The Chain by Adrian McKinty

I have just reread The Chain by Adrian McKinty for a Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group read. Then I discovered that I had never actually published my review on my blog, so here it is!

EXCERPT: Her phone rings, startling her,

‘Unknown Caller,’ it says

She answers with the speakerphone: ‘Hello?’

‘Two things you must remember,’ a voice says through some kind of speech-distortion machine. ‘Number one: you are not the first and you will certainly not be the last. Number two: remember, its not about the money – it’s about The Chain.’

This has to be some sort of prank, one part of her brain is saying. But other deeper, more ancient structures in her cerebellum are beginning to react with what can only be described as pure animal terror.

‘I think you must have the wrong number,’ she suggests.

The voice continues obliviously: ‘In five minutes, Rachel, you will be getting the most important phone call of your life. You are going to need to pull your car over to the shoulder. you’re going to need to have your wits about you. You will be getting detailed instructions. Make sure your phone is fully charged and make sure also that you have a pen and paper to write down these instructions. I am not going to pretend that things are going to be easy for you. The coming days will be very difficult, but The Chain will get you through.’

Rachel feels very cold. Her mouth tastes of old pennies. Her head is light. ‘ I’m going to have to call the police or…..’

‘No police. No law enforcement of any kind. You will do just fine, Rachel. You would not have been selected if we thought you were the kind of person who would go to pieces on us. What is being asked of you may seem impossible now but it is entirely within your capabilities.’

A splinter of ice runs down her spine. A leak of the future into the present. A terrifying future that, evidently, will manifest itself in just a few minutes.

‘Who are you?’ she asks.

‘Pray that you never find out who we are and what we are capable of.’

The line goes dead.

She checks the caller ID again but the number is still not there. That voice, though. Mechanically disguised and deliberate; assured, chilly, arrogant. What can this person mean about getting the most important phone call of her life? She checks her rearview mirror and moves the Volvo out of the fast lane and into the middle lane just in case another call really is coming in.

She picks nervously at a line of thread that’s coming off her red sweater just as the iPhone rings again.

Another Unknown Caller.

She stabs at the green answer key. ‘Hello?’

‘Is this Rachel O’Neill?’ a voice asks. A different voice. A woman. A woman who sounds very upset.

Rachel wants to say ‘No’; she wants to ward off the impending disaster by saying that actually she has started using her maiden name again – Rachel Klein – but she knows there’s no point. Nothing she is going to say or do is going to stop this woman from telling her that the worst has happened.

‘Yes,’ she says.

‘I’m so sorry, Rachel, I’ve got some terrible news for you. Have you got the pen and paper for the instructions?’

‘What’s happened?’ she asks, really scared now.

‘I’ve kidnapped your daughter.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE YOUR CHILD IS TO KIDNAP ANOTHER.

Listen carefully …
Your child has been kidnapped.
You must abduct someone else’s child to save your own.
Disobey. Break the rules. Go to the cops. Your child will die.
Your victim’s parents must kidnap another child before yours is released.
You are now part of the chain.

#DONTBREAKTHECHAIN

MY THOUGHTS: I may have said this before, but I am going to say it again: Adrian McKinty is one hell of a writer! And versatile with it.

I read this overnight, finishing it at 2am. I have not functioned well at work today, a day when I really needed to be running at 110%.

This is very different to McKinty’s Sean Duffy series, although there is still the odd musical reference, and his sense of humour still shines through, not as often, but it’s still there. But although it is different, it is equally as brilliant in its own way.

I loved the way he wove bits of his own background, when he was struggling as a writer, into Rachel’s background. There was nothing that Rachel did in her efforts to get her daughter back, that I wouldn’t do if my child’s life was at risk. The only difference being that I don’t have the luxury of an ex-marine as a brother-in-law.

Riveting. Compelling. Thrilling. Just read it.

