Review: Hangman

March 26, 2018 in Book Reviews, Crime, Thriller

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: HangmanHangman by Daniel Cole
Series: Detective William Fawkes #2
Published by Trapeze on 22nd March 2018
Genres: Crime, thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer - PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the 'BAIT' is intended for, how the 'PUPPETS' are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

I’ve been anticipating Hangman, the second novel in this series, ever since I read the first, Ragdoll, last year (you can find my review here.)

Hangman takes place some 18 months after Ragdoll. Wolf hasn’t been seen or heard of since Baxter let him flee the Old Bailey courtroom. She herself is now Detective Chief Inspector Baxter, and is trying to get on with life, until two US Special Agents enter her London office. There has been a murder in New York and they have reason to believe it connected to the Ragdoll murders. The victim, whose chest was inscribed with the word “bait” shares the same name as Wolf – William Fawkes, and was strung up on the Brooklyn Bridge by a man bearing the word “puppet” on his chest.

Baxter isn’t inclined to jump to conclusions, but when a second ‘bait’ and ‘puppet’ murder occurs in London, that once again connects to Ragdoll, she finds herself headed to New York with FBI agent Curtis and the British CIA agent Rouche to work on the case. While also unofficially roping in the only person she trusts, Edmunds, to help her from afar.

I don’t want to give too much detail about this book. Like Ragdoll, this book is pretty dark, with some shocking and graphic scenes. Yet, Cole manages to lighten this subject matter with his humour, which most definitely appeals to me.

As Cole said himself of sequels (when referring to the film Home Alone 2) …

The first movie was, secretly, one of her all-time favourites, but she found the second an uninspiring imitation falling into the age-old trap of believing that by relocating to New York City, they would create a bigger and better sequel.

In this instance, I think the New York sequel was every bit as good as, if not even better than, the original (Ragdoll).

We enter the story in an interview room with Baxter facing questions from multiple agencies, before we rewind a few weeks and follow the sequence of events that ultimately culminate in that questioning.

When I realised Wolf wasn’t going to be the focus of this book, I was a bit nervous as Ragdoll was really all about him. I needn’t have worried. Baxter is a fantastic, snarky character, suffering no fools – no matter who they may be. She’s a bold, brilliant yet flawed character that really shines in this book.

Perhaps part of the reason she shines is Agent Rouche of the CIA. The interactions between the two are fantastic, making a great partnership. Rouche’s story, his personality, along with his choice of inappropriate songs made me fall in love with his character.

It says a lot of Cole that I’m writing about his book which is filled with blood, mutilation, horrific scenes and a significant number of deaths, and I’m gushing about his characters and humour. For me, this is what made such dark subject matter so readable. It’s truly an art, and one that Cole excels at.

I also liked that we got to check in with characters from the first book, particularly Edmunds who ‘goes rogue’ in the fraud department to help out his friend.

I know that this book won’t be for everyone. There are scenes which are all too close to that witnessed in reality. But I love Cole’s writing, the way he can make your stomach squirm with one sentence, then snort with laughter with the next. I truly look forward to the third book in this series – who knows what way things will turn next?!

four-half-stars

Review: Come and Find Me

March 20, 2018 in Book Reviews, Crime, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Come and Find MeCome And Find Me by Sarah Hilary
Series: DI Marnie Rome #5
Published by Headline on 22nd March 2018
Genres: Crime, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.

DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She's finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn't able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.

As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him - and is about to pay the ultimate price.

There are no spoilers in this post – for this book or the previous four!

When I’m asked who my favourite authors are, Sarah Hilary is always on the ensuing list. So whenever I get one of her new books in my hands I’m both tremendously excited and fairly nervous. I worry in case I won’t love her work as much this time around – please tell me that I’m not alone in doing this?! But every single time Sarah wows me, reasserting her position in my favourite writers’ list. Come and Find Me is no different.

This is the fifth book in Hilary’s DI Marnie Rome series, and I’m convinced that somehow she is getting better and better – she needs a star rating of her own!

As ever, Hilary’s writing is captivating as she throws Marnie and Noah into a new case. I love that along with each new case we follow Marnie and Noah’s own personal journeys – their own stories add a whole other dimension to these novels.

What’s more, unlike other series where I have to familiarise myself with the ongoing tale once more, I never have to do that with Hilary’s books. These characters and their stories are always just ‘there’ in my mind, waiting to continue where they left off. Personally, I think this demonstrates the incredible characters and partnership that Hilary has created.

If you haven’t yet started this series, I envy you. You have five stunning novels awaiting you! Go get your hands on a copy of her first book, Someone Else’s Skin, right now and get reading. You won’t be disappointed!

Come and Find Me is a novel full of the twists and tension that we’ve come to expect from Sarah Hilary. It’s a fascinating storyline, written with her incomparable style and care.

When can we have book six, please? I need more Marnie and Noah!

five-stars

Review: Final Girls

August 4, 2017 in Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
Published by Ebury on 11th July 2017
Genres: thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl, the sole survivor of a massacre that killed her five friends. It’s ten years since that horrific night in the woods and Quincy seems to be getting on just fine. She has a successful baking blog, her own apartment, and a lawyer boyfriend. She also has the unwavering support of Coop, the police officer who found her that night.

