She Lies In Wait. Gytha Lodge

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The discovery of the body of a young girl, who has been missing for 30 years, leads to the investigation of a cold that was a missing person but now is a murder

A cold case that is locked room mystery in a camp site full of teenage angst and jealousy.

The close-knit group of friends who were in their teenage years were experimenting in drugs, alcohol, and sex, are now in middle age and are scattered across the country having found various degrees of success in their lives

The promiscuity of one the older girls, Topez, leads to the camp becoming fragmented, but when the group get back together the next morning they find her young sister Aurora is missing.

30 years later DCI Jonah Sheens and his team are called in when the body is found. Sheens was a young uniform cop when the girl went missing and was at school with most of the people in the camp, so her remembers the case well.

But has he got more to hide? The girls in the group had been very promiscuous at school, and there is no doubt he knows at least one of them very well. So why is he keeping it a secret from his team. And can he keep it a secret without jeopardising the case.

Can you imagine being asked questions about what you were doing on a certain night 30 years ago. I suppose if it was on the night of such a traumatic event of a young friend going missing the answer would probably be yes.

But what if you had something to hide that night and had told lies, even if it wasn’t connected to the missing girl. Could you remember the lies?

This is the pretext of the plot, and Gytha Lodge uses is beautifully to spin a real labyrinth of a story.

It is a gripping story as Sheens tries to work out who is telling half-truths to cover for something innocuous after 30 years, and who is telling full blown lies, to hide the fact they are a murderer.

This is not a blood and guts thriller of a book. It is a slow burning cerebral book that gets the reader thinking.

It is not until the very end that all is revealed and what a reveal it is.

A thoroughly entertaining read that kept me hooked from start to finish.

Pages: 368

Publisher: Random House

Publish Date: 8thJanuary 2019

Paper Ghosts Julia Heaberlin

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I was hooked on this book after I read two of the first paragraphs in the first chapter.

“Old killers who roam free have to land somewhere”

And

“The Killers who publicly beat the system and the unseen monsters, where do they go”

Have you ever wondered that?

What happens to those serial killers go who don’t get caught?

Where do they go?

Do they just grow tired of what they are doing, get fed up, and just stop?

If it’s a sexually driven crime do they lose the urges?

This is one of the most original stories I have read for many years.

The main character is a woman, she’s in her mid 20’s and her big sister went missing years ago.

Since her sister went missing she has been running an unofficial hunt for whoever took her. As a 12-year-old girl she started building a murder wall on the back of her wardrobe. Building a list of suspects, linking her sister’s disappearance with others, eliminating suspects where she could.

But now, as an adult, she has found the person she thinks is responsible. Carl

Carl is in a home for offenders who have been released and are suffering from dementia. He has been tried and acquitted of one crime, and he claims not to remember anything of the other crimes he is being accused of.

Our girl takes him out of the home, under the false pretence that she is his daughter, and embarks on a road trip to some of the destinations she has identified as places where he took and killed other girls and women.

Will it jog his memory, if he has even lost it.

Is she putting herself in danger, or will she get her answers?

The story of the relationship between the woman and Carl is fascinating. Why do I keep calling her the woman? Because we don’t find out her name for a long time and I don’t want to spoil a cracking story.

Their journey across a map of murder and disappearance is gripping.

There are a lot of questions in this review. There was a lot of questions raised in my head whilst I was reading the book. As far as the story went, all of the questions were answered, and answered in style.

As for the questions the story raised in my mind, well they may never get answered.

In the States who was, or is, the Zodiac Killer and what happened to them.

In the UK Peter Sutcliff was caught purely by chance. Would he have carried on killing, probably. Would he have been caught, maybe. But what if he hadn’t.

I love books that get me thinking, and boy did this book get me thinking.

Pages: 368

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publish Date: 19th April 2018

Two Girls Down Louisa Luna

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One of the best things about e-readers, and the various sites from which you can download books, is that I have discovered authors that I would never have encountered in the bookshops of the UK.

Various holidays over the years have resulted in me finding authors, and then have the frustration of not being able to buy their books here.

Today’s review highlights how good it is to find a good book by a great author, who is published in the UK, but on a small scale, and who I would probably never found.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a gem of a book.

