Book Review: Last To Die, by Arlene Hunt

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 24th June 2016

Last to Die My Review

Last To Die by Arlene Hunt - Kindle CoverLast To Die had me reading by the seat of my pants. Take several deep breaths before you start this book because you’ll be holding the last one until you’ve finished.

From the initial introduction to ordinary school teacher’s day, to the horrendous interruption in her routine where intruders started to open fire indiscriminately, Jessie Conway draws strength from some miraculous place when all seemed lost. You’d think that this nightmarish episode would be enough plot line, but oh no, life has more hellish turns in store.

Despite being hailed a hero by the locals for her intervention on the day of the shooting, the personal fallout she suffers as a result is humongous. Jessie cannot shake the guilt, the flashbacks, or the bloodied yellow sundress of a colleague and cocoons herself indoors.

It doesn’t help that the local rag is determined to interview the most revered person in Rocksville, but Jessie refuses to play the game. So, what’s the next best thing to hearing the story from the source? A story about the source. A despicable newshound digs and digs until she uncovers what she wants about Saint Jessie’s past, which sets the town’s jungle drums beating and could well turn her in-laws against her.

With SO much turmoil you wouldn’t think there’s no room for any more – WRONG – the cruel hand of fate is relentless. Sandwiched between chapters of Jessie’s endeavours to salvage what’s left of her life after the vultures have picked it clean, is the Caleb Switch, your local sociopath and helpful helpline switchboard volunteer. He listens, he manipulates, and he evaluates the callers based on their strengths and weaknesses. The help line is more a gold mine to him, as he’s prospecting for elite targets hoping to find a hidden gem to pit his wits and skills against.

He’s practiced at the sport he invented and although everyone is fair game the greater the challenge they present, the more Caleb can put his warped abilities to the test.  After the boredom of his last hunt, a celebrity who seems immune to life-and-death situations is just what he needs.

After its shocking opening pages, the book sets the scene before the next wave hits (and the next), so you get to know their traits and how you’d expect them the react in grim situations. And it’s the little things in desperate situations that only a few authors get completely right. Even though these ordinary fictional people were placed under extraordinary pressures, their actions were entirely plausible. They didn’t develop super human abilities, or make me feel like I wanted to repeatedly strike them (except for Sherriff Earl Dubray), and that ‘self-defence bra incident’ was quite superb.

You know something, I’m utterly ashamed to say I have not come across this author before. And THAT is a complete tragedy, as this is an astonishing thriller of mammoth proportions and I cannot praise it highly enough!

Rating: 5/5

(Mahoosive  thanks to the publisher for allowing me to download a digital copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.)

Last to Die Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

When Jessie Conway survives a horrific mass high school shooting, in the aftermath she finds herself thrust into the media spotlight, drawing all kinds of attention. But some of it is the wrong kind.

Caleb Switch, a sadistic serial killer, has been watching her every move. A skilled hunter, he likes his victims to be a challenge. Jessie is strong, fearless, a survivor, and now… she is his ultimate prey.

As Caleb picks off his current victims one by one, chasing, killing and butchering them with his crossbow, he’s closing in on Jessie… But will Jessie defy the odds and escape with her life? Or will she be Caleb’s final sacrifice …

A clever, dangerously twisted thriller that will have fans of Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter gripped until the very last page.

Praise for Last to Die:
‘A taut, sharp, gripping reimagining of the serial-killer novel.’ Tana French

(Previously published as ‘The Chosen’)

BUY THE BOOK

Last to Die Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Arlene Hunt is one of Ireland s most highly regarded crime writers. She has published 6 novels, including five in the popular Quick detective series. Undertow (2008) was nominated as Best Crime Novel in the 2009 Irish Book Awards. The Chosen is the first book set outside Ireland, taking place in the mountainous border region of Tennessee and North Carolina, United States. Arlene lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE

Book Review: Necropolis, by Guy Portman

Publication date:   24th April 2014

Necropolis Kindle CoverThe satirical Necropolis introduces us Dyson Devereux. Dyson works for the Department of Cremations and Burials where his promotion permits him to oversee a wide variety of grisly ‘tools of the trade’ and participate in work related situations that would see most people running for the hills. He also has an unusual coping mechanism of dealing with life’s irritating people – while they are completely oblivious of his loathing toward them, he fantasises about their timely demise (especially the serial-complaining ‘pigeon lady’).

So, we find this highly manipulative and strangely charming creature is fuelled by a general loathing of the human race. He’s a multi-lingual literary genius, who is immune to his colleague’s inane chatter and, let’s face it, their existence. Dyson showers them with appropriately staged compliments whenever it’s socially demanded and endeavours to keep his sardonic comments to a minimum. Yet on occasion his practised mask slips and the odd slur manages to crawl from between his lips while he casually passes the custard creams round.

With a passion for documentaries, particularly historically grim ones, Dyson believes that one of the war criminals featured in a recent TV programme is currently working for his ground maintenance team. This vague suspicion is the only motivation he needs to see justice served, not to mention the healthy reward on offer.

Embarking on a meticulously planned covert operation, while working to solve a curious problem between a drug dealing low-life and his addict neighbour (and casual girlfriend, Eva), plus keeping up appearances of actually giving a damn, all places added pressure on Dyson under which he appears to actively thrive. Oh, and there’s also a particularly graphic threesome, disdainful conversations over cadavers in the funeral parlour, and the inappropriate use of chemicals secreted from the store cupboard in the morgue.

