BLOG TOUR: The Child Before by Michael Scanlon

This was a detailed, intriguing and complex mystery, with an interesting main detective and a horrific, scary crime.

She began to sing, the girl. Her voice was soft, so soft it was almost of the wind. It was a lullaby. She cradled her arms, rocking them gently back and forth. As if she was holding a baby. But she was not. Her arms were empty.
On a cold morning a cyclist finds the brutally-slaughtered body of a woman in her car, on a remote lane leading to the long-abandoned Irish village of Kelly’s Forge.
But when Detective Finnegan Beck arrives from the nearby town of Cross Beg to investigate he notices there’s a baby’s seat in the back of the car. A bottle of baby’s milk lying in the footwell. And no child.
Little Róisín isn’t the first child to go missing from that same remote location though. There was another baby girl, taken more than fifty years before, who was never found. Has too much time passed for there to be a connection, or does something – or someone – link these two crimes?
Beck claims he does not want to stay in Cross Beg. His heart is back in Dublin, with the woman he loves. But, knowing that a child’s life depends on him changes things. He knows he has to find the missing baby girl. Because if he doesn’t, he fears there’s a chance everyone will give up the baby for dead, just like they did before…

This story was really detailed, so it does require more concentration than other crime novels you might read but because of this it’s much more rewarding.

It starts with some fascinating flashbacks to 1954 when some unknown family is going through what seems like a traumatic incident involving a young baby. It’s very mysterious and creates a real aura of the unknown which is quite spooky. It’s also unclear at first how it’s linked to the present and honestly, when it is revealed, I was definitely not expecting it. It was a very well written and clever twist.

The murder and missing child mystery of the present is quite graphically described, but it’s very intense. The pain and stress of Beck, the main detective, is very clear to see when it comes to finding the missing baby. As the clues as to what may have happened to the baby are revealed, the hunt for her becomes quite emotional. It’s actually quite a stressful read in some places, as the crime and methods of solving it are described in such detail that I felt really involved with it.

Beck himself was an unusual choice for the main detective, his alcoholism and methods of dealing with it were unorthodox, his bluntness was brilliant, but his moments of inspiration were particularly great. I loved seeing his thought process and investigation so in depth, as it made the whole crime seem much more real. The glimpses into his personal life were also fascinating, and his slight character growth/change throughout was really well written.

The ending was seriously shocking. It’s not often that you come across an ending that genuinely and completely blindsides you, but this was it. To be honest, I had no idea where this was going, as there were enough red herrings or confusing clues to mislead the reader entirely. I really loved how Scanlon wrapped it all up, it was detailed, well thought-out, and with a partly happy ending included as well.

This was a very different and detailed crime novel, and if you’re looking for something you can get your teeth into, that has a truly awesome ending, then this is it.

The Child Before
Michael Scanlon
Bookouture, 5th June 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

Wow. What a fascinating, emotional and relevant story, with plenty of plot twists and absolutely brilliant characters! This is dark and thrilling read, which hooks the reader in early on, leading to an incredibly tense ending.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck.
These people hide in plain sight. They can be teachers, doctors, lawyers, holding positions of trust, of power. 
Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.
But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into aweb of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the sfety of her own family.

*spoiler and content warning*

This is probably one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year, with great characters, a brilliant but emotional plot, and a constant sense of frustration for the reader that just makes you want to keep reading. This book starts fairly slowly, but this actually serves to build the suspense in a really clever way. The writing itself has just enough detail in to keep the reader hooked, and so the first few chapters set up the plot and characters really well.

There are quite a lot of characters in this, but they all really worked well. Jessamine was brilliant, she was such a strong and independent person, but her relationship with her daughter also showed her vulnerable side. Jessamine’s progress throughout the novel was really interesting to watch, as she seemed to become more trusting, yet also more stubborn. Her willingness to open up to a relationship to Dougie was counteracted by the fact that it was done on her own terms, as and when she wanted it.

Jessamine’s relationship with her daughter, as mentioned, was quite emotional to watch. Some vulnerabilities were revealed as Sarah became more interested in her birth parents, but these were written as simple little mentions, so they could have seemed small compared to everything else that was going on. I think this worked really well, as instead it showed that being Sarah’s mother was a constant source of emotion for Jessamine, and that above everything else, Jessamine was always thinking of Sarah. I loved their relationship, Sarah was a typical teenager, sometimes moody, sometimes needy, and it gave both characters a sense of ‘real-ness’ throughout. Sarah’s secret was a definite cause for concern for the reader, especially considering what else was going on in the novel, and it was frustrating for the reader to watch Jessamine be so clueless as to Sarah’s behaviour.

