Review – The Chalk Man – CJ Tudor

the chalk man

About The Book:

It was only meant to be a game . . .

None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.

Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?

Was it the terrible accident?

Or when they found the first body?

My Review:

This is the brilliant debut novel from C.J. Tudor; the Sunday Times Bestseller!

The prologue draws you in and gets you hooked straight away. This is a creepy psychological thriller about a group of teenagers who find a dead body buried in the woods which continues to haunt them for the rest of their lives.

What starts of as a harmless game between five friends turns into something much more sinister. When the group start to follow the chalk men that seem to be left just for them, they are lead to a gruesome discovery.

Later on, in 2016, chalk drawings start to return again, bringing the former group of friends together again with a lot of unease. The events are shown from one group member, Eddie’s point of view, with chapters flicking between 1986 and 2016. Secrets surface while Eddie tries to find out the identity of The Chalk Man.

This is a brilliant suspense novel that will keep you guessing to the end! I really enjoyed reading this, and with strong characterisation and plenty of plot twists I would highly recommend.

About The Author:

C. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.

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REVIEW – Sweet Little Lies – Caz Frear

 

sweet little lies

About The Book:

WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT

My Review:

Sweet Little Lies is the stunning, police procedural, debut novel from Caz Frear; winner of the Richard & Judy search for a bestseller competition!

This is the first book introducing Detective Constable Cat Kinsella. A fascinating character with many demons. She devotes her life to work while she’s haunted by developments that occurred 18 years earlier when a child on vacation.

Maryanne Doyle went missing in 1998, after being questioned, Cat’s dad claims that he never knew Maryanne Doyle, a statement that makes Cat question her father as she saw them talking only days before. This has caused a breakdown in the relationship between father and daughter.

Years later, a Detective Constable Cat Kinsella, receives a case of Alice Lapaine. Found dead near Cat’s father’s pub. The deeper the police force digs into both cases, the more twists and secrets they uncover. With a maze of cover ups, this really is a mystery that unravels slowly and gorgeously.

The story gets told in two timelines, during the present, Cat deals with the investigation and family issues. Every few chapters, Cat revisits when she and Maryanne were teenagers, these chapters are written as diary entries.

While I can’t give too much away with this review, I can say that it is definitely a fast paced, gripping read. A fantastic debut novel and a book I would definitely recommend. I’m certainly looking forward to book two in the series!

About The Author:

Caz Frear grew up in Coventry, England, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the second finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, and when she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about. Sweet Little Lies is her first novel.

No Way Back by Kelly Florentia

No Way Back

Audrey Fox has been dumped by her unreliable fiancé Nick Byrne just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and confused, the last thing she expects when she jumps on a plane to convalesce in Cyprus is romance. But a chance meeting with handsome entrepreneur and father-of-one Daniel Taylor weaves her into a dating game she’s not sure she’s ready for. Audrey’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she discovers on her return to London that Nick has been involved in a serious motorcycle accident that’s left him in intensive care. Distraught yet determined to look to the future, Audrey must make a decision – follow her heart or listen to well-meaning advice from family and friends? Because sometimes, no matter what, it’s the people that we love who can hurt us the most…

I won a signed copy of this book as a competition prize. I entered the competition after seeing the brilliant, eye-catching cover.

I must admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what the book would be about. I tend to go for crime fiction but as the cover appealed so much, I decided to give it a go, and I’m certainly glad that I did!

The book is written perfectly, and although not a crime fiction, there is certainly enough suspense to keep you hooked. I read the book within a couple of sittings as it really was a struggle to put the book down.

You meet Audrey Fox, an upset, confused and heartbroken individual who is spending time in Cyprus with her family after being dumped by her fiancé, Nick, just days before their wedding. She has no idea that while on this holiday, she will end up meeting the handsome Daniel.

What follows, is one woman’s journey on whether to follow her heart or the advice from her friends and family.

This is a very addictive read and a story that I think would appeal to people of all ages. I would certainly recommend as even though I tend to read crime fiction as my first choice of genre, I still thoroughly enjoyed this read!

Definitely worth 5/5 stars! 

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. HER SECRET (2018) is her third novel and the sequel to NO WAY BACK (2017).

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut The Magic Touch (2016), she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. To Tell a Tale or Two… is a collection of her short tales. In January 2017, her keen interest in health and fitness led to the release of Smooth Operator – a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.

