Book Review – ‘The Next Girl’ by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again…..

Four years later an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep.  An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She is still alive.

“If only it was a doll.  It should have been a doll.”

Albert Thomas is on his way home from the pub on a cold and rainy night. Lost in memories of his late wife, he sees what he thinks is litter right next to the bin outside the Library. Going to pick it up he discovers it is in fact an abandoned baby that feels ice cold and not crying.  He bangs on the doors of nearby houses begging for help until someone finally answers. The newborn is alive and quickly taken to hospital to be cared for while DI Gina Harte and her team arrive looking for clues to try and find the baby’s mother.

Four years had gone since he’d taken her and she still remembered that night like it was yesterday.”

Debbie is scared to cry for her baby, her captor doesn’t like it when she shows emotions or fear. Lying in the dirty bed covered in the blood she’s been losing since giving birth to her baby girl and with a chain around her ankle, all she can do is stare into the dark silently screaming with pain and heartbreak. She cherishes the few moments she was allowed to hold her daughter before he whisked her away but now she doesn’t know where her baby is or if she’s even alive. Relief and joy flood her when she overhears the TV saying that a newborn baby has been found alive. Her daughter is alive! She’s free! She begs her captor to make an anonymous call asking the police to do a DNA test on the baby so she can go live with her mother.  The police are confused by the call and shocked at the results. No one even knew that Debbie was still alive. DI Harte is convinced this means she was abducted and is renewed in her determination to find Debbie and bring her safely home to her family.

“Her job was important and she needed it, she loved it.”

The Next Girl is the first book in the DI Gina Harte series. I had already read book two before this, which is unusual as I prefer to read a series in order, so it felt a little strange already knowing a bit about the characters as they were being introduced.  I didn’t feel any of the character’s back stories were missing when I read the second book, but this one certainly gave a clearer picture of certain events and I connected with Gina on a greater level.

“The treatment that Hannah’s father had forced on her had turned her into a fighter, and now she needed to continue fighting for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.”

In this book Gina is struggling with vivid flashbacks to her abusive marriage, particularly the night her husband died. In the 20 years since his death, she’s kept his violence a secret and has been haunted by the psychological torment of the nightmares and memories of his abuse. I thought this quote was a great insight into her as both a person and a police officer.  Gina still feels shame at being abused and I thought this storyline was written so sensitively and brilliantly as it not only shows how anyone can be abused, but also the way it impacts every facet of your life for years, even decades, after it ends. It was also a good way to have a connection between Gina and Deborah as the DI wonders what she’s been suffering the past four years and understands some of the fear she is probably living with.

“It’s like we’re dealing with a ghost. Someone who is right under our noses, but we just can’t see them.”

Gina and her team are getting increasingly frustrated as they seem to find one dead end after another.  Their best suspect has alibis for every time in question and their seems to be no new leads. But then one of Deborah’s old work colleagues mentions something he didn’t think was important enough to tell them when they originally interviewed him.  Could this be the lead they’ve been waiting for?

“Gina’s heart pounded in her chest…”

As did mine as I read this gripping novel.  It was so well written that I really couldn’t say who the abductor was, which added to the tension.  You were in the same position as the police and feel their desperation and urgency to find him and rescue Debbie before it’s too late. I loved the characters and connected mostly with Gina and Debbie.  Gina is a fantastic DI and I think the author has given her so many layers to her personality and you see that soft vulnerability alongside the tough, fierce, determined woman. A fantastic thriller simmering with suspense.

Book Review – ‘Roam’ by C.H. Armstrong ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Being a homeless teen is hard.

Keeping it a secret is even harder.

Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha, but thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager – fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college, and a career in music.

But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers. Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help.  But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?

Thank you to Central Avenue Publishing, Netgalley and C.H Armstrong for the chance to read and review this book.

“There are countless things I never imagined about being homeless – so  many things I’d taken for granted.”

