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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Her Perfect Bones (Rockwell and Decker Book 2) by Ellery Kane

Published: February 16th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Hardboiled, Romance
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Here is my review for the second installment in the Rockwell and Decker series. This tour stop is a little late due to illness. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The girl’s body is curled up like a shell and almost completely buried in sand. Only her fingertips can be seen, reaching helplessly up towards an escape she will never find…

Seventeen-year-old Shelby Mayfield sits alone on a bus to Fog Harbor, California. Aside from a few items of clothing, all she has with her is twenty-two dollars, the ragdoll she’s kept since kindergarten, and the devastating secret she’s been hiding.

How long will it be before her family realizes she’s gone?

Can anyone see the fresh bruise on her cheek beneath the makeup?

Perhaps she was a fool to believe the person she is meeting in this remote little town could help her…

When a girl’s body is found hidden in a barrel in a woodland cabin, the local police are at a loss. The film from an old camera found looped around her neck is their only lead, but Criminal Psychologist Olivia Rockwell’s blood turns to ice when she recognizes the ragdoll in one of the girl’s last photographs. She used to own one just like it, and it can only mean one thing: if she doesn’t dig deep into the mind of a deadly killer from her past—her own father—more innocent lives will be in danger…

A totally gripping and utterly addictive crime thriller for readers who love Lisa Regan, Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh. But be warned: you’ll be sleeping with the lights on after you’ve raced through the pages in one sitting!

MY REVIEW:

When the mummified corpse of a pregnant teenage girl is found in a barrel it sets in motion a series of events that will uncover secrets hidden for almost four decades in the second installment of the Rockwell and Decker series. Meanwhile, there are shocking revelations about Olivia’s father and his past that are unveiled after he is found dead following his failed parole hearing. 

I enjoyed the first book in this series last year and was looking forward to discovering if the follow up lived up to its promise. I was not disappointed. Once again the author has crafted a gripping, fast-paced thriller full of surprising twists and kept me guessing right until the dramatic finale. 

One of the key points of any series is the protagonists and the author has got it spot on with Will Decker and Olivia Rockwell. They are likeable, compelling characters, and the murky side of both their families make for riveting backstories, subplots and supporting cast. One of the highlights of both books has been their sharp banter, chemistry and reluctance to admit how they feel about one another. The author has built on this in book two and I loved their progression both as individual characters and as a duo.  I’m really rooting for them to get it together soon. 

So if  you’re looking for an exciting and absorbing mystery that will keep you on your toes, then this book is for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Forensic psychologist by day, author by night, Ellery Kane has been writing professionally and creatively for as long as she can remember. Real life really is stranger than fiction, so Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Before writing the Rockwell and Decker series with Bookouture, Ellery published the Legacy series for young adult readers and the Doctors of Darkness series of psychological thrillers. She was previously selected as one of ten semi-finalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition. A Texan at heart, Ellery currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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*These are affiliate links

Please take the time to read the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

Thanks for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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Cover Reveal Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Cover Reveal: The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

I have another exciting cover reveal for you all today from HarperCollins UK:

So addictive it should come with a warning… ⚠

So twisted it’ll keep you up all night… 

So plausible it’s terrifying… 

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter is available to pre-order now. Out 27th May. #DidSheKnow?

Pre order link: smarturl.it/SerialKillersWifeEB

FULL SYNOPSIS:

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re husband and wife – till death do them part…

Doesn’t it sound amazing. This is definitely on my list of anticipated treasures. Will you be adding it to your tbr?

Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Noir Ficiton

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising debut novel. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Manilla Press for the ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The sunniest places hold the darkest secrets . . .

A stunning 1950s set debut mystery brimming with atmosphere and perfect for fans of Tangerine, Small Pleasures and Mad Men.
________

Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .

It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.

While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .

A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.

MY REVIEW:

“Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time.”