I remain slightly troubled as to why I found myself applauding a sociopath for being so thoroughly entertaining. What conclusions you care to jump to following that particular admission I would ask you to kindly keep to yourselves!

All that is required to appreciate Necropolis is a moderately disturbed sense of humour, as its unflinching wry criticisms of human nature and near-the-knuckle undertone may not be suitable for the very easily offended. (Personally, I loved it!)

Rating: 4/5

(Source: Own copy, courtesy of a free download for this book from Amazon UK following a  generous ‘promotion’ by the author via Twitter.)

Necropolis Book Summary 1

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A black comedy of true distinction.

Dyson Devereux works in the Burials and Cemeteries department in his local council. Dyson is intelligent, incisive and informed. He is also a sociopath. Dyson’s contempt for the bureaucracy and banality of his workplace provides ample refuge for his mordant wit. But the prevalence of Essex Cherubs adorning the headstones of Newton New Cemetery is starting to get on his nerves.

When an opportunity presents itself will Dyson seize his chance and find freedom, or is his destiny to be a life of toil in Burials and Cemeteries?

Brutal, bleak and darkly comical, Necropolis is a savage indictment of the politically correct, health and safety-obsessed world in which we live.

‘Not only a funny, twisted, erudite satire on the psychopath genre, this novel also boasts a compelling plot and finely sculpted characters’

‘I was at once fascinated and disturbed by the devious Dyson Devereux with his malicious pedantry, wicked schemes and grotesque good taste. A barbed joy’

Crime Fiction Lover – ‘The book is full of razor-sharp satire. No politically correct madness escapes unscathed, and no sacred cow remains un-butchered and served up in freezer packs.’

BUY THE BOOK

Necropolis Author Profile 1

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

As far back as anyone can remember Guy has been an introverted creature, with an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and a sardonic sense of humour.

Throughout a childhood in London spent watching cold war propaganda gems such as He Man, an adolescence confined in various institutions, and a career that has encompassed stints in academic research and the sports industry, Guy has been a keen if somewhat cynical social observer.

Humour of the sardonic variety is a reoccurring theme in much of Guy’s writing. His first novel, Charles Middleworth, is an insightful tale of the unexpected. The protagonist in his second novel, the satirical black comedy Necropolis, is, like the author, a darkly humorous individual – though, unlike the author, he is a psychopath.

His third novel, Symbiosis, is a psychological thriller about twins girls called Talulah and Taliah.

Guy has an informative and amusing blog – http://www.guyportman.com

TWITTER   |   WEBSITE

Evil Games (Detective Kim Stone Book 2), by Angela Marsons

Publisher:  Bookouture  |  Publication date: 29th May 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (Netgalley)

Evil Games by Angela Marsons - DI Kim Stone Book 2

Exceptional crime fiction from Angela Marsons: DI Stone leaves no clue unturned.

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you here. After reading the superb Silent Scream, I didn’t believe Angela Marsons could dream up an even more depraved villain to roam the Black Country streets. But, thankfully she did and I’m absolutely thrilled about it!  Is there no limit to her fictional wickedness?

Detective Inspector Kim Stone has her work cut out for her this time round. With not one, but two vile cases that will have a profound affect her personally. It’s not long before the firewall she’s customised to keep everyone else out is tested to breaking point.

Case one involves a sickening report of child abuse. Ever the detached professional, Stone might be able to draw on experience from her own neglected childhood to get answers, but the detective’s heart silently breaks for the victims involved.

The other case takes quite a different line of enquiry altogether. A convicted rapist is found dead in what seems to be an unprovoked attack. Already Stone’s detective sense is tingling…

As ever, the devil’s in the detail.  But it’s these details that help her catch the monsters we trust the most. This time, she will have to confront her own demons to go head-to-head with possibly one of the greatest tormentors I’ve seen portrayed for some time – their character is SO well written, and oh, so cold. I despised them in a matter of seconds as they selected their prey.

DI Stone knows only too well that there’s a fine line between a fragile mind and a broken one. During the course of the investigation that line is crossed. Without knowing, she too has been invited to play Evil Games’.

Our Detective tries hard not give too much of herself away, except for a stare directed at DS Bryant that would give Medusa a run for her money, or a perfectly-timed, sarcastic quip to put one of her team in their place. Will this be enough to prevent Kim Stone becoming part of the sinister experiment our curious villain is conducting? As she hunts for the dark truth in both cases, she may not have any choice in the matter.

Angela Marsons certainly knows how to throw a curve ball out of nowhere, and it’s damned subtle. I can’t wait to see what’s in store in Book three. For now, I urge you to read this – you won’t be disappointed.

DON’T PANIC! If you haven’t read book one, you can jump right with this one. It’s a stand-alone investigation and you won’t feel like you’ve been left behind.

To summarise:

Silent Scream (Book 1) was quite brilliant. Evil Games (Book 2) is EXCEPTIONAL. Clearly, the current rating system is broken as it’s unable to accommodate books of this calibre. So I give you –

6/5  – Yes, I know, I’ve invented a new one. It’s okay, Evil Games grafitti font made me do it.

(I would like to offer my sincere thanks – and my left kidney – to the publisher for allowing me to download this title from Netgalley.)


You can follow the very lovely author on Twitter: @WriteAngie  |  And the equally lovely Publisher:  @Bookouture

Want to know what Anglea Marsons is up to? Find out here:

TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  WEBSITE

BOOKS IN THE DI KIM STONE SERIES: