Review: From The Shadows by G.R. Halliday


THE BLURBFrom the Shadows

A stunning, atmospheric police procedural set against the grit of Inverness and the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series.

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.

A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death.

Meanwhile, Inverness-based social worker Michael Bach is worried about one of his clients whose last correspondence was a single ambiguous text message; Nichol Morgan has been missing for seven days.

As Monica is faced with catching a murderer who has been meticulously watching and waiting, Michael keeps searching for Nichol, desperate to find him before the killer claims another victim.

From the Shadows introduces DI Monica Kennedy, an unforgettable new series lead, perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves’ Vera, Susie Steiner and Peter May.


From the Shadows is a promising start to a new crime series set in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a dark and atmospheric story that is truly gripping at times and while I didn’t love it quite as much as I hoped I would this is definitely a series I want to read more of.

The story is told primarily from two points of view, DI Monica Kennedy and social worker Michael Bach, and is part police procedural, part mystery/thriller with Kennedy leading a murder investigation and Bach trying to track down one of his clients who has disappeared. It’s an intriguing story, a little chilling and gruesome at times but one that goes in a very unexpected direction and kept me guessing throughout.

Both Monica and Michael make for interesting characters and are for the most part likeable however I’m not sure I ever got to know them well enough to feel truly invested in them. Both clearly have issues and shadows hanging over them from the past but while there are some hints as to what these may be I still feel like there’s a lot to learn about them. I suspect the author is holding things back for subsequent books in the series but I feel like there could have been a bit more development of the characters and more depth given to them. I also found the constant references to Monica’s height (she’s very tall) and her insecurities about it became irritating after a while. It’s great to have a detective who’s different from the norm but it seemed a little overdone.

Similarly, I felt like the secondary characters such as DC Fisher and DC Crawford were also under developed. They seem a bit stereotyped and lacking in depth at times and it was the characters who appeared very briefly who made the biggest impression. It also felt to me like the relationships between characters were all a little too serious and formal. It would have been nice to see some humour (even if it was dark) or an emotion other than anger or guilt to provide a contrast to what is a very disturbing and tense narrative.

The highlight of the story for me was by far the Highland setting and the very dark and chilling atmosphere the author creates. It’s here that his writing really shines and he very skillfully conveys the wildness and remoteness of the rural communities while also taking us into the seedier parts of the city of Inverness, giving a real sense of place. I loved the way he showed the different sides of the area, the beauty and peacefulness and also the isolation and danger. It actually made me want to head up north for a visit despite the plot.

Overall, while not perfect From the Shadows does show some real skill from the author and I think there’s a lot of potential for the characters to grow and develop. As the first book in a series I think it shows promise and I will certainly be looking out for more books by the author.

I received an advance copy of this book via a Readers First giveaway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: Close to the Edge by Toby Faber #blogtour @MuswellPress @Toby_Faber #ClosetotheEdge

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Close to the Edge, an exciting new thriller by Toby Faber set in and around the London Underground. Before I say anything else I want to say a big thank you to Muswell Press and Brownlee Donald Associates for inviting me on to the tour and sending me a copy of the book.

THE BOOKClose to the Edge

Morning rush hour on the London tube. Laurie Bateman is on her way to work when she witnesses a terrible accident. Only later does she realise that what she has seen is potentially much more sinister.

Compelled to investigate, Laurie breaks into the Underground at night to look for clues. The ambush comes out of nowhere, forcing Laurie to flee for her life through pitch black tunnels and deserted stations.

The hunter has become the hunted.



The London Underground is truly the star of this new thriller by Toby Faber as it makes the perfect setting for an original and engaging story. I was hooked from the first page until the very last.

The story follows Laurie, who on the way to work one morning witnesses a man falling in front of a train. When the police decide to write it off as a suicide despite Laurie’s statement she starts to reexamine what she saw and begins an investigation of her own into who he was and just what happened on that platform. When she makes some unexpected discoveries odd things start to occur in her own life and it seems that someone may not want her to uncover the truth.

