ARC REVIEW: The House Guest – by Mark Edwards @amazonpub

Title: The House Guest
Author: Mark Edwards
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: June 3rd 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: May 20th 2020
Pages: 294

“I felt like I was turning into a new version of myself. One who lived in a world where violence was expected. Where anyone who passed by could be part of this secret, threatening alternate reality.”

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

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The holy guacamole is back! Oh yes, The House Guest turned out to be one of those reads that left me completely mindblown and gulping for air… I literally finished reading it in one sitting, unable to stop before reaching that final page. Unputdownable indeed! My first experience with Mark Edwards’ work last year, Here To Stay, made me an instant fan, and this story only reconfirms my love for his writing.There is no doubt whatsoever that The House Guest is an absolute must-read for fans of intense psychological thrillers!

There is so much to love in The House Guest… The first thing that stands out is both the plot and its cult element. I really liked the structure of the plot in general with multiple parts; each with a different vibe while also complementing each other. The story starts out with that ominous feel that something is bound to go wrong sooner than later; basically true psychological thriller material that sets the tone for the rest of the story. Afterwards, we have the mysterious missing person case and more action involved as well as a private detective vibe… Only for things to turn even darker and dangerous with the introduction of the cult element. I just loved how the whole cult element was developed in general, and it definitely gave the story an unique touch. It’s also quite hard to put The House Guest into a specific genre box, and this multi-dimentional feel is another reason this story stands out for me.

Like I said before, the cult element is basically the star of the show, but in the beginning the main focus is mostly on the main characters. This is a great way both to get to know the characters in play as well as preparing you for what is yet to come… The story is mostly told from Adam’s POV and it was fascinating to see him develop and react to the events as they occur. His girlfriend Ruth is likewise interesting, and through her we get to know more about what happened after she disappeared. Eden is someone I failed to trust from the very beginning, but guessing and learning more about her story and motivation was without doubt entertaining enough. As a whole, not every character is exactly likeable, but they all played their role and felt realistic. It’s the perfect cast to tell this story and The House Guest will probably stay with me for a long time.

The writing itself is excellent. I literally wasn’t really in the mood to read, told myself to try the first chapters so I would get an idea of what the story would be like, and suddenly hours had past and I found myself staring at the last page. I was hooked from the very beginning, and this is definitely one of those stories you should clear your schedule for. Both the building up of suspense, the placement of the plot twists and the technique of witholding information only to be released at a crucial moment were simply spot on. You get that ominous feel, you get a missing person case, you get a cult, you get a conspiracy plot, you get danger… And you definitely get that satisfied feeling after reading a brilliant story. And talk about an explosive ending! I’ll repeat it again: The House Guest is an absolute must-read.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #164 – Tweet Cute & The Bird And The Sword

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a YA version, although two different genres… But both turned out to be excellent reads. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord turned out to be the dose of contemporary cuteness I was craving, and The Bird And The Sword by Amy Harmon was a wonderful mix of high fantasy and romance.


Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 21st 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: May 9th 2020
Pages: 362

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.”

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After a few misses with recent romcoms, I was really putting all my hopes on Tweet Cute for one last try… And it looks like I finally hit the jackpot: what an absolutely adorable adorable read this was! Trust me, this book is gold if you are looking for a supercute YA contemporary romance read, and it’s without doubt a debut to keep your eyes on. While not without cliches and even a dose of teen angst, those were mostly forgiven thanks to the sheer cute factor of Tweet Cute as a whole. Both Pepper and Jack are extremely easy to connect to and I loved both the Twitter and the food elements in the story. Warning: this story will make you crave grilled cheese and all kinds of delicious sounding desserts though… Although for me that wasn’t a bad thing. The friends to lovers trope is a bit cliche, but Pepper and Jack make it worth it and I can even forgive the hint at a possible love triangle. There is some teen angst and drama going on at points, but overall I had an excellent time with this supercute read and any fan of fluffy and adorable romcoms should give Tweet Cute a try.


Title: The Bird And The Sword
(The Bird And The Sword Chronicles #1)

Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 6th 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Finished reading: May 19th 2020
Pages: 352

“You are what you are. I am what I am. It matters little what we want.”

