Book Review: See How They Run, by Tom Bale

Publisher:  Bookouture   |   E Book Publication date: 6th May 2016

See How They Run My Review

See How They Run - Tom BaleThe frenetic lifestyle of a young couple with a new baby already leaves this young family on the cusp of reality, until one innocent evening sees Harry, Alice and Evie French being catapulted into the stuff of nightmares.

The baby is sleeping soundly for once. So is the exhausted wife. But there’s this nagging doubt that the tired animator’s mind can’t place. Before he can question whether he should haul is body out of bed and bother to investigate, he finds himself blinking at a nonchalant man in a mask, who is confidently filling the frame of his bedroom door.

Unsure if his sleep-deprived mind is playing tricks, it dawns on Harry that everyone he loves is in this room and he is powerless to protect them.

The intruder invites his colleagues into the room and announces he wants something other than the TV and the contents of his wife’s handbag, so where is it, what have they done with it, and why aren’t they co-operating given the severity of the situation? The family are rubbing their eyes thinking ‘what they hell are you on about?’ as they can’t remember what they had for breakfast.

After the couple receive horrific threats to their person, including their eight week old baby (who should get a part in the next Die Hard movie, no trouble), despite being unable to meet “the mask’s” demands, or tell them the whereabouts of a mysterious man called Renshaw, they are subjected to a sickening ordeal, and still their attackers are insistent. But it’s Catch 22 – the little trio of innocents haven’t got the foggiest idea.

Being gripped by fear they try not to say anything to antagonise the situation, which is keeping them alive – for now. They are instructed not to contact the police, to keep everything looking ‘normal’ and they will be visit them again.

As there’s no manual to tell you what to do when you find blokes without a soul terrorising your family in the middle of the night, the animator with deadlines coming out of his ears goes to work and keeps up appearances. What follows are a series of catastrophes of gigantic proportion. Back at home his wife isn’t fairing much better. Clandestine meetings, separation of their family unit, and a chase involving a mother armed only with a papoose creates a tension that could ordinarily rip anyone apart under similar circumstances.

Unwittingly, their naivety is their advantage – they walk into situations without fully appreciating the consequences, which results in them pretty much winging it when their backs are against the wall. There’s no over the top heroics, just a normal people bumbling from one disastrous encounter to the next, and it’s not even something they have the solution or the skills to resolve.

Often without a phone, the slightest clue, or even each other, See How They Run isn’t simply a game of cat and mouse, it’s a ravenous pride of lions encircling a trembling family of gazelles. It’s epically suspenseful and has an unpredictable, twisted complexity so you never know who to trust throughout.

Rating: 5/5

(My thanks to Bookouture and Keshini Naidoo for providing an advanced digital copy of this book for review.)

See How They Run Book Summary

In the dead of night, new parents Alice and Harry French are plunged into their worst nightmare when they wake to find masked men in their bedroom. Men ruthless enough to threaten their baby daughter, Evie.

This is no burglary gone wrong.
The intruders know who they’re looking for – a man called Edward Renshaw.
And they are prepared to kill to get to him.

When the men leave empty handed, little do Alice and Harry realise that their nightmare is just beginning. Is it a case of mistaken identity? Who is Renshaw? And what is he hiding?

One thing is clear – they already know too much.

As Alice and Harry are separated in the run for their lives, there is no time for breathe in their fight to be reunited. And with their attackers closing in, there is only a choice:

STAY ALIVE. OR DON’T.

Terrifying, unputdownable and full of twists and turns, this stunning thriller will have you on the edge of your seat right to the very last page.

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See How They Run Author Profile

Tom Bale has had a variety of jobs including retail assistant, claims negotiator and project manager, but none was as exhausting as the several years he spent as a househusband with two pre-school children. Tom has been writing since the age of seven, and completed his first novel at fifteen. After twenty years and hundreds of rejection slips, his first novel SINS OF THE FATHER was published under his real name, David Harrison. With his next book, SKIN AND BONES, he acquired an agent, a pseudonym and a book deal that enabled him to write full time. He lives in Brighton with his family. Visit his website at http://www.tombale.net, follow him on Facebook, or on Twitter: @t0mbale (zero instead of “o”).

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BLOG TOUR BOOK REVIEW: Wicked Game (Robert Finlay), by Matt Johnson #WickedGame

Publisher:  Orenda Books

Publication date:  24th December 2015 (EBook) & 31st March 2016 (Paperback)

Wicked Game My Review

Wicked Game by Matt Johnson

The sheer dogged determination of Robert Finlay provides one hell of an exhilarating ride, as he dodges bullets, explosives, and the shadows of his past, in this Wicked Game of cat and mouse.

