BLOG TOUR: My Perfect Wife by Clare Boyd

This was a gripping and unusual thriller, which swaps between the perspectives of the two key women involved in a really intriguing manner.

I finally have everything I ever wanted. A home with floor-to-ceiling windows, a devoted husband who dazzles everyone he meets, and two angelic children I adore. But as I watch my husband chatting with the girl next door, I wonder if anyone can see the sadness in my pretty pink smile, or hear the scream behind my straight white teeth?
I know I’m crazy to think there’s a hint of desire in his eyes.
I know it’s madness to see a flicker of fear in hers.
I know all this, because I’ve been wrong before.
And if I’m wrong again, he’ll try to take my children away.
The party is my last chance to prove to my husband that I’m on the mend, that I can handle something as simple as a drinks reception without snapping under the pressure. It’s all going perfectly, until I see something in the swimming pool that changes everything. But if I can’t trust myself to believe it’s real, who will?

I really liked the intriguing plot of this book – the contrast between Elizabeth and Heather, the two women at the centre of this book was really fascinating. Elizabeth with her fancy life and the apparently perfect husband and Heather with the fantasy of what could have been – they give two sides to the same story and at times it’s difficult to know who I believe. I loved the focus on these two women, both strong in their own way and both dealing with their own issues. They are simultaneously at odds with each other but also struggling with the same things and I loved this contrast. It was different seeing them having to battle to work together, so the power struggle between them was excellent.

The plot moved at a great pace – it was fast and kept me hooked but there was enough time spent on some of the details and dramas. The psychological thriller elements of this book are a great addition, Elizabeth is hard to follow and her disorientated thoughts make this even more fascinating and interesting. The mind games between Elizabeth and Lucas are one of my favourite elements of this book, it’s full of twists and turns and unexpected elements and the action really builds throughout.

I feel like it’s hard for me not to give too much away but honestly this is a compelling book full of intrigue and twists throughout. The characters are strong and I never knew who to trust so it was really difficult to put the book down at times. The ending is really good, the suspense and drama simply doesn’t let up and Boyd manages to keep an element of uncertainty right until the end. I would absolutely recommend this book.

My Perfect Wife
Clare Boyd
Bookouture, 4th March 2020

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

This is such a gripping book, with characters that aren’t what you expect them to be and a story that’s genuinely quite horrifying at times.

Meg and her daughter Grace are the most beloved family in Ashford, the lynchpin that holds the community together.
So when Meg is found brutally murdered and her daughter missing, the town is rocked by the crime. Not least because Grace has been sick for years – and may only have days to live.
Who would murder a mother who sacrificed everything, and take a teenager away from the medication that could save her life? Everyone is searching for an answer, but sometimes the truth can kill you . . .

If anyone knows what real-life story this book is based on, then you’ll know roughly what to expect from this. If not, you’re in for a great read! This book is definitely not what you expect, with a brilliant hook that just builds the suspense throughout.

The characters in this are really varied, from Cara to Jon, who are determined to uncover the truth, to Grace herself, and all the others who become involved throughout. I felt like I was able to engage with all of them and that they all brought something to the story. Each person added a layer of mystery and intrigue and I loved how it all came together to add to the final story.

I think that the general pace of this was great, perhaps as I realised what was happening early on I kind of knew what to expect so was waiting for the reveal but the writing was excellent so this didn’t matter too much. It was the bit after the reveal that I was looking forward to and it was fast-paced, full of action with some really chilling moments.

This book is also a great examination of moral obligation, with feelings of guilt running the whole way throughout the story. It really looks deeply into how the other characters feel about Grace and her story and the way they feel about their own role in it. It’s fascinating at times and this is the element of the book that I really enjoyed. It’s a great book, but where the excellence really lies is in the investigation into the morals and feelings of the characters involved. I’d definitely recommend this as a chilling, character-driven book.

Grace is Gone
Emily Elgar
Sphere, 20th Feb 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Woman Downstairs by Elisabeth Carpenter

This is a brilliantly gripping book, with a plot that really gets to the reader.