Sunnylakes, Santa Monica – a town whose radiant name and shimmering skies belies the truth. Look a little closer and you will see what the residents try to hide; a place crawling with deep, dark secrets. Secrets that are slowly unveiled after Joyce Haney disappears from her home in the town one sunny August afternoon, leaving behind a bloodstained kitchen and  two frightened little girls. 

Wow. Just, wow! I can’t believe this mesmerising book is a debut. Inga Vesper is a talented wordsmith who has woven this layered, intricate plot into a work of art. The prose is witty and poetic, transporting me to 50s suburbia and its  sexism, misogyny, and racism. The author also delves deeply into the historical side of the era, examining topics such as the aforementioned sexism and racism, as well as society’s view of women’s roles, civil rights, domestic abuse and mental health. It is a book that would make a perfect film or TV series and the imagery is so vivid that I felt like I could see the bright blue California skies, feel the sun beating down and the sweat forming at every pore. It was so vivid I felt like I was watching it on the screen in front of me; a mash-up of Mad Men and Perry Mason. 

“The world stops. Her breath sticks in her throat. A cocoon rises up around her, drowning out all sound. She can do nothing but stare at what is in her hands. So small and delicate and terrible.”

Stepford wives and fake smiles is what springs to mind when I think of the women of Sunnylake. And it is soon clear that Joyce Hanley didn’t quite fit the mould. We get to know Joyce through the eyes of her husband, friends and maid and from the woman herself, in glimpses of her that fateful August day.  She is an enigma. A presence that lingers on every page. But it’s a chorus of many voices who tell this story, and the author has created a wonderful melody for us. We have Frank, Joyce’s husband who is your typical fifties man. Nancy Ingram, Joyce’s neighbour and best friend. Mick, the detective searching for Joyce. And Ruby, the Hanley’s maid who first raises the alarm about Joyce’s disappearance. Each character, and all of the supporting cast, are richly drawn and compelling, but it was Ruby and Mick I enjoyed reading most of all. 

Atmospheric, beguiling, lush, claustrophobic and evocative, The Long, Long Afternoon is a decadent piece of classic noir. Don’t miss this breathtaking debut from an exciting new author who should be on everyone’s reading list. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

I am a journalist and author of crime fiction. I have an MSc in climate change management and, in my day job, specialise in science journalism with a focus on EU policy, as well as writing about climate change, energy and the Global South. Available for freelance commissions.

I am a member of the National Union of Journalists, the Association of British Science Writers and the Society of Authors. I run the West London Writers, a lively and welcoming fiction writing group in Ealing.

When I am not writing I like to walk, knit and drink copious amounts of tea with sage and honey.

Website |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org*|Waterstones* | Amazon* |Google Books |Kobo
*Links to Bookshop.org, Waterstones and Amazon are affiliate links

Don’t forget to check out the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

Thank you for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Dead Girl Walking (Jessie Novak Book 1) by Roberta Gatley

Published: November 24th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Medical Fiction, Medical Thriller, Mystery

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this first book in a riveting new crime series. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

‘“911. What’s your emergency?”
“He came for her. She’s been shot,” says a desperate voice, as footsteps echo down an alley. “She’s dying.”
“Oh no, oh no, he’s coming back. Please, come quickly––” And then a click, and the drone of a dial tone.

The beautiful young woman on the stretcher could be on her honeymoon. Chestnut hair tumbles around a pretty face, rose petals tangled in the loose strands. But the bandage around her forehead tells a different tale, as Emergency Room Nurse Jessie Novak desperately battles to keep her alive. Jessie’s thoughts are racing—who shot this beautiful young woman and more importantly, why?

Ann Hart’s life hangs by a thread, and Jessie cannot bear to see this beautiful young woman die without justice being done. Being a nurse is like hunting for clues, and Jessie is sure she can find the person who hurt Ann. She also asks her friend Detective Sam Dallas for help digging into Ann’s past. But then Jessie receives a gift that sends shivers up her spine: a huge bouquet of blood-red roses, just like the ones in Ann’s hair…

As the first snowflakes start to fall, another body turns up. Jessie is sure that she’s in danger too—since the roses, someone has been watching her… Sam is reluctant to see the link but Jessie knows she must find the culprit before he strikes again. He is stalking her through the frozen streets and he doesn’t want his fun to stop. Can Jessie turn the tables on the killer, or is she just a dead girl walking?

