The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

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EXCERPT: … once you catch sight of him, it’s the boy on the far left who grabs the viewer’s attention. He isn’t tall for his age. Not as developed as the other boys, in fact, and his clothes are scruffy and down at heel. But his eyes are piercing. He’s staring straight into the camera with an expressionless face, and it’s as though he’s the only one who hasn’t heard the joke.

Hess stares at him. Hair, cheekbones, nose, chin, lips. All the features that change so radically during adolescence. Hess recognizes him, yet at the same time he doesn’t; and it is only when he zooms in and covers the boy’s face so only his eyes are visible that he can see who it is. He can see it, but it is as impossible as it is obvious. When comprehension dawns, his first thought is that it’s too late to fight back.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: If you find one, he’s already found you.

A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.

His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene.

Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

To save innocent lives, a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to piece together the Chestnut Man’s gruesome clues.

Because it’s clear that the madman is on a mission that is far from over.

And no one is safe.

MY THOUGHTS: I once tried roasted chestnuts, and must say I didn’t like them. I did, however, like The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup.

I liked the friction between Hess and Thulin, the lead investigators on the case of a brutally murdered mother. Neither of them want to be on this case. Thulin feels like she is treading water in Homicide and desperately wants to transfer to NC3, on track to become the best cyber crime unit in Europe. Hess has blotted his copybook with Europol so he has been sent back to Copenhagen to cool his heels.

I didn’t like Hess at the outset, as anyone who read my updates could tell. But he kept surprising me. I made unflattering comments about his commitment to the case several times, and had to eat my words. Thulin seemed more committed, but didn’t have Hess’s flair for analytical and lateral thinking. Together they made a good, if somewhat resentful, team. And Thulin isn’t above denigrating Hess to Nylander, the very conservative head of major crimes division, in order to advance her own agenda.

This is a dark and twisty read. It is graphic and gruesome in parts. Typical Nordic noir. I had no idea who the murderer was nor, initially, the motivation. But when the motivation was revealed, it sent me off on completely the wrong track. Very clever writing Mr Sveistrup.

Several people have commented that The Chestnut Man read more like a play than a novel. I didn’t get that feeling, but I did sometimes feel that the writing was quite dispassionate and lacking in suspense. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this book a lot; it is intriguing but not, to me, particularly suspenseful.

There are some beautiful touches, like the wreath of chestnut men, and compelling characters, strong characters, but rather a lot of characters, almost too many.

Definitely a read I recommend, and an author I will follow.

😱😱😱😱

#TheChestnutMan

THE AUTHOR: Søren Sveistrup is an internationally acclaimed scriptwriter of the Danish television phenomenon The Killing which won various international awards and sold in more than a hundred countries. More recently, Sveistrup wrote the screenplay for Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman.

Sveistrup obtained a Master in Literature and in History from the University of Copenhagen and studied at the Danish Film School. He has won countless prizes, including an Emmy for Nikolaj and Julie and a BAFTA for The Killing.

DISCLOSURE: I read The Chestnut Man written by Soren Sveistrup, published by Penguin, for the Goodreads Mystery, Crime and Thriller group read. 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

Killing Mind by Angela Marsons

Published 13 May 2020

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EXCERPT: I will not feel the fear. I will not feel the fear.

I repeat the words to myself over and over in my mind. The fabric that cuts a tight line across my mouth prevents me from saying it out loud.

My hands and feet are numb, caused either by the cold or the ties that bind me tightly to the chair, I’m not sure which.

The goose bumps on my skin are raised and my breathing is shallow. I know how to control these physical reactions to the fear that is running around my brain. I have been taught.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Detective Kim Stone is called to the home of Samantha Brown, she finds the young woman lying in bed with her throat cut and a knife in her hand. With no sign of forced entry or struggle, Kim rules her death a tragic suicide.

But a visit to Samantha’s parents rings alarm bells for Kim – there’s something they’re not telling her. And, when she spots a clue in a photograph, Kim realises she’s made a huge mistake. Samantha didn’t take her own life, she was murdered.

Then a young man’s body is found in a local lake with his throat cut and Kim makes a link between the victim and Samantha. They both spent time at Unity Farm, a retreat for people seeking an alternative way of life.

Beneath the retreat’s cosy façade, Kim and her team uncover a sinister community preying on the emotionally vulnerable.

Sending one of her own undercover into Unity Farm is high risk but it’s Kim’s only hope if she is to catch a killer – someone Kim is convinced the victims knew and trusted.

With Bryant distracted by the emergence of a harrowing case close to his heart, and an undercover officer in way over her head, Kim’s neck is on the line like never before. Can she protect those closest to her before another life is taken?

MY THOUGHTS: D.I. Kim Stone loses vital evidence at the beginning of Killing Mind, the 12th exciting installment of Angela Marsons series. Not something I can ever remember Kim doing previously . . . This certainly makes for a brilliant start to the book.

Kim is dedicated, single minded, doesn’t have a life beyond her dog and her motorbikes, neither of which get much of a look in here, because bodies keep appearing. Or rather, Kim takes the bit between her teeth and finds more bodies. And every one is connected in some way to Unity Farm, a retreat with a charismatic leader. A retreat, or a cult?

My one ripple of discontent with Killing Mind is that I felt that I was being (over) educated about cults. A lot of the information was repeated, more than once. But while I felt that the amount of information may have been overkill, it was also quite frightening to see it explicitly laid out just how they target the vulnerable.

The characters were interesting. Bryant is not running at full throttle, his attention diverted by an old case. Stacey and Penn are there, but aren’t as prominent as usual. Even Kim didn’t seem to be as ‘in your face’ as usual. It was good to see Tinks back. I enjoy her character and we get to know her quite a lot better in Killing Mind. I am looking forward to seeing more of her in the future. And then there was the man dressed in black driving the white SUV. He was a revelation.

Overall, Killing Mind seemed a little more muted than previous books in the series. That is not a criticism, just a personal observation. I enjoyed this book, as always, and am eagerly awaiting the next. Well, the next 4 really. Get writing Angela.

❤❤❤❤

#KillingMindDetectiveKimStone #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Angela is the author of the Kim Stone Crime series. She discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.
Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.
She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Killing Mind by Angela Marsons 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3283196279

Never Forget by Martin Michaud

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EXCERPT: They were startled by a noise resembling the striking of a matchstick: the burner on the gas furnace had just lit up. Victor released his breath, wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, and opened the door at the far end of the workshop.

The beam of his flashlight slid across the room, and a cry froze in his throat. An odour of death and offal hung in the air. The body of a man in his underwear lay in a puddle of blood and excrement.

The detective sergeant snapped a mental image of the scene: the corpse was lying face up, arms crossed. Brownish wounds were visible on the diaphanous skin of the throat and chest. The wrists bore purple bruises, and the cracked dry lips had split open in several places.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When an eccentric homeless man jumps to his death in Old Montreal, the police discover two wallets in his possession: those of a retired psychiatrist who was recently murdered in a bizarre ritual and a powerful corporate lawyer who has vanished. As police detective Victor Lessard and his partner, Jacinthe Taillon, work to solve the separate mysteries, a dark history begins to emerge.

While the pressure builds and the bodies accumulate, dark and disturbing secrets come to light about a pivotal moment in Quebec’s history. But will Lessard and Taillon crack the case in time to prevent the killer from striking again?

MY THOUGHTS: It’s complicated . . .

I am unsure why a publisher would choose to start translating a series with the third book. I know that some series are easy to pick up part way through. This isn’t one of them.

The plot is complex. The characters are complex, and there are a lot of them. It took me a long time to settle into this book, and even then, I managed to lose my way a couple of times and had to go back and reread things. There are frequent references to past cases, past events, past history.

Victor Lessard is an alcoholic (not drinking, but once an alcoholic…) suffers from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and tends to vomit at the sight of a body. There is a lot of vomiting takes place. His partner, Jacinthe Taillon, is obsessed with food and only trusts Lessard to a certain point. Not an easy working relationship. She is rude, insensitive and brings nothing to the story other than her ability to break down doors.

If you are a fan of conspiracy theories, you will love this book. It covers a lot of historical ground, from CIA funded experiments into mind control using drugs and other even more barbaric methods to the assassination of President John Kennedy.

This was definitely an interesting read, but as I said, it is complicated. Would I read more in this series? That would depend on being able to start from the beginning.

🤯🏙🚔

‘Evil creeps. Evil prowls. It insinuates itself into the soul’s blank spaces. And sometimes, for no apparent reason, when you’re sure it’s busy elsewhere, it catches your scent of ashes on the cold air, turns from its path and follows you.’

‘By deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill, we’ve put all our eggs in one basket. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other. It’s gotten to the point where most people who need custodial care are now on the streets.’

‘Once a mistake is made, there’s no going back to unmake it.’

‘Unlike the movies, where there’s always a ruthless logic behind every action, reality can be disappointing and disturbing.’

THE AUTHOR: Born in 1970, Martin Michaud is a musician, novelist and screenwriter. He worked as a business lawyer for twenty years before devoting himself to writing full-time in 2012.

His novels have gained a wide readership in Quebec and Europe, winning numerous literary prizes. He is hailed by critics as “the master of the Quebec thriller.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Dundurn Press via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Never Forget by Martin Michaud 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3286118044

Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan

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Happy publication day to Lisa Regan and Bookouture, author and publisher of Find Her Alive.

EXCERPT: Arrayed on the grass before her were bones. Human bones. Not left there, or dumped, but arranged.

Displayed.

A ribcage and spine made up the centrepiece of whatever it was that Josie was staring at – some kind of symbol? Remnants of some kind of satanic ritual? Surrounding the ribcage and spine were smaller bones. Some clinical part of her mind recognized those as the tiny bones of the hands, fingers, feet and toes. Intermingled with those were the clavicles. At the bottom of the circle, pointing from the outer edge toward Josie’s feet were longer bones. Arm bones, the cool investigator in the back of her mind whispered, because they were too small to be leg bones. Beneath those bones were the skull and pelvic bone. The empty eye sockets of the skull stared back at Josie, making her chest feel tight. She tore her eyes away from it and looked toward the upper right hand side of the circle, where the leg bones lay, angled away from Josie.

A violent trembling took over her body. Her feet turned and tried to carry her away, but her shins knocked against one of the Adirondack chairs and she went flying over it, tumbling toward the back of the cabin. Her head smacked against the rack of firewood and some of the logs tumbled into her lap. She closed her eyes and tried to slow her breathing. There was a calm, firm voice in the back of her mind – the one that gave her orders when her body shut down from fear or panic. The police officer inside her. ‘Take out your phone,’ it told her. ‘Call for back-up.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Detective Josie Quinn hasn’t heard from her sister since Trinity stormed out of the house in the heat of an argument three weeks ago. So, when human remains are found at the remote hunting cabin where Trinity was last seen, Josie can only assume the worst.

Gathering her team, Josie feels a surge of relief when the dental records match a different body – that of a missing single mother from a neighboring town. But now Josie’s is not the only broken family desperate for answers.

Dusting the crime scene for prints, a name smudged into the side of a nearby car is the first in a trail of clues Trinity left for Josie. In need of a big story to save her journalism career, it seems Josie’s sister was attempting to make contact with a dangerous serial killer known for creating sculptures with his victim’s bones. And Trinity won’t stop until she’s found him, even if it means becoming his next masterpiece…

Josie is certain there’s a critical clue in the ivory hair comb delivered to Trinity just days before she went missing. But as more bones surface, each set more likely to be Trinity’s than the last, time is running out to find her alive. Can Josie’s team trust her instincts in a case that is so deeply personal? Can she find her sister without putting other innocent lives in danger?

MY THOUGHTS: #8 in the Josie Quinn series! How did we get here so quickly? I have read and enjoyed every one, and Find Her Alive is every bit as good as any of the previous books.

This is easily read as a stand-alone, the back story is fully explained. And that, funnily enough, is my one complaint about Find Her Alive, there’s a little too much explanation of the backstory and, for the first time, it doesn’t fit easily into this story.

Lisa Regan continues with her character development, this time introducing a love interest for Josie’s twin, Trinity. Don’t worry…there’s no mushy stuff! Regan concentrates firmly on the main plot line – Trinity’s disappearance. We learn a lot more about Trinity’s background in this book. And believe me, there’s a few surprises in there.