As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, drinking coffee, scoffing cakes, watching TV dramas, and spending way too much time on social media.

Brotherhood In Death by JD Robb

Brotherhood in Death

 

I actually read this book just over a month ago, but have been unable to upload a review recently due to my new working hours 😦

The book is actually a fantastic read and something I would recommend, I still remember the storyline very well which just goes to show that the title has left some effect on me!

About the book:

Dennis Mira just had two unpleasant surprises. First he learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent about their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise they both made to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head.

Luckily Dennis is married to Charlotte Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler and a good friend of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. When the two arrive on the scene, he explains that the last thing he saw was Edward in a chair, bruised and bloody. When he came to, his cousin was gone. With the mess cleaned up and the security disks removed, there’s nothing left behind but a few traces for forensics to analyze.

As a former lawyer, judge, and senator, Edward Mira mingled with the elite and crossed paths with criminals, making enemies on a regular basis. Like so many politicians, he also made some very close friends behind closed—and locked—doors. But a badge and a billionaire husband can get you into places others can’t go, and Eve intends to shine some light on the dirty deals and dark motives behind the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate . . . and a new case that no one saw coming.

My review:

I picked up this book from my local library as it was in the “new in” section. I’m sorry to say that I’ve not actually read a previous title in the series, however, I don’t feel that this ruined the experience for me. The book is fantastic and I would still recommend even if, like me, you haven’t read a previous title from the Eve Dallas series.

The main characters in the book are brilliant and have such a strong connection (Dallas, and Peabody), it really shows a sisterhood, taking down a brotherhood, and in this case, the “brotherhood” are a bunch of high society men who have formed a pact from back in their University days and have continued throughout adult life. As a reader you learn the extent of the brotherhood’s crimes and the effect left not only on the victims today, but also the effect it has on main character Eve Dallas who can relate due to her own past.

The book starts with the kidnapping of former senator Edward Mira. Dallas is called in due to the connection with friend Dennis Mira (Dennis and Edward are cousins and in dispute over their grandfather’s house) When the body of Edward Mira turns up back at the crime scene severely mutilated, Dallas soon realises that this case has both a sexual and revenge motive. As more bodies are found, Dallas must quickly find out the connection between the victims and find out who seems to be out taking revenge.

I don’t want to go in to too much details due to spoilers but I can’t state enough just how much of a fantastic page-tuner this book turned out to be! I definitely want to pick up other titles from the series and would highly recommend!

About the author:

J.D. Robb is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling In Death series and the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. The futuristic suspense series stars Eve Dallas, a New York City police lieutenant with a dark past. Initially conceived as a trilogy, readers clamored for more of Eve and the mysterious Roarke. Secrets in Death, on sale September 2017, is the 45th entry in the series.

 

Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian

lost and gone forever

 

About the book:

Many changes have happened to the Murder Squad. Rash actions have cost Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith his job, and in response he has set up his own private detective agency. Inspector Walter Day has been missing for a year, and no one knows where he is—though there is a strong suspicion that Saucy Jack has him. Hammersmith has made finding Day his primary case, and he has company—a pair of bounty hunters, a man and a woman. It is only gradually that he has come to realize that they are not what they seem . . .

 

 

My review:

Sometimes, when I pop into the library, I pick up books that I’ve never heard about before and go on the book blurb, and dare I say it, but the cover. I hadn’t even read reviews about this book prior to reading!

In hindsight, I’m glad I hadn’t read the reviews, as since seeing them, a lot of people have said to read the previous books in the Murder Squad series, and if I had seen this, then I would have probably walked away not bothering with picking up a Grecian novel. I’m pleased to say that I read this without knowing the characters that well and still thoroughly enjoyed it!

Lost and Gone Forever shows that Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith has set up his own private detective agency in the hope to find his friend, Inspector Walter Day, who has been missing for a year. Day has been in the clutches of Jack The Ripper who aims to murder each member of the cartel who tortured him, and capturing Day enables Jack to use Day to his advantage to help in destroying the cartel.

There are many bodies and plenty of gore in this novel based in Victorian London. The writing is great and the plot keeps you hooked throughout. There were only a couple of issues I seemed to have, the first was with the characters Mr and Mrs Parker, as there didn’t seem to be a need to have them in the book, and I really didn’t understand their peculiar relationship. They have been brought in by Day’s corrupt father-in-law to find him. The second was the excerpts taken from The Wandering Wood that are placed throughout the novel, they seemed unnecessary.

