ARC REVIEW: The Silence (The Six) – by Luca Veste

Title: The Silence (The Six)
Author: Luca Veste
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 31st 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Finished reading: July 18th 2020
Pages: 400

“The world felt like a nightmare. Lucid and tangible, but not real. It couldn’t be. This wasn’t happening.”

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

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The Silence was originally published as The Six last year, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I first read the blurb and saw the first reviews. I always love a good serial killer thriller and the blurb does a fantastic job of drawing me right in as well… I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time now, and I thought that requesting an ARC would be the perfect guarantee that I would read it as soon as possible. I’m definitely glad I did, because there is no doubt that The Silence is a scorcher.

Told from Matt’s POV throughout, one of the six friends who star the show of this story, you will slowly learn more about the past, present and the characters themselves. We get murder, we get a cover up, we get that ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ vibe, we get a serial killer, we get killer plot twists, we get that ominous feel… And plenty of action and intrigue to top that off. What an ace recipe for a successful thriller! Matt’s flashbacks are used to show us more of the dynamics between the members of the group of friends while also giving hints about what might go on in the present. Looking back, you could potentially deduct the truth from those hints, but guess what?! I most definitely didn’t! The final developments and plot twists came as a complete shocker indeed.

The plot itself is brilliantly constructed. You first learn about what happened at the festival, which is shocking enough on its own of course. Imagine that happening to you and your friends! The story then fast forwards to one year after the event, where most of the plot takes place. With that ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ vibe, strange things start happening and characters who already seem to be falling apart will start to lose it completely. Danger, death, guilt, foreboding… How would they ever be able to get out of this mess? Matt and the rest struggle to discover the truth and who is behind it all, realizing they didn’t get away with it after all… Flashbacks are used to explain the dynamics between the members of the group as well as to reveal facts about certain characters along the way. The hints are perfectly designed to mislead you and send you on the wrong track, or at least that was what happened to me; I most definitely never saw that ending coming.

This was my first time reading one of Luca Veste‘s books, and it definitely won’t be my last as The Silence made me an instant fan of his writing. Engaging, suspenseful and intense: this story had me in its claws and I wasn’t released until I reached that final page. This was without doubt a highly successful serial killer thriller and I will be looking forward to read more of his work in the future.


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ARC REVIEW: The Cry Of The Lake – by Charlie Tyler

Title: The Cry Of The Lake
Author: Charlie Tyler
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 21st 2020
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Finished reading: July 7th 2020
Pages: 263

“Experience had taught me how to play this game. The rules were always changing, but the skill required to partake remained the same: buckets of patience.”

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

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I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I first saw The Cry Of The Lake, but I was intrigued by the blurb as well and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. I was looking forward to this story, but somehow sadly I wasn’t all too impressed by what I found. I’m having a hard time pinpointing exactly what went wrong for me, but I’ll try to explain which elements didn’t work for me below.

The first thing that stands out is the structure of the plot. The Cry Of The Lake has a multiple POV structure and is divided into three different POVs following the three most present female characters: Grace, Lily and Flo. This kind of structure can really spice up a story, but sadly I didn’t think they actually complemented each other and ended up being distracting instead. The POV switches only further interrupted an already quite erratic pace and made it considerably harder to stay focused on the story itself… The fact that the characters themselves didn’t feel realistic and were hard to like didn’t really help either. I’m not sure if it was lack of development or simply the way they were represented and acted, but none of them actually convinced me and this always turns the story in that much more of a struggle.

As for the plot itself… I felt it was just too chaotic and over the top; both the plot development and plot twists seemed unrealistic and weren’t able to convince me. And as much as I love a puzzle and lots of question marks in my thrillers, I think in the case of The Cry Of The Lake there were just too many riddles and the lack of information was actually confusing and rather frustrating instead of it adding the intended dose of suspense. This might just have been a personal reaction, but it is what it is I guess… On top of this, I wasn’t able to warm up to the writing either; up to the point that I was starting to feel the urge to skimread… And this is of course never a good sign. All in all it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for, although I do seem to be in the minority so this might just not have been the right story for me at the moment.


