Latest Reads: The Silver Wolf Rob Sinclair.

Publication Date: Available Now from Bloodhound Books

Source: Review copy

Still tormented by the disappearance of his wife, ex-intelligence agent James Ryker sets out on a personal mission of revenge, prepared to go to any lengths in search of the truth.

The trail takes him from the crystal waters of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, back to a place he thought he would never set foot again – his country of birth, England. But there he discovers more than even he bargained for. Stumbling across a terrorist attack targeted against his old employers – the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency -the faint clues to many events in his recent past are all seemingly linked to one mysterious character; The Silver Wolf.

But just who is the Silver Wolf, and why is he hell bent on punishing not just Ryker, but his closest allies at the JIA too?

Has Ryker finally met his match?

I’m a fan of this series – pure escapism and the character development is brilliant so I do highly recommend reading in order, including the Enemy series.

Mainly I think that I love a good anti-hero and Ryker is definitely that – this time around he’s after revenge but that won’t come easy and as usual with this author it’s a bit of a thrill ride, with added oomph created  by the “Silver Wolf” of the title – because we all love a good bad guy right? I KNOW that one is not not just me.

It is easy to get caught up in this – in fact I read it in an afternoon with no problem at all – Mainly I think it’s the “Bourne” vibe of the whole series, a kind of jet setting, hard hitting boom of a read that doesn’t pull punches. I liked that the past pulled on Ryker here, back into the intelligence services vortex, a fascinating underworld.

A huge plus of this series as a whole and this book in particular is the excellent scene setting interspersed with the strong character building both in relationships and personality – intriguing and highly readable, anyone who likes a great thriller that can steal your time in a good bookish way should pick these up.

Recommended. Next?

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Latest Reads: Everything Is Lies Helen Callaghan

Publication Date: 22nd Feb 2018 from Penguin: Michael Joseph

Source: Netgalley

No-one is who you think they are

Sophia’s parents lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she’s always believed.

Everyone has secrets

Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find a house ringing with silence. Her mother is hanging from a tree. Her father is lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death.

Especially those closest to you 

The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn’t a killer. As her father is too ill to talk it is up to Sophia to clear her mother’s name. And to do this she needs to delve deep into her family’s past – a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .

What if your parents had been lying to you since the day you were born?

I got thoroughly immersed into “Everything Is Lies” almost immediately – excellent lead in to an emotionally charged story that was absolutely gripping.

Sophia comes home to find her mother dead and her father critically injured in an apparent murder/suicide – but she is not convinced and when she discovers her mother has finally written a book so begins a journey into a dark past that has never let go…

Helen Callaghan has written a story about personality, manipulation and perception, wrapping it  up into a tense and genuinely intriguing family drama. Using the past and present to great effect (I, admittedly, found the past portions the more engaging of the two, the slowly unfolding truth about Sophia’s Mother brings her to stark, beautiful life) we find out that nothing about Sophia’s origins are as they seem. The characters in this drama are both enigmatic and beautifully drawn, the notebooks Nina left behind bringing an era to life – a time, not that far in our past, where certain things were viewed differently  – the central theme here is enduring and changeable but I won’t spoil anything.

Secrets abound, still I found the whole thing endearingly realistic – often quite heartbreaking – whilst the final reveal so to speak was nothing like surprising, this is not a book that lives and dies on being unpredictable but more an emotional journey of one daughter discovering her parents’ past and seeing them as people separate from herself. It is clever, yes very twisted with psychological thriller elements – but I came out of it feeling melancholy and this is one of those books where the characters are very real and you wish you could go back in and change the bad things into good.

Definitely recommended.

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January Book Watch: The Last Mrs Parrish Liv Constantine.

Publication Date: January 11th 2018 from Harper Collins

Source: Review Copy

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

I LOVED “The Last Mrs Parrish” it was so totally addictive, once I started reading Amber’s story I just could not put it down – she’s one of those characters you love to hate as she slowly and insidiously starts to insert herself into another woman’s life with the express purpose of stealing that life for herself.

Be careful what you wish for, especially when what you are wishing for belongs to somebody else – still, Amber was a highly engaging, intriguing character who managed to get a few flashes of sympathy from me even during her total bitch moments of which there were many. As she plans and adjusts and reads the signs in order to capture Jackson’s attention there are cleverly placed layers that allow the reader  to see things Amber does not. It makes you keep turning and turning those pages to see whether or not she succeeds in her dastardly plan.