I have to admit this story did not go in the direction I was expecting. There are elements to it that are predictable and which I guessed but there were a lot more that I really didn’t see coming and as someone who reads a lot of thrillers I loved that. I’m not often a fan of the amateur detective story, I can never understand why they don’t just go to the police, but in this case it works incredibly well and I enjoyed following Laurie’s methodical research and investigation.

Laurie makes for a great main character and I really liked how she developed and grew over the course of the story. In the beginning she seems very flat, going through the motions at work, no real friends other than her flatmate/cousin and no romantic prospects. Seeing someone killed by a train is obviously horrifying and extremely traumatic but it seems to shock her out of the daze she’s been living in. As she begins to investigate her interest and passion spreads to more than just getting to the truth and it is wonderful to see her start to live her life and take pleasure in things.

I also have to say how much I loved Laurie’s dad as a character and the relationship between them was portrayed incredibly well. It’s rare to see father/daughter relationships in books so it made for a welcome addition to the story.

The real highlight of this story for me however was the setting. Faber has a real gift for description and the story is full of those little details that bring places and situations to life. I’m not sure whether he’s drawing from his own experiences (he has had a rather varied career) or extensive research but it all felt very authentic and believable. It does feel like you’re very much in each moment experiencing everything Laurie does, whether that’s running through underground tunnels in the dead of night, exploring abandoned stations or even just doing every day things like enjoying a family lunch, fighting with spreadsheets at work or galloping across a field on a horse (ok those last two are probably just me).

As there is a lot of detail and character development I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a fast paced read but there is still plenty of action and quite a few scenes that had me absolutely gripped. There were also a couple of scenes that I found very uncomfortable to read, some of that is down to my own issues but there is one scene in particular I think most will find disturbing.

Overall this is a really enjoyable read and it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into getting all of the details just right. It’s unexpected and has just enough twists to keep you guessing till the very last page.


Toby Faber was a banker and management consultant before joining the family firm in 1996. He was MD of Faber for four years and remains on the board; he is also chairman of Faber Music. He has written two highly praised works of non-fiction, Stradivarius and Fabergé’s Eggs, this is his first novel. He lives in London with his family.


The blog tour is on until the 19th so make sure you check out all of the stopsthumbnail_Blog Tour_FB_v04.jpg

Review: Twisted by Steve Cavanagh


Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

Hmmm reviewing a book that’s packed full of jaw dropping twists and surprises, this is going to be a challenge. I should probably just say it’s a fast paced and addictive read that keeps you well and truly on your toes. Expect the unexpected, or better yet, don’t expect anything just enjoy the ride. I did.



1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…


I think the title “Twisted” pretty much sums this one up. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book with quite so many twists and turns. Every time you think you have it figured out and you know what’s coming next there’s yet another switch and nothing is what you thought it was. Needless to say this is making it very difficult to write a review without giving anything away.

I’m not going to say a huge amount about the story other than it’s mostly about the mystery surrounding the identity of author JT LeBeau. LeBeau is one of the biggest thriller writers around, with his books famous for their big twist that no one sees coming, and LeBeau most famous for his elusiveness. No one knows who he is, not even his publisher, and it seems clear that he’s hiding his identity to conceal something he’s done. Add in a murder or two and a police investigation and this is a really addictive read.

In some ways it almost feels like a parody of itself and I can imagine the author had a lot of fun writing it. This was actually my first book by Cavanagh so I can’t compare to any of his other stories but this was well written and very clever. Some of the twists were literally jaw dropping. There was the odd moment where I felt like it was on the brink of going too far (and in danger of becoming ridiculous) but I think he kept it just to the right side of the line and there are enough clues scattered to make it just about believable.

The story is told from a few different pov’s and while I had a little bit of a niggle about one specific character I did like the different perspectives. They are very distinctive and although sometimes a bit stereotyped, they are pretty well rounded.

