Mystery

All posts in the Mystery category

Two O’Clock Boy (DI Ray Drake #1) – Mark Hill

Published September 15, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘A fantastic debut: dark, addictive and original. I couldn’t put it down
Robert Bryndza, author of The Girl in the Ice

Discover the gripping, twist-filled start to a fantastic new London-set crime thriller series starring morally corrupt DI Ray Drake – the perfect new addiction for fans of LUTHER. 

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

What did I think?:

Two O’Clock Boy (also published as His First Lie) was a very welcome discovery for me on Netgalley after I had heard a little bit of buzz about the author so thank you so much to Little, Brown publishers for approving my request and apologies it has taken so long for me to get round to reviewing it! The author, Mark Hill has previously worked as a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer and now he can add another string to his bow because he is without a doubt, an accomplished crime fiction author. The first book in the DI Ray Drake series is filled with drama, betrayal, dark secrets and lies and it’s one of those delicious narratives that keeps you on tenterhooks throughout, always teasing just a little bit but never giving too much away until the final, cataclysmic showdown where all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle finally fall into place.

Mark Hill, author of Two O’Clock Boy/His First Lie.

This startlingly good debut novel incorporates two separate time periods. The first, is set at Longacre Children’s Home in the 1980’s where a group of children were terrorised, used and brutally victimised by the manager, Gordon Tallis. In the present time, our male lead, DI Ray Drake, a widower with a rather interesting past of his own has just promoted one of his members of staff, Flick Crowley. He insists she should take the lead in the next murder case they happen upon, where almost an entire family is butchered to death in the most horrific way. However, he is not prepared for what Flick will discover as she starts to investigate the suspicious deaths. It all harks back to Longacre and the abuse that happened in the home in the 80’s, with one maverick murderer appearing to be targeting every single one of the individuals that were present at that moment in history. As Flick gets closer to the truth, DI Ray Drake must do everything possible to try and steer her away from it – for very intriguing reasons of his own.

London provides the setting for Two O’Clock Boy/His First Lie.

Two O’Clock Boy was such a pleasant surprise that has made me so keen to read further books in the series. I think you might instantly expect with all crime fiction/thriller novels to have a fast-paced plot and unexpected twists and turns but for some reason, this novel felt really different and unique. If I could compare it to anything, I might compare it to Tana French who I feel writes crime novels with a bit of a literary edge and her stories are quite slow-burning, which you take a while to become invested in but once you do, it’s thoroughly worth the effort. The similarity with Mark Hill is the slow-burning element to the narrative and how it seems to be much more focused on getting to know the characters intimately, flaws and all (which I always appreciate in a novel!).

However he does differ in that there are darker moments of the narrative, particularly those scenes set in the children’s home, which although they are never gratuitous, still leave you feeling slightly uncomfortable and a bit uneasy. Stories about child abuse are NEVER going to be nice to read about but the author deals with the topic intelligently and sensitively and I was compelled throughout, transfixed by both the characters and the plot and never sure what exactly was going to happen next. As I’ve alluded to, our characters are far from perfect, including our male lead Drake who has secrets from his past and in the present, a very difficult relationship with his teenage daughter. I didn’t always agree with his actions in both time periods and at times, did want to shake him for the way he acted and treated people close to him, particularly his new Detective Sergeant, Flick Crowley. Nevertheless, I found his flaws, misdemeanours and difficulties were what made him so hugely interesting, relatable and readable in addition to the multitude of other characters we also meet from all different walks of life that all have their own individual personalities and quirks.

This is an exciting and brilliant debut novel from Mark Hill and sets him up as a force to be reckoned with in the British crime fiction genre. I for one can’t wait to read the second in the series, It Was Her that sits on my Kindle already, just begging to be started!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Two O’Clock Boy by Mark Hill was the forty-fourth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

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Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy #2) – Stephen King

Published September 13, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Wake up, genius.

The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

What did I think?:

Those of you who might have been following my set of reviews on the Dark Tower series, never fear, the review of book three, The Wastelands is coming soon but I thought I’d slot in another King book I managed to read in between my Dark Tower re-read, the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, Finders Keepers. For the first book in the series, please check out my review HERE. This particular series featuring hard-boiled retired detective Hodges was a bit of a departure for King and his first non-supernatural foray into the crime genre. He’s had a bit of criticism (which I think is going to come with ANYTHING he writes, being such a prolific author!) and to be honest, even my other half sadly gave up on Mr Mercedes halfway through pronouncing it “not his cup of tea.” However, I have really enjoyed the series so far and am intrigued as to the direction King is taking his trio of lead characters – Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney and Jerome Robinson.

