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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Don’t Come Looking by AJ Campbell

Published: April 17th, 2021
Publisher: Code Grey Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Thriller. Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

SYNOPSIS:

A missing man. A desperate friend. A circle of deceit.

Would you refuse your friend’s desperate plea for help?

It’s eight years on from the dramatic events of Leave Well Alone, and Eva is now a detective constable on the brink of promotion. When her close friend Marc disappears, his wife Sasha is distraught, and Eva is baffled. Sasha and Marc were happy, the perfect couple, or so everybody thought.

Sasha begs Eva to help her find Marc. But he has appeared at the police station where Eva works and has made a statement. It’s on record – when his family report him missing, Marc doesn’t want to be found.

Eva is torn. She has a professional duty not to get involved, but Sasha and Marc have gone above and beyond over the years to help Eva and her husband Jim through their own troubled times.

Ultimately, friendship and loyalty override Eva’s professional integrity, and she is compelled to use her skills to delve into Marc’s life, even if it means going against Jim’s advice and breaking the police code of conduct. As each day passes, the drama unfolds, and the mystery deepens. What was Marc up to? What made him do the things he did in the months leading up to his disappearance? Things so out of character, Eva struggles to tell Sasha about them….

And then a disturbing discovery changes everything.

For lovers of domestic and psychological thrillers, and stories with a strong female lead, this one will keep you turning the pages.

Perfect for readers of Lisa Jewell, Shari Lapena, Clare Mackintosh, Rachel Abbotts and Adele Parks.

MY REVIEW:

“Oh, how people weave webs of lies. Each one threaded so tightly around the next until the mess they’ve created becomes impossible to unravel.”

Don’t Come Looking is the second book in the Eva Barnes Series. I enjoyed book one, so when the author approached me to take part in the blog tour of her follow up I didn’t hesitate. 

This time Eva is trying to unravel an intricate and tangled web of secrets when her best friend’s husband walks out on his family. Before disappearing Marc goes to the local police station to tell them he’s leaving of his own volition and he doesn’t want to be found, so the police can’t investigate, and neither should Eva. But she can’t just stand by and watch her best friend crumble, so she quietly looks into Marc’s life, trying to get to the bottom of why a seemingly happy family man would one day walk out without a word to anyone. It soon becomes clear that Marc wasn’t the man they all thought he was and the deeper Eva delves into his life, the more messy and puzzling things get…

Gripping, mysterious, twisty and full of foreboding, AJ Campbell has crafted a psychological thriller even better than her first. Once again, her vivid and evocative writing had me hooked from the first page and I sped through the book quickly. Her characters are compelling and relatable; normal people put in extraordinary situations they can’t quite fathom. 

“That’s what depression does to you. You can’t think clearly… You’re confused all the time. Helpless… you feel powerless, and you can’t see anything positive. It’s painful – mentally, as well as physically, harrowing… You lose sight of what it feels like to be happy. “

What I’ve come to like most of all about Campbell’s books, is how she writes mental health. Her writing is a skillful amalgamation of education, sensitivity and entertainment as she highlights depression in middle aged men, something that isn’t talked about enough despite the fact that they have the highest rate of suicide in the UK and three quarters of adults who go missing are men. They are scary statistics. As is the fact that men are less likely to reach out for help and accept physiological therapies than women. I know men that age who’ve battled their mental health and sought help, but I have no doubt that this book will help those who haven’t or who need to reach out for help themselves. 

For me personally, I also appreciated her portrait of someone living with chronic pain and disability. Too often these characters are written as pill-popping drug addicts and two-dimensional characters, but Jim is a well rounded character full of nuance who just happens to also have pain and mobility issues. With accuracy she portrays the daily struggle of living with pain and the guilt and frustration it brings. It was the little details like him gritting his teeth as he silently dealt with the agonising pain and pushing through to still go out with the family because he didn’t want to let his kids down that resonated with me most of all. I felt truly seen. Thank you Amanda. 

I would highly recommend this, and the previous book, to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers, particularly if you’re looking for well written ones without any gore. Ms. Campbell is now one of my auto-buy authors and I’m looking forward to reading book three.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

AJ Campbell is the debut author of the bestselling novel Leave Well Alone, which readers describe as ‘a gripping story with a killer twist’. An alumna of the Faber Academy, AJ writes in the psychological suspense, thriller and mystery genres. Her latest novel Don’t Come Looking, although a standalone story, is a sequel to her debut and is due for release in April 2021.