A totally addictive mystery novel that will leave you gasping for breath and have your heart thumping! Fans of Lisa Regan, Gregg Olsen and Tess Gerritsen will be completely hooked.

MY REVIEW:

“Something was wrong here, very wrong.”

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a great crime series. With Dead Girl Walking I’ve added yet another to my ever-growing list.

ER nurse Jessie Novak finds herself embroiled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse after becoming determined to bring a killer to justice. She is sure she knows who brutally attacked Ann Hart, but the police don’t agree. So she sets out to find the evidence herself, putting her own life in danger. Can she find the proof and expose the killer before they can silence her?

“And that was what she liked best about the ER. It was a metaphor for life; unpredictable, unexpected, both deadly boring and wildly exciting, and you could have all of that in one shift.”

Reading this was like watching a mash-up of ER and Rizzoli & Isles. It is a riveting start to a new series and I flew through this book in just a few hours. The author knows how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat and is full of heart-stopping tension. Jessie’s job as an ER nurse only adds to this, the chaos leaping from the page. It is obvious from the detail in these scenes that the author has experience of working in that environment and this added to the authentic feel of the story.

For any series to be successful, it’s characters have to be believable, interesting and memorable. The author has given the reader just that with the creation of Jessie and Detective Sam Dallas. Jessie is easy to like and get behind. I quickly felt invested in her life and was rooting for her to bring the killer to justice. The dynamic between her and Sam is entertaining and they have the perfect amount of chemistry and tension to make a great crime duo. I’m looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for them in book two.

A captivating start to a new crime series, this taut, twisty and suspenseful book is one you’ll find hard to put down. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written thriller or mystery.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Roberta Gately, lives in Boston where she works as a nurse at the Boston Medical Center. It was in the ER where she developed an interest in the investigations behind the crimes and the victims she encountered. Working in a busy ER is much like being a detective—the search for answers is a methodical process, not unlike the work required to solve a murder!

Her crime series with Bookouture stars the brave and brilliant ER nurse Jessie Novak who teams up with her detective friend to solve tricky Boston murder cases. Expect addictive mysteries, breathtaking suspense and a gutsy heroine you’ll never forget. When she’s not writing or working at the hospital, Roberta enjoys reading, working out and spending time with friends and family.

She has also worked in humanitarian aid, providing medical care in some of the world’s bleakest spots ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. Her two previous novels, Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet were based upon her experiences of nursing abroad. Her memoir—Footprints in the Dust tells the true stories of some of the extraordinary people she met.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Blog Tours book reviews

Body Language by A. K. Turner

I’m delighted to be one of the bloggers opening the blog tour to for Body Language, the first book in an exciting new series. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and to Zaffre for the gifted eBook ARC.

Published: November 26th, 2020
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Medical Fiction, Medical Thriller

SYNOPSIS:

For fans of Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs comes a gripping debut thriller introducing Camden’s most exciting new forensic investigator.

Cassie Raven believes the dead can talk. We just need to listen . . .

People think being a mortuary technician is a seriously weird job. They can’t understand why I choose to cut up dead bodies for a living. But they don’t know what I know:

The dead want to tell us what happened to them.

I’ve eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone I know before – someone who meant a lot to me; someone I loved.

The pathologist says that her death was an accident.

Her body is telling me differently.

MY REVIEW:

“From her first day in the mortuary five years ago it had felt totally natural to talk to the bodies in her care, to treat them as if they were still alive — still people. Occasionally they would even answer.”

Body Language introduces us to a new and original voice in crime fiction. Cassie Raven is a goth mortuary assistant who secretly believes the dead speak to her, practices taxidermy in her free time and has held a fascination with the dead since childhood. It goes without saying that she’s viewed as strange by some. But I liked this complex, flawed and slightly offbeat protagonist. 

