Blog Tour Review: Snow Creek by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for this exciting first installment in a new crime series. Thank you to Bookoture for the invitation to take part and to NetGalley and Bookoture for my copy of this book. 

SYNOPSIS:

Footprints were scattered about like fallen leaves. She looked down into the ravine, and once more her lungs filled with fear. A body, blackened and motionless, lay splayed out in the bushes.

Detective Megan Carpenter is no stranger to evil. Escaping the horrors of her old life, she’s vowed never to let anyone hurt her or those she loves ever again. Joining the small police force in Jefferson County’s Port Townsend, Megan is determined to get every victim of a crime the justice they deserve.

So when Ruth Turner walks into the Sheriff’s office claiming her sister Ida Watson has been missing for over a month, Megan’s instincts tell her that she needs to do more than just file a report.

Arriving at a secluded farmhouse in the hills above Snow Creek, she finds Ida’s teenage children alone and frightened.

Then a few days later, close to the Watson’s home, the blackened body of a woman is discovered in an abandoned pickup truck.

Megan must unravel the disturbing secrets of the isolated Snow Creek community to catch the killer. 

But Megan has dark secrets of her own too.

Hidden in the back of her closet is a box of tapes containing every single recording of her therapy sessions with Doctor Albright over thirteen years ago. As Megan begins to play the tapes, she’s taken straight back to the time she was a kid called Rylee, fighting to survive.

Can Megan finally confront the past she’s spent years trying to block out and will listening to her own painful story help her solve the complex case she’s now entangled in?

From the Number One New York Times and Amazon Charts bestselling author, comes an absolutely heart-stopping and completely unputdownable crime series, introducing Detective Megan Carpenter.

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MY REVIEW:

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for a good crime series and police procedural. They’re my go-to reads if I’m ever in a reading slump. When I saw Gregg Olsen was releasing the first in a new crime series I couldn’t resist checking it out as I loved the book I read by him a few months ago. Boy am I glad I did! Snow Creek is a fast-paced, jaw-dropping, twisty and utterly addictive thriller that I devoured in just a few hours. A thriller lover’s dream, it will consume you and leave you breathless.

Ruth Turner walks into the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to report her sister Ida Watson missing. Detective Megan Carpenter decides to do a welfare check rather than just file a report. When she arrives at the secluded house in the hills above Snow Creek she finds Ida’s two teenage children, Joshua and Sarah. They say that their parents went on a mission trip to Mexico but after making calls it becomes clear they never arrived in Mexico and Ida and Merritt are missing. 

When a woman’s charred body is found in an abandoned car the mystery of Ida’s whereabouts is solved. With Merritt missing and Sarah telling the Detective that her father was abusive, Megan has her prime suspect. The race is on to find Merrick and bring Ida’s killer to justice. But as further evidence is uncovered Megan starts to wonder if they’ve been focusing on the wrong person and someone else could be their killer…

This is my second read by Gregg Olsen and has secured my love of his writing. Both books were nail-biting and showed that he knows how to pack a punch, bringing shocking twists and turns at unexpected moments. There were so many in this book I got book whiplash. And OMG that ending! I wanted to scream in frustration when I realised that was the final page. I need the second installment now!

For any crime series to succeed you need a good protagonist and Detective Megan Carpenter certainly fits that bill for me. She was likeable, relatable and absolutely fascinating. Her past is shrouded in mystery, with parts of it slowly being unveiled over the course of the book as she listens to the tape from her counselling sessions with Doctor Albright thirteen years ago. The shocking revelations made me love this character all the more and I think the author has written one of the most intriguing and compelling protagonists of a series that I’ve read. She was the best character in the book and I can’t wait to learn more about her dark secrets and shadowy past.

I would highly recommend Snow Creek to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, thrillers and domestic noir. This is a book you don’t want to miss!

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A #1 New York Times, Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, seventeen novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: https://www.greggolsen.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreggOlsenAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Gregg_Olsen

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Her Dark Heart by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

Rory is waiting at the door of the pre-school – a painted picture of his mother Susan in his small hand. But Susan isn’t going to see the picture, because she has vanished.

