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: 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