When the body of her former teacher, mentor and friend Geraldine Edwards is brought into the morgue following her sudden death, Cassie is hit by not only a tidal wave of grief, but the feeling that this wasn’t a natural death. When the police and pathologist rule out foul play she decides to listen to what the body is telling her and embarks on her own investigation. 

This was an entertaining read. It took me a while to get into, but asked halfway through the pace picked up and oozed tension. From that point on I was unable to stop reading and stayed up until the early hours finishing the whole thing. 

The novel is full of interesting and memorable characters and storylines that feel both far-fetched and relatable. The author’s examination of grief and trauma stood out to me in particular for the sensitive, moving and realistic way in which it is portrayed. And Cassie isn’t our only protagonist. We are also told the story from the point of view of DS Phyllida Flyte. She and Cassie are poles apart and yet at their core they are very much like. They are both strong women who are seen as outsiders and believe in fighting to get the answers and justice that victims deserve. I liked how the pair paralleled each other while instantly disliking each other and enjoyed watching the slow shift in their dynamic over the course of the book. 

A tense, twists, darkly humorous and sometimes grisly read that keeps you guessing, this is a great start to a new series. I’m especially excited to see where the author takes Cassie next after the jaw-dropping conclusion. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A.K.’s first foray into crime fiction was a detective thriller trilogy, written under the pen name Anya Lipska, following the adventures of Janusz Kiszka, tough guy and fixer to London’s Polish community. The first of the trilogy led Val McDermid to select her for the prestigious New Blood panel at Harrogate Crime Festival. All three books won critical acclaim and are currently under option as a potential TV crime series.

Set in a Camden morgue, A.K.’s new novels feature crime-solving Goth-girl mortuary attendant Cassie Raven. Cassie has already appeared in Cut and Paste, a crime short for BBC Radio 4, who are interested in commissioning further stories featuring the character.

In her other life as a TV producer and writer, A.K. makes documentaries and drama-docs on subjects as diverse as the Mutiny on the Bounty, the sex lives of Neanderthals, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Blog Tours book reviews

Watch Her Vanish by Ellery Kane

Published: October 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Medical Thriller, Romance Novel

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The beam from the lighthouse slices through the dawn sky as she runs down the rocky stairway to the beach. She tries to take it all inthe waves crashing against the cliffs, the whip of salt grass in the windbefore finally dragging her eyes down to the innocent girl’s blonde hair, strewn across the bottom step like seaweed…

Returning home to Fog Harbor, California, to be closer to her little sister, Olivia Rockwell is struggling to adjust to life in a town so small she can hardly breathe. That is, until the sound of a scream leads her to the body of a local teacher in the shallows nearby. All the evidence points to Olivia’s most threatening criminal psychology patient, Drake, who is safely locked up behind bars…

Convinced of Drake’s innocence—and desperate to believe in the system that’s keeping her murderer father in prison and away from her sister—Olivia gets to work on her own suspect list. All her life she’s run towards trouble, but this time she’s treading on the toes of Detective Will Decker, whose past mistakes mean this case is his last chance to make amends.

Then a second woman’s body is discovered, strangled while out on an evening jog. The strip of blue material used to choke her implicates Drake once again, forcing Will to admit he needs Olivia’s special talent for understanding the minds of killers. It’s clear more innocent women will die if they don’t get one step ahead of the murders, and Olivia knows she will need her estranged father’s help to get close to Drake.

But when Olivia’s profile leads them to believe Drake could be masterminding murders from within the prison walls, a message written on a scrap of paper found in the latest victim’s car leads them to a terrifying realization: Olivia’s little sister will be next…

MY REVIEW:

“Trauma can stunt growth. Could change a sapling to a weed, a magnolia bush to oleander.”

Young mother Bonnie McMillan vanishes without a trace after a late night trip to the movie theatre. The residents of Fog Harbor are worried and hold a vigil praying for her safe return. But the event is shattered by a piercing scream and the discovery of Bonnie’s body outside the church. The murder rocks the community. 