Roam is a story about a normal family going through familiar problems, and a normal teenager with normal teenage problems. But there’s one thing that isn’t normal: they’re also homeless and currently sleeping in the back of their van and eating free meals at the soup kitchen, all whilst trying to settle into a new town. Living this way makes every little thing that much harder as they’re cramped in this small space with no escape or privacy, they have no washing facilities for themselves or their clothes and very little money for food. It also means they have to think about things most of us don’t give a second thought: can they afford to turn on the heat in the car, can they afford breakfast or do they need to skip it, getting the kids to school early so they can have a wash and brush their teeth and hair before anyone else turns up, and how are they going to wash their clothes and bodies?  It also makes starting a new school even more daunting as Abby is worried she’ll be bullied if people find out about her family’s situation.

“There wasn’t anyone who could help you?”

As soon as I read the description of this book I was intrigued. While reading I realised that part of my attraction to this book, and the affinity I was feeling with Abby, was because of my experiences with homeless people. A few months before I turned 13 my Dad got a job after almost three years out of work.  The job saw us move from the north of the country to the south, and while we weren’t homeless, we did live amongst people who were or had been. My Dad’s new job was at the YMCA and we lived in the staff flat on the premises. Over the years I saw many things, heard people’s heartbreaking stories and saw teenagers who were homeless for a multitude of reasons. It taught me it can happen to anyone, that we never know why someone is on the street and to be thankful for all I have. I also learned that once you’re homeless it isn’t easy to pull yourself out of that situation and how vital things such as homeless shelters and soup kitchens really are. I think these things all made the book resonate with me in a unique way.

“..the best part isn’t the food – it’s how we’re treated: like real people..”

So many times in this novel we’re reminded of how dismal Abby’s situation is and how heartbreaking and demoralising it must be. Who wouldn’t feel that way queuing for hours just to make sure you’re first in line at the soup kitchen for dinner or sneaking into the toilets at Wal-Mart so you can wash your hair and have a sponge wash in the sink?  But then there are the heartwarming times such as the first time they go to Saturday Community Kitchen and are served as guests instead of lining up like at the soup kitchen, and in the many acts of kindness that take place in this story.

“How can I ever forgive her?”

At first we don’t know exactly why they had to leave Omaha for Rochester or what it is that Abby’s Mom did to make her so angry at her, but over time we learn the stories and are able to empathise with some of Abby’s feelings towards her mother. I thought that their relationship was well written: full of the usual teenage angst and complexities between a parent and child but with the added anger, guilt and frustration the pair feel.

“It’s easy to forget you’re worthy when you’re trying so hard just to make it through each day, but always remember: you are worthy.”

I really enjoyed this book.  It had a good story, was well written and had great characters. I connected with Abby and thought the writer captured teenage friendships and relationships well. I particularly liked Abby’s relationship with her little sister, Amber. It offered some of the more light-hearted moments, and also some of the most emotional ones. It also gave Abby a person who mattered more to her than she did that she could focus on. I loved how she’d sing to her little sister to get her to fall asleep, distract her or cheer her up.  I also liked how instead of the stereotypical evil stepdad we had a stepdad in this book who was adored, and loved his stepchild like he did his own. I liked how the book ended, though I’m not saying more as I don’t want to give anything away. Roam is a great novel that I would recommend, and not just to lovers of the Young Adult genre.

Out February 5th 2019

Book Review – ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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“To save one is to save the world.”

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism – but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.  

One day, in late July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm.  Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Solokov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

“So many stories. So many brave people.”

This is one of those books that you can’t simply read, it reaches in and grabs your soul and immerses you completely.  Holocaust books are never easy reads, and they shouldn’t be, but it is a time in our history we should educate ourselves about and learn from. I find myself fascinated with the question of how people can commit such atrocities against other human beings in the name of faith or any kind of beliefs, but never any closer to figuring out the answer.

“I am a survivor.”

