Review: ‘The Bad Place’ by M.K. Hill ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Editor_2_20190911144813

SYNOPSIS:

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of the five responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message? 

MY REVIEW :

Anyone who’s been following my reviews for a while knows that I love a good crime series. Well, my friends, it seems I have found another to add to the growing list. This was the first time I’d read a book by this author but the premise gave me chills, and the endorsement from Mark Edwards made me sure I could trust that this would be a great read. I wasn’t wrong.

The book opens on the thirteenth day of an abduction. This is also the day that five of the children held captive escape and there’s a showdown between the police and the kidnapper as they try and prevent a disastrous end. They aren’t successful. We then jump forward to twenty-six years later when the survivors are holding their annual get together to commemorate their lost friend. But when the final member of their party arrives shaken claiming to have witnessed a young girl being snatched on the street, the group are descended into a nightmare that they have tried to put behind them and secrets that have been kept for almost three decades threaten to finally be revealed.

This was a captivating and thrilling read. Like the police investigating, I was met with question upon question, and I was over half way through the book before I could begin to conceive who might have taken the children or what might happen next. The story is told in dual timelines with the flashbacks to The Bad Place all those years ago providing insights. It was clear from early on that one of them hasn’t told the whole story about her time at The Bad Place and would rather try to forget the unspeakable things that happened. All the same, I didn’t initially consider any of the survivors of being involved in the latest abductions, though as the evidence was uncovered there were times I did wonder if one or more of them were involved in some way.

All of the survivors are featured in the story but Karin is the one focused on most, and the one who narrates the flashbacks. It was her best friend Bex who was killed that fateful night and she’s haunted by it to this day. She’s the one who hosts their yearly vigils and seems to have a maternal role towards some of the others. I thought they were all well written and the author found different ways to show the lasting damage they’d all suffered after their abduction, some of which are very subtle. Their bond seems to be kind of toxic but comforting at the same time and as much as they talk about never meeting again none of them seem able to stay away from each other completely.

This introduction to DI Sasha Dawson had me hooked. She is a flawed character who is committed to her job and dealing with a home life that is falling apart. She desperately wants to put her marriage back together and find her closeness with her children again, but that isn’t easy when you have a job that demands so much of your time and energy. All through the book she’s battling this problem and I was rooting for her to find a way to put her family back together as much as I was for her to save the missing kids. Her team members were made up of some interesting characters that I also enjoyed reading and I’m looking forward to reading more about Sasha and her team in future installments of this series.

As I said, I found it very hard to figure out this book and that made me love it all the more. I love when I feel like I’m in the same boat as the police and the pieces very slowly come together. As we got closer to the end of the book it was impossible to stop reading as everything reached a crescendo. When the identity of the kidnapper was revealed I was blindsided. I had the wrong person in my sights and the author did a fantastic job of misdirecting me so I didn’t see it coming at all.

If you’re a fan of brilliantly written, twisty, edge-of-your-seat thrillers, then you will love The Bad Place. I know this author has a new fan and I am eagerly anticipating book two.

Thank you to NetGalley, Head of Zeus and M.K. Hill for my copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out now from your favourite bookseller.

Blog Tour Review: ‘Degrees of Guilt’ by HS Chandler ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Editor_2_20190907125347

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for this electrifying thriller. Thank you to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Reads Blog Tours for the invitation to take part, and Trapeze Books, NetGalley and HS Chandler for the eBook ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

A gripping, sexy and twisty novel for readers who devoured ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, APPLETREE YARD and HE SAID/SHE SAID.

MY REVIEW:

Murder. Sex. Betrayal.  This compelling courtroom drama has these things and more. Reading it was like eating a bag of maltesers – once I started I couldn’t stop until it was finished. 