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ARC REVIEW: When She Was Good – by Michael Robotham

Title: When She Was Good
(Cyrus Haven #2)

Author: Michael Robotham
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 28th 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Finished reading: June 29th 2020
Pages: 352

“The three biggest lies in the world are these: it gets better; everything will be OK; and I’m here for you.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been wanting to try Michael Robotham‘s work for a while now… I just couldn’t resist requesting a copy of When She Was Good so I would have the perfect excuse to finally do so and pick up both Cyrus Haven books. I’m definitely glad I did now, as both books turned out to be more than solid reads. A little warning though: this is one of those series where you have to read the books in order, because you won’t understand the complicated relationship between the main characters otherwise. Trust me, it won’t be much fun reading the sequel without the knowledge of the events and character background in Good Girl Bad Girl! That said, if you enjoy a darker crime thriller with a psychology angle and don’t mind twists getting a tad over the top, both books are recommendable.

So… When She Was Good. The first book kind of left me wanting to know how things would continue with Cyrus and Evie, and this sequel will without doubt explore more of Evie’s past. In When She Was Good there is no obviously separate case to investigate for Cyrus, but instead he will focus on discovering more about Evie’s past as things are spinning out of control. A metaphorical tripwire is somehow activated, creating a domino effect and a big pile of danger and plot twists are being thrown at the main characters as they fight to stay alive and unravel the truth. I have to be honest here and say I felt that the plot and plot twists ended up crossing the boundary of credibility for me and some of the twists were just too over the top to be believable. Sure, if you like plenty of action and a whole lot of dark twists and shocking details you will be in for a treat, but I don’t think this sequel was as good as my first meeting with Cyrus and Evie.

As for the writing… It took me a little while to fully commit to this story, mostly because the pace in the beginning is quite slow. Having just read the first book did make it easier to connect to the main characters, but somehow I felt that some of the spark of the first book was missing? The pace did improve as the story continued and the plot twists created a darker and even more dangerous environment… And there will be a lot of disturbing details revealed about Evie’s past before you reach that final page. But like I said before: I wasn’t too sure about the credibility of it all, and I wasn’t a big fan of the ending either as it left too many questions unanswered. And not only that, a certain detail of the ending felt too much like taking the easy way out… But that might just have been me.

In short, while I did prefer Good Girl Bad Girl personally, When She Was Good is still a solid read if you can look past the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and don’t mind a slower start. It was without doubt intriguing to learn more about Evie’s past!


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ARC REVIEW: Opium And Absinthe – by Lydia Kang

Title: Opium And Absinthe
Author: Lydia Kang
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: July 1st 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: July 3rd 2020
Pages: 379

“A vampire was shackled, it seemed, to the lusts and needs of his body. Tillie, too, felt her world as a closed casket, always around her, always constricting her.”

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

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I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I saw Opium And Absinthe, but I was completely sold as soon as I read the blurb. I’ve enjoyed Lydia Kang‘s books, including The Impossible Girl, in the past, and another historical setting with a medical twist sounded simply fantastic. On top of that, Opium And Absinthe promises to present us with a fantasy/horror retelling element involving Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, which had me even more excited. I know I’m basically allergic to vampire stories, but I did actually enjoy the original Dracula classic and I have to say that I really liked how Lydia Kang decided to incorporate this element into her story. It definitely ended up being one of the things that stood out for me!

That said, despite having high expectations for this story, somehow it didn’t work as well as I thought it would for me. I’m struggling to point out exactly why, but I’ll try to explain below. Part of the reason probably has to do with the slow pace as well as a bit of a repetitive plot with surprisingly dull moments. The slower pace made it harder to stay focused, and the lack of surprises and dull moments didn’t help either of course. I know that the book is set in 1899 and things were different back then (I actually enjoyed those historical descriptions), but the plot was just too repetitive and dull for me and it didn’t manage to engage me as I thought it would.

I also struggled with the constant repetition of the opium, morphine and even heroin use as well as the focus on just how dependent the main character Tilly becomes on it as it starts taking over her life and actions. While in a way realistically portrayed, I felt like it was turned into too much of a cliche and I didn’t feel like I was able to get to know the character too well due to this focus on Tillie’s spiralling addiction and the other characters both reacting to and fomenting said addiction. The characters themselves are not likeable at all (with the exception of Ian maybe) and as a result I struggled to connect to them. The main focus is on Tillie, and I found her to be too frustrating to really care for her and once again I found the focus on her substance abuse to be too much of a cliche and it took away the focus from more interesting elements such as the investigation into Lucy’s death, the medical details and the vampire element.