Lale is just 24 years old when the Germans order each Jewish family in his village to send a member of their family aged 18 or over to work for them.  His older brother volunteers, but Lale insists he should be the one to go as, unlike his brother, he has no wife or children. Despite obvious apprehension at where he will go and what will happen, Lale is pleased that his actions will be saving his family from being sent to a prison camp and keeping them safe. When he first arrives at Auschwitz-Birkenau he is put to work building more huts but notices that there are some prisoners with privileges and vows to get one of the positions that will offer him the greatest chance of survival. Shortly after he becomes acquainted with Pepan, the Tätowierer, who offers him a job as his apprentice.  His new position offers protection and benefits such as a bed to himself and more food to eat. Showing his generous nature, Lale immediately shares his extra rations with other prisoners. Later he begins to smuggle in food and other items, at huge risk to himself, that he also shares. When reading about these kindnesses I couldn’t help but wonder how many lives he saved.  How many people and their parents are alive today because he saved their grandparent in the camp? Lale may have had regrets about the job he was forced to do to survive but it can’t be denied how much good he did that wasn’t obligated to. I myself think taking the job was the right thing. Yes, he could be viewed as conspiring with the enemy, but someone had to do the job and he made sure to use his position to benefit many others.  I empathise with the prisoners who took jobs to gain extra rations or a better position in the camp. They were fighting for survival every second of the day and I blame no one who found a way to make that fight a little easier.

I am in shit but won’t drown, my life is too beautiful to die.”

Lale’s positive outlook is apparent from the start of the story.  He chooses to look for the good and for beauty in any and every circumstance.  I am sure that choosing to keep his positivity despite being in such a frightening and dire situation helped him to survive and enabled him to encourage others to do the same.  One thing that no doubt helped him see a brighter side to life during his time in the camp was meeting and falling in love with Gita. This story of how these two ordinary people found love and hope in the darkest of places was beautiful and shows us how if a love is true absolutely nothing can stand in its way.  The couple share clandestine meetings as much as possible while in the camp and vow to marry and live their lives together once they are free.

“If you wake up in the morning, it’s a good day.”

I would have liked to hear more about Lale’s life after the war than was included in the book, but we do find out a little about his life after the war, his struggles and triumphs, and what he was like as a parent in a small Afterward from his son.  The Authors Notes were a wonderful insight into how she came to tell his story and the man he was. It was interesting to see the pictures of him and some of the historical pictures relevant to his time in the camp. I think they were a great way to end the book and gave the reader a greater connection to Lale.

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story of two ordinary people, living in an extraordinary time.”

This is a story full of opposing things: humanity and inhumanity, love and hate, and hope and despair.  It is a reminder of the horrors people experienced, but also of their ferocious will to survive and how they found happiness, friendship, and sometimes even love, during the most barbaric and odious circumstances.  It is important we are reminded of the stories of individuals as hearing the huge numbers makes it impersonal and incomprehensible. When we hear Lale’s story we can picture what he and those he knew suffered we relate to it in a real way that helps us ensure it never happens again. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a mesmerising, poignant, haunting, powerful, harrowing and beautiful novel. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Out Now

Book Review – ‘The Silent Patient’ by Alex Michaelides ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I love him so totally, completely, sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me.

Sometimes I think –

No. I won’t write about that.

ALICIA

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine.  She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening. Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced that he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed.  Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

Thank you to NetGalley, Orion books and Alex Michaelides for the chance to read and review this book.

On a scorching summer night, 33-year-old painter Alicia Beresford is discovered covered in blood, standing rigid and frozen in her living room, while the body of Gabriel, her husband of seven years, sits tied to a chair.  She had shot him five times in the head with his rifle and then slit her wrists to attempt suicide. She is taken to hospital but doesn’t make any statements of guilt or innocence, in fact Alicia doesn’t speak at all. Her only “statement” was a painting done after discharged from the hospital and put under house arrest while awaiting trial. It is self portrait named Alcestis, after the greek heroine, and it’s meaning remains a mystery.  Six years later psychotherapist Theo Faber, who has been obsessed with the case since it occurred, applies for a job at the hospital she’s being treated. He is sure he can reach her, get her to speak again and discover the truth about what happened that night.

I was so excited to be approved for an ARC of ‘The Silent Patient’.  I had seen a lot of buzz about it on Bookstagram and I loved the description. I  couldn’t wait to decide for myself how good this book really was.

