Violet by S.J.I. Holliday ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this twisty psychological thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to S.J.I. Holliday and Orenda books for the gifted ebook copy of this novel.

SYNOPSIS:

When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, and intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending…a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday.

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world-trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place. 

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…

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MY REVIEW:

This claustrophobic and disturbing psychological thriller takes the reader on a wild ride as we follow travellers, and new friends, Violet and Carrie on their cross-country journey on the Trans-Siberian Express. Nothing and no-one is what they seem in this mysterious, foreboding and tense thriller that had me guessing throughout. 

The story is narrated by Violet with Carrie’s voice appearing in the form of emails to her friends and family back home. I thought this was a great way to show us Carrie’s perspective and give us an alternative look at events. Both girls were curious characters but not very likeable, and neither were any of the background characters we met along the way. From the start I didn’t trust Violet, and it was soon apparent that there was something very wrong with her. Something that ran deep. Carrie couldn’t have been more different. She is chatty and makes friends easily.  The pair develop a strong and intense bond but Violet goes further, developing an unhealthy obsession with her new friend and will do anything to keep her close. 

This was my first read by this author and I now can’t wait to read more. She transported me to places I’ve never been with her evocative and descriptive prose. I also loved how she teased us, alluding to fragments of the girls’ past and how we are left to guess what Violet means by the sinister sentences she will randomly throw out. It’s soon clear she has some dark secrets and is hiding behind a smokescreen of lies but the author leaves us as clueless as Carrie, heightening the suspense. 

Violet is an exciting story about obsession, jealousy, rage, secrets and devious desires. It is also a cautionary tale about trusting strangers and intense, toxic friendships. I devoured the pages as we approached the crescendo – the shocking revelations coming thick and fast, a million questions in my head –  before finally reaching the deft and satisfying conclusion. 

I would highly recommend this book, particularly if you enjoy Killing Eve or Single White Female. 

Out now. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and bestselling author of five crime novels,  including the Banktoun Trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), the festive chiller The Deaths of December and her creepy Gothic psychological thriller The Lingering. Her short story Home From Home was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize. Encapsulating her love of travel and claustrophobic settings, her latest novel, Violet, explores toxic friendships and the perils of talking to strangers, as well as drawing on her own journey on the Trans-Siberian Express over 10 years ago. All of her novels have been UK ebook number-one bestsellers. Susi was born and raised in Scotland and now divides her time between Edinburgh, London and as many other exciting places that she can fit in.

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The Assistant by S. K. Tremayne ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

She’s in your house. She controls your life. Now she’s going to destroy it.

A terrifying and timely new psychological thriller, from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ice Twins.

She watches you constantly.

Newly divorced Jo is delighted to move into her best friend’s spare room almost rent-free. The high-tech luxury Camden flat is managed by a meticulous Home Assistant called Electra, that takes care of the heating, lights – and sometimes Jo even turns to her for company.

She knows all your secrets.

Until, late one night, Electra says one sentence that rips Jo’s fragile world in two. ‘I know what you did.’ And Jo is horrified. Because in her past she did do something terrible. Something unforgivable.

Now she wants to destroy you.

Only two other people in the whole world know Jo’s secret. And they would never tell anyone. Would they? As a fierce winter brings London to a standstill, Jo begins to understand that the Assistant on the shelf doesn’t just want to control Jo, it wants to destroy her.

MY REVIEW:

This story has seeped into my psyche and given me the most bizarre dreams of technology terrorising my life since reading. I don’t have an Alexa, any smart meters or Home Assistants. And after this book, I have never been more thankful of that! Intriguing, suspenseful, creepy and unpredictable, The Assistant exposes and explores a very modern fear alongside ones that have been around for years. 

Jo is a freelance journalist, recently divorced and living in her best friend Tabitha’s spare room. The Camden flat is the height of luxury and high-tech, filled with the latest Home Assistants who control everything from the temperature and lights, to answering your questions. Jo is alone most of the time so she’s started talking to one of the assistants, Electra, for company. But one night the assistants suddenly don’t seem so friendly, uttering the terrifying words – “I know what you did…I know your secret.” Jo is horrified because she does have a secret. One that only two others know. A secret that has haunted her for fifteen years. As the assistants begin to terrorise Jo, it soon clear they want more than control. They want to destroy her. As her life slowly unravels, Jo desperately tries to get to the truth before it’s too late for herself and those she cares about.