Expect nothing less than a thrilling journey, where secrets and revenge are delivered with guts and precision and the stakes are as high as they get – Finlay gives new meaning to the SAS motto of “Who dares, wins“.

He’s coordinated the siege on the Iranian Embassy back in 2001, he’s single-handedly stopped IRA terrorists in their tracks on-masse, but at 48 years old he was convinced he’d moved on from his old life in the SAS.  Yet, no matter how his career and his life progress he keeps constant vigil over his family as he’s afraid of losing them. When you’ve experienced exactly what people are capable of, you’re aware of dangers all around.  Even more so now, as several tragic incidents have occurred involving his old buddies, setting alarms bells off (plus detonations and sporadic gunfire).

It feels like too much of a co-incidence, almost like their names are being checked of a list. It’s thought to be impossible, as no one should know who or where they are – not even his colleagues at Stoke Newington Police Station where Finlay has joined as an Inspector. It seems implausible to even consider how anyone could be privy to such sensitive information, since he was assured his and others’ personnel records and their associated high profile deeds were sealed and would never see the light of day. Their identities should remain forever anonymous to protect them, and those they love.

After Finlay evades a couple of tragic near misses, where the initial feeling is that random police officers are being target, it’s thought the IRA are responsible. Between clandestine off-the-record meetings with MI5 and evading questions thrown at him from his own superiors, he quickly realises he doesn’t know who to trust anymore, as the evidence is pointing to someone far more dangerous than first thought. He can’t even confide in his wife as she is oblivious to his past. All he can do is fear for her safety and that of his daughter – and he’ll do anything to protect them.

Robert Finlay, ex-SAS officer, protector of Royalty, Detective to Scotland Yard, more importantly a husband and father, places all his faith in his semi-rusty skills. He’s been out of the game for a little while and he’s not as young as he used to be. He misjudges situations, he’s allowing his emotions to get the better of him, all the things you shouldn’t be when dealing with an invisible threat. But he must put an end to the terror, even if it’s the end of him. This is very, very personal, and those responsible had better watch out. Finlay won’t rest until he stops them – whoever they are.

The threads are pulled in one by one to weave a highly dangerous web and catch a very specific target. I may not have got to grips with the various military acronyms but it truly is a cracking read from start to finish, and puts into perspective what some people have to sacrifice in order to keep others safe.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for providing a digital copy of this book for review – plus a surprise paperback! – and thanks also to Liz Barnsley for saving a stop on the Orenda tour bus for me once again. Much appreciated, both.)

Wicked Game Book Summary

2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. Finlay’s deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse a wicked game in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy.

Wicked Game is a taut, action packed, emotive thriller about a man who might be your neighbour, a man who is forced to confront his past in order to face a threat that may wipe out his future, a man who is willing to do anything to protect the people he loves. But is it too late?

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Wicked Game Author Links

(Courtesy of Publisher)

Matt JohnsonMatt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll.

In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He has used his detailed knowledge and memory to create a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing. Matt Johnson is living proof that PTSD is a condition that can be controlled and overcome with the right help and support. He has been described by many fans as an inspiration to fellow sufferers. Matt is currently working on a sequel ‘Deadly Game’ scheduled for publication Summer 2015.

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All the best,

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Book Review: The Girl in the Ice (Detective Erika Foster Book 1), by Robert Bryndza

Publisher:   Bookouture   |    Publication date:  12th February 2016

The Girl in the Ice My Review.jpg

The Girl in the Ice - Kindle CoverRiveting. Twisty. Superb. The Girl in the Ice is everything great crime fiction SHOULD be – an intense read that packs a punch.

The concept of the plot seems pretty straight forward, but the effect is dazzling. The inclusion of simple detail conjures such atmosphere. From the victim’s haunting expression preserved by the ice, to the everyday lives of a peculiar line-up of suspects and their eccentricities, both witnesses and investigators come alive until they’re up close and personal and you are completely engrossed.

Erika Foster is one such character, and her energy bursts from the page. She’s a DCI who was widowed following a police raid that ended in unimaginable tragedy. She might have lost her husband but certainly not her tenacity. Despite grief still touching a raw nerve, she has returned to work determined to catch the killer of a young woman who died much too soon. Erika will push herself beyond any reasonable person’s limit, which includes risking what little she has left by defying her tip-toeing superiors as she digs out the truth, however unsavoury it may be.

Often reckless, technically homeless, and currently friendless, Erika battles with a narky DCI who had established the lead on the case before she happened along. Sparks is uncooperative and offensive, and has set his sights on waltzing into this case’s limelight again. Next to sign up for the ‘Erika hate campaign’ is the influential, dysfunctional family at the centre of the investigation, who ironically frown upon her Slovakian origins and threaten to widen an inappropriate class divide and hamper the hunt for the killer.