Regan’s books have it all – mystery, crime, suspense, excitement. At one point, I gasped out loud, both shocked and horrified, but unable to stop reading. The chapters are short and tense. An easy and rewarding read.

You can start with Find Her Alive, but really? You’re going to love it. You’re going to want to read all the earlier books in the series. And if you read this first, you’re going to know stuff that you need to not know to get the most from those earlier books. So please, just be good little readers and start this series from the beginning.

🏕🦅🚔⏳

#FindHerAlive #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Lisa Regan is a suspense novelist. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3159683526

Watching What I’m Reading

I am sitting here on a cool New Zealand autumn afternoon watching the storm clouds mass and churn in the sky. Even though we are under lockdown and everyone was told to stay home for the long weekend, our emergency services alert siren has been very active. I feel very sorry for and appreciative of our volunteer Fire Brigade members, Ambulance crews and Police who are continually being called upon to put their own lives in danger because people can’t do as they are told and stay home. Thank you to all of these brave people, and also all those in the medical community who continue to go to work to care for the ill. Bless you all.

I am currently reading The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell which is due for publication April 14.

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And I am almost finished listening to Susan Mallery’s Meant to be Yours (Happily Inc. #5) This is delightfully different, humorous, and I am not finding the fact that I have read none of the earlier books in the series a handicap. And isn’t that cover just beautiful!

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This week I am planning on reading Find Her Alive (Detective Josie Quinn #5) by Lisa Regan

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Detective Josie Quinn hasn’t heard from her sister since Trinity stormed out of the house in the heat of an argument three weeks ago. So, when human remains are found at the remote hunting cabin where Trinity was last seen, Josie can only assume the worst.

Gathering her team, Josie feels a surge of relief when the dental records match a different body – that of a missing single mother from a neighboring town. But now Josie’s is not the only broken family desperate for answers.

Dusting the crime scene for prints, a name smudged into the side of a nearby car is the first in a trail of clues Trinity left for Josie. In need of a big story to save her journalism career, it seems Josie’s sister was attempting to make contact with a dangerous serial killer known for creating sculptures with his victim’s bones. And Trinity won’t stop until she’s found him, even if it means becoming his next masterpiece…

Josie is certain there’s a critical clue in the ivory hair comb delivered to Trinity just days before she went missing. But as more bones surface, each set more likely to be Trinity’s than the last, time is running out to find her alive. Can Josie’s team trust her instincts in a case that is so deeply personal? Can she find her sister without putting other innocent lives in danger?

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler

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A year and a half ago, Gemma met the love of her life, Danny. Since then, their relationship has been like something out of a dream. But one Friday evening, Gemma returns home to find Danny is nowhere to be seen.

After two days with no word from her husband, Gemma turns to the police. She is horrified with what she discovers – a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. When she sees the photos of the victims she is even more stunned…the victims all look just like Danny.

But, the detectives aren’t convinced by Gemma’s story. Why has no one apart from Gemma seen or heard from Danny in weeks? Why is there barely a trace of him in their flat? Is she telling them the truth, or are there more secrets and lies in this marriage than meets the eye?

And Never Forget by Martin Michaud

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When an eccentric homeless man jumps to his death in Old Montreal, the police discover two wallets in his possession: those of a retired psychiatrist who was recently murdered in a bizarre ritual and a powerful corporate lawyer who has vanished. As police detective Victor Lessard and his partner, Jacinthe Taillon, work to solve the separate mysteries, a dark history begins to emerge.

While the pressure builds and the bodies accumulate, dark and disturbing secrets come to light about a pivotal moment in Quebec’s history. But will Lessard and Taillon crack the case in time to prevent the killer from striking again?

I have received five new ARCs from NetGalley this week:

Little Whispers by K.L. Slater

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The Lost Orphan by Stacey Halls

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All Our Summers by Holly Chamberlin

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The Coast-to-Coast Murders by James Patterson with J.D. Barker

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The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

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I was a little more restrained than last week, but I still have seven requests on my pending shelf ☺

Stay safe. Stay home and read. And be kind, my friends.

😷❤😍📚

Buried Deep by Susan Wilkins

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EXCERPT: Megan puts the mask on and takes the flashlight. The keyed-up feeling in her gut is familiar. She always used to get that before a big op. If she’s honest, she’s missed it. That buzz of adrenaline.

