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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WWW Wednesdays #274 – June 24th

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

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading upcoming blog tour read Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver and I’m definitely curious to see how I will react to this story after a surprising experience with book two. I’ll also be starting The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey as I’m in need of a little break from thrillers next…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain (4/5 stars) REVIEW 28/06
This is already my final journey with Archie and Sheridan… After neglecting the series for years, I’ve finally stepped up my game and read the final four books in record time. I know that technically the author promised more books were yet to come, but as it’s been seven years since book six was published I don’t think that will happen any time soon. That said, while Let Me Go is not my favorite of the series and not as strong as the first books, it was without doubt still a thrilling read.

2. The Ten Thousand Doors Of January by Alix E. Harrow (5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/06
What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough.

3. The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond (3/5 stars) REVIEW 26/06
I admit that I was curious as soon as I read the blurb, and after seeing the first positive reviews I couldn’t resist requesting a copy. The Heatwave is not a bad read, but somehow it didn’t manage to convince me in the end… I found part of the plot quite cliche, especially the flashbacks were slowgoing and I thought the final reveals were a bit over the top and didn’t match the pace and intensity of the rest of the story? Either that or it’s time for me to take a little break from psychological thrillers, as I somehow didn’t enjoy this story as much as I thought I would.

4. The Switch by Beth O’Leary (4/5 stars) REVIEW 30/06
I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically.

5. Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/07
I’m a fan of Peter Swanson‘s writing and I’ve been looking forward to dive into Eight Perfect Murders ever since I first heard about it. I love books with bookish elements and I love my crime thriller stories, so the premise of this newest story sounded absolutely fantastic. The structure of the plot is brilliant, the writing engaging, the character development fascinating, the many bookish elements including the bookshop and Nero the cat simply divine… I had heaps of fun reading Eight Perfect Murders!

6. The Collector by John Maher (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 04/07
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour!!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Good Girl Bad Girl by Michael Robotham is the second to last title on my June TBR as well as a book I need to read in preparation for the ARC of the sequel that is due next month. Afterwards I will most likely pick up that same sequel When She Was Good to help further decrease my pending NG ARC pile. This is also the last pending title on my June TBR! After that, I will probably finally start my second Spanish read of the year and pending Masa Crítica Argentina title: Entre Senderos De Lavanda by Mariela Giménez. It sounds like an interesting mix of mystery and romance and I hope it will be as good as the stunning cover! My newest TBR jar pick is still Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn, which I most likely won’t be able to pick up until July.


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ARC REVIEW: The Vanishing Season – by Dot Hutchison @amazonpub

Title: The Vanishing Season
(The Collector #4)

Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 21st 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 11th 2019
Pages: 320

“Sometimes we only recognize our limits once we’ve passed them.”

*** 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 a big fan of The Collector series ever since I read the first book back in 2016, and I have been waiting impatiently for the final installment ever since I read book three last year. There is no doubt that The Vanishing Season delivers. Each book of the series actually follows a different member of the FBI team, and this last book is all about Eliza and Brandon. I personally really appreciate this little detail, as it gives us the opportunity to learn more about certain characters while also still having the bantering between the members of the team. It’s definitely a series best read in order, or else you will be missing important background information about both characters and past cases… But they will be well worth your time. The Vanishing Season has definitely succeeded in making this series go out with a bang. Things are going to get very personal and cold cases are going to get mixed with a current kidnapping case in a way you won’t be able to guess easily. There are twists and turns involved to mislead you and while you may get some details right, it will be impossible to imagine the full truth about the who, how and why until the very end. And you won’t be able to keep it dry by the time you reach the final page either… A part of this reaction has to do with the characters and how easy it is to connect to and basically adopt them. I personally love all members of the FBI team, flaws and all, and their bantering and dry humor is right up my alley. I even have a namesake in this series; something that doesn’t happen often! I have seen some people complaining about the use of Spanish, but I personally love those little details as they add an authentic touch to the characters without complicating those readers who don’t understand Spanish. Each character is thoroughly developed during the series and feels realistic; it’s interesting seeing them evolve over time and I loved finding out how everything ended. The second half of The Vanishing Season is basically an emotional rollercoaster and there will most likely be tears involved if you were able to connect to the characters previously. I found myself flying through the pages as I was dying to discover how it all ended; I literally couldn’t put down my kindle until I got there. I liked how everything wrapped up nicely and I was more than satisfied with this final book of the series. The Vanishing Season and The Summer Children are now tied for series favorite! If you enjoyed the previous books, you will most likely have an excellent time with this story as well.


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ARC REVIEW: The Summer Children – by Dot Hutchison @DotHutchison @amazonpub

Title: The Summer Children
(The Collector #3)
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: May 22nd 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: April 14th 2018
Pages: 302

“Scars mean we survived something, even when the wounds still hurt.”