Her unorthodox methods and abrasiveness don’t appear to grate on the rest of the diverse team quite as much, as her investigative passion is what earns her their respect. When similarities of other unsolved deaths raise their head the question is: could they be dealing with a potential serial killer? As the murders of prostitutes bear no resemblance to Ice Girl’s life, the motive for her death grows more perplexing. Yet Erika’s superiors seem more concerned with avoiding bad publicity for those higher up the ladder; if she pursues this new line of enquiry her job prospects will go from bleak to non-existent.

Irrespective of the difficulties she may face Erika maintains her integrity. She doesn’t want praise. She wants to solve a murder. With nothing but a gut instinct to drive her onwards, she ignores warnings to take stock of her senses and subsequently fails to spot imminent danger until it’s too late.

The perfectly unhinged culprit avoided detection by my personal reader radar. Just when I thought there wasn’t room  for yet more shocks there it was, another crack of the whip. The only thing missing from the spectacular finale was a fanfare – it played out like a scene from the big screen, and IT WAS BRILLIANT! 

MORE PLEASE, AND SOON!!!!

Rating: 5/5

(My thanks to the lovely folks at Bookouture for providing a digital copy for review, as always. As soon as I saw the cover I pre-ordered it – I had a feeling it would be a little cracker!)

The Girl in the Ice Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

A page-turning thriller packed with suspense. If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter, discover Rob Bryndza’s new series today – at a special launch price.

Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster.

She’s fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes.

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Rob Bryndza Author

Originally from the UK, Rob lives in Slovakia with his Slovak husband and their two crazy dogs. He originally trained as an actor, but was bitten by the writing bug in his mid-twenties and hasn’t looked back.

His debut novel, The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard became an Amazon bestseller, and has grown to a best selling series of five books.

In addition to his recent number one romantic comedy Miss Wrong and Mr Right, Rob is excited to embrace the darker side of life, and has just signed a three-book deal with Bookouture to write a crime thriller series. The first book, The Girl In The Ice will be released in Spring 2016.

You can find out more about Rob at http://www.robertbryndza.com

THE DETECTIVE ERIKA FOSTER SERIES SO FAR…

Robert Bryndza's Books

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Book Review: After You Die, by Eva Dolan #AfterYouDie

Publisher: Harvill Secker  |  Publication date: 14th January 2016

After You Die - My Review

After You Die by Eva Dolan

Not having had the pleasure of reading one of Eva Dolan’s books before, I was a little concerned that I’d be able to jump into a series at book three and actually get away with it, as it were. Well, I’m pleased to say the stealthy plot stole most of my day until I’d finished. Heck, I’m not complaining. It was a whirlwind of read, which didn’t dodge sensitive subject matters, and its suspense was a killer.

Although there are references to a previous case, I didn’t feel the author left me drifting without a paddle, and for that I’m grateful. Yes, my curiosity was certainly piqued as to past events, but there’s nothing at all to interfere with this imposing storyline, as casual references to the characters’ history only succeeded in layering their lives in the now.

Our investigating duo are detectives Zigic and Ferreira. There’s a lasting impression throughout that a nasty incident in book two has resulted in Ferreira being a little withdrawn from her post but still determined, as she strives to rehabilitate herself by pushing herself to the limit and beyond. She’s a complex one, not giving too much of herself away, but not overly moody either. Zigic seems like decent, down-to-earth chap. His wife is expecting their third child and the everyday domesticity of decorating the nursery is a far cry from the confused scene of crime he is called to attend…

A gas explosion in a property leads the team to the outskirts of the village and to a neighbouring house where two bodies lie undiscovered. Disturbing circumstances already you may think, but the crime scene presents more difficulties than originally suspected. Ferreira has been there before, you see, as the family had appeared on her radar as a target of a hate crime, her team’s investigative speciality.

When Dawn Prentice is found savagely murdered in the supposed safety of her own home, the immediate reaction is one of absolute horror. But the worst is to come as Holly, her disabled daughter who paralysed during a climbing accident, is discovered upstairs having apparently been neglected for a period of days. It begs the question as to how much her daughter had suffered and why no one popped in to check in on them, not even Holly’s own father.

The case leaves Ferreira haunted by her last attempt to contact the family, remembering how she hit a brick wall with the investigation before pushing it to once side to pursue other pressing cases. Current leads guide the team into the darker territory of abuse from an anonymous source, the deceased’s relationship with old friends, and new acquaintances. AND it doesn’t stop there. Alarm bells are ringing for a mysterious and troubled young foster boy who hasn’t been seen since the tragedy, while a hostile woman known only as Rachel is threatening his every move. Her involvement provides an edgy tangent for the team to pursue. She’s the perfectly elusive character, who has a few tricks up her sleeve to hinder Zigic’s day, appearing to force the case down a needlessly frustrating alley.