There were plenty of suspenseful moments, that really did make me want to continue reading to the end.

Although it probably is best to read the previous books in the series, just so you can get a better feeling for the characters, I still feel that Lost and Gone Forever can be enjoyed if you’ve not read a previous Grecian novel. I certainly did enjoy it, and will make sure to pick up another Grecian novel!

About the author:

Grecian is the author of several bestselling thrillers, including THE SAINT OF WOLVES AND BUTCHERS, and five novels featuring Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad: THE YARD, THE BLACK COUNTRY, THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP, THE HARVEST MAN, and LOST AND GONE FOREVER, plus the original Murder Squad ebook, THE BLUE GIRL.

He also created the six-volume graphic novel series PROOF, and the two-part graphic novel RASPUTIN.

He currently lives in the American Midwest with his wife and son. And a cat. And a tarantula.

 

Dead In The Water by Ann Granger

Dead in the water

 

I admit that it has been a while since I read this title (about 4 weeks) but I’ve not got round to writing up my review before now. I apologise for being so quiet lately, the change to my hours has caused me to sleep during a lot of my spare time in the day 😦

The cover of this book is what caught my attention, a hand drawn cover always looks attractive!

Dead in the Water is the fourth book from the Campbell and Carter series, however, it can be enjoyed as a standalone.

I loved the setting, it’s based in a Cotswolds village and the writing is done so well, you can certainly picture the setting like you have been there yourself. If you’re a fan of Midsomer Murders, then you will relate well to this book, a lot of it reminded me of an episode from the famous TV show.

The story follows a well known writer who has moved to the Cotswold village for the peace and tranquillity of living in a rural village, however, everything gets turned upside down when a body of a young woman gets found in the river running through the bottom of his garden.

The police have already been out searching after a sighting was reported further up river, so our two crime detectives, Jess Campbell and Ian Carter are very quick on the scene.  The investigation starts with trying to find out who the woman is, and how she came to be in the river and whether she has anything to do with the author.

The young woman turns out to be the daughter of the village villain who is currently serving time in prison, things start to turn ugly for the villagers when the father is released and he starts to make his own enquiries as to who has murdered his beloved daughter.

In the mean time, our crime fighting due start to look into a writers’ club who were being mentored by the famous author. As a reader, you start to learn about each member of the club, and their relationship with the victim.

At one point, there are quite a few potential suspects that you start to question if they could be the murderer!

I can honestly say that I quite liked the two detectives in this book, both were likable characters and it is rare for me to admit to liking both detectives in a book. The fact that they are both referred to by first name throughout probably helps as most detectives in the mystery genre are referred to by last name only, which doesn’t help the reader to relate enough with them.

This was an enjoyable read, although you might guess the murderer before the big reveal, it certainly doesn’t stop you from reading on and even makes you want to read more Ann Granger books. I certainly will be picking up another title in the Campbell and Carter mystery series. A great, cozy murder mystery and something to get in to while curled up with a blanket and a mug of tea to enjoy on a chilly Autumn evening.

About the author:

Ann Granger (born 1939) has worked in British embassies in various parts of the world. She met her husband, who was also working for the British Embassy, in Prague and together they received postings to places as far apart as Munich and Lusaka. They are now permanently based in Oxfordshire.

Her first novels were historical romances published under the nom de plume Ann Hulme.

 

Book Update

It’s been a while since I have managed to come on here and write up a review. I changed jobs two weeks ago which has resulted in no longer having evenings to read books or write reviews 😦

I thought I would write a little update, mainly to show that I am still here, just that it is taking a little longer than usual to write blogs or update my Twitter account!

I picked up three books from the library nearly three weeks ago, however, have only had the time to finish one. Dead In The Water by Ann Granger is a brilliant Campbell and Carter mystery set in a pretty and quiet Cotswold village. I will aim to get the review for this title uploaded tomorrow.

Yesterday I made a start on Lost And Gone Forever  by Alex Grecian. I’m only eight chapters in, but it has already proved to be a gripping read based in a Victorian London.

