This section features books coming in 2018 not (yet) featured elsewhere.
Publication Date: 17th May from Transworld
SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE FATAL . . .
On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she said. I won’t be long.
But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.
Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.
Meanwhile Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.
But the truth can be a dangerous thing . . .
I read snap in a snap – any Belinda Bauer novel is highly addictive and this one had both a sense of darkness and a sense of fun about it around the horrible events – and it had Jack, a character I really wish would get his own series.
That edgy, tense feeling you are used to when reading a novel from this author is still in full flow – After Jack’s mother disappears, his father becomes distant leaving Jack to care for his sisters and ensuring they don’t starve. Meanwhile Catherine awakes to a sinister note on her pillow and more and more strange things start occurring. Local policemen are looking for a thief known as “Goldilocks”..these three strands all come together in an unexpected and highly excellent fashion, creating a right proper page turner.
It is a slow burner – Belinda Bauer cranks up the tension, allows her characters to speak and draws you into their world. As ever it is a beautifully written, highly compelling psychological thriller.
Also as ever, recommended. Along with everything else she’s written.
Publication Date: May 2018 From Penguin
A princess, a traitor, a soldier, a hunter and a thief. Five teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Five nations destined for conflict.
In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father, while her true love, Ambrose, faces the executioner’s block. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.
As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our five heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?
I wondered when I finished the “Half Bad” series how on earth Sally Green would follow that up with anything even close to it’s addictive brilliance – turns out that wasn’t even a problem as she brings us “The Smoke Thieves” a multi-layered character drama set in a politically unstable fantasy world.
Five teenagers, their fates inextricably linked, even though they don’t yet know it, forms the heart of the plot. All of them have their own fascinatingly intriguing background and the author slowly but surely builds us a picture of their individual worlds and how they are headed on a collision course, drawing the reader into a hugely adventurous and entertaining piece of storytelling.
I was especially drawn to Catherine, who is intelligent yet resigned to her fate, it is even a fate she welcomes – until she begins to understand the evil that men do – and to Tash, demon hunter, lover of boots, growing up in a tumultuous world. All our main protagonists however are beautifully drawn, engaging and diverse.
The world building is brilliant once more, I loved the demon aspect, hoping to find out more about that particular strand in future novels – the political landscape is cleverly divisive and the plotting is taut and cleverly written, I immersed myself into this world and once I had a handle on it I read this fast, one of those books where you think “just one more chapter” then suddenly you are done.
I’m loathe to give too much away – but if you loved the Half Bad series for it’s realistically flawed and highly relatable characters, for the ebb and flow of the relationships and for the reading trauma fuelled storytelling then you are going to ADORE The Smoke Thieves which does all that but better. I am on tenterhooks for book two – this is going to be one heck of a ride.
Publication Date: March 1st 2018 from Corsair
Sergeant Ruth Lake and DCI Greg Carver are on the hunt for a serial killer who carefully poses his victims and covers every inch of their bodies in intricate, cryptic tattoos. Dubbed the ‘Thorn Killer’, by the media, the killer uses a primitive and excruciatingly painful thorn method to etch his victims. After many months, a breakthrough feels imminent. Then the killer gets personal: the latest victim – a student found only a week earlier – is staged to look like Carver’s wife.
Pushed over the edge, Carver spirals into a self-destructive cycle of booze and risky sex. Now he lies near death, and the unreadable Lake stands over him with a gun. Did she shoot her boss? If not, why is she removing evidence from his apartment, faking the scene?
I am unsure whether this is pegged to be the start of a new series, but I really hope so because I thoroughly enjoyed it – I found the main characters to be divisively engaging and the dark undertone to the plot really did get under my skin.
I liked this one for the way it was told – we start with a detective shot and his sergeant standing over him – but did she shoot him? If so why? That is the question and instead of going back in time we go forward, day by day, as he lies in the hospital and she continues to instigate a cover up.
This is a serial killer thriller that has an intriguing “bad guy” – the mode of death is the type which feels more horrific the more you actually think about it. The two investigations, that into the killer and that into the shooting of one of our main protagonists move forward side by side. There are plenty of twists and turns to be had, both in event and character, overall it was a proper page turner of a read and very well written, giving a fresh feel to proceedings even whilst following the best tropes of the crime thriller.
Overall yes, I approve. More please.
Publication Date: 14th June 2018 from Macmillan
Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet.
But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.
Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.
This book was sinfully addictive I read it in one sitting. For fans of psychological thrillers this is likely to be a sure fire hit of the summer.
Pammie is a star character. A total star character. The “mother in law” from hell indeed, plus the author twists and turns the narrative really well when it comes to the heart of the story, that of the eternal triangle between Mother, Son and the girl he chooses.
I’ll be honest and say there are moments and actions by the characters in this where your suspension of disbelief will be challenged but then they DO say love is blind – and that can apply to all love not just romantic love – a theme I felt was well explored here. I did occasionally want to slap Emily around the head with a wet fish and yell at her GET OUT GET OUT NOW which of course is the sign of how engaged and involved I was with this rather twisted love story.