❤❤❤❤❤

‘Oh,Rachel, why do birds suddenly appear every time that you’re near?’ Because they’re actually carrion crows and I’m one of the goddamn undead.’

‘Chemo is a little death that you invite in in order to keep the big death outside on the porch. ‘

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 The Chain by Adrian McKinty, published by Hachette Australia, from Waitomo District Library. But I loved it so much I will be buying my own hard copy. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland

EXCERPT: He was standing atop a small rise staring at something when Evan staggered up beside him and gasped softly. A strange yellowish vehicle-cum-dwelling: they couldn’t take their eyes off it.

The depleted shell of a truck cabin at one end merged into a decrepit caravan at the other. It was like some bizarre caterpillar with extremities so different they might have belonged to separate species. The truck’s bonnet lay on the ground, engine parts flung around it like a mad mechanic’s toys. Where once were wheels, tree stumps now propped the apparition up. Skew-whiff sheds and lean-tos lay scattered around it, rotting in the grass. The caravan was covered in peeling tan and yellow paint and above the door a faded sign declared ‘Highway Palace’. It was a ruined palace though, with oval windows cracked or broken, glinting like jagged teeth, shreds of lace curtains behind them. There was nothing palatial or grand about it now, and probably never had been. But behind the curtains, mystery seemed to lurk in every corner.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

MY THOUGHTS: Atmospheric. Very atmospheric. There is a palpable air of menace in this small rural town where most people are either hiding something, or watching … and waiting.

Set in the 1960’s, there is blatant racism in this book that may upset some people. But that is just the way things were then. While we can’t change the past, we can learn from it.

There are multiple layers to this mystery – corrupt police, corrupt town councillors, extra-marital activity, missing and mutilated animals, mystery and murder. But Woodland has also captured the essence of the time, particularly the way kids were allowed to roam about unfettered, the only restriction that they ‘be home in time for tea.’ Parents weren’t at all concerned about where the kids were, who they were playing with or what they were doing, as long as they stayed out of trouble and came home on time. Step out of line, and you’d get a whack around the ear or a slap around the legs for your trouble. People drank and drove. And smoked – everywhere.

Woodland’s writing is vivid, both his descriptions and his characters come alive. I could smell the heat, taste the dust, hear the voices. I knew, well before I reached the end of the first chapter, that I was onto a winner.

The plot is enthralling, and takes place in Aussie time. ‘Don’t worry mate, it’ll get done, some time. Crack a stubby while you wait.’

Mick Goodenough (pronounced Good-no, or as his boss likes to quip, no-good) has two strikes against him before he starts. 1. He’s an indigenous Australian. 2. He’s been demoted from the rank of Detective in Sydney and exiled to Moorabool as a probationary constable. The problem is that Mick still thinks like a detective. And his boss takes great delight in rubbing his nose in the fact that he isn’t.

Hal, twelve, has also only recently moved to Moorabool for his father’s work. Summer holidays, so he hasn’t really had a chance to meet anyone else his own age. Until Allie, an indigenous girl who takes him crawbobbing, and talks to him about the spirits trapped in the Highway Palace, the scene of a murder-suicide years earlier. Hal is more concerned about what happened to the one surviving child. Where did he go, and where is he now? And could it be him that is making the strange and threatening calls his mother is receiving? If not, then who? And why?

I was riveted by this story. Gritty and honest. And I want more.

I have lived in a small town in Australia, a little like this. Some of my happiest years were spent there. Woodland made me homesick. Dust, flies, spiders, snakes and all…

❤❤❤❤.8

#TheNightWhistler #NetGalley

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: I think that Moorabool is a fictional town in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia.

New England or New England North West is the name given to a generally undefined region in the north of the state of New South Wales, Australia, about 60 kilometres inland, that includes the Northern Tablelands and the North West Slopes regions.

Dubbed the Cathedral City, Armidale in the New England High Country is one of Australia’s most elegant regional cities. With an altitude of a kilometre above sea level, it’s known for vibrant autumn foliage and cool breezes in summer. Wander its streets and find 19th century churches mixed with modern cafes and restaurants.