After You Die has an essence of unpredictability. The brilliance of this unsettling story is, just when you think you have it sussed a whisper of a new lead will put doubt in your mind as nothing is quite as it seems. And our crime duo are champions at being human, making the odd mistake and facing the fallout as and when it happens. I like that, and have no hesitation in giving After You Die a raving 5/5.

Rating: 5/5

(HUGE thanks to Eva Dolan and the publishers for arranging a proof copy of her book for review purposes.)

After You Die - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead – stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

Whilst Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she’s up to the frontline, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects. Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter, and bring their killer to justice?

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After You Die - Author Bio

(Courtesy of Publisher’s Press Release)

Eva Dolan is an Essex-based copywriter and intermittently successful poke player. Shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for unpublished writers when she was just a teenager, her debut novel Long Way Home, the start of a major new crime series starring two detectives from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, was published in 2014 to widespread critical acclaim.

THE ‘ZIGIC AND FERREIRA’ SERIES:

Eva Dolans Novels

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Book Review: The Theseus Paradox, by David Videcette

Publication date: 15th November 2015  |  This edition: Kindle (Review Copy)

Theseus MY REVIEW

THE THESEUS PARADOX KINDLE COVERA thought-provoking book for sure, more accurately one that plays with your mind, The Theseus Paradox demonstrates a ‘fictional’ version of events leading up to the 7/7 bombings and the aftermath that ensued during the official investigation into the who and why.

Sometimes the laws that are used to protect citizens also bind the hands of our authorities. Well, that’s what Jake’s are for, and our lead character is a complex soul. Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan of the Anti-Terrorist Branch can be described many things: a family man, a ladies man and an all-out action man when required, all rolled into one determined package.

Ultimately, he never shirks his duty to discover the truth, much to his own detriment. In fact, he goes above and beyond what is required. And yet, the responsibility of endeavouring to save hundreds of lives is a heavy burden to carry and he’s only human after all. Often he finds the best way to anaesthetise his thought process by relieving the closest bar of their entire stock of alcoholic beverages, or spending time in the company of various ladies. Usually both.

Despite the company he regularly keeps Jake still seems very much alone. There are few people he can trust in this line of work, and circumstances beyond the official investigation of that fateful date tie the truth in knots. The frustration of getting no where fast while your life is falling apart can lead to bad decisions, both personal and professional. With everything at stake to get results he takes chances, some of which may come back to haunt him when he least expects it.

And that’s what so good about this predominantly action-lead storyline. Not only do we have a character that has guts and foresight to act as a barrier between the unscrupulous minds of lethal criminals and the unsuspecting public, but one who is also consumed by his experiences and despite his daily heroics is unable to save himself. You may judge him by his antics at first, I know I did, but you’ll soon appreciate his multiple predicaments and the difficulties they present.

More importantly, The Theseus Paradox is a story that turns everything on it’s head. Open your mind to an intricate plot that will challenge any concept you think you had. It doesn’t bend the rules, it wrings them out. It’s devious enough to be genuinely unsettling, as this alternate vision appears almost too real at intervals. Given the author’s background as a former Scotland Yard Investigator of the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005, it does make you think – exactly how fine is that line between fact and fiction?

Okay. To summarise:  Seriously people, you need to read this book. It’s pretty darned good.

Rating: 5/5

(My sincere thanks to the author for providing a digital copy of his book for review.)

Theseus BOOK SUMMARY

We accepted it was terrorism. But what if we were wrong? What if London’s July bombings were the greatest criminal deception of our time? 7 July 2005: in the midst of Operation Theseus, the largest terrorist investigation that the UK has ever known, Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan begins to ask difficult questions that lead to the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend and his sudden suspension from the Metropolitan Police. Who masterminded London’s summer of terror? Why can’t Flannagan make headway in the sprawling investigation? Are the bombings the perfect ploy to mask a different plot entirely? Is Jake’s absent girlfriend really who she claims to be?

While hunting for the answers to the most complex terrorist case in British history, one man will uncover the greatest criminal deception of our time. Terror, extremism and fear of the unknown, Sometimes the answer is much closer to home.

‘A chillingly credible tale based on real circumstances.’

‘A five-star, explosive finale.’

‘Leaves the reader hungry to research this version of events!’

‘A believable conspiracy theory with an incredible ring of truth.’