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I think that it’s no secret that Amy Harmon is one of my absolute favorite authors and I basically adore anything she writes. One of the things that stands out in her work is just how diverse and unique each story is, spanning different genres and even age groups. The Bird And The Sword is the first book of a YA high fantasy duology which has both a high dose of romance and magic. And while I’m normally not a big fan of too much romance in my fantasy reads, Amy Harmon is one of the few authors who can make it work for me. Of course it’s always a blessing not having to deal with a love triangle… I loved the worldbuilding and the descriptions of Jeru; the main focus is mostly on the magical aspects of the high fantasy world, but this was more than enough for me. The writing is simply wonderful and managed to enchant me from the very first chapter. The main stars of this story are Lark and Tiras though, who basically run the whole show. They are both extremely easy to like, excellently developed and make it almost impossible not to fall in love with this story. I loved every single minute of my time with The Bird And The Sword, and while the ending is close and the book can be considered as a stand-alone, I’m already excited to return to Jeru and meet up with the characters again in the sequel. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a well balanced YA high fantasy with thoroughly developed characters, magic and a dose of romance as well as danger.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #163 – Eddie Flynn Edition (Book #1-3)

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a special Eddie Flynn edition as I decided to binge-read the whole series this month in preparation for the release of book number five… Below a shorties review of the first three books of the series: The Defence, The Plea and The Liar. I can say that these books have only reconfirmed my love for this series! I won’t be reviewing Thirteen this time around, as I already read and reviewed it last year here.


Title: The Defence
(Eddie Flynn #1)
Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 12th 2015
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 12th 2020
Pages: 321

“I felt like I’d just dipped my fingers into a black pool, that there was a good deal more about this murder and this whole situation hidden below the surface. What I didn’t realize then was how deep those waters ran.”

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Last year, I somehow ended up with an ARC of Thirteen before I realized it was actually book four of the Eddie Flynn series. Whoops indeed! I absolutely loved my time with the fourth book and Eddie Flynn’s character made a huge impact; I’ve been looking forward to spend more time with him ever since. It took me way longer than expected to finally return to where things started with Eddie, but better late than never right? The Defence has definitely reconfirmed my love for this series. I think this is the most exhilarating legal thriller I’ve read in a long long time! The Defence basically feels like an action movie: think Jack Reacher, think Die Hard, and you will have an idea what vibe this book and series gives off. The Defence is lightning fast, explosive and basically one life-threatening moment after the other… You will feel breathless by the time you reach that final page; running a marathon is nothing compared to reading this story.

Key in the success of this book is not only the sharp writing, the constant threat of danger and the plot development, but also Eddie Flynn himself. I took to him almost instantly, his former con artist status and general kickassness reminding me of what would be a mix of Saul Goodman and John McClane (Die Hard)… A very interesting character cocktail indeed! You will find yourself rooting for him from the start as you wonder how on earth he will get himself out of all this mess. A huge trial, kidnapping, two rival mafia families, bribes, violence, bombs, improbable escapes, gunfire and a bucketload of action… The Defence somehow manages to juggle it all and more. Brace yourself for an explosive and exhilarating ride, as you won’t be given time to breathe until you reach the final page. This was exactly the dose of action thriller I was craving… Eddie Flynn to the win!


Title: The Plea
(Eddie Flynn #2)
Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 19th 2016
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 14th 2020
Pages: 400

“I heard old-timers call it a bullet con because it’s launched so quickly – like pulling the trigger. In reality, the name derives from the fact that if the con fails, the hustler can expect to eat a bullet.”

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Eddie Flynn series binge-read, round two… After an excellent experience with The Defence, I was more than ready for more Eddie Flynn with The Plea. And while I do have to say that I might have enjoyed my second round a tiny bit less, there is also no doubt that The Plea is still a more than excellent read. We are in for another action-packed and thrilling ride, and I’m not joking when I say that this series is hands down one of the most exhilarating legal thriller series I’ve read to this date. Oh yes, this is not your average legal thriller, and while most of the story evolves around a court case and legal proceedings, you won’t find a boring minute in The Plea. This series basically reads like an action movie; think Jack Reacher or Die Hard and you will get an idea of the vibe of these books. Action, guns, murder, a conspiracy plot, billions of dollars and Eddie Flynn once again in a very tight spot: The Plea will leave you breathless all over again while also wondering how on earth Eddie will find a way out of this mess this time around. Especially since the very first chapter reveals that Eddie’s newest case might just be his last… Like I said before, I might have enjoyed this one a tiny bit less than book one and four, but it is still a more than solid mix of action and legal thriller I can recommend to anyone who enjoys a fast, action-packed and thrilling ride.