THE AUTHOR: Greg has been a script developer and consultant for Australian film funding bodies and the Australian Writers Guild for 25 years. He is the founder-director of a leading Australian script service. As writer/director Greg’s award-winning short films and documentaries screened nationally and internationally at over 60 film festivals and many TV channels. His screenplays The Whistler and Pangs won several script competitions including the Fellowship of Australian Writers Best Drama Manuscript, the Inscription Open Script award, and three Varuna Fellowships between them. Greg has lectured in Scriptwriting at Macquarie University, UTS, NIDA, and AFTRS. His script editing credits include feature films ‘Moon Rock for Monday’, ‘Don’t Tell’, ‘Needle’, ‘Cold Turkey’, ‘The Bet’, ‘Broken’, several Project Greenlight and Monte Miller Award finalists, the 2013 Tropfest Best Film Winner, the 2016 AWG John Hinde Science Fiction script award winner and many others. His first crime novel ‘The Night Whistler’ was published by Text Publishing in August 2020, and he’s now writing the sequel, The Carnival is Over.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

EXCERPT: I killed my brother with a penny. Simple, benign and perfectly believable.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Inside the walls of Indiana’s elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont’s students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don’t let your candle go out–unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house–to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn’t ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win–or to survive. . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I haven’t read ‘Some Choose Darkness’ #1 in the Rory Moore/Lane Phillips series. If you haven’t either, it’s not a problem. Both books are written as stand-alones although they feature the same main characters. But, first thing Monday I am off to the library to get a copy of Some Choose Darkness. I want to read it and am annoyed with myself that I missed it when it came out.

There’s a lot that goes on in this book and it takes a little while for it to start to tie in together. One thing is for sure – I never wanted to go away to school, and The Suicide House has reinforced that decision! Secret societies, dangerous pranks, dares and hazing form the background for this story of death and a dangerous obsession.

The two characters around whom this book is centred don’t actually feature as prominently as I expected they would. The Suicide house begins with a rather enigmatic journal entry by a boy who has killed his brother, and gotten away with it. These journal entries continue sporadically throughout the novel.

The timelines are split between Summer 2019 when the murders occur and August 2020, at which time we meet broadcaster Mack Carter and journalist Ryder Hillier, who are both independently working on the Westmont Prep School Murders.

August 2020 is also when we meet Dr Lane Phillips, forensic psychologist and criminal profiler. I found it quite hard to get a handle on his character, another reason I want to read the preceding book. His partner, Rory Moore, is a forensic reconstructionist specializing in cold-case homicides, with a passion for the reconstruction of antique dolls. I found it quite disappointing that more use was not made of their skills.

While I really enjoyed this read, there are a few things that don’t make much sense to me. There seems to be a point to most secret societies, but with the one at the centre of The Suicide House, there doesn’t seem to be any point other than to participate in game of ‘The Man in The Mirror’. Missing man, Marc McEvoy, was an unnecessary distraction and overcomplicated the storyline.

A new character, Gus Morelli, is introduced towards the end of The Suicide House, and I hope that we see more of him in the future.

The Suicide House certainly held my interest from start to finish. There’s a few relationships between characters that didn’t quite sit right for me and left me with a few questions about the resolution, therefore only a 4 star rating rather than 5 stars.

Definitely a series I want to read more of. I have enjoyed everything I have ever read by this author, and The Suicide House is no exception.

😲😲😲😲.1

THE AUTHOR: Charlie Donlea resides in Chicago with his wife and two young children.

He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for his first novel, Summit Lake.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It is Father’s Day here in New Zealand so happy father’s day to all the dads out there. It’s a fairly dismal day, wet and windy, so we have postponed the plans we had made for this afternoon until next week. Currently we are waiting for the Supercar racing out of Townsville, Queensland, Australia to start. There is the delicious aroma of curried sausages (Chelsea Winters – Eat) simmering away in the slow cooker drifting through to the lounge. All is well in our little world.

