Latest Reads: Force of Nature Jane Harper

Publication Date: February 2018 from Little Brown

Source: Netgalley

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?

Weirdly, just as I was finishing this one, an email publicity shot for team building courses popped up. Erm no thank you. Not after reading Jane Harper’s incredibly atmospheric, absorbing and often disturbing tale of a hike gone horribly wrong. But was it Mother Nature or human nature that caused one to be left behind…

I was extraordinarily pleased to see the return of Aaron Falk, the brilliantly drawn character from this author’s masterpiece “The Dry” – whilst “Force of Nature” is a very different beast, the beautiful sense of place Jane Harper brings to her narrative remains, as does the insightful and compelling characterization and the totally gripping plot construction.

Pacy and cleverly done, we watch the search unfold, follow Falk as he attempts to discover whether his witness disappearing is anything to do with his case, whilst in flashback we see the women start their journey and watch them slowly disintegrate in a very Lord of the Flies type manner – although perhaps more realistically. It is utterly gripping, gorgeously unpredictable and a proper literary page turner.

If you loved The Dry you’ll love this. If you haven’t read it then do, THEN read this. This is perfectly placed crime fiction, tackling socially relevant themes against a beautifully immersive backdrop, entertaining, haunting and authentic. You can’t ask for more really.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Killer Intent Tony Kent.

Publication Date: 25th January from Elliot and Thompson

Source: Review Copy

Britain’s elite security forces seem powerless when an audacious attempt is made to assassinate a former US president in London. This becomes the spark which ignites a chain reaction of explosive events that will see old political sympathies rekindled and personal loyalties betrayed.

Joe Dempsey, a deadly military intelligence officer who witnesses this botched assassination, soon realises that this is just one small part of a complex and dark conspiracy, and only he can stop it. The fallout draws both Dempsey and CNN reporter Sarah Truman into parallel investigations, each compelled to discover the sinister truth behind these violent events. All too quickly they are running out of time as the future of the British government is crumbling. Thrown into these events is Michael Devlin, a Belfast-born criminal barrister with a secret past.

It’s a life or death race against the clock. Dempsey, Devlin and Truman are forced to work in the shadows and call on forgotten loyalties before a lethal showdown presents a devastating finale.

Killer Intent is a proper thriller. By that I mean it’s actually thrilling, whilst showing a huge amount of depth in both plot and character. I’m a fan. It was GREAT.

So our political landscape is pretty FUBAR at the moment, we know this, but I’m kind of hoping that behind the scenes things are somewhat less House of Cards than is happening in this story – bullets are flying, people are dying, there’s a devilish plot going on somewhere and Joe Dempsey is determined to dig down to the very roots of it. Starting with a bang, almost literally, then taking the reader on an often breathtaking race to the finish, Killer Intent is not only considered but cleverly layered, unpredictable and best of all really great fun to read.

It is brilliantly written to have maximum effect and you’ll get hook line and sinkered into this twisty tale of mayhem, you’ll probably fall in love with at least 2 of the characters (if not more) and I’m really quite happy that this is going to be a series because as soon as I’d finished it I wanted more. Thought provoking as well as entertaining, Killer Intent for me was a huge reading hit – so much to appreciate, definitely worth giving a nod to Sarah Truman who was the kind of female protagonist we need more of, no hint from anywhere that she couldn’t and wouldn’t keep up with all our alpha males. Plus there is a strong emotional edge to all of the characters that makes you stick with them through it all.

Taking place over a very short period of time, building an interesting background to be explored presumably in later novels and with a taut, tense and exciting story unfolding, I’m more than happy to highly recommend Killer Intent to any thriller fan. And a few non thriller fans. Ok all of you too…

Incredibly immersive with bang on prose and an intriguingly complex web of deceit that doesn’t feel at all unlikely. Killer Intent in a nutshell.

My advice: Put it on your “must have” list for January.

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Ones to Watch in 2018. The Tall Man Phoebe Locke

Publication Date: June 2018 from Wildfire

Source: Review Copy


Sadie Banner has been haunted by the Tall Man in the shadows since she was a child. Terrified of what he might make her do to her baby daughter, she abandons her family. Sixteen years later, she returns, but she can never escape his voice in her head.

Two years later, a film crew follows beautiful, unnerving Amber Banner on a media tour of Los Angeles. She’s just been acquitted of a murder charge in a case that held the world’s attention. But who did she kill – and why?