I confess that I saw most of the plot twists coming from a mile away, although I did manage to stumble upon one or two surprises. This wasn’t enough to make up for the things that didn’t work for me though. I liked the historical setting, the Dracula element and the investigation into Lucy’s death as well as the medical details… But the slow pace, the repetitive and sometimes dull plot and constant focus on the substance abuse instead of a proper focus on character and plot development ended up being mostly a letdown for me.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Bone Jar – by S.W. Kane #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Bone Jar Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I knew I wanted to read this story as soon as I first read the blurb and saw the abandoned asylum setting. Talk about a perfect creepy backdrop for a detective thriller! And I most definitely enjoyed my time with this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Bone Jar
(Detective Lew Kirby #1)

Author: S.W. Kane
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: June 11th 2020
Pages: 328

“He wondered what it was like to live here all alone – and not only that, but in the grounds of the very institution that had once removed you from society.”

*** 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 confess that I was fully intrigued as soon as I took my first glimpse at the blurb of The Bone Jar. I always love a good detective thriller, and the promise of an abandoned asylum setting combined with hints at its past and secrets as well as a former patient involved in a present day murder investigation sounded simply irresistible. Talk about the perfect hair-raising backdrop for this first book of a new detective series! I had a hunch that I would enjoy this story, and my instincts definitely turned out to be right. The Bone Jar is a dark, eerie and atmospheric detective thriller that will chill you to the bone, and not just because of the winter wonderland descriptions. Without a doubt recommended if you enjoy the detective thriller genre!

There is no doubt that the Blackwater Asylum steals the show here. Not only does the majority of the story take place in or around the abandoned asylum, but its descriptions also give the story that spine-chilling feel as well as a hint of forboding. The descriptions are thorough and beautifully done, and really made the setting come alive for me. The fact that The Bone Jar takes place during the cold winter months only adds to the eerie atmosphere… The snow and cold weather used to add obstacles to the investigation as well as influencing how the plot as a whole develops. Especially the focus on the Blackwater Asylum was a huge bonus for me, as I have a weak spot for stories with that angle and its incorporation in the plot was handled splendidly.

The Bone Jar has quite a few characters in play, and I confess that initially I struggled a little to remember how they all connected. This feeling was only temporary though and as soon as I was able to fit them all into their place in the plot puzzle, I was fully hooked. I wish we could have seen more of new main character detective Lew Kirby, but we did get a few hints at his private life and I’m definitely intrigued. We mainly see the story and investigation through his eyes, but both Raymond and Connie are also key to the plot of this first book. Both will soon find themselves in the middle of everything and I quite liked getting to learn more about them. Especially Raymond is a fascinating character with his past and possible knowledge of present events as well as secrets about Blackwater Asylum.

I also really liked the mention of urban exploration and the connection more than one character had with this activity in the plot. It was interesting to learn a little about the urban exploration terms and I would have loved to see it even more present! The Bone Jar mainly focused on the asylum and its hidden secrets as well as the present murder case though. It was interesting to see Lew Kirby and the others investigating the crime and both the building up of suspense and the introduction of plot twists is more than solid. You keep wondering how everything and everyone connects and fits in, and the story will definitely have some surprises for you in store as well.

With its eerie and atmospheric derelict asylum setting, The Bone Jar sets the tone for what is an excellent start of a new detective series. Any fan of the genre will have a brilliant time meeting Lew Kirby as well as exploring Blackwater Asylum!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SW Kane studied History of Design and worked at the RIBA before taking on a series of totally unrelated jobs in radio and the music industry, where she still works as a freelance music PR. She has an MA in Creative (Crime) Writing from City University. She began reading crime fiction from an early age and developed an obsession with crime set in cold places. A chance encounter with a derelict fort in rural Pembrokeshire led to a fascination with urban exploration, which in turn became the inspiration for her crime novels. She lives London.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Collector – by John Maher #blogtour #InkubatorBooks @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Collector damppebles blog tour! A huge thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I always love a good detective thriller and knew I just HAD to try The Collector as soon as I saw that new lead character is a forensic linguist. And I definitely liked what I found! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…


Title: The Collector
(Detective Lucy O´Hara #1)

Author: John Maher
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 5th 2020
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Finished reading: June 23rd 2020
Pages: ?