Because I read so many psychological thrillers what I look for these days is just one thing that surprises me. Not necessarily a twist or an unexpected ending but just that one thing I don’t see before it arrives. The Other Woman had several of these moments which elevated it plus the final resolution was extremely clever and thought provoking.
The characters are highly compelling from Emily with her often bull headed determination, to Pammie with her subtle and not so subtle interference, to Adam the not so perfect perfect man AND all the rest (I had a particular fondness for Emily’s own mother) they will all get into your head and stick with you after you have finished reading.
Overall really very good! Yes. One to watch later this year if you are a fan of the twisted narrative.
Publication Date: March 2018 from Orion
Alex should never have agreed to the spur-of-the-moment holiday with her sister. Seven days felt like a year without Daniel, her ten-year-old son. This was the first time they had been apart since he was born and her husband had convinced her it was a good idea.
It was a bad idea.
Daniel has gone missing.
As local CID officers, David Stone and Frankie Oliver have been assigned their first case together. A small boy’s fate lies in their hands and the pressure is on.
And when someone close to Daniel is found dead, they begin to feel the heat.
I’m a huge fan of Mari Hannah so was very excited to get to read the first novel in her new series and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it.
Nobody writes police drama quite like this author and she just confirms that here with the start to her new series – character driven and multi-layered with a cleverly intriguing mystery at the heart of it, The Lost is an almost perfect lead in to what is sure to become a popular duo in crime world – Stone and Oliver.
It is a brilliant mix in plotting of character building and mystery elements – plenty of twists and turns, some heart stopping moments and an unpredictable sense to the outcome – making it an addictive and immersive read that just makes you want to read more immediately.
I loved how we saw what was going on external to the police investigation – and as for that I fell immediately for both our main protagonists who have plenty of compelling background that engages but without being cliched – all done with that little flair that I’ve come to know from Mari Hannah.
Overall an excellent read. Bring on more Stone and Oliver I say – as soon as possible.
Publication Date: February 2018 from Simon and Schuster
Source: Review Copy
‘Thirty-seven years in the force, and if I was allowed to choose just one thing to erase from my mind, what’s inside that room would be it.’
That’s what a LAPD Lieutenant tells Detectives Hunter and Garcia of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit as they arrive at one of the most shocking crime scenes they have ever attended.
In a completely unexpected turn of events, the detectives find themselves joining forces with the FBI to track down a serial killer whose hunting ground sees no borders; a psychopath who loves what he does because to him murder is much more than just killing – it’s an art form.
Welcome to The Gallery of the Dead.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Robert Hunter series from way back when, I’ve enjoyed them all to one degree or another – Gallery of the Dead was a huge tick in the plus column – not only was it scary good and dark as you like but had that real addictive quality – yes exactly like a binge worthy tv drama. JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER.
Anyway in this one the FBI teams up with the LAPD to track a killer who may be too clever even for Hunter – the descriptive tone of the storytelling has the Chris Carter trademark immersive quality – it is visceral and visual and definitely not for the faint of heart, which I luckily am not. Hunter as a character continues to grow and the ending of this one promises much for the future. I’ll say no more.
I love the way Chris Carter twists a plot without needing a twist – it is just flows outwards keeping you engaged and wanting to know how it all goes – even when horrible things are happening you can’t look away. That is what I look for in my crime thrillers and this is exactly what you get here.
Recommended. As a series for sure but this one particularly.
Publication Date: June 2018 from Hodder and Stoughton
What if you found out that you’d been married to a stranger?
‘Never go there, Nuala. Please, never go there.’
Nuala knows nothing of her husband James’s past. He made her swear that she would never contact his family and never, EVER visit the place he was from.
But now James is dead, and Nuala is alone. Grieving and desperate, she decides to ignore his warning.
Nuala is about to find out that some secrets are better left buried – and that uncovering the truth about the man she married will have terrible consequences..
I LOVED this. It was twisty as hell and more addictive than a pot of pringles – I rushed through it, hanging on to every word waiting to see what would happen.
You know I’ve been thinking that if characters read more psychological thrillers they’d have a much easier time of things because when their husband tells them to “Never go there” perhaps they wouldn’t then they wouldn’t end up in so much hot water. But luckily for us readers in this case, Nuala ignores that warning and in her grief at losing James she heads off to meet the family. What follows is an absolutely gripping page turner that disintegrates a marriage, messes with your perception of things and has a cracking finale that is incredibly shouty. By that I mean I shouted at it. No. What? Wait don’t do that…and well, you get the point.
The writing is brilliantly immersive and the characters are all cleverly drawn – I can’t say I particularly liked any of them, although occasionally had a pang of sympathy but this is a story of actions and consequences, in the end I believe they all had some kind of karmic comeuppance. It was a barnstormer of a story with some dark and emotive themes, highly engaging and really a most excellent read.