Stephen King, author of Finders Keepers, the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy.

As with all trilogies, I would one hundred percent recommend reading Mr Mercedes before reading this book. Although we don’t hear much from the serial killer in the first book for reasons I simply cannot divulge for fear of spoilers, there are connections throughout the narrative to what has happened in the first novel, particularly as we come to an absolute blistering cliffhanger of an ending. In Finders Keepers, Hodges is following a new case of a celebrated author – John Rothstein who has recently been murdered by an obsessive fan, Morris Bellamy. Bellamy has become particularly crazed about one particular recurring character of Rothstein’s and is furious at the direction the author chose to steer his male lead in. However, when he gets out of prison, he learns that there is a final novel featuring this character in the possession of a young lad called Pete Saubers. He will stop at nothing to get his hands on this gold-mine putting Pete in a very precarious situation and in desperate need of Hodges’ help.

The actor Brendan Gleeson, who played Bill Hodges in the recent TV adaptation.

I was slightly surprised to realise that the focus of the second novel in the series wouldn’t be on the serial killer of the first novel but involve a completely new case. However, within a mere few chapters, I was completely compelled and devoured the novel in a couple of days, unable to put it down. In retrospect, I’m really pleased that King chose to do this, particularly when I consider the ending which leaves EVERYTHING open for the final book in the series. Some critics may also say that King is falling back on the same old formula of an obsessive fan and an author which he has already explored in novels such as Misery and Lisey’s Story. This is especially true of the former where the infamous Annie Wilkes is also none too impressed about how her beloved female lead character, Misery Chastain is treated by author, Paul Sheldon.

Personally, I really didn’t care. I love it when King re-hashes this trope and feel every time he does it, he manages to bring something fresh and new with despicable characters that it’s impossible to erase from your memory. I’m sure he’s had his fair share of crazed fans in his career (I promise I’m not one of them!!) and perhaps he draws on his considerable experience as a best-selling author to bring even more credibility to his stories. I believe so, anyway. Having read Finders Keepers a little while ago now, I still cannot believe I haven’t managed to get to the final book in the series, End Of Watch yet. As I read THAT ending, I did the audible gasp thing, the hugging the book in anticipation thing, the looking longingly at End Of Watch on my shelves thing…. and yet still, I keep making other books a priority. Well, no more. I am determined to complete the series, at least by the end of the year so watch this space for a review coming your way *hopefully* very soon!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Talking About Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore with Chrissi Reads

Published August 19, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

From the bestselling author of A Week in Paris, and the Richard & Judy Bookclub pick A Place of Secrets, comes a gripping and moving story spanning 70 years, set in Italy and in Norfolk. 

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrewsbecomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.

In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.

