Crime

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Blog Tour – Never Be Broken (DI Marnie Rome #6) – Sarah Hilary

Published May 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost.

Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.

DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

NEVER BE BROKEN is a stunning, intelligent and gripping novel which explores how the act of witness alters us, and reveals what lies beneath the veneer of a glittering city.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Headline Books for providing me with a complimentary hardback in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit, when the email first came through from Anne, I practically bit her hand off for the chance to be involved in this tour. The DI Marnie Rome series remains one of my absolute favourites in crime fiction and unlike series from different authors in the past (where I’ve sadly lost interest as the series continued) in my opinion, these books just keep getting stronger and stronger. Like my other favourite crime author Cara Hunter, Sarah Hilary dives into the heart and soul of her fascinating characters and as each book continues, you really start to believe not only that these characters exist but that you understand and care about them on a much more intimate level.

Sarah Hilary, author of Never Be Broken, the sixth novel in the DI Marnie Rome series. 

I would urge anyone reading this review with an interest in contemporary UK crime fiction to seek out and devour these novels right from the beginning. Although each book could theoretically be read as a stand-alone, you will understand much more about our protagonists’ pasts, hopes, dreams and fears from enjoying it from the start. There are a few particular threads I’m thinking of involving Marnie and her colleague Noah, specifically their individual family situations that just HAVE to be experienced from Someone Else’s Skin onwards. Although it may feel overwhelming to catch up on seven books in a series, I can confidently confirm that it will be worth every single page you read. Sarah Hilary manages to capture not only the authenticity of her characters as I’ve mentioned previously, but the current situation in London today. I found this particularly poignant in Never Be Broken as topics explored included Brexit, the tragedy of Grenfell Tower and violent crime amongst young people.

The devastation of the fire at Grenfell Tower, mentioned in Never Be Broken.

DI Marnie Rome and her sidekick, DS Noah Jake are our two main protagonists in the series and the author has chosen to explore their lives intricately through previous books in the series. In Never Be Broken, the main focus is on Noah which I was delighted by as I have a particular soft spot for him as a character. Well – I wasn’t expecting joy and happiness in a novel that mentions “broken” within the very title but I seriously wasn’t prepared for how much drama, heart-break and havoc I would be facing as a reader. Sarah Hilary expertly merges the exploration of her characters personalities with tense, gut-wrenching moments of action. The result is that you get a story with slower, beautiful and more thought-provoking passages combined with parts that literally kept me on the edge of my seat as I continued to read. As I alluded to before, because the author spends so much time letting us get to know the characters on a personal level, you champion and root for them even more so because you feel that special connection.

I’m thrilled to confirm another stellar outing from Sarah Hilary with Never Be Broken but I never expected any less, to be honest. She is truly becoming a “must read” author in the crime fiction genre that everyone should be aware of if they aren’t already familiar with her. I’m so excited to see where she’s going to take our characters next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the
Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s
Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard & Judy Book Club
bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the
series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series
continued with Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing and Come And Find Me.

Find Sarah on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3418841.Sarah_Hilary

on her website at: http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.co.uk/

on Twitter at: @sarah_hilary

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater and Headline Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Never Be Broken was published on 16th May 2019 and will be available as a hardback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Never Be Broken on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43527422-never-be-broken

Link to Never Be Broken on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Broken-D-I-Marnie-Rome/dp/1472249003/ref=sr_1_1?crid=GIZKJVZ5ODE9&keywords=never+be+broken&qid=1558464618&s=gateway&sprefix=never+be+broken%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-1

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Blog Tour – Death And The Harlot by Georgina Clarke

Published May 15, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A gripping historical crime debut from an exciting new voice.‘It’s strange, the way fortune deals her hand.’

The year is 1759 and London is shrouded in a cloak of fear. With the constables at the mercy of highwaymen, it’s a perilous time to work the already dangerous streets of Soho. Lizzie Hardwicke makes her living as a prostitute, somewhat protected from the fray as one of Mrs Farley’s girls. But then one of her wealthy customers is found brutally murdered… and Lizzie was the last person to see him alive.