Title: The Liar
(Eddie Flynn #3)
Author: Steve Cavanagh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 18th 2017
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: May 16th 2020
Pages: 336

“The ugliness which lies at the heart of some people is their most closely guarded secret – they don’t like others knowing about the beast that lies inside.”

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Eddie Flynn; round number three… And without doubt another successful and thrilling ride! While I think book number one and four are my absolute favorites of the series so far, The Liar by no means disappoints. Once again I can repeat that The Liar is hands down one of the most exhilarating legal thrillers I’ve read to this date! And it’s all on Eddie Flynn. He is such a powerful character and his charms won me over as soon as I first met him last year. He’s not your average lawyer: as a former con artist he understands both sides of the coin perfectly. While he doesn’t exactly tend to follow the rules, he does have a high moral compass and he’s always willing to fight for those on his side. We have yet again a fascinating and highly dangerous plot in The Liar. What seems like two separate cases will blur as events occur and things are spinning out of control… Danger, kidnapping, conspiracy, murder trial, wrongly accused, explosions, guns: oh yes, this is another action movie worthy plot indeed. The flashbacks to Julie’s past were an interesting touch and helped slowly reveal more of the ultimate truth… Although it is Eddie who has to step in to save teh day and try to solve the puzzle before it’s too late. The Liar (and the whole series for that matter) will appeal to legal and action thriller fans alike.


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ARC REVIEW: The Girl Beneath The Sea – by Andrew Mayne @amazonpub

Title: The Girl Beneath The Sea
(Underwater Investigation Unit #1)
Author: Andrew Mayne
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 1st 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 8th 2020
Pages: 328

“Sometimes you don’t get to choose your struggles – they choose you.”

*** 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’m always in for a good detective thriller, and I admit that I was sold as soon as I saw the Florida police diver angle. It sounded like a mix of CSI Miami and one of my favorite action thriller series Lori Anderson, especially with the treasure hunter and diver angle as well as the promise of a kickass female main character. And I definitely liked what I found! The Girl Beneath The Sea turned out to be exactly the thrilling and exhilarating dose of action and detective thriller I didn’t even know I was craving until I started reading it.

I love that it’s not just your average detective thriller. Not only is the main character Sloan McPherson a police diver and not a detective, but her father is a treasure hunter and her uncle is actually currently in jail. Talk about a colorful background for a colorful character who without doubt kicks ass! Sloan is very easy to connect to and I really liked both her attitude and her resourcefulness in general. She is not an official cop perse, and mostly lended out to help other police forces when an expert diver is needed. This gives the story an unique and very entertaining angle indeed… And when faced with danger, Sloan is not scared to take things in her own hands either and investigate unofficially. This whole premise makes for some very entertaining and action-packed reading!

I loved both the diving and treasure hunt angle, and especially just how big of a role both played in the plot as a whole. These elements give the story an unique touch and the Miami setting definitely helps setting the right tone for this extremely fast and sharp action thriller. I also liked how the diving element is incorporated not only through the fact that Sloan is a police diver and we see her at work, but also through her father and his treasure hunts as well as later on in the plot as it evolves. This isn’t just your plain detective case and things are bound to get very wet and perilous indeed! Especially towards the ending as the tension and danger are about to explode… Definitely make sure to brace yourself for a thrilling ride that doesn’t even give you room to breathe until you are desperate to come up for air.

The plot itself is entertaining, action-packed and basically a mix of a detective and action thriller with that mafia vibe and a hint of a conspiracy plot thrown in as a bonus. It has that lightning fast CSI Miami vibe and plenty of threats and action around every corner… It has plot twists in store for you as well, although the main focus is mainly on the action itself and Sloan trying to solve the case and save their lives. If you like your thrillers fast and dangerous, you will be in for a treat with this first book of a new series!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Creak On The Stairs – by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Creak On The Stairs Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I have a weak spot for nordic noir and as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs I knew I just had to read it. Especially since two fellow trusted bloggers had already raved about it too… And now I’ve had the chance to read this first book of a new series, I can say that they were absolutely right to do so. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Creak On The Stairs
(Forbidden Iceland #1)
Author: Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 24th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 25th 2020
Pages: 315
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Marrið í stiganum’)

“She had to remind herself that she wasn’t a little girl anymore.