The story is written in the past tense by Alicia’s psychotherapist, Theo. It also contains entries from the diary Gabriel encouraged her to write in the weeks leading up to his death.  These pages give us an insight into who she is, or was, while she remains silent, and enables the reader learn secrets being kept and lies being told by some of the people closest to Alicia.            

This book is as much a story about Theo as it is about Alicia and Gabriel.  Like Alicia, Theo is a broken, damaged character. His affinity with her is his motivation for trying to help and why he feels that he can be the one to help her find her voice again. But he keeps breaking the rules and seems increasingly obsessed with his patient. Is he using this case as a distraction from difficulties in his private life or is there more going on?  As Theo learns more about Alicia and her life in the time leading to the murder, he finds things he never expected and begins to understand why she painted Alcestis and why she has remained silent all these years. Will this mean he can reach her? That once again she will speak and all will be unveiled.

From the opening chapters I was fully immersed in this book.  I flew through it, unable to put it down and thinking about it each moment I wasn’t reading.  The characters were all well written and I especially liked the fascinating enigma that was Alicia. I could never quite work out if she was a malevolent calculating killer or a tragic victim of an as-yet-unknown horror.  It was a well researched novel and I found the information about psychology and trauma fascinating. I had suspicions about two of the characters and thought they might be involved in Gabriel’s death, perhaps even framing her in some way. I was convinced I knew where the story was going and what would happen but I couldn’t have been more wrong….

The novel is ingeniously written as with one chapter, a paragraph and finally a short sentence, the writer mercilessly takes your breath away. He transforms this novel from a great book into a mind-blowing and sensational book with a twist you truly couldn’t have foreseen. THIS is the book I would call the crime debut of 2019.  What a magnificent and electrifying debut. Everyone will be talking about this book and that twist. Whatever genre you enjoy, you need to read this book.

Out February 7th 2019.

Book Review – ‘The Liar’s Wife’ by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Samantha Hayes for the chance to read and review this book.

Loving husband? Or total stranger?

When Ella wakes up in a hospital following a hit-and-run incident, she is scared and confused.  Close to tears, her eyes fall on a get-well-soon card on the window sill and the nurse reassures her that her loving husband will be back soon.  

But Ella has never been married.

In fact, she has lived alone her whole adult life: working hard, rarely socialising, quietly harbouring a terrible secret from her past.

Fear sweeps through Ella when she instantly recognises the man who enters the ward.  He is not her husband, but she knows she must do as he says and play the part of the dutiful wife. What choice does she have?  He was there the night of the fire, he knows her secret too…

Do  you absolutely love twisty and unputdownable psychological thrillers like ‘Girl on The Train’, ‘The Wife Between Us’ and ‘Gone Girl’?  Then you will be totally hooked by this jaw-dropping about the dangerous secrets behind a perfect marriage.

Ella Sinclair is a loner who enjoys the routine of her life: Work, home, sleep.  Work, home, sleep.  She doesn’t date, doesn’t really socialise and prefers to live that way because of a dark secret from many years ago.  While cycling home from work on a rainy night, she is hit by a van and wakes up in hospital. She has suffered serious injury but is reassured by the nurse that her husband has barely left her side the whole time.  There is just one problem; she has never been married. Instantly recognising her ‘husband’ Jacob as someone from her past that she hoped she’d never see again, Ella knows she must do as he says and go along with the charade or risk devastating consequences. These opening chapters were riveting and full of terror and disbelief as you fear for Ella having to go home with this sinister character, knowing the hell that no doubt awaits her and hoping she manages to escape his clutches before she suffers too greatly.  As she is made a prisoner in his home and becomes increasingly reliant on him not only physically but practically and financially, her chances of freedom seem totally hopeless.

Wow! This was one of the most intense, addictive and harrowing psychological thrillers I’ve read not just this year but in a long time. I devoured this book in less than 24 hours, something I’ve not done in quite a while, but it was just impossible for me to put it down. The suspense, foreboding, dread, desperation and sheer helplessness are all there on every page and create an atmosphere that has your heart pounding. Each time you think Ella is going to either save herself or be rescued everything falls apart and she’s back to having no way out.  I honestly had many moments in this story where I doubted a good ending for her but I needed to get to the end and find out.

