ARC REVIEW: The Truth Will Out – by Brian Cleary

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Title: The Truth Will Out
Author: Brian Cleary

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 12th 2016 
Finished reading: February 15th 2017
Pages: 220
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“He just couldn’t believe that he could do it. But what he didn’t know was whether he couldn’t believe it or that he didn’t want to believe it.”

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

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Confession: it took me way longer than planned to finally pick up my copy of The Truth Will Out, but I’m glad I was finally able to. I already had a feeling this novel by Brian Cleary was probably going to be a good one, especially with such an explosive blurb… And my instincts didn’t fail me: the story had me hooked right from the first sentence. If you are looking for a disturbing, twisted and well written crime thriller that reads like a train, you’ve just found an excellent candidate. The Truth Will Out is set in Ireland, partly in the 1970s and partly in the present. The main character Jamie is accused of having attacked and brutally raped one of his best friends, Mary Kate, and the evidence against him is truly overwhelming. He does have a violent history, but would he really be able to do such a thing? The case is without doubt fascinating, especially since you go back and forth from the past and slowly learn more about Jamie and the other main characters. Do I understand why Jamie never spoke up and revealed a secret that might prove his innocence? No. But it definitely makes for a great plot twist. Speaking of those, The Truth Will Out is literally packed with excellent plot twists that will keep you guessing at what exactly is going on for a long time. In short, this crime thriller is a well written, properly disturbing and gripping story I can recommend to any fan of the genre.

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Jamie, Shane and Mary Kate practically grew up together and have been friends for a long time. But their friendship is about to be tested as one night Mary Kate is brutally attacked and raped and now lies in a coma. Jamie was found unconscious close to her body, and he is an instant suspect. The evidence against him is overwhelming; the fact that he cannot remember what happened that night doesn’t really help either. But even though Jamie has a secret that might help prove his innocence, he decides to leave his fate in the hands of God. If he is supposed to be innocent, then Mary Kate will wake up from her coma and reveal the real attacker. Only, life doesn’t always work that way…

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Not only is this story packed with plot twists, action and an intriguing plot, it was also really interesting to learn more about the main characters and their development. This crime thriller is set in Ireland and has a diverse plot with a wide variety of different characters that will each add a little something to the story. Corrupt guards, a private detective, a serial killer, an unexperienced solicitor and more; you won’t find a boring moment in this story!


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ARC REVIEW: Little Girl Lost – by Carol Wyer

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Title: Little Girl Lost
(DI Robyn Carter #1)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: January 19th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: February 10th 2017
Pages: 412
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“It’s a gift of the truth. Lies harm. Lies hurt. The truth liberates. You should try it sometime. In fact, you should try it now before it’s too late.”

*** 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 have a weak spot for a good psychological thriller, so even though I shouldn’t have, I requested a copy of Little Girl Lost anyway after hearing a lot of great things about it. This book by Carol Wyer is the first book of a new detective series and I’m glad I listened to the positive reviews. It’s without doubt a worthy psychological thriller! The writing style is really enjoyable to read and there were lots and lots of plot twists to enjoy. The new main character of this series surely stumbles across some very disturbed and twisted characters during her first appearance! Robyn Carter is your typical DI main character with cliche messed up past and impressive detective skills, but I’ve grown to like her during the story. It wasn’t love at first sight, but I will be looking forward to find out what happens to her in the future. Some of the other characters were on the border of annoying, but I guess some of them are supposed to be unlikeable/unreliable in the first place. The plot itself was a mix of messed up, intriguing, shocking with a healthy dose of paranoia. I’m sure most of the twists and revelations will surprise you, even though (part of) the ending was a little predictable. If you are looking for an entertaining, well written and twisted psychological thriller, Little Girl Lost is without doubt a great choice.

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A teacher goes missing under suspicious circumstances and a millionaire is murdered during a run, but there doesn’t seem to be an obvious link between the men. Detective Robyn Carter has just returned to the force and told to work on the cases. When she starts her investigation, things don’t exactly add up. Her investigations lead her to Abigail, a woman with a seemingly perfect life and a beautiful little daughter Izzy. Robyn has the feeling the woman is hiding something though… What is Abigails connection to the victims? And why is someone threatening Abigail?

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Little Girl Lost doesn’t only belong to one of my favorite genres, it also involves a serial killer. It might sound weird, but serial killer thrillers truly fascinate me… And the killer in this one definitely is a ‘beauty’. Twisted, disturbed, messed up childhood and a touch of humanity, all put together in a huge bowl of REVENGE: that is basically the description of the perp in Little Girl Lost. The true identity is hidden for a long time, although it’s quite easy to guess who it is before you reach the ending. A lot of the other twists will definitely shock/surprise you and if you are looking for a gripping psychological thriller I can definitely recommend this one.


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ARC REVIEW: Missing – by Monty Marsden

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Title: Missing
Author: Monty Marsden

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Aria
Finished reading: February 1st 2017
Pages: 266
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“Patience is like a tree – the roots are bitter, but the fruits are most sweet.”

