Category Archives: Mystery

The Child Finder, Rene Denfeld – Book Review

I received The Child Finder in exchange for an honest review

This was a surprise gem of a book. At first glance, I took it for a regular missing child mystery – a plot which has been covered many times – and I nearly passed it up. I’m so glad I didn’t because this is an elegant, atmospheric novel which tells a fairly unoriginal story in a unique, creative way.

The Child Finder, Rene Denfeld

Set in the heart of an Oregon forest, where it seems to always always be snowing, this is a beautifully atmospheric tale – you can almost see the snow topped mountains and feel the bitter cold. Denfeld makes the missing child story her own, bringing her setting and characters to life with rich, almost lyrical prose, interweaving fairy tales and magical realism with dark reality. Continue reading



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House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz – Book Review

There’s been countless takes on Conan Doyle’s famous detective over the years but, as far as I’m aware, this is the only series that was officially sanctioned by the Estate. And I’m so pleased it was Horowitz that was given that honour, as I loved his take on Sherlock Holmes.

The plot itself opens in typical Holmes style, with a frazzled client turning up at 221B Baker Street. I found the section a little slow, as personally I didn’t really enjoy this story; ‘The Man With the Flat Cap’. If you’re feeling the same as I did, hang on, – there’s a much deeper, darker mystery here still to be explored; The House Of Silk.

House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz - Book Review

The House Of Silk is a great modern take on the classic series; it retains the atmosphere of the era and captures the characters wonderfully, but eliminates some of the more archaic language and views which (I’m sorry to admit) held me back from completing loving the original books. Continue reading

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew J. Sullivan – Book Review

I received Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in exchange for an honest review

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Matthew J. Sullivan

This was a wonderful, quirky surprise, quite unlike anything else I’ve read this year. A twisty mystery thriller, packed with eccentric characters, bookish references and hidden secrets.

The Bright Ideas Bookstore has its regulars, those bookseller Lydia has affectionately named ‘Book Frogs’. Mainly men, the Book Frogs are lost and lonely, those who’ve slipped through the cracks of society and finding a peaceful refuge in the store. And they seem harmless,  until Lydia finds one of them hanging from the ceiling, with an old photograph of her tenth birthday party in his pocket.

Joey was a little different, but Lydia liked having him around the store. “He was a shattered young man, Lydia often thought, haunted but harmless – a dust bunny blowing through the corners of the store.”  His death shakes Lydia, but she’s drawn in deeper when she finds out he’s left the entire contents of his flat to her, including a stack of books with hidden messages which leads her on a journey into her own past. Continue reading

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The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde, Eve Chase – Book Review

I received The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde in exchange for an honest review

I was sold on this book by the fact that it was a dual timeline mystery described by Lisa Jewell as ‘The most beautiful book you will read this year.’ I have to admit I felt a little let down as I started it; this book has been described as ‘beautiful’ and ‘evocative’ but I found the writing a little too flowery when it wasn’t necessarily needed. It took me a little while to get into the story as I took time to adjust to the tone of voice, but once I did I found a strong plot which took me by surprise.

The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde, Eve Chase

At the centre of the story is Applecote Manor, a grand manor in the Cotswolds. In its time it was a pristine picture of elegance, but in present day it’s crumbling and dilapidated. The story follows two timelines and shows what one house can mean to two different people. In present day, Jessie sees the mansion as a fresh start; a chance to escape the bustling city life of London and build a life with her new family. In the summer of 1959, Margot and her three sisters also escape the city for a summer in the countryside, when they are sent by their mother to live with their aunt and uncle. Continue reading

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One Of Us Is Lying, Katherine McManus – Book Review

I received One Of Us Is Lying in exchange for an honest review

One Of Us Is Lying was an entertaining, quick read which perfectly captures the murky world of High School – a great guilty pleasure read with a little more depth. Five students enter detention. Only four leave alive.

One Of Us Is Lying, Katherine McManus

All the stereotypical High School characters are here – the successful jock, the prom queen, the brain and the rebel. The only character who is a slight enigma, an outsider, is Simon, a character who dies within the first chapter. But why did he die? Who is a culprit and who is a victim? Using Simon’s death as a catalyst, the author casts a tale of High School secrets and lies. Continue reading

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The Wonder, Emma Donoghue – Book Review

Since reading Room years ago I’ve followed Emma Donoghue closely and read a number of her books, but I’ve never found one which could top the Booker-nominated, film-inspiring sensation that was Room. But this one come pretty damn close. I’m not sure I’d say The Wonder quite surpasses Room, but it stands in its own right as a riveting piece of historical fiction.