Constable William Davenport has no hard evidence against Lizzie but his presence and questions make life increasingly difficult. Desperate to be rid of him and prove her innocence Lizzie turns amateur detective, determined to find the true killer, whatever the cost.

Yet as the body count rises Lizzie realises that, just like her, everyone has a secret they will do almost anything to keep buried…

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo Publishers for getting in touch via email and offering a spot on the blog tour and a digital copy of Death And The Harlot in exchange for an honest review. I was instantly compelled by the intriguing synopsis and pleased to discover a heady mixture of crime, mystery and historical fiction, set in one of my favourite time periods, 18th century London. Furthermore, it was wonderful to read about such a fascinating female protagonist, Lizzie Hardwicke whose personal back story becomes all the more intriguing as the story continues and certainly piqued my interest for reading further novels about her, if this becomes a series.

Georgina Clarke, author of Death And The Harlot. 

Georgina Clarke has provided a story steeped in curiosity, from the previously mentioned female lead who works as a prostitute in one of the higher end brothels, to the engrossing mystery that surrounds one of her customers’ rather sudden and suspicious death. Lizzie becomes embroiled in the case, having been one of the last people to speak to the unfortunate man and before long, heads into a whirlwind plot of blackmail, secrets and danger. In 18th century London, it is difficult enough to be a woman, especially if you have a character as determined and independent as Lizzie Hardwicke, but she sets her mind firmly on unravelling the mystery and unmasking the villain, no matter what the personal cost may be to herself.

A Harlot’s Progress (1732) by William Hogarth depicting 18th century London. 

Image from: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/London-life18th.jsp

The author does a wonderful job of bringing all the squalor and atmosphere from London in this period of history to life in glorious detail. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I appreciate when an author can capture a setting so vividly and imaginatively. As a result, I certainly felt as if I walked the same paths as Lizzie, seeing everything she saw and feeling everything she felt. As a character, I loved her stubborn doggedness in pursuit of justice, the way in which she never gave up despite how hopeless the situation may have seemed and the size of her heart when she was faced with other characters within the story that needed her help or advice. I did feel occasionally that it would have been nice to have the same level of development with other individuals in the novel – for example, Sallie and the lead male protagonist William Davenport, but perhaps this is all in the works for future books in the series?

I think if you’re a fan of historical fiction, crime and beautifully detailed settings, you’ll definitely enjoy this book and I have to admit, I am curious to find out where Lizzie’s life may take her next. I’m even crossing my fingers for a change in her circumstances in the future – a clear sign that her character got under my skin.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Georgina Clarke has a degree in theology and a PhD in history but has only recently started to combine her love of the past with a desire to write stories. Her Lizzie Hardwicke series is set in the mid-eighteenth century, an underrated and often neglected period, but one that is rich in possibility for a crime novelist.

She enjoys running along the banks of the River Severn and is sometimes to be found competing in half marathons. In quieter moments, she also enjoys dressmaking.

She lives in Worcester with her husband and son, and two extremely lively kittens.

Find Georgina on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18869213.Georgina_Clarke

or on Twitter at: @clarkegeorgina1

Thank you so much once again to Ellie Pilcher and Canelo Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Death And The Harlot was published on 13th May 2019 and will be available a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Death And The Harlot on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43923902-death-and-the-harlot

Link to Death And The Harlot on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Harlot-Lizzie-Hardwicke-Novel-ebook/dp/B07NBJKVZM/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=death+and+the+harlot&qid=1557861057&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Blog Tour – Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

Published May 7, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A delicious dark, relentless and chilling psychological thriller by the international bestselling author of The Cry

‘The harrowing plot keeps you gripped until the final, devastating revelation’ Sunday Mirror

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation officer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line.
Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.
Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.
A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of Worst Case Scenario in exchange for an honest review. What can I say? I wasn’t expecting this at all! I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books so had no expectations in term of style or substance and she delivered on both counts with such a unique piece of work and a different, interesting female protagonist that I was instantly hooked. It probably helped that the novel begins with such an intriguing first line that I challenge anyone not to want to read on further:

“Every time Mary tried to relax in a bath, a paedophile ruined it.”