With the flashlight in one hand, she lowers her upper body down the hole. Vish hangs on to the back of her legs.

The stench makes her gag slightly but she holds her breath and swings the light in an arc. That’s when she sees it. The body – and it is unmistakably a human corpse – is hooked around a side beam. Threads of muscle and sinew still hang on the bones. But what causes her to gasp and her whole body to convulse are the rats feasting on it.

Rats! Of course there are rats.

Pure terror seizes her.

‘Get me out! Now!’ she screams.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Megan has to climb round and step across the body to get a proper view. What’s left is like a chalk white mask in the rough shape of a face. The innocence is still there, and a hint of the cheekiness. But perhaps she is imagining that.

Detective Megan Thomas moved to Devon for a fresh start, after years spent undercover. She’s staying with her sister and swimming in the sea daily, battling the tides and letting the waves wash her past away. But she can’t outrun everything.

On her first day back, she’s called to a murder. The body lies deep in an underground bunker, and when Megan forces herself to look, it triggers a panic attack. As her heart races and her breathing stalls, she realises she’s not sure if she can go back to life in a regular crime unit. Her memories are too powerful to be buried – maybe too powerful to let her do her job.

But when another body is found on the stretch of beach where she swims every day, Megan remembers why she joined the force, and what she’s fighting for. The victim came to the police for help, and Megan knows they failed her. She won’t rest until she gets answers. But how can she find justice for others, when she’s no longer sure of herself?

MY THOUGHTS: I loved Buried Deep by Susan Wilkins, the first in the Detective Megan Thomas series, a series that I will be following avidly.

Unlike a lot of ‘first in the series’ books, it is not just a biography of all the characters that are going to play major roles in the books to come loosely connected with a tenuous plot. Wilkins jumps straight in, boots and all, with a gripping plot that had me frantically flipping pages.

The characters are well portrayed, and each has a vital role to play in the plot. Megan has worked undercover for the Met,is the recipient of the QPM, but has behind her an experience that has left her unsure of her own abilities, unable to fully trust her instincts. She’s a lonely divorcee, childless, a temporary lodger with her sister’s family.

Brittney is one of those young women who’ve hit thirty and are everyone’s friend, but no one’s lover. She has a wonderful personality and the makings of a good detective, but little self confidence.

Vish is extremely good looking and still lives at home with his parents. Kitty is a computer and investigative genius. Slater is an enigma, a woman on the corporate ladder who has occasional flashes of humanity.

All in all they’re an interesting mix. As were the peripheral characters. Noah, a child who is a bargaining chip. Heidi, a faded star who believes herself to still be a diva. Kerry, fatherless with a mother who doesn’t cope, and manipulated by her ‘friends’.

Wilkins skillfully weaves several cases together and has struck a delicate balance between the characters personal lives, caseload, and the hidden desires and undercurrents of station life.

If you haven’t yet read this, you need to. Buried Deep is an excellent start to a series that promises to be brilliant. I can’t wait for #2.

This book was originally titled Damage Done. The title has been changed prepublication.

🚔🔎🎭🛥

#DamageDone #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: After a degree in Law and a stint as a journalist, Susan embarked on a career in television drama. She has written numerous scripts for shows ranging from Casualty and Heartbeat to Coronation Street and Eastenders. She created and wrote the London-based detective drama South of the Border of which the BBC made two series. She has also written a stand alone psychological thriller and a gangster based trilogy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Buried Deep by Susan Wilkins 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3251861079

Knock Knock by Chris Merritt

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EXCERPT: If she’d known it was to be her last night alive, he wondered, how would she have spent it? Gossiping in an over-priced bar with her friends and dancing until the early hours? Or hooking up with one of those square-jawed randoms she seemed to collect on Tinder? Perhaps she’d get sentimental, gathering her relatives privately for a solemn, tearful goodbye. Knowing her though, his guess was hosting an obscenely expensive, self-aggrandising charity bash with champagne and fireworks. She certainly wouldn’t have chosen to sit alone like this, tapping away her final hours at a computer.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Natasha Mayston wasn’t expecting anyone to knock on her door so late at night. And she has no idea that the face staring back at her is the last one she’ll ever see…

As Detective Dan Lockhart is called to a wealthy London street to investigate Natasha’s death, he’s startled by the similarity to a previous case. Noticing the cable-tie restraints and the tiny scratches on Natasha’s wedding finger, Dan already knows what he will find if he looks in her mouth – the metal ball which choked her to death. He knows Natasha isn’t the killer’s first victim and is certain that he will strike again.