Eerie, menacing and sinister, The Assistant is a timely story about our love affair and reliance on technology mixed in with a story about mental health problems and good old fashioned vengeance. It is a claustrophobic story and you have a real sense that someone or something is  always watching and listening. 

Jo was an unreliable protagonist as early on we learn her father had late-onset schizophrenia and his symptoms were remarkably similar to what she is experiencing. Everything is questionable: is she hallucinating the assistants saying these things or is this really happening? I liked this as we never know what to think which makes the story harder to predict and you’re full of questions right up until the end. I would go back and forth in my own thoughts on Jo’s sanity and what was really happening throughout the book. 

The idea that someone could weaponise the assistants against us filled me with a lingering sense of horror. We’re all dependent on technology to some degree. If I leave the house without my phone I panic and feel like my arm has been cut off. We don’t think twice about using these devices to make life easier and connect with people. It is also seen as something that doesn’t make mistakes and it certainly doesn’t think for itself, which is why no one believes Jo when she says it’s out to get her, is speaking to her and doing things using her email accounts of its own accord. That’s just crazy. And it seems just as crazy that someone could be using the assistants to get some kind of revenge. After all, Jo is in charge of the apps. 

This was my first book by this author but won’t be my last. I loved the language and vivid imagery in his writing and though I felt like it started a little slow, the tension soon ramped up to a nail-biting suspense. I was desperate for answers and couldn’t put the book down, racing towards the finale where the jaw-dropping twist and revelations left me blindsided. 

I would recommend this unsettling and unpredictable novel for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers. Just make sure you unplug your Alexa before you start…

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollinsUK for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Published November 29th.

Published November 29th.

High Heels and Beetle Crushers by Jackie Skingley ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

This compelling memoir of a girl in uniform reveals the first-hand experience of the social attitudes towards women in post-war Britain.

A compelling memoir of post-war Britain. Jackie Skingley grew up with limited career choices but joining the Women’s Royal Army Corps offered her a different life, living and working in the military world, against the backdrop of the Cold War. Packed full of stories reflecting the changing sexual attitudes prior to the arrival of the pill and the sexual revolution of the  mid-60s, Skingley’s memoir denotes a shift in the political and social fabric of the era. Follow her relationships with the men in her life from finding her first true love, which through a cruel act of fate was denied to her, to embarking on a path of recovery.

MY REVIEW:

I was asked to read this memoir by Jackie herself after she followed me on twitter. I’ve come to know her as a kind woman who’s passionate about her book so while I’ve been excited about reading it, I’ve also been apprehensive as I will only give honest reviews and was hoping it would be as delightful as the woman herself. I needn’t have worried. High Heels and Beetle Crushers is a charming and fascinating memoir filled with entertaining and heart-rending stories. 

It begins with an air raid siren blasting in 1944 when Jackie is just three years old. Seeing an air raid through the eyes of a young child felt particularly poignant. We also learn that this particular night her father, Flight Lieutenant Jack Skingley, is killed along with thousands of others from his regiment during an air raid in Germany. From there we follow her through childhood, adolescence and becoming a young woman determined to spread her wings and find adventure and independence. We watch her discover boys, begin her first relationship, fall head over heels in love, move out for her first job and settle on a career that she loves. 

Jackie has plenty of colourful anecdotes to share alongside the more emotional stories. She’s been through a lot and there were many times I was fighting tears as my heart broke for what she went through. But what came through time and again is her indomitable strength and resilience in the face of everything. Her tenderness for most of those recalled in the book is in every word she writes, as does her distaste for those who, quite frankly, deserve it. 

I was born in 1979 and the world has changed dramatically in the time I’ve been alive. There’s things I remember being normal that are alien to my children, so it was interesting to read a memoir where even more has changed in that person’s lifetime and be reminded how recent it was that homosexuality was made legal, sexual attitudes changed, how differently women were viewed and the less options they had. For instance, she talks about how her mother had to put up with her lot in life when she found herself in an abusive marriage due to the social stigma of divorce. As someone who’s divorced an abusive husband this made me once again incredibly thankful it was in a time when there isn’t that stigma and people encourage you to become free of abusive relationships. 

I would highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a compelling, entertaining and quick read. It will make you laugh, make you angry, make you fight tears, but it will also teach you things and make you think. I would also recommend it for fans of things like Call The Midwife or Land Girls. I don’t read many memoirs but I’m glad I read this one and can’t wait for the follow up. 

