Killer Review: Pop Goes the Weasel by M J Arlidge

First Line: ‘The fog crept into the sea, suffocating the city.’

What the blurb says:

A man’s body is found in an empty house. His heart has been cut out and delivered to his wife and children. He is the first victim, and Detective Inspector Helen Grace knows he will not be the last. But why would a happily married man be this far from home in the dead of night?

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse: a serial killer preying on family men who lead hidden double lives. Helen can sense the fury behind the murders. But what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is – or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase…

This is the second novel in the Helen Grace detective series which follows on from the thrilling debut in the series, Eeny Meeny.

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed, in a run-down house in Southampton’s red-light district. A few hours later the heart is delivered to the victim’s family. One day on, another male victim is found dead with his heart removed and then delivered by courier – a pattern soon starts to emerge of a sadistic killer. DI Helen Grace must use all her wits to stop this vicious serial-killer once and for all, but will she be able to forgive herself for the events from her last case?

The main character, Helen Grace, is not your stereotypical detective. She is a head-strong female character who likes to investigate on her own terms which gets her into a lot of trouble while she struggles to come to terms with her past. She is usually found clad in leather driving a motorbike and has a peculiar coping mechanism (which I won’t spoil for you).

I loved the vivid description the author depicts throughout the novel which really brings the setting of Southampton to life and made me feel like I was right there as the action unfolded. The novel has a strong cast of fully rounded, flawed characters who are both likeable and created a sense of empathy –  I rooted for Helen Grace as she raced against time to catch the killer who has a warped but deep sense of justice.

This is a breath taking novel with a great plot twist at the end – I can’t wait to read the next books in the Helen Grace series.

If you haven’t read the first novel, Eeny Meeny,  I think it is worth a read before picking this one up!

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To find out more about M J Arlidge follow him on Twitter @mjarlidge

Chiller Review: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

First Line: ‘Catherine braces herself, but there is nothing left to come up. She grips the cold enamel and raises her head to look in the mirror.’

What the blurb says: 

Imagine if the next thriller you opened was all about you.
When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read. But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player.

This story will reveal her darkest secret.  A secret she thought no one else knew…

This debut novel centres around Catherine Ravenscroft, a success documentary filmmaker married to a successful lawyer Robert, with a troubled grown-up son, Nick.

Catherine finds a self-published novel on her dressing table, as she starts to read she discovers that her long buried secret is contained within its pages and what’s worse is someone else knows it. With her past haunting her, Catherine’s world starts to fall apart with disastrous consequences. But as her secret comes to the surface Catherine is forced to comes to terms with the truth of what really happened the day her life changed forever – but can she and her family survive the fallout?

The novel is told from both the viewpoints of Catherine and Stephen Bridgestocke, a retired English teacher who is mourning the death of his wife. As the novel progresses you discover how their lives are interlinked which stems from the one day in their past that Catherine is trying to hide.

I found this novel captivating, with an interesting cast of characters and a strong premise about something as harmless as a novel which is usually read for entertainment but is used instead as a malicious tool for revenge.

This is a great debut novel with a tightly woven plot and dark undertones which make for an entertaining read.

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To find out more about Renee Knight follow her on Twitter @ReneeEKnight 


Thriller Review: Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

First line: ‘They’ve cordoned off the house by the time she gets home. A uniformed stranger is unwinding police tape, methodically.’

What the blurb says: Called to a woman’s refuge to take a routine witness statement, DI Marnie Rome instead walks in on an attempted murder.

Trying to uncover the truth from layers of secrets, Marnie finds herself confronting her own demons.
Because she, of all people, knows that it can be those closest to us we should fear the most. . .

This is the first novel in the DI Marnie Rome series which starts off with a bang – it opens with her visiting the crime scene of her parents’ murder. Fast forward five years and DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake go to question a potential witness at a women’s refuge only to walk-in on an attempted murder. As the novel progresses both officers becoming increasingly embroiled in the lives of the women in the refuge and what started off as a simple routine case turns into a fight for life and death.

I particularly find the character of Marnie Rome fascinating. She is a strong, tough new female officer who is battling her own conscience about her parents’ murder and has a vulnerable side – which makes her very likeable and down-to-earth. The novel evokes a lot of sympathy for the characters but I think it is largely due to the character of Rome who has a real sense of empathy for others which gets her into trouble at times.

I loved this book which creates a lot of imagery and provides vivid detail about domestic violence but still manages to keep it relevant to the plot. It is a story packed full of pace, suspense and tension with a tightly weaved plot which takes the reader on a thrilling yet emotional ride.

This is a must-read and it’s easy to see why this won the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year in 2015. I can’t wait to read the next instalment in the Marnie Rome series.

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To find out more about Sarah Hilary follow her on Twitter @sarah_hilary or visit her website here 

Chiller Review: Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris

First line: ‘The champagne bottle knocks against the marble kitchen counter, making me jump. I glance at Jack, hoping he won’t have noticed how nervous I am.’

What the blurb says:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows. Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

This is a breathtaking debut novel from B A Paris which centres around the characters of Grace and Jack. They are the perfect couple who are devoted to one another with the perfect house and the perfect life. Jack is a successful and charismatic lawyer who specialises in domestic abuse cases and Grace is the devoted and elegant housewife who cares for her little sister Millie, who has Down’s Syndrome. But this is merely the image they present to the outside world –  because none of their neighbours, friends or families truly know the horror that happens behind closed doors.

