#ThrowbackThursday – The Closer I Get – by Paul Burston #Orentober #TBT @Orendabooks

Today is Thursday and also the last day of October, and in the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month I will be joining #ThrowbackThursday again and share a previously published review of a Orenda favorite. Deciding which book to choose out of all the fantastic books I’ve had the chance to read so far has been tricky… I’ve decided to stick to to titles I reviewed at least two months ago, and the honor this week goes to a story that left me struggling to put a coherent sentence on paper: The Closer I Get by Paul Burston. I was part of the blog tour for this title, and it left me both breathless and lost for words. Want to know why? If you are curious, I’m resharing my rambles first posted back in July…

Title: The Closer I Get
Author: Paul Burston
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 11th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: July 11th 2019
Pages: 276

“The whole online world is one big stalking exercise. If I’m guilty, then so are millions of others.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I admit it doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I come across a story that is able to blow me away in such a way that I find myself unable to put a coherent sentence on paper, let alone write a review that would do it justice. The Closer I Get is one of those stories. I normally write my reviews almost immediately, not wanting to forget about the details of the story as well as conveying my thoughts accurately. This time around, I found myself unable to conjure the words to describe my thoughts for more than a week, my brain still recovering from the impact of Tom and Evie’s story. In the end I simply had to put my foot down, make myself open my WordPress draft, start my rambles and see if it would make my creative juices start flowing. Let’s see if I can get my thoughts on paper somewhat coherently, shall we?

The first thing that stands out in The Closer I Get is the focus on social media and the dangers behind online presence and relationships. It’s a theme extremely relevant in today’s society, as a lot of people give more and more importance to their online presence and frequently ‘hide’ behind their online personality. Frankly, the online stalking as described in The Closer I Get chilled me to the bone and made me seriously wonder if I should just shut down all my social media accounts to be on the safe side. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my time on bookish Twitter and Instagram and I love sharing the bookish love, but we all know that trolls are out there and the possibility of online stalking is evidently real. This is only confirmed by Paul Burston‘s interview in the Guardian which I saw shared on social media a while back, where he tells us about his personal struggle with being stalked by someone… Adding even more authenticity and power to message of The Closer I Get. It’s true that one of the perks of social media is getting to meet new people with similar interests you probably won’t be able to meet otherwise, but who can garantuee your new follower/friend is who they claim to be? Or if they have an ulterior motive for befriending you? If you start standing still by these questions, social media quickly becomes a scary place to be…

The Closer I Get isn’t just a story about online stalking though. With the help of an intricate and well developed plot, the story focuses on two flawed and complex characters with their own secrets and past. It’s a tale of obsession and unrequited love, one that ends up in court and has serious consequences for both sides. Told with the help of a daunting, sharp and flawless writing style, The Closer I Get will grab you from the first chapter and will have you looking over your shoulder and biting your nails sooner than later. The story alternates between the POV of Evie and Tom, giving us the chance to get to know better both stalker and victim and giving you a (seemingly) less biased view of the situation. You will learn more about Evie’s story through the letters she writes to Tom after her conviction, letters she can never send due to her restraining order. She tries to explain her view on the situation in these messages, never faltering in her belief that her actions are justified and her feelings for Tom mutual. On the other side we have Tom, who is clearly affected by the whole online stalking situation as well as his struggle with writing another successful story after his second book flopped. Reading about his deteriorating mental state as well as his decision to leave London find inspiration to finish his book Hastings was without doubt intriguing. And while it’s true that I didn’t find Tom or Evie particularly likeable characters, it’s also true that I found their development on its own to be both fascinating and realisticly done.

What makes this story even more intriguing is that basically both Tom and Evie are unpredicable and unreliable characters. There are no clearly defined boundaries between the so-called good and bad guys. Instead, we have two characters that you will find basically cannot to be trusted. Who is lying? Could part of their story be true? What secrets are the characters hiding? Life as well as The Closer I Get is not black and white, instead giving us blurred boundaries between truth and lies and that haunting. feeling that somehow part of the puzzle is missing. The plot will slowly evolve and escalate up until the point you will find yourself unable to sit still and biting your nails to the quick. The tension might be slow building at first, but this story will have some spectacular surprises for you in store and an ending you won’t be able to see coming.

Evocative, daunting, well versed and simply shocking… The Closer I Get will leave you breathless and disquieted about your own online presence and the possible consequences and dangers it entails. As you might have guessed already, I can highly recommend this title to any fan of the genre.


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DNF ARC REVIEW: The Noble Path – by Peter May

Title: The Noble Path
Author: Peter May
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: May 31st 1992
Publisher: Quercus Books
Finished reading: October 27th 2019
Pages: 544
DNF at 35% (190 pages)

“Nothing was more difficult in life than coming to terms with your own limitations.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Quercus Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have been meaning to try Peter May‘s books for a long time now… In fact, I have a physical copy of Entry Island waiting on my shelves, but somehow I haven’t been able to find time to read it yet. I was stoked when I received the email that my request for The Noble Path was approved a few months back, and after multiple fellow bloggers recommending his work, I fully expected to enjoy my time with this story. And I most definitely never would have guessed I would end up DNFing it instead!

First of all I have to say that this is most likely a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me‘, especially since it has such a high rating on Goodreads and overall positive reviews. I’ve tried really hard to warm up to the story, giving it a second, third and fourth chance and even reading other books in between to see if a change of scenery would help me finally connect to The Noble Path afterwards. But no such luck, and after days of struggling and seeing myself starting to skimread just to try and turn those pages, I knew it was time to just throw in the towel and let this story be. I hardly ever DNF a story and I still feel mighty guilty about this, but it has become painfully clear that The Noble Path just isn’t the right story for me and I might just not have been the right target group to begin with.

I still think that the historical background and setting of The Noble Path is absolutely fascinating. 1978 is a turbulent, dark and bloody time for Cambodia, with the Khmer Rouge reign and devastating genocide. A very disturbing and heartbreaking backdrop for this story, and I do believe the author does a great job with his descriptions of both the Cambodian and Thai setting and the events related to that era in history. It shows a lot of work has gone into research of this period, and I can really appreciate that. That said, I’m just not sure if I’m the right target group for this story. The Noble Path has that Rambo/Die Hard typical action movie vibe with an overload of action, violence and bloody scenes; especially once Elliott is in Asia it almost feels like you reading about a  Rambo II spin-off… Not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly my cup of tea and it made me struggle to connect to the story.

The Noble Path has quite a few different POVs, and it can be a challenge (especially in the beginning) juggling them as well as trying to connect them to get a full picture of what is going on. I wasn’t really a fan of how the different characters were described, and I once again felt like the wrong target group as the story seemed written for the typical white male audience with its sometimes sexist comments, excessive violence and graphic scenes. I by no means have a weak stomach and don’t mind things getting bloody,dark and violent, but the tone in The Noble Path really put me off. Once again, this is a personal reaction and I’m by no means saying this is a bad read, but it did prevent me from actually reaching that final page. I’m really sad my first encounter with Peter May‘s work ended on this negative note, but I still have hope for his other books… Although I confess that I’m going to take a little break for now.


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WWW Wednesdays #244 – October 30th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally reading The Whisper Man by Alex North and I’m looking forward to discover if the hype around the title is actually worth it! I’m also starting The Last by Hanna Jameson, a title I’ve been curious about despite the mixed reviews as the premise sounds absolutely fantastic. My Spanish reread of the sixth Harry Potter book Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter y El Misterio Del Principe) is going really well and I’m about a third into the book already.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Cold Fear by Mads Peder Nordbo (3/5 stars) REVIEW
After enjoying the first book, I was totally expecting to have a good reading experience with the sequel as well… But it turns out I ended up having mixed thoughts about it. I felt that the focus point of Cold Fear was basically on the extreme violence and making this story as brutal and shocking as possible, and as a consequence I don’t think the sequel reached its full potential nor lived up to expectations for me.

2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (5/5 stars) REREAD
This is one of my all time favorites and after watching the movie again last week I decided to just give in and reread the story now I have a physical copy of it. And it was just as magical and heartbreaking the second time around! I don’t often cry when reading or watching a movie, but this story gets me every time.

3. Deadly Silence by OMJ Ryan (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
There is a lot to love in Deadly Silence, but let’s just start with the fact that this first installment of a new detective series is so damn readable! I found myself hooked from the very first chapter and flying through those pages like there was no tomorrow…Engaging, well written, suspenseful, shocking and even a dash of dark humor here and there… The writing was definitely everything I could have wished for and more. I really enjoyed my time with Deadly Silence and I will be looking forward to the next book. If you are, like me, a serial killer and detective thriller fan, you should add definitely add this title to your wishlist! Thanks again Meggy for putting Deadly Silence on my radar. ❤

4. The Noble Path by Peter May (DNF 35%; 0 stars) DNF REVIEW LATER TODAY!!
I have to say that it is most likely a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me‘, especially since The Noble Path has such a high rating on Goodreads and overall positive reviews. I’ve tried really hard to warm up to the story, giving it a second, third and fourth chance and even reading other books in between to see if a change of scenery would help me finally connect to The Noble Path afterwards. But no such luck, and after days of struggling and seeing myself starting to skimread just to try and turn those pages, I knew it was time to just throw in the towel and let this story be. I hardly ever DNF a story and I still feel mighty guilty about this, but it has become painfully clear that The Noble Path just isn’t the right story for me and I might just not have been the right target group to begin with.

5. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/12
It’s not a secret that I’m a huge fan of her books, and I’ve been meaning to read her debut for ages now. The Near Witch shows just how much she has grown as an author since this first story! I still loved it of course (then again, I might be a bit biased when it comes to her work), but the story reads a bit slower than usual and if you look at it objectively there isn’t really much going on in the plot. But the descriptions of the moor setting are glorious! And the whole hint at the supernatural is spot on; the writing putting you under a spell from the very first chapter. It’s just like magic!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to make the most of my blogging break and finally read those books I’ve been dying to read! First up are either Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff or The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware depending on which genre I’m in the mood for next. My newest TBR jar pick is still Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton, which I will probably pick up soon as well as I’ve been looking forward to continue the series.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Lion Tamer Who Lost – by Louise Beech #Orentober @Orendabooks

Title: The Lion Tamer Who Lost
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Fiction, Romance
First published: July 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 19th 2019
Pages: 350

“He had nothing again. Nothing he knew, understood well, was familiar with.

But nothing is so much harder after you’ve briefly had something.”


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After reading Call Me Star Girl earlier this year, I had no other option but to add Louise Beech to my list of favorite authors immediately. I’ve been looking forward to read more of her work ever since, although I was also a tad worried as I wasn’t sure how anything could live up to expectations after such a brilliant first impression. I shouldn’t have doubted the power of the words of Louise Beech, because The Lion Tamer Who Lost once again blew me away. It’s been over a week since I finished this heartrending story, and I’m still struggling to put my thoughts together into a somewhat coherent review. I guess it seems to start becoming the standard when it comes to Orenda titles! That said, after many days of procrastinating, it’s time to finally force myself to sit down and get those words on paper.

So, The Lion Tamer Who Lost. I’ve thought long and hard about what my next Louise Beech read was going to be and even asked the opinion of fellow Orenda readers… This seemed to be the title that was mentioned most, and while contemporary romance isn’t exactly my favorite genre, I love stepping out of my comfort zone every once in a while and let a story surprise me. And surprise me it did! I can now add Louise Beech to the short list of authors who can actually make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre… Trust me, not a small feat. This is also a thing I love of her books: just how different and unique each story is! There are not many authors out there who can successfully tackle more than one genre; Louise Beech not only succeeds in that but takes your breath away in the process.