I have had a good reading week, although I deviated from my reading plan as you may have noticed if you have been following my reviews during the week.

I am currently reading Cry Baby by Mark Billingham, #17 in the Tom Thorne series. This story is set in 1996 and is the prequel to Sleepyhead which was the first book I ever read by Billingham.

I am listening to an audiobook by a New Zealand author, Katherine Hayton, called The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton which is set in the South Island of New Zealand.

You may have a feeling of deja vu as you read on regarding what I plan on reading this week.

Night Whistler by Greg Woodland.

It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?

My copy of Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, by Adrian McKinty, #6 in the Sean Duffy has finally arrived, so I want to read that also.

Belfast 1988: A man is found dead, killed with a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. This is no hunting accident. But uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.
Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs, and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece.

I have 6 new ARCs from Netgalley this week . . . so I guess you could say that once again, I have fallen off the wagon!

I have Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman, but I plan to read Practical Magic before I start this. I read and loved The Rules of Magic last year.

Peace by Garry Disher, Australian fiction.

The Girls in the Snow by Stacy Green

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Stolen Children by Michael Wood

And Living Ayurveda by Claire Ragozzino. I have been going to Ayurveda yoga classes over the winter and have really enjoyed them, so couldn’t resist this title when I saw it. Even the cover invokes a feeling of calm and peace.

Have a wonderful week my friends. I hope that, wherever in the world you are, the Covid-19 situation is easing. Keep calm and read on. In our local library, even the books are put into quarantine when they are returned!

Happy reading!

Sandy ❤😍📚☕🍪

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

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I picked this up to read because I have the second book in this series, When She Was Good, to read. And I am so glad that I did. It has given me the best read of my year…so far. Read on!

EXCERPT: I’m happy with who I am. I have pieced myself together from the half-broken things. I have learned how to hide, how to run, how to keep safe, despite never knowing a time when my blood didn’t run cold at the sound of footsteps stopping outside my door, or the sound of someone breathing on the opposite side of a wall.

I know the jittery, crawling sensation that ripples down my spine whenever I feel the weight of eyes upon me. Searching my face. Trying to recognize me. And no matter how many times I step into doorways, or look over my shoulder, or yell, ‘I know you’re there,’ the street is always empty. No footsteps. No shadows. No eyes.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity.

Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth?

MY THOUGHTS: I read Good Girl, Bad Girl overnight. Couldn’t put it down. Ordered in dinner so that I didn’t have to stop reading to cook. I absorbed this book through every pore in my skin. I was there for every moment, every word. There was zero chance of my mind wandering as I read. Good Girl, Bad Girl is a heartpounding, pulse racing, edge of the seat, go away – I’ll tear your arm off if you try separating me from my book – read.

My first Michael Robotham book, and yes! It’s that damned good!

The characters are all interesting, flawed, human. Evie, the child found living in a secret room only feet away from a decomposing body, and who possesses a unique talent. She has no past, no family, no memories, not even a birthdate. She lies, she obfuscates, she casts doubts and misdirects. She’s dyslexic, antisocial and aggressive. And she wants out of Langford Hall, the secure children’s home where she is incarcerated. Cyrus, Forensic Psychologist, is called in by his friend Guthrie when Evie makes an application to the court to be released. Cyrus has his own demons, his own tragic past. Something in him recognizes something in Evie and he sets out to save her, both from the world and from herself.

The plot is gritty, gripping, and fast moving. There is a murder to be solved. One that isn’t quite as simple as it first appears. A rising skating star, an Olympic hopeful, is found dead, murdered, close to her home. Everyone’s darling, Jodie could do no wrong. But a chance remark by one of her classmates sets Cyrus off on a quest to discover the other darker side of this golden girl, and sets off a chain of events he could never have envisaged.