That the real evil wasn’t to be found lurking in dark corners but in the human soul.”

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

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It’s no secret that I love my nordic noir and I’m always looking for new authors to discover. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of The Creak On The Stairs, and the raving reviews of two fellow trusted bloggers (yes, Eva and Kelly, YOU!) only confirmed to me that I made the right decision to join the blog tour. I have been looking forward to read The Creak On The Stairs ever since I read those reviews and I now completely agree this is a fantastic start of a new nordic noir series.

There is a lot to love in The Creak On The Stairs… The first thing that stands out is the Icelandic setting. I love foreign settings as it makes me feel like I’m travelling from the comfort of my own reading chair… And the atmospheric and extensive descriptions did just that and really made Iceland come alive for me. Thanks to the thorough descriptions, it is very easy to visualize the different Icelandic settings and it makes it feel as if you were right next to the main characters seeing the world through their eyes. The Icelandic setting was the perfect backdrop for this story and gave the plot that cold and daunting feel any nordic noir fan will be delighted with.

I also loved both the plot and the writing. And that means the writing in general, and not just the previously mentioned descriptions… The writing is enticing, well paced and very successful at drawing you in from the very first chapter. The plot itself is intriguing and I really liked the structure of the story in general. You are thrown in without knowing much of the main characters and have different POVs and flashbacks to juggle, but it only added to the suspense and intrigue instead of slowing you down. The complex structure of the plot allows the story to hide things from you, with the result that you have more than one secret to unravel. The woman showing up dead, who is behind it, the secrets of her past, the secrets of our new lead character Elma… There are a lot of puzzles to solve and isn’t that the best thing while reading a detective thriller?

As for the characters… It looks like we have another lead character detective with a complicated past on our hands, although we are not exactly told what happened in her past and this definitely added to the intrigue around Elma. We actually don’t get to know her all that much in the first Forbidden Iceland book, but the bites we get offered were more than promising and leave you wanting for more. I liked the dynamics of the detective team in Akranes in general too. The other characters in play were all well developed and felt realistic, and even though most were not all that easy to like, I wasn’t too bothered by that as they all played their roles flawlessly. Especially Beta turned out to be an absolutely fascinating character study.

The Creak On The Stairs also isn’t afraid to go dark and this includes difficult topics such as (child) abuse and alcoholism. Especially the first plays quite a big role and might be a turn off for some… But the element was developed realistically and played an important role in both the plot and the character development. The plot twists and reveals of the different secrets are well balanced out in the plot, and the ending definitely left me wanting for the next book of the series. Because while the case in the first book was solved, I’m more than ready to see more of Elma and her team!

Dark, ominous and atmospheric, this first book of the Forbidden Iceland series shows us an image of Iceland any nordic noir fan would love to discover. It’s an excellent start of a new series that is more than worth being on your radar if you enjoy the genre!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.


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ARC REVIEW: What Lies Between Us – by John Marrs @amazonpub

Title: What Lies Between Us
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: May 15th 2020
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Finished reading: April 21st 2020
Pages: 371

“We remain like two scorpions, each circling one another, poisonous tails aloft and waiting for the other to strike first.”

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

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Holy guacamole, what did I just read?! So dark, so twisted, and oh so glorious! I guess it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of John Marrs‘s writing and I have been looking forward to read What Lies Between Us ever since I first heard about it… And this story turned out to be exactly the dark psychological thriller dose I was craving right now! Oh yes, his newest title definitely didn’t disappoint, and I found myself to be absolutely speechless as well as shell-shocked by the time I reached that final page. Make sure to brace yourself for a dark, intense and twisted ride!

Let’s leave the superlatives for a little, and talk about why What Lies Between Us turned out to be yet another winner for me. The first thing that stands out when you read one of John Marrs‘ books is the quality of the writing and the plot development. From the very first chapter, both the writing and the plot are able to draw you right in, entice you and keep you hooked until the very end. In fact, I knew this was going to be another favorite even before I finished the first chapter; such is the power of his writing. As for the plot… Even though I do admit that I saw some of the plot twists coming very early on, strangely enough I wasn’t too bothered by that. The mystery and suspense around the past events and the complicated relationship between mother and daughter were enough to distract me from my suspicions and ultimately right guesses, and I was honestly too busy devouring this story to really care about the lack of surprises and 100% effective plot twist bombs.