My only real criticism of this book is that I think it peaked a little too soon and the first half felt stronger than the second. With so many twists and turns it was probably always going to be difficult to keep the element of surprise and I did find my attention wandering a little around the mid point but the author does pull it back at the end.

Overall a fast paced and exciting read with some truly shocking moments. I will most certainly be reading more of Cavanagh’s books.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book. This has in no way influenced my review.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party


Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?


One of my favourite tropes in the thriller/mystery genre has always been (and probably will always be) the group of people stranded in a remote location with a killer in their midst. There’s just something so primal about it, both in terms of the way the characters when under threat revert to their base urges (fight or flight) and the genuine chills it gives me as a reader. I have always found this idea of being trapped with no way of getting help a bit terrifying and who doesn’t love a few chills in this kind of story.

Needless to say as soon as I discovered The Hunting Party was about a group of old friends snowed in at a hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands with a killer among them I knew I had to read it (and not just because of the Highland setting).

So did it deliver? Well yes and no. It’s very well written and as a character study, absolutely wonderful but I felt it was a little lacking in the creepiness and tension I so badly wanted. I did really love the way in which the author portrayed the friendship dynamics within the group and the ways in which they’ve changed since they first met (well most of them) at University. They are not the same people now and despite the best efforts of some, have grown apart (and grown up) and lost the closeness they once had. They may think they know each other well but how well can you really know someone, even if they were once your closest friend.

What makes this an even better read is that these characters are for the most part, deliciously horrid. Interested primarily in appearance and position, they are self centered, vain, bullying and nasty. They may have been friends at some point (although I have my doubts) but now they’re more like competitors, trying to outdo each other with their successes. There are also more than a few secrets and grudges being held.

It’s safe to say there wasn’t a single one of them I liked. There was the odd aspect of certain characters that I could relate to or recognize in myself and I did have some sympathy for the poor lodge manager and gamekeeper who had to look after them (and had some secrets of their own) but most of my enjoyment came from watching these nasty people tear each other apart.

Where I felt a little let down however was in the murder mystery. It lacks the tension and the chills it needs to make it a truly thrilling and unputdownable read and I think this is due in part to the format. There are dual timelines running throughout, the first starting right after the discovery of one of the guests bodies (we don’t know which one), and the other a few days before as the party make their way up to the lodge. I personally was not a fan of this approach as I never felt truly in the moment and consequently there was no sense of danger.

There is definitely some mystery to it and it does keep you guessing, firstly which of these horrible people has met a sticky end and then who was behind it and why, but there was none of the killer in our midst tension from the party I was hoping for. This is probably in a large part due to the post murder events being told from the pov of Heather, the lodge manager, with the other guests (the party) barely featuring. I also found it a little silly the way in which the identity of the victim was concealed from the reader, with the author avoiding even gender pronouns so as not to reveal whether it was a man or woman.

All of these criticisms are probably starting to make you think I didn’t enjoy it but I really did. It may not have been exactly the story I was expecting to read but I genuinely enjoy character studies of unpleasant people. There’s just something fascinating about not knowing what someone will do next and Foley has created some well rounded and believably nasty characters.

Overall I would recommend this to anyone who likes a more character focused mystery and doesn’t mind it not being action packed or chilling.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. All views are my own.

Review: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man



He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.

Two brothers meet at the remote fence line separating their cattle farms under the relenting sun of the remote outback. In an isolated part of Western Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes three hours’ drive apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron, who lies dead at their feet.

Something had been on Cam’s mind. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

The Lost Man is the highly anticipated new book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dryand Force of Nature.


Jane Harper author of two of my favourite books of this year The Dry and Force of Nature is back with a new standalone thriller set in the Australian Outback. It’s a tense and atmospheric read with the wonderful descriptions and characterization we’ve come to expect from Harper. The setting of the story is once again the highlight with the writing so brilliant that it’s all too easy to imagine yourself in this hostile and unforgiving place. The intense heat, barren flat ground with nothing for miles creates a real sense of isolation that make this a gripping read despite a relatively slow paced story.

