The One Who Got Away by L.A. Detwiler

This is one of the most genuinely chilling thrillers I’ve read in a while, with a compelling and likeable character and terrifying flashbacks into the mind of a killer.

“Get out while you can. You’ll die here…”
Adeline Evans has recently moved into a home for the elderly. A safe space, where she can be cared for.
When she begins to receive cryptic and threatening notes, she is certain that someone is out to get her.
But the residents are warned against listening to a woman who is losing her memory. It would seem Adeline is tormented by the secrets in her past, and that the menace is all in her mind.
Until danger comes down the corridor and starts knocking in the night…

This begins with Adeline moving into a home and almost instantly her emotions are right on the surface for the reader to feel. It’s easy to feel empathy for her and to understand how she is coping with the move, which is mainly due to Detwiler’s brilliant and emotive writing. Adeline is a likeable main character, but her past remains pretty mysterious to the reader almost the entire novel.

Although the story begins in 2019, there are regular flashbacks to 1959. In this time period we see the perspective of both Adeline and the killer. These chapters are where the novel gets seriously interesting and chilling. The insights into the mind of the killer are twisted and very cleverly written. The creepy level of obsession is frightening even for the reader. Soon however, this seems to start to blend into the present day, with Adeline receiving threatening notes and messages. There are genuinely chilling moments and I was totally hooked throughout.

What I liked was that there are lots of clues throughout, hinting at various suspects but never quite revealing the answer. It kept me engaged in trying to figure it out and at times I was convinced I’d found certain answers or reveals. The suspense just keeps on building and by the end I was glued to the page. It’s a brilliant ending and while I don’t want to give too much away, it didn’t end how I expected it to – Detwiler manages to twist the genre expectation expertly, with the ending definitely holding at least one surprise for the reader.

All the way throughout this novel I felt both the characters and the plot were excellent – chilling, full of twists and suspense, and the perfect pace of action. If you need a new thriller author, then this is the one for you.

The One That Got Away
L.A. Detwiler
One More Chapter, 19th February 2020

Fatal Fortune by Miranda Rijks

Thanks so much to Emma from @damppebbles for organising this blog tour!

Is someone trying to frame psychologist Pippa Durrant for the brutal murder of a woman she’s never even met?
It certainly seems that way when Pippa’s photo is found on the body of murdered lottery winner, Leanne Smith.
Pippa soon finds herself a suspect at the centre of a huge media storm. But she has an invaluable skill set – she is a human polygraph, expertly trained to spot lies and deceit. Skills she will need to help her to solve the mystery of who killed Leanne before it destroys her career – and her life.
But every cloud has a silver lining and this one arrives in the shape of DS Joe Swain. Initially suspicious of Pippa, he comes to trust her and to value her lie detection skills. Soon it’s clear there’s a definite spark between them….
Then, when another body turns up, Pippa realises her reputation isn’t the only thing in danger. Can she identify the killer before she becomes the next victim?

This book was definitely intriguing right from the start! There is seemingly no connection between Pippa, and the woman whose body her photo was left on. It’s genuinely quite mysterious and creepy, particularly the fact that they are described as looking alike.

I really liked Pippa as a character. She was really relatable and quite likeable, although also irritating at times – but then that’s what made her seem human. Her reaction to her photo being left on the body started as worried yet curious which turned into panic and fear – almost exactly as you’d imagine that situation would. She had a real determination to find out why she was being targeted like this, and I think the reader was really behind her the whole time, willing her to find out who was doing this. Her relationship with her son was interesting, and I feel like it’s something that will act as an over-arching storyline in future books.

The Smith family was a great opposing force to Pippa’s half of the story. Donna was kind of annoying, but you couldn’t help but feel intensely sorry for her after losing her mum. Watching her become more and more isolated and upset throughout the novel was hard, but again that’s what made her a relatable character. Her husband Ricky was super annoying, he was overly controlling and intense, and he did seem quite suspicious at times, but I never fully believed it was him either. He was clearly an emotional man, battling events and emotions from his past, and yet still trying to keep his family together in his own way. Their relationship was definitely a bit fractured, but there was clearly love there, which made later events of the novel really emotional.

I guessed who did it not too long before it was revealed, but it was definitely an interesting twist that I think worked really well. It linked it nicely with Pippa’s professional work, but also with her family life, so it had a definite personal touch. The character in question was brilliantly written, and it really was a sensitive and fascinating insight into mental health and personality.

I would definitely recommend this, and would love to read more Dr Pippa Durrant novels in the future!