I have no words. I just needed to read on after that!

Helen Fitzgerald, author of Worst Case Scenario.

Worst Case Scenario was a novel for me that encompassed so many different genres. It combined contemporary Scottish life with a psychological thriller and crime element but there there were wry moments of humour too which I very much appreciated. It felt much more to me like a character study of one woman, our female protagonist Mary Shields who is at a very frustrating and difficult moment in her life. She is struggling with the menopause and all the symptoms that accompany it including mood swings, hot flushes, night sweats and weight gain. Additionally, she has an incredibly stressful job as a probation officer and often has to deal with quite harrowing cases involving children and the individuals she monitors are often sex offenders, hardened criminals or drug addicts that have heart-breaking back stories of their own.

When we first meet Mary in Worst Case Scenario she is at the height of her emotional and personal struggles and is starting to get to the point where she just doesn’t care anymore. She has informed her superiors that she is planning to resign so feels a new freedom of being able to do and say whatever she wants to her clients – after all, she’s leaving, what’s the worst that could happen? Then she encounters a new client, Liam Macdowell, who has just been released from prison who causes her all kinds of new problems. The decisions that Mary ends up making now, in this uneasy and stressful part of her life have the potential to cause repercussions not only for herself but for those closest to her.

Glasgow, Scotland where Worst Case Scenario is set.

What made Worst Case Scenario such a different read for me? I think it was a combination of multiple elements. Mainly, it was our protagonist, Mary. I loved reading about an older woman going through the menopause which is often a subject you don’t see explored in fiction and should definitely be highlighted a bit more. She was grumpy, she was irrational, she made some hideously bad decisions and at some points, I just wanted to scream at the book: “No Mary, don’t!” but she was such an authentic and believable character because of these things. It was also touching to read about her vulnerabilities, her worries about her husband and her own sexuality and her caring nature towards the troubled individuals that she has to monitor. As a reader, it made you want to root for her even if at times you just wanted to cringe and cover your eyes a little bit!

Additionally, being Scottish I’m always a huge fan of a Scottish setting and Helen Fitzgerald has captured this beautifully in the novel. I felt instantly back at home and as I read this just after a short trip back to Edinburgh, it made the experience strangely comforting, despite the often dark subject matter of the story. Finally, the author has written a fantastic narrative that really makes you want to keep reading with moments that may not necessarily be conventionally “thriller-like,” but are truly gasp-worthy all the same. After this particular ending…. well, I NEED to know what happened next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers,
including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the
Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama
for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen
years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her
husband.

Find Helen on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4341584.Helen_Fitzgerald

on Twitter at: @fitzhelen

or on her website at: http://www.helenfitzgerald.net/

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Worst Case Scenario will be published on 16th May 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45014364-worst-case-scenario

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worst-Case-Scenario-Helen-FitzGerald-ebook/dp/B07KGNC7VF/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=34XUU2B4I5FCE&keywords=worst+case+scenario+helen+fitzgerald&qid=1557146054&s=gateway&sprefix=worst+case%2Caps%2C204&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Banned Books 2019 – APRIL READ – We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

Published April 29, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

They entered the house at 9:02 P.M. and trashed their way through the Cape Cod cottage. At 9:46 P.M. Karen Jerome made the mistake of arriving home early. Thrown down the basement stairs, Karen slips into a coma. The trashers slip away.
But The Avenger has seen it all.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the fourth banned book in our series for 2019! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

MAY: Crazy Lady– Jane Leslie Conley

JUNE: Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture– Michael A. Bellesiles

JULY: In The Night Kitchen- Maurice Sendak

AUGUST: Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

SEPTEMBER: The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

OCTOBER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

First published: 1991

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2003 (source)

Reasons: offensive language, sexual content.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I never usually understand any reason for a book being challenged/banned, no matter what year it was raised in. I can think of occasional books where access should perhaps be restricted in a school library setting for very young children but generally, I think people should be free to read whatever they like, particularly if there’s not a solid reason for the challenging or banning. This book was published in the early nineties and although it’s slightly dated, I feel that it could still be read right now without any difficulty. As always, I get a bit dumbfounded about the issues that were raised. I think this is meant to be a work of young adult fiction, so for the age group it’s aimed at, I do think there shouldn’t be too many problems. I don’t think there’s too many incidences of offensive language – certainly nothing I found offensive anyway but I do appreciate that people are different and may be more sensitive to those aspects.