The book opens with Edward Bloxhom dead from a head wound. His wife, Maria, is calmly drying a mug and thinking about how she’ll get the blood out of the grouting. After a short time she calls the police and goes outside to wait for their arrival, thankful to be free of the man who controlled her life for almost twenty years. We then jump forward to the first day of Maria’s trial which we follow as the evidence is presented – shocking claims of abuse from the defense, and of a violent, cold-blooded murderess from the prosecution. 

I loved that this story was narrated by both the defendant and a member of the jury charged with deciding her fate. We don’t often get an insight into the jury room and their perspective so it was interesting to follow that side of things in detail. Initially it appears that Maria and Lottie, the juror, couldn’t be more different but we come to understand there are many similarities between them. Both women were interesting characters that I enjoyed reading and I felt like they would probably have been able to be great friends in another situation. Lottie wonders on the first day how Maria must be feeling about entrusting her future to twelve strangers and has a willingness to see Maria as a person with feelings, something the other jurors don’t seem to do. I was glad she had at least one person on the jury seeing her as a human being and not being quick to judge. 

Domestic abuse and controlling partners is a topic at the heart of this book. Maria is initially reluctant to explain to anyone why she bludgeoned her husband. After all, how can she explain to strangers what she struggles to believe herself?  But in court she finally reveals the appalling details of almost two decades of coercive control and abuse. There were many times I would feel sick to my stomach at the details, especially the parts relating to physical harm, but this was a vital part of the story so we could understand what life was like for Maria, what her mental state was. Without it she appears to be a crazy disgruntled wife who savagely bludgeoned her defensive husband. Once we’ve heard her story it seems obvious that she is a desperate woman who didn’t think there was any other way out. 

But Maria isn’t the only one who’s lived a life walking that fine tightrope trying to please an abusive man. There are others in this story too, including juror Lottie, who’s husband Zain controls their home. Everything must be done to his specifications and he even orders her to get herself excused from jury duty as doesn’t want the “disruption” to his picture-perfect existence. Lottie longs for more than being a housewife and mother but Zain won’t entertain her doing anything else so the chance to escape to the excitement of  jury duty is a welcome one, even if it causes arguments with Zain. The author perfectly portrays the reality of life with an abuser and how by the time you see what’s going on you’re often in so deep that you either don’t think about leaving or are too scared of what will happen if you do.

An important aspect that the author addresses briefly is the disparity between how domestic abuse victims killing their abusers and abusers killing their victims is viewed. Maria ponders that her story would not be sensational or have garnered such interest if it had been Edward who killed her. Obviously murder isn’t how anyone would encourage a victim to leave an abuser, but I think the fact that the death of a woman (and it is most commonly women) at the hands of an abusive partner is so heartbreakingly common now that it often barely warrents a second glance. But when it’s the other way around there’s an outcry and a lack of understanding of the sheer desperation someone feels to commit such an act.

I am a sucker for a good courtroom drama and a huge fan of this author’s DI Callanach series, under her real name of Helen Fields, so I couldn’t wait to read this standalone novel. One of the things I love about her writing style is the little details she gives us that really get us inside the mind and connect us to her characters. As with all her other books this one is expertly written, fast paced and full of twists and turns. I did guess “the twist” early on, but the author has such a talent that I’d talked myself out of it and was taken aback when it proved right later on. 

Any books by this author are a must read for me and this one did not disappoint. Degrees of Guilt is a fantastic courtroom drama and domestic thriller that I highly recommend. 

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

Helen Fields

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

HS Chandler is the pen name of Helen Fields. As HS Chandler she writes psychological thrillers and legal thrillers. With a background as a criminal and family law barrister, she now runs a media company and writes the Callanach crime series. 

Blog Tour Review: ‘The Sleepover’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

QuotePhotob922d24c

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Sleepover, the gripping fourth installment in the Detective Natalie Ward series. Thank you to Bookoture for my invitation to take part in the blog tour, and NetGalley, Bookoture and Carol Wyer for the eBook ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS:

Roxy had a secret. Now she’s gone.