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

Past Tense by Lee Child

This was definitely an intriguing and fast-paced story, and yet an unexpected one for Jack Reacher, and I loved the different take!

The present can be tense . . . 
A young couple trying to get to New York City are stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. Before long they’re trapped in an ominous game of life and death.
But the past can be worse . . .
Meanwhile, Jack Reacher sets out on an epic road trip across America. He doesn’t get far. Deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been – the town where his father was born. But when he arrives he is told no one named Reacher ever lived there. Now he wonders: who’s lying?
As the tension ratchets up and these two stories begin to entwine, the stakes have never been higher for Reacher.

I have to confess firstly, that I’ve been re-reading a lot of the early Jack Reacher novels before this one came out in paperback, as I haven’t read them for a while and it’s easily one of my favourite series. So I was definitely excited for a new one, and oh wow it did not disappoint!

The main thing I noticed was that it was fairly different to the rest of the series in that there were two parallel stories happening that didn’t converge for absolutely ages. Normally with Jack Reacher it’s all-in straight away, no hesitation, head-butting people left and right! This one however, took some time to build up, which I found refreshing and really enjoyed.

Child focused much of the novel on Reacher’s past and family history, which I loved – he managed to do this in such a way that he didn’t take away from Reacher’s independent and isolated nature but still revealed enough of his relationship with his family to satisfy the reader. It was a clever and fine balance between the two and it worked really well. Reacher’s attitude towards his family history was just as I’d expect it to be, curious rather than passionately interested.

The other half of the novel, which followed the story of Patty and Shorty, was honestly the most mysterious story I’ve read in a while. I genuinely couldn’t figure out what was going on at the motel they stayed at, and was definitely not prepared for the turn it took. Rather than have Reacher really involved in this part of the story, I liked that Child instead let it play out on its own. The ending wrapped it up really nicely, and there were some finer details which linked everything together. I won’t say too much about this part of the novel in case of spoilers, but it’s a great story.

I always love the Jack Reacher books, but this one had the sense of something different about it which I really enjoyed. Reacher is a brilliant character, and I always look forward to a new Jack Reacher book! Would absolutely 100% recommend this.

Past Tense
Lee Child
Bantam Press, 4th April 2019

Behind the Blogger: Bookish Blogging by Hannah

Thank you to Megan from @Megswonderland1 for the tag!

THE RULES:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer all the questions below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about to do this tag

1. WHY DID YOU START BLOGGING & WHY HAVE YOU KEPT BLOGGING?

I first started blogging because I wanted to get more involved with both the blogging and publishing communities, and thought this would be a great way of doing both.

I’ve kept it up because I really enjoy writing, and I got really out of practice with it before. This has been so much fun, combining my love of reading with something new, so I’ll definitely be keeping it up!

2. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF BLOG POST TO WRITE?

So far I’ve only written book reviews, but that’s because I love writing them! I think next on my list is to start doing some monthly wrap ups, but so far I’ve been so busy that I’ve just not got myself organised enough to do them!

3. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 FAVORITE BLOG POSTS?

The Foyles Bookshop Girls Review
The Girl Next Door Review
In Safe Hands Review

4. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO TO RELAX?

I love a REALLY hot shower, going to the gym, yoga classes, reading in bed with a hot chocolate or watching something funny on Netflix!

5. WHAT ARE 3 OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS?

Books, good coffee, eating out

6. WHAT ARE YOUR PROUDEST BLOGGING MOMENTS?

Well I haven’t been blogging too long, but I was super pleased when I got my own domain, and saw my new blog for the first time!! I was also really proud when I hit my first follower goal!

7. WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF BLOGGING?

I love to cook and experiment with new dishes! I also go to yoga every week, and the gym. Of course, this is all when I’m not reading!

8. DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY IN 3 WORDS?

Friendly, independent, caring

9. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PET PEEVES?

When people talk with their mouth full or they chew super loudly!
Aggressive drivers
When people pick up their phones in the middle of a conversation

10. WHAT’S SOMETHING YOUR FOLLOWERS DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I have a tattoo!

I’m tagging:

Kaylee | Rosie | Tiffany | Ashley | El

All The Little Lies by Chris Curran

Your whole life has been a lie…
One email is all it takes to turn Eve’s world upside down. It contains a picture of her true birth mother, Stella, and proves that Eve’s entire life with her adoptive parents has been a lie.
 Now she must unravel the mystery of Stella’s dark past. But what Eve finds will force her to take enormous risks, which put her – and her new-born baby – in immediate danger…

*minor spoilers*

I thought this was brilliant, fast-paced and very intense. It’s an emotional book, as Eve’s journey to find her birth mother is really harrowing. The way it affects her relationship with her adoptive parents, especially her mother, is also fascinating, and there’s a lot of undertones and unsaid words that Curran still manages to get across to the reader.