She is one of only three Final Girls. Lisa and Sam both found themselves the only survivor of horrific massacres years before. Lisa, Sam and Quincy are collectively known as the Final Girls, a term coined by the media.

So when Lisa is found dead, wrists slit in her bathtub and Sam turns up unannounced on Quincy’s doorstep, it becomes apparent that despite having no real memory of that night ten years ago, Quincy isn’t quite as ok as she thought.

Upon reading the synopsis of this book I knew it was one I had to read. Told from Quincy’s perspective, it’s hard to put this book down. Yes, there was the occasional lull in the story but if anything that just served to build the tension more. This, coupled with interspersed chapters from ten years ago, as well as the sudden shift in Quincy’s world following Lisa’s death make this the thrilling read it is. Quincy’s attempts at normal life, baking for her blog and working from home, are a stark contrast to what happens when Lisa dies and Sam appears in Quincy’s life.

This is a well written, gripping thriller that is sure to keep you reading and speculating until the last chapter.

 

four-stars

Blog Tour: If We Were Villains

June 15, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: If We Were VillainsIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published by Titan on 13th June 2017
Genres: thriller, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else's story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the If We Were Villains blog tour. If you’ve missed the other stops on the tour so far you can find them all at the bottom of this post.

Dellecher Classical Conservatory is an elite art school that is home to Oliver and his six friends; all of whom are in their fourth and final year as theatre students and scholars of Shakespeare. They live, study, act and socialise with one another – their own Shakespeare-loving family.

When we meet Oliver it’s ten years later and he’s just getting out of prison where he has served time for the murder of one of these close friends. He has finally agreed to tell the lead detective the whole, true story.

The novel is structured through Acts and Scenes which tell the story of life at the school, with Preludes that focus on the now and Oliver’s release from prison. I loved this structure, in a book filled with drama, theatrics and plays it fits the theme perfectly.

Now, I studied Shakespeare in school but that was quite some time ago – and even then I’m familiar with only a few of his plays. I was slightly concerned that my ignorance might mean that I wouldn’t enjoy this novel; however I actually enjoyed it very much. I would say though that those more acquainted with Shakespeare or even with theatre as a whole would no doubt enjoy it more.

Our seven characters (I was rather confused at first with all of the names, but I soon caught on) are actors; throughout the year they adopt Shakespearean roles for a variety of plays. Indeed they even converse among one another in quotes at times. However, as the school year progresses it seems that many of the seven are struggling to leave their Shakespearean roles behind, and the line between fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurred.

This is not your typical thriller. Yes, it’s thrilling and gripping but it’s far more than that. Rio weaves her story in conjunction with Shakespearean verse. Indeed she often echoes her characters’ mindsets and actions though their study of The Bard. At first, I’ll admit I struggled a little with this style, but it’s executed so well that I soon became accustomed to the interspersions of verse.

Rio not only expertly combines Shakespeare into her narrative, but also displays her own beautiful writing.

This is quite a rollercoaster read – love, betrayal, envy, passion, friendships, this book has it all – just like the Shakespearean works it echoes.

If We Were Villains Blog Tour

three-half-stars

Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

April 4, 2017 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
Published by Tinder Press on 6th April 2017
Genres: Contemporary, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter Loo to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife's hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother's mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past - a past that eventually spills over into his daughter's present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. Both a coming of age novel and a literary thriller, THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY explores what it means to be a hero, and the price we pay to protect the people we love most.

Told through alternating chapters, past and present, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley slowly uncovers the tale of Samuel Hawley’s life.

Hawley has a daughter, Loo, whom he is raising alone following the death of his wife. Hawley and Loo have constantly been on the move, never living in one place for very long. When they decide to buy a house in Olympus, Loo has to adjust to this new way of life – a new school, a new home and more possessions than she could bundle up into her suitcase.

We follow Loo through present time as she lives this new life with her father. Loo’s is a coming of age tale, getting older and wondering what a mother’s kiss feels like, starting to question who her father is and noticing the way people question the many scars on his body.

Each of Hawley’s gunshot scars tells a tale. In between our present-day chapters with Loo, we learn how Hawley acquired each scar, thus slowly revealing to us Hawley’s history, and piece-by-piece building his story.

I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the way the story unfolded through this unique storytelling style – the history of Hawley’s scar forming the perfect flashback chapters.

Mixed with the innocence of Loo’s childhood we have violence. I mean, if you don’t like to read about violence, then be warned. Yet it’s not all blood and guns, there’s the story of love, loss, grief. There’s the relationship between a father and his daughter, the tale of a father’s protection and a teenage girl trying to find her way in the world.

I have to say that I really loved Hawley. It’s a weird situation – am I meant to like this guy? But I challenge you not to!

This story is brutal in places, heart-wrenching in others. It’s incredibly well written and the characters of Hawley and Loo make for the perfect balance. It’s one of those books where I’m sad to have to leave these characters behind.

four-half-stars