Months earlier, Kim Hardy was found in the same position in a run-down hotel across the city – an identical silver ball in her throat. But Kim’s murderer was caught and sent to prison – did they arrest the wrong man? And what connects the two victims? Fearing that he’s dealing with a psychopathic serial killer, Dan calls in psychologist Dr Lexi Green to help him to get into the perpetrator’s mind. Tough and smart, Lexi will stop at nothing to hunt down the man responsible for the deaths.

Then, another body is discovered, just as Lexi finds a clue online leading to the killer. Dan’s team aren’t convinced, but in pushing Lexi away from the investigation, they force her to dig further into the case on her own. Convinced that she’s on to something, she puts herself in unthinkable danger… but can Dan piece together the clues and identify the killer before it’s too late?

MY THOUGHTS: I started this book with great excitement. I love this author’s Zac Boateng series, and I was looking forward to more of the same. WRONG. Knock Knock is very different. Where I found the Zac Boateng series to be fast paced, suspenseful and thrilling, Knock Knock seems to be drawn out and, to be quite honest, I found myself skimming passages where the author seemed to be pontificating/procrastinating. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a bad read, and I will give this series a second chance, but it needs to be tightened up, to be not quite so bogged down in repetitive psychological analysis.

I liked the characters: Dan, Detective Lockhart whose wife has disappeared without trace; Maxine Smith, a strong character inclined to follow her instincts; Lexi Green, psychologist, who also has trauma in her past. Even the lesser characters, the supporting cast, are an interesting bunch. The chapters written from the POV of the murderer were mostly interesting, but a little repetitive.

The basic plot is sound, and there are a few interesting twists and misdirections. I did have fun trying to guess the killer – I didn’t even come close.

I hope this does develop into a good series. I know Merritt has the talent.

Love the cover. *:)

👮‍♂️🎭🚔

#KnockKnock #Netgalley

THE AUTHOR: Hello! I’m a British author whose crime thrillers combine psychology, suspense, and characters you care about.

All my novels are set in London, where I live. My first trilogy starred Zac Boateng and Kat Jones, two detectives motivated by family, who tackle organised crime and police corruption. LAST WITNESS, the second Boateng and Jones book, reached #13 in the UK Kindle chart in 2019.

My second series features detective Dan Lockhart – an ex-soldier with a missing wife – and psychologist Dr Lexi Green, an American living in London. These novels are darker, more psychological serial-killer cases, with romantic relationships as a central theme.

I began writing fiction in 2014, after previous careers as a diplomat, based in Iraq and Jerusalem, and later as a psychologist working with victims and perpetrators of crime. I specialised in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which sparked my interest in telling stories about how people cope when faced with extreme adversity.

Now, I spend most of my time writing novels and drinking coffee while ‘thinking’ about writing novels. When I’m not writing, I love climbing and playing basketball.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Knock Knock by Chris Merritt 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3202482537

Watching What I’m Reading…

We are having a day of steady rain for which all the gardeners and farmers are extremely grateful. A nice day in which to do nothing (even our cat has not moved from her bed other than to eat) and go nowhere. Although I have not quite been doing nothing…I have stewed and bottled apples and currently have a large pot of tomato sauce simmering away. My house smells beautiful!

Coronavirus has played havoc with my reading and posting this week as the number of cases in New Zealand has escalated. Not many compared with overseas, but then our total population is less than that of Sydney, Australia. I am pleased to report that there have been no deaths in New Zealand, yet. But government directives have resulted in much extra work for me. We have had to implement a system of recording every person who comes onto the premises, and have had to reconfigure the layout of the club, making more smaller areas for our members, with more space between seats and wider table spaces. Most of our members have been wonderful, but as always, there has been the odd one who has protested and tried to circumvent the rules. ‘If you don’t like it, there’s the door’ has become our answer.