Thank you to Jackie Skingley and John Hurt Publishing Ltd for the e-Book ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Published December 14th.

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Blog Tour Review: Snow Creek by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this exciting first installment in a new crime series. Thank you to Bookoture for the invitation to take part and to NetGalley and Bookoture for my copy of this book. 

SYNOPSIS:

Footprints were scattered about like fallen leaves. She looked down into the ravine, and once more her lungs filled with fear. A body, blackened and motionless, lay splayed out in the bushes.

Detective Megan Carpenter is no stranger to evil. Escaping the horrors of her old life, she’s vowed never to let anyone hurt her or those she loves ever again. Joining the small police force in Jefferson County’s Port Townsend, Megan is determined to get every victim of a crime the justice they deserve.

So when Ruth Turner walks into the Sheriff’s office claiming her sister Ida Watson has been missing for over a month, Megan’s instincts tell her that she needs to do more than just file a report.

Arriving at a secluded farmhouse in the hills above Snow Creek, she finds Ida’s teenage children alone and frightened.

Then a few days later, close to the Watson’s home, the blackened body of a woman is discovered in an abandoned pickup truck.

Megan must unravel the disturbing secrets of the isolated Snow Creek community to catch the killer. 

But Megan has dark secrets of her own too.

Hidden in the back of her closet is a box of tapes containing every single recording of her therapy sessions with Doctor Albright over thirteen years ago. As Megan begins to play the tapes, she’s taken straight back to the time she was a kid called Rylee, fighting to survive.

Can Megan finally confront the past she’s spent years trying to block out and will listening to her own painful story help her solve the complex case she’s now entangled in?

From the Number One New York Times and Amazon Charts bestselling author, comes an absolutely heart-stopping and completely unputdownable crime series, introducing Detective Megan Carpenter.

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MY REVIEW:

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for a good crime series and police procedural. They’re my go-to reads if I’m ever in a reading slump. When I saw Gregg Olsen was releasing the first in a new crime series I couldn’t resist checking it out as I loved the book I read by him a few months ago. Boy am I glad I did! Snow Creek is a fast-paced, jaw-dropping, twisty and utterly addictive thriller that I devoured in just a few hours. A thriller lover’s dream, it will consume you and leave you breathless.

Ruth Turner walks into the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to report her sister Ida Watson missing. Detective Megan Carpenter decides to do a welfare check rather than just file a report. When she arrives at the secluded house in the hills above Snow Creek she finds Ida’s two teenage children, Joshua and Sarah. They say that their parents went on a mission trip to Mexico but after making calls it becomes clear they never arrived in Mexico and Ida and Merritt are missing. 

When a woman’s charred body is found in an abandoned car the mystery of Ida’s whereabouts is solved. With Merritt missing and Sarah telling the Detective that her father was abusive, Megan has her prime suspect. The race is on to find Merrick and bring Ida’s killer to justice. But as further evidence is uncovered Megan starts to wonder if they’ve been focusing on the wrong person and someone else could be their killer…

This is my second read by Gregg Olsen and has secured my love of his writing. Both books were nail-biting and showed that he knows how to pack a punch, bringing shocking twists and turns at unexpected moments. There were so many in this book I got book whiplash. And OMG that ending! I wanted to scream in frustration when I realised that was the final page. I need the second installment now!

For any crime series to succeed you need a good protagonist and Detective Megan Carpenter certainly fits that bill for me. She was likeable, relatable and absolutely fascinating. Her past is shrouded in mystery, with parts of it slowly being unveiled over the course of the book as she listens to the tape from her counselling sessions with Doctor Albright thirteen years ago. The shocking revelations made me love this character all the more and I think the author has written one of the most intriguing and compelling protagonists of a series that I’ve read. She was the best character in the book and I can’t wait to learn more about her dark secrets and shadowy past.

I would highly recommend Snow Creek to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, thrillers and domestic noir. This is a book you don’t want to miss!

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A #1 New York Times, Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, seventeen novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: https://www.greggolsen.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreggOlsenAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Gregg_Olsen

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Her Dark Heart by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

Rory is waiting at the door of the pre-school – a painted picture of his mother Susan in his small hand. But Susan isn’t going to see the picture, because she has vanished.

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mother. She would do anything for her three children. She drops them off and picks them up every single day. Until one day when Susan kisses them goodbye and then never comes to pick them up.