When two very young girls go missing from a Mall in Pennsylvania their single mother is left distraught. Jamie Brandt is a single mom and her two girls, Kylie (10) and Bailey (8) are her life. The small-town Police Department are understaffed and over worked and, as much as they want to find the find the girls, it seems an impossible task.

Jamie’s Aunt contacts a Private Investigator in California with a history of recovering missing children.

A bit like a Female Jack Reacher 33 (but a lot more realistic) year old Alice Vega arrives in town and starts her own investigation.

Realising she need local help, and restricted by the Police, she reaches out for former cop Max (Cap) Capland, a single father with a very forthright 16-year-old daughter.

The investigation into the disappearance of the two girls leads Vega and Cap through the underworld of small town USA. Whilst battling with the underworld they butt heads with the Local Police.

There is the inevitable will-they-won’t-they element to the relationship but it definitely adds to the story.

The twists and turns come fast in the case and it is not a book where you will easily guess what the ending is going to be, but it’s a great ride getting there.

For those of you, like me, who have never read a Louisa Luna book before, I would compare her stories, and writing style, to Marnie Riches. If you like the Girl Who….. series and Born Bad, you are going to love this book.

Pages: 320

Published by: Doubleday

Publishing date: 9th January 2018.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Walls Hollie Overton

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I’m going to say this right at the beginning of this blog. This is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever read.

Kirsty Tucker is a Public Information Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She has one of the toughest jobs in the prison, dealing with death row prisoners, and the press who want to talk to them as their execution approaches.

In her private life, she is a single mom bringing up her teenage son, Ryan, whilst looking after her ill father.

When Ryan gets into a fight at school Kirsty can’t believe what she sees. Her usually studious son has beat up one of the school jocks. When she finds out Ryan has been taking secret martial arts lessons she goes to confront the instructor.

The instructor is Lance. He’s attractive, fit, attentive and single. The obvious relationship soon blossoms and Kirsty and Lance become inseparable.

Everybody loves Lance, but what are his secrets and what type of person is he really.

Meanwhile Kirsty is developing an unusual friendship with a death row inmate, Clifton Harris-The Baby Killer. Nobody likes, or trusts, Clifton so why does Kirsty connect with him so well.

This plot is full of twists and turns. Not everybody is who they seem to be and, as a reader, I found my allegiances, and suspicions changing throughout the book.

Kirsty and her family are put in danger, she gets hurt, but who can she turn to.

How is she going to ensure the family’s safety, can she bring herself to deal out her own justice, or should she turn to somebody else.

There are very few books that have made me exclaim out loud, but there was at least twice when my wife looked across at me and asked me why I was shouting out loud.

The characters in this book are fascinating. I defy anybody to not connect with Kirsty.

There is no way I could see the way this book was going to end, there were times when I thought just end now why things are going well, there were others when I wanted it to keep going.

This book goes beyond the usual victim-revenge story. It covers the ethics of thought. Can a victim become an aggressor?? Will the normally law abiding, placid person, manage to take things into their own hands, and if they do, do they think they can live with the consequences, legal and moral?

Most authors would have been happy to end this book at an earlier stage of the story, but Hollie Overton has done a masterful job of continuing a story beyond where many would have placed the last full stop (period).

In the Acknowledgements Hollie Overton said writing this book challenged her in ways she’d never imagined. Well she met the challenge well and has produced one of the books of the year.

Clear the number one spots on all the book sales and download charts, The Walls is published this week.

Pages: 385

Publisher Digital: Cornerstone Digital

Publisher Hard Copy: Century-Penguin Random House

Available on Amazon: 10th August 2017.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Matthew Sullivan

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The Bright Ideas Bookstore is more than a book shop. This independent book seller is the home for an eclectic bunch of people, The staff that work there, the customers and the bookfrogs.

Bookfrogs?

It was a new word for me as well, but I think it’s a great name.

What are they? They are the people who populate the store, day-in-day-out, reading books in the comfort of the store, sometimes even buying a book, but only when they’re on special offer. They remind me of the coffee shop Bedouins who populate tables with their laptops making a small coffee last for hours. Some of the Bookfrogs are homeless people looking for shelter, some are lonely singletons who prefer the shop to their empty homes, some are just book lovers.