There are very few characters in this story with the focus very much on Nathan as he comes to terms with, and tries to solve, the mystery of his brother’s death which it soon becomes clear was not an easy one. How did he end up miles from his car (which was fully loaded with supplies and running perfectly) in blistering heat when he knew better? Did he deliberately head out there knowing it would mean his death or did something (or someone) happen to him? And why is it these brothers haven’t really spoken in years?

I thought Nathan was a very likeable character, there was something about him and his history that reminded me of Aaron Falk the lead in the author’s other series. He’s an outcast in town due to something that happened in the past, he had a difficult relationship with his father but generally seems like a decent bloke. I found myself very intrigued by him and loved the way his backstory was gradually revealed over the course of the book. It was difficult to imagine just what he could have done that would be so terrible the whole town would turn against him.

There are very few other characters and those there are are predominantly Nathan’s family. Each and every one however is well developed and complex. The relationships between them are similarly complicated. They have a shared history that goes back a long time and know each other incredibly well, or at least think that they do. I loved the way that the dynamic between them shifted and developed over the course of the story and I was particularly fascinated by Nathan’s relationship with his son Xander.

This isn’t an action packed story but with such a tense atmosphere and the hostile environment in which it takes place it still makes for a gripping read. The little reveals and twists are spaced out perfectly, making it difficult to put down. There are also more than a few red herrings thrown in to keep you guessing until the very end, and when the ending does come it’s absolutely perfect.

Overall this is a great read and one I’d recommend to anyone who loves a good mystery with a setting that’s just as compelling as the story.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. As always all views are my own.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Broken Things by [Oliver, Lauren]
Broken Things
by Lauren Oliver

Not my favourite book by Oliver but it’s a very engaging and dark story that has some truly brilliant moments. Unfortunately, these moments were not quite frequent enough and while I was gripped at points there were other times where I’m afraid my attention wandered.


It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods. 

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it. 

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.


My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Broken Things is a really dark read and I feel like I should say upfront there are some very disturbing scenes that could be triggering (pedophilia, violence against animals, murder of a child, fat shaming and homophobic slurs). I will confess these did bother me at times and I found myself deliberately distancing myself from what I was reading so it couldn’t upset me too much. The story is however intriguing and I really loved the way the author brought elements of fantasy and fairytale into what could be just another murder mystery.

The story is told from the point of view of Brynn and Mia, the girls believed to be responsible for killing their best friend Summer. It begins in the present as Mia discovers something that could be a clue to what happened back then and seeks out Brynn so they can start their own investigation. This is interspersed with flashbacks to five years previously to shed light on the relationship between the three girls.

It very quickly becomes clear that all three of them, and Summer’s boyfriend Owen, were somehow broken, escaping into a fantasy world that somehow became real. I’m not sure I would necessarily say I connected with or could relate to any of the characters but they are complex and make for some fascinating reading. Each was messed up back then and is even more messed up now that the whole country seems to be blaming them for the murder.

I thought the way in which the author showed the tendency for society to want to find someone responsible and then demonize them  was very cleverly done. These two girls, who were children at the time, are dehumanized and subject to unending abuse and threats including by adults who really should know better. It does make you empathize with Mia and Brynn and makes a lot of their actions understandable. It also explains why they have to turn detectives with the help of a couple of friends rather than involving the authorities.

Their investigation into the murder is for the most part engaging and while it does seem amateurish at times when you think about their age it is probably realistic. I did feel like it wandered off track a little in the middle and lost some of the tension and pace it needed to make it a truly unputdownable read but it did keep me guessing.

The highlight of the story was however Summer’s character. Troubled doesn’t even begin to cover it and my feelings toward her were all over the place. I swung back and forward between feeling sorry for her, hating her and finding her a little scary. It was difficult to remember just how young she was and I was glad of the frequent reminders within the narrative. One thing I would have loved to know though was more of her past and what was going on her head. She just seems to have this power over everyone around her. They either idolize her or are too terrified to cross her.

