his Lucchese boots, he cursed. “You might want to call the chief.”

“Roger that.”

“I’m ten-seventy-six,” he said, and forced his old legs into a run.

THE BLURB: Police Chief Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.
The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.

MY THOUGHTS: I knew Castillo was good, but this is the best of the Kate Burkholder series yet. Breaking Silence is a real page turner.

There are multiple themes running through Breaking Silence, hate crimes, incest, psycological manipulation, bullying. There are no graphic descriptions, nothing to cause alarm for those for whom one or more of these subjects may be triggers. Everything is dealt with with a great deal of sensitivity. And yet Castillo still manages to deliver a riveting read.

I don’t even begin to understand those who commit hate crimes. What do the perpetrators hope to achieve? It seems to me to be a pointless waste of time on all fronts. I was no closer to understanding it at the end of the book.

The end of the book . . . Just when I thought everything was solved and sorted, Castillo turned in upside down and inside out, and we were off in pursuit of the criminal again. There are lots of twists and turns and plenty of action in this read. Highly recommended. ☆☆☆☆☆

I listened to the audio book version of Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo, narrated by Kathleen McInerney, published by MacMillan Audio via OverDrive. 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/1238890701