There are so many different elements to love in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, and I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start. But I guess that with such a title, an easy option is the fact that part of the story is set in a lion reserve in Zimbabwe. Talk about an original setting! The many detailed descriptions truly made the lion reserve come alive for me and I loved the fact that the lions play such a big role in the story. I have a special love for any member in the cat family, so seeing Lucy and the others being treated almost like extra characters was a wonderful bonus for me. Likewise, I really enjoyed reading about the lion reserve in general and the different volunteers being there at the same time as main character Ben. While the main focus of the story is of course on Ben and Andrew, I loved just how detailed the character development of the other characters involved was. It added even more dept to what was already a fantastic story!

I just mentioned Ben and Andrew, and they are definitely part of the reason this story works so well. I’m not a big romance fan in general, but I can make a wholehearted exception for my boys Ben and Andrew. I was drawn towards both characters from the very beginning, and I loved seeing both their characters and relationship evolve over time. They won over my heart, made me root for them and then pulled out that very same heart and made it shatter into a million little pieces… I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot to avoid spoilers, but while I didn’t actually cry (I almost never do, so that’s no surprise) I ended up with a huge lump in my throat and in need of an emergency baking session to soothe myself. Any story that is able to provoke such strong emotions is without doubt a little masterpiece to me! Especially one that is so beautifully written and simply both heartwarming and heartbreaking at that.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost also includes other intriguing and sometimes difficult elements such as the LGBT element and the struggle to come out and be accepted as you are, family issues and the battle against cancer. All elements are respectfully and realistically developed and successfully incorporated into what is a rich and intricate plot. Different point of views are used to let us learn more about both Andrew, Ben and even his father… Instead of confusing you, these switches only help enriching this story. I also loved that Andrew writes and hopes to become a successful writer, and that we get a glimpse of what this journey is like through his character. I also loved that little snippets of his story are shared at the beginning of the chapters. It really gave The Lion Tamer Who Lost another unique touch while also given the title an extra meaning. And I loved the idea behind Andrew’s wish box as well!

I can keep rambling about the things I loved in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, but I think it’s pretty obvious by now just how much I enjoyed this story. Whether contemporary romance and drama is your thing or not, you should simply give this story a chance as the words of Louise Beech are like magic and will fully mesmerize you before you finish the first chapter. Alluring, heartrending and simply irresistible… This story will give you all the feels as well as break your heart into a million pieces before you reach that final page!


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Fear – by Mads Peder Nordbo

Title: Cold Fear
(Greenland #2)

Author: Mads Peder Nordbo
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: March 17th 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: October 23rd 2019
Pages: 357
(Originally published in Danish: ‘Kold Angst’)

“Sorry is the most useless word ever invented.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I really enjoyed the first book The Girl Without Skin despite its brutalness last year, so as soon as I saw there was going to be a sequel I knew I had to add it to my wishlist. Main characters Matthew and Tupaarnaq are without doubt fascinating to follow, and I’ve been looking forward to discover what would happen to them next… Before I discuss my thoughts on Cold Fear, I first have to stress that this is one of those series you have to read in order, because this sequel wouldn’t make much sense if you try to read it as a standalone. Trust me, you wouldn’t do yourself a favor if you pick up Cold Fear before reading the first book!

That said, let’s continue with my thoughts on Cold Fear. After enjoying the first book, I was totally expecting to have a good reading experience with the sequel as well… But it turns out I ended up having mixed thoughts about it. First of all I have to say that the Greenland setting really complements the plot in many ways. Instead of being just a random setting for the story to take place, the harsh, brutal and almost ominous Greenland setting is almost omnipresent and almost feels like yet another character taking part in this story. Between the many descriptions and the role of the Greenland setting in the plot, it really made the different places mentioned in Cold Fear come alive for me… And it turns this series into a fantastic example of the powers of the unforgivable Nordic setting that makes reading nordic noir so special.