I also loved the story within the story and how this book the three girls were so obsessed with was such an important part of it. It brought an additional layer to the mystery and also the possibility that there could be something fantastical going on. I will admit I was not so convinced by the extracts from the book (or the girls fan fiction) that preceded each chapter. I’m not sure they added much to the story and I found myself skimming through them.

The writing is however what you would expect from Oliver and there are some genuinely creepy moments but also some that made me emotional. It’s not always easy to read but if you can stand the gruesome bits (or at least skim through them with your fingers over your eyes) it is a great story.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.


Review: In Bloom (Sweetpea #2) by CJ Skuse

In Bloom (Sweetpea, #2)
In Bloom
by C.J. Skuse

Dark, twisted and laugh out loud funny. If you enjoyed Sweetpea I think you’ll love this. If you’re easily offended or don’t particularly like swearing or violence in your books I’d maybe steer clear.

Spoiler alert: as this is a sequel there may be some spoilers for the first book from here on in.


The darkly comic crime sequel to Sweetpea, following girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon as she’s now caught between the urge to kill and her unborn baby stopping her.

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fiancé Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex-lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws’ garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a big fan of C.J. Skuse for a few years now and I probably enjoyed Sweetpea way more than I should when I read it last year. Needless to say I was very excited about getting my hands on a copy of follow up In Bloom and it did not disappoint. It’s every bit as dark, twisted and funny as the first book.

I’ve always kind of described these books as a combination of Bridget Jones Diary and Dexter. The story is told in the form of journal entries as MC Rhiannon describes her day to day life, her relationships with family and friends, and those people she’s met who she either wants to kill or has killed in a brutal and bloody fashion for some real or perceived misdemeanor (or just because they annoyed her).

This time however it’s a little more Bridget Jones Baby than Diary as Rhiannon is up the duff as the story begins. Rather than the focus being on her relationship with her fiance (who was having an affair with one of her co workers) and the guy she was cheating on him with, this time it’s all about the horrors delights of pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy unfortunately doesn’t seem to agree with Rhiannon, mostly because the side effects (lethargy, morning sickness, hearing the voice of your unborn child in your head) interfere with her acting on her murderous urges.

To make matters worse, as she murdered the baby’s father and framed her fiance for murdering a few other people she killed, she’s having to keep a fairly low profile and ends up staying with her almost in laws, something that could drive the most calm and collected person off the deep end.

I really loved how Skuse moved the story forward with this book. I have to admit I was worried it was going to be more of the same and by the end of the first book the joke was beginning to wear a little thin but that was not the case at all. There are still a lot of the elements I loved, the kill lists at the start of every chapter (I’m tempted to start doing them myself) and Rhiannon’s often spot on observations of what we’re all probably thinking (it’s not just me is it?) and incredibly dark humor but it felt like her character really grew and developed.

I loved how brutally honest she was about being pregnant and the associated discomforts, the pressure put on you by everyone to eat the right things and do the right things and to fit in with all of the other mummies. How your body is no longer really your own and how the attitude of others changes towards you. It was wonderful to see Rhiannon within a different social circle and living with Craig’s parents. Some of the interactions between them were laugh out loud funny but so familiar.

I have to confess though that this time around I struggled a little with the serial killer, side of the story. When I read the first book the brutal and bloody murders didn’t bother me too much (not sure what that says about me) but this time it felt a bit nastier and a little more uncomfortable to read. I guess the author had to step it up a bit to keep the shock value but this seemed a lot more gruesome and bloody. I consider myself pretty shock proof but there were definitely a few reading through the fingers moments even for me and there was one death in particular that I found especially hard to read.

Other than that I very much enjoyed this book. I thought it maybe drifted a little in the middle but otherwise the pacing was spot on and that ending was perfect.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

ARC Review: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

An Unwanted Guest
An Unwanted Guest
by Shari Lapena

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

An edge of the seat who dunnit that’s reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It kept me guessing until the very end and had just the right amount of creepiness and tension to keep me reading late into the night.


