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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

The brand new crime thriller from the bestselling author of the Perfect series – Helen Fields is back with her first stand-alone novel!

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

Helen Fields is back with a heart-pounding new book, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Stuart MacBride.

MY REVIEW:

“She wished he were just a monster. There were rules for those… But there were no rules that would keep you safe from him.”

All the stars for this spine-tingling thriller! 

What a thrill ride this was! Deliciously dark, sinister and addictive, this was like a twisty rollercoaster I didn’t want to end. From the start there’s a chill in the air and a lingering sense of dread, leaving you in no doubt what kind of read you’re in for. And with all the elements of a thriller that make my dark heart sing, I couldn’t get enough. I devoured this book; staying up until ridiculous o’clock, unable to resist the lure of breathless anticipation; reading until the author delivered her spectacular coupe de grace. 

“He pressed the handkerchief to her lips. A cotton kiss in the dark.”

Helen Fields is a crime fiction powerhouse. She was already on my must-read list thanks to her spectacular DI Callanach series, but with this standalone she has become a crime writer to shout about and recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre. She gives you everything you could want in a dark and gritty thriller: visceral, chilling prose, shocking twists and turns, plenty of heart-stopping moments, and fantastic characters, including a villain that makes your blood run cold. 

I really liked Connie. She’s intelligent, fierce and straight-talking, with a dash of quirkiness that spoke to my inner weirdo. She is so fabulously written, with such a rich backstory that I really felt like I knew her. Her achromatopsia was a fascinating aspect of her character that I loved reading. I liked how it changed her perception of people and the world around her. In fact, I think my only complaint about this entire book is that it isn’t the start of a series and I won’t get to join Connie as she solves another case. 

As much as I liked Connie I think my favourite character was young Meggy. She is a little firecracker and I loved her strength, bravery and ferocity. It gave me hope that just maybe she might survive her abduction. I loved the contrast between her and Elspeth and the way it showed it isn’t always the people you expect who take charge and fight when in those kinds of situations. 

“Death had arrived. He might be wearing jeans and a denim jacket, but there was no mistaking the lack of humanity in that gaze.” 

Fergus, aka the Shadow Man, is suitably vile and chilling, The descriptions of him are so vivid I felt like I could see him in front of me. Ghoulish and predatory, he silently stalks his prey from the shadows; waiting for the right time to strike. He is masterfully written, with the author capturing every shade of his character; from  darkest, despicable evil, to charming and feeble, that evoked some sympathy alongside the abhorrence.  Calculated, organised, methodical and manipulative, he doesn’t follow the normal rules of a kidnapper which makes him harder to predict and apprehend and Connie must think outside of the box to capture him. 

Scalpel-sharp, eerie, captivating, and dripping with suspense and heart-stopping tension, this is a page-turner full of red herrings, shocking reveals and so many twists you’ll get book whiplash. DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK! And, to Helen: PLEASE consider writing a follow up. I need more Connie!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Thank you to Avon Books for my gifted copy of the book.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A former criminal and family law barrister, Helen Fields has the expertise and experience to make the characters and plots scorch with authenticity.

With a background as both a prosecutor and defence counsel, Helen Fields has a depth of knowledge about crime that lends a fierceness to her writing. From Courts Martials to care proceedings, the Coroner Courts to the Crown Court, Fields draws on her professional years for the extraordinary colour and texture that makes her writing jump off the page. Twice long-listed for the McIllvanney Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and a multi-bestselling author whose books have been translated across the globe, Fields consistently produces high impact, compelling novels that readers love. The ‘Perfect’ series, set in Edinburgh, introduced the world to DI Luc Callanach. This year saw the release of Degrees of Guilt, her first psychological thriller in the name HS Chandler, a book as shockingly realistic as it is darkly entertaining.

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Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

Published: December 31st, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Happy Paperback Publication Day to Dear Child! Thank you to Quercus for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

You escaped. But your nightmare has just begun.


A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

MY REVIEW:

OMG! What a book! Spectacularly written, masterfully plotted, surprising and sizzling with suspense, this complex and layered thriller had me hooked from start to finish. I devoured this story, only reluctantly putting it down when my eyelids became too heavy to keep reading. I was addicted and completely unprepared for the rollercoaster ride this story took me on. 

Dear Child begins at the point where most novels would end; when Lena and her daughter Hannah escape after years of imprisonment in a cabin in the woods. The police think that they’ve finally found Lena Beck, a woman missing for thirteen years, but when her father Matthias arrives he is adamant the woman lying in the hospital bed is not his daughter. But when he lays eyes on Hannah he sees a clone of his daughter as a child. With Lena injured by a car in the escape she is unable to answer any question and Hannah is reluctant to talk. As snippets of information are slowly revealed, the police begin to piece together the puzzle. But they soon find that things aren’t quite what they first appear to be.

The author filled the pages with dark, nuanced and compelling characters and unreliable narrators. Of the three narrators Hannah was the one I felt most drawn to. It was heartbreaking to read how normal she thought her world was, especially how she would berate her mother when she was beaten by her father for doing something to deserve it rather than thinking it was him in the wrong.  But while I felt a lot of empathy for her, I also felt there was something not quite right about her. She is a peculiar child and while at first I put that down to her secluded upbringing, after a while I started to wonder if she was all that she seemed. 

The abductor, known only as ‘Papa’, is another character who stood out to me. Papa is an enigma, his identity shrouded in mystery. Even Lena doesn’t ever say his name. He is a loathsome, sadistic, controlling and violent man who strikes fear into Lena and the children. Most of the abuse is inferred but enough detail is included to give the reader an understanding of the complete terror they felt and understand why Lena would acquiesce to his will.

Tense, chilling, twisty and unpredictable, Dear Child is a riveting and spectacular debut that you won’t want to put down. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in TV. Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy Hausmann lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.

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He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Thank you to Sryia at Michael Joseph Books for the invitation to take part and the & gifted copy of the novel .

SYNOPSIS:

This is a story about three siblings. Like any family, sometimes they don’t get along.

It’s a story about a secret that they’ve all kept since they were children.

It’s a story about lying. A story about murder.

It’s a story where only one can win.

MY REVIEW:

Dark, twisty and smouldering with tension, nothing is as it seems in this spectacular thriller.

Lured by the promise of inheriting life-changing wealth, siblings Beth, Eddie and Portia are reluctantly recreating the road trip they took with their Grandpa twenty years ago. Things happened on that first trip that they have never discussed again, not even amongst themselves, the memories tormenting them as they retrace their journey. And when they realise they are being followed, the siblings begin to wonder if this trip will end just like the first, or if this time they will manage to emerge unscathed…

Wow! Samantha Downing has done it again. Her debut, My Lovely Wife, was one of my favourite books of 2019 so I was eagerly anticipating this follow up and hoping that lightning would strike the same place twice. Thankfully it did. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from start to finish. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from the first pages. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. 

The Morgan family are a family held together by gossamer threads and haunted by the ghosts of twenty years ago. They are fractured, troubled, well-written characters who are each full of secrets and their own hidden agendas for agreeing to this road trip, besides the money of course. The narrator, Beth, tells the reader from the start she’s no heroine, giving us a small hint of the turbulence to come as the layers of her character are slowly peeled away. 

He Started It left me reeling, I did not see that ending coming at all and was left with my jaw on the floor. An absolute tour de force, this is a thriller you don’t want to miss. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated novel My Lovely Wife. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel.

Her next book is called He Started It and will be released in 2020. She currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next novel.

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