Can you ever really know your neighbours?
When human remains are found in a ground floor flat, the residents of Nelson Heights are shocked to learn that there was a dead body in their building for over three years.
Sarah lives at the flat above and after the remains are found, she feels threatened by a stranger hanging around the building.
Laura has lived in the building for as long as she can remember, caring for her elderly father, though there is more to her story than she is letting on.
As the investigation starts to heat up, and the two women become more involved, it’s clear that someone isn’t telling the truth about what went on all those years ago…

Both Sarah and Laura were great characters, with the reader able to connect with both women. I thought Sarah’s curiosity and determination contrasted perfectly with Laura’s anxiety and timidness. Each time the perspective swapped it was so easy to get back into each character and I was kept hooked throughout.

The plot itself was excellently written, it played on the horror of being so unknown and alone that no one would know you’d died. It takes the fears of the reader and puts them into writing, building up the sadness of the crime throughout and increasing the intensity. It’s very clever writing, it’s detailed, emotional, fast paced and full of suspense.

Each character plays an important part in finding the heart of the story. They all add an element of intrigue or surprise, an added layer to the mystery, and it works really well. The ending is at just the right point in the story, right when the suspense builds we reach the reveal and it’s brilliant. Everything starts to link together really well, in a way that’s clever and not too obvious.

If you want something that will grip you right from the start and play on deeper fears in an extremely clever way, this is the book for you.

The Woman Downstairs
Elisabeth Carpenter
Orion, 6th February 2020

The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland

This was extremely intriguing, fast-paced, with a brilliant ending.

Nine years ago her daughter was taken.
And now she’s back. Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.
Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.
Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.
Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.
And she will stop at nothing to get her back…

This was such an emotional novel which really tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. When the two-year-old Holly is kidnapped it’s chilling, but even more so because we see it happen from the perspective of the kidnapper. It’s devastating to watch and genuinely quite disturbing to see the logic of the kidnapper, but it’s unique for sure.

The book then moves on to the perspective of Rachel, who becomes obsessed with a child she sees who would be the same age her daughter would be. Again, watching her slowly unravel has quite a chilling undertone to it. For some reason there are elements which were seriously creepy, but others where I totally understood why she was doing what she was doing. Watching the development of Rachel’s character became more and more intriguing, and the ending was particularly revealing and fascinating. It’s also great to see bits of the impacts it has on the other family involved, as it really adds to the whole suspense of the novel.

I really liked the contrast between the past and the present as the differing tones made the book really fast-paced. The flashbacks into the past could be especially chilling and slowly the mystery of what happened to the child was revealed. It was quick, unnerving and the characters were brilliantly written. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a great thriller to read and Boland’s books are always enjoyable.

The Other Daughter
Shalini Boland
Bookouture, 5th November 2019

BLOG TOUR: Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson

This is probably one of the most chilling and gripping detective debuts I’ve read this year.

A brutal murder.
A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing, and a particular body part missing.
A detective with everything to prove.
This is her only chance to redeem herself.
A serial killer with nothing to lose.
He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun . . .
On Detective Eve Hunter’s first Monday back at work following enforced leave, she is called to the scene of this gruesome crime. Hunter and her team spend the week chasing leads, until the following Tuesday, another body is discovered in similar circumstances. Each week brings another death and battling against a team who has lost respect for her and her own personal demons, Hunter must put herself inside the mind of a depraved killer if she is to stop this. . .

This starts off, quite frankly, with a horrendous but brilliant flashback. The insight that the reader is provided with into the mind of this killer is really chilling and helps set the tone for the whole book.

For DI Eve Hunter however, this is not an easy first day back. She is thrust into this horrifying crime, which seems to have no reason or pattern and the number of victims just keeps rising. Two key things for me that I need when reading a new detective book is a gripping start and a solid detective, and this certainly has both of those! I really liked Eve, she’s so easy to connect with but there are definitely elements of her past or personality that Masson keeps hidden, allowing for more in-depth character writing for later books in the series perhaps. There are clear vulnerabilities and weak spots for Eve and watching her battle these throughout the book makes her more likeable for the reader. She isn’t perfect, but that’s why she seems so real and solid.