I loved every word of Good Girl, Bad Girl. And there are not enough stars in the rating system to convey just how good a read this is.

❤🤯😲🤯❤

#GoodGirlBadGirl @michealrobotham

And now onto When She Was Good, Cyrus Haven #2.

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Good Girl, Bad Girl is set in Nottingham, a city in central England’s Midlands region. It’s known for its role in the Robin Hood legend and for the hilltop Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, rebuilt many times since the medieval era. In the Lace Market area, once the centre of the world’s lace industry, the Galleries of Justice Museum has crime-related exhibits. Wollaton Hall is an ornate Elizabethan mansion with gardens and a deer park.

THE AUTHOR: Edgar finalist and Gold Dagger winning author, Michael Robotham was born in Australia in November 1960 and grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.

For the next fourteen years he worked for newspapers in Australia, Europe, Africa and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies.

Michael writes in what his daughters’ refer to as his ‘cabana of cruelty’ on Sydney’s northern beaches where he slaves away daily to cater to their every expensive whim. Where is the justice?

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for the loan of their copy of Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham, published by Hachette Australia. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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EXCERPT: She looked at him as she gathered her tote bag and new Pharminex briefcase. He seemed thoughtful, his eyes softening as he watched her. ‘Affectionate’, the word came to mind. Or maybe it was more tactics. She thought she’d been the first to lie in this relationship. But maybe he’d been the first. Maybe the first lie was only the beginning.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: What happens when an undercover reporter gets in too deep? And when a practiced liar has to face off with her own truth—how does she choose her true reality?

MY THOUGHTS: Talk about twisty – I was tied up in knots like a pretzel reading The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan! She bashed my brain around like it was a squash ball in a world championship game. I have no idea how the author managed to keep everything straight in her head as she was writing. Don’t go looking for any rest breaks while you are reading this, because there aren’t any. It’s full steam ahead the whole way!

Told from multiple points of view by Nora, a Pharminex sales rep; Ellie, an investigative journalist; Brooke, the daughter of the Vanderwald family, owners of Pharminex; and Lacey, married to Trevor the Vanderwald son and heir to the Pharminex empire, The First to Lie focuses on pharmaceutical ethics, – or should that be the lack of them? – the lack of culpability of medical and corporate professionals, betrayal, and revenge – the dish best eaten cold.

This is very much a cat and mouse game, but with a different twist. It is often difficult to tell who is the cat, and who is the mouse, and there’s no guarantee that the mouse is the mouse. It may well be another cat. Everyone lies. You cannot trust anyone. You definitely cannot take anyone at face value except, maybe, the detective. And then that’s only a ‘maybe’. ‘I know who I was when I got up this morning, Alice had told the Caterpillar, but I think I must have been changed several times since then. I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, because I’m not myself, you see.’

Exciting. Compelling. Incredibly clever.

🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

#TheFirsttoLie #NetGalley

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: The First to Lie is set in Boston, Massachusetts.

THE AUTHOR: Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of eleven award winning novels of suspense. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s WHDH-TV. In addition to 37 EMMYs and 14 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism.

Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for victims and consumers. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine, working with Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Avedon and Richard Goodwin.

Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as president of national Sisters in Crime. She blogs at Jungle Red Writers and Career Authors.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Forge Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The First to Lie by Hank Phillipi Ryan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. We have fine weather today and I have been making the most of it. The laundry is all up to date, and I have had a couple of hours in the garden. It’s starting to cloud over now and the wind is picking up so I decided to come inside. Good timing as the Supercar racing out of Australia – Townsville, Queensland. I have only driven through there a couple of times, but I think that once travel restrictions are eased that it is somewhere I am going to have to visit. We have friends who live there so it would be great to catch up with them too.

I am currently reading The First to Lie by Frank Phillipi Ryan, my first book by this author and it is certainly keeping my attention!

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I finished listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers earlier today and have yet to download another audiobook.

