ARC REVIEW: Down The Darkest Road – by Kylie Brant

Title: Down The Darkest Road
(Cady Maddix Mystery #2)

Author: Kylie Brant
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: December 10th 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 2nd 2019
Pages: 396

“All of a sudden, the best night of his life seemed like a distant memory.”

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

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I really enjoyed my first meeting with Cady Maddix last year, so of course I couldn’t resist adding the sequel to my list as soon as I saw it was available on Netgalley. I’ve been looking forward to meeting up with her again, and I can now say that Down The Darkest Road is definitely a solid sequel and a very entertaining and thrilling ride. While I do think I enjoyed the first book a tiny bit more, there is no doubt that this sequel is a superfast thriller with a lot of action and suspense to keep you on edge.

Technically you could read Down The Darkest Road as a standalone, but as you would be missing background information on the main characters I wouldn’t recommend doing so. Without this information, you won’t be able to appreciate the complexity of Cady Maddix’s character fully… Because she is definitely one of the reasons why this thriller is so successful. With a traumatizing past that has marked her and haunts her to this date, her loyal dog Hero and her determination and fierceness while doing her job, Cady Maddix makes for a very intriguing deputy US marshal to follow. The main characters in general are easy to connect to despite their flaws, making them only feel more realistic in the process.

The plot itself is complex and filled to the brim with action scenes, suspense and a bulk load of plot twists and secrets. It has a very high entertainment level while also having quite a few shocking surprises for you in store… I do have to say that I’m not sure about the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and certain details did become a bit to fantastical, but there is no denying that Down The Darkest Road is a lighting fast and thrilling ride. The new case Cady Maddix becomes involved in definitely ticks a lot of killer thriller boxes. Bruce Forrester is the perfect villian for this story and it was fascinating to learn more about his character, his crimes and how he is able to escape justice for so long along the way. Dylan’s story was interesting as well; the witness turned victim as he has been moving around hiding and running from Bruce during the last five years… It shows just how little authorities can do to protect witnesses and what it is like to live in fear for so long. This aspect of the story was without doubt well developed.

In short, while I had some minor issues with the credibility of certain aspects of the plot, there is no doubt that I had a great time reading this sequel and I’m definitely looking forward to see how Cady Maddix’s character will develop in the future. If you like your thrillers suspenseful, dark and lightning fast, this series is an excellent choice!


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Heart Creek – by Lisa Regan @bookouture

Title: Cold Heart Creek
(Detective Josie Quinn #7)

Author: Lisa Regan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
First published: December 2nd 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 19th 2019
Pages: 377

“But her mind went there anyway because the moment you told your brain not to think of something, that was precisely what it conjured.”

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

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Detective Josie Quinn series is one of my favorite detective series and every time I discover a new installment is coming out I get that feeling of Christmas having arrived early. I’ve been a fan of this series ever since I read the first book almost two years ago… It’s been a long and intense ride for Josie Quinn, and it seems like trouble keeps showing up around the small town where she works. Not that I’m complaining, as each new appearance of trouble means a new Josie Quinn book and a promise of another formidable and addicting ride. Cold Heart Creek is no exception, and already the seventh book that manages to hit the detective thriller nail right on the head. Want to know why?

The first thing you have to know is just how compelling each book is. I know it might come over as a bit of a book reviewer cliche, but you will want to clear your schedule before you pick up one of these books… Because once you read the first chapter, you will forget about your pending tasks and keep turning those pages until you suddenly reach that final page, look up at the clock and realize hours have past. With a superfast pace, lots of action and suspense and a compelling plot, time will fly as you will become fully addicted to whatever shocking case Josie Quinn and her team encounter next… And I literally finished Cold Heart Creek in one sitting.