Susan’s mother Mary is worried. Susan is recently divorced and has been finding things hard recently, but she loves her kids – she’d never leave them.

Susan’s sister Clare is furious. It’s just like her to go missing. It’s not the first time either. Susan has always been a troublemaker. Always seeking attention. She knows Susan has been lying to the family for years. And she knows that Susan has been sneaking out of her family home for weeks…

As the hours turn into days, even Clare becomes fearful for Susan. And when Mary discovers Susan’s diary, she begins to uncover a dark secret from her childhood. Something no one in the family knew. When the  final diary entry leads the police to a man who is discovered dead in a local park, they’re left wondering if Susan vanished because she is a victim. Or because she is a suspect.

MY REVIEW:

She’s done it again. This is another winning installment in the Detective Gina Harte series. Gripping, tense, thrilling and unputdownable, I flew through it in under a day. 

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mum to her three children. She’s going through an acrimonious divorce but it is out of character when she not only doesn’t turn up to collect her youngest child, two-year-old Rory from pre-school, but also doesn’t come home that night or the next day. Her mother Mary is worried but her sister, Clare, and ex-husband, Ryan, think it’s a bid for attention. Finally, Mary calls the police and Gina and her team are assigned to the case. 

There are few clues but Susan’s diary leads them to a man who was possibly the last person to see her before she disappeared. But he’s found dead, having been brutally beaten and tortured before he was strangled to death. Is Susan a victim or did she have some part in this man’s death? The team keep digging but the missing pieces of the puzzle seem to elude them and Gina gets the sense there’s things the family aren’t telling her. It’s a race against the clock to put the pieces together, get to the truth and find Susan before she or someone else turns up dead. 

Her Dark Heart is the fifth book in this series and it lives up to the high bar that’s been set in the others. While knowledge from the other book does help with things like Gina’s backstory and character relationships it is still possible to read this as a standalone. The author is skilled in writing twisty crime fiction full of relatable characters and bad guys that make your skin crawl. 

Some of my favourite parts were from the chapters narrated by our mystery perpetrator. He was sinister, repulsive, delusional, and is determined to inflict his wrath and revenge for what happened all those years ago; though we don’t yet know what occurred. These chapters revved up the tension and had me on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure things out. There were a plethora of suspects but I couldn’t predict who he was or exactly why he was doing this. I did manage to guess part of it correctly but I was still blindsided by the revelations that came as we reached the jaw-dropping finale.

As with the author’s other books there are deeper themes running through this book than what appears on the surface. This time it’s secrets. Susan and her family are all harbouring various secrets and Gina is facing the emotional consequences of secrets she has kept for decades. While the Collins family’s secrets have led to Susan’s abduction and threaten to tear their family apart, Gina is missing her mother and feeling she has no right to grieve for not being there when she died because of the invisible chains her abusive late husband kept her in and how keeping the abuse secret led to their estrangement. It shows us how secrets can snowball, with devastating and catastrophic results.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime fiction and police procedurals. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series then check those out too. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Out today.

Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this gripping debut novel. Thank you to Katie at Penguin Random House for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

A brutal murder.

A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.

A detective with everything to prove.

This is her only chance to redeem herself.

A serial killer with nothing to lose.

He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun…

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, Hold Your Tongue is your new obsession.

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MY REVIEW:

“He likes stories. And he has an important one to tell. After today, people will listen.” 

“He has a story to tell. And it has begun.”

This riveting debut started with a bang; the brutal prologue giving me literal chills. For the rest of the book I was on the edge of my seat, utterly immersed in this deliciously twisted, turbulent and electrifying thriller. 

A young woman found dead with sickening injuries is not a good first day back at work, but it’s what DI Eve Hunter is thrust into on hers. When a second woman is found a week later there is even greater pressure to find whoever is behind these gruesome murders. But the victims seem random and the only connection they can find between the victims is that they were in the newspaper, the clippings left pinned to their clothing. There is no clear motive and though Eve is sure the killer is telling them something, she can’t figure out what it is. As Eve and the team race against the clock to prevent anyone else becoming a victim, the killer is enjoying his long-planned reign of terror. He is certain he will finish what he started, that the police are clueless and powerless to stop him. But who is right? Will Eve and her team prevail or will the killer accomplish …

Wow! What a fantastic start to a new crime series! This was a rollercoaster ride of a book that I could not put down. This book was an example of what I love in crime fiction: well written and fantastically plotted, fast paced, great characters, complex and multi-layered, and a story that was hard to predict. The author knows how to hold her audience captive, making it impossible to turn away from the horror unfolding. The story is cleverly pieced together through subtle hints and startling revelations, until the final, shocking picture emerges. I could feel my heart pounding in anticipation as I raced towards the finale. 

