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

The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan

Oh. My. God. I LOVED this! Fast paced, with twists and turns, this novel really keeps you on your feet. It’s got the best bits of traditional thriller/detective novels, and it combines the genres absolutely wonderfully.

When young Clare goes missing and is later found dead, her small home town is left shocked and devastated.

The characters in this were so intriguing, particularly Jane, the epitome of an unreliable and untrustworthy narrator. Her husband, Jack, was seriously unreadable until about two-thirds through, making it harder to know what was behind Jane’s perfect appearance. DS Madeline Shaw is another great character, and I felt like she had just the right amount of focus on her in the novel. This isn’t a detective novel, but there are elements of that within it, and I loved the way DS Shaw was written throughout the investigation, in interviews and as a member of the town itself – Shaw was not only the investigating officer, but she was also neighbour to many of the other characters in the novel, so the relationship between them and the way they viewed Shaw was super interesting.

I’m a sucker for books that give flashbacks, but oh boy does this book do it well! The brief glimpses into the thoughts and actions of Clare were just enough to make the reader question what she’s doing. Throughout the flashbacks there were often hints of suspicion surrounding other characters she interacts with, and I was gripped by this sense of uncertainty.

I definitely got a sense that not all was as it seemed with Jane and Jack, but Morgan keeps just enough of the story under wraps until nearer the end to leave the reader in suspense.

This was brilliantly written, with wonderfully layered and complicated characters, and a story interwoven with gripping flashbacks. I loved this, and it’s definitely a 5 star book for me!

Credits:
The Girl Next Door
Phoebe Morgan
HQ, 21st Feb 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

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 Couple by Sarah Mitchell

This was a novel with a great twist, and some seriously intriguing characters.

At first, I felt that the story was a bit random and directionless. Claire, the focus of the novel, is extremely hard to understand or relate to – although this makes her more interesting in some ways, it also means there is a sense of lack of direction.

However, once the story builds, all I can say is Oh. My. God.

The intensity of the relationships between some of the characters, and the seeming innocence of Claire in the midst of such crimes really hooks the reader in. Claire is so well-written, the reader starts to feel simultaneously more and less connected from her, if that’s even possible!

Mitchell also provides some flashbacks from the perspective of an unknown character, but one which I assumed I knew. The revelation as to whose perspective this is from really shocked me, and from then on the story just keeps building.

The twist at the end is so unexpected, I actually think it overshadowed the rest of the book, but it’s one of the best twists I’ve read in a while. The seeming slowness of the first half of the book all makes sense once you get to the end, and this is definitely a novel which builds and builds to its best right at the end.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone, and it’s for sure a 5 star read, if purely because of the brilliant ending.

Credits:
The Couple
Sarah Mitchell,
Bookouture, 5 Feb 2019