Review of Hushabye by Celina Grace – 4 Stars

Hushabye (Kate Redman Mysteries, #1)Hushabye by Celina Grace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an unusual police crime thriller, following DS Kate Redman. Kate has just changed jobs and is now Detective Sergeant in a local unit. Her first case is one she struggles with that immediately pulls at her heart strings, someone has murdered a nanny and kidnaps Charley, a three-month-old baby. With no ransom note and a lot of potential suspects, this is quite a super-sleuth novel, keeping the armchair expert guessing to the end.

This is much more of a TV drama type crime story, Frost or Jonathan Creek style plot. Without too much gore or aggression present but enough mystery, frustration, red-herrings and humours to keep the reader guessing and judging the characters.

The story had an interesting plot, with lots of drama from the first page. This novel is incredibly well written, particularly as the first in a series as the story stands up very well on its own. The writing style is very easy to read, straight forward and quick-paced.

The characters are incredibly well written and I can see them easily returning in future novels in the series. Kate particularly is a well thought it character with a complicated personal life, a mother who is a drunk and secrets that Kate hopes to keep that way. The only character who I wasn’t too impressed with was Olbeck, he played a critical character at certain stages of the book but his character itself seemed a bit stale, hopefully that is just the author leaving room for his character to grow in future novels.

These books will appeal to fans of MC Beaton or Kate Ellis style writing; not too dark or gritty, but still quick-paced, crime thriller with a very smart plot, a smart character and plenty of action.

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Review of Harry’s Torment by Michael Beck

Harry's TormentHarry’s Torment by Michael Beck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an unusual crime thriller set (mostly) in the ports, checking the Lorries that come and go for drugs, cigarettes etc. It is an interesting premise and one that I had not previously come across. The department have to integrate with a lot of others and those that are in charge get frustrated that the credit for a good catch never falls to them.
This is a multi-viewpoint story, often told from the perspective of one-time respected top dog Harry who is in charge of a local unit, but his methods and manner is out-dated and when he is side-stepped for promotion by a younger, less experienced, female his world starts to become that bit more difficult. The story also follows Clint a shy, easy-going officer whose main focus is doing a good job, unfortunately this is often at the detriment of his home life.
The story had an interesting plot, with lots of drama from the first page. This novel is incredibly well researched by the author, which I think gives it a really interesting feel for the predicaments the characters have found themselves in. The gritty, dark, drug-dealing underworld is truly brought to life in this dramatic story.
The characters are incredibly well written and I can see them returning in future novels, this would make a great crime thriller series. These books will appeal to fans of Ian Rankin or David Baldacci style writing; dark, gritty, and quick-paced, crime thriller with a very smart plot and plenty of action.

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The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths – 4 stars

The Zig Zag GirlThe Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway novels and admire her unusual style of historic mystery writing. This novel is no exception. Expertly written to really evoke the post-war old-school British era, the seedy back stage areas and the awe that magicians once had.
This is a multi-viewpoint story from the perspective of one-time superstar magician Max Mephisto and DI Edgar Stephens, a lonely shy policeman. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men, formed to use stage trickery to confuse the enemy.
The story had an interesting premise, with little bits of drama both during and post-war period. This novel was inspired by the authors Grandfather, which I think gives it a really interesting feel of a rekindled era. Mystery, magic, mayhem and murder all add to this dramatic story. The characters are incredibly well written and I was excited to read that Max & Edgar will be returning in a future mystery novel, making this an exciting start to an unusual mystery series. There was a few areas that the novel was a little slow filling in quite a bit of background info but I am hoping that is used to the authors advantage in future novels in the series.
This book captures your interest in a particularly unusual historic storyline. It is definitely different from the Galloway series but I did enjoy seeing the author’s diversity. These books will appeal to fans of Agatha Christie & MC Beaton style writing; cosy murder, mystery but with a very smart plot and plenty of action.

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Review of The Confessions of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

The Confession of Katherine HowardThe Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered this novel in the local library and thought the story blurb sounded interesting. This is novel tells the story of Katherine Howard from the perspective Cat Tilney, the poor relation in the Howard house. Cat has been brought up under the pressure of her mother to better herself in every way possible, but mostly through marrying well. Katherine appears to have no such pressure and is only interested in clothes and boys. Despite this the two girls do become close, when Katherine catches Henry’s eye she somehow becomes queen of England, a fate she never expected but soon allegations are made about her girlhood love affairs. Cat alone knows the truth and with own lover Francis at risk as a suspect will she sacrifice her friends secrets.
The story had an interesting premise, a true story told from the unique perspective of Cat, Katherine’s childhood friend and later lady in waiting. The author seems to have researched a lot of details making it very realistic. The split between the childhood and adulthood timeline also works very well! Suspense, drama, passion, history, and innocence all add to this dramatic story.
I did feel the settings could be explored a little bit more, I would have really liked to have a little bit better feel of the glamour of the courts etc. I would also have liked to have read a little bit more about Henry himself as he is only really referenced in the story. These are just trivial details that certainly don’t detract from the story but I would have loved to have seen them added.
This book captures your interest in a beautiful historic setting, giving a fairly well known story a refreshing view. These books will appeal to most historical fiction fans especially those of Philippa Gregory. I will certainly keep an eye out for more from this author.