DI Eve Hunter was a great protagonist. She’s fascinating and flawed but likeable and easy to get behind. It’s clear she’s a strong woman and leader, but she also shows weakness, which made her all the more interesting and relatable. We’re quickly given glimpses of her backstory: the dark secret only she and her counsellor know, and her guilt over the vicious attack that left her with painful injuries and her partner, Sanders, paralysed from the chest down. Eve’s team are all well written. I liked that their interpersonal dynamics weren’t smooth or simple and that there are some who make it clear they didn’t want her back and still blame her for what happened. We are given a comprehensive introduction to Eve and her team, giving us a real sense of who they are and I like that she also included the complicated relationship between Eve and Sanders. 

I love crime thrillers and one of my favourite things is when they include chapters from the perpetrator. I was glad to see that trope used in this book and loved the flashes of his past and peeking into his warped mind. From the savagery of his sickening attacks on his victims it is immediately clear that this is a brutal, cold-blooded, calculating and meticulous killer who is enjoying finally living out his carefully plotted crimes. 

Hold Your Tongue is a brilliant whodunit from an exciting new voice in the genre. Deborah, thanks to you I will never be able to see or hear that song in the same way again… I can’t wait for book two and would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction.

Published November 20th on Kindle and December 26th in Paperback.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie – to name but a few. Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

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Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver ⭐⭐⭐.5

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things  Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Orenda Books for my gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides.

One cult.

No leader.

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become part of the People of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on the train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller, Nothing Important Happened Today confirms Will Carver as one of the most extraordinary, exciting authors in crime fiction.

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****TRIGGER WARNING****

If there was ever a book that required a trigger warning its this one. This book deals with suicide and mental health and if you struggle with those things I would advise caution in reading this book. Both are subjects I can find triggering but all I knew was that it started with the nine suicides. I didn’t expect it to delve so deeply and darkly into both subject and I really struggled with reading it, having to take lots of breaks. In all honesty, I would have quit reading if I hadn’t been reading it for a blog tour spot that was just days away. But it does move away from being so dark and became a book I enjoyed after some time.

MY REVIEW:

Nine people receive a letter one morning. Each one contains a sheet of paper with just four words: nothing important happened today, the other has instructions for where and when they are to meet and end their lives in unison. They have been accepted as members of the People of Choice, a suicide cult that seems to have no leader and the members don’t know each other. As word spreads and the People of Choice becomes a movement, the police are desperately trying to find links between the members and the identity of the cult’s leader.

This was a powerful, original, dark and brutal novel that I had the dichotomy of disliking the start but ultimately enjoyed. It packs a punch from the start and the unease was instant as I read about the normal days of the nine people who sacrificed their lives on the bridge.

This was my first Will Carver book and I loved his unique writing style. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that’s written in both the first and third person before, but it worked and flowed smoothly. The dual timelines and multiple narrators were a great way to introduce us to what the person behind the People of Choice was trying to achieve and showing us the shattered lives of those he chose to be members. His choice to refer to the members by numbers and profession or a personality trait made it feel like I was observing test subjects in some twisted experiment, which I guess is kind of what the cult’s orchestrator wanted. It made me one of the others. I felt quite voyeuristic and removed when reading parts of the book which perfectly illustrates how taking away personal qualifiers such as names and details about people’s lives also takes away some of the empathy.

This read as a how-to manual for running a cult but was also a commentary on today’s society. There were a lot of great points and things I could relate to but unfortunately I found that for over half the book these things were overshadowed by the things that made this book hard to read for me: as I mentioned earlier, I found the depth and detail to which this book discussed and examinned suicide distressing and the way mental health and how it is treated was discussed in the first half of the book rubbed me the wrong way. I was relieved when the book began to feel less gratuitous and like it was starting to come together at last. I found myself really enjoying the storyline and actually caring about what happened and who was behind the carnage.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

So while I feel I can’t give this a four star rating because of how I felt for the first part of the book, I would still urge everyone to decide for themselves about this book. It is a well-written book by a talented author that is timely, twisted, disturbing and thought-provoking. I liked how the story played out as we approached the finale and absolutely loved how it ended.

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.