Latest Reads: You Can Run – Steve Mosby

Publication Date: Available Now from Orion

Source: Purchased Copy

When a stolen car crashes into a house on a suburban street, the police are shocked to discover a woman being held captive inside the building. As the remains of many more victims are found in the house, it seems that the Red River Killer – who has been abducting women for twenty years and taunting the police with letters about his crimes – has finally been identified.

As the hunt for the killer intensifies, DI Will Turner finds the investigation edging dangerously close to uncovering his own demons. He must be the one to catch the killer while keeping his own past buried. The clock is ticking, and there are lives at stake…

I’m crazy about this book because it hooked me straight in then I had to look threateningly at anyone who tried to stop me reading before I finished it. Then I finished it and cried. Even though it is a book about very dark subjects, a crime book with a big dose of creepy that kept me up at night, the emotional resonance Steve Mosby brings to his writing is second to none in the field and I felt every moment of it.

What this author does, not only here but in his previous novels, is put a little subtle twist on the genre, a clever bit of a run around things that makes you feel you are right in your crime reading comfort zone but about to be shoved off a cliff at any moment. And quite often are. Its a long drop that can leave you dazed in the best way. Always terrifically character driven I think “You Can Run” was probably even more so – not only in the creation of Will Turner who is incredibly engaging yet full of hidden depths, but in the wider cast and the intelligent manipulation of the various dynamics – add into that a plot that rather gracefully manages to defy expectations and assumptions and you are onto a real winner.

For that reason I won’t say much more about it. You don’t need details to my mind what you need is to know that this is a genuinely top notch, cleverly and beautifully written crime novel with a huge heart. So obviously I’m going to say Highly Recommended.

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All The Wicked Girls – Chris Whitaker. Filed under books to die for.

Publication Date: August 24th from Bonnier

Source: Oh I wouldn’t know where to begin

“Raine sometimes complains that nothing exciting is ever gonna happen in Grace again. Daddy told her careful what you wish for.”

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 . . .

There is definitely more to Summer than meets the eye…

When I read Tall Oaks (which became my no 1 book of 2016)  I didn’t know Chris Whitaker at all. Since then we have become good friends when he’s not annoying me (its ok petal, there are always the penguins) and I have been lucky enough to read this novel at several points during its journey from first draft to here, its been a journey of much emotion –  because this is an emotional story and the characters at the heart of it are incredibly real. I’m not sure how unbiased this review can be seen as but the absolute truth of the matter is that All the Wicked Girls is impossibly good. And beautiful. And melancholy, utterly compelling and difficult to describe.

Set in the fictional small town of Grace, Alabama, during the time of the so called “Satanic panic” a young girl called Summer has gone missing. Raine, her sister, is determined to find her and will use any means necessary, whether it hurts others or not. Meanwhile the community hovers on the edge of reason, there is more than one secret simmering below the surface and a dark cloud is on the horizon. Watch out, there’s a storm coming…

This is a crime story with a difference, a beautifully plotted, genuinely absorbing set of character studies, worked into a wider story of missing girls and religious fervour. If you try to put All the Wicked Girls into a genre box you’ll fail miserably because there isn’t one. I guess crime novel suits it as much as anything else would but when I was attempting to describe it to someone at work the other day I ended up tongue tied. It is deliciously dark but so intensely traumatic I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. Maybe Chris won’t either but I hope so because seriously he needs to write forever. Tall Oaks was amazing, add to that quality x 1000 with what is sure to become a trademark touch of insanely creative genius  and you’ll be close to All the Wicked Girls.

So you should get yourself a copy when you can and come to Grace, meet Summer and Raine, Noah and Purv, Sheriff Black and all the rest – find out what happens to them and feel like its all happening to you. I cried so much at this book, from the first reading when it was still “The Summer Cloud” to the latest reading now it has become “All the Wicked Girls” – doesn’t really matter that I know everything there is to know and can see what is coming, every time I get there I am destroyed. That is the pure power of it. Or was for me at least..

If you want another Tall Oaks you won’t get it – whilst there is humour here it is much darker, much more ironic and speaks to things we don’t want to imagine – there’ll be times when you want to look away but won’t be able to, there are times you will smile and there are at least two moments you might just exclaim out loud. Or if you are like me swear like a trouper then cry a bit more.