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Review of Second Chance by Dylan S Hearn

Second ChanceSecond Chance by Dylan S. Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered this author’s blog prior to his novel and admired his unusual style of writing. This novel is no exception. This is a multi-viewpoint story so tells the story from the perspective of four different characters: a politician, an investigator, an information cleanser (someone who searches the internet and deletes any unsuitable information), and a science technician.
The story had an interesting premise, set in a futuristic world with scientific research taking a lot of worryingly advanced steps. The author seems to have researched a lot of detail making it very realistic. On the night the politician is elected, a university student goes missing, an event that connects the main characters. It is not a light-hearted thriller! Suspense, drama, politics, weird science and odd incidents all add to this dramatic story.
I did feel the characters could be explored/ explained a little more and think Hearn has a lot more story to tell with the characters in his future books. The reader did get glimpses of the characters pasts, the futuristic present and also a further uncertain future. At which stage does science go too far and will those at the top cover it up?
This book captures your interest in a particularly bizarre setting. These books will appeal to fans of George Oswell; dark, twisted and gritty storylines with plenty of action (and the odd bit of compassion) to keep the reader going. Looking forward to future reads from this author.

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Review of World’s Scariest Places – The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates

The Catacombs (World's Scariest Places #2)The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This mainly follows the story of Will, an American staying in Paris. When his friend and (pretty) language tutor Daniele shows him footage of a video camera discovered under Paris and tells him she plans to investigate it, he feels the need to go with her.
The story had an interesting premise, who can refuse creepy catacombs as a base of a story and the author seems to have researched a lot of detail making it very realistic. It is not a light-hearted thriller! It is easy to read, but is quick and hard-hitting with the story flowing naturally. Suspense, horror, treacherous terrain and odd incidents all add to this dramatic story.
I did feel the characters could be explored/ explained a little more and think Will has a lot more story to tell with the opportunity to feature in future books. The reader did get glimpses of his past throughout and these little snippets of info really helped the reader engage for him and hope he had the will-power to survive.
This is book two in the series “A World’s Scariest Places”. The first “Suicide Forest” was also a great thriller, capturing your interest in another particularly creepy setting. These books will appeal to fans of Stephen King’s earlier work; dark, twisted and gritty storylines with plenty of action (and the odd bit of compassion) to keep the reader going. Looking forward to future reads from this author.

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Review of World’s Scariest Places – Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates

Suicide Forest (World's Scariest Places #1)Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This mainly follows the story of Ethan and Mel, an American couple staying in Japan. When their trip to climb Mount Fuji is cancelled, they are left stranded in the local area with a group of people and nothing to do. So, with nothing better to do they decide to camp out in the Aokigahara, known to locals as “Suicide Forest”.
The story had an interesting and intriguing premise as a base of a story and the author seems to have researched a lot of detail making it very realistic. Although the story started off a little slowly, once it started to build the tension it kept going. It is not a light-hearted thriller! The location of course was amazing, and the author’s descriptions are mesmeric. The novel is easy to read, but is also dramatic and hard-hitting with the story flowing naturally. Suspense, horror, treacherous terrain and odd incidents all add to this dramatic tale.
I did feel there was a lot of backstory to the characters given that wasn’t really necessary such as Ethan’s brother and, his ex, Mel’s ex. However that said there was enough interesting characters in the group to cause suspicion and intrigue, that did have me wondering if it was one of them trying to scare the others and if so who?
This is book one in the series “World’s Scariest Places”. I have also read book 2 – “The Catacombs” with a review to follow shortly. I love the concept of this series that each of the books takes place in a real setting. These books will appeal to fans of Stephen King’s earlier work, Graham Masterton or Richard Layton. They are dark, twisted and gritty storylines with plenty of action (and the odd bit of compassion) to keep the reader going. Looking forward to future reads from this author.

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At the time of writing book three in the series is actually free as an e-book on amazon :- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Helltown-gripping-suspense-thriller-Scariest-ebook/dp/B00VRJOQIK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1445496485&sr=8-4&keywords=jeremy+bates