Chiller Review: Watching Edie by Camilla Way

Blurb: THERE ARE SOME FRIENDS YOU’LL NEVER FORGET…NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY

BEFORE
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.

AFTER
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?

Present day: Edie is pregnant after a one-night stand who is struggling to deal with the impending birth of her child. She is all alone living in a one bedroom flat in London and has lost contact with her family.

When she gives birth to her daughter she sinks deeper into oblivion unable to care for herself of her daughter. So when Heather, her childhood friend who she hasn’t seen for sixteen years, appears out of the blue and comes to her rescue Edie should be grateful – but something is wrong…very wrong.

This novel was breath-taking!

It is clear from the very beginning that something dreadful happened to Edie and Heather when they were both teenagers which altered both their lives. I found myself sympathising with both characters even though there is something sinister hidden beneath the surface of their relationship.

This novel is told from two points of view. Heather’s view point is set in the past when she and Edie were teenagers and Edie’s view point is set in the present day. The author manages to fuse both these timelines together by revealing little bits slowly as the novel progresses which kept me turning the page as I was compelled to find out what happened and what will happen. The author does a fantastic job of keeping the suspense in both timelines right up until the very end while hinting at an unknown danger and kept me guessing what happened on that one night many years ago. I plowed through this book without drawing breath!

I cannot write this review without commenting on the ending. There are no words to describe how I felt without revealing spoilers. What I will say is – it is a novel which will take you on a roller coaster of emotions and then when you think you have it sussed out the author turns everything on its head. This is an amazing read which lulls you into a false sense of security only to pack a punch on the very last page. I even screamed at this point in the novel as I just couldn’t see it coming – even now I am still shocked by the truth.

This book is a tale of obsession, stifling relationships, and how one decision can destroy the lives of everyone.

I loved this novel from start to finish with its claustrophobic atmosphere and stifling characters – no wonder I found myself creeped out at times (in a good way). This is a definite must-read.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Camilla Way follow her on Twitter @CamillaLWay.

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Blood Symmetry Blog Tour *Exclusive Content*

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the next stop on Kate Rhodes’ Blood Symmetry Blog Tour. I’m also super excited to share with you an *exclusive* piece of content from the author with Lola’s story, one of the fab recurring characters in the Alice Quentin series alongside my review of the book.

*Exclusive Author Content* 

Blood Symmetry: Lola’s story by Kate Rhodes

 I’ve known Alice forever. I saw her on our first day at secondary school, tiny and blank-faced as a porcelain doll, blonde hair perfectly combed. All of that composure made me want to chase her round the playground, until she was muddy and windblown, like me. Being chalk and cheese is the basis of our friendship. I thought we’d grow apart when I went to drama school and she trained as a psychologist, but we didn’t, thank God. She comes to wild parties with me, I get hours of free counselling, and the exchange suits us perfectly.

There’s a saying that describes exactly how I see Alice: still waters run deep. Being a shrink is her ideal job. She can sit and watch every movement in a crowded restaurant for hours, transfixed by the weirdness of human behaviour. There’s no point in bullshitting when she’s around, because she sees straight through it, so I don’t even try. Some people find her remote, but they’re missing the warmth she keeps hidden. Whenever I’m in a new play, she’s in the front row, giving me a standing ovation, no matter how badly I perform. I could have chosen an acting friend for my daughter’s godmother, but Alice fits the role perfectly. Watching her with my three month-old baby is a revelation. Her detachment vanishes; there’s sadness in her face when it’s time for her to put Neve back in her cot and walk away.

I worry about Alice, of course. I don’t know much about forensic psychology, but it brings her into contact with the most terrifying criminals on the planet. I honestly don’t know how she does it. One bad review and I’m shattered, while she can spend days interviewing a psychotic murderer and remain cool as a cucumber. Her latest case is the worst of all. Tension hangs over her, even when she plays with Neve. She never talks about her work directly, but details surface over coffee. She’s counselling a boy who saw his mother abducted from Clapham Common. The kid’s too terrified to speak a word. It’s Alice’s job to help him talk again, so he can explain what happened to his mum, before it’s too late. I can see worry written all over her face, but there’s one upside to the situation. Her new boyfriend is nothing like the clever, ambitious men she normally chooses. Don Burns is a high-ranking police officer in the Met. He’s six feet five, built like a brick wall, and just as stubborn and determined as her. I love the guy to bits. The only shadow on the horizon is that they have to work together, but the way he looks at her always makes me smile. His expression’s dazed, like a cartoon character who’s been bashed round the head with a brick. He’s flat-out in love with her, although she’s too focused on work to notice. I can’t wait for the case to be over, so I can get my friend back, and she can stop burning the midnight oil.

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Now for the Book Review

Blurb: Clare Riordan and her son Mikey are abducted from Clapham Common early one morning. Hours later, the boy is found wandering disorientated. Soon after, a pack of Clare’s blood is left on a doorstep in the heart of the City of London.