I love this book. It would surely be my no 1 of 2017 if I’d just read it in the normal way – but sorry Mr Whitaker no mars bars for you this year, wouldn’t be fair but for sure All the Wicked Girls is in my top ten books I’ve read ever let alone this year. And trust me that’s a lot of competition to overcome. If you want me to say why that is, I can’t. Sometimes things just get to you and you can’t say why. These, as ever, are the books I wait for, I read for. Much as I HATE to pay him any more compliments, he’s so difficult to live with (Victoria is an actual saint I am now convinced of it)  seriously, Chris Whitaker is annoyingly talented –  and despite the traumatic journey its been worth every 3am meltdown, every match reached for and every moment we wondered if THIS moment would ever actually arrive.

I won’t say highly recommended it seems inadequate. Pure magic on the page.

And, by the way, next time I’m hiding the damn matches.

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Latest Reads: The Liar Steve Cavanagh.

Publication Date: 18th May from Orion

Source: Review Copy

WHO IS DEADLIER …

Leonard Howell’s worst nightmare has come true: his daughter Amy has been kidnapped. Not content with relying on the cops, Howell calls the only man he trusts to get her back.

… THE MAN WHO KNOWS THE TRUTH …

Eddie Flynn knows what it’s like to lose a daughter and vows to bring Amy home safe. Once a con artist, now a hotshot criminal attorney, Flynn is no stranger to the shady New York underworld.

… OR THE ONE WHO BELIEVES A LIE?

However, as he steps back into his old life, Flynn realizes that the rules of game have changed – and that he is being played. But who is pulling the strings? And is anyone in this twisted case telling the truth…?

Bloody hell Steve Cavanagh has REALLY gone for it this time with a most terrific, edge of the seat, courtroom drama come nutty addictive thriller. I mean nutty in the best way because it is totally addictive. Like when you open a tube of pringles and then realise you’ve eaten them all without really thinking about it. With The Liar once you pop you can’t stop.

Hey I like the Pringles comparison. I also like Pringles. And Eddie Flynn. Conman turned lawyer, in this book hovering between the two as he tries to sort out a rather adrenalin fuelled situation. You’ll keep turning those pages both desperate to know the outcome and also wallowing in the rather beautifully written adventure that will get you there.

The thing I find with this series is each one gets better than the last. Steve Cavanagh manipulates the plot with vivacity, throwing the reader unexpected curveballs then barely giving them time to draw breath before chucking a chase or a momentary danger at them – really I think we’ll throw some pretzels in with those Pringles, certainly there are enough twists here to warrant that. And all so cleverly done too.

The writing is cool and effective, the story is chocka block full of heart, a lot of writers can write a banging thriller but not all of them can also slip in such elegantly layered character drama. Eddie is fascinating and utterly appealing, holding the whole thing together – here dealing with kidnapping, death, trouble a plenty with his usual wisecracking style. I just loved the whole thing.

The Liar, as with the previous Eddie Flynn novels is intelligent, thrilling, unpredictable and entirely brilliant – reading escapism at its very very best.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Mad Chloe J Esposito

Publication Date: 15th June from Michael Joseph

Source: Netgalley

‘There’s something you should know before we go any further: my heart is in the wrong place. Now don’t say I didn’t warn you…’

Perhaps that’s why nothing in Alvie’s life has ever gone right? Until now.

She can finally abandon her credit card debt – and her fruitless three-way relationship with Tinder and Twitter – when fate gives her the chance to steal her identical twin’s perfect life.

It’s just a shame Beth had to die to make Alvie’s dreams come true.

She may be an accidental murderess, but who can blame her for taking lemons and making lemonade? Well… Beth’s husband might, and the police, but only if they can catch her.

So begin seven days of sex, violence and unapologetic selfies – one wild week that sees Alvie break every rule in the book. She never did have much respect for boundaries.

It might be madness, but rules are meant to be broken. Right?

This book was insane for all the right reasons – I banged through it, once you meet Alvie Knightly you won’t want to turn your back on her, no way!

Mad is a whole pile of fun, sexy, sassy, murderous and intensely funny at times, I sat there reading it giggling away to myself I’m fairly sure people around me thought I might be mad. What? Sssh…

Anyway, Alvie has a twin. She hates her twin. Alvie is also a bit crap at life but kind of takes it all in her stride. Off she goes to visit her sister in Italy, her sister with the gorgeous husband, tons of cash and beautiful home, a baby and the life Alvie feels she should be living. When circumstances turn slightly, well, mad, Alvie seizes her chance to step into those high high heels.