I also just really liked Eve’s character in general. She’s not just the helpless pregnant lady, she’s determined and pretty resilient – not long after giving birth she’s back on her search for her birth mother. Her guilt is apparent throughout the story, both towards her adoptive parents and her husband Alex. She’s a brilliantly written character, as I felt that the reader was really able to connect with her.

One of the things I liked most about this book was how real all the characters were. Alex was patient but also understandably frustrated, and during one scene where Eve almost trips over holding Ivy, his reaction is extremely relatable. He is both caring of her and angry with her for being so apparently careless. When Eve tries to explain that she feels she’s being watched he is logical in his belief that there was no one in the garden, but he does take the time to listen to her fears. Curran balances the sinister and mysterious story with the solidness of the characters really well, and this is what makes this story so great.

The twist at the end is great – perhaps not the most surprising, but I loved the way that Curran built up the mystery of Stella. Simon, another key character in this, is also brilliant – he’s always sort of hovering at the edge so you never quite forget about him but he’s not really on your radar at the same time. When he does come out of his shell, he’s distraught and stressed, and you can almost sense the panic radiating out of him.

I love stories that connect with the past, and so the flashbacks to young Stella were particularly interesting for me. Before giving birth to Eve she seemed like a naive kid, but after becoming a mother her character develops even more. The fog that descends over her is definitely suspicious and her friendship with Jill is seriously weird, but the way it’s written is so clever that it’s even difficult for the reader to grasp what exactly is going on between the two women.

I loved All The Little Lies, and would 100% recommend this! The mystery itself, combined with the brilliantly written characters, make for a fascinating story.

Credits:
All The Little Lies
Chris Curran
Harper Impulse and Killer Reads, 15th Feb

Where No Shadows Fall by Peter Ritchie

If I’m honest, I found this quite difficult to get through. The story was quite bitty and disjointed, and required serious concentration to understand all the nuances.

The beginning of the story was quite slow, focusing on the death of a young man and the fate of the man that goes down for it – there was just a lot of establishing various relationships, and I just wanted the story to get going a bit quicker than it was.

At the same time, the fact that it was quite complicated did mean that getting to the end and the reveal was rewarding, and gave a real sense of satisfaction, but it wasn’t for me.

I’m not a fan of only using surnames in a novel, as it depersonalises the characters for me and I find it hard to connect – it also didn’t help that a lot of the surnames were similar, so the fact that Ritchie chose to use these was slightly confusing at times.

There were a LOT of characters in this – in some ways this was brilliant, as it kept the reader on their toes, and it was difficult to guess at who did what. However, what I found was that this led to an anticlimax at the end – so much time had been spent on all the characters, that the mystery of the crime itself became less important.

There was also an odd side story that never really found its feet, and its only real purpose seemed to be to build up to an unexpected death – I do understand that it gave the reader quite a shock for a few pages, but I was expecting something really shocking to happen, which never really took off.

This could have been really great, as it was an intriguing gang-related mystery but it never really found its feet for me. I have seen some brilliant reviews of this novel however, so if you’re prepared to fully invest yourself in this I think it would really pay off.

Credits:
Where No Shadows Fall
Peter Ritchie
Black & White Publishing, 07th Feb 2019

In Safe Hands: A DCI Anna Tate thriller by J. P. Carter

What story about nine missing young children wouldn’t grip you right from the start? This is a fast-paced and intriguing mystery about the type of crime that can’t fail to wrench at your heartstrings.

I felt that the writing was slightly stilted at the beginning. There was a reasonable amount of establishing the past and Anna’s backstory, so it was a bit slow in terms of following the actual mystery, despite the fact that the crime happens almost immediately. Nine children are kidnapped out of a nursery, and no one seems to have seen anything. It’s one of those stories that is immediately filled with emotion.

However, once Anna’s backstory and personal experiences are well established, this novel really comes into its own, and it’s completely gripping. I tore through this book, as I simply couldn’t understand where the clues were leading to. Carter gradually starts to lay the breadcrumbs, and so by the time the reader has figured out who’s behind it, they are so invested in these poor missing children that it comes as a complete shock. I thought the ending was brilliant, and not so simply clear-cut as ‘this is who did the crime’. There were a lot of emotions involved, and it was such a horrific crime that it becomes obvious that some real depths of despair were reached in order to commit it.