Alice Quentin is brought in to help the traumatised child uncover his memories – which might lead them to his mother’s captors. But she swiftly realises Clare is not the first victim… nor will she be the last.

The killers are driven by a desire for revenge… and in the end, it will all come down to blood.

This is the fifth instalment in the Alice Quentin series – having not read any of the others I was intrigued and very excited by this new heroine. Alice Quentin is a Forensic Psychologist who is called in to help Mikey, a traumatised child who was kidnapped along with his mother Clare Riordan but managed to escape. As Clare’s captors continually taunt the police with blood packs left in a number of locations across London Alice and her boyfriend DCI Don Burns quickly realise that Clare is not the first to fall victim, nor will she be the last.

If I could sum up this book in one word I would say breath-taking! 

I spent an amazing weekend with Alice Quentin and her world feeling very much involved with all of the characters lives. I especially loved the main character of Alice Quentin from the very beginning! I found myself caring about Mikey, Burns as well as understanding the strong motivation of the killers which made the characters jump right of the page and into my imagination.

The novel was told from two points of view – Alice and the killers whose identities were kept secret until the very end (I won’t ruin it but it kept me guessing.) I thought this was great as it provided an insight into the antagonist as well as ratcheting up that much loved tension.

I could tell while I was reading this novel that the author knew a lot about the tainted blood scandal as well as all of the many locations which featured in the novel through her vivid descriptions, and Alice’s own insights into her world which really made this a very realistic story and enjoyable read.

I adored reading this book and was so absorbed into the story I didn’t want it to end – I actually read this in two days straight (a very good record for me).

This was an absolute fabulous novel packed full of pace, suspense, blood, murder and revenge but still managed to contain a compelling cast of characters which I found myself empathising with. A definite must-read for crime fans!

With thanks to Becca Mundy and Hodder and Stoughton for my copy of Blood Symmetry.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

To find out more about Kate Rhodes follow her on Twitter @K_RhodesWriter.

Don’t forget to check out all of the other fab stops on the Blood Symmetry Blog Tour!Kate Rhodes blog tour poster.jpg

Killer Review: The Lost by Claire McGowan

First Line: ‘Imagine all of you went missing.’

Blurb:  Not everyone who’s missing is lost
When two teenage girls go missing along the Irish border, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire has to return to the hometown she left years before. Swirling with rumour and secrets, the town is gripped by fear of a serial killer. But the truth could be even darker.

Not everyone who’s lost wants to be found
Surrounded by people and places she tried to forget, Paula digs into the cases as the truth twists further away. What’s the link with two other disappearances from 1985? And why does everything lead back to the town’s dark past- including the reasons her own mother went missing years before?

Nothing is what it seems
As the shocking truth is revealed, Paula learns that sometimes, it’s better not to find what you’ve lost.

This is the first in the Paula Maguire series which introduces Forensic Psychologist Paula Maguire. Paula is a strong, independent single woman who has a disregard for the rules and has been living and working in London for many years. When her father breaks his leg she decides to accept an offer to be a consultant as part of a cross border unit, looking into the case of two missing teenage girls which forces her to return to her hometown of Ballyterrin –  a small town on the Northern/Southern Irish border. But as she digs deeper into the case she realises this case isn’t as clear-cut as it seems and is forced to confront her own secrets long buried.

Fast-paced!

I loved the character of the main protagonist Paula whose impulsive nature gets her into trouble and has conflict with quite a few of the other characters including Guy (Paula’s boss and love interest) and Aidan (Paula’s childhood boyfriend who runs the local newspaper). I especially loved the dynamic relationships between all of these three characters adding another dimension to the story which made me want to find out what will happen next as well as trying to guess what had happened to the teenage girls.

The novel is set against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland which explores the history of the Troubles and the devastating affect it is still having on the lives of people in the present day. There is also a theme of secrets and lies which adds a dark and eerie atmosphere to the story which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This is a great multi-layered story where the author manages to weave a number of sub plots without them overshadowing the main narrative. I thought the fictional setting of Ballyterrin felt very real for me as well as all of its inhabitants which made me feel like I was right there as the action unfolded.

This story is full of pace which featured a number of twists and turns keeping me guessing until the very end. I loved the authors writing style – before I knew it I was at the end.

I would highly recommend this novel which is a compelling and engaging read packed full of pace, suspense and great characterisation.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

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

July First Monday Crime Round-Up

So this week I had the pleasure of both assisting and attending the July First Monday Crime event which was sponsored by Killer Reads.

The panel consisted of debut authors Anna Mazzola and Beth Lewis, successful crime novelists Andrew Taylor who is the author of a number of crime and historical novels and Stephen Booth who is the author of the Cooper and Fry series. Keeping the panel in check as panel chair was Claire McGowan author of the Paula Maguire series who also runs the MA in crime thriller novels at City University – the very same course I’m currently studying on.