The human mind and how different people react to each other and interact in society fascinates AJ. She draws inspiration for her novels from many facets of everyday life. Asking, ‘How can that have possibly happened?’ AJ loves to immerse herself in developing threads, plotting and letting her creative energy help her characters evolve.

Until the birth of her twins in 2005, which radically changed her life, AJ worked as an accountant in London. One of her twins was born with severe disabilities, as a result of which she had to give up work to care for him.  During this incredibly challenging (and rewarding) time, AJ began to draw on her love of the written word, partly for daily inspiration and partly for her own mental health. 

Reading or writing, AJ loves nothing more than settling down with a good book. She enjoys reading most genres, especially thought-provoking novels that beg the question – what would I have done in that situation?

AJ lives on the Essex / Hertfordshire border with her husband, two of her three sons, and her cocker spaniel, Max. She is a firm believer in daily exercise for mental health and enjoys walking Max in the local fields. AJ also loves cooking oriental food while sipping a good glass of white wine.

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Thank you to A. J. Campbell for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and the ARC of the book. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Leave Well Alone by AJ Campbell

Published: August 1st, 2020
Publisher: Code Grey Publishing
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Thriller

Today is my stop on the blog tour of this riveting debut thriller. Thank you to AJ Campbell for the invitation to take part and the finished copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Absorb yourself in the powerful debut novel from AJ Campbell

LEAVE WELL ALONE

How far would you go to protect your family from the truth?

A broken family. Skeletons in the closet. Lives in danger.

When Eva’s brother Ben announces he has found their mother, Eva is determined to have nothing to do with the woman who abandoned them eighteen years ago to a traumatic childhood in foster care. Eva is happy now, in a loving relationship with rich and dependable Jim, and she is pregnant.

Nothing can change Eva’s mind. Her eyes are on the future, not the past. But when her baby is born with a serious hereditary illness, she is forced to confront both her mother and her past. Eva begins to find forgiveness. But as old secrets and layers of deceit emerge, she makes a shocking discovery, leaving her fearing for her baby’s, Jim’s, and her own life.

Great for fans of AJ Finn, Lisa Jewell, Paula Hawkins and K.L Slater.

MY REVIEW:

“That bone-chilling winter’s day when my brother returned home for good was when I first contemplated murdering my mother.”

“That bone-chilling winter’s day when my brother returned home for good was when I first contemplated murdering my mother.”

What an opening line! Full of foreboding, tension, mystery and sinister promise, I was instantly hooked. And from that moment I was immersed in this tense, twisty and compelling debut. I didn’t want to put it down, and the only reason I didn’t read it in one sitting was my body’s pesky need for sleep. 

This is a truly unique psychological thriller. It is so evocative that you feel everything the characters do and are taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride as they navigate trials and conflict in this dramatic story. Told in dual narratives in dual timelines, the author tackles  themes of childhood trauma, mental health issues, physical health issues, family secrets and forgiveness in a well thought out, thorough and realistic manner. The descriptions of Eva’s anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD particularly resonated with me, and I found she was the character I most connected with. What she had gone through as a child and the journey she went on over the course of the book really tugged on my heartstrings, and I could understand her reticence to forgive or reconnect with her mother after all that had happened.  While I wasn’t holding my breath, I did hope that she would find the happy ending she deserved after going through so much. 

I read a lot of thrillers and I will be honest and say I picked up this book for the blog tour at a time I really didn’t think I was in the mood for it. But what I didn’t know is how good this was going to be. Ms Campbell’s riveting and vivid writing had me under her spell from the opening line that packed a punch and dives straight into the anger and emotion of Eva’s story.  She knows exactly how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, guessing what will happen next.

A gripping, suspenseful and thrilling read, Leave Well Alone is a fantastic debut that I would highly recommend. Just make sure you don’t have any plans, as you’re not going to want to stop reading.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Until the birth of her twins in 2005, which radically changed her life, AJ was an accountant for several investment banks in London. One of her twins was born with severe disabilities, as a result of which she had to give up work to care for him. It was during this incredibly challenging (and rewarding) time that AJ began to draw on her love of the written word, partly for day-to-day inspiration and partly for her own mental health. She started writing her debut novel, Leave Well Alone, and then enrolled in several creative writing courses with the Faber Academy where she progressed with her writing career.
AJ lives on the Essex / Hertfordshire border with her husband and three sons and splits her time between caring for her son and family and writing.

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