For Better and Worse. Margot Hunt

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17 years ago, Natali and William were on their first date. Both Law School students they occupied themselves innocently plotting the perfect murder.

Now happily married, or so Nat thinks, in a seaside town in Florida, they enjoy a Sunday morning on the beach with Charlie, their 11 year old son.

When an emergency meeting is called at Charlies school the perfect life starts to unravel.

Now, as a Criminal Defence Attorney,  Nat has a good knowledge of how the law will treat people who end up being either the accused, or the accuser, and she is not sure which is the worse experience.

She has to protect Charlie, but will her husband want, or be capable, of  helping in any way.

She is sure Will is having an affair, but little does she know the effect it could have on her plans.

This is a great story and uses a clever little trick to really give the reader a terrific ride.

Most of the story is told in the first person by Nat. Her emotions, her interpretations of events, her thoughts.

But a couple of the chapters are written in the first person from Wills point of view. Does he see things like his wife does. The secrets he is keeping from Nat, and how he tries to balance her world with his.

This psychological thriller explores a mother and a father and how far they would go to protect their child. Two very different approaches, two very different ethos, with one aim. Keep Charlie safe.

This is a great story. I loved the way the two main characters have a common need, but both have very different ways of trying to achieve it.

This is no normal husband, wife, combined front. This is two people struggling to find a way to survive a series of events and come out of it in one piece. But one of them has a very different idea of what that should be achieved.

This is the first Margot Hunt book I’ve read. It definitely won’t be the last.

Pages: 384

Publisher: Mira Books

Publishing Date UK: 11th December 2018.

The Affair. Sheryl Browne

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I have to say I have read some mixed reviews of this book, it seems to divide people, and everybody is entitled to an opinion.

My Opinion?

It’s a great story

But it’s going to be hard to review it without giving anything away in the way of spoilers.

The story, a bit like life itself, is a like a domino rally. In this case one of those where two different dominos are tipped over in different strings, at the same time, and start a chain reaction that culminates in that final slab falling, with one hell of a bang.

The first domino in the first string. Alicia has been telling a lie for a while now. It’s not a malicious lie, more the type of lie that involves not telling your family about a piece of your past which is a bit murky.

But when somebody from that past turns up in the present, and has a malicious streak about them, then things start to go wrong.

More lies are told to try and cover up the past, and the tumbling dominos gather speed.

Alicia’s husband is shattered after finishing a long night shift at the hospital. Because she’s been distracted Alicia has forgot to fill her car with fuel, and when it doesn’t start her husband piles Alicia, and their two children, into the car to drop them off to work, school, and the child minders.

And so the first domino of the second string is toppled.

Together the two strings gather pace, weaving across each other until the traumatic culmination and the dropping of the final tile, right in the centre of everything.

This book really plays with the emotions, there are times when I empathised with the main character but hated her. There were other times when I hated what she was doing but loved her.

I really liked it.

 

Pages: 351

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 10th August 2018.

Murder on the Marshes. Clare Chase

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Set in, and around, Cambridge University this is a murder story with a list of characters that are firmly in the “Have” and “Have not” brackets.

Every character is either from a really privileged background, or a working-class background.  But just because they are in these categories doesn’t mean that they are normal balanced people.

The book opens with a mystery of a young girl walking in on a horrific scene, a scene that is alluded to throughout the book, but who is it that’s witnessing the scene and what bearing will it have on the present day.

The present day see’s the body of a young professor, Samantha Seabrook, being found drowned in a fountain in a locked courtyard of one of the colleges in the University, a bit of a locked room puzzle.

Frighteningly a journalist Tara Thorpe is sent a warning on the same night Samantha is killed, it’s the same warning the Professor received a few weeks before she was killed.

DI Garstin Blake is the SIO for the murder but also goes to interview Tara. Together they form an unlikely alliance, and the investigation into the life and death of Samantha Seabrook takes on two lines, the Police investigation and the journalistic investigation.

It’s a good way of introducing information into the story, and allows the author to get away with introducing information which would not be obtained by either the police or the journalist if they were working alone.

Garstin and Tara both have issues, and just like everyone else in the story they are split by the working class, privileged divide. Tara from a very well-to-do background hasn’t had the best of lives, and now something, or somebody, is preying on her insecurities. Garstin, the working class copper, is separated from his wife and is torn apart by not been able to see his young daughter every night. So can Garstin keep his eye on the ball and can Tara stay safe.

The investigation is a bit pedestrian at times but the story is well worth reading.

This book is a bit like two of my favourite TV series combined, inevitably the Cambridge Oxford thing leads to Morse, and the writer and detective leads to Castle. The pace of the book is definitely more Morse.

Will I read the next book in the series, Yes

 

Pages: 322

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 31st July 2018

Corrupted. Simon Michael

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This is the 4th Book in the brilliant series set in the Ganglands and Courts of London in the 1960’s

Charlie Holborne is a local man made good, but the journey to good has brought him into contact with some of London’s most notorious criminals.

As one of London’s star Criminal Barristers he is now in high demand following some recent high profile court wins, but that hasn’t necessarily ingratiated him with his peers in the Courts and his Chambers.