One of the things that stands out in Cold Fear is the sheer brutality of the plot. Almost excessive violence, murder, canibalism, abuse, rape, child abuse, rape, drug abuse… All of this and more is included into a plot filled with graphic scenes and this story is definitely not for those with a weak stomach. I myself don’t mind things getting bloody and violent, but I did start to wonder if this story went a little too extreme and took it one step too far… Some scenes just seemed excessive, especially those set in the bunker and everything related to the (child)abuse and rape. Trigger warning are definitely in place! Related to this, I also felt the plot itself was a bit too over the top, farfetched and the story itself lacked cohesion for me. Even with the knowledge of the first book, I had a hard time following the story at times and I guess the 1990s flashbacks didn’t really help either. Things can get a little confusing and I personally wasn’t all that satisfied by certain explanations nor how the story ended. I would have liked to see less seemingly useless violent graphic scenes and more background and plot building… As it was, the story just jumped all over the place for me, without giving a satisfying direction or justifying said violence and deaths.

As for the characters… Matthew and Tupaarnaq are without doubt fascinating characters, but I felt their development lacked more fleshing out in the sequel. Especially when it comes to Tupaarnaq, who didn’t seem to present and mostly reverted to cliches when she did appear in the plot. Likewise, Tom and the other more important characters also lacked fleshing out for me. I felt that the focus point of Cold Fear was basically on the extreme violence and making this story as brutal and shocking as possible, and as a consequence I don’t think the sequel reached its full potential nor lived up to expectations for me. Others did react better to Cold Fear though, so take my rambles with a grain of salt and don’t hesitate to try it if you think you can stomach the graphic scenes…


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YVO’S SHORTIES #129 – Fever 1793 & The Museum Of Extraordinary Things (DNF)

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two historical fiction reads that I fully expected to love, but somehow failed to connect to. The historical aspect of Fever 1793 was brilliantly handled, but the characters fell a bit flat for me… And with a superslow pace and flat characters, I saw no other option but to DNF The Museum Of Extraordinary Things. Oh yes, sadly it’s time for a double dose of unpopular opinion reviews!


Title: Fever 1793
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
First published: September 1st 2000
Publisher: Aladdin
Finished reading: October 17th 2019
Pages: 252

“Life was a battle, and Mother a tired and bitter captain. The captain I had to obey.”


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WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead!

I was browsing for possible titles that are set in the 18th century to read for the final era for the When Are You Reading? challenge when I saw this title pop up. I enjoyed her other title Wintergirls when I read it earlier this year and the historical setting and plot sounded fascinating, so I immediately knew I wanted to read this title. I’m not sure if this was the wrong book at the wrong time for me, or if it’s just that I’m not that used to middle grade books in the first place… But the fact is that I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed by this story. First things first, and I have to say that the historical setting is well developed and detailed when it comes to the facts of 18th century Philadelphia and the yellow fever outbreak. It shows that the author has investigated historical facts thoroughly and the descriptions feel realistic and help teach the readers more about yellow fever and the impact of the outbreak back then. I could also appreciate the explanation of what was based on historical facts and what might have been changed in the story. That said, I struggled to connect to the story. I’m not sure exactly why, but I think it has somewhat to do with the fact that I never felt a real connection with the main characters, making me feel mostly detached from  everything that happened to the main characters. In short, while the historical aspect of Fever 1793 was brilliantly handled, the characters somehow ended up falling a bit flat for me… I seem to be in the minority though, so if you haven’t tried this story yet and are intrigued by the blurb, you shouldn’t hesitate to try your luck.