Each Bookfrog has a story and Joey is no exception. Unfortunately Joey’s story comes to an end when he hangs himself in the store.

But why hang himself there, and why now.

The main protagonist of the book is a 30 year old bookish, bookstore worker Lydia. Lydia is one of the last staff in the store and discovers Joey hanging in a secluded section of the shop just before a late close. Whilst she holds his legs and calls for help she notices a photo sticking out of his pocket. The photo is of Lydia, and her two school friends, at Lydias 10th birthday party.

But Lydia has only known Joey from his visits to the shop, and she has never seen this photo before.

Not many people have known Lydia since she was that 10 year old. In fact there is a very good reason why nobody in her life knows anything about her childhood or her family. Just after the photo was taken Lydia was the only survivor of a gruesome crime and went into hiding with her Dad. The man who committed the crime was never found and has haunted Lydia ever since.

So why has Joey got her picture?

As she starts to look into Joeys life she is astonished to find out that she has “inherited” his belongings. Amongst the belongings are some books which have been cut up. Why would Joey cut up books, they were the only thing that seemed to mean anything to him?

Lydia goes on a journey into her own past and starts to piece together Joeys history. It’s a great journey and makes for a really good story.

I’ve read some of the reviews for this book on Amazon. I have to say they are either neutral or negative. I have to disagree. This is a great book to just pass away the summer afternoon and long evenings.

If you are looking for sex and violence then this book won’t be for you.

If you want to read a book that makes you engage with the characters; that has a slightly socially awkward main protagonist; that has a simple but engaging storyline; this book is for you.

Pages: 336

Publisher: William Heinemann

Published: Available from 24th August 2017.

Available on Amazon to pre-order now

Everything but the Truth Gillian McAllistar

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Everything but the truth    Gillian McAllister

 

This is one of those books that has you shouting at the main protagonist, Rachel, at the top of your voice.

Just like watching a film when the young girl enters the dark lodge, in the middle of the woods, then decides to explore the basement, without a torch.

It’s been a long time since I got so immersed in a story that I shouted out loud, but I did, more than once, in this one.

Rachel is an ex-doctor who is now working as a researcher. She is pregnant and living with the man of her dreams, Jack, the big, bearded, Rugby player from the wilds of Scotland.

She hasn’t known Jack that long but moved in with him after becoming pregnant.

Is Jack too god to be true, Hmmm.

Rachel also suffers from memories, not quite the dreaded flashbacks of many recent books, about a young lad who she diagnosed and treated for cancer. The memories haunt her and she suffers silently as this part of the story unfolds whilst it intertwines with the main thread.

The main thread is one for the psychological thriller fan.

Rachel and Jack are living in Newcastle, where Jack is a journalist. All is going well until one morning Jacks IPad lights up in the middle of the night. Rachel picks it up and reads the message as its displayed on the lock screen. That’s when things begin to change.

Rachel has never visited Jacks Scottish home till this point, but she’s about to.

When she arrives, she realises that she doesn’t really know that much about Jack.

Why do his friends appear to be keeping a secret?

Why does Jack seem to have a nickname which occasionally slips out, but then everybody denies or makes up a bad excuse for?

As Rachel spends more time in the Scottish village the more warry she becomes, what is the secret, or is it just Baby-brain paranoia, because it wouldn’t be the first-time Rachel has fixated on a boyfriend and become paranoid about his behaviour and fidelity.

When in Scotland Rachel and Jack stay with his family, and they’re strange. In fact, everything about Jacks life in Scotland starts to look strange to Rachel.

Starting this book I was looking for reasons as to why Rachel would behave like she does, could she really be that naïve.

Then I went through a stage when I thought, it’s everybody else that’s normal and Rachel is just being paranoid and it’s her with something to hide.

These swings went on all the way to the end. Are we reading through the eyes of a victim, listening to her legitimate worries, or are we reading through the eyes of a paranoid young lady who is being protected from herself by people who care for her?

Is it Jack with the secret, or is it Rachel, or could it be both?

You’ll have to read this book to find out.

Some books can be a bit of bubble-gum for the brain. Some can take your brain for a ride in a tumble drier.

This one will take you for a spin.

If you work out the finish before you get there, well done, I didn’t