When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What were your initial impressions of this book? Did it hook you from the start or did it take you a while to get stuck into the story?
BETH: I have to admit, like a lot of books in the past (and very recently!) I judged this book by the cover again. WHY do I keep doing that?! I thought it looked like a bit of a fluffy, contemporary romance which is a genre I’m not really into but I was willing to give it a chance, especially when you told me that you thought I would enjoy it and that it had a historical edge that reminded you of one of my favourite ever books, The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. However, I do have to be honest and say I wasn’t initially hooked by the beginning. When a narrative flows across two time periods, I often find myself preferring the historical tale and this was the same initially speaking, for Last Letter Home too.
BETH: In one of the very first scenes, Briony in contemporary times is trolled for some remarks she makes on feminism on a TV show. How do you think this affects her self esteem initially in trying to find information out about her mysterious grandfather?
CHRISSI: I think initially, Briony was really knocked by the after effects of the TV show. It takes her a while to get over how she was treated in the aftermath. Trolls are evil and can totally affect your self-esteem and self-worth, so this was utterly relatable. I feel like Briony was quite unstable at the start of the story and deeply affected. However, getting stuck into finding out more information about her grandfather draws Briony out of her shell and begins to give her some self belief. She has determination, that’s for sure.
CHRISSI: Do you think the dual timeline worked for this story?
BETH: At the beginning, it took a little while for me to get into it. I kept getting the main character in the contemporary time period, Briony messed up with Sarah in the historical period and it took me a little while to get their stories and who they’re involved with in the present time straight in my mind. However, once I had got this sorted, I really enjoyed how the dual time periods told such a fascinating story (from BOTH women’s points of view) and there were certainly secrets revealed that I wasn’t anticipating.
BETH: Were you aware at any points of the men “not to trust” and the men “who could be trusted,” in the narrative? Was it interesting to see the parallels between Briony and Sarah’s own lives?
CHRISSI: I’m always wary of characters in books which might say something about me. I was sure that Paul could be trusted as he seemed to be such a sweetheart. I loved reading about his interactions with Sarah. I really enjoyed the dual narrative of this story. It was interesting to see how Briony and Sarah shared many qualities with one another. They were both persistent, driven characters in their own time. I also liked how both story lines had elements of betrayal and deceit within them.
CHRISSI: Did you have a favourite narrative?
BETH: The historical narrative was hands down my favourite narrative. Although its not as overtly romantic as The Bronze Horseman, I can really see why you made that connection. I felt so awful for Sarah and her love interest in the novel, the strange triangle she found herself in and how other people’s attitudes at the time affected how she should be behaving/where she should be looking for a husband. I only wish we had heard more about her younger sister, who I found an incredibly intriguing character.
BETH: Sarah and her younger sister both have to deal with death at quite a young age – how do you think they cope with this as individuals?
CHRISSI: Good question! Sarah definitely dealt with the death in the family better than her younger sister. Sarah became really supportive towards her family. Sarah’s sister very much closes herself off from talking about death. She appears to be coping less well but I can’t say too much without spoilers! 🙂
CHRISSI: Did you feel like the chapters based during WWII were realistic?

BETH: I did. It wasn’t overtly graphic but it felt really authentic. It was simply the story of how normal people cope in extraordinary circumstances when food is reduced, danger is prominent and they are forced to live their lives they may not necessarily have imagined living them. One of the stand on scenes in the entire novel for me has to be when Paul is sent away to Italy as part of the war effort and has to witness a very difficult event, something that ends up changing his life forever.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think it would depend on the subject matter. I did really enjoy Rachel Hore’s writing and the story was interesting, but she wasn’t an author that I’d read automatically when her book released.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Block 46 (Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #1) – Johana Gustawsson (translated by Maxim Jakubowski)

Published July 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

What did I think?:

All my favourite bloggers have been telling me to read this novel from the Queen of French Noir, Johana Gustawsson and I’ve been putting it off for goodness knows how long but there came a time when I could no longer delay the inevitable and I finally succumbed, gave in, folded, (however else you want to describe it) and all I can say is THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE. This debut novel and the first in a new series is the most excited I’ve been about a debut since Cara Hunter’s Close To Home and I devoured it within a couple of days, reluctant to return to ordinary life each time I picked it up, it was that compelling and had me thoroughly enraptured by the power of both the subject matter and the extraordinary writing.

Johana Gustawsson, author of Block 46, the first novel in the Roy and Castells series.

Like many of my other preferred narrative styles, Block 46 takes place across two time periods. The first is the present day and follows two women, crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy who team up when a series of gruesome murders plague both London and Sweden. Are the murders committed by the same people? Is it a single serial killer or a duo? Why in particular has the killer(s) chosen to focus on these geographical areas? Then the author takes us back to the past, the 1940’s to be exact where we follow a man, Erich Hebner who is incarcerated in the brutal Buchenwald concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Roy and Castells must discover how these two time-lines are connected and attempt to stop a crazed killer who will stop at nothing in order to carry out his convoluted, incredibly twisted little mission.

Prisoners during a roll call at Buchenwald concentration camp.