CHRISSI: I didn’t think the language in this book was overly offensive. When it’s aimed at young adults, we really need to stop thinking that they can’t handle offensive language. I’m pretty sure most young adults use offensive language. It’s everywhere! Film, TV, books, family members and peers… why should we challenge a book due to offensive language? I do think there are some moments in the book that is quite heavy going, so I think if this book was in a school library, it should have an age range on it. It’s really down to individual discretion, I think and guidance from teachers/librarians if it’s in a school.

How about now?

BETH: The fact that this book was still on the list for 2003 blows my mind a little bit. There is a bit of sexual content (although it isn’t graphic) but could still upset readers so they should perhaps be aware of that. I find it very strange though that I always try and guess the reasons for challenging a book and more often than not, I’m usually wrong. I anticipated that people would have problems with the level of violence that is used in this novel and that isn’t mentioned at all. However, I do stand by what I said in my previous answer – it’s meant to be young adult fiction and I think it is probably okay to be read by that particular age group.

CHRISSI: I have definitely read more explicit books in the YA genre than this. Like Beth, I thought the violence would be a bit of an issue, but it’s not mentioned in the reasons for challenging this book. I don’t see why it was challenged in 2003. There’s definitely more to be worried about than a book like this. As I mentioned in my previous answer, it should be restricted access to the YA age range.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This book left me a bit surprised, to be honest. It’s only 200 pages so didn’t take me that long to read and I fairly flew through it as it was quite action-packed. I was intrigued by the story-line, the devastation that a family go through after their property is violated, leaving one of their daughters in hospital. I was also curious about the part of the plot that involved The Avenger and how that ended up being resolved, which was very much “heart in the mouth,” kind of stuff. I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did!

CHRISSI: I flew through this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It does seem a little bit dated having being published in the 90s, but it was still highly enjoyable and so easy to read. There was a great amount of intrigue that kept me turning the pages!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN MAY ON BANNED BOOKS: Crazy Lady by Jane Leslie Conley.

Blog Tour – Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Published April 25, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…

And suspicion is a dangerous thing.

What did I think?:

I’ve been familiar with the name Chris Brookmyre for a little while as one of my good friends has been doggedly persuading me to try some of his fiction for months. With previous works entitled: Quite Ugly One Morning and All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye I really don’t know why I’ve waited so long to read the author’s work – who could resist with intriguing titles like that? Yet still I wavered until the lovely people at Little Brown publishers asked if I’d like to be on the blog tour for Chris’s new stand-alone novel, Fallen Angel. Of course I thought it was a perfect opportunity to sample his work so I jumped at the chance. Thank you so much to Caolinn Douglas and Grace Vincent for inviting me onto this tour and providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Chris Brookmyre, author of Fallen Angel and the Jack Parlabane series.

Well I’m so happy to report that my friend was absolutely right when it came to Chris Brookmyre. He is a fantastic author with such a talent for characterisation and timing that this novel was truly a delight to read. Being Scottish myself, I loved the subtle Scottish references throughout, especially to certain words familiar to the Scots language i.e. “wean,” and for me, this brought an extra something special to the entire reading experience as I instantly felt so comforted by the writing style. I have to admit at the beginning, I wasn’t sure where the author was going to be taking the story. It’s very much a slow burner that initially sets the scene following the lives of multiple characters both within and close to a specific family.