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

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This story was actually published over two months ago, but somehow it got mixed up with other ARCs and I didn’t read it on time. Oops? I always have a weak spot for a good thriller and I have an (unhealthy?) obsession for stories about serial killers. Add an Italian setting and I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of Missing. The author Monty Marsden is actually Italian; something I didn’t realize immediately, but it shows in the detailed descriptions and this book is in fact actually a translation. I was completely ready to dive into this serial killer mystery, but I ended up taking a very long time to finish it. I’m not sure if part of the essence of this story is lost in translation, but it all just felt way too chaotic and it took a long time before things started to make sense for me. The many POV switches distracted from the main plot and had me confused which characters were actually important in the story. That said, the introduction of Claps, suffering from aphasia (the struggle to comprehend and use words and verbal expressions) added a whole different level to the plot. He is a truly fascinating character and I enjoyed following his development. All in all Missing is not the best mystery I’ve read, although part might have been lost in translation and it did have its charm.

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Ami lives with her family in a little village in Lombardy, a seemingly safe and dusty place. But that is until one day Ami steps out of her house to go to school and never comes back nor did she ever make it to school. Her father raises the alarm and they start an immediate search for the little girl. Police Commisioner Sensi leads the investigation, and they seem to have found a trail straight away. But three months later, they still haven’t found Ami and they don’t have a solid lead as to what happened to her. Sensi decides to talk to his old friend Dr. Claps, a renowned criminologist who had to retire after suffering from aphasia. Because Ami doesn’t seem to be the only little girl who went missing, and Sensi needs all the help he can get to solve the mystery…

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I was really looking forward to Missing, especially after I found out about its Italian setting and the involvement of a serial killer. It’s not that the case itself isn’t intriguing and I really enjoyed the setting, but I somehow I had a really hard time reading this story. It just all felt chaotic with too many different characters/POVs being introduced without a proper connection… And I had a hard time understanding the relevance of some of the chapters. Things started to make sense later on in the story, but for me it was too little too late. Missing is a story with a lot of potential and interesting characters, and I kind of wish my Italian would be good enough to read the original version just to see if it was just the translation that let me down…


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ARC REVIEW: Witness – by Caroline Mitchell

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Title: Witness
Author: Caroline Mitchell

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: December 20th 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: January 3rd 2017
Pages: 338
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“You come into this world alone, and you go out of it alone. As soon as you make peace with that, the sooner you learn there’s no point being afraid.”

*** 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 wasn’t going to request any new Netgalley titles, but I had heard so many great things about Witness that I just HAD to click that button again. I’m so glad my fellow bloggers convinced me to pick up this title, because this newest psychological thriller by Caroline Mitchell turned out to be another more than excellent read that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Due to its well written prose,  full-speed pace, intriguing plot and many, many plot twists, I literally flew through the pages of Witness and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Sure, the main character Rebecca isn’t exactly reliable and I’m not sure I actually like her. Sure, I don’t exactly agree with the things see did. But that suspense, those twists! The plot is without doubt very original and you probably won’t see the ending coming. I kind of suspected something was a bit off, but definitely not THAT. If you are looking for your next suspense-packed psychological thriller, Witness is surely an excellent choice!

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What to Rebecca was a brave decision that would finally free her from domestic abuse, had enormous consequences for Solomon. Rebecca’s testimony locked Solomon away for ten years, but his good behavior gets him out early. Rebecca doesn’t know about his release; she left her old life without a trace to be able to rebuild her life and put the past behind her. But the past always finds a way to catch up… And one day, a phone rings in her bedroom, but it’s not hers. Solomon has been in her house, and left a very terrifying message. Let the game begin…

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Every time I think of the plot, I cannot stop thinking of how original, twisted and intriguing it is. I don’t want to give away too much to avoid spoilers, but any fan of suspenseful psychological thrillers will appreciate Witness as a story. Sure, the main characters are not that likeable, but the writing is very strong as well as the plot (twists). It shows what someone will do to protect their own… And how the past always catches up in the end. More than recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: Walk Into Silence – by Susan McBride

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Title: Walk Into Silence
(Detective Jo Larsen #1)
Author: Susan McBride

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 11th 2016
Pages: 367
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“The human mind is a tricky piece of machinery. It’s hard to anticipate what anyone might do from one day to the next, even the most rational human being, but especially those under severe psychological stress.”

*** 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 can always enjoy a good thriller, and this new detective series by Susan McBride immediately caught my eye. I was really looking forward to this one, and Walk Into Silence turned out to be a fast-paced and well written psychological thriller and a series that without doubt will be on my radar. The main character the series is named after, detective Jo Larsen, is a bit of a cliche with her messed up private life and past, but I guess it’s an angle a lot of popular detective thrillers seem to be using in the first place. And in this case the cliche character works rather well together with the case they are investigating, so it didn’t distract too much at all from the main plot. There are quite a few plot twists involved in the story and both the disappearance of Jenny and the mystery around her son Finn’s death are without doubt intriguing. If you like the genre, Walk Into Silence will definitely be right up your alley.