The novel is told from the point of view of Grace and has two different timelines set in the immediate present and the not too distant past chronicling how they met, Grace’s life before her marriage to Jack, and their married life together which merge together at the end.

The story is an easy one to be pulled into with the reader going on an emotional journey with Grace showing her thoughts and feelings which I felt made her tale believable. The author doesn’t hold back on any details and exposes the true reality of her situation which made for a very gripping read.

This is a great fast-paced debut psychological thriller to dip into.

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To find out more about B A Paris follow her on Twitter @BAParisAuthor

Chiller Review: The Kind Worth Killing By Peter Swanson

First Line: “Hello there,” She said. I looked at her pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar next to me in the business class lounge at Heathrow Airport, then up into the stranger’s face.’

What the blurb says: Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?

Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?

 After a chance meeting in an airport bar Ted spills his secrets to Lily, the stranger he just met about his discovery of his wife’s infidelity and how he wishes her dead. Without missing a beat Lily offers to help Ted to kill his wife. As they arrange to meet again a dark plan is soon hatched but would they really do it? And if so, would they get away with it?

This is a new twist on Patricia Highsmith’s classic strangers on a train. The novel is told from the perspective of each of the main characters with frequent flashbacks of their lives which I found a very effective device. As a reader I was able to find out little titbits of information which kept me hooked into the story and left me wanting more.

The characterisation in this novel is superb. Each character has its own twisted logic of death which makes for a boiling pot of deceit and betrayal. The novel is jammed packed full of pace with twists and turns at every corner which I found I couldn’t put down.

The intricate plotting, a great mid-point twist – which you won’t see coming and a surprise ending make this a very gripping read.

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To find out more about Peter Swanson follow him on Twitter @PeterSwanson3 or visit his website here

Killer Review: The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan

First Line: ‘I’m Dead. I don’t mind. I want to be dead. Nothing could be worse than staying alive, not like this. But all the same I’m running away.’

What the blurb says:  

Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.
Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.
ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is. Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people. The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.

With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they?

This is the third book in the Paula Maguire series and every bit as fabulous as all the others.

My favourite Forensic Pathologist, Paula Maguire is back and is as strong and determined as ever not to listen to the advice of others in order to solve the case. The story follows the abduction of a group of five people suspected of a bomb attack which killed sixteen innocent people for which they were never convicted set within the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Now Paula and her colleagues must find them before they turn into victims themselves but she is distracted with her complicated personal life and, without giving away too much, with the impending birth of her baby.

This case is not clear cut with the boundaries of what is right being blurred which make for a very compelling read. The core of the book is the internal struggle of Paula wrestling with the moral dilemma of trying to find the killer of murderers which is both captivating and emotional with you questioning whose side are we on – the killer or the victims?

This book directly follows on from the other two in the series which I would highly recommend reading first as they weave the backstory of Paula’s childhood and sets up the on-going storyline line and unanswered question of her mother.

This is a must read which is full of fantastic dialogue, lively characters and tightly weaved plot – I can’t wait to read the next one!

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To find out more about Claire McGowan follow her on Twitter @inkstainsclaire or visit her website here

A Savage Hunter, the fourth book in the Paula Maguire series is out now – click here to buy on Amazon.



Killer Review: The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan

The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan

First Line: ‘It starts with the smallest thing: the beat of your heart. When everything around you is horror, you focus on that.’

What the blurb says: Stolen. Missing. Dead…

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, already wrestling with the hardest decision of her life, is forced to put her own problems on hold when she’s asked to help find a baby taken from a local hospital.

Then the brutal, ritualistic murder of a woman found lying on a remote stone circle indicates a connection to the kidnapping and Paula knows that they will have to move fast if they are to find the person responsible.

When another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula finds herself caught up in a deadly hunt for a killer determined to leave no trace, and discovers every decision she makes really is a matter of life and death…

The Dead Ground is the second novel in the Paula Maguire Series which doesn’t disappoint. Forensic Psychologist Paula is back in her hometown of Barryterrin, Ireland, to help find a missing baby who has been snatched from a local hospital. When a woman is killed, another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula realises this is no ordinary killer and must rely on her instincts to solve the case. But when the killer seems to be one step ahead of Paula every time and she herself is struggling to make a decision that which will change her life – can she really find the missing in time?

The novel is told from the point of view of Paula a strong, independent woman who questions everything and doesn’t stick to the rules. The characterisation in this novel is very strong with many of the characters recurring from the previous book. There is a lot of tension between the characters who are all deliciously flawed in their own way which made it very easy to get sucked into to the story.

The setting really comes to life for me in this novel with the differing landscapes in winter and the backdrop of the ‘troubles’ in Ireland which sets the picture but doesn’t overpower the plot. There is also a lot of raw emotion within the story which made it a great read. Some of the storylines which start in the first book of the series, The Lost, carry over into this book so if you haven’t already I would recommend reading it beforehand. This novel is packed full of pace and suspense with many twist and turns which hooked me from the very beginning – I cannot wait to read the next instalment in the series.

A very gripping and thrilling plot with a captivating cast of characters that will keep you guessing who the real culprit is.

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To find out more about Claire McGowan follow her on Twitter @inkstainsclaire or visit her website here