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mother. She would do anything for her three children. She drops them off and picks them up every single day. Until one day when Susan kisses them goodbye and then never comes to pick them up.

Susan’s mother Mary is worried. Susan is recently divorced and has been finding things hard recently, but she loves her kids – she’d never leave them.

Susan’s sister Clare is furious. It’s just like her to go missing. It’s not the first time either. Susan has always been a troublemaker. Always seeking attention. She knows Susan has been lying to the family for years. And she knows that Susan has been sneaking out of her family home for weeks…

As the hours turn into days, even Clare becomes fearful for Susan. And when Mary discovers Susan’s diary, she begins to uncover a dark secret from her childhood. Something no one in the family knew. When the  final diary entry leads the police to a man who is discovered dead in a local park, they’re left wondering if Susan vanished because she is a victim. Or because she is a suspect.

MY REVIEW:

She’s done it again. This is another winning installment in the Detective Gina Harte series. Gripping, tense, thrilling and unputdownable, I flew through it in under a day. 

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mum to her three children. She’s going through an acrimonious divorce but it is out of character when she not only doesn’t turn up to collect her youngest child, two-year-old Rory from pre-school, but also doesn’t come home that night or the next day. Her mother Mary is worried but her sister, Clare, and ex-husband, Ryan, think it’s a bid for attention. Finally, Mary calls the police and Gina and her team are assigned to the case. 

There are few clues but Susan’s diary leads them to a man who was possibly the last person to see her before she disappeared. But he’s found dead, having been brutally beaten and tortured before he was strangled to death. Is Susan a victim or did she have some part in this man’s death? The team keep digging but the missing pieces of the puzzle seem to elude them and Gina gets the sense there’s things the family aren’t telling her. It’s a race against the clock to put the pieces together, get to the truth and find Susan before she or someone else turns up dead. 

Her Dark Heart is the fifth book in this series and it lives up to the high bar that’s been set in the others. While knowledge from the other book does help with things like Gina’s backstory and character relationships it is still possible to read this as a standalone. The author is skilled in writing twisty crime fiction full of relatable characters and bad guys that make your skin crawl. 

Some of my favourite parts were from the chapters narrated by our mystery perpetrator. He was sinister, repulsive, delusional, and is determined to inflict his wrath and revenge for what happened all those years ago; though we don’t yet know what occurred. These chapters revved up the tension and had me on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure things out. There were a plethora of suspects but I couldn’t predict who he was or exactly why he was doing this. I did manage to guess part of it correctly but I was still blindsided by the revelations that came as we reached the jaw-dropping finale.

As with the author’s other books there are deeper themes running through this book than what appears on the surface. This time it’s secrets. Susan and her family are all harbouring various secrets and Gina is facing the emotional consequences of secrets she has kept for decades. While the Collins family’s secrets have led to Susan’s abduction and threaten to tear their family apart, Gina is missing her mother and feeling she has no right to grieve for not being there when she died because of the invisible chains her abusive late husband kept her in and how keeping the abuse secret led to their estrangement. It shows us how secrets can snowball, with devastating and catastrophic results.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime fiction and police procedurals. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series then check those out too. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Out today.

Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this gripping debut novel. Thank you to Katie at Penguin Random House for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

A brutal murder.

A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.

A detective with everything to prove.

This is her only chance to redeem herself.

A serial killer with nothing to lose.

He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun…

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, Hold Your Tongue is your new obsession.

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MY REVIEW:

“He likes stories. And he has an important one to tell. After today, people will listen.” 

“He has a story to tell. And it has begun.”

This riveting debut started with a bang; the brutal prologue giving me literal chills. For the rest of the book I was on the edge of my seat, utterly immersed in this deliciously twisted, turbulent and electrifying thriller. 