Descriptively speaking this is a joy – the authors do a truly excellent job of describing the life of the rich and privileged and offsetting that against Amber’s less pampered existence – seeing things through Amber’s eyes allows for a truly voyeuristic vibe that is genuinely compelling. There are twists and turns along the way and a pitch perfect ending that gets the blood up – The Last Mrs Parrish is a tale of actions and karmic consequences – whether everyone in this novel eventually ends up with the life they deserve, you’ll have to read and find out. Trust me, you’ll have a lot of fun doing that.

A genuinely riveting psychological thriller. Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Clockwork City Paul Crilley

Publication Date: 14th December from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review Copy

Cop. Drunkard. Low-grade magic user. My name is Gideon Tau, but most people just call me London.

Three years ago, someone killed my daughter. I sacrificed everything to learn his name – and then allowed that knowledge to be erased from my mind.

It was for a good cause: I was saving the world, after all.

But now I have to start over from scratch, with only my boss and my dog to help me find my daughter’s killer. The reanimated corpse of my boss, and my alcoholic, foul-mouthed demonic sidekick dog, that is.

Our journey will take us from Durban, South Africa to London, England.

And once we’re there… well, if things seemed dark before, they’re about to get a lot darker.

I LOVED Poison City the first novel in the “Delphic Division” series from Paul Crilley – but now I’ve read Clockwork City and I loved that more. MORE. It was pure, utter brilliance.

Fiendishly funny, yet incredibly dark, Paul Crilley is the king of dastardly dialogue and brilliantly awe inspiring action, all tempered with an emotional core that really digs into your heart. Clockwork City is fast and furious, set in a world where a wary peace is kept between humans and others by the Delphic Division – a force for good or, erm, a kind of rash and random group of people who do their godarn best.

We follow Gideon (more commonly known as London because that’s where he’s from, clever huh?)  and his Dog (Oh Dog please come and live with me) plus some usual suspects from Poison City and a few new faces as they attempt to save actual London from a rather nasty looking doom. A missing oracle, some nefarious Faeries, a city in magical mayhem and an attempt to open a jail that really should stay shut are all in the mix here and it is beautiful, madly addictive, incredibly well written chaos.

The characters pop from the page, they are all so brilliantly drawn, I especially adore Armitage, but Gideon Tau is a truly remarkable creation, with his quest to find his daughter whilst trying not to destroy the world in the process . That theme continues in Clockwork City, all interspersed with the current big problem, some foreshadowing and an ending that made me practically leap from my seat – YOU CAN’T DO THAT – but yeah he just did, so my loyalty to this particular series is now solidly set – please don’t make me wait too long for more I shall get incredibly grumpy.

Creative, hilarious and dastardly – that is Clockwork City. Don’t miss it.

Highly Recommended.

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Ones To Watch in 2018. Come and Find Me Sarah Hilary.

Publication Date: March 2018 from Headline

Source: Netgalley

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.

So 3 hours and 24 minutes of reading time later and I’m done with Come and Find Me – Marnie Rome book 5 (How the heck did THAT happen, I still have my much loved little proof of a certain book called Someone Else’s Skin) and with this one Sarah Hilary has belted it out of the ballpark and all the way to the moon.

For me this was the best one yet, all the sense and the feeling that you have come to expect with an added darkness that is intriguingly gripping – I devoured it, felt it in my bones from the moment I started reading until the moment I reached the emotionally traumatic end game…

It’s not so much about who did what but about the underneath of everything – how looking at something doesn’t mean you see it, not only within the events of the novel but within the characters. A prison riot, an escapee, an obvious line to follow but even more so than the previous Marnie stories the psychology of it all comes into play with devastating results. Things also move on for our main players, in REALLY TRAUMATIC WAYS and if you are reading this Sarah Hilary we may have to have words about that bit at the end. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN don’t try and hide. I’m still slightly sobbing.

The writing is divine, having a quietly impacting resonance, the plotting is taut and somewhat terrifying, your sense of the people and the places gaining momentum with each passing chapter. It is addictive, unpredictable and criminally clever, there’s not that many writers writing at this level out there.

I don’t really want to call the Marnie Rome book police procedural’s anymore – although the series seems to generate that genre tag – if I had to describe them, in a vacuum, I’d call them psychological crime drama’s. In fact why WHY this is  not a tv show already, I really can’t understand, it would lend itself so well to the screen, almost as well as it does to the page.

(As an aside, I spoke to Chris Whitaker earlier when I was concerned I couldn’t find the words to say how good Come and Find Me is. He said “Just tell Sarah I love her. That’s all she needs to know” I said I’d put that in here and now I have…)

Come and find Sarah Hilary’s novels if you have not already. And if you have and are waiting for this one then batten down the hatches. You ain’t seen nothing yet…

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Best Friends Forever Margot Hunt.

Publication Date: 23rd January 2018 from HQ Digital

Source: Netgalley

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all. 