Detective Will Decker is in charge of catching her killer and immediately finds himself clashing with Dr Olivia Rockwell, a psychologist who worked with Bonnie at Crescent Bay Prison. 

When the body of another woman is found, they fear they have a serial killer on their hands. With few clues and their only suspect a shadowy figure seen leaving the theatre at the same time as Bonnie, they face a race against the clock to find their killer before they strike again. 

Watch Her Vanish is the first book in a new crime series, which almost made me not ask to be on this tour as I read so many of them already. But the synopsis had me intrigued so I took a chance. I’m so glad I did. While the story follows some predictable tropes, overall this was a gripping, twisty, clever and surprising thriller that I couldn’t put down. 

Our dual protagonists have an instant dislike for each other, which I expected to turn into the predictable, but much loved, enemies-to-lovers trope. While they do feel differently by the end, it didn’t take quite the format or end with the outcome I was expecting, which I enjoyed. They were a great duo, with their sharp, barbed banter and reluctance to admit they work well together making them compelling to read. 

Like all great protagonists, they come with mysterious, dark and backstories that still haunt them which are slowly revealed. There is also a great cast of supporting characters that I both loved and loathed. But none that stood out as much as Drake Devere, a serial killer who is an inmate at the prison and a talented writer whose book written from behind bars has gained quite the cult following. He’s a manipulative and sinister character that will turn on you at the flick of a switch. When it seems the killer is bringing his novel to life it’s hard to know if he is involved or being set up like he claims. I’ll be honest; I could never decide. 

This exciting, fast-paced thriller is one I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Olivia and Will in book two.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Forensic psychologist by day, novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing–professionally and creatively–for as long as she can remember. Just like many of her main characters, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. And she’s heard her fair share of real life thrillers.

Ellery lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, a picturesque setting that provides the backdrop for many of her novels. If you don’t find Ellery interviewing murderers behind prison walls or pecking away at her latest novel, she is probably at the gym landing a solid jab-cross to a punching bag; riding bicycles with her special someone; or enjoying a movie the old-fashioned way–at the theater with popcorn and Milk Duds.

Ellery was previously selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition, and she recently signed a three book deal with Bookouture for her new Rockwell and Decker mystery thriller series.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Blog Tours book reviews

Precious You by Helen Monks Takar

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Noir Fiction

Today I’m delighted to share my review for this outstanding debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

When Katherine first meets her new intern Lily, she’s captivated. Young, beautiful and confident, Lily reminds Katherine of everything she once was – and it’s not long before she develops a dark fascination with her new colleague.

But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

Breathlessly addictive and deeply unsettling, Precious You is a thriller like no other. Taut, terrifying and with shocking twists at every turn, it will keep you guessing until the very last page.

MY REVIEW:

“It all began when I met you, Lily. Beautiful, dangerous, precious you.” 

Obsession. Secrets. Revenge.

Precious You puts the psycho in psychological thriller. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the summer and I’ve been eagerly waiting to read it since hearing about it last year; it was worth the wait. Bold, unsettling, tense and fast-paced, this was like a rollercoaster ride I didn’t want to get off and had me holding on for dear life from the first page until the last. 

Katherine has worked for Lifestyle for twenty years and has managed to survive the recent takeover. On her way to meet the new owner of the magazine she meets Lily, a young, ambitious journalist who also happens to be a new intern at Lifestyle. The battlelines are instantly drawn in the duo’s toxic rivalry and what follows is a story of two women who will go to drastic lengths to not only keep their secrets, but get what they want. 

“I never fully realised how much danger a person is in when the individual they trust least is themselves. After you, Lily, I’ll never ignore my first instincts again.” 

What a book! This is an outstanding debut novel. The writing is sharp, suspenseful and dripping with malice. Like Katherine, I was trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out exactly why Lily wanted to tear her life apart but other than one wild theory that came out of leftfield, I had nothing. I won’t tell you what it was or if I was wrong, but I will say this was cleverly written, full of an array of twists and turns, and kept me on my toes right until the end. 