When fourteen-year-old Roxy says she’s going for a sleepover at her best friend Ellie’s house, Cathy sees no reason to check her daughter’s story. The two families are neighbours, and the girls  are in and out of each other’s homes every day.

It’s a decision she will regret. A day later, Roxy is found murdered in exclusive Linnet Lane, miles across town, in a house owned by two brothers with no apparent connection to Roxy. Detective Natalie Ward, called to lead the investigation, is determined to get to the bottom of why Roxy was in the basement of this grand Victorian mansion when she should have been eating chocolate in her pyjamas with her best friend. 

As Natalie begins to look closely at Roxy’s stepfather and three brothers, she discovers that Roxy had recently been admitted to hospital with suspicious injuries. Her mother Cathy seems very jumpy, and Ellie refuses to talk. Who are the people that knew Roxy best in the world protecting?

Then Roxy’s mother Cathy disappears.

When Cathy’s body is discovered close to where her daughter was found, Natalie is forced to face the grim fact that the killer is just getting started. She is troubled by the reaction of Roxy’s brother Seth to the tragedies and when his alibi falls through she brings him in for questioning, certain she is making headway.

But while Seth is in custody, one of Roxy’s school friends is found murdered and Natalie knows she must cast her net wider. Things take a more sinister turn when Ellie vanishes, her mobile phone switched off. What is Ellie hiding about the night Roxy died that could put her in terrible danger? And can Natalie figure it out before another innocent life is taken?

The-Sleepover-Kindle
MY REVIEW:

Carol you’ve done it again! The Sleepover is an absorbing, riveting and twisty thriller that had me in it’s grip from the first page, was difficult to predict, and impossible to put down. 

Fourteen-year-old Roxy tells her Mum she’s going to her friend’s house for a sleepover but the next day her body is found in the charred remains of a house fire in an area nowhere near where she was supposed to be and owned by people she didn’t know. Detective Natalie Ward and her team are called to investigate the mystery but her devastated family and friends have no answers, neither do Gavin and Kirk Lang, the owners of the house she was found in. 

As they get deeper into the investigation they seem to find more questions than answers. There are numerous suspects in the arson but there is little in the way of evidence connecting anyone to the crime, or Roxy to the Lang brothers, and Natalie is left feeling angry and frustrated when she’s sure that everyone involved is lying to her and holding back important information. 

When Roxy’s mother Cathy is found murdered the investigation takes on a greater urgency as it seems whoever killed her daughter is targeting those who know about their actions. But everytime the team think they have a clear suspect, something else comes to light that seems to point in another direction. Can Natalie and her team find the killer before they strike again?

There were so many suspects that it was impossible to figure out who the killer was, which is something the author is a master at doing in her books. As soon as I’d made up my mind it was one person, I would change my mind and think someone else! There was one person I didn’t trust from the start and was the person I couldn’t shake my bad feelings about. I don’t want to name them or say if I was right because either one could spoil it for other readers. 

The Sleepover is the fourth book in the fantastic Detective Natalie Ward series and each book feels like connecting again with old friends for me. In this book, Natalie and her husband David are still barely speaking two months after their daughter, Leigh ran away from home. Natalie is increasingly unhappy in her marriage,  David is struggling with his gambling addiction and a lack of self confidence as he still can’t find work, their eldest child Josh is acting strangely and increasingly aloof, and they are still having difficulties with Leigh. All of this is distracting Natalie but at the same time she uses the case to try and take her mind off things and avoid spending time at home with her husband. In this installment we are teased with information as to why Natalie’s relationship with her estranged sister ended and why she finds it so hard to forgive David’s lies. I’m getting desperate to know the full story about Francis though. Please tell me we’ll find out soon Carol! 

