Keep Her Safe Richard Parker

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Never have I read such a complex, and compelling, story based on so few characters.

This book has two protagonists, Maggie and Holly. The fate of both of these women is controlled by the mysterious Babysitter. 

The Babysitter kidnaps women’s young children, and will only return them when they have completed his tasks.

So, when Holly is sent to kill Maggie, it is to save the life of her young daughter Abigale.

The story is that of these two women as they fight for their own survival, and takes place over an 8-hour time frame, Maggie must be dead before sunrise

Maggie is not the innocent woman that Holly though she was, and it soon becomes apparent that she has more in common with Holly than you would expect.

Holly is dead set on killing Maggie; and the struggle between the two women, in Maggie’s house, is one of the most engrossing bits of writing I’ve ever read.

The story sways to and fro, one chapter narrated from Maggie’s point of view the next Holly’s. It’s a struggle between right and wrong, good and bad, but it’s perspective is never black and white.

All the while the struggle is taking place text messages, from the Babysitter, make it obvious he can see what is happening, so there is no escaping the fact Holly needs to kill Maggie or die trying.

At first different readers will want Holly to succeed, others Maggie; but I can guarantee whichever one you start with you will change your mind more than once.

After all what would you do to save your child, alternatively how far would you go to save your life if somebody broke into your house and tried to kill you.

More compelling than most books which have many more characters, and take place over days, weeks, or months, this book had me turning each page with as much nervous trepidation as anticipation. I had not got a clue how the story was going to end, and I was fully engaged with both Maggie and Holly.

I may have made this tale sound simplistic. Two main characters and a short time period, but if you love psychological thrillers you will go an awful long way to find a better book.

Pages: 329

Publishing date UK: 11th January 2018.

Publishers: Bookouture

Available to pre-order on Amazon.

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Dark Game Rachel Lynch

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2017 has seen the publication of some fantastic psychological thrillers, and if this book is anything to go by 2018 is going to see even more.

Kelly Porter is a 36-year-old DI in Cumbria; but that was not where she started her Police career, she has recently moved home from the Met, and she brings with her all the experience of an officer who has served time on an MIT in London.

However; she is not like most protagonists in this situation, she actively tries to not come across as the big-city-girl and is very easy to like. She is struggling with living at home with mom, and having an over-bearing sister living nearby, but as far as her job goes, she’s good and she just lets her professionalism speak for itself.

To start with she is given cold cases to review whilst she is mentored by her predecessor before he moves on to his new job. So, when she digs into the case of a girl who was murdered after being kidnapped during a family outing, and there appears to be a link to a current crime, she is soon thrown into the thick of a serious investigation and takes over as the SIO.

Amongst the small towns of the Lake District there is a growing community of immigrant workers. Amongst these workers are a community of illegal workers held against their will and forced into prostitution and drug abuse.

When one of the local businessmen dies whilst engaging the services of one of these sex workers it starts a chain reaction that uncovers layers of evil that unfortunately do not only exist in fiction.

The young girls forced into working as prostitutes; the human trafficking that gets them into the country, the vicious gangs that are responsible for the trafficking. Then there’s the other crimes that the gangs bring with them. Dog fighting, humans forced into fighting, rape and murder.

This book holds no punches, and certainly has no filters, as it follows Kelly Porters investigation into an ever increasingly serious criminal investigation.

Each new chapter holds another revelation, some of which I didn’t see coming; each of which seems to get more violent as the higher ranking criminals realise that Porter is working her way up the food-chain and is getting close to them.

People who read this blog regularly will know that I place a lot on reality. Rachel Lynch has done her research. The story is frighteningly realistic; the crimes, as they take place are described brilliantly. The crime scenes, and the effect they have on the Police, are stunningly written. The chain of events that transcribe the investigation are logical with no big leaps of faith. In fact, the way the investigation opens up, and the processes the officers go through, are perfectly written.

I hope this is the first of a series. If it is, the next one can’t come soon enough.

 

Published by Canelo

Publishing date: 29th January 2018.

The Vanishing Girls Lisa Regan

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Straight from the start I’m going to say I loved this book. The Plot, the main protagonist, the setting, everything.

The story is based in the small fictional town of Denton Pennsylvania. When a young woman goes missing it attracts the attention of all of the local police department, but the one woman that really wants to get involved in the search is on suspension for hitting another woman.

Detective Josie Quinn is a troubled character, she has recently left her husband when she found out he was having an affair with the local stripper. Her husband, her childhood best friend turned-lover-turned-husband, was not only a cop, he was her best friend.