The Tall Man devoured my whole day yesterday. It is utterly gripping from the very first moments and it is inexorably creepy and gets stuck in your head. I spent the entire evening after reading it jumping at shadows. And once, embarrassingly, at my own reflection in the kitchen window…

Anyway, The Tall Man is a legend. Probably. Or possibly you should lock up your daughters – he’ll make you special if you ask him to but my advice would be to keep quiet and hide in that cupboard over there…

Sadie leaves her infant daughter behind, years later that infant daughter is on trial for murder  – but whose murder and why? Phoebe Locke weaves an intimately fly on the wall style tale, using flashback and current time to excellent effect – slowly the story emerges of a shadowy figure haunting lives – but how much of it is in the eye of the beholder and how much of it may be real. Well that is the question that hovers over this entire cast of very intriguing characters and one that might just haunt your dreams a little later on.

I like the documentary elements, it allowed for outside view, the author puts lots of clever little nuances into the narrative, tapping into the urban legend vibe and keeping things off kilter. It is beautifully absorbing one of those books you just live within – the ending was surprising and unpredictable, which of course I loved, Phoebe Locke manages to leave you with some thought provoking tangles – astutely done.

Overall a really excellent, highly addictive read. Definitely one to watch. Would make an incredible tv drama and The Tall Man is not going to leave me alone anytime soon. Damn him!

Highly Recommended.

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Ones to Watch in 2018: The After Wife Cass Hunter

Publication Date: March 2018 from Trapeze

Source: Review Copy

“I saw you, and I knew instantly that I could grow old with you. We’d be future-proof.”

When Rachel and Aidan fell in love, they thought it was forever.
She was a brilliant, high-flying scientist. He was her loving and supportive husband.
Now she’s gone, and Aidan must carry on and raise their daughter alone.
But Rachel has left behind her life’s work, a gift of love to see them through the dark days after her death.

A gift called iRachel.

The After Wife is an emotional story about love, loss, longing and belonging. For readers who loved The Time Traveller’s WifeMe Before You and The Lovely Bones.

A little while ago now I sat down with an early early copy of The After Wife and I read it first page to last in one huge emotional gulp of a sitting, enthralled throughout, beautiful beautiful writing and one of those stories you devour.

Not my usual kind of thing this – it deals with love. Uurgh. I’m not terribly sentimental – but Cass Hunter has written a barnstormer of a story that is utterly gripping, sad yet uplifting, dealing with love and with loss and with the way we cling to things – and she does it using an unusual and thought provoking premise. A little bit of a genre bender that allows the themes explored to hit you right in the heart. RIGHT IN THE HEART DAMMIT.

Rachel dies but in some ways she is not gone – as her Husband and Daughter attempt to deal with this terrible loss, they also have to deal with the echoes left behind – the relationships Cass Hunter draws between them and how they deal with their new reality is really beautifully done, a multi-layered story that speaks not only to how we cope with loss but how we define being human. It is fascinating, compelling and utterly addictive.

Fair warning, there are a couple of heart wrenching scenes in the finale that had even cynical little old me sobbing into my pillow and unable to speak – but in style and substance The After Wife is a life affirming, ultimately uplifting, poignant and genuinely touching story of life, love and all the things in between.

I loved it.  Consider me converted.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Grist Mill Road Christopher J Yates.

Publication Date: January 2018 (US – UK Date as yet unconfirmed) from Picador US

Source: Netgalley

Grist Mill Road is a dark, twisted, and expertly plotted Rashomon-style tale. The year is 1982; the setting, an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City. There, among the craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three friends―Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah―are bound together by a terrible and seemingly senseless crime. Twenty-six years later, in New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again―with even more devastating results.

Now I was a HUGE fan of  Black Chalk, the first novel from this author that I read moons ago now – it was a work of literary genius, a puzzle piece of sheer reading joy, so to say that I was both excited and somewhat apprehensive to read Grist Mill Road is perhaps an understatement.

Turns out Black Chalk was not a one off in the quality sense – Grist Mill Road is a twisted and intelligent tale of three friends and the actions that tie them together – once more the author plays with your perceptions throughout the narrative, showing you one thing that later looks like quite another, all the while digging into the psychology of our main protagonists in a way that is genuinely compelling. Starting off with an emotional punch to the senses within a disturbing scene setter we then start to find out the why’s and wherefore’s and how it came to be, the emphasis being very much on on character and motivation. It is slippery, every assumption you make has to be taken back a little with the next thing you find out and whatever you think at the beginning I can almost guarantee you’ll be thinking something else by the end.