This book was full of complex, morally ambiguous characters which I absolutely loved. None of us are one dimensional and finding the humanity and empathy in someone unlikeable or “evil” is fascinating to me. The Curtis family, who are the main focus of this book, were so well written and each of them were a mix of victim and villain in their own way. It is a testament to the author’s talent that despite all of this I never lost any sympathy for them in what they went through, and hoped that the surviving members would be proven blameless. I felt like the kids in particular were trapped in a toxic cycle and if they could just break free of it they’d have a chance to be better people. The Lang brothers were the perfect villains. Despite their house being burned down I never felt any real sympathy for them and actually wanted them to be proven guilty. They were such shady characters and I really liked that we were given these characters to dislike while the evidence didn’t always seem to point in their direction. 

So if you like police procedurals and crime fiction then this book, and series, are for you. The Sleepover is a gripping and readable thriller that keeps you guessing right until the sensational conclusion. Now I’ve just got to not-so-patiently wait for book 5….

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

35300548_10156550383109623_6437937805250265088_o

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carol Wyer is an award-winning author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping thrillers.

Her book, GRUMPY OLD MENOPAUSE won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.

Carol moved to the ‘dark side’ in 2017 with as series of thrillers. LITTLE GIRL LOST became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and a Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

The DI Robyn Carter and DI Natalie Ward series have sold over half a million copies, earning her acclaim as a crime writer.

2019 sees the release of two romantic comedies and three DI Natalie Ward novels, including the much anticipated THE DARE and THE SLEEPOVER.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ‘Irritable Male Syndromeand Ageing Disgracefully and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

To learn more about Carol, go to www.carolwyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer. 

Carol also blogs at www.carolwyer.com

The Sleepover - Blog Tour

Review: ‘The Sixth Wicked Child’ by J.D. Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

IMG_20190817_153704

Review: ‘The Sixth Wicked Child’ by J.D. Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

SYNOPSIS:

In the riveting conclusion of the 4MK trilogy, Barker takes the thriller to an entirely new level. Don’t miss a single word of the series James Patterson called “ingenious”.

Hear No Evil.

For Detective Sam Porter, the words “Father, forgive me” conjure memories long forgotten, a past intentionally buried. For Anson Bishop, these three words connect a childhood to the present as he unleashes a truth he concealed for decades.

See No Evil.

Found written on cardboard near each body, these words link multiple victims to a single killer – discovered within minutes of each other in both Chicago and South Carolina – clearly connected yet separated by impossible miles.

Speak No Evil.

Chicago Metro and the FBI find themselves caught in chaos – a hospital on lockdown, a rogue officer, and corruption at the highest levels. When Anson Bishop, the prime suspect in the notorious MK4 serial murders, turns himself in, he reveals a story completely unexpected, one that not only upends the current investigation, but one that will change the lives of all involved.

Do No Evil.

With unrelenting tension and pulse-pounding suspense, the past unravels at breakneck speed as the truth behind the Four Monkey Killer’s motive is finally revealed in this masterfully crafted finale.

MY REVIEW:

Oh. My. God. What an exhilarating, jaw-dropping, crazy and spectacular ride! J. D. Barker has ended the Four Monkey Killer trilogy on a bigger note than the gigantic one I was already anticipating. Not content with blowing our minds at the end of book two and leaving us wondering what on earth happens next for months, he now returns and takes everything you were thinking after the previous books’ revelations and pulls the rug from under you once more. I got book whiplash from all the twists and turns. Nothing you think you know is true. No one you trust is reliable. And you have no idea what to expect as you hold on for dear life while reading this final installment.

Picking up where book two ends we soon catch up with the events of the last book and are immersed in the gruesome and brutal 4MK serial killings, a threat to unleash a virus on the general population, and the hunt for the truth about the person, or persons, behind these events. As before the story is told by multiple narrators in the present day with flashbacks in the form of Anson Bishop’s diaries; though this time we don’t know if they are real or elaborate forgeries created to distract from the real Four Monkey Killer. We also now have two suspects – Anson and Detective Sam Porter. Sam has spent years obsessively hunting 4MK but new evidence suggest this may have been a rouse and he is more involved than his team want to believe. Both men protest their innocence. Both men point their finger at the other. But who is telling the truth and who is chasing who in this deadly game of cat and mouse?