Jitesh was 100% my favourite character, if I’m allowed to have a favourite! Watching him cope with his stutter was interesting, but I appreciated the fact that it wasn’t the sole focus of his character. In fact, many of the scenes involving Jitesh had little dialogue in them, and they often focused on Jitesh by himself, his inner monologue and his thoughts and reactions. This meant that out of all the characters, I felt closest to him, as his scenes were the most personal. He was such a sweet and emotional character, and finding out about his past and his mental health was seriously upsetting, mostly because of the immense guilt that radiated from him. His need to help people made him a very likeable character, but he wasn’t portrayed as being ‘too good’ either, he had the perfect balance. I liked his friendship with Jessamine, I loved the way she just accepted him as she was and he did the same with her. It was a lovely friendship, proving that different ages and circumstances doesn’t have to be a barrier to friendship.

The flashback scenes with Rowena were seriously emotional, and they do definitely need a content warning. It’s very relevant content, and relates to a lot of current news stories, but it is quite emotional and hard to read in places. I don’t want to give too much away, but to see a thirteen-year-old child in the situations she was placed it, and to see how easily it happened, was genuinely upsetting. It’s a tough read, but I would say an important one, as it really highlights how power and celebrity can play a big part in these horrendous circumstances. There was one key character that popped up in these scenes, never known by his name, simply known as ‘the celebrity’. This was such a powerful move by O’Connor, as it highlighted really clearly the power and freedom that fame and celebrity can give a person. There’s one scene where some security guards ask for an autograph at an unbelievably shocking moment, and the privilege of the celebrity is so clear it practically jumps out the page.

The ending was so emotionally satisfying. I felt like the entire novel was building up this in such a significant way, due to the fact that the issues being raised were so relevant, but there was also something clearly going on with Sarah that was a constant concern throughout, and to build to an ending after all that seemed near impossible. O’Connor, however, rose to the challenge magnificently, and it was such a fantastic ending I felt like reading it all over again.

There was a plot twist which, although wasn’t the most shocking, still came as a complete surprise because I was so focused on the other parts of the story. It was really clever, and completely made sense as I read it. There was yet another part of the ending which took me by surprise, so it was really a satisfying ending in so many ways! Jitesh’s character development at the end was wonderful to see, his bravery and confidence was incredible, as was his loyalty and determination. The consequences of what was uncovered were interesting to see, and again showed the lack of accountability that was given to people and the lack of evidence available in these years-old crimes. It was upsetting, but then these details are exactly what made this book so realistic, so believable, and so emotional.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone, it’s a clever and emotional read, with characters that tug at your heartstrings, and a storyline that is both difficult but important to read. It’s a fantastic but dark thriller, with a rising tension throughout and constant sense of the unknown.

Thank you so much to Tracey Fenton from Compulsive Readers for organising this tour.

The Dangerous Kind
Deborah O’Connor
Zaffre, 16th May 2019

BLOG TOUR: Fierce Girl by Emma Tallon

Okay, honestly, I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series but after reading this I 100% will be, because oh my god this was awesome.

Anna Davis has grown up. She’s not the naive runaway who escaped her vicious gangland boyfriend anymore. She’s tougher than ever and she won’t let anyone take advantage of her – or the people she loves.
Anna’s devoted boyfriend, East End baron Freddie Tyler, is in trouble. There’s a rat in his organisation and he needs to stop the leaks before a very big mistake from his past is revealed to people who will want swift and brutal revenge.
Anna wants to help Freddie but she’s got problems of her own. Her best friend Tanya’s mother has turned up, and is staking a claim on Tanya’s share of their club. With Tanya buying her mum’s reformed sinner act, Anna knows she needs to act before both their friendship and Club Anya goes up in flames.
But if there’s one thing Anna and Freddie have learned, it’s how to play the game, and as their enemies close in they’ll fight with everything they’ve got to protect the life they’ve built.

I really wish I had read the other books in this series, because I feel like there is so much depth to these characters that I’m missing. Anna and Freddie, the two main characters here, are so well written. They’re incredibly likeable, despite the fact that they are definitely not innocent people, and their emotions are so finely detailed that I felt really invested in them. How on earth did I end up liking the head guy of a crime group so much? Freddie is both hard and disturbing, and caring and emotional, and somehow Tallon combines these two sides of him perfectly. His relationship with Anna is really sweet, and I’ll be going back to the previous books to find out exactly how their relationship has progressed. The past events that have happened (which Tallon details in this book, so I was able to understand the context) clearly affected these two deeply, and watching them both struggle with these emotions was painful. Their pain practically jumped out the page at me. What I really liked was that Anna was portrayed not only as the vulnerable woman who has experienced something tragic, but also as the tough businesswoman who is determined to do things her way. Similarly with Freddie, he is both the tough gang leader, able to commit horrific violence towards people, but also the caring partner struggling with his own emotions after a tragedy of his own. It’s a touching partnership, and I enjoyed how Tallon made them both strong characters in their own ways as well as a strong couple.