This was a fantastic, lively evening where the authors each discussed where they found the idea for their stories, the importance of setting, research, writing strong female characters who are morally ambivalent and top tips for aspiring writers, much like myself.

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The evening finished with a fab goodie bag, the opportunity to buy those all important books which the authors signed and a drink at the pub.

July Goodie Bag

The ideas behind the books: Beth was inspired by a TV show (she wouldn’t share which show this was), Anna found the story of Sarah Gale mentioned in the Suspicions of Mr Whicher and researched it, Andrew loves imagery and was inspired by the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and Stephen was inspired by the beautiful setting of the Peak District ‘which is a good place to find a body.’

 

Top tips from the writers:

Stephen Booth: ‘There’s no such thing as writers block. Just write. Sit down and write because its your job.’

Andrew Taylor: ‘Write one line a day because that line could turn into a sentence, then a paragraph then into a chapter. Writers write.’

Beth Lewis: ‘You need discipline to finish a book. You’ve got to teach yourself to finish that book, don’t move onto the next shiny idea.’

Anna: ‘Think about your book last thing at night before you go to bed.’

 

So now for the fab books:

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The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola is set in London in 1837 and is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother who has been sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown but petitions the king for mercy. Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate but he is struggling with his own demons. Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

Wolf Road by Beth Lewis is a debut literary thriller. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old. So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper  is wanted for murder and Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka. So Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move.

Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor is a historical thriller set during the time of the Great Fire of London. London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer. In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back. Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth is the 16th novel in the Cooper and Fry series set in the Peak District. A series of suicides from tourists throughout the Peaks throws Detective Inspector Ben Cooper and his team in Derbyshire’s E Division into a race against time to find a connection to these seemingly random acts – with no way of predicting where the next body will turn up. Meanwhile, in Nottingham Detective Sergeant Diane Fry finds a key witness has vanished…But what are the mysterious Secrets of Death? And is there one victim whose fate wasn’t suicide at all?

 

The next First Monday event will be coming up in September after a break over the summer so don’t forget to follow at @1stMondayCrime for updates on all their upcoming events.

Don’t forget to follow all of the authors on Twitter as well:

Killer Review: Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

Blurb: At a university in Reykjavík, the body of a young German student is discovered, his eyes cut out and strange symbols carved into his chest. Police waste no time in making an arrest, but the victim’s family isn’t convinced that the right man is in custody. They ask Thóra Guðmundsdóttir, an attorney and single mother of two, to investigate. It isn’t long before Thóra and her associate, Matthew Reich, uncover the deceased student’s obsession with Iceland’s grisly history of torture, execution, and witch hunts. But there are very contemporary horrors hidden in the long, cold shadow of dark traditions. And for two suddenly endangered investigators, nothing is quite what it seems … and no one can be trusted.

This is the first in the Thóra Guðmundsdóttir series which introduces Thóra, a thirty-something single mother and lawyer who is struggling to get by. When the body of Harold Guntlieb, a german student studying at the University in Reykjavik, is found in the history department with his eyes gouged out and weird mysterious symbols carved into his body Thóra is hired by Harold’s parents to investigate.

For the Guntlieb’s believes their son’s killer is not the small time drug dealer who is currently in police custody but something far more sinister is at work; so they send over ex-policeman and friend Matthew Reich to discover the truth and they will pay anything to find the real killer.

But as Thóra and Matthew dig deeper into Harold’s life they are pulled into his world of witchcraft and the grisly world of torture.

What can I say but Fascinating!

Thóra is an appealing character who is struggling to bring up two children on her own as well as running a successful law practice. She has a dry sense of humour which I really enjoyed bringing a unique perspective on the investigation. I also enjoyed the relationship between Thóra and Matthew where they spent a lot of the novel sparring which really balanced out the dark moments in the story and helped lighten the atmosphere.

One of the themes of this novel is the medieval history of the witchcraft hunts in Iceland and Europe and the superstitions people had in the past which drove them to do some very dark acts including torture. I thought this was a facscinating element to the story and the author does a fantastic job of weaving this history into the present day of the novel without the reader becoming lost in the plot which can happen in crime novels.

There is some gore and gruesome descriptions in this novel but the author manages to use these only when neccessary to help enhance the dark atmosphere within the novel and thankfully doesn’t linger too long on these descriptions.

One of the highlights of this novel is the dazzling setting of Iceland which the author really brings to life through her descriptions where much of the landscape hinders the investigation at times and helps to add tension and pace to the story.

There is a low body count in this novel which I found refreshing. This has all the hallmarks of a classic murder mystery set within the beautiful but harsh landscape of Iceland.

I would recommend this novel and I’m very much looking forward to reading more from Yrsa.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Yrsa Sigurdardottir follow her on Twitter @YrsaSig.