‘This fictional thriller holds a lot of water. Do not miss!’

‘A powerhouse of a fact-fiction mash-up.’ ‘

A stunning ‘big reveal’ at the end.’

‘Brilliant stuff that smacks you in the face!’

The author: David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator who has worked on a wealth of infamous cases, including the 7 July London bombings in 2005. He has twenty years of police and investigative experience as a British detective, specialising in counter-terrorist operations and organised crime. He currently consults on security operations for high-net-worth individuals and is an expert media commentator on crime, terrorism, extremism and the London 7/7 attacks. ‘I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story…’

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Theseus AUTHOR LINKSDavid VidecetteDavid Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator within the Metropolitan Police who has worked on a wealth of infamous cases. With twenty years of police experience, including counter terrorist operations and organised crime, David was a detective in the Anti-Terrorist Branch during the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005.

David has entered and searched thousands of properties, placed bugs on cars, chased suspects up train tracks and vehicles down motorways. Today he uses that experience in his writing, as the author of a series of detective novels starring DI Jake Flannagan. The Theseus Paradox is the first novel in the series.

David lives in London. He currently consults on security operations for high-net-worth individuals. He is a key media commentator on crime and terrorism. You can find out more about him by visiting his website at http://www.DavidVidecette.com

Connect with the author:

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Book Review: Follow Me (Social Media Murders 1), by Angela Clarke #AreYouNext?

Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins) | Publication date: Kindle 3rd December 2015, Paperback 31st December 2015 | Edition reviewed: Kindle (NetGalley)

Follow Me My Review

Follow Me is a ballsy, social-media-murder-mystery that strikes a loud fictional chord with the ‘online’ world we live in today. This, and the frenzied attempts to catch a serial killer, creates a punchy and enthralling read.

In a brave journalistic move, the abrasive Freddie soon discovers how a deranged oddball is earning their name as the #Hashtag Murderer. After harnessing the power of social media to its full anonymous advantage, an account, known only as @ Apollyon, tweets a series of short riddles to leave a bread crumb trail to their intended victim.  As very few clues are revealed the police have nothing to go on and no way to trace the elusive tweeter.

It’s always nice to have a mention or a like, but personally I’d give this account a wide berth! Once you’re in Apollyon’s sights your popularity will end abruptly – if you’re unfortunate to be followed back, you can be pretty sure you won’t have a pulse for much longer. And yet, each sporadic tweet sees the number of followers swell.

During the police investigation, Freddie finds herself acting as social media consultant for the case. She also battles demons from her past as she is standing shoulder to shoulder with her old school friend Nasreen, now a police Sergeant. Their friendship was ended eight years ago by hints of a secret they share throughout the book. This past emotional baggage is prodded at intervals but isn’t revealed until much later, which lends an tainted edge to their strained relationship.

Sergeant ‘Naz’ Cudmore is ever the professional, wearing perfect suits and annoyingly sucking up to her superiors to further her career, while reciting the police handbook. Freddie Venton rescues two day old clothes off the floor and writes editorial for free, frustratingly waiting for recognition as a credible journalist – at other times she fills her time being a loose cannon waiting to explode at inopportune moments, much to the dismay of the DCI in charge. Given her boisterous and erratic nature, you’d think Freddie would be the last person trusted to assist with the authorities. The question is, will her off-the-wall nature help or hinder the unsuspecting public before we discover who’s next?!

The concept of a #Hashtag Murderer is unnerving, as this invisible threat has the entire population at their mercy. But this book could easily be a manual for of how not to conduct a police investigation. The amateurish decisions of the higher ranking officers at times made me want to throttle them!

The story has an wicked energy to it, there’s an odd, lively buzz as you read. The chapters have social media acronyms as titles too – like a fictional timeline, keeping the online theme at the front of your mind. Nice touch that.

So, hidden agendas and sinister activity aplenty then – what’s not to like?! Oops, scrub that. Best not ‘like’, just in case…

Are You Next ANIMATED GIF

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to the publisher, Avon Books UK, for providing a digital copy of this book via NetGalley for review purposes.)

Follow Me Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM …

BUY THE BOOK

(EBOOK PUBLISHED 3rd DECEMBER 2015)

Follow Me Author Links

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Angela Clarke is an author, columnist and playwright. Her debut crime novel Follow Me (Avon) is out December 2015. Follow Me is the first in the Social Media Murders Series.

Her memoir Confessions of a Fashionista (Ebury) is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller. Her debut play The Legacy received rave reviews after it’s first run at The Hope Theatre in June 2015. Angela’s journalist contributions include: The Guardian, The Independent Magazine, The Daily Mail, and Cosmopolitan. Now magazine described her as a ‘glitzy outsider’. Angela read English and European Literature at Essex University, and Advances in Scriptwriting at RADA. In 2015 Angela was awarded the Young Stationers’ Prize for achievement and promise in writing and publishing.