I don’t know how eloquent I’m going to be at convincing you that if you haven’t read this book yet and you enjoy a gritty, shocking piece of crime fiction, you should pick this book up immediately. I feel a bit cross with myself for not picking this book up earlier myself as I was completely engrossed as soon as I had got to the end of the first page! I don’t often do one-off Tweets about a book I’m currently reading unless I have very strong opinions about the novel either way but with Block 46, I just couldn’t help myself. Part of it is set during one of my favourite periods of history to read about, Nazi Germany but I felt this author found brand new ways to tell me about the suffering of prisoners in the camps that opened my eyes as if I had been reading about the horrors for the very first time. It was intense, it was horrific, it was emotional and grotesque all at the same time. There were some events that occurred where I thought I wouldn’t be able to bear it but even through this, I prevailed because I literally couldn’t put this book down.

I couldn’t help but think as I was reading about how the treatment of the prisoners in concentration camps actually happened. It was this cold, it was this cruel, it was this malicious. The author’s grandfather was actually liberated from Buchenwald camp in 1945 so it’s plain that she has not only a very personal connection to the atrocities perpetuated in that place but has carried out her research diligently and sensitively. On another note and credit to the translator, at no point did it feel like I was reading a translated work, it felt just as raw, sharp and honest in English as I’m sure it does in the author’s native French. Let me just take a moment and mention the characters also, particularly Roy and Castells who I immediately warmed to and who definitely have mysterious depths that I’m hoping get probed a bit further in future books in the series. I especially loved the enigmatic Emily Roy, a no nonsense, blunt, independent woman who is quite the closed book when we first meet her and doesn’t always behave in a socially acceptable way (I can relate to this, I’m incredibly awkward at times!) but there are reasons behind her “poker face” demeanour that we start to discover near the end of the novel and personally, it was really affecting for me.

Finally, can we PLEASE talk about that ending. This is actually when I tweeted my message, it made me gasp out loud whilst waiting in a coffee shop for a hospital appointment and I got quite a few odd looks in return when customers saw the *gasp* was about a book. I know you bookworms would understand though?! All I can say about it is that it was pure and utter brilliance. I didn’t see it coming, I don’t think you could ever predict it and it elevated the author and her talent to even greater heights in my eyes. Now that I’m thinking about the way I delayed reading this book, I’m actually pretty glad I did. It meant I could immediately order the second book from Johana Gustawsson, called Keeper straight after I had finished reading Block 46, something I’m not sure I’ve ever done before. I can already tell that this author has the potential to become a firm favourite where I buy/pre-order her books the second I get the chance to and Block 46 has certainly earned its place on my favourites shelf where I look forward to reading it again in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Talking About The Party by Elizabeth Day with Chrissi Reads

Published July 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A gripping story of obsession and betrayal, privilege and hypocrisy, set in the unassailable heart of the British establishment.

As the train pressed on, I realised that my life was in the process of taking a different direction, plotted according to a new constellation. Because, although I didn’t know it yet, I was about to meet Ben and nothing would ever be the same again.

Martin Gilmour is an outsider. When he wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or speak with the right kind of accent. But then he meets the dazzling, popular and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gains admission to an exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying tennis parties and Easter egg hunts at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate, as Ben becomes the brother he never had.

But Martin has a secret. He knows something about Ben, something he will never tell. It is a secret that will bind the two of them together for the best part of 25 years.

At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the great and the good of British society are gathering to celebrate in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the hundreds of guests–the politicians, the celebrities, the old-money and newly rich–Martin once again feels that disturbing pang of not-quite belonging. His wife, Lucy, has her reservations too. There is disquiet in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but what were your initial impressions of this book from its cover?

BETH: I have a confession to make. I do that judgey thing and judge a book by its cover. I have been proved wrong in the past – for example, I really didn’t like the cover of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and as you know Chrissi, I adore that book. What can I say? I think a cover really sells a book and if you can market it “prettily,” you’re onto a winner (with me at least!) I have to admit for this cover? I just found it a little bit dull and unfortunately, it didn’t inspire me to read the book at all. In fact, if I saw it in a bookshop I wouldn’t pick it up on the basis of this cover alone. Luckily what was inside proved to be much more fascinating in the outside so time and time again, I must not judge!!

BETH: What did you make of Martin’s relationship with his wife, Lucy?

CHRISSI: Oh good question! I felt a bit sorry for Lucy actually. I feel like she always came second for him. He was far more concerned with his friendship with Ben than his relationship with his wife. She must have seen his neediness for his friend and wondered why that wasn’t there in their relationship. I felt like she was so loyal to him despite him constantly pushing her boundaries.