I’ve mentioned in recent reviews how much I love intricate character development in crime fiction and although I may have hesitated for a chapter or so at the start, unsure of how the crime element related to the narrative, I soon realised that this is part of the beauty of Fallen Angel. This is one of the reasons why I love crime so much that focuses specifically on individuals rather than plot. We learn so much about each our protagonists, in fact we get to know some of them incredibly intimately and this only bodes for a more explosive release as the tension begins to build and the secrets are finally unearthed.

A large proportion of Fallen Angel is set in Portugal where the families we follow have holiday villas.

This is a work of crime fiction so as a result, I don’t want to tell you very much at all about the plot. This is the kind of book you need to savour and discover all the shocks and surprises yourself without it being spoiled. All I can say is that if you’re a fan of family drama, deceit and scandalous events, you’re in for a treat with Fallen Angel. There are not many likeable characters to be found and occasionally there are some where you can’t understand their motives or thought processes at all, but to be honest, that’s my favourite kind of characters. It felt like Chris Brookmyre was writing very candidly about a family where many of the members have multiple, very difficult emotional issues or skeletons in their closets just waiting to burst out. It was a pleasure to be a reader along on the journey, eagerly awaiting the next dramatic event or twist in the tail. As a result, ALL of Chris Brookmyre’s books have now gone on my wish-list and I hope I’ll be reviewing another one for you very soon.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish novelist whose novels mix politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. He has been referred to as a Tartan Noir author. His debut novel was Quite Ugly One Morning, and subsequent works have included One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, which he said “was just the sort of book he needed to write before he turned 30”, and All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2005).

Find Chris on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/167572.Christopher_Brookmyre

on his website at: http://www.brookmyre.co.uk/

on Twitter at: @cbrookmyre

Thank you so much once again to Caolinn Douglas, Grace Vincent and Little Brown for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Fallen Angel is published on 25th April 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Fallen Angel on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43063636-fallen-angel

Link to Fallen Angel on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Angel-Chris-Brookmyre/dp/1408710838/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_3?crid=3RZ7UEV65XWV1&keywords=fallen+angel+chris+brookmyre&qid=1556133445&s=gateway&sprefix=fallen+angel%2Caps%2C327&sr=8-3-fkmrnull

Call Me Star Girl – Louise Beech

Published April 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

What did I think?:

I first came across the wonderful Louise Beech’s writing in her last novel, The Lion Tamer Who Lost which was published last year and completely captured my heart from the the first page to the very last. When I heard she was writing a new book and that it was a psychological thriller, I was thrilled to be able to get my hands on it so a huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. Having only read one other book by this author, I’m no expert on her style but personally, I felt Call Me Star Girl was quite a departure from the genre she usually commands and only confirms how beautifully versatile she is a an author. Once again, I was delighted by the gritty nature of the narrative which was only amplified by the specific plot-line of the story and the fact that it involves the unsolved murder of a young, pregnant woman.

Louise Beech, author of Call Me Star Girl. 

Louise Beech has a fantastic knack for twisting the reader round her little finger in the way she creates her characters, develops an enthralling plot and manages to keep us hooked with tantalising little surprises here and there. I was instantly intrigued by the character of Stella and how we see her life as flashes of memories from her distant past and her fractured relationship with her mother, the most recent past regarding her intense relationship with her boyfriend, Tom and her present situation during her last ever shift as a late night presenter on a local radio station. As with all brilliant psychological thrillers, I’m afraid I simply cannot tell you a thing for fear of spoiling it, but I adored how the author used her natural literary flair to portray the intricate characters and their relationships between each other which only served to drive the narrative and ensure it became something very special indeed.

Our main protagonist, Stella McKeever works at a radio station and through the novel, is participating in her final work shift.

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you might know that I have the greatest respect for both genre and literary fiction. Sometimes I want a novel with a fast-paced, action-filled plot with short, snappy chapters and where it doesn’t really matter what the characters have for breakfast or not (joke!). Then at other times, I live for that literary crime fiction with all the intricate character details that I’ve been craving. I love when an author creates characters that you can really see, feel and hear and that you actually feel closer to purely because you understand every aspect of their daily existence and emotional well-being. This is exactly what Louise Beech has done with Call Me Star Girl. I was fascinated with Stella, her boyfriend Tom and her mother, Elizabeth and as it is told from dual perspectives and across different time-lines, you start to KNOW these characters intimately rather than just feeling merely acquainted with them.