A young woman found dead with sickening injuries is not a good first day back at work, but it’s what DI Eve Hunter is thrust into on hers. When a second woman is found a week later there is even greater pressure to find whoever is behind these gruesome murders. But the victims seem random and the only connection they can find between the victims is that they were in the newspaper, the clippings left pinned to their clothing. There is no clear motive and though Eve is sure the killer is telling them something, she can’t figure out what it is. As Eve and the team race against the clock to prevent anyone else becoming a victim, the killer is enjoying his long-planned reign of terror. He is certain he will finish what he started, that the police are clueless and powerless to stop him. But who is right? Will Eve and her team prevail or will the killer accomplish …

Wow! What a fantastic start to a new crime series! This was a rollercoaster ride of a book that I could not put down. This book was an example of what I love in crime fiction: well written and fantastically plotted, fast paced, great characters, complex and multi-layered, and a story that was hard to predict. The author knows how to hold her audience captive, making it impossible to turn away from the horror unfolding. The story is cleverly pieced together through subtle hints and startling revelations, until the final, shocking picture emerges. I could feel my heart pounding in anticipation as I raced towards the finale. 

DI Eve Hunter was a great protagonist. She’s fascinating and flawed but likeable and easy to get behind. It’s clear she’s a strong woman and leader, but she also shows weakness, which made her all the more interesting and relatable. We’re quickly given glimpses of her backstory: the dark secret only she and her counsellor know, and her guilt over the vicious attack that left her with painful injuries and her partner, Sanders, paralysed from the chest down. Eve’s team are all well written. I liked that their interpersonal dynamics weren’t smooth or simple and that there are some who make it clear they didn’t want her back and still blame her for what happened. We are given a comprehensive introduction to Eve and her team, giving us a real sense of who they are and I like that she also included the complicated relationship between Eve and Sanders. 

I love crime thrillers and one of my favourite things is when they include chapters from the perpetrator. I was glad to see that trope used in this book and loved the flashes of his past and peeking into his warped mind. From the savagery of his sickening attacks on his victims it is immediately clear that this is a brutal, cold-blooded, calculating and meticulous killer who is enjoying finally living out his carefully plotted crimes. 

Hold Your Tongue is a brilliant whodunit from an exciting new voice in the genre. Deborah, thanks to you I will never be able to see or hear that song in the same way again… I can’t wait for book two and would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction.

Published November 20th on Kindle and December 26th in Paperback.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie – to name but a few. Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

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Blog Tour Review: The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this compelling debut novel. Thank you to Agora Books for the invitation to take part and for my copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

An astonishing and evocative debut from a new voice in crime fiction.

And now he knew what was wrong with the arrangement. It was the Ma..the negative space… There was only one thing beautiful enough to fill it and – finally – she was with him. Ready, if not willing, to play her role.

Holly Blain wants to cover real news. The entertainment beat – pop stars and teen trends – was not why she moved to Tokyo. When she meets Inspector Tetsu Tanaka, head of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police’s Gaikoku-jin unit, it might just be her big break.

Tanaka isn’t so sure. Always one to do things by the book, he’s hesitant about bringing this headstrong reporter into his carefully controlled investigation.

But young women keep disappearing and Tanaka is given no choice. He and Blain must trust each other if they are to stop a tormented killer from bringing his plan to its shocking conclusion.

Filled with twists and turns, this unforgettable thriller is JJ Ellis’ first novel 

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MY REVIEW:

The Flower Arranger is an atmospheric novel seeped in layers of Japanese culture. The beautiful imagery transported me into this different world that I knew relatively little about. But amongst the beauty is something dark. Someone is using the pretty flowers to create macabre and unnerving arrangements that they then put on public display. Holly Blain, an ambitious young journalist determined to make a name for herself, and Detective Tetsu Tanaka, are hunting him. But he manages to stay one step ahead and evade capture. As the pressure mounts they know they must get results or heads will roll and the careers they’ve worked so hard for will be damaged.