This novel cracks along with frenetic, addictive style, beautifully descriptive in hot and heavy fashion, the author sets the scene, pops Alvie into it and off we go on a purely brilliant ride. Alvie has no filtered thoughts, finds she has a violent streak, observes life with a wittily intelligent outlook and manages to get into a whole load of trouble, using only her intuitive impulses to keep herself out of the danger zone. It is highly entertaining, first page to last, also quite bloody, gorgeously racy and beautifully provocative. I loved it.

So glad this is a trilogy. Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know. I’m in it all the way. Bring on book 2.

Alvina Knightly: Uncensored. Unhinged. Unforgettable.

Yep – you got that right.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The White Road Sarah Lotz.

Publication Date: 4th May from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review Copy

Adrenaline junkie Simon Newman sneaks onto private land to explore a dangerous cave in Wales with a strange man he’s met online. But Simon gets more than he bargained for when the expedition goes horribly wrong. Simon emerges, the only survivor, after a rainstorm trap the two in the cave. Simon thinks he’s had a lucky escape.

But his video of his near-death experience has just gone viral.

Suddenly Simon finds himself more famous than he could ever have imagined. Now he’s faced with an impossible task: he’s got to defy death once again, and film the entire thing. The whole world will be watching. There’s only on place on earth for him to pit himself against the elements: Mt Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

But Everest is also one of the deadliest spots on the planet. Two hundred and eighty people have died trying to reach its peak.

And Simon’s luck is about to run out.

I loved this whilst being inordinately disturbed by it – you know those times where you read something or watch something and it plays on your mind for days even weeks afterwards, leaving you feeling slightly perturbed for no reason you can put your finger on. I’m a fan of books that do that – means they really have gotten under your skin.

‘Who is the third who walks always beside you?’

Yes. That.

So with “The White Road” then, Sarah Lotz gives us a kind of a ghost story, with an edge of horror and a side of creepy “look behind you” vibe. Simon is not particularly likeable and falls into things – after a caving expedition goes awry he finds himself somewhat of a You Tube superstar. Trying to cash in on that his friend sends him off to climb Everest – the narrative jumps between Simon and Juliet, a previous climber, its not until much later that their two stories come together.

Sarah Lotz as she always does writes with an atmospheric, darkly twisted tone that just gets right to the heart of things. I shivered my way through this, I was living on that mountain with Simon and with Juliet – I couldn’t look away and the night in between the two days I read this over was full of those weirdly incoherent dreams that you only half remember when you awake. For me, that’s clever, beautiful writing right there.

I don’t want to talk about the actual plot much – there are many levels I could dissect for you but let’s not do that – Just know that if you are a fan of creepy, intense and  authentic feeling stories then The White Road will tick every box for you. The author walks the line between the real and the imagined so beautifully, the mythology that she builds The White Road from – the third man factor – is enough to make you nervous to begin with. The tension and the sense of unease build inexorably over the course of the storytelling, the setting is wild and uncontrollable and that comes across brilliantly. By the end, an end that haunts, I was so involved that it was hard to leave behind.

The White Road is chilling, in more ways than one, it is also intelligent, wonderfully written and has an enigmatic, mysterious other sense about it that will dig deep into your consciousness. From the opening claustrophobic and downright scary set up to the strangely even more claustrophobic mountain, you will get hook line and sinkered into this one – when a novel literally heightens all your senses as you read it you know you’ve got a good one.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Body in the Ice – A J Mackenzie

Publication Date: Available Now from Bonnier

Source: Review Copy.

Christmas Day, Kent, 1796

On the frozen fields of Romney Marsh stands New Hall; silent, lifeless, deserted. In its grounds lies an unexpected Christmas offering: a corpse, frozen into the ice of a horse pond.

It falls to the Reverend Hardcastle, justice of the peace in St Mary in the Marsh, to investigate. But with the victim’s identity unknown, no murder weapon and no known motive, it seems like an impossible task. Working along with his trusted friend, Amelia Chaytor, and new arrival Captain Edward Austen, Hardcastle soon discovers there is more to the mystery than there first appeared.

With the arrival of an American family torn apart by war and desperate to reclaim their ancestral home, a French spy returning to the scene of his crimes, ancient loyalties and new vengeance combine to make Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor’s attempts to discover the secret of New Hall all the more dangerous.