Even then, the author has the power to pull the rug out from under your feet and completely turn the tables on what you might have been thinking or hoping. As I’ve mentioned in countless other reviews, I admire when an author can do that so effortlessly, like Louise does. This is probably because as a regular reader of crime fiction and literary crime fiction, I can’t help but try to work out what might be going on before the official reveal. As a result, the book climbs exponentially higher for me when that element of surprise is maintained and I don’t guess what may be going on.

As a psychological thriller, the author has surpassed all of my expectations with Call Me Star Girl and even though it’s a few days since I’ve finished it now, I’m still thinking about the final outcome of this novel. Perhaps more importantly, I’m also thinking about their characters and the relationships they had, which is definitely a clearer sign that the book managed to get under my skin.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley #3) – Cara Hunter

Published April 17, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING ON THE NIGHT THE ESMOND FAMILY WERE MURDERED? 

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME and IN THE DARK comes the third pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked. 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

What did I think?:

I’m so excited to talk to you about Cara Hunter’s incredible new novel, No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley crime series set in Oxford and published in paperback on 18th April. If you’ve read my previous reviews of Close To Home and In The Dark, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m a massive fan of Cara’s writing, her characters and this series in general so my expectations were sky high for this latest instalment. Thank you so much to Jane Gentle at Penguin Random House UK for sending me a complimentary copy a few months ago in exchange for an honest review. I deliberately held off on reading this book until a couple of months ago as I prefer to read and review as close to publication date as possible. Finally, when I couldn’t hold back any longer, I finally cracked open No Way Out and was delighted to fully immerse myself within Fawley’s world once more, a world I had been sorely missing since I finished In The Dark last year.

Cara Hunter, author of No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley series. 

Each of Cara’s novels in this series has the beauty of being able to stand on its own, as a story in its own right and so you could potentially read it without having read any of the other novels in the Fawley saga. However, for all the specific nuances of the individual characters and the way in which we slowly get to know them through these three books, I would honestly recommend starting right from the beginning with Close To Home. One of my favourite things about this series is the way in which the author develops her characters. I believe I’ve mentioned in a previous review that it’s not just all about Adam Fawley with the other characters playing supportive, occasionally bland and vague roles as I’ve seen with some other crime fiction series.

I’m happy to announce this remains the case with No Way Out – the characters are all fully developed, interesting, personable and individually valuable and more often than not, Adam Fawley will step back within the narrative and allow another character to take centre stage. As a reader, I adore when an author does this. It’s so refreshing to see such a host of vibrant personalities that all have their own, very unique story to share. I feel as if I’m getting to know each one – Gislingham, Quinn, Somer and Everett separately and as a result, it makes them instantly more relatable and authentic, especially with the delicate way the author drip feeds information about their lives through each novel.

The city of Oxford, UK – the setting for No Way Out.

As with all my reviews but particularly for thrillers or crime fiction, you won’t be getting any spoilers here but it’s safe to say I was once again completely engrossed by this fascinating and devastating case of a house fire which involves a family with two children. The compelling element behind this tragedy is that the parents of the children appear to both be missing as the police start to investigate what happened. In classic Cara Hunter style, she uses social media, articles and transcripts from interviews to compliment her writing in what becomes an intense, highly gripping narrative which completely took my breath away. I’m familiar enough with the author’s style that I know she’s going to surprise me and I try to keep an open as mind a possible and not think too deeply about what might be going on or whom the “villain” of the piece may be. Nevertheless, she still manages to knock it out of the park every single time. I’m always shocked, constantly captivated and increasingly bereft that I’ve reached the end. Saying that, it does leave me with an exciting little fizz of anticipation in my stomach, ready for the next instalment!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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