I hope you and all your loved ones are safe and well. Hopefully, this will soon pass, and we can all get back to normal again. Although I think that it will be a slightly new version of normal.

Currently I am reading The Chain by Adrian McKinty who, as any of you who are regular readers know, is one of my favourite authors. I love his Sean Duffy series, and 80 pages in, The Chain seems to be every bit as good. Mr McKinty is a very versatile writer.

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I am currently listening to The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths, another great favourite of mine. This is the first in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series, of which I have read several of the later books.

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This week I am planning on reading Knock, Knock by Chris Merritt

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Natasha Mayston wasn’t expecting anyone to knock on her door so late at night. And she has no idea that the face staring back at her is the last one she’ll ever see…

As Detective Dan Lockhart is called to a wealthy London street to investigate Natasha’s death, he’s startled by the similarity to a previous case. Noticing the cable-tie restraints and the tiny scratches on Natasha’s wedding finger, Dan already knows what he will find if he looks in her mouth – the metal ball which choked her to death. He knows Natasha isn’t the killer’s first victim and is certain that he will strike again.

Months earlier, Kim Hardy was found in the same position in a run-down hotel across the city – an identical silver ball in her throat. But Kim’s murderer was caught and sent to prison – did they arrest the wrong man? And what connects the two victims? Fearing that he’s dealing with a psychopathic serial killer, Dan calls in psychologist Dr Lexi Green to help him to get into the perpetrator’s mind. Tough and smart, Lexi will stop at nothing to hunt down the man responsible for the deaths.

Then, another body is discovered, just as Lexi finds a clue online leading to the killer. Dan’s team aren’t convinced, but in pushing Lexi away from the investigation, they force her to dig further into the case on her own. Convinced that she’s on to something, she puts herself in unthinkable danger… but can Dan piece together the clues and identify the killer before it’s too late?

And The First Wife by Jill Childs

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When Sophie’s life falls apart, she accepts an invitation from a childhood friend, Caroline, to visit her family’s beautiful beach house, situated at the mouth of an isolated cove, miles from the nearest town. The silence is broken only by the rhythmic crash of the waves against the jagged black rocks below.

But when Sophie arrives, she finds her friend much changed. Caroline – who used to be so warm and confident – is secretive and on-edge, spending long, unexplained hours away from her family. And then there’s Caroline’s little daughter Lucy – who stopped speaking soon after they moved in. Caroline assures Sophie that it’s only a phase, but Sophie thinks Lucy looks a little uncared for, a little afraid…

Then one night Sophie is woken by a scream and runs to find Lucy, out of bed and at the attic window, staring in terror at the view below. When Sophie goes to look, her blood runs cold…

I have received six ARCs from NetGalley this week:

Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride

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One Way to Venice by Jane Aiken Hodge

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The Island Girls by Noelle Harrison

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Find Her Alive (Detective Josie Quinn #8) by Lisa Regan

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And finally After the Accident by Kerry Wilkinson

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Stay safe and read.
❤😍📚
Sandy

Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty

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EXCERPT: Larne.

Not the most aesthetically pleasing town in Ireland. Not one for the Tourist board calendars, or the Guinness posters, or the coffee table books.

Working port, blue collar – nothing wrong with that, but the big UVF mural on the A2 as you drove into town, in which a masked gunman promised ‘death to informers’ perhaps wasn’t the most welcoming of messages.

Larne RUC was a recently renovated, rather impressive, fortress on Hope Street (no irony intended). Larne had more manpower, money and resources than Carrick RUC and their district stretched from Whitehead all the way up to the Glens of Antrim. They even had a boat division and a separate wing for the Harbour and British Transport Police. So you’d think they’d be a high;y professional crew who had their shit together. You’d think wrong. All the young guys were good, but the McBain murder investigation was being run by CI Kennedy – a first-class arse, if there ever was one – and CI Monroe, who was an ill-natured, red-faced son-of-a-bitch. Both of them were Masons, promoted way beyond their level of competence through insider connections. To add that they were lazy, Catholic hating scumbags would be obvious and redundant but I’ve added it anyway out of spite.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s just the same things over and again for Sean Duffy: riot duty, heartbreak, cases he can solve but never get to court. But what detective gets two locked-room mysteries in one career?