Really enjoyed this – you know I love my modern detective stories but sometimes its nice to read a mystery set in a time when there were no mobile phones or DNA matches or anything really except legwork, good old fashioned common sense and the use of the little grey cells (Yes this is a little bit Christie)

This is my first novel in this series although I have the other one sat in the never ending pile somewhere so will definitely have to dig this out – I was particularly struck by the setting and the atmosphere in The Body in the Ice and I loved how A J Mackenzie (another spot on writing team) wove plenty of humour into the narrative. It made for a fun and compelling read, the mystery elements are spot on and the writing style is easy and immersive. Great for a Sunday afternoon (which was when I read this one pretty much in a single sitting)

The historical elements were great – letters and actual conversations and the team of Hardcastle and Chaytor worked really well, I’ll look forward to going back in time (again) and read their first adventure. This is old school storytelling at its best and whilst I’m not generally a huge fan of Historical fiction there are exceptions to the rule and this is one of them.

Villages and community (loved Amelia) family dynamic and the social strata of the day bring  this novel to life – that with the occasionally Holmes like detection elements and a gorgeously drawn cast of eclectic characters make The Body in the Ice a wonderful read.

Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Friends and Liars Kaela Coble

Publication Date: 1st June from Corvus

Source: Netgalley

It has been ten years since Ruby left her hometown behind. Since then she’s built a life away from her recovering alcoholic mother and her first love, Murphy. But when Danny, one of her estranged friends from childhood, commits suicide, guilt draws Ruby back into the tumultuous world she escaped all those years ago.

She’s dreading the funeral – and with good reason. Danny has left a series of envelopes addressed to his former friends. Inside each envelope is a secret about every person in the group. Ruby’s secret is so explosive, she will fight tooth-and-nail to keep it hidden from those she once loved so deeply, even if that means risking everything…

Friends and Liars is a  totally immersive and addictive read about a group of friends and the things that both bring them together and divide them. In the aftermath of the suicide of one of their own, all of them must face up to the truths about themselves and each other.

As we meet them both in the past and in the present, their story is authentically compelling. As a tight knit group of children, “the crew”, none the less they all have wavering loyalties and secrets that they keep – Friends and Liars is a brilliantly insightful look at the group dynamics of friendships formed, those that endure. Danny, in death, forces a kind of reckoning, it is utterly gripping and often very emotional.

The characters, all of them, are layered well, Kaela Coble unravels their lives in an intelligently woven plot that allows you to feel everything right along with them. Much of the focus is on Ruby and her one time best friend Murphy, the rest of the group rippling around them with Danny, the damaged and troubled soul right at the heart of things. The author plays on the readers sympathies, keeping you engaged, in some ways this is like a mini thriller as each secret comes to light slowly over the course of the story. Ultimately there is a kind of redemptive feel to things, sometimes the truth really does set you free…

Really I loved it, I read it in two sittings, the small town vibe, the ebb and flow of family and community, this group of friends who are genuinely tied together by those invisible threads no matter where they are in the world, it all made for quite wonderful and often unpredictable reading.

I’ll miss them all. I feel like I’ve lived it with them.

Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Mayfly by James Hazel.

Publication Date: 15th June from Bonnier Zaffre

Source: Netgalley

It’s happening again.

A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

Charlie Priest, ex-detective inspector turned London lawyer, is hired by influential entrepreneur Kenneth Ellinder to investigate the murder of his son. But Priest is no ordinary lawyer. Brilliant, yet flawed, this case will push him, and those closest to him, to the edge.

Priest traces the evidence back to the desperate last days of the Second World War. Buried in the ashes of the Holocaust is a secret so deadly its poison threatens to destroy the very heart of the establishment.
With more victims going missing, Priest realises that not everyone should be trusted. As he races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?

Wow I loved The Mayfly. More than I expected to (always a good thing) and that is probably down to the completely compelling characters (Charlie Priest my newest book crush) and the rest (Georgie my newest girl crush) plus the brilliantly horrific plot which does get right under your skin. **slight shudder**

I won’t give anything away but the story fairly rocks along, whilst at the same time fleshing out (so to speak)  the characters, digging them into your consciousness so when bad things happen to them you are all discombobulated – and bad things do happen. Boy do they.

I like to find new crime fiction that has a different spin to put on things – what James Hazel does here is give you all the elements of a decent crime thriller with added oomph. Charlie Priest really is no ordinary lawyer – I’ll let you find out why for yourselves – but it adds a brilliantly intriguing twist on things that allows for some really meaningful moments in a plot full of layered depth. Also, his family is kind of weird – in the best reading way, I loved them. Even the one that I should probably be wary of.