She is almost always late or lost, or both.

Find out more at: http://angelaclarke.co.uk

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Book review: Sycamore Gap: A DCI Ryan Mystery (Book 2), by L J Ross

Publication date:  9th September 2015   |   Edition: Kindle (Review Copy)

Sycamore Gap REVIEW

Sycamore Gap by L J Ross CoverHaving read Book One and experiencing the excellent plot on offer I was eager to read this next instalment.

In Holy Island, some disturbing handiwork has already targeted our DCI Ryan’s team and his Girlfriend, Anna. Well, it appears that something sinister is brewing again.

When we were first introduced to DCI Ryan we saw him battle an invisible crime surge, which placed the residents at risk with their ritualistic tendencies. We rejoin him as the next wave hits in Sycamore Gap, a stretch of the ancient Hadrian’s Wall.

Given its protected status no one should disturb its structure for any purpose, and yet a body is discovered hidden amongst the stones by a quiet loner who cares for his mother when he was out walking one day. Are these ancient remains, or something more recent…

Clues lead our DCI and his team to identify the victim and yet the circumstances surrounding her death mimic that of his sister’s a year ago. It’s not possible, as the disturbed killer is behind bars already. To gain any insight into taking the case further, our DCI has to face his past and re-interview the sadistic murderer of his sibling – the killer likes playing little mind games and does his best to poke a stick at our good guy.

From the point of the reader you have an inkling of who may be involved quite early on. Although they remain anonymous to our unsuspecting lead characters, their intentions are clear throughout. While the team tries to make sense of the case they each look over their shoulders, until a nerve-racking game is played out and a wicked agenda is revealed.

You may recall my review of Book One was a little critical about the romantic antics of the two main leads. The verdict on this in Book Two? I found Sycamore Gap to be infinitely better! It concentrates on the crime solving and building solid relationships; any sentimentality has been by-passed and only included where strictly necessary, and it’s not overdone. There are some excellent dialogue exchanges to relay the characters’ emotions and fears – when trained police officers get jumpy you know you’re in trouble!

With nothing to hinder the subtle hints and suspicions, it allows the various tangled threads to be artfully unravelled and create a cracking read.  Brilliantly done. 

Rating: 4.5/5

(I’d like to thank the author once again for providing a digital copy of this book for review.)

Sycamore Gap BOOK SUMMARY

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

THE EXPLOSIVE SEQUEL TO THE UK #1 BESTSELLER HOLY ISLAND

The past never stays buried for long…

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan’s job to piece together her past.

Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular scenery of Hadrian’s Wall country in Northumberland.

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Sycamore Gap AUTHOR LINKS

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Louise RossBorn in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, LJ Ross moved to London where she graduated from King’s College London with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Law. After working in the City as a regulatory lawyer for a number of years, she realised it was high time for a change. The catalyst was the birth of her son, which forced her to take a break from the legal world and find time for some of the detective stories which had been percolating for a while and finally demanded to be written.

She lives with her husband and young son in the south of England, but will always be a northern girl at heart.

Her first book, “Holy Island”, has consistently been listed as an Amazon bestseller since its release in January 2015 and hit the Amazon UK Kindle #1 position in May 2015. Its sequel, “Sycamore Gap” was released on 11th September 2015. She is currently working on the third book in the DCI Ryan series, which should be available in early 2016.

If you would like to connect with LJ Ross, she would be very happy to hear from you:

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE

Books by L J Ross

 

Book Review: Lost Girls (Detective Kim Stone Book 3), by Angela Marsons

Publisher:  Bookouture   |   Publication date:  6th November 2015   |   Edition:  Kindle (Review Copy)

Lost Girl Review

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons Kindle Cover

Lost Girls is the third book in a series of consistently traumatic crime thrillers from Angela Marsons, and boy does she know exactly how to create tension. It starts with a ripple, then rises like high tide until engulfs you entirely. When DI Kim Stone was born, crime fiction just got grittier.

With a kidnapping plot escalating, Stone is confronting an invisible adversary and family secrets, that not even an experienced liaison officer can iron out.

One of the worst possible scenarios has occurred – two children are missing. Hideous enough by itself you’d think, that is until a solitary text is received indicating the severity of the situation. While everyone is scratching around for clues, Stone is making promises she may not be able to keep and her already low patience threshold is declining rapidly.