When journalist Lily Bigelow is found dead in the courtyard of Carrickfergus Castle, it looks like a suicide. Yet there are a few things that bother Duffy just enough to keep the case file open, which is how he finds out that Bigelow was working on a devastating investigation of corruption and abuse at the highest levels of power in the UK and beyond.And so Duffy has two impossible problems on his desk: Who killed Lily Bigelow? And what were they trying to hide?

MY THOUGHTS: Northern Ireland. 1987. The Troubles are still brewing, if no longer boiling over. Duffy still isn’t any better at getting, and keeping, people onside. Even his lovers. It could have something to do with his snarky irreverence. Personally, this is something I love, but then I don’t have to work/live with him.

McKinty is an atmospheric and entertaining writer. He brings the setting and the people alive. And he’s not above throwing in the odd curveball. Neither McKinty nor his creation, Sean Duffy, are ever predictable.

This is, quite honestly, one of the best series, if not THE BEST series I have ever read. I am feeling quite sad that there is only one more book in the series (currently) for me to read. I hope there are more underway.

❤❤❤❤.5

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty, published by Seprent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed int his 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3221154053?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

We can definitely feel autumn in the air in the evenings…it is quite crisp, and again in the mornings. But the days are still deliciously hot, and we are still waiting on rain. Our garden is parched and the cracks in the lawn are still widening. I love this weather but do feel bad about the garden. I have lost quite a few plants, but am using the water from the washing machine to water our vegetable garden and keep that alive, although there have been a couple of instances when I have forgotten to grab the bucket in time and the laundry room has flooded out onto the hall carpet. I will be so glad when the laundry is moved downstairs and into the garage…then it won’t matter.

I have just begun Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

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I am only one chapter in and already loving this!

I am still listening to The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton. I am not finding it particularly captivating so far…

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This week I also plan on reading

Night Train to Murder by Simon R. Green

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When Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are asked to escort a VIP on the late-night train to Bath, it would appear to be a routine case. The Organisation has acquired intelligence that an attempt is to be made on Sir Dennis Gregson’s life as he travels to Bath to take up his new position as Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. Ishmael’s mission is to ensure that Sir Dennis arrives safely.

How could anyone orchestrate a murder in a crowded railway carriage without being noticed and with no obvious means of escape? When a body is discovered in a locked toilet cubicle, Ishmael Jones has just 56 minutes to solve a seemingly impossible crime before the train reaches its destination.

And One Moment by Linda Green

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Finn and Kaz are about to meet for the first time.

Ten-year-old Finn, a quirky, sensitive boy who talks a lot and only eats at cafes with a 5-star hygiene rating, is having a tough time at school and home.

Outspoken Kaz, 59, who has an acerbic sense of humour and a heart of gold, is working at the café when Finn and his mum come in.

They don’t know it yet, but the second time they meet will be a moment which changes both of their lives forever . . .

I have five ARCs from Netgalley this week

Can You See Her by S.E. Lynes

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The Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm

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An Artificial Light by Petra Durst-Benning

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Tell Me How It Ends by V.B. Grey

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And We Are Not in the World by Conor O’Callaghan

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BUT….I have also been on a little buying spree. Well, I had to do the rounds of the bookstores in search of books for my grandson’s upcoming third birthday. I managed to find him one book

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He loves anything Paw Patrol so this will definitely be a hit. But I do need to find him a few more books…which may just be a dangerous escapade. For while I got him one book yesterday, I managed to pick up eight for myself (Yes! I am hanging my head in shame…😔)

Dead Time by Matt Brolly

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Two by Peter May, Entry Island, and The Critic

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The Whisper Man by Alex North

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The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

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The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

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One Minute Later by Susan Lewis

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It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell

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So now I am going to sit in the naughty corner and read, and read, and read…😂🤣😂🤣

I only have one day off this week, so I may have overestimated what I am going to be able to read. We’ll see.

If you have any suggestions for books my grandson would like, please tell me. His absolute favourite at the moment is Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss

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I must have read it to him three times before he went to bed when I was up there earlier this week. And if I make a mistake with the tongue twisters, he says ‘No, Nana, that’s not right. Read it again!’

Happy reading my friends.

Cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