‘Last of the Magpies’ by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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The chilling conclusion to the #1 bestseller The Magpies.

Twelve months ago, Jamie Knight walked straight into Lucy Newton’s trap. Both Jamie and his ex-wife Kirsty barely survived. Now, with the police investigation into Lucy’s disappearance going nowhere, Jamie teams up with a true crime podcaster to track down his nemesis.

But can Jamie persuade Kirsty to help? Can Kirsty forgive him for his past mistakes? And who, if anyone, will survive the final showdown? Featuring extracts from Lucy’s secret memoir, Last of the Magpies brings the trilogy to a shocking conclusion.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Mark Edwards for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Mark Edwards has fast become one of my favourite writers with his chilling psychological thrillers now being a must read for me. So, I was filled with an eager, yet nervous, anticipation before reading this conclusion to his sinister Magpies trilogy.

The gang are all back one last time. Lucy Newton is still missing after her dramatic escape following the terrifying events in Shropshire a year ago. Her victims, Jamie Knight and his ex-wife Kirsty, are still tormented by their experiences and struggling to move on knowing she could strike again at any time. Frustrated that the police appear to be idly sitting by waiting for Lucy to make a mistake, Jamie decides he has to take action. So when his friend suggests talking to true crime podcaster Emma Fox, he agrees in the hope that she’ll be able to do what the police haven’t and Lucy will soon be safely behind bars. Kirsty is taking a different approach. Having seen multiple therapists and tried various ways to try and exorcise herself of the demon of Lucy Newton, she is still haunted by her and decides to sever the small amount of contact she still has with Jamie in the hope that it will help. But the pair are thrown back together into a final showdown with Lucy that they will all be lucky to survive…

Wow! This was a spectacular end to a series I’ve enjoyed. Written from multiple points of view this book spends a lot of time focusing on how Lucy’s nefarious games have affected Jamie and Kirsty, and their struggle to live their lives in the knowledge their tormentor is still out there, biding her time. Lucy’s point of view is for the most part given in the form of the unedited version of her memoir, which is far more damning than what was published. Reading the unfiltered inner-workings of this psychopath’s mind was truly chilling. In Lucy this author has created a villain who if she were real would be up there with the best known psychopathic killers of our age. Those chapters terrified me.

Now let’s discuss the twists (no spoilers I promise). I thought I’d got it sussed but boy was I wrong. The final quarter of the book had me unable to tear myself away as the tension reached its pique and all bets were off on the fates of our main characters. Most of all I loved that as we spent most of the story only knowing about Jamie and Kirsty in the present so that when Lucy’s whereabouts were revealed I had the same jaw-dropping sense of shock that the characters did.

Last of the Magpies ended this trilogy on the high note it deserved. You need to read the previous two books before reading this one for sure as even though it does a great job of catching you up, you’ll be lost without being able to have your memory simply jogged about past events. A quick but brilliant read I would recommend this, and the series, to anyone who loves a well written psychological thriller.

Out April 30th.

‘The Island’ by Ragnar Jonasson ⭐⭐

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Four friends visit the island.

But only three return…

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is sent to the isolated island of Ellioaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally deserted Westfjords.

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her.

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?  

Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin UK, Michael Joseph and Ragnar Jonasson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I’m afraid this book wasn’t for me. The synopsis sounded gripping and sinister and I’d read some reviews saying how much people had enjoyed this book so went into it thinking I would find the same.

When I read the prologue I had been left with chills at the last few sentences. It was eerie and ominous and the first few chapters seemed to be setting the scene for an interesting story. But unfortunately it fell apart quickly. The pacing felt disjointed and messy, chapters seemed rushed, the story would jump forward massively all of a sudden leaving me feeling confused instead of full of anticipation. I found that there were too many characters and we didn’t really know who they were. I know this is a sequel but this didn’t just apply to the Detective but all characters. I didn’t feel like the characters were developed sufficiently and I found it a chore to finish as I had zero investment in any of it. I hoped that when the characters reached the island it might pick up but again it felt like things were rushed and all over the place.

I know not everyone can enjoy every book but I always feel terrible when I don’t enjoy an ARC as I know the author will have poured their heart into the book and try to find what I did like about it. For me as well as the eerie start I enjoyed the first few chapters and the promise of an element of witchcraft and the supernatural in this book. But the most enjoyable part for me was the vivid detail in the descriptions of the beautiful Icelandic scenery. It made me want to visit the country and see it for myself.

So while I sign my membership to #blacksheepofbookstagram with this review, I encourage you to read other reviews and decide for yourself about this book. I’m in the small minority in not being gripped by it and you may find that you are.