There is also no denying the power of being able to meet up with favorite characters again. I have been rooting for Josie, Noah, Gretchen and the others since the beginning and I’ve really enjoyed seeing them grow over time… And getting to meet up with them again is always a fantastic feeling. Technically, you could read Cold Heart Creek as a stand-alone, but you will be missing out on the background of the different characters and you might not understand some comments about events that happened in previous books. That said, the main storyline and two cases Josie Quinn and her team investigate in book seven shouldn’t be a problem to follow without that previous knowledge… Although if you are a fan of thrilling and intense detective stories, there really is no excuse to just read them all and enjoy the ride before diving into the newest Detective Josie Quinn.

There isn’t too much focus on the personal development of the main characters this time around. Instead, Cold Heart Creek mostly focuses on not one, but two cases that might or might not be connected… The story will grab you from the very first chapter, as Lisa Regan manages to lure you in with the promise of another disturbing and thrilling story. I’ve mentioned in the past that if you look critically, things can be said about the credibility of the plot and things being slightly over the top, but I personally don’t mind as the story reads lightning fast and is 200% entertaining and addictive. I really enjoyed the cult element in Cold Heart Creek and just how big of a role it played in the plot in general; the scenes in the woods were particularly well described and really made the setting come alive for me. The plot itself has many twists and turns and events that will definitely manage to catch you unawares… If you are a fan of fast and intense detective thrillers with a very high entertainment value and pack a punch, I can highly recommend both Cold Heart Creek and the Detective Josie Quinn series in general.


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ARC REVIEW: The Assistant – by S.K. Tremayne

Title: The Assistant
Author: S.K. Tremayne
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: December 2nd 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: November 19th 2019
Pages: 381

“I do not understand the extent of the hatred and the violence of the damage done to me. Why and how do I deserve this? What is the point?”

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

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I’ve read and enjoyed S.K. Tremayne‘s books in the past, so when I was invited to read his newest title The Assistant a while back I basically accepted without even reading the blurb first. I did so afterwards, and definitely liked what I found. A psychological thriller with the promise of a dark secret and a technology angle? Yes please! I admit I had since forgotten what this story was about, so I was definitely pleasantly surprised and simply delighted by the plot I found once I started reading The Assistant. Such an original and bloodchilling premise!

There is a lot to love in The Assistant, but I think the thing that stands out most is the originality of the plot and the big role technology plays in this story. We live in a time where technology slowly takes over almost every aspect of our lives, and The Assistant shows us what the terrifying consequences might be if this technology starts working less than perfect. I personally couldn’t imagine having so many gadgets in my own home, especially having my very own Electra controlling so many aspects of my daily life… And I’m not sure if I even want to try getting used to one after reading this story. I think anyone who read this story themselves would understand why! That said, this aspect of The Assistant is developed brilliantly and incorporated into what is already a very interesting plot.

Then we have the writing, which is just as good as I’ve become used to after reading The Ice Twins and The Fire Child. It managed to draw me right in from the very first chapter and it was very easy to keep flying through those pages. Combine that with a solid pace and a healthy dose of suspense and plot twists to keep you intrigued and you will find yourself reaching that final page at record speed. Part of the success of this story is in the fact that you are never completely sure what is happening. Is Jo the typical unreliable main character? Do mental health issues play a role in the events described? What is going on with the technology? And what about those secrets about the past? It was interesting to see everything slowly evolve and I just loved how many times The Assistant was able to mislead me and simply put me on the wrong track.

Last but not least the characters. I’m not sure if they are exactly likeable, but they sure make for an interesting cast of characters and they are perfect for that unreliable narrator feel that this story has. I also loved that Electra was developed to be almost like yet another character of this story, and this definitely gives The Assistant an unique touch. The premise of this story is so original though! I’ve been keeping my rambles pretty general to avoid spoilers, but if you like twisty and unique psychogical thrillers you will be in for an absolute treat with The Assistant.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Single – by K.L. Slater @bookouture @KimLSlater #blogtour

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Single blog tour! A huge thanks to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I actually already had a copy of Single on my kindle when she invited me last month, because as Kim Slater is one of my favorite psychological thriller writers I of course clicked that Read It! button as soon as it was available on Netgalley. Her books never disappoint, and this was without doubt another winner! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Single
Author: K.L. Slater
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 25th 2019
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: November 4th 2019
Pages: 399

“I decided back then that pushing the truth aside was a price worth paying.”