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When a woman disappears from a Texas town, detective Jo Larsen isn’t sure if she simply ran off or if there is something more behind it. She doesn’t really want to believe Jenny’s second husband when he shows up at her desk, but as she digs deeper into the woman’s life, Jo is starting to suspect something might be off. Jenny had a tragic past; her young son died a few years ago and her first marriage was dissolved not long after that. Her doctor claimed she never recovered from the loss, but did Jenny really just want to disappear or should Jo suspect foul play?

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Fast-paced, well written, interesting plot and plot twists, easy to read… Those are a few of the caracteristics I look for when I’m trying to find a new mystery/thriller to read. And Walk Into Silence definitely ticks all those boxes and more. The main character might be a bit of a cliche, but I soon forgot about it as I was drawn into the case of Jenny’s disappearance and Finn’s death. Walk Into Silence is without doubt a strong start to a new detective series!

ARC REVIEW: His Kidnapper’s Shoes – by Maggie James

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Title: His Kidnapper’s Shoes
Author: Maggie James

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 15th 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: November 27th 2016
Pages: 286
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“Sometimes the people who touch our lives the most are only passing through.”

*** 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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The main reason I decided I wanted to read His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James is the whole idea of a story that is partly written from the kidnapper’s view sounded both intriguing and refreshing. And it definitely turned out to be another great psychological thriller with an interesting twist. The character development in His Kidnapper’s Shoes is probably the most interesting part of this story, as we see how both the kidnapper and her ‘son’ evolve over time and deal with everything that happens in their lives. The characters are not exactly likeable, but they are well developed and the author took her time explaining the why behind the kidnapping and the woman’s motive. The story switches between past and present and touches some very sensitive topics; you’ve been warned. That said, it’s without doubt an interesting psychological thriller for those who enjoy the genre. With it’s fast pace and easy-to-read prose it is an entertaining read despite the sensitive topics.

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Deep down Laura Bateman knows something is wrong and that her relationship with her son isn’t what it should be. Their relationship is actually based on lies, but bad things have happened to Laura in the past that have changed her forever. When twenty-six-year-old Daniel finds out the truth about his mother, he doesn’t know what to do with it. His world has turned upside down, and he is left with nothing but questions… Why did Laura do what she did? And can Daniel ever forgive her?

 

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If you like reading psychological thrillers as much as I do, you will probably enjoy His Kidnapper’s Shoes as well. It’s a fast-paced read with a refreshing new angle that adds a lot of dept to the story. It’s interesting to learn more about both Laura and Daniel and how they ended up in their current situation. I don’t want to reveal too much to avoid spoilers, but it’s definitely worth the try.

BOOK REVIEW: The Butterfly Garden – by Dot Hutchison

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Title: The Butterfly Garden
Author: Dot Hutchison

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
First published: April 26th 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: November 26th 2016
Pages: 288
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“Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

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I’ve been intrigued by this title ever since I first heard about it a few months ago, and the Goodreads Choice Awards were the perfect excuse to finally pick up my copy of The Butterfly Garden. And boy I definitely got more than what I had expected! This book is mentioned in the horror genre for a good reason, because this is without doubt one sick and messed up story. I will never look at my butterfly tattoo the same way again… The Butterfly Garden is a well written story, although the beginning and ending were a lot stronger than the middle part. In fact, the pace slowed down considerably at one point, almost dragged and it took me longer that imagined to finish it. I’m not sure if all of it is all that believable either (for example: why don’t those girls ever fight back?!?!). That said, it is without doubt one hell of a horror story and both the Gardener and the Garden itself very well executed. The Garden even sounds beautiful when you read the descriptions, until you start to think about the true horrors the place is hiding… Despite its minor flaws, I would definitely recommend The Butterfly Garden to anyone who enjoys a good horror read and doesn’t mind shocking and sensitive details.

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The Gardener has build a beautiful garden nearby his isolated mansion, but his garden doesn’t only grow flowers and trees… A collection of ‘butterflies’ also live there; young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. The Gardener is a brutal and twisted man, obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens… Until one day the garden is discovered. A survivor is brought in for questioning, and the FBI has a hard time piecing together all the details of what has to be one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. And the girl isn’t making it any easier for them… She seems to be hiding something, but what is it? And can her story be fully trusted?

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This story definitely isn’t for the weakhearted: abuse, kidnapping and a very twisted story in general. For those who enjoy a proper horror story this will be an excellent read though. Sure, the middle part is a bit slow and takes a bit longer to read. Sure, the credibility of the plot might not be all that good. But there is one thing for sure: Dot Hutchison knows how to set the right atmosphere and create a pretty darn good creepy story.