The third book I picked up from the library, and the one I will be reading next, is the international bestseller Brotherhood In Death by J.D. Robb. Below is a quote from the brilliant Kathy Reichs:

Curious corpses, tangled twists and one sizzling sleuth.

The quote certainly makes you want to read this novel!

I recently had a signed copy of No Way Back from the lovely Kelly Florentia drop through the letterbox, so I will definitely be reading this after the three library books.

Once the above titles have all been read and reviewed, I will be purchasing a few, much wanted, books from Amazon after I was given £70 worth of Amazon vouchers as a leaving present from my last job!

All in all, even though it’s been a busy and tiring few weeks, I’m pleased to have finished one brilliant book, and made a start on another. Soon, I should hopefully have got used to my new sleeping pattern and will be back on track with the reading and reviewing! Thank you for staying patient with me 🙂

Silenced – Anne Randall

silenced

About the book:

He buried his victim alive. And now he’s escaped from prison and is on the run in the city.

Fiona Henderson, the daughter of the victim who’d descended into a world of silence following her mother’s murder, has gone missing. Her sister Annabelle scours the city in a desperate attempt to find her. And then the body of a homeless person if found among the rubbish in a deserted alleyway.

As DIs Wheeler and Ross investigate, more suspicious deaths occur and a pattern emerges: the victims are all homeless. And so the police are pitched against a killer who is hellbent on a mission
to rid the streets of the vulnerable and dispossessed.

As Wheeler and Ross descend further into Glasgow’s netherworld, their investigation reveals not only a flawed support system for the disaffected, but also a criminal class ruthlessly willing to exploit them. A city of double standards, where morality is bought and sold.

But it’s when the killer begins stalking DI Wheeler, that she and Ross realise that the threat is now personal.

My review:

Silenced is the 2nd book in the Wheeler and Ross series. I had not heard about this series or Anne Randall before coming across this book in the library. The cover and blurb enticed me in.

A notorious killer, Mark Haedyear has escaped from prison while on compassionate leave to attend his mother’s funeral. He was doing life for killing Amanda Henderson.

DI Wheeler and DI Ross are on the hunt, however, a body gets found in an alleyway. Cameron Craig has been murdered with a clue left next to his body. Was Cameron Craig murdered by Mark Haedyear?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to the Henderson family and in particular Amanda’s daughter Fiona, who is now estranged from her father and sister and wishes to live on the streets and to not be found. She has also chosen to be mute, so makes you question what exactly does she know about Cameron Craig’s murder. Was she involved? Why won’t she speak out if she does know?

Soon the story steps up a notch, as DI Wheeler starts receiving letters from the killer. Even communications to her own home. As it gets personal, it turns into a race against time for DI Wheeler and DI Ross to catch the killer.

In hindsight, I think it would have been better to read the first book in the series to get an idea of the background of DI Wheeler and DI Ross. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide whether I liked these two particular characters or not.

You get introduced to a lot of characters throughout, this can get confusing, as sometimes they get called by their nicknames. I’m also not 100% sure why some characters were even including in the story. Maybe it was just to add chapters?

Although the story is an easy read and fast paced, as well as making you feel that you do want to carry on reading to find out the truth, for me, there was one big let down. The dialogue between characters annoyed me at times, it was very much “he said”, “she said” and it seems the dialogue was used purely for the reader to know what happened previously, when maybe this could have been portrayed a different way. Sometimes dialogue was used purely to show the relationship between Wheeler and Ross, but I just found this quite cringe and it didn’t help me to like either character.

I did guess who the killer was before the big reveal, but I still felt the ending tied everything up nicely.

All in all, this was a fairly good read, although at some points I felt a few characters and the dialogue could have been addressed as possibly not needed.

I would give this title 3/5 stars!

About the author:

Glasgow-born Anne Randall is the author of the gritty, award-winning Wheeler and Ross series set in her hometown.

Her first novel RIVEN (written as A. J. McCreanor) won first prize at the Wells Festival of Literature in 2011

Anne has also had poems and short stories published in various anthologies.

Anne previously worked as a cadet nurse, flower-seller, civil servant and English teacher in Glasgow before retraining as a psychotherapist.

She now works in private practice in Glastonbury, Somerset where she lives with her husband, bespoke furniture-maker Don Storey, their two pesky rescued cats and an inherited and remarkably handsome collie dog.