“But that was the problem with asking yourself awkward questions. You never seemed to get a straight answer.”

*** 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 always love a good detective thriller and I knew I just HAD to try The Collector as soon as I saw that the new main character is a forensic linguist. Some might already know that I’m a philologist and I’m always interested in anything involving linguistics… I just couldn’t wait to see how this element was developed in the story and the actual criminal case in this first book of a new series sounded like a cracker too. Instincts told me that I was going to enjoy this one, so I jumped on the chance to join the blog tour and help spread the word. My bookish radar definitely didn’t fail here! The Collector is without doubt an excellent start of a new detective series with an international touch.

There is a lot to love in The Collector. The first thing that stands out for me is the international feel of both the plot and the characters. While the story mainly takes place in Ireland (both Dublin and other places), the plot also takes us abroad. We get a glimpse of both Hamburg (Germany) (which brought back great memories of our Eurotrip in 2018), Alicante (Spain) and flashbacks to Cairo (Egypt) for example… As someone who loves travelling, the different international settings were definitely a bonus.

The same international feel is represented in more than one character as well. First up is of course our new detective lead Lucy O’Hara, who has an interesting personal background with her French mother and Irish dad as well as growing up living in a bunch of different countries due to her father’s job. Lucy speaks multiple languages as a consequence, and I loved the forensic linguist details she helped bringing into the plot (although I kind of wish there would have been even more focus on this element). Lucy is not the only character with an international vibe though. The most obvious ones are the Lithuanian thug Lukas Petraskas as well as his Polish helper, but we also have more than one German character in play for example. On top of the setting and characters, The Collector also offers us little phrases in multiple languages throughout the story to help reinforce this same international vibe.

The plot has a multiple POV structure; the three main POVs are probably the detective and forensic linguist Lucy O’Hara, the Lithuanian Lukas Petraskas and the collector (der Sammler), but the POV of most of the characters in play will make their appearance at least once before you reach that final page. Having so many different POVs and characters to juggle might seem a lot, but their introduction felt natural and I personally didn’t have any issues keeping them apart. The writing is engaging and managed to draw me right in; the use of short phrases in multiple foreign languages added a little something extra and helpt giving the international feel of the story credibility. I liked the development of the plot, the building up of suspense was solid and the plot twists were mostly effective. I did guess part of the truth earlier than expected, but overall I had an excellent time with The Collector.

If you are looking for a new detective series with an original touch, you should definitely consider meeting up with detective Lucy O’Hara. I will definitely be looking forward to read more about her in the future myself!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Maher has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won national awards for radio play and short story with RTE in Ireland. His novel, The Luck Penny, was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5.

A former teacher and lecturer, he holds a Phd from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London).

He lives in a small Irish village, between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, from which he steals away, from time to time, to visit the world outside the island.

THE COLLECTOR will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK // Amazon US


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ARC REVIEW: How To Save A Life – by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Title: How To Save A Life
Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 14th 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: June 14th 2020
Pages: 303

“I’m struck by how much I take life for granted. How easily I – or anyone I care about – could be a part of any of these stories that make the papers.”

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

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I knew I wanted to read How To Save A Life as soon as I read the blurb and saw the mention of the Groundhog Day element. It reminded me of one of my all time favorite books The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle and I was immediately curious how this element would be developed into the plot. It’s without doubt also the reason this story will stay with me for quite some time! The Groundhog Day element gives the story a surreal touch as well as raising an interesting question as mentioned in the blurb: how far would you go to save the life of someone you love?

The main reason this story worked for me is that same Groundhog Day element. How To Save A Life starts out as an ordinary romantic contemporary when Dom meets his ex-fiancé Mia again after ten years… While this does sounds like a bit of a cliche, it’s a tolerable cliche and it was interesting to see the two react to their sudden meeting and what some might call fate. The plot thickens after the introduction of the Groundhog Day element, and it gave the story that magical realism vibe as you wonder if the things that are happening are real or if it is all in Dom’s head.