The anonymous texter sends shivers through the team with their carefully selected words. The only way to retrieve the girls is to barter for their lives – highest bidder, winner takes all. Well, their child anyway. The other will not return, leaving one family empty handed after suffering the same ordeal. The question on everyone’s lips is exactly how do you place monetary value on the life of your child? And why should someone else’s be worth any less?

Emotions run feverishly high. Guilt faces the parents at every turn – by not offering enough they risk losing the game, or too much and sealing the fate of another family’s flesh and blood. As a reader you feel every moment of anguish they suffer, while the texter stops at nothing to achieve their goal.

Given Kim Stone’s harsh approach in social situations, you’d think she wouldn’t be assigned to deal with the public in any capacity. But as she was invited to lead the investigation in this instance she’s been warned to keep her manners in check by her Super. Alas, her last ounce of patience is relentlessly poked with a stick when the intervention of so-called expert negotiators is called for and she is forced to bite her tongue. It’s not long before she forges ahead with her own unique approach to bring those responsible down – it’s not always pretty, but it’s very, very effective.

Drawing from her own tragic background, she has developed an aptitude for honing in on the Black Country’s most wanted. Like a dog with a bone, she won’t let go. Especially when there’s kids involved, or one of her team, then you definitely do not want her on your tail, as she’s willing to make the necessary sacrifices to protect them all.

Lost Girls offers yet another viciously cruel game and a supremely unnerving plot. You hear from the good guys, the bad guys and the victims themselves, until the layers of the crime scene paint a picture so vivid you will feel like you’re sitting right in the middle of it – which is perfect, as you won’t want to miss a thing.

ABSOLUTELY, WITHOUT A DOUBT,

H I G H L Y   R E C O M M E N D E D  ! ! !

~ Yes, that’s 5 out of 5 – AGAIN ~

It’s a good ‘un!

(A thousand thanks and more to Team Bookouture and Kim Nash for providing a digital copy of this book for review, and extra-special thanks to the talented Angela Marsons for writing it. Now, the last time I got my hands on a book in this series I offered my left kidney, but if I continue like this I will expire before I’ve read them all. Erm, would you consider an I.O.U. ? Please?)

Lost Girls Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price?

The latest utterly addictive thriller from the No.1 bestseller Angela Marsons.

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Lost Girls Author Links

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Angela Marsons is the author of Amazon #1 Bestseller SILENT SCREAM.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their bouncy Labrador and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (My Name Is and The Middle Child) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com in an 8 book deal. The second book in the Kim Stone series, EVIL GAMES, was released on 29th May 2015.

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BOOKS IN THE DI KIM STONE SERIES:


 

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Book Review: Chance, by Peter Dudgeon

Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2 edition  |  Publication Date: 4th July 2015 | Edition: Paperback (review copy)

Chance - My Review

Chance by Peter DudgeonI’m going to come right out and say it – Chance knocked me sideways. It’s one of those books I couldn’t stop myself wanting to read more of.

How utterly cliché, I hear you scoff.  Well, yes. Usually, I can put a book down and wait to return to it until next time, but this one had me reading until half past two in the morning, something I haven’t been compelled to do for quite some time!

Be prepared to run into a few disturbing scenes, all of which channel an all-consuming suspense as an unhinged, cold-blooded killer is casually selecting people to die. Rather, the victims select themselves when they happen across something random, you might say quite by ‘chance’.

The regular characters are introduced little by little in the early chapters with a brief snapshot of their day and are revisited throughout to build a picture of their lives layer upon layer. As we are invited further into their world the story exposes a few skeletons tucked away at the back of a rickety closet or two, and offers a suspect for us to focus on. The victims carefully appear between these chapters of normal life, so everything clicks into place nicely when they overlap one another.

Cassie Janus is undoubtedly the star of the show. She’s one tough kid and can be spotted a mile off, as she’s the one wearing trousers flapping at half-mast. In addition to being bullied at school she bravely suffers with Epilepsy. Her domestic arrangements are at best questionable and a life or death situation quickly draws the attention of social services. But Cassie has a secret that she privately tries to conceal, as her intuitive behaviour allows her to ‘see’ things that no nine year-old should ever witness.

Her seizures open the door to some very bad things. Something she can’t explain is happening and the thoughts won’t stop rattling about in her head. Cassie must find someone to confide in, so she can free herself of the information she can’t understand. The problem is, she has no one to tell.

The victim’s desperate situations are echoed within Cassie and the impact is immense. As the story progresses her relationship with those around her changes, as they react to the ‘knowledge’ she selectively imparts in unexpected ways.

Chance rips your heart out then takes it along for the ride of its life. Seriously, just read it – it’s so cleverly executed. And by the way, that cover is right on the money.

Rating: 5/5

(HUGE thanks to the author for providing a paperback copy of his book for review.)

Chance - Book Summary

“Pray she sees your pain before he ends it”.

A missing convict, a young woman assaulted and killed, an old man murdered in his home – all in different parts of London. With eight million inhabitants, bad things happen to good people all the time, but nine-year-old Cassie Janus knows there’s a connection, because she is the killer … in her nightmares at least.

Cassie has the rare ability to unearth the darkest emotions of others. She sees a past they would rather keep hidden and a future too horrific to comprehend.

Perhaps the killer can be stopped. If only she can make someone – her mother, her friend, her teacher – believe. Her words are dismissed, her sanity questioned. She knows they’ll trust her in the end … but by then, they’ll be facing death.

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Chance - Author Links

Peter Dudgeon

Peter Dudgeon started writing short stories at the age of fourteen, inspired by Stephen King’s early novels. At twenty-two he graduated in English Language and Literature and has since travelled the length and breadth of the UK (occasionally beyond) as a management consultant. He lives in North East Lincolnshire, with his wife, two daughters and a troublesome Labrador.

His debut novel ‘Ticket’ is available via Amazon Kindle

‘Chance’ is available on Kindle and in paperback in Amazon’s store.

The sequel to Chance, ‘Circle’ will be released in Autumn 2015.

TWITTER  |  WEBSITE

Book Review: Anything For Her, by Jack Jordan

Publication date:  11th June 2015  |  Edition:  Kindle copy (provided by the author for review)

Anything For Her - My review

Anything For Her is an immersing, revenge-fuelled read.

It’s a suspenseful story surrounding a dark secret and its effect on a seemingly perfect family: a passionate couple, two kids, nice house and rolling in money.

The daughter has shed her wayward traits due to something that happened over a year ago, which throughout most of the book is referred to as ‘that night’. Although details of this are not offered until much later it soon becomes apparent that it’s a secret only mother and daughter share, creating a unique bond between them.

What is abundantly clear is since ‘that night’ the rest of the family’s relationships have taken a nosedive; the daughter, once a party animal, has become a virtual recluse, the young son knows something’s wrong but is in the dark as much as the husband, who felt so excluded from the secret and his wife’s preoccupation with it that he’s been consoling himself with his sister-in-law of all people.

To add to their already unravelling life, the affair and the secret that affects them all, the father also faces charges or financial misdemeanors and he braces himself for being carted off to prison. They could lose everything they’ve worked for. You might believe this is enough for any family to contend with, but no, events are about to get much, much worse for them.

So, let the torment begin – little things occur that only the two secret keepers will recognise as a taunt directed toward them. It leaves them wondering who else knows what they did that night? Their trauma is hiked up a notch when the daughter goes AWOL. As the police start asking routine questions they face a brick wall when the mother shuts them out. This only reinforces their curiosity to discover what she is trying to hide.

The writer’s done a terrific job of creating tension and there’s a nice bit of character building, although the husband has the personality of an irritating fly you’d want to swat at regular intervals (same goes for the sister-in-law!). There’s no likeable hero in this story, as all the players appear to be acting in their own selfish interests.

It does get quite intimately graphic in places to a point where I wouldn’t say it contributed to the story any further than if the scenes had been deleted or toned down. Rather than read about ‘more flesh’, personally I would have liked to have seen the police officers in charge of the case ‘fleshed out’ more, as I felt their presence was a little lukewarm by comparison. That’s just my own observation and it certainly didn’t prevent me from being engrossed in the story.

In Anything For Her, as the tension creeps, mystery and misery are unavoidable – it’s not a question of if the secret will come out, more a question of when

Rating: 4/5

(I’d like to thank the author for providing a copy of his book for review. Much appreciated.)

Anything For Her - Book Summary

Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you.

Louise Leighton’s life has fallen apart, all because of one fateful night. Her husband is an adulterer, her sister is his mistress, and soon, Louise will lose everything she owns. But she never imagined she would lose her daughter.

Eighteen-year-old Brooke Leighton is missing. It’s up to Louise and the Metropolitan Police to find her. Has Brooke run away? Or has she been taken against her will? And can Louise aid the investigation without mentioning the night where all of her troubles began?

If she mentions that night, she will incriminate her daughter for heinous crimes. But if she doesn’t, she may never find Brooke; and if she has been abducted, the person who took her may come for Louise, too.

Sometimes the past comes back to kill you.

Anything For Her - Author Links

Jack Jordan Author

Jack Jordan lives in East Anglia, England. He is an introvert disguised as an extrovert, an intelligent person who can say very unintelligent things, and a self-confessed bibliomaniac with more books than sense.

‘Anything for Her’ is Jack Jordan’s debut novel.

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