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Blog Tours book reviews

Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten

Published: October 16th, 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Hardboiled, Police Procedural

Thank you to Sarah at BOTBS Publicity for the invitation to take part and One More Chapter for the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A murdered woman…

When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer.  The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else.  Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.

A determined detective…

Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger.  Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls? 

Can Maggie find the depraved killer?  Or will Kate become his next living doll?

MY REVIEW:

“Practice makes perfect.”

Dead Perfect is the third installment in the DC Maggie Jamieson series; and it’s the best one yet. 

Maggie and her team face their most challenging case yet when they must track a killer who’s altering the appearance of his victims to resemble someone they know. They have few clues and no obvious suspects. But when a second body is found, it is clear they are in a race against the clock to identify and find their killer before he takes another victim. Can Maggie overcome her personal fears to find him before it’s too late?

“He’d been watching her for a while now. She was perfect. Or she would be.”

Holten has a talent for the sinister and macabre, delivering the kind of tense and twisted thriller that I love. Once again she uses one of my favourite tropes of writing from the killer’s perspective, which heightens all the creep factor. This is one sick guy. But it isn’t just the way he incapacitates and mutilates his victims that makes him so scary, or even his obsessive delusion; it’s how patient, organised and methodical he is. The idea that he could do the preparation he does without being caught is frightening, and feels very real. 

I’ve read the previous books in this series so I knew the characters. But if you haven’t you can still read this book as the author quickly catches you up on past events. All the characters are relatable, real and well written, and I like Maggie more with every installment. I liked how vulnerable she was in this book and how we see her battle a new challenge when her friend is at risk. She jumps straight into the action and never slows down for a minute. And while you end the book exhausted after an arduous journey, you are also left desperate for more as it perfectly sets the scene for book four. 

Dark, menacing and compelling, any thriller lover should read this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.

Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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So Many Lies by Paul J. Teague ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: October 19th, 2019
Publisher: Clixeo Publishing
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for So Many Lies. Thank you to Sarah at Books On The Bright Side Publicity & Promo for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

It began with a family gathering – it ended in a bloodbath.

When the Harrington family rent a private island to celebrate their dad’s 70th birthday, old lies resurface, resulting in a murderous revenge.

Ben Harrington is stuck.

He’s recently separated from his wife of over twenty years, leaving his almost adult son and daughter feeling angry and betrayed.

What’s more, his daughter Alice has cerebral palsy and he can’t forgive himself for letting her down when she needed him most.

Ben left the family house due to an ill-advised fling with Laura resulting in an unplanned pregnancy.

But all that is the least of Ben’s troubles.

It’s his dad Tony’s 70th birthday and he and his wife Susan have invited the family over to a remote tropical island in order to mark the occasion.

That should be cause for celebration, but there are terrible secrets lurking in the Harrington family which are about to burst out into the open – siblings Steve, Ben, Gaby and Richard are all caught up in this web of deceit.

So Many Lies follows the story of the Harringtons through a series of life-changing lies, dating back to 1979, and as the story builds towards the big celebration, so does the gravity of the lies which brought the family to where they are when we meet them in the book.

Thought your family was screwed up? Wait until you meet the Harringtons …

MY REVIEW:

“When the Harrington’s got together, nothing was ever simple.” 

So Many Lies follows the Harrington family over the course of forty years and examines the secrets they keep, the lies they tell, and the far-reaching effects it has on them all.

The Harringtons are a dysfunctional family filled with bitterness and estrangements. They rarely speak to each other let alone all get together. But when patriarch Tony Harringon turns seventy, they all answer the invitation to join a big family celebration on a private island. But things don’t go as planned as rifts lead to tense arguments and shocking secrets are revealed. And all the while there is someone lurking in the jungle waiting for their chance to seek revenge on them all…

With a family like this, who needs enemies? All families have problems but I am glad to not be part of the toxic Harrington family after reading this book. The story begins in June 2018 with Ben Harrington waking up trying to remember the night before. He soon realises something terrible happened, but is then engulfed in darkness and the story jumps back to six weeks earlier. We are then taken on a journey that spans four decades as the history of the Harrington family is slowly told and their secrets are unveiled. 

Though it is told from multiple points of view, our main narrator is Ben, the forty-seven-year-old second child. Ben’s life is a mess. He had an affair that ended his marriage when she got pregnant and doesn’t know how to get out from under the personal and financial mess he’s got himself into. I found Ben to be a bit of a wet blanket and prefered the parts of the story that were from other people’s perspective, especially the villain of the story (though I’ll not say more to avoid spoilers). 

For most of the book, the flashbacks were my favourite part. I enjoyed the insight into how they had become such an estranged and dysfunctional family. All the flashbacks have titles such as The First Lie and focus on significant moments – ie lies – that shaped their future. I loved how later in the book these were told again from different points of view that peeled away the layers of secrecy and revealed the truth to the reader. 

This is a steadily paced, readable thriller, but as we approach the finale the tension radiates from the pages and I was on the edge of my seat as all was shockingly revealed. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Paul Teague writes thrillers, sci-fi and non-fiction books.
Writing as Paul J. Teague, he is the author of the Don’t Tell Meg and Morecambe Bay trilogies as well as several standalones such as Dead of Night, Now You See Her (with Adam Nicholls) and So Many Lies.
Paul is a former teacher, DJ, waiter and BBC radio producer, presenter and journalist.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website
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BUY THE BOOK:

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So Many Lies

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book reviews

BLOG TOUR: ‘The Darkest Summer’ by Ella Drummond ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

Today is my stop on #TheDarkestSummer blog tour.