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I was hurt first. That’s where it started. I’ve been made this way and it isn’t all my fault anyway. I can’t help it if other people are weaker than me. But they don’t see it like that.” 

The story is told from both Katherine and Lily’s points of view, with Katherine telling the story in past tense to Lily and extracts from Lily’s diary offering her perspective. I liked this difference in the narrative as it gave a clear distinction between the two voices. Though I thought I’d relate to Katherine with us being the same age, Despite the fact I didn’t really like either woman, I loved reading both of them. Lily in particular was fascinating to me. She was the anti-heroine and enjoying her felt like enjoying Villanelle’s character in Killing Eve, her dark, chilling psychopathy leaping from the page. It was addictive and I needed to know more. What would she do next? Just how would she take everything from Katherine? And why? The author has created two memorable women who made for enthralling and entertaining reading. The one thing that was a little strange to me, was both characters’ obsession with their ages and generational differences. For me this distracted a little from the rest of the plot as I didn’t understand their hostility based solely on these things.

So if you love deliciously dark and menacing thrillers full of psycho characters that you love to hate, then this is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen Monks Takhar worked as a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor having graduated from Cambridge in 1997. She began her career writing for financial trade newspapers in 1999 before contributing to UK national newspapers including The Times and The Observer. Born in Southport, Merseyside in 1976, she lives in North London with her husband and two daughters. Precious You is her first novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Blog Tours

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2020

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Another month, another round of anticipated books.

July is a month filled with great books and July 9th is rivaling February 6th for it’s bumper publication day spot; I could have easily added another four or five books out that day.

So here are the books out in July that I’m most excited about:

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Spirited by Julie Cohen
Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and as soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book I was dying to read it. I’ve been lucky enough to get a spot on the blog tour for this so look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read!

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

The Whisper Man was one of my favourite books of last year so when I heard the author had a second book coming out it became a must-read. This one sounds just as chilling as his last book and I can’t wait to read it.

SYNOPSIS:
The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Orenda are one of my favourite publishers. I’ve loved everything I’ve read that they publish. When I heard about this earlier this year I instantly pre-ordered it and started the count down. Who would have thought it would become so timely by the time it was released. I’m on the blog tour for this one and my review will be published on June 18th.

SYNOPSIS:
Decades of spiraling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I am so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for this debut thriller. Look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

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How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Published: July 9th, 2020
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller,  Legal Thriller

Over the last few years Gillian McAllister has become a must-read author for me and her latest book sounds like it could be her best yet.

SYNOPSIS:
You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.

There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.

The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

They can never assume someone isn’t watching, waiting.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

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Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 7)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

The Detective Natalie Ward Series is one of my favourites and any new installment makes my most anticipated list that month. Keep an eye out for my review as part of the blog tour on July 11th.

SYNOPSIS:
One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again.

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All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

In May I took part in a readalong of The Ice Cream Girls with Tandem Collective. I loved the book so much that this one instantly went on my anticipated list for this month. You can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to take part in a readalong of the sequel. Keep an eye out for my posts on Instagram starting around June 25th.

SYNOPSIS:
Verity is telling lies…

And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.

Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable…

Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?

Everyone lies.
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?

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The Resident by David Jackson

Published: July 16th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This is another thriller I’m excited to be on the blog tour for. Look out for my review on publication day.

SYNOPSIS:
THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Published: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Room is one of my favourite books of all time and I’m a huge fan of historical and medical fiction, so I have high hopes for this novel.

SYNOPSIS:
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this classic story of hope and survival against all odds.

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Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton

Ever since I first heard about this debut thriller last year I’ve been desperate to read it. I’m hoping to be on the blog tour for this one so keep an eye out for my review next month.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

When Katherine first meets her new intern Lily, she’s captivated. Young, beautiful and confident, Lily reminds Katherine of everything she once was – and it’s not long before she develops a dark fascination with her new colleague.