The story is told with the help of a dual POV, switching between Nina and her mother Maggie as well as between the past and present. This way, we are presented with snippets of the past as well as the present, never discovering the full picture of the truth until after those final reveals. The POV switches and flashbacks are used to successfully build up the suspense until you find yourself biting your nails and continuously shocked about the events that took place both in the past and present. Trust me when I say that What Lies Between Us will go darker than the blackest night and this story isn’t for those with a weak stomach! The development and structure of the plot is excellently handled though, and really took the story to the next level for me.

Key in this pitch black psychological thriller are also the two main characters who star the show. The development of both Nina and Maggie is thorough and realistical; both women are extremely flawed and have mental issues as well as a bulk load of secrets waiting to be uncovered. Nina is an extremely troubled character and it was interesting to see her development and learn more about her past as well as discovering more how she became the woman she is today. Maggie is likewise intriguing, with her decisions in the past playing a key role in her present situations… I’d be lying if I said that I liked either character, but they definitely both make for a fascinating character study.

As you might have guessed, I had a fantastic time reading this dark dark and oh so disturbing psychological thriller. I can recommend What Lies Between Us to anyone who is a fan of the genre and doesn’t mind things getting pitch black and seriously twisted before you reach that final page.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Murder Game – by Rachel Abbott #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Murder Game Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to try one of Rachel Abbott‘s books for a while now and this blog tour was a perfect excuse to do so! I had an excellent time with the first book of the series, And So It Begins, last month and I think that I enjoyed the sequel The Murder Game even more. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: The Murder Game
(Stephanie King #2)
Author: Rachel Abbott
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Wildfire
Finished reading: April 12th 2020
Pages: 416

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.”

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

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I’ve been meaning to try one of Rachel Abbott‘s books for a long time now and this blog tour was a perfect excuse to finally do so! I had an excellent time with the first book of the series, And So It Begins, last month and I think that I might have possibly enjoyed the sequel The Murder Game even more… I’m definitely fully hooked when it comes to this series now! I’ll try to explain below why The Murder Game ticked all the right boxes for me.

First of all, I love that this series isn’t the typical detective thriller despite having detective Stephanie King as the leading character of this series. Instead, both first two books are dark psychological thrillers first, and detective/crime thrillers second, and this shift in focus is both refreshing, gives the stories a multi-dementional feel and makes the series in general stand out above the rest. While Stephanie is the glue between the books of this series, we won’t actually see her appear until later in The Murder Game and only because body shows up and a detective is needed. This is definitely unexpected and it was a very clever twist to have other characters in the spotlight instead.

The story mainly focuses on three characters: Jemma, Nina And Alex. We get to see the situation from the POV of all three women and not only that, we also have events set one year ago as well as in present. This complex structure really takes story to the next level without obstructing the reading pace or readability in general. The characters themselves might not be all too likeable, but their development is solid and their flaws make them feel realistic. It was also interesting seeing things from the POV of ‘outsider’ Jemma, as she doesn’t know rest of the characters in play until the wedding. Nina is likewise an outsider of course, but she does know Alex and has a different view on things as the case hits closer home. Alex probably most intriguing POV though, both due to her past and the secrets surrounding her…

The structure of the plot is without doubt one of highlights of The Murder Game. Switching back between past an present, the structure allows for plot twists and secrets  to be revealed slowly and they definitely added a healthy dose of suspense and tension to the story. Not knowing what exactly happened to Alex in the past added a level of intrigue as well as an ominous feel… The murder game Lucas wants to play in the present is a brilliantly executed element too and it really gave the story that ‘locked room’ vibe. I also loved the setting close to the Cornwall sea as it added to the darker and ominous atmosphere as well as playing a key role in plot. Furthermore, the eventual appearance of Stephanie in the plot felt natural and her development was another interesting touch. Of course the case she first investigated (the death of Alex) took place a year ago, but it was interesting to see how past and present collided with a new missing person case in the present. The whole detective investigation was not main focus of The Murder Game of course, but it added a little something extra and enabled reaching a credible ending to the story.

There is a lot to love in The Murder Game… Well written, suspenseful, complex, a dark and multi-dimentional plot, an interesting cast of characters, that locked room feel, a Cornwall coast setting… Fans of dark psychological thrillers will be in for a treat!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks. Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 3 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.


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