*** 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 have been following this series ever since I read the first book back in 2016. The Butterfly Garden blew me away with one of the most disturbing and twisted serial killer cases I’ve encountered to this date. And somehow, I think The Summer Children is my new favorite of the series. Because while I remember having some doubts about the pace in the middle of the first book, it was literally hook, line and sinker with The Summer Children. I practically devoured this third book of The Collector series and couldn’t let go until the final page. Dot Hutchison has created another intense, disturbing and painful case, and this time things are getting really personal for Mercedes Ramirez. The Summer Children is intense until the very last page and despite the heavy subject I loved every single minute of the ride. Why? First of all, the writing style is just as strong as ever, engaging, gritty and with a perfect mix of suspense, shocking moments and a healthy dose of bantering and a dash of humor. I also loved the mix of normal chapters with the thoughts in cursive! The characters are both well developed and very easy to like and I just love the dynamics between Mercedes and the rest of her team. And no, I’m not just biased by the fact she consistantly uses Spanish phrases and words in her dialogue (don’t worry, non-Spanish speakers will still be able to understand the dialogue perfectly!) The characters in general feel very realistic and all have their flaws and history, making them that much more human and very easy to warm up to. The serial killer in this case has an underlying message that will make you think… A trigger warning is in place for graphic scenes and child abuse for those who can’t stomach these elements in stories. But not without a note that these elements are very well incorporated into the story and not abused in any way. There are also lots of twists and turns included as they try to figure out who is behind it all. The Summer Children was strong from start to finish and this is the main reason this third book is now my new favorite of the series. And I just can’t wait to find out what the next book has in store for us next year.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

FBI agent Mercedes Ramirez has no idea what she has just gotten into when she finds an abused little boy on her porch, both covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear. He tells her an angel killed his parents and then brought him to Mercedes’ house so she can keep him safe. But it wasn’t just murder, it was a complete bloodbath; and the poor boy was forced to watch as the crime was committed. They have never seen something like this before… And things become even worse when more children start arriving on her doorstep.

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I thought it was going to be hard to outshine The Butterfly Garden, since it’s one of the best/most disturbed serial killer characterizations I’ve come across. But somehow, I think The Summer Children is the best book yet. From a consistant and superfast pace to likeable and realistic characters, a well developed plot and another intriguing and disturbing case… This third book just ticked all the boxes for me. Add the joy of revisiting old favorite characters and their bantering, and you have a new favorite The Collector book. Can you guess already I can recommend this one if you can stomach the graphic scenes and child abuse triggers?


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ARC REVIEW: Roses Of May – by Dot Hutchison @DotHutchison @ThomasMercerUK

Title: Roses Of May
(The Collector #2)
Author: Dot Hutchison

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: May 23rd 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 11th 2017
Pages: 300

“The public steals tragedies from victims. … These things happened to us, to our loved ones, but it hits the news and suddenly everyone with a TV or computer feels like they’re entitled to our reactions and recoveries.”

*** 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 going to be honest and admit I was completely unaware The Butterfly Garden was actually the first book of a trilogy when I read it last year. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw Roses Of May mentioned and realized it was a sequel; I instantly knew I had to read it after my experience with the first book. It was interesting how some of the main characters of The Butterfly Garden reacted after what happened in the first book, but Roses Of May can in fact also be read as a stand-alone since it’s mainly about a completely different case and serial killer. Dot Hutchison has without doubt created another creeper with this one and the case is intriguing, although I do have to say I was slightly disappointed by the fact I figured out his identity really early on in the story. The writing style is just as enjoyable as book one and I liked the main character Priya, her kick-ass attitude and relation with the feds. I think I still prefer the first book, just because it made a little more impact for being such a dark, twisted and shocking story, but Roses Of May has its share of horror as well. I liked that the POV switches between the present and the voice of the killer… It really adds to his character. As with the first book, it has a rather closed ending, so no painful cliffhangers (thankfully). I’ll be wondering what the third and final book will be about though!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Four months after what happened in the Garden, the three FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian and Mercedes Ramirez are still dealing with the aftermath. The butterflies are still struggling to adjust to life on the outside, but that is not the only case on their mind. Because as the winter slowly coming to an end, a different serial killer seems to be preparing to find himself another victim… And the agents know that if they don’t find him, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers. Will they be able to stop them on time? And what has Priya, one of the victims’ sister, to do with all of this?

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While not as strong or twisted as the first book, I still very much enjoyed Roses Of May. Especially the final part had a very fast pace and the writing style is very enjoyable to read. The serial killer and plot itself are both intriguing and the chapters with the killer’s thoughts added another level of suspense. I also might or might not have squealed when I saw my name mentioned in the story (doesn’t happen often, trust me!). The plot twists are interesting as well, although I did find out the killer’s identity early on. Without doubt still recommended though!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Butterfly Garden – by Dot Hutchison

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Title: The Butterfly Garden
(The Collector #1)
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.