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

Blog Tour & Review: Force of Nature

February 10, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

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 & Review: Force of NatureForce of Nature by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #2
Published by Little Brown UK on 1st February 2018
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.

Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?

I’m delighted to be one of a collection of bloggers on today’s stop on the #ForceofNature blog tour!

I’ve been very excited to read Jane Harper’s new novel, the second in her Aaron Falk series. After loving her debut, The Dry, last year and seeing it do so well, I couldn’t wait to read Force of Nature.

I was not disappointed. Harper has an incredible ability to put you right there in the story – it’s something that stood out to me in The Dry and is definitely the case in her latest Aaron Falk instalment.

We rejoin Falk a few months after the happenings of The Dry, back in Melbourne working on a case with a new partner, Carmen. Together they are collecting evidence of money laundering against the firm Bailey Tennants.

Their contact in the company, Alice Russell, has been working secretly to provide them with evidence. However, with the handover of the final key documents looming, Alice has gone missing on a Bailey Tennants corporate retreat.

The setting for most of this novel is the Giralang Ranges. This is where the team building retreat takes place – where two groups all male and all female set out to trek the bush, spending three nights in the great outdoors. However, when the female team arrive at the meeting point late and are missing their teammate Alice, a massive search and investigation begins.

Falk and Carmen find themselves in the ranges, aiding the local police and trying to find Alice. The area has a chilling history of its own, which adds to the fears of the team.

Harper transported me to the wet, winter, Bushlands of the Giralang Ranges. Her writing is so atmospheric, I’ve rarely felt so engaged with the setting of a novel. I swear, I was lying in my bed with the electric blanket on, but I felt the dampness of the bush, the soggy waterproofs and wet sleeping bag.

As for the story itself, I couldn’t stop reading! Harper switched between chapters with Falk as he tries to find Alice, and chapters with the female team and the story of their retreat. I found this to work really well, as we slowly uncover the truth.

Once again, I like Falk. He’s easy to relate to, flawed and all the more likeable for it. I did enjoy his partnership with Carmen, I thought it worked well and I hope we’ll see them work together again.  To my knowledge, there’s no mention of a third book yet but surely we’ll be treated to more of Aaron Falk in the near future.

This novel is so immersive, well written and hard to put down. I’ve no doubt that Force of Nature is going to prove every bit as successful as The Dry.

 

FYI – I’ve just noticed that Waterstones have signed copies available! Find them here (not an affiliate link).

five-stars

Review: Good Me Bad Me

October 31, 2017 in Book Reviews, Crime, Psychological 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: Good Me Bad MeGood Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Published by Michael Joseph on 12th January 2017
Genres: Psychological, Crime
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly's mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.

Good Me Bad Me is one of those books that I’ve been seeing all over social media with the general consensus being that readers found it hard to put it down – they were so right!

15-year-old Milly’s mother is a serial killer, and the only person who knows is Milly. It’s Milly who finally tells the police, Milly who is the sole witness and the only person who can see her mother brought to justice.

Milly isn’t her real name though. She’s been given a new identity to help to protect her from the huge media attention and contempt of the public. Only a handful of people know her history – his foster parents and her new headteacher.

She has been put in the care of Mike, a psychologist, and his family as she prepares for the upcoming trial. But Mike’s own teenage daughter, Phoebe, is less than pleased by Milly’s presence, even without knowing her history. Phoebe makes life even harder for Milly as she tries to forge a new life in a new city, a new school, a new family away from her mother’s abusive control.

This book is so hard to put down Told from Milly’s perspective we see a teenage girl trying to fit into a new life, a new school and make new friends. That in itself is a journey, a challenge for any teenager. But then we have the impact of Milly’s history, her battles not to miss the woman who has controlled her life, the woman who has murdered innocent children. We see Milly’s internal battle as she fears she is just like her mother and her preparation for trial, facing that woman again and doing all she can for her mother’s victims.

The writing style in this novel is very interesting and clever, Land adopts a style which seems to reflect the nature of Milly’s mind and further the reader’s experience.

There are so many issues packed into this book, I can in no way do them justice here – strained parental relationships, jealousy, self-harm, drug use, sexual abuse, bullying, all entwined within the story of one 15-year-old.

This is a truly gripping psychological thriller which, though it can be hard to read at times, and is maybe therefore not for everyone, is one that I can’t stop thinking about.

four-stars

Review: All The Wicked Girls

October 16, 2017 in Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

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: All The Wicked GirlsAll The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
Published by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she's a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama - especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer goes missing. Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

When Summer Ryan goes missing in Grace, Alabama, it is feared that she is another Briar Girl. Girls have been going missing and the Police Dept is yet to uncover the truth of their disappearances.

So Summer’s twin sister Raine takes it upon herself to find her sister, and enlists the help of two local boys Noah and Purv. Noah’s late father was a police officer and Noah wants to emulate him and his heroism. While Summer and Raine may be twins they are very different. Summer is academic and musical, Raine hangs out with guys getting drunk. As different as they may be they love each other fiercely and Raine will do whatever it takes to find her twin.

This novel is packed full of characters and somehow in just 339 pages we get an insight into their histories. That in itself is impressive. I’ll admit being overwhelmed at first by the number of names; my foggy brain couldn’t keep up. But slowly we uncover more about them all and the citizens of Grace, Alabama, seem a lot more real, more than a blend of names.

As we follow Noah, Purv and Raine while they try to find Summer (throwing themselves into harm’s way in the process), we are also treated to chapters from Summer. Through these chapters we learn more about the missing girl, much more.

Then, of course, there are the other missing girls, the Briar Girls – will they ever solve the mystery? Perhaps with Noah and co. on the case.

I don’t want to give you much more information for fear of spoiling the evolution of this story. What I will say is that this is not only a mystery novel but a look into a small community where that person next door you might look to have it all, may actually have their own hidden struggles and secrets.

four-stars