Thank you to Sarah Hardy at BOTBS Publicity for the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

SYNOPSIS:

One hot summer, Dee disappeared. Now she’s back…but she’s not the girl you knew.

Sera and Dee were the best of friends.

Until the day that Dee and her brother Leo vanished from Sera’s life, during a long hot summer thirty years ago.

Now Sera is an adult, with her own child, five-year-old Katie, and has returned to her childhood home after her husband’s death.

While she grieves, the past haunts Sera at every turn … and then Dee and Leo return to their small Hampshire village, along with Dee’s young daughter.

But Dee is silent and haunted by her demons; no longer the fun-loving girl that Sera loved. And when Sera uncovers the shocking secret that Dee is hiding, it’s clear that the girl she knew is long gone – and that the adult she has grown into might put all of them in danger…

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REVIEW:

This twisty, readable book is perfect for a hot summer’s day. You can practically feel the heat sizzling from the pages as the author vividly describes the sweltering weather and fires. It is a mystery filled with dark secrets, murder and life-changing revelations.

For fifteen years Sera has wondered what became of her best friend, Dee, and her family after they disappeared suddenly one day that hot summer. When she sees Dee’s brother Leo back in town she’s hoping that she finally gets answers and the chance to rekindle her lost friendship. But it is soon apparent that Dee and Leo aren’t the people she used to know, and that there seems to be something sinister about the secrets they’re keeping. Maybe inviting them into her home wasn’t the wisest thing to do…

The Darkest Summer is set in the New Forest in the present day with flashbacks to the summers of 1990 and 2003. The scenery of the New Forest is described with breathtaking beauty and is a large part of the story. I spent my formative years near that area and as I read it conjured up images of my youth spending time in places like the ones Sera describes. It is an almost idyllic place to be and I was so fully immersed in the book that I really felt like I was back there.

As well as our main storyline there are numerous subplots that run parallel in the flashbacks and ultimately merge together, though I couldn’t see how some of them would. I loved the clever twists and turns the author wrote that made seemingly mismatched the pieces fit together. 

One subplot was Henri, the Sera’s new neighbour. I had a soft spot for Henri from the start and had a gut feeling he was a good guy, so I was hoping I’d be proven right. I loved the blossoming friendship between him and Sera and the mystery surrounding his past. I had no predictions about his past so I thoroughly enjoyed she surprises in his storyline. The subplot concerning Mimi and Hazel was also fascinating and I enjoyed learning more about both mothers and how they came to be the women their daughters now know, particularly Mimi as she’s not the warmest character in the book. 

This book was filled with a host of colourful characters, each of which I loved for different reasons. Sera, our main narrator and our protagonist, was a great character. She and her daughter Katie moved back to her hometown to live with her mother three years ago after her husband died suddenly. She’s still working through her grief and feels suffocated at times by her mother, who she’s always had a difficult relationship with. When she was a child her single mother was mostly learning lines or away working, so she got little of the attention she craved. Instead, she found maternal attention from Hazel, her best friend Dee’s mother, who was the cool, vivacious, affectionate mother she dreamed of. She and Dee were inseparable, had many things in common, and Sera spent most of her time on their farm and felt a part of their family so their sudden disappearance cut her deeply. She’s never recovered from that loss so rekindling those relationships is a dream come true when Dee and her brother Leo first come back into her life and, as a reader I was rooting for that, and for the potential relationship between Sera and Leo. 

Dee was so well written that despite the massive change in her personality and how moody and dismissive she is as an adult, I had a lot of sympathy for her. It seemed like she must have been through something extremely traumatic as she was showing signs of mental health issues and possibly PTSD. Her refusal to talk about anything that had happened was suspicious, especially as Leo was cagey too, but I hoped it was just that she was too traumatised to discuss it yet and he was respecting her wishes. The author made the many facets of her personality completely believable but like Sera I too got tired of her outbursts, how she controlled the entire household with them, her taking advantage of people, and with her strange behaviour towards her daughter. By the end I couldn’t stand her and wanted Sera to get as far away from her as possible. 

This intriguing story started slowly and built the tension steadily until it became a crescendo in the last third of the book. It didn’t feel like a tense thriller but was full of mystery and had me guessing throughout. The many twists and turns were mostly unpredictable, with one in particular completely blindsiding me and turning so much of what I had predicted on its head. 

I hadn’t read any of the author’s books before this one but when I read the description I was sold and I will definitely read more of her work. A compelling, character-driven summer read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys mysteries and literary fiction.

Thank you to Sarah Hardy, Hera Books, Ella Drummond and NetGalley the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Out Now.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Ella Drummond recently signed a two-book deal with Hera Books. Her first psychological thriller, My Last Lie is out now and The Darkest Summer will be out on 18 July 2019 and is available for pre-order.

She lives with her husband on the island of Jersey and you can follow her on Twitter @drummondella1 and Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/EllaDrummondWrites/  

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