But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

Breathlessly addictive and deeply unsettling, Precious You is a thriller like no other. Taut, terrifying and with shocking twists at every turn, it will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Published: July 28th, 2020
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew I had to read it. As with The Waiting Rooms and The Pull of the Stars it also feels like a particularly timely read right now.

SYNOPSIS:
Ellen Marie Wiseman, acclaimed author of What She Left Behind and The Life She Was Given, weaves the stories of two very different women into a page-turning novel as suspenseful as it is poignant, set amid one of history’s deadliest pandemics.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened–even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.

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The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender
Published July 30th, 2020
Publisher: Hutchinson
Genre: Literary Fiction

I’ll admit it was the cover that initially drew me to this book, but it was the synopsis that earned it’s place on this list. This one sounds like a powerful novel that will linger long after reading.

SYNOPSIS:
On the night her mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter. Next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, there is a lamp that catches her eye, its shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie sees a dead butterfly floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.

Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents – her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact: she is sure these things were real. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories have over her, and with what they say about her place in the world.

Told in lush, lilting prose, The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and of a broken love between mother and child.

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Blog Tours book reviews

I Know Your Secret by Ruth Heald

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Published: June 10th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Fiction, Noir Fiction

Trigger Warnings: Mental Health, Self Harm

Happy Publication Day to this gripping thriller. Thank you Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

You’re not who you say you are. Neither is she.

She thinks she knows me.

She believes my marriage is falling apart at the seams, that my husband can barely look me in the eyes. She thinks I’m desperate for a baby, that my longing for a family keeps me up at night. As much as I hate to admit it, all of this is true.

She thinks I listen to her advice, that I care about her opinion. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Because she has no idea who I am. She has no clue that I know everything.

I know her secret. I know that she did the unforgivable. I know how many lives she ruined.

I know exactly what she did. And I’m here for her.

An utterly gripping, addictive and shocking read about the dark secrets we’re ashamed to admit, and the lengths people go to for revenge. Fans of K.L. Slater, My Lovely Wife and The Wife Between Us will be racing through the pages, gasping at the twists, and reeling from the explosive ending of this unmissable page-turner.

MY REVIEW:

Nothing is what it seems at first in this exciting and gripping thriller. Danielle tells therapist Beth that she needs help saving her marriage. While it may be true that she and husband Peter have problems, the real reason for Danielle being there lies beneath years of secrets. Danielle knows what she did and won’t stop until Beth has paid the price.

Wow! What a ride! An undercurrent of danger and foreshadowing runs through this multi-layered and fast-paced thriller. The story opens with an unknown arsonist starting a fire and fleeing the scene leaving us to try and decipher the clues to figure out who they were, if they got away with it, and who was the person they heard screaming as they left. As truths are slowly unveiled, I found that every time I thought I had things figured out the author would pull the rug from under me and take things in an entirely new direction.

Danielle and Beth are unreliable narrators, which I liked as it made them and the story harder to figure out. Beth is a newly single mum to four-year-old Charlie and is trying to come to terms with the end of her marriage when we meet her and I instantly related to her due to similarities in our stories. Danielle was harder to like. Even in situations where I had empathy for her I didn’t trust her and felt she was calculating and manipulating things, though I couldn’t be sure just how much. One big thing that Beth and Danielle have in common is their struggles with their mental health. The author examines how mental health can be affected when we go through something life-changing and traumatic. It felt like a timely subject to be reading about during PTSD Awareness Month and I liked that the author showed two very different, but real, ways of coping as we see how one character sought help while the other uses unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with their pain.

I Know Your Secret is a cleverly written, twisty and riveting thriller that had me on the edge of my seat. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a well-written and exciting psychological thriller.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Heald is a psychological thriller writer from a suburban Buckinghamshire town. She studied Economics at Oxford and then worked in an eclectic mix of sectors from nuclear decommissioning to management consulting.