CHRISSI: How can we tell Martin is an unreliable narrator?

BETH: From the very beginning. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that when we first meet Martin, he is being questioned in a police station. That isn’t to say he’s done anything wrong, there was an “incident” at a party and he is being asked what he knows. We soon find out what’s gone on in due course. As a reader, it does make you think what could have happened though, especially with the evasive way he is answering some of the questions…..
Then we get more information about his childhood and his relationship with the host of the party and the way he talks to and reacts to certain people makes him all the more intriguing.

BETH: Can money buy you happiness? Does being part of a wealthy elite change the way the Fitzmaurices behave to others not in their circle?

CHRISSI: I don’t think money can buy you happiness. I think it can help your life and help to reach the goals you may have for yourself. I definitely felt like the Fitzmaurices behaved in an incredibly entitled manner. They were obsessed with the power money held over others. Martin certainly enjoyed the high life when he was with Ben. I don’t think they were very kind to others in a lower class than themselves.

CHRISSI: To what extent did the narrative structure (where the bulk of the plot takes place over the course of one evening with flashbacks to the past) heighten the tension?

BETH: I love narratives like this. We hear about the present time, where as I mention, Martin is being questioned about what happened on that night, then it flits back and forward from the present day, to episodes where Martin is at school and as a young adult. As a reader, I wanted to get back to the questioning parts to try and get a clue about what exactly had happened but at the same time I wanted to get back to Martin’s past too as there’s definite clues there about his relationships and the reasons why they end up the way that they do.

BETH: Did you anticipate where this story would lead? Were you surprised by the outcome?

CHRISSI: I wasn’t really sure where this book was going to go. I did love the element of mystery. I also loved how I thought I was steps ahead and knew what was going on, but I wasn’t always right. For me, the ending was a little abrupt and it left me wondering what was going on or going to happen.

CHRISSI: Does this book fit into a genre?

BETH: This is such a hard question! On Goodreads it’s defined into quite a few categories – mystery, thriller and contemporary to name a few but I think it falls quite nicely into literary fiction too. It certainly has aspects of all of these genres, the intrigue where we don’t know what’s going on, a modern setting and a thrilling plot where we’re never quite sure of our characters’ motives.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I did enjoy reading it, even if it felt a little slow in places for me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Published July 25, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

From The #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Of Gone Girl

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

What did I think?:

If you’ve never read any Gillian Flynn before, please, PLEASE believe the hype and go and read Gone Girl immediately. It remains one of my favourite thrillers of all time and when I heard she had published two other books, well of course I had to read them, but so far, they haven’t really lived up to the dizzying heights of her third and most popular novel. The interesting thing about Flynn’s writing is exactly how low and how dark she can sink. If you’re not a fan of the grotesque, the macabre, bad language, violence and perversion, you might want to steer clear of her writing but if you can handle all this (and much more!), I definitely recommend her as a brave, unique author with oodles of talent dripping from her very core.

Gillian Flynn, author of Dark Places.

This story follows our female protagonist, Libby Day whose mother and two sisters were brutally killed in a massacre that almost led to her losing her own life too. She has accused her brother Ben, of carrying out the vicious crime and he remains in prison to this day. Libby has survived by living on handouts from concerned members of the public although the money is starting to dry up and run out which is obviously a huge worry. She decides to connect with members of an exclusive group, The Kill Club who believe they have information to suggest Ben was NOT the one to carry out the murders. If this is the case, who did? Can Libby ever live with the guilt of letting a potentially innocent brother be imprisoned? And if the killer is still out there, what does that mean for Libby – the one that got away?

Kansas, USA where Libby grows up and escapes from a massacre. Also well known for its cyclones AKA The Wizard Of Oz!

This was a strange, warped and highly disturbing journey. Not for the easily sensitive or offended, if you want to read Dark Places and you struggle and have to put it down at points, I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest. It’s got every bit of depraved activity that you could ever imagine in a controversial thriller including molestation, under-age sex, satanic rituals, violence and drugs. Both the characters and plot-lines are filled with all kinds of nasty, it occasionally got difficult to read, even for myself who is very rarely squeamish so I think that says it all! Told in one of my favourite narrative styles, from three different points of view we hear from Libby’s mother Patty Day as she struggles with her heavy-metal, Satan worshipping son Ben, we also hear from Ben himself and finally from our female lead, Libby. Darkness abounds plentifully in this novel, nothing is quite what it seems and although the ending wasn’t quite what I was anticipating, it was one hell of a twisted ride to get there.