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

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Like I said before, Kim Slater is easily one of my favorite psychological thriller writers and every time I discover a new title is coming out I get that feeling of Christmas having come early. Single is already the tenth Slater book I’ve had the chance to read and while I might be a bit biased when it comes to her books, there is no doubt that it was another winner for me. Brace yourselves for the superlatives and the catchy and cliche one liners, because there will most likely be fangirling involved while I describe my experience with this newest story.

You know all those catchy one liners they always try to sell thrillers with? I mean the ‘hooked me from the very first chapter‘, ‘had me on the edge of my seat‘, ‘grabbed me from the beginning‘, ‘gripping thriller with an explosive twist‘ and similar comments? Guess what: they all most definitely apply when it comes to my reading experience with Single. It was hook, line and sinker (oh, here’s another one!) as soon as I opened my copy of Single and read the first few pages. Kim Slater has a way of tempting you and drawing you right in with a combination of an engaging writing style and a compelling plot. Her psychological thrillers always tend to open with a bang, giving you a little glimpse of what is yet to come and the first few chapters will always leave you fully enchanted and impatient to discover how things would develop for the main characters. You should definitely try to clear your schedule before starting Single, because once you read that first page it will be really hard to let go!

Part of the reason that Single is such a gripping psychological thriller has to do with the plot. Cleverly constructed and developed, the plot slowly evolves as things are starting to get out of control. The fact that we don’t know for sure who is behind these escalations for a long time definitely adds a healthy dose of suspense to the story. Secrets and lies are combined with a series of plot twists that change the direction of the story and will leave you with your mouth hanging wide open. Especially towards the end Single starts feeling like a war zone with all those plot twist bombs being thrown at you… And trust me, at least one or two will completely blow you away. I always love it when a story manages to surprise me and while sadly it doesn’t happen all that often anymore, Single managed to do exactly that.

As for the characters… While I did have mixed feelings about most characters, their development and description is realistic and thorough. Flaws, mistakes, secrets and also the mental health issues make the characters feel truly lifelike and especially Darcy was fascinating to follow. Nothing is as it seems and my best advice would be not to trust anyone, as it seems that every single character is hiding something… Single is unreliable narrator at its best, where you can still connect to the main characters but are also led astray and misleaded without you even realizing it straight away. There are two different ‘threats’ in Single, and both make for very interesting storylines you will have a great time unpicking the truth about.

If you enjoy reading a well written psychological thriller filled to the brim with secrets, lies and plot twists that will manage to deceive you as well as an ending that will leave you glabbergasted, Single is without doubt an excellent choice. In fact, I can recommend Kim Slater’s psychological thrillers in general if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim is the million-copy bestselling author of seven psychological crime thrillers. Her eighth thriller, FINDING GRACE, will be published 14th February 2019 and is now available for pre-order.

Kim’s titles are also published in paperback by Sphere in the UK and Grand Central in the USA.

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents and collected an impressive stack of rejection slips. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating in 2012, she gained literary agent representation and a book deal. As Kim says, ‘it was a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim is a full-time writer. She has one daughter, two stepsons and lives with her husband in Nottingham and Yorkshire.

Publishers: Bookouture, Sphere, Grand Central, Audible
Agent: Camilla Bolton at Darley Anderson

Author website: www.KLSlaterAuthor.com
Twitter: @KimLSlater
Facebook: KL Slater Author
Instagram: KLSlaterAuthor


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Pursuit Of William Abbey – by Claire North #blogtour @Tr4cyF3nt0n @OrbitBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Pursuit Of William Abbey blog tour! A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try Claire North‘s books for ages now and there was just no way on earth I was going to be able to resist that blurb. Today I’m interrupting my blogging break to talk about this most intriguing story… Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Pursuit Of William Abbey
Author: Claire North
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
First published: November 12th 2019
Publisher: Orbit Books
Finished reading: November 13th 2019
Pages: 432

“And whatever you love most is the thing the shadow kills. That is the first lesson of the curse that was laid upon me.”