 

 

 

 

A Time To Die – Tom Wood

a time to die

About the book:

It takes a bad man to hunt evil

If the assassin known only as Victor once had a moral compass, it is long since buried, along with his many victims. Yet some men are so evil even Victor accepts they must die for reasons other than just money.
One such is Milan Rados, a former commander in the Serbian army who has escaped trial at The Hague to become a formidable criminal power. Tracking down and killing this brutal man will win Victor a reprieve for his own recent crimes on British soil.
But Victor isn’t the only one who wants Rados dead. Ana, whose family was butchered on the tyrant’s orders, will do anything to see Rados’ blood spilled on the snow of Eastern Europe. Now Victor has an unlikely ally – but an army stands between them and justice.

My review:

This is the sixth book in the Victor The Assassin series, however, it works well as a standalone.

From the very first page, you meet Victor and you instantly know that he kills for a job. Victor gets sent to Serbia to hunt down a human trafficker by the name Rados, someone who is very much wanted by the CIA. During the train journey over, which occurs within the first few chapters, the reader already gets a taste of the action sequences that get described in clear detail by Wood.

Surprisingly, even to Victor, he catches up with Rados fairly early on, which means that he must bide his time before the kill. The two characters get to know one another very well, and it means that Victor gains an ally in one of the female captors, in order to try and find a moment to kill Rados.

Throughout, there is a sense of cat and mouse, as Victor is so close to doing the job, yet so far as there is so much standing in his way. While he is waiting for the perfect moment, he also learns that there is a bounty on his own head. Victor then has to play both the hunter and hunted as he tries to survive long enough to carry out his job.

The writing style is superb and everything is described in brilliant detail. Wood has definitely done his research into assassins and portrays this across to the reader. Even though we know what Victor does for a living, Wood shows the character so well, that you’re in fact routing for Victor throughout the book and hoping for him to make the kill. He’s even quite a likeable character, which is different for an assassin in a book.

A Time To Die is a riveting read and will keep you guessing right through to the end! Definitely a fast-paced thriller that can be easily enjoyed.

I highly recommend this read and will be purchasing book 7 of the series!

About the author:

Tom was born in Burton Upon Trent in Staffordshire, England, and now lives in London.

He is the author of THE HUNTER, BAD LUCK IN BERLIN and THE ENEMY.

Tom’s books are known by different titles in some countries so please be careful when purchasing.

 

Hide and Seek – M J Arlidge

hide and seek.jpgHide and Seek is the 6th book in the Helen Grace series. Unfortunately, I haven’t read the previous five, however, I have heard that it’s best to the read the 5th book in the series prior to this one. Personally, I still felt that I learnt enough about Helen Grace and the other characters to still enjoy this read.

About the book:

Prison is no place for a detective
Helen Grace was one of the country’s best police investigators.
Now she’s behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder
She knows there is only way out:
stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer
But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door,
Helen fears her days are numbered.

A murderer is on the loose.
And she must find them.
Before she’s next . . .

My review:

The first couple of chapters we meet Leah, a former police officer who has now ended up in prison. We quickly learn her fate as she is brutally murdered in her cell, which happens to be next door to former DI Helen Grace who is quickly on the hunt for the murderer.

The setting is within the prison walls and there are many tense moments while Grace is looking for the murderer, especially when a further 2 prisoners are found murdered and mutilated in their cells. Grace feels that her days are numbered and so takes it upon herself to try and find the main suspect.

Meanwhile, on the outside, you learn more about how Helen Grace came to prison, as her former colleague, Charlie, is convinced of Grace’s innocence and goes on the hunt for Grace’s nephew who she believes is behind the killings and framing that got Grace behind bars. This section of the story is also gripping and sometimes frustrating as there seem to be so many people against Charlie finding out the truth.

As both stories conclude, there is so much suspense that you are truly gripped. You can keep trying to guess who you think could be behind the prison murders, but one final big twist will completely shock you!

Overall, I enjoyed this book, however, I do wish I had known to read the 5th book from the series first, as it would have helped to get to know the characters better. Maybe if I had read the previous book, I might have been routing for Grace more if I felt I knew her character well. I would still recommend this book, but maybe more for those who are already aware of the Helen Grace series by Arlidge.

About the author:

M.J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last 15 years, specialising in high end drama production. Arlidge has produced a number of prime-time crime serials for ITV In the last five years, and is currently working on a major adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans for the BBC.