The towns chief refuses to let Josie back from suspension so she starts to look into the disappearance of the girl herself; and she starts to uncover some terrible secrets.

Everybody she thinks to turn to for help might be put in danger, or may put her in danger. In turmoil and not knowing who to trust Josie uncovers historical crimes that she links to the disappearance of the girl. Her one-woman investigation goes from looking for a missing girl to looking for a serial killer.

This book is brilliant. The story had me hooked from the start and kept me engrossed throughout.

The culmination of the investigation is not at the end of the story. Thankfully Lisa Regan has continued, past the end game of the crimes, to include the inquest that goes on after the perpetrator has been found. But did he work alone, and has Josie identified everybody involved.

Thankfully there are more Josie Quinn books on the way and I, for one, can’t wait for the next.

Whilst I was reading this the style of writing, and the story, reminded me of another of my favourite authors. So, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anybody who likes books by Greg Isles

 

Pages: 345

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date UK: 17th January 2018

Hell Bay Kate Rhodes

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The phrase saves the best till last springs to mind when I start this review. This year I have read some great books; but as its December I can safely say that one of the best has been one of the last of the year.

“Hell Bay” by Kate Rhodes is a cracking read. The story is set on Bryher, one of the smallest of the Scilly Isles, just of the Cornish coast and only accessible by boat.

The stories main protagonist is DI Kitto Benesek, a Met undercover detective from the Murder Investigation Team, he is returning to his home island to get himself together following the death of his partner. The last thing he needs is a murder amongst the closely-knit residents of the island. An island with only 98 residents, nearly all of who he knows.

But that is what he gets when on the night he returns a young girl goes missing. Drafted in by the local Police Kitto heads an investigation into her disappearance.

From the start the reader knows she has been killed but by who. The characters on the island are rich and colourful, and not one of them seems to have a reason to kill her.

There are two added twists to the plot that might relate to the murder. One of the residents is trying to buy out the poorer residents to develop the island, he is making no friends with his strong-arm tactics but would he stretch to murder. Then there is the modern-day smuggling ring that is dropping drugs onto the beaches to be picked up and distributed on the mainland; did she stumble across one of the transactions, or could she be part of the smuggling ring.

The book uses the isolation of the island to build the tension. The characters are typical of a small English town, but are hemmed in buy the Atlantic.

Kitto has been away from the island for a long time only returning for his parent’s funerals. His friends have grown, new relationships have been formed but basically not much has changed.

Kitto is used to the violence of the capital but dealing with it on his own island amongst his friends and family is hard. How can he not have preconceptions.

This book longer than most books being published at the moment but every chapter had me reading the next in quick succession. I can’t say I read it in one sitting, but I read it at every opportunity, and hated having to put it down when work intervened.

Thankfully the last few pages are a preview of the next book in the series so I know there’s another coming. Now I just have to sit and wait.

Pages: 432

Publishers: Simon & Schuster

Publishing date: 25th January 2017.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Cover Up Marnie Riches

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This is the second book in the Manchester series by Marnie Riches and follows on shortly after the end of the first book Born Bad.

With Paddy O’Brien, the main gangland boss, gone Manchester is up for grabs, but who is going to take control.

Paddy’s wife Sheila is trying to assume his roll, but will anybody take her seriously. They should, she has his old Henchman Conky close at hand, very close at hand, and he is quite happy to dispense violent retribution on anybody who crosses his new girlfriend.

She is also aided by the scripture quoting grandmother Gloria.

Gloria is the “straight” business partner of Sheila who helped her set up a legitimate cleaning company; but now things are getting dodgy, she is wondering around Manchester with a shopping trolley loaded with a gun and ammunition. This oxymoron of a woman is probably one of the best fictional characters I’ve read for a long time.

Sheila’s main threat is coming from a new quarter. Nigel Bancroft is a Brummie who, as well as running a legitimate, and successful property development business, is also the gangland boss of the Midlands.

Brummie Nigel wants to move into Manchester and goes about trying to muscle into O’Brien territory to get a foothold in the north-west city.

Meanwhile the O’Briens main rivals in Manchester, the Boddington Gang, is also trying to take control. This gang is in the mist of an internal struggle as the two head men, Tariq and Jonny, are at loggerheads about everything except taking over the O’Briens business.

All the time the Police are watching and waiting for any crack to appear in the gang’s armour. Detective Ellis James is determined to bring the gangs to task, but how far will he go to get that vital piece of evidence.