Highly Recommended – one to watch in 2018
You can purchase “Never Go There” HERE.
Publication Date: February 2018 from Century
The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, Look for me.
“Look For Me” is book 9 in the DD Warren series from Lisa Gardner (can be read as a standalone easily too) and has the added benefit of also featuring once more young victim turned vigilante Flora Dane who we met in “Find Her”
I love this series – Ms Gardner always writes those proper page turners that are immediately absorbing and horrifically addictive. I’m a fan of DD Warren anyway and also now of Flora Dane and in this, their first full collaboration if you like, both of them spark – making the mystery elements even more intriguing as we see different motivations at play.
The main focus of this instalment is an emotional one – an entire family bar one gunned down in their home – the missing girl could be victim or perpetrator, DD is determined to discover which. The story then takes on several themes, including the vagaries of the foster care system, sisterly relationships and parental responsibility – it is cleverly insightful with psychological thriller elements and a nicely played out mystery to solve.
Overall another excellent addition to this series, making me VERY keen to read the next.
You can purchase Look For Me HERE
Publication Date: May 2018 from Sourcebooks Landmark
Six million acres of Adirondack forest separate Natalie and Doug Larson from civilization. For the newlyweds, an isolated, back country honeymoon seems ideal: a chance to start their lives together with an adventure, on their own. But just as Natalie and Doug begin to explore the dark interiors of their own hearts, as well as the depths of their love for each other, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods.
Because six million acres makes it easy for the wicked to hide. And even easier for someone to go missing for good.
As they struggle with the worst the wilderness has to offer, a man watches them, wielding the forest like a weapon. And once they are near his domain, he will do everything in his power to make sure they never walk out again.
Wicked River was a fast and fun read for me – Deliverance notwithstanding I’m even more unlikely to go visiting the wilds of anywhere anytime soon after reading this story…
It has a lilting style to the writing that draws you into the lives of this newly married couple – a rather strange pair of lovebirds it feels obvious from the start that perhaps they are not such a perfect match – but they are about to be thrown into a terrifying and unknowable situation from which there may be no return..
There are some issues with it to be fair, I’m not sure the strand that dealt with niece Mia back home really added anything apart from slowing it down – the parts that intrigued me and kept me turning the pages was the suspicious and ever changing relationship between our main protagonists and the guy they meet in the wilds, who lets face it is more than a little crazy.
Descriptively speaking this is brilliant, you really feel the force of nature surrounding you and the “bad guy” is creepy and compelling, strangely often inducing pity for his situation despite his cannibalistic tendencies. I think Wicked River sits more on the literary thriller side than the commercial, it often has that slow burn feel to it, with motivations blurred and a sense that something unexpected is around the corner.
Overall a very good read. I am more than happy to be curled up under my duvet writing this review and not near any kind of body of water…
You can purchase Wicked River HERE
Publication Date: March 2018 from Atlantic.
One warm, West Texas November night, a shy boy named Oliver Loving joins his classmates at Bliss County Day School’s annual dance, hoping for a glimpse of the object of his unrequited affections, an enigmatic Junior named Rebekkah Sterling. But as the music plays, a troubled young man sneaks in through the school’s back door. The dire choices this man makes that evening —and the unspoken story he carries— will tear the town of Bliss, Texas apart.
Nearly ten years later, Oliver Loving still lies wordless and paralyzed at Crockett State Assisted Care Facility, the fate of his mind unclear. Orbiting the still point of Oliver’s hospital bed is a family transformed: Oliver’s mother, Eve, who keeps desperate vigil; Oliver’s brother, Charlie, who has fled for New York City only to discover he cannot escape the gravity of his shattered family; Oliver’s father, Jed, who tries to erase his memories with bourbon. And then there is Rebekkah Sterling, Oliver’s teenage love, who left Texas long ago and still refuses to speak about her own part in that tragic night. When a new medical test promises a key to unlock Oliver’s trapped mind, the town’s unanswered questions resurface with new urgency, as Oliver’s doctors and his family fight for a way for Oliver to finally communicate — and so also to tell the truth of what really happened that fateful night.
Oliver Loving is a beautifully written and consuming story that looks at familial and community relationships in the aftermath of a tragedy – the sort of tragedy where the question “Why” cannot always be answered..
Using multiple views, one of which is the locked in Oliver, we see the before and the after, the changes the family goes through, the ways in which hope remains alive. It is a wonderfully compelling tale that digs deep into the emotional core of all of us, offering huge insight into human nature and leaving a lasting impression after the last page is done.
I was sad for Oliver and a life not lived, for his Mother who clung on through it all, this is entirely captivating, with a heartfelt mystery element and a real tug on the hearstrings.
It’s a different approach to the central theme, gorgeous prose and a real sense of place and personality, Oliver Loving is one of those stories that feels very real. If I had one small bugbear I think it may have over wrung out the middle part, but overall Oliver Loving is a literary delight and a deeply touching tale from first word to last.
You can purchase Oliver Loving HERE