DCI Tate becomes an increasingly stronger character throughout the novel, and by the end I was really invested in her, and definitely want to read more Anna Tate novels! As the story goes on it also becomes clearer why there was so much time spent on her backstory, as it allows for a very intriguing cliffhanger at the end…

Brilliant story, with great characters – definitely worth a read! I’m delighted to say that I’ve found a new series and I will be eagerly waiting for the next installment!!

Credits:
In Safe Hands
J. P. Carter
Avon, 24 Jan 2019

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

As always, Ruth Galloway novels are one of my favourites. With links from the past connecting to present events and fascinating relationships between the characters, I love this series and this novel in particular.

I like the links between the past and the present, especially with this one going right back to the beginning with a crime that links to Ruth’s past. There are quite a lot of connections to the first book, so it may be hard to follow if you haven’t read it yet, but for me it made the mystery more interesting as I got to reconnect back with a story that I loved. In this one, the body of 12-year-old Margaret Lacey is found during a dig near a stone circle, bringing the series back round to the death of Scarlett Henderson in the first novel – the girl that Nelson couldn’t save. I like that Ruth Galloway novel focus on the crime as well as all the symbolism and meaning behind the stone circles, as I love history/crime novels in particular!

This novel also really highlighted the development of the characters, especially the relationship between Ruth and Nelson. These two have always been a fascinating couple to watch, especially the way Ruth is both fiercely independent and yet also can’t quite let Nelson go. It makes for interesting reading, especially after developments in their personal lives, such as Michelle’s baby and the developing relationship with Nelson’s two older daughters.

Going back to the actual story, there were quite a lot of red herrings, which I loved – it kept me on my toes and meant I was never quite sure what to believe! Elly Griffiths always sneaks in a lot of detail, about both the mystery and the lives of the characters, and I always love noticing the links here and there. It’s a very satisfying ending, and it would be impossible to predict, so definitely came as a surprise. It really builds, with lots of twists and turns, and Griffiths also links in the relationship between Judy and Maddie which just makes it that bit more meaningful.

The descriptions of people, places and events is always so vivid, which I love, as I’m a very visual reader. All the reoccurring characters are so consistently well-written, and I have to admit that Cathbad and Judy will always be two of my favourites, however much I love Nelson and Ruth.

This is a great series, and both as a collection and as standalone novels, definitely worth a read.

Credits:
The Stone Circle
Elly Griffiths
Quercus Books, 7 Feb 2019

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Although this got really intense in the second half of the book, I found this quite slow and tough to get through at first.

The main character in this I just found extremely irritating to begin with. I think this would be great for fans of The Girl on the Train, but for me I just got frustrated by the lack of sense the main character made. Anna Fox never leaves her house, instead observing her neighbours through her windows – she drinks, she plays online chess, and has an interesting relationship with her husband and daughter. She’s a child psychologist, so I did enjoy seeing her relationship with her own mental health change and evolve. For me however, I didn’t enjoy the first half of the book as much, as it was too repetitive and too reliant on the shadowy events that were unfolding and the unreliability of the narrator. Her observations and discussions with people she interacts with make no sense due to her drinking and mixing prescription drugs, but for me this just went on too long and it became frustrating. Some readers will definitely like this though, and will enjoy the sense of the true unknown that this provides.

Towards the second half of the novel, however, things really picked up. As Anna became more proactive, the descriptions and language became really visual and it’s easy at times to feel like you are actually feeling and experiencing Anna’s agoraphobia. It was a very absorbing second half, and A. J. Finn writes Anna’s mental health struggles very well. It was also increasingly difficult watching her struggle to believe her own memory, as it made the mystery of what was happening in the house across the road take a backseat for a while.

This then meant that once the reader got back into the mysterious events unfolding in the house, there was absolutely no way to know who did what. The ending is rather sudden, although genuinely quite surprising, and I did enjoyed the level of closure Finn allowed the reader – not so much a ‘happy ever after’ but a definite sense of satisfaction.

Anna’s relationship with herself also becomes much more interesting towards the end of the novel – without giving away spoilers, her relationship with her family was definitely not what I was expecting, and sudden extra twists like this I thought really gave this novel it’s edge.

Overall, this is a great quick read, but for me it just takes too long to build. Once within the mystery though, it’s a really gripping tale and I did enjoy it.

Credits:
The Woman in the Window
A. J. Finn
HarperCollins, 2018