We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.


Oooh I liked this. A story with a group of strangers trapped together, isolated from the outside world and a killer on the loose is always my idea of a great read and Lapena does a brilliant job with it. It’s packed full of tension, has some genuinely creepy moments (which I probably shouldn’t have read while on my own on a dark and stormy night) and there are enough twists and reveals to keep you guessing till the very end.

It’s a classic who dunnit that reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None but brought right up to date. I do love a good who dunnit and I had so much fun trying to figure out which of the guests (or staff) was the murderer and what their motive could be (or if in fact there was someone else behind it all). There are lots of hints and clues along the way but with lots of red herrings thrown in and a mix of characters who all seem to have some kind of secret it’s almost impossible to figure out. I did have an inkling but considering I guessed pretty much everyone at some point or another I don’t think I can really say I had it sussed.

The story is told from the pov of almost every one of the characters which I have to admit I’m not sure was a wise decision in this story. I do like how it showed the reader the events from various different perspectives and helped you to get to know each of them better but I think the author made her job of keeping it a mystery harder than it needed to be.

With the necessarily fast paced nature of the story there’s not a lot of depth given to the characters and I can’t say I really connected with any of them but it didn’t spoil any of my enjoyment of the story which had me completely gripped until the very end. There are quite a good mix of different personalities and while some are a little stereotyped and some are not very nice I did love watching them under pressure and trying to guess who would do something stupid, who would get themselves killed and who would be the killer.

I’m obviously not going to say how it does end or who the killer is but I will say that I felt a little bit disappointed in the big reveal. It’s not that it wasn’t good or that I disagreed just that with the build up I was expecting something more. It was over a little too quickly for me.

The writing throughout however is wonderful and the author does create a very tense and atmospheric setting. I loved the sense of isolation, the bleakness and threatening nature of the environment and the very primal fear it creates in both the characters and the reader. I read a lot of it late at night and can honestly say it was giving me the creeps. I wanted to put it down and hide under the covers but my need to find out what happened next overrode this.

There were a couple of sections, mostly giving characters backstories which were a little clunky but otherwise it’s pitched just right.

This was an edge of the seat (or hide under the covers) read that I found incredibly difficult to put down. Would definitely recommend to anyone who loves a good who dunnit in a creepy setting.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance reader copy. As always all thoughts are my own.

An Unwanted Guest will be out on the 26th July

Review: The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong

The Good SonA dark and disturbing story that had me gripped from the very first page until the very last.


Yu-jin is a good son, a model student and a successful athlete. But one day he wakes up covered in blood. There’s no sign of a break-in and there’s a body downstairs. It’s the body of someone who Yu-jin knows all too well.

Yu-jin struggles to piece together the fragments of what he can remember from the night before. He suffers from regular seizures and blackouts. He knows he will be accused if he reports the body, but what to do instead? Faced with an unthinkable choice, Yu-jin makes an unthinkable decision.

Through investigating the murder, reading diaries, and looking at his own past and childhood, Yu-jin discovers what has happened. The police descend on the suburban South Korean district in which he lives. The body of a young woman is discovered. Yu-jin has to go back, right back, to remember what happened, back to the night he lost his father and brother, and even further than that.

The Good Son deals with the ultimate taboo in family life, and asks the question: how far will you go to protect your children from themselves?


My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This was such a great read and so different from what I was expecting when I accepted the publisher’s offer of a copy. Based on the reviews I skimmed through prior to picking it up, I will admit I was a little wary. There was a lot of “it’s a slow burn” and “you have to stick with it” but this was not my experience of reading it at all.

From the very first page I found myself gripped and completely immersed in this story. There may not be a huge amount of action (although I should warn it is violent and a little gruesome in places) and it’s heavy on internal monologue and flashbacks (something I usually hate) but the whole story and Yu-jin in particular absolutely fascinated me.