This week I am planning to read Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

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In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage. A prequel to Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead–which the Times voted “one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade”–this compelling novel highlights the case that shaped the career of one of British crime fiction’s most iconic characters.

and Night Whistler by Greg Woodland. This is a debut novel by this Australian author. Love the cover – creepy!

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It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

I have had 5 ARCs approved this week. Most excited about The Survivors by Jane Harper. I have requested every book that she has written, and this is the first time I have been approved!

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Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O’Connor

The Bluebell Girls by Barbara Josselsohn (thanks Carla and Susan!)

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The Well of Ice by Andrea Carter

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and The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah

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I also have a beta read – Cognac and Confessions by Christine Cameron.

Happy reading everyone. Have a wonderful week!

Cheers
Sandy

Watching What I’m Reading

I can’t believe it is 5 days since I last posted. I have had a bout of bronchopnuemonia and it knocked the stuffing out of me. All I have done is sleep…I tried reading but would fall asleep again and then, when I woke, was unable to remember what I had read.

So I have read very little in the past few days, and requested nothing… though a couple of my pending requests were approved. Hopefully as I continue to improve so will my powers of concentration. I have to admit to struggling with writing this. My brain really doesn’t want to function. I tried and failed yesterday, which is why this is a day late.

Currently I am reading an Australian novel, Tiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer. It is set initially in Perth, Western Australia, then moves to the southwest coast somewhere in the region of Albany. I am enjoying this domestic drama/romance set in a slightly warmer climate than my own.

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I am listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers, but like reading at the moment, I keep having to rewind and listen again. This is no reflection on the quality of the book or the narration, purely the fault of my cotton wool brain!

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This week I am planning on reading The Bad Sister by Kevin O’Brien

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TOO CLOSE
The site of the old campus bungalow where two girls were brutally slain is now a flower patch covered with chrysanthemums. It’s been fifty years since the Immaculate Conception Murders. Three more students and a teacher were killed in a sickening spree that many have forgotten. But there is one person who knows every twisted detail. . . .

TO SEE
Hannah O’Rourke and her volatile half-sister, Eden, have little in common except a parent. Yet they’ve ended up at the same small college outside Chicago, sharing a bungalow with another girl. Hannah isn’t thrilled—nor can she shake the feeling that she’s being watched. And her journalism professor, Ellie Goodwin, keeps delving into Hannah and Eden’s newsworthy past. . . .

THE DANGER
When Hannah and Eden’s arrival coincides with a spate of mysterious deaths, Ellie knows it’s more than a fluke. A copycat is recreating those long-ago murders. Neither the police nor the school will accept the horrific truth. And the more Ellie discovers, the more she’s convinced that she won’t live to be believed. . . .

This week I have received two new ARCs, again more by circumstance than good management.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

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and, Ransomed by M.A. Hunter, for which I was sent a widget.

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Have a wonderful week all. I will post when I can, but right now I am snuggling back down for another nap.

While You Slept by R.J. Parker

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EXCERPT: An intruder was standing motionless in Lily Russell’s back garden, and when she saw him, she stood from her swivel chair and released an incoherent exclamation.

It was a sunny September lunchtime and the man was stock still in the middle of her small lawn as if waiting for him to see her there. He was wearing jeans and a dark coloured sweat top with the hood pulled over his head.

But it wasn’t his presence that alarmed her the most. It was his face. It was tilted up so she could get a good look.

He was wearing the smile of her daughter. A cut-out mask of her five-year-old’s laughing features with holes cut out of her eyes for his to look through.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: What would you do if you woke up in your home… but it wasn’t your home at all?

When a man wearing a picture mask of her daughter Maisie’s face stands tauntingly in her garden, Lily Russell does the smart thing and calls the police. When she and Maisie wake up the following morning in an exact replica of their home, held captive by that same man, the police are no longer an option.

Surrounded by the rooms and things that once provided comfort and now only promote fear, Lily and Maisie must fight to survive. Because when no one knows where you are, you are your only hope.

