Category Archives: Crime

More Than You’ll Ever Know, Katie Guitierrez – Book Review

That elegant, decadent cover and the promise of a thrilling tale of love and lies across 1980s American and Mexico really drew me into reading this debut. And it is an impressive debut, with writing as elegant as the cover. But, while it uses a true crime writer’s investigation as a tool to tell the story, it’s worth knowing before starting that this isn’t really a crime thriller.

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Notes on an Execution, Danya Kukafka – Book Review

Sometimes I request a book on a whim. With this book I haven’t seen much hype about it, I hadn’t been recommended it, but something about the synopsis drew me in. And sometimes, that book is an absolute winner, a hidden gem. That’s definitely the case here.

This book was a stunning drama, a powerful, unique piece of fiction which was incredibly emotional and compelling. It’s immediately made it into my favourite books of the year.

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The Night Shift, Alex Finlay – Book Review

I flew through this, my second read from Alex Finlay and I think it was even better than Every Last Fear. There’s something incredibly immersive about this author’s writing and the world. Starting out on New Year’s Eve 1999 at a Blockbuster and moving through to present day, Finlay immerses the reader into small-town America. A place where serial murders are rare but, when they do they can have repercussions for generations.

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Mirrorland, Carole Johnstone – Book Review

A grand old Scottish house, estranged mirror twins, secrets and a glowing review quote from Stephen King meant this novel caught my eye straight away. My galley request actually didn’t get approved for around six months, by which point I’d almost forgotten about it and the hype had died down, but I’m so glad I got around to picking this up earlier this year.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Crime, Drama, Psychological thriller

The Maid, Nita Prose – Book Review

The Maid was a winning combination of touching and heartwarming, paired with mystery elements weaved in that kept me glued to the pages. It was a joy to read. I don’t usually go for ‘cosy crime’ which I think it what this would be classed as, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as a break from tougher subjects – and it does touch on some serious issues. And at the heart of it all is one of the most wonderful, complicated, sympathetic characters I’ve read in a while – Molly the maid.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Crime

False Witness, Karin Slaughter – Book Review

The description for this book doesn’t give much away, but it’s worth stating from the offset that this is a truly dark tale full of triggers for sexual abuse, paedophillia and drug abuse. It’s tough going at times, and after the first chapter (which, objectively, I have to say is an amazing first chapter with a killer twist) I was unsure I was in the right headspace for it. But I carried on.

And, this book does have a beautiful way of showing that even in the darkest places there can be some humour, hope and love. But it’s no walk in the park.

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The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix – Book Review

This is the first I’ve read of this author – although I was intrigued by his previous release The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Vampire Slaying. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one, so it was my first meeting with this author’s weird and wonderful mind.

And what an experience it was! This genre isn’t really my usual thing, it’s a kind of blend of horror with satire, littered with popular culture references throughout.

We all know the final girls from from the movies. The one girl who makes it through, surviving the gruesome massacre and taking down the bad guys. This is the story of what happens next.

The final girls in this story all lived out their traumatic experiences that made them famous years before. Some have moved on with their lives more than others, but all still get together once a month for their Group. It’s a chance to talk through everything with others who can understand, and over the years they’ve become a kind of broken family with a strong bond.

This book is a bit of a homage to classic horror films, and each of the women’s stories draws heavy inspiration from them, from Nightmare on Elm Street to Scream, and I’ll definitely be doing some nostalgic rewatching of some of these to refresh myself on their stories. But our main protagonist is Lynnette. Lynnette has struggled to adjust to life after being the sole survivor of her family slaughter. She lives in a constant state of paranoia, keeping the outside world at length and living in a self-imposed cage. She’s convinced that “Out there in he world it’s a non-stop murder party and if I make the slightest mistake I’ll wind up dead.”

So when she becomes convinced that someone wants to bring down the final girls, is it just a product of her delusion? Or is someone really back to finish the job?

This book is packed full of action, drama and fun (and quite a lot of gore). Some characters I loved, and some of the villains I loved to hate. It’s dripping with sass and punchy one-liners; “If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then reliable handguns with a lot of stopping power are a final girl’s.”

But at the heart of it, Hendrix has created some strong fiesty heroines who are true survivors and I loved reading about their dysfunctional relationships in this wild ride.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 4/5.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Comedy, Crime, Satire, Thriller

When The Stars Go Dark, Paula McLain – Book Review

This is the first I’ve read of this author – I’ve had her hit historical fiction novel The Paris Wife waiting on my Kindle for years, and it will be getting bumped up the list now. McLain is an established writer who’s enjoyed success in a range of genres – even poetry – but this is her debut in crime fiction. And I adored it. You can tell reading this novel that this is a seasoned author, one who knows how to use words in a literary, almost lyrical way, but also how to craft a suspenseful, plot-driven story.

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Every Last Fear, Alex Finlay – Book Review

I finished this book in just a few days last week. It’s a very clever, tightly-plotted and compulsively readable psychological thriller, and I really can’t fault the author’s writing and skills in suspense. The only issue for me writing this review now is it’s not the most memorable – the plot flies by at a fast pace in the blink of an eye, and there’s a host of colourful and complex characters, but because the narrative point of view changes frequently we don’t get to know them in a whole lot of depth.

But that’s a small niggle – one which is more an issue for me reviewing it a few days after, rather than affecting the enjoyment reading the story. This is a really strong debut, one that feels like a much more experienced author (probably because it is). It combines a new mystery – a family’s multiple homicide – with an old, small-town murder, blending past and present to lead to startling conclusion which gets to the bottom of both.

The link is the Pine family. They haven’t had a great time of it. Their oldest son Danny was imprisoned years before for the murder of his high school girlfriend Charlotte after a houseparty. The case was covered in a Netflix documentary which shot the Pine family and the town to a state of infamy, and made a compelling case for Danny’s innocence. Years later, the entire family are found dead on a spring break in Mexico. Except for the two older sons, Danny and Matt Pine.

“You have two choices when you’re confronted with your every last fear.

Give up or fight like hell.”

The story mainly follows Matt. He’s become a little estranged from his family due to tensions following the murder and documentary, and he’s been making his own life for himself at NYU. But family is family. He still cares for them deeply, and when he’s alerted of their untimely deaths he’s straight on a plane to Mexico to straighten things out.

So, we have multiple murders spanning years, buried secrets and a whole lot of unfinished business, on a journey through New York, the smalltown Mid-west to coastal Mexico. Matt is one of the main protagonists but we also hear from a fiery FBI agent Keller and multiple members of the Pine family leading up to their deaths. It’s action-packed and fast-moving, but you do get a sense of the Pine family, their love for each other and passion for justice for Danny.

I really enjoyed the younger sister Maggie and the Dad Evan and their ‘Holmes and Watson’ sleuthing skills. I also loved Matt and his friendship group and could read a whole other book about them. Like I said, there’s a great character cast and while we don’t get too much of a in depth exploration of them, I had a whole lot of fun following their journey and uncovering the truth in this truly gripping read.

I received Every Last Fear in exchange for an honest review. 4/5.

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The Searcher, Tana French – Book Review

I received The Searcher in exchange for an honest review

A divorced American detective, Cal, is attempting to settle down and enjoy a quiet retirement in rural Ireland. But, he’s about to learn that small towns harbour big secrets and that maybe he’s not quite ready to turn in his detective badge.

This latest offering from French is a slow-burn, atmospheric mystery drama. I have to admit, at points, it was a little too slow for me. But maybe I was just expecting something different from this author. This book is not a thriller, it’s more a literary mystery.

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