Title: The Museum Of Extraordinary Things
Author: Alice Hoffman

Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
First published: February 18th 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Finished reading: October 21st 2019
Pages: 385
DNF at 38% (146 pages)

“Coney Island was, above all else, a place of dreams, with amusements like no others, rides that defied the rules of gravity, concerts and games of chance, ballrooms with so many electric lights they glowed as if on fire.”


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WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead!

I’ve been meaning to read this title for a long time, so I was excited when my TBR jar decided it was time to finally read it. The premise of The Museum Of Extraordinary Things sounds fantastic, so I fully expected to enjoy the story… Sadly, surprisingly enough it wasn’t ment to be. I’m not sure if it was just the wrong time for this story or if my book hangerover after finishing The Lion Tamer Who Lost the other day would have made me struggle with any book in the first place… But the fact is, I REALLY struggled with The Museum Of Extraordinary Things and I just couldn’t force myself to keep reading any longer. The pace is so so slow in general and the parts written in cursive are even slower… I had a hard time staying focused on the story and even started skimreading certain parts; definitely not a good sign. On top of that, I found the main characters to be quite flat and cliche… They lacked development for me to make them more rounded (at least in the part I read), and as The Museum Of Extraordinary Things seems to be a more character driven story, this became a real issue for me. I do have to say that the historical setting in early 20th century New York/Coney Island is absolutely fascinating and the historical references are probably the main reason I even made it this far. But as a whole, this story and me definitely didn’t get along.


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ARC REVIEW: Deadly Silence – by OMJ Ryan

Title: Deadly Silence
(Detective Jane Phillips #1)

Author: OMJ Ryan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 26th 2019
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: October 26th 2019
Pages: 311

“We all feel like that, Guv. He has a very punch-able face. The trick is not to let it show.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Inkubator Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I think it has become pretty obvious I have a weak spot for a good serial killer thriller… It turns out I was craving another dose without even knowing so, because when I read Meggy’s review of Deadly Silence I immediately caved in and somehow a copy of this new detective series ended up hanging out on my kindle. My current read wasn’t really working for me, so I decided to put that on hold and start reading Deadly Silence instead. Best decision ever! Meggy always makes the best recommendations, and this new series is without doubt fabulous and right up my alley!

There is a lot to love in Deadly Silence, but let’s just start with the fact that this first installment of a new detective series is so damn readable! I found myself hooked from the very first chapter and flying through those pages like there was no tomorrow… The only reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting is that I started it too late in the evening to do so, because this story definitely makes you want to keep reading. Engaging, well written, suspenseful, shocking and even a dash of dark humor here and there… The writing was definitely everything I could have wished for and more. The plot itself was without doubt well developed as well. The case Jane and her team have to investigate is a tricky one, and as key information has been hidden for you, you won’t be able to form a proper idea about the motive behind the killings straight away. Instead, plot twists and secrets are used to misguide you… Quite successfully as well, although I do have to admit I guessed who was behind it quite early on. Somehow I didn’t mind too much though, as the story itself was engaging enough to keep me focused and make me want to discover if I was right all along.

As for the characters… Jane Phillips without doubt makes for a very intriguing main character. Things can be said about her being the typical damaged detective lead, but I personally liked her sass and attitude towards the investigation and life in general. The other members of her team were easy to like as well, with the big exception of Brown of course. He is truly exasperating and will make you want to hit things sooner than later… Also, I don’t get how he could actually function as a DCI, but I guess he does make for the perfect ‘enemy’ to be pitted against our main character Jane. The character development in Deadly Silence in general is solid and I really liked the message behind the motive of the killer and the story. Keeping silent and doing nothing can be just as damaging… Silence can be deadly, especially if the silence lasts for a long time.

As you might have guessed, I really enjoyed my time with Deadly Silence and I will be looking forward to the next book. If you are, like me, a serial killer and detective thriller fan, you should add definitely add this title to your wishlist! Thanks again Meggy for putting Deadly Silence on my radar. ❤


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