I loved the past/present elements that all fused together ultimately, I really had no idea where this was going to end up, another reason for enjoying it thoroughly – I like the unpredictable not a lot get me that way these days. Even if I’d worked out every nuance though I would still have loved it – the characters are so fascinating, their relationships in our infancy of knowing them here are cleverly addictive – can’t wait for more now. Really. If the next book in the series is as good then its heading straight onto the must buy list.

Occasionally horrifically shiver inducing, never less than irresistible, The Mayfly is really top notch. Intelligently constructed, characters to die for and a truly sterling opening to what I hope will be a long running series. Charlie Priest. Remember the name.

I love this part.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: The Boy on the Bridge – M R Carey.

Publication Date: 2nd May from Orbit

Source: Review Copy.

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

So I’ve been waiting for this one in that way that I do, really patiently and without bugging anyone at ALL about it. Just sat here patiently waiting. No seriously!

ANYWAY The Boy on the Bridge is tagged as The Girl with all the Gifts book 2 but it is not that, it is a brilliant companion novel set in the same world, you can read this perfectly easily as a standalone book, although there are some lovely little gifts (yes I did that) for you if you have read Girl first. You should do that anyway simply because it is brilliant. I’m reading it again right now in fact…

Is “The Boy on the Bridge” as brilliant? Yes. You’ll get no argument from me, although it is brilliant in very different ways and for a whole host of new reasons. This is where I will struggle – because much like TGWATG I don’t want to give anything away. What the rather talented Mr Carey has done here is expand the entire sense of the world he built, given it form and function, with the help of some inspired characters and a kind of post apocalyptic road trip of highly charged emotional doom. Or redemption. You decide.

I was so involved all the way through this book – I felt all the feelings and clutched my hair quite a lot, growled at the actions of a few, clung onto the edge of the actions of at least one and from the moment I started it I lost my grip on this reality and lived in that one. Mr Carey has a way of writing with such totally immersive prose that you do live every moment, sinking into it and travelling along with it. By the end I was wrung out and blimey what an end I got too, first the last few cliff hanging chapters that brought everything from before to an emotive and heart wrenching finish then if that wasn’t enough there’s a beautifully placed little aftershock.

These really are the books I read for, the ones that for whatever reason, totally subjectively, grip you to the point that you know you’ll never forget them and will return to them to recapture that emotional tug they gave you the first time. The ones that will give that over and over no matter how many times you read them.

The Girl with all the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge are such books for me – whether they would be for you or not I cannot tell but what I can  do is  recommend that you at least give it a try. Really. What’s the worst that could happen?

Just a fantastic fascinating beautifully formed reading experience. All the love for this one. Both the  boy and the girl hit me right in the reading soul.

Highly Recommended. HIGHLY.

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Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

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Latest Reads: Penance Kanae Minato

Publication Date: Available Now from Mulholland

Source: Netgalley

When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emily by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emily is found murdered hours later.
Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emily’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.

I read Confessions from this author and loved it, a one sitting read and Penance was another one sitting read. It was strange and dark, occasionally heart breaking and beautifully done. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel I was immediately hooked in to this tale of a group of children caught up in the horrific murder of one of their friends, a sinister threat from the girls mother and how that affected them growing up..

Penance is less a murder mystery and more a character drama – the murder, and the mothers emotionally charged “threat” setting off a chain of life events for the 4 girls and indeed for the mother herself. Each girl tells her tale, about that day and about their lives after, all of them in one way or another end up paying that “Penance” that was demanded of them at a young and impressionable age. Kenae Minato really delves into personality here, taking us on a twisted, atmospheric journey through the lives of these characters, whose realities differ so much but all are tied into a seemingly unbreakable bond to that one event.

The cultural aspects are equally involving, as I read I got a real sense of both the differences and the similarities between life in Japan and life here – there are different expectations, different society rules and hierarchy, but people are people everywhere. Grief, love, trauma, those things have no borders and I was struck by how beautifully the author managed to portray the feelings, the passion, the core heart of everyone we meet within the pages.

Utterly riveting, everything in Penance hovers underneath the surface, the decisions made, the actions taken, all informed by the past  at differing levels. The plotting is taut and extraordinarily clever, its not until you come to the end of Penance and look back at it that you understand fully the complete tragedy. Because Penance is a tragedy, almost Shakespearean in nature, I devoured every word of it with a shivery intensity.

Absolutely Highly Recommended.

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