As an author, I really admire the places that Gillian Flynn goes to provoking that reaction from her reader and it certainly had me on the edge of the seat, uncertain what exactly I was going to read next. I don’t think it’s her best book, that title still has to be awarded to Gone Girl, in my opinion but I can’t help but respect her for not being afraid to show the murkier side of both our characters and life in general. As I’ve already read Sharp Objects, I have only to read The Grownup, a novella and then I’ve read everything she’s ever published. I’m really hoping that she writes something else again soon, I can hardly bear the suspense of wondering how much more horrifying her fiction can get?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Blog Tour – Girls’ Night Out – Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Published July 24, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Sian, Annabelle and Lake Union Publishing for getting in contact and asking if I’d like to participate in the blog tour for this thrilling novel and for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Well, where do I start? You know when a book comes along at exactly the right time in your life and for some reason or another, something either about the characters or content moves you? Step right up, Girls’ Night Out. I happen to have returned this year from a once in a lifetime holiday to Mexico which was a necessary process of healing for me after a traumatic eighteen months in my life. Our girls in the novel go on such a holiday themselves and it was wonderful to read about a country, and indeed specific places that I knew so well from my own experience, it only made the novel and the difficult situation experienced by our female leads all the more endearing and exciting.

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, authors of Girls’ Night Out.

I’ll just pop off a very basic synopsis here but to be perfectly honest, you really need to go into this novel without knowing very much at all. It’s the story of three friends: Natalie, Ashley and Lauren. Natalie and Ashley have a very successful business together but are at loggerheads at the moment after Revlon make them an offer to buy their company. Ashley and Lauren also have a very tense and fragile relationship which stems from a resentful argument that happened just after Lauren’s husbands death. Ashley has arranged the trip to Mexico to try and re-connect with both Natalie and Lauren and repair the cracks in their friendships. However, things don’t go exactly to plan and when Ashley mysteriously disappears without a trace, Natalie and Lauren must confront more things in their past than they were ever prepared to challenge.

The Gran Cenote, Tulum, Mexico. I’m lucky enough to have actually been here!

So, as I mentioned, I immediately leapt at the chance to read this book, particularly as I had just spent time in that exact area but even better besides, this book actually exceeded my expectations. It’s easy to read, obviously exciting and action-packed, has an air of mystery and intrigue that is undeniable and instantly captivating and I was simply a willing participant in the mysterious ride of what exactly happened to Ashley. The narrative jumps across time-lines and narrators from each female lead, to the days leading up to Ashley’s disappearance then fast forwards to the present time where the girls are desperately trying to piece together what went on and then finally, to that fateful night itself. Page by page, the tension continues to creep up notch by notch and by the end, it becomes a furiously page-turning journey where I just HAD to have all the answers to all my (many!) questions.

I wouldn’t necessarily say the authors throw multiple red herrings the readers way, it’s not a twisty kind of book in my opinion. It’s more about the mystery behind what happened, focusing heavily on the friendships between the girls, their marriages, their business relationships and a rogue factor that may or may not have had bearing on the precarious situation that Ashley finds herself in. For me, I just enjoyed this book for what it was – a fun and fascinating musing on the nature of relationships and how much of a devastating effect a sour element can create between previously intimate friends.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been best friends for over 25 years and survived high school and college together. They’ve co-authored four novels, including the bestseller THE GOOD WIDOW. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and five rescue dogs. Their next suspense novel, Girls’ Night Out, is out July 24th, 2018.

Connect with Liz and Lisa:

www.lizandlisa.com
Instagram: @lisaandliz
Twitter: @lizandlisa
FB: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Thank you once again to Sian, Annabelle and Lake Union Publishing for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is published in paperback and eBook on 24th July by Lake Union Publishing. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Girls’ Night Out on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37759098-girls-night-out?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to Girls’ Night Out on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girls-Night-Out-Liz-Fenton/dp/1503902560/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532272808&sr=8-1&keywords=girls+night+out+book