The story is told in a series of repeat Thursdays as Dom wakes up and experiences the same day all over again. This might sound repetitive, but there are enough changes in the events as well as enough growth in Dom’s character to keep you interested. By doing things different each Thursday, we slowly learn more about Dom, Mia and their past as well as the other characters in play. I didn’t particularly like the hint at the love triangle nor the stack of cliches used throughout the story, but overall I was intrigued enough by how it would all end to keep reading.

As for the characters… I’m still not sure if I actually like them, but they were all well developed and felt mostly realistic. I had a great time getting to know Dom and Mia better over time… It was also interesting to see the dynamics between the different characters, and I actually quite liked the ending too. How To Save A Life proved to be a very interesting read; a mostly character driven story about Dom trying to save the love of his life while also learning more about himself. It’s definitely not your ordinary lost love story!


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ARC REVIEW: The Heatwave – by Katerina Diamond

Title: The Heatwave
Author: Katerina Diamond
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 25th 2020
Publisher: Avon
Finished reading: June 20th 2020
Pages: 400

“There are places I haven’t been yet because I am afraid. It’s not the places I fear though, it’s the memories that come with them.”

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

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I admit that I was curious about The Heatwave as soon as I first read the blurb, and after reading the first positive reviews I couldn’t resist requesting a copy. I still think that both the blurb and the premise of this story are rock solid, and The Heatwave is by no means a bad read… But somehow, even though I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, the story didn’t manage to convince me completely in the end. I’ll try to explain below why.

First of all I have to stress that a 3 star rating by no means turns this psychological thriller into a bad read, but rather represents my personal reaction to The Heatwave. It might just be that it’s time for me to take a little break from this kind of psychological thrillers, as I’m still not sure why I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I thought I would. The elements are definitely there, with an interesting premise, lots of secrets, plenty of lies and a missing girl cold case from 16 years ago. The story uses a dual storyline structure, where it switches between the present and flashbacks to 16 years ago to slowly discover more about what happened that summer. The past and present are linked both through the main characters and the two different missing girl cases… And it was interesting to see the two storylines collide and develop over time.

That said, I did found part of the plot to be quite cliche or at least nothing new, and especially the flashback chapters were slowgoing and could get pretty frustrating. Likewise, I didn’t like the present POV all that much either, as the main character was simply too frantic and mysterious about why she HAD to go back after 16 years away. I know the lack of explanation is used to try and add more suspense as well as increase the effects of the plot twists, but I failed to connect to the main character as a result and it made me enjoy the story less. I also thought that the final reveals were a bit over the top and they didn’t really match the pace and intensity of the rest of the story. Sure, they were shocking and mostly unexpected, but I didn’t really think it was a credible outcome to be honest…

I mentioned the main character and my lack of connection to her before, and this is basically what happened with every single character in play. I wasn’t sure about their development either, mostly because with more than one there were cliches involved and I wondered about the credibility of their actions and reactions to events. The whole seducing/grooming a minor in the flashback chapters left me with a bad taste in my mouth and overall the characters didn’t exactly make it easier to stay invested and properly enjoy The Heatwave.

In short, while I confess that still struggle to properly point out all of my issues, somehow I sadly wasn’t all that impressed by The Heatwave despite the promising premise. It might just be me having read too many similar psychological thrillers and needing a break from the genre, but it is what it is I guess.


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ARC REVIEW: Left For Dead – by Caroline Mitchell

Title: Left For Dead
(DI Amy Winter #3)
Author: Caroline Mitchell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: July 8th 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: June 6th 2020
Pages: 336

“She was blind to the danger of her situation; in denial about the trouble she might be in. Her mind was focused on only one thing: apprehending the Love Heart Killer, before he struck again.”

*** 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’ve been turning to Caroline Mitchell’s thrillers for years now whenever I’m in the mood for a thrilling ride. I first met DI Amy Winter back in 2018 and I was instantly intrigued by the background of this character. I think that it’s no secret that I have a weird obsession with serial killer stories… Having a main character that is first adopted by a cop and now a DI herself, but on the other hand having her biological parents being a twisted serial killer duo? Talk about a background that had me hooked immediately! We learned more about Amy’s past in the first two books, and her personal storyline continues to develop in this third installment. This is one of the reasons why I would recommend reading the first books before tackling Left For Dead, as it would be a lot more difficult to get a proper grip on the dynamics between and development of the various characters in play. Plus, if you like intense detective thrillers with a dark twists, you will be in for a treat with all three in the first place.