I liked the secondary characters as well, from Anna’s friend Tanya, to Freddie’s brothers and friends, to the detective-turned-PI Sarah. They all served a purpose and built the story up further, providing more depth without being confusing. Tallon wrote this really well, as it would have been easy for the reader to be confused at the vast array of characters but it was surprisingly easy to understand, which is purely due to the great writing.

The actual story itself was definitely intriguing, as there were two parts to it that didn’t really seem connected. Freddie’s mafia troubles were different to anything I’ve really read before, but I really enjoyed it, and his reactions and plans were both clever but also impulsive when necessary. Anna’s determination to prove that Tanya’s mother was up to something was tough to read as she became alienated from Tanya, but it also meant the reader was behind her every step at the way, urging her to find out what really happened.

The ending tied everything together really nicely, and while Tallon definitely doesn’t shy away from violence, it was a fast-paced and intriguing ending, building up to a very satisfying conclusion. It was clever how she linked everything together, in a surprising way that still made sense. I liked that there was a slight plot twist/cliffhanger, enough to leave the reader wondering but not too frustrated.

Overall, this is a brilliant, fast-paced and unusual read. The characters are awesome, with lots of depth and emotion that means the reader gets really invested in them. I would 100% recommend!

Fierce Girl
Emma Tallon
Bookoutoure, 21st May 2019

BLOG TOUR: Catch Your Death by Kierney Scott

This was fast-paced, electrifying and super intense, and I thought the crime was a brilliantly written mystery.

There were five of them once. Now the others are all dead. And he’s next.
When FBI Agent Jess Bishop gets an urgent and scared phone call in the middle of the night, she sets off to Gracemount Academy, an extremely prestigious school. When she gets there, she finds the body of a young student, who has apparently taken his own life.
But she soon discovers that he’s not the only one. Five students have died within months of each other, all of them good friends.
Fighting her own inner demons from her past, Jess will stop at nothing to uncover the person behind these deaths, putting her own life on the line in the process. How far will she go to save more lives being taken?

Before I start my review, I just want to note that this is part of a series, but I read this as a standalone. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had read the rest of the series, as there were clearly some intense backstories, but these were more or less explained throughout this novel.

The actual crime itself was truly sinister, and it soon became clear that there were some properly disturbing activities occurring both at the school and beyond it. The whole ‘undercover/secret society’ element of the mystery worked really well, and it just added to the chilling nature of the story. I’ve always loved stuff like this, and I thought that Scott played it perfectly, making it clear what this secret society was, but keeping whether or not it was involved questionable. It made for a really interesting read, as I was desperate to know the link between the deaths, and Scott added in a couple of clever side characters to add in extra layers of suspicion without it becoming ridiculous.

Jess was a fascinating main character. Her determination to succeed goes almost too far, and she’s actually quite frustrating at times for the reader, as she’s extremely stubborn. This, however, is exactly what makes her a brilliant agent, quick on her feet and an intelligent thinker, and her partnership with Jamison was really interesting. Again, there are clearly problems stemming from events in previous novels which would help the reader’s understanding of their relationship, but they’re still a great team. Jamison was a brilliantly stable character, contrasting Jess’s chaotic stubbornness really well, and at times their level of communication between each other was outstanding.

This was a brilliant novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it as a standalone, but will definitely be going back to read the full series.

BLOG TOUR: I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This was SO good, really intense, fast-paced and genuinely creepy – the kind of creepy that gives you chills as you read it.

The only obituary you never want to read – is your own.
Laura Swallow is dead. 
A life cut tragically short, says the newspaper obituary.
But that’s a lie.
Estate agent Laura did not die in a car accident. She is alive and well.
At first, Laura thinks it’s a sick joke.
But multiple announcements of her death are followed by increasingly sinister real-life events. Already fragile, struggling to recover from a recent divorce, Laura is plunged into a living nightmare.
Who can she trust? Her new lover? Her clients and work colleagues? What about her ex-husband and his smug fiancée? Can Laura even rely on her best friends? And why is it that Laura’s present troubles are so tied up with her sister’s sudden death all those years ago?
But one thing Laura is sure of – someone out there wants her to suffer. Wants her gone.
Forever.