I loved it – it forced me to think outside the box, to consider the difference between what we see and what is true – my sympathies wavered throughout, one of the biggest strengths of this novel is in the authenticity of the characters you are reading about. It is not about good and evil, but all the shades of grey in between those two things – honest human nature. Hannah, Matthew and Patrick all have those very human hidden depths that are in us all, it is not until you reach the end of Grist Mill Road that they are  laid bare for your judgment – on who they are, on what they did, on all of it. Brilliant. Honestly it is just brilliant.

The writing is intense, almost voyeuristic and beautifully beautifully done – it has just reiterated for me that I prefer the more literary side of crime in a lot of ways, the ones that keep me up at night after finishing them pondering life and all it’s foibles and pondering people and all their secrets. Grist Mill Road is absolutely mesmerizing, descriptively passionate and unbelievably addictive, with an ending that resonates and digs deep into your soul. These are the ones we read for!

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Immortalists Chloe Benjamin.

Publication Date: March 2018 from Tinder Press

Source: Review Copy

It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies the fortune-teller gave them that day. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them? Golden-boy Simon escapes to San Francisco, searching for love; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician; eldest son Daniel tries to control fate as an army doctor after 9/11; and bookish Varya looks to science for the answers she craves.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists is a story about how we live, how we die, and what we do with the time we have.

The Immortalists is a heartbreaking, beautiful story of four siblings and how they live their lives after they believe, to varying degrees, that they know when they might die.

I loved this. Loved loved – this family comes alive on the page, you literally live with them during the reading, the writing is gorgeous, descriptively rich, painting a picture of these children growing up, how that one day from their childhood affects them moving forward – it is melancholy yet life affirming in so many ways and I will never forget Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon – ESPECIALLY not Simon whose story resonated and made me cry huge great buckets of tears.

The Immortalists is not about death  – it is about life and what we do with it, choices, family, relationships, Chloe Benjamin has achieved a sweeping epic that is full of depth and perception – I was also drawn to Gertie, Mother to these four, whose peripheral yet solid presence throughout their lives sits just beneath the surface of everything they do.

It is thought provoking – how much of what happens is fate, how much can we change, as people especially are we set on one path or can we step outside ourselves and check and balance our existence. As each of our main protagonists edges towards the foretold end, you weep for them sometimes, pray for them at other times and hold on, like they do, to anything solid you can find. It is amazingly authentic and not at all mystical – just utterly real, genuinely emotive and hugely hugely affecting.

An absolutely incredible novel that will stay with me always.

Highly Recommended.


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Latest Reads: Know Me Now C J Carver

Publication Date: 14th December from Bonnier Zaffre

Source : Netgalley


A thirteen-year-old boy commits suicide.

A sixty-five-year old man dies of a heart attack.

Dan Forrester, ex-MI5 agent, is connected to them both. 

And when he discovers that his godson and his father have been murdered, he teams up with his old friend, DC Lucy Davies, to find answers.

But as the pair investigate, they unravel a dark and violent mystery stretching decades into the past and uncover a terrible secret.

A secret someone will do anything to keep buried . . . 

This is the 3rd novel to feature Dan Forrester and I have to say it’s fast becoming one of my favourite series – a little out of the box, not so usual, with great plots and wonderfully engaging characters, like Lucy who I love with a fiery passion.

This time around Dan faces extreme personal loss and a puzzle that in it’s unravelling will put everyone he loves in danger – and the basis for the events as they unfold, the central theme, is pretty damn terrifying if I’m honest and as usual for C J Carver not at all beyond the realms of possibility. Indeed by the end I was convinced I may well see a headline about it any day now. Although probably not in the Daily Mail, as it  involves neither Brexit nor Boobs…

ANYWAY moving swiftly on, the writing is brilliantly immersive and the characters shine as ever – as well as the new mystery, our usual suspects move on in their personal lives, the two things intertwining in intelligent and defining ways, it is a proper page turner with danger and dastardly goings on, some genuine surprises and a wonderful flow that sends you rocketing through it to the final resolution.

I’m not sure what else to say to be honest – I’m not going to spoil it at all (well apart from confirming what it ISN’T about a little bit ago) but if you loved the last two you’ll ADORE this one and if you haven’t read them yet then go go! You could start here if you want to, nothing in this is difficult to grasp if you are a bit behind – but do yourself a favour and line them all up then knock them down. Excellent reads every one.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Into the Drowning Deep Mira Grant.