Our villain, Jacob, is honestly the most malevolent and vile example of a husband I’ve read.  He is a sociopath who has planned his imprisonment of Ella to the last detail, making her chances of escape all the more hopeless by the minute. The level of delusion he has and the extremes he goes to in his quest to have this life he’s built for them in his head is astounding and frightening.  He is well written and very believable.

As a survivor of abuse I could see myself in the situations Ella was in and believe that she was too scared to not go with him or ask for help and that others fell for his charms and believed him to be the dutiful and doting husband.  The author has completely captured the dark truths of an abusive relationship and controlling partner. Thankfully security systems weren’t really available to most people back when I was in that kind of relationship as having that made him omnipotent and she was without a moment really alone. I thought the author used a fantastic analogy about why people don’t leave abusive relationships and there were many quotes that struck a chord with me on a deep and personal level.

The ending of the book was jaw-dropping.  I never saw it coming and still can’t believe what I read.  A few books I have read this year have had endings that I say I didn’t expect but this one was on a whole other level.  I am still blown away by it and love that the author wrote the book so incredibly well that it surprises you in such a huge way.  I was already a fan of Samantha Hayes after reading her book The Reunion in the summer but this has put her on my list of must-read authors. If you love psychological thrillers and gripping stories then this book is for you. Just make sure you’ve got a clear schedule as you’ll not want to put it down.

I’ll finish this review with what is my favourite quote from this book, a line that sums up abusive relationships perfectly: “Freeing herself is going to take something way more complicated that simply escaping”.

Out November 22nd

Book Review – ‘Darkened Light’ by Sarina Langer ⭐⭐⭐.5

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Thank you to Sarina Langer for my copy of this novel.

The death goddess Ithrean has lead the dead to their rest and watched over them in Dunhă for centuries, but they are no longer at peace.  Their souls turn the red grass black, and their corruption seeps into the world of the living.

Naavah Ora is an elven mage who can enter Dunhă at will, and study it’s corruption like no one else can.

Doran is a runaway who cares about nothing more as much as the next treasure, even if it puts his own life in danger.

840 is the only male sacrifice in his village, longing for a chance to live.

Ash is a troublemaker who is learning that he can’t bun his way through every obstacle.

To halt the coming darkness, they need to work together.  

It’s too bad they are too different to get along.

‘Darkened Light’ is not the kind of book I usually read but I was contacted by the author and asked if I would read and review her novel. After reading the synopsis found myself intrigued and eager to dive into something different and a genre I rarely even consider picking up.

With Fantasy books if the world your characters inhabit isn’t believable, then the whole story will fail regardless of the quality of the writing or great characters. The spirit world of Dunhă and the villages and forests that the characters live and journey through, were vividly brought to life from the outset. It was like I could see the movie of the story in my mind and I accepted this band of misfits travelling together without question.

The book started out strongly with the description of a nightmare that Naavah Ora had where the world is dying.  It sets an ominous tone and is something Naavah Ora herself refers back to many times in the story as it begins to appear that it wasn’t a simple nightmare but actually a warning/premonition of what is to come.  

Each chapter of the book is narrated by one of the four main characters and has a few lines before it that are all by the same, mysterious narrator.  I had the sense of it being someone we’d maybe heard of but not been introduced to and until it was made obvious to the reader, I had only one contended for who that might be.  I won’t say who that was or if it was correct, but I did like the cryptic and illusive aspect this added and the possible clues as to what was to come in the story that were included.

As the synopsis tells you, our main characters aren’t instant friends, Naavah Ora is probably the most reluctant to travel with the others initially and resists and niceties the longest.  She is also the one who knows the most about what the ritual 840 was rescued from was for and what the things she sees both in Dunhă and in their world actually means. As a mage she is also the one most equipped to stop it, but she needs to realise she can’t do this alone and her Grandmother had her reasons for sending her out into the world with these strangers.