Before you read this book it is vital you read The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth To Die as knowing what happened in the previous books is the only way to make sense of what happens in this one. When reading a book series, one of my favourite aspects is getting to know the recurring characters. Over the course of this trilogy I’ve particularly come to love Detective Sam Porter. He’s a well respected member of his team, dedicated cop and while he might bend the rules a little to catch the bad guy, you know he’s a good man and a good Detective. So it seemed anyway. One of the hardest parts of this book for me is having all that crumble as his true involvement with 4MK is questioned. The idea of him being the Four Monkey Killer sickened me and I honestly read this book dreading that outcome. I didn’t know who to believe and it remained that way right until the final sentence.

I’ve always liked the use of diaries written by Bishop to tell his backstory and even though these were unreliable in this book, they were still some of my favourite parts to read. Learning more about what the diaries claim happened when Bishop went into the foster system, his friends and budding relationship with Libby humanised him more than previous books. He wasn’t as cold, calculated and strange and I thought that was a great way to also make the reader unsure if he was 4MK or is innocent like he claims.

The Sixth Wicked Child takes you to some of the darkest corners of human nature, the despair, depravity and cruelty that lies hidden behind closed doors and the masks people wear every day. The writing and plotting is once again exquisite, cunning and captivating. The author is the master of the dark psychological thriller and has created one of the best book series I’ve ever read. I’m sad that it’s over but excited to see what he writes next. I know I will be first in line to read it.

Thank you to NetGalley, Hampton Creek Press and J.D. Barker for an ebook copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: August 27th.

Available to buy from your favourite bookseller.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

jdbarker

J.D. Barker is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His latest novel, The Fourth Monkey, released in June 2017. His third novel, The Fifth To Die, releases June 2018. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

 

Review: ‘At Your Door’ by J. P. Carter ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Editor_2_20190721220551

Happy publication day to J.P Carter and the amazing second installment in the DCI Anna Tate series.

SYNOPSIS:

What happens when the past comes back to kill you?

When DCI Anna Tate is called to the gruesome discovery of a woman found on Barnes Common, she is plunged into a high profile investigation involving a prominent MP. London is baying for blood – but is there more to Holly’s death than first meets the eye?

Meanwhile, the hunt is on for Anna’s missing daughter Chloe, who vanished ten years ago when her father kidnapped her. The case has been cold for what feels like forever – but a phone call brings a new lead…

Can Anna solve the murder case whilst dealing with her own personal demons? Or is someone from the past planning to get in her way?

REVIEW:

Bravo, Mr. Carter. Bravo. Nothing in this book happened as I expected and I loved it. I was on the edge of my seat guessing what would happen right until the final page and I didn’t see either ending happening coming until it smacked me in the face and my jaw was on the floor. This was a surprising, salacious, emotive, tense and gripping thriller that exceeded my expectations and left me thirsty for more…

DCI Anna Tate and her colleagues at the Major Investigation Team have barely had time to draw breath after their last high profile case when the body of 23-year-old Holly Blake is found and they’re plunged head-first into a case that will put them under more pressure than ever before. It seems to be a simple case of revenge and murder, but as the investigation continues shocking secrets are revealed, and multiple suspects come to light. As the complexity increases, so does the pressure to make an arrest, but it seems every time they find an answer to one question, another three take its place. 

Simultaneously, the decade-long search for Anna’s missing daughter, Chloe, seems to finally be gaining momentum and she finally has real hope of them being reunited. But she darent get up her hopes too much or allow herself to be distracted from her job so she throws herself into the hunt for Holly’s killer while waiting for what she hopes is the call she’s longed for.