Neither has the fact that he has had dealing with people like the Kray Brothers; but no matter what his peers think it’s not a good relationship, and the Krays are at war with Charles.

The death of one of the Krays gang leads to multiple investigations of a series of Gay Sex and Drugs parties held in one of the Krays flats. With politicians involved the press are trying to expose the truth whilst the Police are trying to gather evidence on the Krays. Meanwhile both the press and the Police are corrupt up to the highest levels and both investigations are hamstrung from the start.

When Charles is asked to represent the young lad charged with the murder of The Krays gang member he is determined to get to the truth, no matter what the cost.

In this story, as with the previous three, Simon Michael has woven actual events with some fictional characters and has delivered a story that is more than believable.

He brings the 60’s to life on the page like watching a HD Colour documentary on the TV.

Somebody has to take the rights to these books and turn them into a decent TV series soon.

Pages: 368

Publishers: Urbane

Bitter Sun. Beth Lewis

Set at the start of the 70’s in a small town town in the south east USA this book is set against a backdrop of young men forced to war by the draft, anti-war protests, returning soldiers, and all in a small town struggling to stay alive.

John Royal, his sister Jenny, and their friends Gloria and Rudy, are all young teenagers who form a close knit group. They each have family problems and find sanctuary with each other and in a den they built out in the sticks. Everything is going as good as it can for them until they find a body in the river close to the den. From that day on everything changes.

The police don’t seem to be in a hurry to identify the body let alone the killer.

Over the next few years the gang of four look into who the victim is and try to identify the murderer. Fighting small town politics and larger than life bullies and criminals they are unsure of who to trust. At times the bond between the four is stretched as different hypothesis cast allegations at different friends and families.

The story is compelling to the end.

I was looking for something a bit different to read on my holidays, something that would challenge me, something out of my usual comfort zone of reading.

I am so glad I found this book. It’s a hard read at times, every page is loaded with emotion and intrigue.

I am a big Greg Isles fan and this story could so easily have been penned by him

So. There’s another author to be added to my must read list.

Thank you Beth Lewis, this is a stunning story

Pages: 464

Publisher: The Borough Press

Available now

Her Mother’s Grave. Lisa Regan

Chief of Detectives Josie Quinn is back in another fantastic crime thriller.

This is the third book in the series but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, but why miss out on the first two.

Quinn is a single woman who has returned to her small City and taken over as Chief of Police since the death of her predecessor.

She has already been successful in solving two high profile cases, but unfortunately this has brought her into the public eye at press conferences, even more unfortunately it has brought her to the attention of some unscrupulous criminals.

Since the conviction of the local drug lord the local louts have been getting revenge by vandalising police cars and the police head quarters, now it seems they have started to target Josie herself. But the crimes are escalating and Josie appears to be the target of a vindictive and dangerous individual.

When a body turns up in the woods behind the trailer ark where Josie was brought up by her abusive, drunk, drug addict, mother, it starts to bring back unwanted memories of her youth. At a time when she should be concentrating on work she is emotionally vulnerable, and that doesn’t sit well with her.

When she arrives at the scene where the body is found she realises it is a spot that holds dark memories. Is somebody sending her a message? Is somebody playing with her head?

The story twists and turns, Josie’s childhood and early youth are revealed in flashback chapters which are as enthralling as the main story.

The main story is one of manipulation and deceit on an unimaginable level, yet it is worryingly believable.

The end of the story comes at a frantic pace that left me reading into the early hours, I just couldn’t put it down until I’d finished.

At time I though I could guess what the punch line of the story was, and I was right. But how we got to it was a proper roller coaster with some twist-and-turns, and ups-and-downs, I definitely didn’t see coming and took my breath away.

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 19th July 2018

Searching For Pilar Patricia Hunt Holmes

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Wow, what a story.

The book starts with Pilar (19) happily married to Alejandro and looking after their 9 month old daughter. Life in San Jose is perfect for the young, happily married mother.

Then her husband loses his job and struggles to find work. Answering an advert for a well paid clerical job Pilar goes to Mexico City for an interview.

That’s when things go badly wrong. Kidnapped and forced into the sex trade Pilar fights for survival, and not just hers, she takes the young girls kidnapped with her under her protection and swears to get them through the ordeal alive.

Meanwhile the one member of her family who knew where she was going is riddled with guilt. Diego, her brother, gave her a lift and left her in the city to go and watch a football team train. When he returned to pick her up she wasn’t there.

The story splits between Pilar’s captivity and Diego’s attempts to find his sister.

Pilar’s story is horrific, but must be reminiscent of so many poor people.

Diego’s story is a tale of love, dedication, and determination.

No spoilers so I’m not going to say how this ends.

This is a great story and I really enjoyed it. I have seen some other reviews which have mentioned the fact that it includes the rape of two young girls, and sexual violence to the main character aged 19 when we first meet her. Yes, these small paragraphs are in the book, but they are written in a way that is not overly graphic or shocking. Yes, it is a horrific subject, but it is dealt with well by Patricia Hunt Holmes, and in my opinion the story needs this to reflect the true horrors of the people smuggling and sex trade, that unfortunately exists across the globe.

Well done Patricia for using this book to bring it into the spotlight.

Pages: 322

Publishers: River Grove Books

Available on Amazon