The two protagonists are an unlikely duo, a yin and yang as it were. Blain will do anything to get her story and to finally realise her ambition of working on the crime team at her newspaper, and while Tanaka finds himself fighting against red tape he’s someone who likes to do things right. As they try to learn to work together these differences often lead to clashes, chaos and battles against each other to get to their man first. They’re also hampered by Japan’s bureaucracy which makes it almost impossible to find out any real information about their suspect. I liked their relationship and thought it made them more interesting to read than if they’d been instant best friends that worked together really well. 

The antagonist was sinister and bizarre – a perfect bad guy. I would get shivers down my spine reading his dreadful, creepy and unhinged thoughts and behaviour. The flashbacks gave an interesting insight into his motivations and how he turned out this way. 

I really enjoyed this book. The descriptive writing drew me in and gave me an education on a culture I knew relatively little about while keeping me guessing about The Flower Arranger. It started off a little slow but was fascinating from the beginning and soon picked up the pace. I felt Tanaka’s frustration as the suspect slipped through his grasp and I felt Blain’s desperation for that top story. I was on the edge of my seat as we approached the end, fervently hoping for them to succeed and am still recovering from that ending and those haunting final sentences…

I would recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction. JJ Ellis has written a tense and chilling debut and I can’t wait to see what he does next. 

Out September 26th.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JJ Ellis was born and raised in Yorkshire in northern England although now lives near London. The author’s interest in Japan was sparked when a family member won a trip there by singing in Japanese at an exhibition in the UK. Several visits followed — to Tokyo and further flung places such as Ishigaki and Iriomote — as Ellis developed the idea for The Flower Arranger. Two more crime novels featuring the team of Tanaka and Blain are planned.

The Flower Arranger is JJ Ellis’ first novel.

Review: ‘The Family Upstairs’ by Lisa Jewell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, the baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lies three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.

A house with the darkest of secrets.

A compulsive new read from Lisa Jewell.

MY REVIEW:

Dark, twisted, chilling, mysterious, fast-paced and addictive I devoured this book. A story about family, cults, secrets and death all woven together into a jaw-dropping thriller.

A month after her twenty-fifth birthday Libby Jones receives a letter telling her that she’s inherited her late parents’ eight bedroomed house on an expensive Chelsea street. She’s overwhelmed, having no idea before this that her birth parents are rich. At the same time, she finally learns the truth about her birth family. They didn’t die in a car accident like she believed, they were found dead along with another, unidentified man, having committed suicide. and Libby was found alone in the house with their bodies. Not only that, but she had a teenage brother and sister who vanished without a trace. Needing to know more she starts to research her past – a decision that takes her on a greater journey of self-discovery than she ever imagined. 

I always find books that explore different family’s dynamics interesting. who doesn’t want to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s house to see how things work in comparison to their own? Or is that just me? Told in two timelines by three narrators, we follow the story of this strange and fascinating family as LIbby tries to discover the truth about not only herself, but the tragic events of twenty-five years ago. 

Though the narrators seem totally random at first, we know that they must be connected somehow. The author slowly and skillfully brought it all together, delivering many surprises along the way. I thought the choice of these narrators with their very different perspectives and characteristics were well chosen and helped the reader get a fuller picture of what happened. I loved how the chapters are sequenced so that each person narrates one chapter in turn. This ramped up the tension, especially when the storyline in one chapter ended on a cliffhanger and you were left on the edge of your seat reading two more chapters before you could find out more. 

As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. Though I own a number of her books, this was actually the first time I’d read anything by this author and I’m now kicking myself for waiting so long. There’s a very good reason I see so many people raving about her – she’s sensational! Expertly written, the author had me in her grasp from the first page and didn’t let go until the last. And that ending! Wow! The only word I can think of is breathtaking. 

This phenomenal thriller is one of the best I’ve read this year. So if you enjoy a well-written thriller full of twists and turns then this is one to add to your tbr. It definitely lived up to the hype for me. 

Thank you to Penguin Random House UK for my gifted ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

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

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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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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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.