Seeking a more creative environment, she found a role at the BBC and worked there for nine years before leaving to write full time. Ruth is fascinated by psychology and finding out what drives people to violence, destruction and revenge. She’s married with one daughter and her novels explore our greatest fears in otherwise ordinary, domestic lives.

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Blog Tours book reviews

Her Last Mistake (Detective Gina Harte Book 6) by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 11th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Dressed in a sage green bridesmaid dress, and smiling for pictures, Holly is the happiest she’s ever been. Hours later, Holly is dead.

People love to hate Holly Long. Smart, beautiful and a woman who men find it hard to say no to, she’s the town’s most gossiped about resident.

Now Holly’s body lies in her hotel room, strangled at her best friend’s wedding party. And the gossip has stopped, because nobody wants to look like they did it.

When police search Holly’s immaculate apartment, amongst her stylish furnishings and expensive jewellery, they discover a different side to Holly. Orderly and precise, she wasn’t the chaotic party girl everyone thought her to be. In fact, Holly was a planner, and her next plan was to come out and tell her biggest secret – something she had been hiding for months, something that had the potential to ruin the lives of more than one wedding guest.

There are plenty of people who might have wanted to kill Holly, but only one who has finally made good on their promise.

An unputdownable crime thriller with an ending you will never see coming, this is the latest gripping novel from bestselling author Carla Kovach. If you like Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, you’ll love Her Last Mistake.

MY REVIEW:

“The beast has escaped and it was never going back in its cave now, he was more than just a player – he had an urge.” 

Secrets, lies, betrayal, and a killer seduced by darkness; a perfect storm that leads to brutal murder in this compelling thriller. 

When Holly Long is found brutally murdered at her best friend’s wedding reception Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in to find her killer. Her family and friends seem bewildered that anyone could hurt her, but Holly was harbouring a secret that threatened to ruin the lives of more than one of the wedding guests. The question is, which one silenced her before she could tell?

I’m a big fan of a book series, especially in crime fiction. One of the things I love about them is that when you pick it up you know what you’re getting. Whenever I pick up a book in this series I know I’m getting a gripping, well-written, readable thriller with some violent murders thrown in for good measure. Her Last Mistake certainly lived up to those expectations and it was great to be back with Gina and her team. 

In this installment Gina is struggling with the fact that Briggs knows the dark secret she’s kept for two decades and the fear that she will lose herself if she opens up even more and relinquishes the control she’s kept all this time. And for Gina, losing herself means losing the ability to do her job and punish those who hurt others. It was good to see her wrestle with her vulnerable side during this book as she wrestled with relying on and confiding in someone else after so many years of only having herself for those things. I’m really rooting for her and Briggs though and would love to see Gina get her happy ever after. 

Carla Kovach has a talent for writing twisty crime fiction full of relatable characters and villains that send a shiver down your spine. I can honestly say that the mysterious killer in this book made my skin crawl more than any other that she’s written. His penchant for sadistic sexual thrills and murder mixed with the ability to charm those around him made him someone incredibly dangerous and hard to find. The chapters from his point of view were so well written that at times I felt sick and was covered in goosebumps from how much he creeped me out. 

Her Last Mistake is a dark, twisty and disturbing thriller that is hard to predict.  I flew through it in just a day,  hooked by the tension-filled plot and the need to know the killer’s identity and was on tenterhooks right until the pivotal moment when all was finally revealed. I would recommend this book and the previous books in the series to anyone who enjoys a well-written thriller.

Carla Kovach

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach was born in Birmingham, UK and now resides in Redditch, Worcestershire. Author of supernatural drama ‘Flame,’ psychological thriller ‘To Let,’ crime thriller ‘Whispers Beneath the Pines,’ and holiday comedy, ‘Meet Me at Marmaris Castle.’ Carla also writes stage and screenplays, some of which have been produced in the Worcestershire area. Her feature film ‘Penny for the Guy’ is being made and is set for release in 2019.

Her latest book, Her Last Mistake is the sixth book in the DI Gina Harte crime series.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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