I already knew from the first book that I loved Anna. Her ability to compartemtalise her personal and professional lives even when her mother’s heart must have been screaming to forget about her job and go find her daughter, was remarkable. We saw her strength and how she refused to be intimidated or bow down to pressure, instead searching for the truth and being determined to get justice for Holly. She is a fantastic character and everything in this book made me love her more. 

Poor Sophie. My heart broke for her as revelations saw her world crumble and she was left with an impossible dilemma, a true “Sophie’s choice”. She was superbly written and I loved how she was such a big focus of this book. Her story was vital to Anna’s hunt for Chloe and made the matter more convoluted, no longer simply a case of rooting for mother and daughter to be reunited. I was riveted by the twists in this part of the tale, intrigued by what Sophie was hiding, and found myself wishing there was a way for all parties to come out of this happily. 

The author also wrote some great villains in this book. Nathan was sleazy, vile, aggressive and just simply a disgusting person that I never felt an ounce of sympathy for. From the first moment he’s introduced he made me both furious and cringe at the same time. And then there’s Bruno. His sickening plot for revenge surpassed any other evil in this book. He is a psychopath in every sense of the word and the author gave me chills whenever this character was on the page. 

To create such amazing characters that inspire such a range of feelings in the reader, and write two stories that both maintain momentum and keep you hooked throughout, shows what a skilled writer the author is. He will distract you, letting you think you know the outcome, and then hit you with the truth so suddenly you’re left dazed and confused. I was in tears by the end of this book, my heart was broken and yet I wanted more. 

If you love readable police procedurals, great characters, gruesome murder scenes and addictive, twisty thrillers, then this is the book, and the series, for you. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Avon Books UK and J. P. Carter for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out today. 

 

Review: ‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

cof

SYNOPSIS:

A fractured marriage.

A silent family.

A secret that connects them all.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel and Joseph is arrested for the murder. Joseph says his wife is setting him up. His wife says he didn’t do it. The trail of evidence leads to even more questions…

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim.*

Who would you believe?

REVIEW:

Wow! Jaw-dropping and addictive, I absolutely loved this book and knew I was in for a great read as soon as I read the prologue. Ms Frear has a new fan in this reader after this tantilising thriller.

Twenty-two year old Naomi Lockhart is found dead by her housemate. She was last seen at a party at her boss’s house Saturday night and has been missing from work the last two days. DC Cat Kinsella and Murder Investigation Team 4 are called in to investigate and quickly learn that she died not long after the party. The evidence leads them to a suspect: Joseph Madden, the brother-in-law of Naomi’s boss. He’s not a stranger to Cat, he owns a local coffee house and even spoke to her a few months ago claiming his wife, Rachel, is threatening him and asking what he can do about it. At the time Cat viewed it as overblown marriage woes, but now he’s claiming Rachel is framing him for murder. Rachel is clearly terrified of her husband and does nothing but protest his innocence and Joseph’s claims seem like nothing but a desperate way to put the blame elsewhere.

Information trickles slowly and reluctantly from their witnesses, frustrating the police but making for an electrifying read. Is Joseph capable of murder? Is he their man? As things are revealed Cat is reluctantly dubious and it seems their witnesses are all keeping more secrets that are yet to be told. Who killed Naomi?

Cat Kinsella is a unique protagonist. She, and this book, stands out in the sea of police procedurals because of her flawed and complex character. She breaks the rules, keeps secrets and has told many lies, has a shady family, is dating someone she shouldn’t, and yet she is someone we love and can root for despite all her mistakes. I wanted her to win. I wanted her to conquer her shame of where she’s from and the toxic family she was raised in. I want her inappropriate relationship to work. She was wonderfully written and I enjoyed every minute I spent reading her.

One of the things I enjoyed about this novel was the array of unreliable and morally ambiguous characters, including almost every witness. I found myself both loving and hating so many of them and could never quite be sure what the truth was or what side they were on, other than their own, of course. Joseph Madden was a perfectly written narcissistic abuser. He made my blood run cold from his first appearance and I desperately wanted him to be guilty simply because he was such a vile person. With Rachel the author depicted the terror, shame and guilt of an abused partner in a realistic way. Your heart breaks for her over and again and you just want to make her see sense and get away from her destructive relationship.