MY THOUGHTS: While You Slept presents a bit of a conundrum for me. I partly enjoyed this read. There are parts that are downright creepy. There are parts that just don’t quite ring true. There are parts that are really suspenseful. There are parts that are faintly ridiculous. And I hated the end, which really wasn’t an end at all because we’re left in no doubt that there will be a follow on. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn’t, and this didn’t.

I didn’t like the characters other than Maisie, and there’s absolutely no character development. Other than the fact that Lily’s husband Ewan is an alcoholic, and they’re separated, we know nothing about them.

And I am not at all invested in the motivation behind the abductions. I wasn’t convinced….not at all. This aspect of the book is poorly developed and lets down what could have been a 4-star read.

This is one of those books that would probably make a better movie than a book, but the ending would need a lot more definition.

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THE AUTHOR: RJ Parker, P.Mgr., MCrim, is an award winning and bestselling true crime author and co-owner with his daughters of RJ Parker Publishing. Inc. He has written 17 true crime books, available in eBook, paperback and audiobook editions, and have sold in over 100 countries. He holds Certifications in Serial Crime and Criminal Profiling.

ALL Paperbacks under RJ Parker Publishing are in the KINDLE MATCHBOOK program: When you purchase any print book, you get the eBook for FREE

Besides gifting books to his cause, Wounded Warriors, and donating to Victims of Violent Crimes, RJ has daily contests on Facebook where he gifts eBooks and autographed books.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, for providing a digital ARC of While You Slept by R.J. Parker for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading….

We have had two heavy frosts in a row, but glorious days to follow with more of the same forecast for tomorrow. Of course, you know where I have been all weekend and where I will be tomorrow – yes,at work! Day off scheduled for Tuesday and the weather forecast is….wet! I am sure that I am lacking in Vitamin D. But at least the days are drawing out and I am not always going to work in the dark. Two weeks and it will be spring. I can’t wait!

Currently I am reading The Child Across the Street by Kerry Wilkinson. He has me absolutely stumped! Every time I think I have figured out who was driving the car that hit 8 year old Ethan, he pours cold water all over my theory!

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I am listening to Report For Murder (Lindsay Gordon 1) by Val McDermid. Set in an exclusive girl’s school, it’s not as dark as McDermid’s normal work, but I am totally engrossed. And isn’t that cover glorious!

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This week I am planning on reading While You Slept by R.J. Parker.

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What would you do if you woke up in your home… but it wasn’t your home at all?

When a man wearing a picture mask of her daughter Maisie’s face stands tauntingly in her garden, Lily Russell does the smart thing and calls the police. When she and Maisie wake up the following morning in an exact replica of their home, held captive by that same man, the police are no longer an option.

Surrounded by the rooms and things that once provided comfort and now only promote fear, Lily and Maisie must fight to survive. Because when no one knows where you are, you are your only hope.

and When She Was Good by Michael Robotham

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Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return in this new thriller from author Michael Robotham. Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case in Good Girl, Bad Girl. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…

I really need to read the first in the series, Good Girl, Bad Girl, before I start this.

I have been very restrained this week. No I haven’t. 😂🤣 But whoever’s been handing out the ARCs this week has been. I have received only two. Yes! Right on target! I think that is only the second time this year that I have managed that. But it is definitely more good luck than good management.

I received The Imposter by Anna Wharton

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and The Second Wife by Rebecca Fleet …. my internet keeps dropping out, and I can’t download the bookcover. 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ Our ultrafast fibre connection is now at our driveway…thats only taken 3 months…so it’s anyone’s guess when it will actually get connected to the house.

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend. I have chicken in the oven roasting for dinner tonight. Am going to put the veges in and toss the salad, then settle down with a gin and my book while it all finishes cooking. I am off to visit my son and grandson Tuesday and have also booked in to get my hair cut. I am really looking forward to my day out.

Cheers
Sandy