The reason I found this so creepy is that Laura is really easy to relate to in many ways, meaning that the story starts to feel real as well. It starts off with a Facebook post on Laura’s account claiming she has died, followed by a sinister obituary in the newspaper. It’s seriously weird, and the way Laura dismisses the first Facebook post as an odd error is genuinely believable, which is what helps to make it so sinister. The newspaper obituary escalates the situation a bit, and the sheer sense of weirdness surrounding Laura becomes inescapable.

What’s most distressing about this story is the total isolation that Laura feels and experiences throughout the novel – it’s actually really sad to read, and enhances the creepiness further. Laura’s a great character because she is so human – sometimes she’s so annoying because I just wanted her to see what was happening to her, but that’s why she’s a great character as her reactions to these events were realistic.

The other characters in this were brilliant as well. I liked that Miranda played with the reader a bit, making them suspicious of most of the other characters in the book. I would say that perhaps some of this felt a bit contrived, but I could definitely see what the author was trying to do in isolating Laura further by creating this aura of paranoia.

I guessed who was behind in about halfway through, but it didn’t necessarily ruin the book for me at all – the character in question was probably the best one in the book for me, very intriguing and hard to read and I wouldn’t have guessed the reasons behind their actions.

I thought this was an interesting read, I enjoyed the character-focused writing and would recommend if you’re looking for something a bit different to read!

Thanks to Emma from damppebbles for organising this book tour!

I Want You Gone
Miranda Rijks
Inkubator Books, 13th April 2019

BLOG TOUR: Her Best Friend’s Secret by Anna Mansell

Your best friend deserves the truth. But it will ruin her life. What would you do?
In summer, the small Cornish village of Gorran Haven fills with tourists, but in the colder months its pretty narrow streets are blissfully quiet, the bell on the village shop door rings only for locals, the beach is unspoilt, empty and safe.


It’s been over twenty years since four very different teenage girls sat on that beach, and swore to be best friends forever. Their lives went different ways after Emily left. But each remembered that promise. And none truly found friendship like it again.

Now, Emily’s back, with a secret she can’t face. She tries to hide away, take time to heal and make some difficult choices, but she runs into one of her old friends, and soon the four are reunited. Lolly, warm as ever, is a successful physiotherapist, married with kids. Yet smart, strong Amanda, who cherishes her teenage daughter, is alone and seemingly stuck in a dead-end job. And creative Jess is so much quieter than Emily remembers.

The bond is still there, and Emily realises their friendship might keep her together, but there are reasons why the women fell out of touch. Secrets that have lain dormant for decades start to surface, and then one of the women discovers a betrayal so big, it could turn each of their lives upside down.

It’s always those we’re closest to who have the power to tear us apart. Can friendship give Emily and her friends the strength to survive a devastating shock, or are some things unforgiveable?

Firstly, I LOVED this book. It had all the best elements of my favourite genres. There was the intrigue from a good drama (almost bordering on thriller-drama), the brilliantly written women, the little hints of romance, but most importantly, there was a great story.

I love books that are divided into character chapters, as it’s always super interesting to see different characters reacting to the same events. I thought Emily was a fascinating character, her sudden and quite dramatic lifestyle change really intrigued me, and her disillusionment with her movie star lifestyle was really interesting. Watching her come to terms with happiness by herself was seriously empowering, and her quiet confidence was actually quite inspiring.

Lolly was super sweet as well. I liked the fact that although she seemed naive, she was definitely more aware of what was going on around her than she seemed, and the twist at the end was super clever. Watching her relationship with her husband, and how it develops and changes throughout the book was one of the story lines that really hooked me in – despite it being quite subtle and almost slow-moving, there was a real sense of suspicion surrounding their marriage that kept me gripped.

Amanda was absolutely my favourite. What’s not to love about a strong, independent, unapologetic but caring and kind woman? She was completely brilliantly written, and despite having a somewhat unusual job she showed some moments of true humanity that made her really relatable. I thought that Mansell wrote Amanda seriously well and added in some finer details, such as her relationships with her daughter and her ex-husband, that warmed me to the character even more.

Jess was a clever final character, she was really relatable but provided a sort of grounding presence in the group. She did have her own dramas and problems happening throughout the book, but for some reason I found Jess a very reassuring person, as she was realistic, strong, and honest. Because of all these traits, I was super invested in her getting a happy ending, and loved watching her story play out.

This book surprised me as it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be, but then I loved it more than I thought! It was superbly written, with wonderfully complex but relatable characters, and I would 100% recommend this to anyone!

Her Best Friend’s Secret
Anna Mansell
Bookouture, 1st April 2019