The central premise of “main character awakes to discover a brutally murdered body and has no memory of what happened” is not a unique one but it is one that intrigues me and this author does it so well. The story is told almost entirely from the point of view of Yu-jin and I found being in his head a very interesting experience. There is clearly something not quite right but I found myself drawn to him and wanted to know more.

The truth of what happened to his mother and the reasons behind it are uncovered very slowly over the course of the book as Yu-jin finds clues, makes deductions and recalls the events from the night before (and further into the past) while simultaneously trying to cover everything up for as long as possible. It quickly becomes clear that there was something not right in the relationship between mother and son but, while we’re given the impression that she’s overly controlling and he’s afraid of her (and his Auntie), it’s obvious that Yu-jin may not be the victim he first appears and there could be a reason he’s kept on a tight leash.

I will say I wasn’t necessarily surprised by what is revealed over the course of the story as the author leaves enough hints and clues along the way for you to figure it out but this wasn’t the main draw for me. I was much more invested in what was coming next and what would happen to Yu-jin. I wouldn’t say I liked him, and he admits himself that he’s a skilled liar so you know not to trust him, but I was intrigued by him. Despite being the classic unreliable narrator he is very convincing and I found myself empathizing with him even when I knew I shouldn’t.

There’s a very claustrophobic, dark and disturbing feel to this story and while it’s not all action all of the time there were more than a few moments which had me on the edge of my seat. It is fairly limited in terms of scope, it’s primarily set within the apartment, takes place over a short period of time and there are very few characters (or interactions between them) making it quite quiet and intense but for me this just added to the suspense and anticipation.

The ending when it comes was brilliant but I will admit I found it a little disappointing. It wasn’t bad, I think it was more that the rest of the story had built my expectations up so high that I was expecting more.

If you can’t tell by now I really loved this book and would recommend to anyone who loves a thriller that really gets into a characters head.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. As always all views are my own.

Review: Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza

Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza

This may be book 6 in the series but DI Erika Foster shows no signs of slowing down and I think this is possibly my favorite so far.

Note: while this is book 6 in the series it can be read as a standalone so there are no spoilers in this review, although I do recommend the others in the series


To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover. 

On a cold icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a horrific killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’ve been reading this series you’ll be familiar with the format, it begins with a gruesome murder (beware Bryndza has upped the ick factor) and the discovery of a body. Erika who’s supposed to be on the way to Christmas lunch with her former boss and old police training pal, can’t resist getting involved and before you know it she’s leading the search for yet another serial killer.

Unlike previous books in the series however, this time Bryndza has put the focus almost entirely on the investigation and this is much more police procedural than thriller and personally, I think it is so much the better for it. There are still some chapters from the killer’s point of view but they’re fairly brief, give little away and are very chilling. It’s rare that an author can present a convincing view from inside the mind of a killer so I’m always happier to stick with the detectives, particularly those in this series.

The characters are definitely what I love the most about this series. They really are such a wonderfully diverse, interesting and well rounded bunch and I love how their relationships have evolved and developed over the series.

There’s a little bit less of Erika this time around as something in her personal life forces her to pass on the case to one of her team but, while less Erika seems like a bad thing, it actually added an extra element to the story as it allowed the personal side of her character to be developed while also providing a bit more insight into her backstory. It also had the benefit of giving some of the other team members the opportunity to shine. Moss, my favorite character, gets a much more prominent role which I really can’t complain about.

The case itself is an intriguing one and it really kept me guessing. There are a few clues and a few red herrings scattered along the way but I can honestly say my theories as to who the killer was were completely wrong.

You may be wondering why if I enjoyed this so much I couldn’t give the full five stars (believe me I wanted to). Unfortunately it suffers from some of the same issues the previous books had in terms of continuity errors (there are some disappearing shoes and inconsistencies in setting). I also felt that at times there was something off about descriptions of expressions and reactions but this may just have been me.

Despite these niggles this is a gripping read and one I’d recommend if you like a fast paced serial killer type story with quite a few twists and turns.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me with a copy. As always all views are my own.