Just to throw a spanner in the works somebody else is watching from a distance. Somebody with an axe to grind, somebody who wants revenge, somebody who wants back what he considers his property, and he is prepared to go to any lengths to get it.

This book is written in a way that at times had me laughing at its dark humour, and at other times has me wincing with its violence.

The storyline is a masterful journey of twists and turns with the occasional surprise that had me thinking “no way” and at the same time “brilliant”.

I loved the story, I loved the characters, I can’t wait for the next instalment.

 

Pages: 400

Published by Avon

Publishing date: 11 January 2018

Murder Game Blog Tour

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Caroline Mitchell writes from experience. Her biography, on her own website, tells us that she was once a Police Detective who worked on cases involving high risk victim of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. This is a woman that’s “been there and got the T-shirt”, and it shows in her writing.

Rarely do I read books as realistic as the ones Caroline writes, and even more rarely does an author hook me with her stories from the very first page, but she does.

Murder Game Description

 A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead.

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die…

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one…

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

 My Review

Everybody loves a good serial killer story, and this one is really good.

Detective Sergeant Ruby Preston, and her team, are back.

Years ago Mason Gately was caught in the act of murdering his 6th Victim. Nicknamed by the press The Lonely Heart Killer, he found his victims through the personal adds in local papers, Gately had a very specific way of killing the women over several days.

When Melissa Phillips, the wife of a high-profile BBC News Journalist, goes missing; and he starts to receive images of her, similar to those sent by Gately of his victims to their families, alarm bells begin to ring.

Ruby’s boss, DI Downes, had worked on the original case and knows that some of the details of the original murders had never been released to the public. So how does the new killer know how to recreate the murders in such detail? Is Gately actually the Lonely Hearts Killer, or is the wrong person in custody.

As more people go missing the similarities between the murders continue and each case is a rush against time to save the victim.

Meanwhile the killer is contacting a confidential telephone help line and talking, in a round-about way, about his crimes. Will the call handler understand who they are talking to?

Ruby is still dating her first love, who she is only recently become reacquainted with, Nathan. Just to add spice to the story Nathan is part of one of the biggest crime families in Shoreditch.

This relationship opens doors for Ruby to interview Gately, and so begins a relationship very similar to that of Starling and Lecter.

What sacrifices will Ruby have to make to get the information she needs, and how many people will suffer before she gets it.

This is another great story in this series by Caroline Mitchell. Each book gets better, and as ever I was left wanting to read the next one straight away.

I suppose I’ll just have to be patient.

Amazon Links for Murder Game

UK: http://amzn.to/2v1l8v5

US: http://amzn.to/2umrDqp

Caroline’s website

www.caroline-writes.com

Gone Missing T.J. Brearton

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A good stand-alone novel, from a well-established author. What could go wrong? Absolutely nothing. This book has a hook that got me straight from the start.

Katie is the daughter of a wealthy family that owns a chain of restaurants and hotels. Her and David, her husband live a happy life on the outskirts of New York.

When Katie goes out for a jog she chooses 1 of 3 routes, all of which start and end the same way, on a pathway into a park.

Finishing her run one morning Katie hears a baby crying in a van. Texting her husband what she has found, and jokingly saying if she goes missing call the police, she opens the van and leans in to comfort the baby. Then it all goes horribly wrong for her as she realises, too late, that the baby is a doll, and that its bait to trap her.

The book then takes two main strands. The story of Katie and her kidnappers, and her attempts to regain her freedom; and the story of the investigation into her disappearance.

Investigator Justin Cross is a complex character, and when he is tasked with finding Katie, or identifying the people responsible for her kidnap, he throws himself at the investigation with no regard to his own wellbeing.

The story alternates chapters between Katie’s existence and the investigation into her disappearance. I must say, as much as I enjoyed the whole book, I really enjoyed the chapters covering Katie’s story

Her Husband helps with the investigation but all the time he is growing frustrated with the lack of progress, and at the same time becoming more and more worried that he will never see his wife again.

Fans of C.J. Box will love this book. Katie fights for survival in the woods of New York County. She has to make decisions that nobody should ever have to make. All the time her own ethics make her second guess each decision. Decisions she knows she will have to live with for the rest of her life.

The story never lets up in its breath-taking pace, from start to finish something happen on every page.

Pages:395

Publisher UK: Bookouture

Publishing date: 16th November 2017.

Available now to pre-order on Amazon