Publication Date: November 14th from Orbit

Source: Review Copy

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

You know a book has gotten to you when you want to sleep with the lights on even though you are miles away from the setting of said book (in this case the ocean) and couldn’t POSSIBLY be in any kind of danger from the events that you’ve just read about. I mean they are fictional anyway. Right?

I’m going to sleep with the lights on.

ANYWAY I loved this as I loved Mira Grant’s “Feed” series – with the passion of a true believer I lived it alongside this motley crew  of scientists, bodyguards and the ship that was supposed to keep them safe. Following on from an expedition that ended in disaster, with found footage either convincing you that here be monsters or making you marvel at the brilliant special effects, Imagine entertainment looks to find the truth of that earlier reality tv show nightmare, but really, did they not pay attention at the whole monster part?

What this author does so well is create a group of characters and makes you care about them – their hopes and dreams, their reasons for what they do, all of that, then she throws them against a wall over and over again and makes them bleed all the while telling an intelligent and not entirely ridiculous story about monsters from the deep. Or monsters from anywhere. Cleverly drawn monsters that will visit you in your dreams. Descriptively speaking this is brilliant brilliant stuff.

I need to go back and read the prequel novella now. Because this is a book one and going by the addictive quality of this first one I’m going to be stood in line at the bookstore a good few weeks in advance of the next..

Quality story within the genre and would stand up against anything out of the genre too.

Highly Recommended.


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Dead Lands Blog Tour: Contemporary or Historical Settings with Lloyd Otis

Today I am very happy to welcome Lloyd Otis to Liz Loves Books talking about Contemporary or Historical settings as part of the Dead Lands Blog tour. Information on the book follows.


Dead Lands: contemporary or historical settings? LLoyd Otis

Does your story work better in a contemporary setting? In crime fiction the protagonist may need access to the internet, a mobile phone, or the police investigating team may need to use GPS data or CCTV footage. Technology can help the villain commit the crime, and it can equally lead to their downfall. Alternatively, your story may work better if set in the past. The existence of technology may be incompatible with the time period. e.g. there were no computers in the 17th Century, no cars either. So it’s really about the environment that the author wants to build. They may want a more simplistic setting perhaps, where the tech doesn’t dictate the story. There could be many other reasons too.

If we think of the decade of the 70s we think of Concorde being introduced, a time when men showboated super-thick moustaches and sideburns, and women wore Joni Mitchell style Kaftans and Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses. Or we might think of the unusual as in Ziggy Stardust. If we think of politics, then it’s the pivotal movements in the country like the three-day week and the emergence of petrol hoarders on the back on the nation’s energy crisis. We had what we’d now describe as bad hair moments, ones we thought were hip, and it was the time of platform shoes and shirt collars so wide they could be mistaken for wings. Poor race relations and discrimination separated the police from the communities, people took sides, robust attitudes were aired, sexism was rife. Disco music brought in a little fun and hippy culture from the 60s still flourished.

There was a lot going on and the 70s looked like the best place for detectives such as DI Breck and DS Kearns to roam. Kearns is a mother, estranged from her daughter, while Breck is trying to make up for not being there for his partner when she needed him most. Real problems that everyday people still experience, and will always probably experience. What makes their story compelling is that Breck and Kearns attempt to figure it all out slap bang in the middle of the UK punk movement amidst the time of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and places like the Roxy Club.

There was a certain cool associated with the 70s and it built its own identity to the extent that if someone walked down the road in full 70s attire today, you’d be able to place the time period immediately.

With Dead Lands, having the ‘march’ in the background, was the foundation for the story’s social climate. Yes, I could have Breck and Kearns slotted into a contemporary setting but there’d be quite a few things that would have to change. Attitudes, Breck’s particular type of Florsheim leather loafers, and other more intricate things which would in effect, change parts of the characters.

This dive into the past gave Breck and Kearns plenty to play with. It enabled me to attach them to many different unique retro situations and have them meet a variety of interesting characters. Quite frankly, there was a lot going on in this time period, and it was just a case of choosing the right parts to focus on.

About The Book:

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Lloyd Otis brings a startling account of the past back to life over a burgeoning ’70s landscape, and delivers a thrilling piece of crime fiction that will excite any fan of the genre.

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