This book also introduces the rest of Eve’s detective team and yet again Masson has done this excellently! All of the team have their weaknesses and strengths, and I personally liked all of them… even Ferguson by the end! (You’ll need to read it to see what I mean…!) But for me, I also liked the fact that they didn’t work perfectly as a team, they weren’t immediately successful, and watching the conflicts rise within the team kept me wanting more. I wanted to know if they could solve it, if they could all get past their issues, and it was really rewarding seeing each character develop and progress in their own way.

Turning to the actual crime now… how utterly horrible! The idea of taking the tongues of the victims was pretty grim, but it also clearly had a meaning behind it that was always just within reach but not quite figured out yet. The pace of this was really good, I felt that Masson allowed just enough time of the team feeling clueless and not getting anywhere before starting to drop clues and tips and the odd red herring. Once the team started getting somewhere the pace picked up even more. I thought the ending was brilliant, all the dots joined together at just the right time to build to really disturbing final scene.

I really did love this, I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to find a new detective book to read and I do hope there are more DI Eve Hunter books to come! It’s chilling, fascinating and really gets under your skin at times… you’ll find it hard to put it down.

Hold Your Tongue
Deborah Masson
Transworld, 20th November 2019

Bookish Bites: At Your Door by J. P. Carter

What happens when the past comes back to kill you?
When DCI Anna Tate is called to the gruesome discovery of a dead woman found on Barnes Common, she is plunged into a high‐profile investigation involving a prominent MP. London is baying for blood – but is there more to Holly’s death than at first meets the eye?
Meanwhile, the hunt is on for Anna’s missing daughter Chloe, who vanished ten years ago when her father kidnapped her. The case has been cold for what feels like forever – but a phone call brings a brand new lead…
Can Anna solve the murder case whilst dealing with her own personal demons? Or is someone from the past planning to get in her way?

Loved the overarching storyline surrounding Anna and her missing daughter Chloe! It keeps the reader really connected to Anna throughout, and I was very emotionally invested. I also thought that the case itself was brilliant, there were a lot of suspicious characters so it was hard for the reader to guess, and I thought the twist at the end was really cleverly done.

Disliked the fact that it felt slightly slow and stilted at the beginning. However, once the book got into its stride this was fine and the flow of it really got going.

Favourite moments were the scenes with Sophie, a new character in this book, and slowly piecing together her story and the link with Anna,

Favourite character has to be Anna – her determination, resilience and utter patience make her a really likeable character, and as this is now the second book in the series, her character is more established as well.

For fans of Carol Wyers, Katerina Diamond and MJ Ford

Final comments: This was a generally fast-paced, complex mystery, with an added sense of tension with Anna’s own storyline. I will definitely be continuing the series.

BLOG TOUR: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

This was a claustrophobic, fast-paced and clever book, with characters who were explored in lots of detail.

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on theprecipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one more final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

The concept of this was really fascinating. This is an escape room like no other, with obscure clues and a real sense of claustrophobia throughout. At first, it’s slightly confusing, with a prologue that seems to make no sense, and the introduction of a character who seems to be unconnected. It’s confusing but ultimately fascinating, and I was hooked immediately. The beginning works well because it seems to be disjointed – the scenes are cleverly shocking, and entices the reader to keep going to find out what exactly is going on.

It’s hard not to give too much away about this book… The scenes in the elevator offered insight into the four characters, and showed their twisted relationships with each other as well as their own personal battles. As time went on, it was clear they were losing hope, becoming frustrated and getting increasingly desperate. The emotions were right on the surface, and these scenes were written so well.

There are also chapters that don’t take place in the elevator, and these were actually some of my favourite scenes in the book. They were clever, seemingly not linked, and kept me really hooked until I knew how it all worked together. I don’t want to give too much away, but these chapters become more intense as times goes on and it’s so clever.

Although I partly predicted one aspect of the ending, I definitely didn’t get any of the details. The ending was less about the sudden shock factor, and more about a slow, tense and twisted ending that left the reader feeling both shocked and satisfied. I’ve not read an ending that had so much going on in a while, but it really worked with the tone of the novel, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I tried.

I read this in the space of a day, it was frightening, tense, clever and definitely twisted. Each of the characters brought a lot to the book, especially the women, and I loved the strong personalities. I’d definitely recommend this if you want something different to read!