The Wonder

The story takes place in middle Ireland, a few years after the Great Famine. Lib Wright, an English nurse who trained under Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, is called to the area to take an unusual position. Her ward is Anna O’Donnell, an eleven-year-old who who has supposedly not eaten a morsel of food for four months. Lib is required to simply watch the young girl, and report her observations to a committee after two weeks. Continue reading

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You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott – Book Review

I received You Will Know Me in exchange for an honest review

This was my first experience with Megan Abbott, and I’m now keen to go back and tackle her back catalogue. You will know me is a well-crafted, slow-burning contemporary thriller packed with secrets, lies and paranoia.


Katie and Eric Knox are dedicated parents: they’ve committed everything they can into ensuring that their talented gymnast daughter Devon succeeds. Their lives are built around spending hours ferrying Devon to and from practice, supporting her in any way they can, but, when a sudden death rocks their small community, everything – and crucially Devon’s future prospects – is thrown into the balance. Continue reading


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The Girl You Lost, Kathryn Croft – Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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Kathryn Croft’s The Girl With No Past was one of my stand-out psychological thriller reads of last year, so I was very excited to get my hands on her new novel, The Girl You Lost. And it didn’t disappoint – she’s done it again; The Girl You Lost is a tense, addictive and dark psychological thriller with believable characters and emotional depth.

The Girl You Lost

Simone and Matt had their daughter Helena at a young age, while they were still in University. But that didn’t matter to them – for six months they lived as a happy family until one day Helena disappeared from their lives.

Eighteen years later, the couple are now married and have gone on to forge successful careers, working hard to fill the void made by their missing child. But their past is about to be dredged back to the surface as Simone is approached by a girl named Grace who believes she is her long-lost daughter Helena.

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The Darkest Secret, Alex Marwood – Book Review

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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I’m ashamed to admit that this is the first Alex Marwood book I’ve read, even though I love a good psychological mystery. I bought her much-hyped debut The Wicked Girls back in 2012, but it’s still languishing away on my shelf waiting to be read. I’ll be rectifying that soon, because her latest book, The Darkest Secret, is a tense, engrossing and addictive read.

This book is all about secrets. It follows a group of family at friends, who at first seem a close-knit group; privileged and lucky, but scratch the surface and there’s a world of tension, lies and deceit bubbling away underneath. Continue reading


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Black-Eyed Susans, Julia Heaberlin – Book Review

I received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Black-Eyed Susans follows a similar plot to quite a few recent releases in the genre; girl is captured or attacked (or, in this case, left for dead in a ditch surrounded by the other victims’ bodies). She survives and goes on to forge a decent life for herself, but years later her past comes back to haunt her. It could have been formulaic, but it’s not. This is a taut, tense and dark psychological thriller, one of the best I’ve read this year.

blackeyedsusansbook Almost 20 years ago, Tessa Cartwright was left to die with a group of other young female victims, dubbed the ‘black-eyed Susans’ due to the flowers which grew near their make-shift grave. Tessa is the only survivor. A man named Terrell Goodman was convicted, but as Tessa looks back years later she feels she was coerced into giving a damning testimony in court, when in fact she remembers nothing of the events which lead up to her rescue.

The story is told from two perspectives; Tessie (as she was known then) aged 17 immediately following the incident, and Tessa present day. In the past, she is having regular meetings with a therapist in an attempt to come to terms with her trauma and ready her for court. In the present, she’s going through it all again, as she discovers the Black-Eyed Susan plant growing outside her window out of season, and is convinced the killer has planted them. She agrees to help a team of lawyers who are working to free Goodman from death row, and in turn find the real killer.

The characters in this novel were brilliant, particularly Tessa both past and present. Her younger self is so raw; at 17, there’s a naivety about her despite the fact that she’s experienced trauma far beyond her years. She has all the elements of a typical stroppy teenager, but something much darker shapes her actions. Her present-day character is still haunted, and regularly hears the voices of the other Susans who died beside her. She becomes fixated on freeing the man she originally sent to jail, in order to provide herself and the other girls – who she never knew alive but feels inextricably tied to – with justice. The supporting characters are all equally well-drawn; the lawyer, the forensic analyst, the therapists and Tess’as old best friend Lydia; loyal, quirky and complex. There is a small element of romance which I didn’t feel was particularly needed, but it doesn’t overtake the story and contributes to the character development, so I can’t complain too much.

It’s a tense, creepy read with Tessa’s paranoia gradually increasing as she comes closer to the truth. The two time frames complement each other, slowly revealing pieces of the puzzle which has remained unsolved and unfinished for two decades. It’s one of those novels where you can’t really say much about the plot itself – it’s best you read it with as little preconceptions as possible, so that you can make your own decision on who you think the killer might be. But, whether you figure it out or not, the writer has you rooting for Tessa, building an emotional involvement so you’ll be desperate for her to find the truth and get her closure once and for all.


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