I didn’t realise before starting that this was book two in a series. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of it though as the author not only gave enough information to catch you up on events as needed, but it all sounds so juicy that she sold the book to me while I was reading and I immediately bought it when I finished. I loved the author’s writing style, particularly the banter between Cat and her colleagues and the wit that had me laughing out loud on many occasions.

The final part of this fabulous, twisty thriller had me on tenterhooks wondering who did what and reeling from each bombshell. After the shocking concluding sentences, I am now impatiently waiting for book three and to find out what is next for Cat. I can’t recommend this book or this author highly enough.

Thank you to NetGalley, Bonnier Zaffre and Caz Frear for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: June 27th.

 

Review: ‘We Were Killers Once’ by Becky Masterson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In 1959, The Walker family murders shook Florida. As many as 587 people were considered suspects – but 60 years on the investigation remains unsolved.

Former FBI agent Brigid Quinn has been obsessed with the Walker case since she was a child. She believes it holds striking similarities to another high profile investigation of the time: the Clutter family murders, made infamous by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. What if Perry Smith and Dick Hickock – executed for those murders – had killed again? And what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown?

Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he’d like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. But following the path of the letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he’ll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

From the author of Edgar Award finalist and CWA Gold Dagger shortlisted Rage Against the Dying comes this unputdownable and fascinating alternative look at one of America’s most famous crimes.

I have been fascinated with the Clutter murders ever since I read In Cold Blood over twenty years ago. So when I saw that this novel offered an alternative look at that case and one that was linked to it I couldn’t wait to read it.

Brigid Quinn was just six-years-old when she first heard of the Walker family murders when her police officer father and his work buddies were discussing the case as she sat on his knee. Since that night she has been haunted by the unsolved case. Sixty years later she is a former FBI agent living with her husband, Carlo, in Arizona unaware that the case that’s been her obsession is about to affect their lives in unexpected ways.

Jeremiah Beaufort is being released after thirty three years in prison. But before he can enjoy his new found freedom he has business to take care of. Business that has threatened to catch up to him for most of his life. As he follows the trail of a confession by an old acquaintance, he is led to Arizona and a former priest named Carlo DiForenza. What he doesn’t realise is that it has also led him to the man’s wife, Brigid, who is passionate about finding the same answers that he’s trying to bury forever.

The author has created a perfect amalgamation of true crime and crime fiction with this gripping and believable novel. I love both genres and loved how she brought them together. I admit that part of my enjoyment of this book came from my fascination with the Clutter murders. Both main characters are connected to the infamous case in different ways and I loved the alternative version that was explored in this novel.

One potential drawback of this book is that both of the main characters aren’t likeable. Beaufort is unlikable in the right ways; we aren’t supposed to like the bad guy. He sees himself as intelligent and being called stupid or evil are his pet hates. Despite all he’s done he thinks he can’t be a bad person and justifies most of his actions. His many years in prison have made him an alien in the modern world and I thought that this aspect was written particularly well and allowed for some much needed humour at times. Brigid’s character could have been likeable but I found her obsession and jealousy of her husband’s late wife tiresome and felt like instead of humanising her, it undermined her  intelligence and made her appear whiny. It is good for a character to be flawed but I felt this flaw went a little too far. I did like that she maintained an understandable suspicion of people and would do anything to protect those she loved. She clearly has a great gut instinct and isn’t afraid to follow it.

We Were Killers Once is an intriguing, absorbing thriller. I didn’t know when I requested it that it is book four in a series and didn’t feel like I missed anything reading it as a standalone. A mix of fascinating fiction with tantalising fact re-imagined and woven through the pages, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves crime fiction and true crime.

Thank you to NetGalley, Orion and Becky Masterson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: June 13th.