I liked the four main characters, especially Naavah Ora. I liked her strength, determination, sense of duty but also her faults and that she had moments of weakness despite all her powers.  Doran and 840 had great character arcs and development through the novel and I enjoyed how they grew as they shared their secrets and learned more about their past with each others encouragement and support.  Ash is an impulsive character who brought extra danger and suspense into the story. All the characters are on a journey of self discovery while also having to learn how to get along and work together to save their world from the corruption of dark spirits.

I thought that the story was fun kept me wanting to know what would happen next. It wasn’t so gripping that I couldn’t put it down, but it held my interest until the end.  I know this is the first in a trilogy of books and I will definitely be reading the others as this one ended on a cliffhanger that makes me want to find out what happens next to our motley crew and if they succeed in saving their world.

 

Book Review – ‘Last Lullaby (Detective Natalie Ward Book 2)’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Carol Wyer for the chance to read and review this book.

Charlotte’s baby is safe. But is she?

When the body of Charlotte Brannon is discovered by her husband Adam, in their bedroom, Detective Natalie Ward is first on the scene.  The killer has left a chilling calling card: The word ‘Why’ written in blood on the wall.

As Natalie begins to delve deeper into the couple’s lives, she discovers that Adam has a dark past he’s been hiding and she’s sure that the Brannon’s teenage babysitter Inge has secrets of her own.

Then another mother is murdered on her doorstep in front of her young son, the word ‘Why’ scrawled on the wall next to her.

All the key suspects have alibis and with her own marriage hanging by a thread, Natalie is struggling to stay focused on cracking her toughest case yet.

When a young woman and her baby disappear, a member of Natalie’s own team is  put in terrible danger. Can Natalie stop this twisted serial killer and save one of her own before more families are torn apart forever?

Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will send shivers down your spine.  Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.

I was so excited to be approved for an ARC of this book having loved ‘The Birthday’, which is the first book in the Detective Natalie Ward series, when I read it just a few months ago.  I’d been looking forward to the follow up and was thrilled I didn’t have long to wait.

The book starts with events leading up to the brutal murder of young mum Charlotte Brannon and the discovery of her body by her husband Adam.  There are few clues and Adam’s strange behaviour immediately makes him a likely suspect. I found him a perplexing and unlikeable character and think this was what the author intended: we are supposed to not like him and be suspicious of him.  He protests his innocence in Charlotte’s death immediately but doesn’t help himself at all with his lies and weird behaviour. Out of the other suspects I thought Lee was ambiguous in a deliberate way too and liked that the author had written characters that were seeming to have nothing to do with the crime yet you had this feeling, this unease about them just like the police did.  But also like the police you couldn’t decide if that is because they killed Charlotte or for another reason altogether?

This book differed from ‘The Birthday’ in that over half the book concentrated on the first crime before another one was committed, instead of two occurring quickly. This meant that there was a bit of a lull in the story to some degree, although the author kept you interested by building tension into chasing down the suspects and the information they found out while checking alibis. It kept you gripped and had your mind whirring as you tried to figure out who the culprit was.  When the second murder was committed you felt the anger along with Natalie and her team and their desperation to solve these crimes before anyone else was hurt. As with the previous book I found it hard to pin down a suspect as it is so well written you don’t quite know who’s telling the truth and who people really are, making that big reveal all the more satisfying when it happens.

I loved the sudden introduction quite a way into the book of the conversations between the mysterious Patient X and their Doctor.  Patient X is obviously the killer but we have no idea of their actual identity. We learn more about them as the book goes on and I found those short, sporadic chapters intriguing and an exciting edition to the story that built up the tension and mystery and showed us a glimpse into the sickening psyche of the murderer.

Last Lullaby also concentrated more on the homelives of Natalie and some of her team which I think helps builds up our relationship with them and makes us feel like we’re reading about people we know when we, and they, return for each book in the series. Even so you could still read and enjoy this book as a standalone without any confusion.

Carol Wyer is now one of those authors whose latest releases are a must-read for me.  Her simple but engrossing writing, fantastic characters, vivid crime scenes, and dramatic storylines, make this a crime series you shouldn’t miss. Now I just have to wait for book three….

Out December 7th