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

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As soon as I started reading the blurb, The Pursuit Of William Abbey started ticking all the right boxes for me. A historical and international setting: check. A shocking event that changes the life of the main character forever: check. A curse and everything it entails: check. The promise of a lot of movement: check. That feeling of impending doom: check. Oh yes, the blurb alone already fully convinced me I was going to be in for a VERY interesting ride. And now I’ve had the chance to read The Pursuit Of William Abbey, I can state that this story has one of the most compelling and captivating premises I’ve had the chance to encounter this year.

There are quite a few different elements I loved in The Pursuit Of William Abbey. I’m struggling a bit to decide where to start, but I guess we’ll keep it simple and return to the core of this story. And there is just no way to describe the plot without calling the curse the key stone on which the rest of the story is build. I don’t want to give away too much, but as you might have guessed from reading the blurb, the main character William Abbey is cursed in the beginning of this story and his life changes forever after that. In the rest of the story, this curse is omnipresent and will determine every movement and even thought of William Abbey and those close to him. The curse gives The Pursuit Of William Abbey a touch of the mystical and what I personally would call magical realism. Why? This story isn’t full blown fantasy; instead it’s rather a work of literary fiction with a historical setting and a blurred line between the surreal and reality. This mix of genres is most fascinating and while it might not be for everyone, (historical) fiction fans will find it probably very easy to warm up to this story.

Another thing that stands out in The Pursuit Of William Abbey is both the international setting and diversity of different countries, local customs and politics incorporated into the plot. The nature of the curse alone forces William Abbey to travel a lot, and as the story develops he will have more than one reason to travel the globe. The many many references to different countries, local events and culture definitely made my travel heart happy and gives this story a complex, multifaceted and global feel. From Europe to Asia to Africa to the US; William Abbey never stops and as a consequence we never stop either.

The structure of the plot is also very intriguing. Basically, we start at the end, set in 1917, and then slowly learn more about the events in 1884 and the years after as William Abbey narrates his story through flashbacks. This way, his motivation for his actions in 1917 France are not clear for a long time, and this technique definitely helps you stay invested as you try to find all the answers. There are also quite a few characters in play, and this might be a bit of a juggle in the beginning, but my advice would be to just take your time with this story… This won’t be too difficult, as the pace in The Pursuit Of William Abbey is surprisingly slow in general despite the many different settings, events and quite some action. Part of this slower pace can be explained through the detailed descriptions that help this story come alive… If you are a fan of elaborate and thorough descriptions, you will definitely be in for a treat.

The slower pace in The Pursuit Of William Abbey can also be explained through the extensive character development, and the fact that this book can be considered a mainly character driven story. While the different international settings and events of course play a role, I felt the main focus was on William Abbey, the other key characters and their development. A lot of thought was put in both their descriptions and growth over time. It was also fascinating to see the different attitudes towards and reactions to the curse. The characters helped build the bridge that connects the surreal with the more worldly elements… And they are definitely the reason why this mix of different genres works so well.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot itself and the things that happen to William Abbey to avoid spoiling the fun of discovering it all on your own… But I can say this about The Pursuit Of William Abbey in general: if you are a fan of slower character driven (historical) fiction, don’t mind a hint of magical realism and love a multilayered international plot, you should definitely add this fascinating story to your wishlist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Her latest book, 84K has been shortlisted for the Brave New Words and Philip K. Dick Awards. Catherine currently works as a live music lighting designer, teaches women’s self-defense, and is a fan of big cities, long walks, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.


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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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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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