Out today.

March Wrap Up

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I can’t believe we’re a quarter of the way through the year already!

This month I have read 10 books. It is my lowest number since joining bookstagram but the quality is what is actually important and it’s been a month where almost every book I’ve read was amazing.

  1. ‘The Woman Inside’ by E.G Scott ⭐⭐⭐ – This debut thriller about a couple who have it all on the surface but are living a life built on lies and secrets  was sadly a let down for me. I had been highly anticipating this book but found it slow and underwhelming. Even the big twist couldn’t make me interested in how things turned out for the characters in this book.  Published August 8th
  2. ‘Only Daughter’ by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This gripping tale of secrets, lies, betrayal and devastating revenge blew me away. It had me on the edge of my seat and reading well past bedtime as I found it impossible to put this book down. I’ve been a fan of this author’s work since I first discovered her last year, but this is her best book yet and one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year.
  3. ‘The Evidence Against You’ by Gillian McAllister ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This book was a complex, multi layered story about love, grief, family, truth, lies, secrecy, pain and betrayal. It is also a story about living life in a prison, though not necessarily one made of bars with guards at the doors, institutionalisation and what happens to the family of victims of a crime and those who are convicted of a crime. It is intelligently written and thought provoking with flawed characters who are the key to the story being so compelling. It pulls you in so you’re completely immersed in Izzy’s search for the truth and I was so desperate to know what happened that I forced my eyelids open and stayed up until 4 am to finish it.  Published April 18th.
  4. ‘Beautiful Bad’ by Annie Ward ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This absorbing psychological thriller begins with  a chilling 911 call in which a woman pleads for help to hurry as a child shrieks in the background… In dual timelines we are then told the story of Maddie and her husband Ian’s relationship while she undergoes therapy for anxiety and the clock counts down to The Day Of The Killing.  The eerie ending of this book is one I’m still thinking about.
  5. ‘The Dare’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 – The third book in the Detective Natalie Ward series, The Dare is another unputdownable thriller. I devoured this book in one sitting, on the edge of my seat as the detective and her team raced to find the person who was kidnapping and killing teenage girls. It is so well written that there was no clear suspect and I was racing to the end to find out who had been terrorising the town. This is a must read for crime fiction and thriller lovers. Published April 25th.
  6. ‘Finding Dorothy’ by Elizabeth Letts ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – As a life long Oz fanatic I loved this magnificent fictional tale of the story behind the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  from the perspective of Maud Gage Baum, wife of author Frank L. Baum. In dual timelines we see her meet Judy Garland and watch the iconic movie being made while also learning of her life, how the couple met and the story of how Frank was inspired to write the story that is still beloved by millions.
  7. ‘And They You Were Gone’ by R. J. Jacobs ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – What a breathtaking roller-coaster ride! The author has written a compulsive, thrilling and addictive debut novel that is impossible to put down. It was filled with surprising twists and turns and had me on the edge of my seat until the end.
  8. ‘Things In Jars’ by Jessie Kidd  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Bridie Devine is a detective in Victorian London is charged with finding the kidnapped daughter of a baronet that isn’t supposed to exist. Bridie finds herself drawn deeper into the murky world of curiosities, abnormalities, greed and corruption. This mesmerising novel took me completely by surprise. Ms Kidd is a remarkable writer who has woven an emotive and sorrowful tale alongside one full of mystery, charm and suspense. One of the best books I’ve read this year.  Published April 4th
  9. ‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson   ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 – The fourth book in The Collector series did not disappoint. As the Crimes Against Children investigate the disappearance of eight-year-old Brooklyn Mercer they find evidence linking it to a string of missing young girls going back decades, including that of Agent Brandon Eddison’s sister Faith, who went missing 25 years ago. This was a compelling thriller that I didn’t want to put down, but also didn’t want to finish, as I was enjoying it so much. The tension never waned and surged as they learned their case was even more disturbing than they’d originally believed. A great end to a fantastic series. Published May 21st 
  10. ‘Betray Her’ by Caroline England  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Jo and Kate are two very different women who have been friends ever since their first day at bording school twenty years ago. Told in the present day and flashbacks to the friends’ time at St Lukes and the years since, we learn that all is not quite as it seems. From the start there are hints that their time at the all-girls boarding school was far from happy and that they never discuss it. Gradually, we learn the truth of those tumultuous years, along with other heart stopping revelations that unveil their closely guarded secrets and change their lives forever. From the moment I began reading I was hooked.  The author of this book has found herself a new fan and I would highly recommend this tantalising novel. Published September 24th.

