BLOG TOUR: Kill For Me by Rebecca Bradley

This was a fast-paced, intriguing and unusual crime novel, with an intelligent yet emotional detective and a very satisfying ending.

A deadly game. An unstoppable killer. The perfect alibi.
Lucy Anderson is late collecting her daughter from nursery. A mistake that could prove fatal. 
Her daughter is gone and there is only one way Lucy can get her back. The ransom is simple, she has to kill someone…
And this is just the beginning. A deadly game with a domino effect has started as the real killer forces others to do his bidding.
Can detective inspector Hannah Robbins find the killer’s next puppet before they’re forced to strike or will this be the case where her opponent has found the perfect way to kill?

Straight from the start this hooked me. Lucy was a very emotionally engaging character, she really connected with the reader, and so the choices she made were even more hard-hitting. She’s forced to kill someone in order to get her daughter back, and the detailed thought process she goes through to make her decision and accept it is really quite painful to read. It also forces the reader to confront the choices they would make in this situation, making it even harder to read. The way this novel works is through a domino effect, with someone behind the scenes pulling all the strings. I don’t want to give too much away, but what happens to Lucy is actually really upsetting for the reader as she is the first character we bond with other than the detective. It’s a fast-paced outcome however, with no time to lose, and the next character that the novel focuses on is so different to Lucy that I felt it hardened the reader to their potential outcome and stopped the reader from becoming too emotionally attached to each character. This worked really well, as each time a new character was introduced the suspense built further and further.

Where this book really shines is in the questions it poses on morality and choice. Are the characters really offered much of a choice? The intense emotional blackmail they face would be hard for anyone to resist, but it’s also equally difficult to imagine letting it force them to commit these horrific crimes. But Bradley writes this part extremely well, highlighting the emotional turmoil they go through, their feelings after committing the crimes, and in the case of one of the characters, a sense of relief when they became the victim. It was truly brilliant writing in the face of a difficult moral topic.

The main detective, DI Hannah Robbins, was a really strong detective. She was intuitive, emotional and frustrated with the sense of the unknown. The reader had a real sense of the urgency needed to solve this case, and she was a brilliant lead character to do it. The ending was very emotionally satisfying, especially after such a difficult story. It wasn’t the most surprising, but that’s fine, as it instead provided satisfaction after such a fast-paced and intense novel.

I loved this, it was different to a lot of other crime/detective novels, it was fast and intense, and the characters were all written really well. I’d definitely recommend this!

Kill For Me
Rebecca Bradley
15th February 2019

Keep Her Close by M. J. Ford

This was a brilliant, compulsive thriller, that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

When a young girl goes missing from an Oxford College, DI Josie Masters is on a race against time to find her. However, when more kidnappers happen, unforeseen connections begin to appear…

I loved this novel – it was a great detective mystery, and I was genuinely clueless at the beginning as to who it could be. The links between the kidnappings were so unclear at first, and there were a lot of dead ends and red herrings, which made for very suspenseful reading.

Towards the end, I started to get suspicious of one particular character, and although I guessed right (so pleased with myself), I could NOT have predicted the reason for their actions!! It was so shocking, and although it was hinted at, it was subtle enough to not be remembered and to come as a complete surprise. It was a truly great twist. I loved the connections with the past and the present, and there were real depths of cunning and true human heartbreak required to carry through with this crime.

I loved the characters in this novel – Josie Masters was brilliantly written, her battle with her past and her demons delicately interwoven into the story to make a really complex case. DS Jack Pryce was a great addition, and their relationship as both colleagues and friends was super interesting to watch.

I loved the style of writing, it was both detailed and fast paced, and it really kept me on tenterhooks to find out what happened. Truly brilliant, and I seriously can’t emphasise how much I loved the ending!

Credits:
Keep Her Close
M. J. Ford
Avon Books UK, 07 March 2019

Finding Grace by K. L. Slater

This had a sinister tone throughout, keeping the reader on their toes, and a shocking ending.

When Grace goes missing, Lucie is beside herself to find her. With a dark secret of her own buried in her past, it slowly comes back to haunt her, and it’s difficult to know who she can trust.

The beginning of the novel is surrounded by a sort of cloud of the unknown. It becomes increasingly clear that Lucie is hiding something, but we don’t know what, and Slater really does keep us on our toes, and gives us no more information than we need. The suspense just keeps building, and the flashbacks to the past just emphasise this more. It’s superbly clever, and I was so desperate to know what happened to both Grace and Lucie and how they were linked.

As more and more is revealed, the story gets seriously intriguing. Lucie’s mysterious backstory is definitely not what I thought it would be, and it definitely took me by surprise. There was also a nice twist, meaning that Lucie’s past is not so ‘past’ as she thought it was.

The characters are all really well-written, with lots of extra small twists and turns throughout. Even down to Lucie’s annoying mother-in-law, each character is brilliant in their own way! Suspicion falls on most people in the novel, and some of the side characters pop up unexpectedly to reveal sudden truths. I loved the constant sense of surprise throughout the story.

The ending was brilliant – it definitely wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and I loved that Slater was able to keep the suspense and surprise up all the way until the end! The whole story, with the switches between past and present, really built up to a great ending, with quite sinister characters.

Great characters, brilliant ending, and a truly sinister undertone. Loved this!

Credits:
Finding Grace
K. L. Slater
Bookouture, 14th Feb 2019

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

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 Second Wife by Sheryl Browne

This was a really gripping story, with a clever switch between two timelines. Both the main female characters were fascinating, with Rebecca’s decisions hard to fathom until nearly halfway through the novel.

As the letters that Nicole wrote to Rebecca in the past are gradually revealed, the weird atmosphere around Richard and his daughter Olivia is slowly exposed for what it is, with an unexpected twist that left me truly shocked.

I loved the switch between timelines. It meant that the same revelation happened at parallel moments in the novel for Rebecca and Nicole. The build up to the major events of the novel was doubly intense because of this, and I loved their different perspectives and seeing the different decisions they chose to make.

I also found Richard one of the most interesting and multi-layered characters in a suspense novel like this that I’ve read in a while. His aloofness and seemingly perfect nature at the beginning slowly unravels as we learn more and more, and I loved this gradual wearing down of his persona.

Olivia was also a fascinating character, and definitely not what she seemed at first. I loved the development of her personality and her chilling thoughts about the women her father dated.

This whole novel has a great story, with a really intense build up and a shocking twist. All four main characters are fascinating, and the relationships between them are layered and complicated. Rebecca in particular, is one of the best and strongest characters I’ve read in a while.

Credits:
The Second Wife
Sheryl Browne
Bookouture, 29 Jan 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