Left For Dead continues where book two ended and once again we hear quite a lot of Amy’s biological mother Lillian Grimes and her appeal. The main focus is on the new case and the new dynamics in Amy’s team with the appearance of Donovan as the new DCI of course, but you will feel that Lillian’s presence is never far away and always lurking in the background. I like how the balance shifted a little and we see more of Donovan, although I hope these new dynamics won’t slow Amy down in the future… In book three Amy is still as fierce as ever though and I like how she uses her background and intimate knowledge of the twisted minds of her parents to get inside the heads of other serial killers. She definitely has an instinct for hunting and isn’t afraid to go off the books to get results… Even if it brings danger in the picture.

Left For Dead has a multiple POV structure, helping us follow both sides of the law as well as allowing the story to hide certain facts until the plot is ready to reveal the truth. The plot itself is interesting, and while the identity of the killer is revealed very early on, it was still very much a thrilling ride as Amy and her team try to catch him. The story has lots of twists and turns and while there are no major surprises to speak of, it was still a very satisfying detective thriller read as a whole. The ending was a shocker too, and I definitely can’t wait to discover how things will continue now.

The DI Amy Winter series has provided one solid and dark detective thriller after the other so far, and Left For Dead is no exception. In this third book, we have another twisted case on our hands as well as developments relating to Amy’s mother and her appeal… Recommended if you enjoy the genre.


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ARC REVIEW: What I Know – by Miranda Smith

Title: What I Know
Author: Miranda Smith
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 24th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: June 3rd 2020
Pages: 285

“It’s wildly unfortunate we live in a society that waits for bad things to happen before doing anything.”

*** 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 always love a good psychological thriller and I was intrigued by the blurb of What I Know, so I decided to request a copy on a whim. “My brother was thirteen the first time he tried to kill me.”: talk about one heck of an opening line! I’ve been looking forward to read this story ever since and had quite high expectations for this one, but somehow the actual story ended up falling a bit flat for me. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I will try to explain below what worked and didn’t work for me.

First of all, I have to say that I still love the premise of the story and the blurb is without doubt a corker. I also liked the dual storyline structure, where we get to see main character Della in the present with Zoey and follow her back to the past with her brother Brian. This structure is used to draw parallels between both characters as well as adding a healthy dose of suspense… And definitely took the story to the next level. You are initially kept in the dark about the true extent of Brian’s darkness, although it is quite easy to guess how far it would go after reading the blurb and catching the first few hints. That’s probably why the final reveals around his character in the past were a bit of an anticlimax to be honest… The present storyline focusing on Della and Zoe was a lot more successful at keeping you on your toes though.

While the writing flows and makes it really easy to keep reading, I wasn’t always sure about the pace. Certain plot twists were really easy to guess, and drawing out the reveal of those twists slowed the story down instead of adding suspense… Or at least that was the effect it had on me. I always like it when a story is able to mislead me and keep me guessing, and that was not what happened here as I somehow had the characters figured out really early on. The lack of surprises was a bit of a letdown for me, and I honestly felt that it was a bit too convenient that nobody but Della saw the truth behind certain characters. It didn’t feel credible and the same goes for certain parts of the plot as well as the ending.

As for the characters… I found them to be very hard to like, which made it more difficult to connect to the story in turn. Some were ment to be unlikeable of course, but I was never able to connect to Della either both due to her attitude and actions. Initially I thought both Della and Danny would be a perfect match for me, as you don’t see too many stories about childless couples who made the decision not to have any children… It’s something I can relate to personally as with my hubby we stand by the same decision (have been for years as we just don’t see ourselves with children, or at least not in the forseeable future). I was a bit miffed to be honest to have Della suddently being saddled with an unplanned pregnancy; both because of Danny’s reaction and people judging how she feels about it. I know this is a personal reaction, but still… It made me enjoy the story and characters considerably less.

In short, What I Know is a psychological thriller with a dark edge: using a dual storyline, it switches back between past and present and introduces us to two twisted minds… What I Know has without doubt a lot of potential, and while the story sadly fell flat for me, others do seem to enjoy it a lot better.


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