So that is what I read in March. I had hoped to have finished ‘The Stranger Beside Me’, which is the book I’m reading as part of #MurderMonday , but unfortunately that looks like it will be my first book finished in April. Choosing a favourite this months is incredibly hard but I think the title has to go to ‘Finding Dorothy’ because it is not only a fantastic novel, but is about my favourite film.

What did you read in March? Have you read any of these books or are they on your tbr list? Comment below and tell me.

 

*Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture, Thomas & Mercer, Little, Brown Book Group UK, Crooked Lane Books, Quercus, Canongate Books and the authors for the ARCs.

**All books are available now unless otherwise stated. To read full reviews please see previous posts except for The Evidence Against Me and Finding Dorothy which haven’t yet been published.

‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson  ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

A recent abduction becomes an unexpected link to a decades-long spree of unspeakable crimes.

Eight year old Brooklyn Mercer has gone missing. And as accustomed as FBI agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison are to such harrowing cases, this one has struck a nerve. It marks the anniversary of the disappearance of Eddison’s own little sister. Disturbing, too, is the girl’s resemblance to Eliza–so uncanny they could be mother and daughter.

With Eddison’s unsettled past rising again with rage and pain, Eliza is determined to solve this case at any cost. But the closer she looks, the more reluctant she is to divulge to her increasingly shaken partner what she finds. Brooklyn isn’t the only girl of her exact description to go missing. She’s just the latest in a frightening pattern going back decades in cities throughout the entire country.

In a race against time, Eliza’s determined to bring Brooklyn home and somehow find the link to the cold case that has haunted Eddison–and the entire Crimes Against Children team–since its inception.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Dot Hutchinson for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw that this book was available to read now on NetGalley I was so excited. I have loved Dot Hutchinson’s the Collector series ever since reading The Butterfly Collector and have been eagerly awaiting the fourth installment since last summer.

When the team get the call that eight year old Brooklyn Mercer disappeared on her way home from school they immediately know this will be one that affects them even more than usual. Brooklyn has disappeared the week before the twenty fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Faith Eddison, the younger sister of Agent Bran Eddison. Like Brooklyn Faith was eight years old when she disappeared on her way home from school and the girls look so alike they could be twins.

The team receive information from a retired detective possibly linking Brooklyn’s disappearance not only to that of Faith Eddison, but a number of young girls of the same description that have gone missing in various cities over a number of decades. With Bran increasingly struggling to hold it together Eliza is heightened in her resoluteness to not only find Brooklyn before it’s too late, but to solve this case and bring his little sister home at last.

The Collector series focuses on the Crimes Against Children division of the FBI and it’s team of agents. Each book has focused on a different team member using their histories, strengths and weaknesses in relation to the case they are trying to solve and having that particular agent as the narrator. For me this makes each book seem distinct, and almost like a stand-alone, while also having the familiarity of a series. Being so distinct you could read any book in this series as a stand-alone.The author provides the information a new reader needs to understand the dynamics of different relationships and certain events, or that will refresh the memory of someone who has read the previous books. That being said I always think you enjoy any book in a series even more if you’ve read the previous books.

This time it was the turn of Eliza Sterling to tell the story. Eliza transferred to the team four years earlier after working with them from a local field office when they investigated another case. She is known to get so focused on cases that she forgets to eat or drink unless instructed and will even be so engrossed in her work that she stays at her desk long into the night and sometimes even until the next morning. Each team member has a different strength based on what they’ve gone through in their lives and Eliza’s is that she is the person who is best at dealing with the families of the perpetrator and reminding them this isn’t their fault and they weren’t to have known what their loved one was hiding from them.

After waiting so long for this book the only disappointment was that it is the last in the series. This was a compelling thriller that I didn’t want to put down but also didn’t want to finish as I was enjoying it so much. The tension never waned and surged as they learned their case was even more disturbing than they’d originally believed. Finally learning more about both Faith and her disappearance after knowing so little in the previous books was something that was heartbreaking but great as a reader. Bran’s refusal to even discuss Faith has shown how deeply he’s affected by not knowing what happened to her and I had always hoped we’d someday find out more and that he and his family would get the answers they’ve spent so long searching for. I enjoyed the dynamic between Eliza and Bran as they switched between colleagues and lovers, and was rooting for not only the case to be solved, but them to survive such a traumatic and testing experience. I also liked that yet again I could find no obvious suspect for the crimes and that I was grasping for clues along with the agents.

The Vanishing Season is an absorbing thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys thrillers and crime fiction. While I’m sad there won’t be any more stories from the Crimes Against Children division, and would like to use this opportunity to implore the author to change her mind and continue the series, I am excited to see what Ms. Hutchinson writes next.

Out May 21st