I’m right back into my psychological thrillers right now having had a bit of a meh time about them where I felt I was reading the same story over and over again, so I made it a mission to seek out the ones that can surprise me. If you surprise me you get Brownie points. They are not worth anything but you know, it is fun for me.

Best Friends Forever did manage to surprise me. As well as that it was a brilliant page turner, with a couple of cleverly drawn main protagonists, a supporting cast of possibly nefarious bystanders and the story of one true friendship. Told from the point of view of Alice, who appreciates the light that friend Kat brings into her mundane family life, giving her a break, she begins to realise that perhaps Kat is not QUITE as friendly as she seems..

It is very gripping as we see the present Alice being interviewed by the police and the past Alice meeting Kat, becoming friends, all the ways their lives entwine – but underneath it all it is just a little off, not quite as bright and bubbly as it appears. Margot Hunt layers it well, genuinely keeping you guessing, especially in relation to the psychology of everyone in this – from Kat to Alice, from both the husbands to the extended family – in the end the outcome is highly effective and yes, unexpected although maybe not on the level you would think.

I like the clever ones. I like the ones that keep you reading  bleary eyed into the night to see if what happens and if you’ve guessed correctly. I like the ones with characters that stand out and are not carbon copies of the last book you read in this genre. Best Friends forever scores highly on all of those therefore I will happily highly recommend it.

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Latest Reads- The Blinds Adam Sternbergh.

Publication Date: February 2018 from Faber (available Now on Kindle)

Source: Review Copy

Imagine a place populated by criminals – people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who’ve been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime or just witnessed one. All they do know is that they opted into the programme and that if they try to leave, they will end up dead.

For eight years, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace – but after a suicide and a murder in quick succession, the town’s residents revolt. Cooper has his own secrets to protect, so when his new deputy starts digging, he needs to keep one step ahead of her – and the mysterious outsiders who threaten to tear the whole place down. The more he learns, the more the hard truth is revealed: The Blinds is no sleepy hideaway, it’s simmering with violence and deception, heartbreak and betrayal, and it’s fit to burst.

Having been a HUGE fan of both Shovel Ready and Near Enemy from this author to say I was very happy to see “The Blinds” land on the doormat would be putting it mildly. Turns out, although this is very different, I loved it just as much, cleverly imaginative with some top notch divisive characters and a real western vibe about it that I adored.

The Blinds is a town like no other. Part prison, although you can leave if you wish and part social experiment, it houses ex criminals (or possibly witnesses) who have no idea what crime they may have committed. Having had a partial or full memory wipe prior to arriving they all live in sort of a little social bubble, a community both divided and united, cut off completely from the outside world. Into this we come, just after a suicide and a murder – destroying the uneasy peace and creating all kinds of questions for Sheriff Calvin Cooper..

This is a rocking good read, providing both mystery and a hugely thought provoking central theme. Nobody in this story is exactly who they appear to be, nothing is exactly as it looks and as each new day unfolds new events and new revelations abound. It is an addictive and intelligently woven tale which is also utterly gripping. I was riveted by the idea’s entertained here, got emotionally involved with all the characters and was actually bereft when I finished it and had to leave them all.

The characters pop, the setting is claustrophobic yet wide reaching and the writing is, as before with Adam Sternbergh, unique in style and strong in substance – beautifully immersing the reader into the moment. I loved it. I’m a fan. I also couldn’t help but think what a binge worthy Netflix show this would make. If only wishing made it so…

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Binding Song Elodie Harper

Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Purchased Copy

Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…

The Binding Song is brilliantly compelling, eminently creepy and one of those books that has you looking over your shoulder and eyeing strangers oddly as if they might suddenly leap up and shout BOO.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the story is utterly riveting, also extraordinarily haunting as you follow Janet, new recruit at Halvergate prison, trying to untangle the web of deceit left behind by her predecessor. Something evil stalks the corridors here but is it  a human evil or something beyond our knowledge of the world?  Well that is the question….

Elodie Harper keeps things off kilter as she explores some of the darkest minds, not all of them belonging to the prisoners. There is a real sense of menace pervading the narrative that creeps up on you unexpectedly and the play between the real and imagined is cleverly manipulated so you are not sure what to believe. Terrific writing with a real storytelling talent, The Binding Song is highly addictive and likely to keep you up at night so you can just read that one more chapter.

The ending is perfectly placed to match the feel of the rest of the novel, eerie and memorable, one of those that stays with you and leaves you pondering the state between fantasy and reality. I loved it. Unsettling and enthralling.

Overall a truly excellent debut that promises so much for the future. I can’t wait to see what Elodie Harper writes next. Stephen King should probably start upping his game…

Highly Recommended.

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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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