Review: On My Life, by Angela Clarke

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Framed. Imprisoned. Pregnant.

Jenna thought she had the perfect life: a loving fiancé, a great job, a beautiful home. Then she finds her stepdaughter murdered; her partner missing.

And the police think she did it…

Locked up to await trial, surrounded by prisoners who’d hurt her if they knew what she’s accused of, certain someone close to her has framed her, Jenna knows what she needs to do:

Clear her name
Save her baby
Find the killer

I listened to the audio version of this via Audible and it’s another great novel by Angela Clarke, with excellent narration by Sarah Durham. Actually, now I’ve typed that, I think I’m going to say it’s her best. So far. Why? Because whilst Jenna finds herself in such an unimaginable situation, as a reader, I found myself so closely drawn in that I couldn’t help become emotionally entangled.

Not only has Jenna had that perfect life snatched away from her, but she also finds herself having to deal with multiple issues; from finding her missing fiancé to identifying Emily’s killer. From hiding her media-created identity (and her pregnancy) to dealing with being targeted by the most notorious inmate in the prison.

It is well-known that the author is involved in prison visits, and for me, that experience has added a layer of authenticity to a well-crafted story. The experiences faced by pregnant women in prison are unimaginable, and the author has highlighted these within a gripping story; one that will keep you guessing. And hardly daring to believe that it could have any kind of happy ending.

Highly recommended. The book that is. Not prison.

 

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Review: Game Theory, by Colleen Cross

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Someone is siphoning funds from billionaire Zachary Barron’s currency hedge fund. Intent on prosecuting the thief to the fullest extent of the law, he hires Katerina “Kat” Carter, the best forensic accountant in the business, to follow the money trail. Both are shocked when it leads to Zachary’s father, Nathan.

And he’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nathan belongs to a shadowy organization with global ties and unimaginable resources. They already control the banking industry and the media, but their ultimate goal – the collapse of the global currency market and a new world order – will soon be within reach.

Kat may be all that stands in their way. But for how long? The organization learns of her involvement and sends a warning. She knows it will be her last – others who have tried to foil their agenda have met with violent deaths.

If Kat walks away and keeps her mouth shut, she’ll look over her shoulder for the rest of her life in a world she’ll scarcely recognize. Ignoring the threat makes her and everyone she cares about a target… or a potential traitor.

Still, as Kat Carter knows all too well… the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

And there’s no hedging on this bet. It’s all or nothing. Who’s in?

This is the second in the Katerina Carter fraud thrillers; I’ll be reviewing numbers three and four in the not too distant future, and I reviewed Exit Strategy here.

I like the concept of a forensic accountant for a thriller – it stands a little bit apart from a legal thriller, and a forensic accountant’s life is all about following the money, to get to the bottom of fraud. This is where bean counting becomes more than just counting beans.

Game Theory is a competent thriller, and a great listen on Audible (it’s very well read by Petrea Burchard), and this story has an extra dimension of Kat trying to deal with her Uncle Harry’s deteriorating health, which adds a real personal layer to things.

It’s a great listen, but there were some niggles for me. A few aspects of the story didn’t sit right with me. I’m not convinced Zachary could be that blind to what had been going on, and there were a couple of times when Kat’s reaction, or thoughts, had me shaking my head. I mean, she’s a forensic accountant, a smart cookie by all accounts, but there is the odd time when she can’t quickly see the obvious. A bit irritating, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a good listen/read, and I am just being picky!

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: Twisted, by Steve Cavanagh

Twisted

BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

I am delighted to be part of Steve Cavanagh’s blog tour for Twisted, his latest novel all based around JT LeBeau, a famous, yet incredibly elusive author.

First off, I’ll start by saying I’m a huge fan of Steve’s writing, and I think his Eddie Flynn series is exceptional. Twisted is a very different story and a very different kind of novel. I read in another review somewhere that this is one of those books where the less said, the better the reader experience will be, and I think that’s a great point.

The book starts in August, with Paul Cooper waiting outside a theatre where mourners are attending a memorial service dedicated to the late JT LeBeau. But Paul isn’t a mourner; he’s got a .38 and he’s there to kill someone.

Skip back 4 months and we’re taken back to when things were relatively normal for Paul. We watch his story steadily play its way out through love, betrayal, greed and revenge (your usual crime thriller fare), and then at almost exactly the half-way point of the novel (I think my Kindle said 51%), there’s a major twist. And from then on in, everything seems to have been tossed in the air, and there’s no telling where it’s going to land!

I’m going to say no more about the story, other than it’ll keep you guessing.

I’m pleased to say I loved it!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…

Not JT LeBEau

 

 

 

 

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Review: Grey Magic, by JT Lawrence

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Did real-life witch Raven Kane murder one of her clients?

No one appreciates the irony of her situation more than Raven Kane: she’s a burnt-out witch … and that’s the least of her problems.

Accused of murder, this eccentric hexing-and-texting witch must explore her past lives to keep her freedom and find her way back to magic.

Not my usual read (or listen, as again this was an audiobook via Audible), but sometimes you’ve got to push the boundaries, and I’m glad I did.

I wasn’t sure when I first started listening. When you’re pretty much entrenched in a particular genre, wide as that may be, something quite different has a different effect on the reading experience. I’m also not sure how far into the book I was before I realised that I really liked the protagonist, and was keen to see how all this panned out. And things just got more and more interesting, until, towards the end, I found myself delaying having to do something as I had to listen to see how everything was resolved.

This modern witchcraft story is set in a slightly alternate reality South Africa, where witchcraft is alive and well, and people are keen to seek out the help of witches (often over the internet), but where the tensions of witch trials of old are bubbling just under the surface.

Raven Kane is accused of murder and finds herself under the watchful eye of Captain Kruger as he investigates the murder of one of her clients. But there seems to be more to Captain Kruger than meets the eye, and with herself in the frame and public attention starting to turn more hostile, Raven is facing an uphill struggle to keep her attraction to Kruger in check whilst trying to prove her innocence, neither of which is easy. Especially as she’s as guilty as the devil!

A very enjoyable listen – give it a go!

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Review: After He Died, by Michael J. Malone

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You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought she knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

I’m guessing it must be a bit of challenge to write authentically from the point of view of the opposite sex, but I’ve read (or listened to) a few books lately where the author seems to be able to do just that. After He Died, by Michael J. Malone is one of them.

The story starts with Paula Gadd being approached by Cara Connolly at the funeral of her husband, Thomas, and the note she is handed sends her on a path where the truth seems to want to stay tantalisingly out of reach. Cara blames Thomas for the death of her own brother, but how can Paula trust what she’s being told, when the man being described is nothing like the man she’d been married to for many years?

Michael expertly spins a tale of mystery from a web of family relationships, where the faces people portray are thin masks hiding their problems – or ambition. After He Died is an entertaining novel that keeps you hooked, with an ending that does not disappoint.

Oh, and I should mention that After He Died is published by Karen Sullivan’s Orenda Books. If ever there was a mark of quality, Orenda is it!

 

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Review: Dark Pines, by Will Dean

SEE NO EVIL
Eyes missing, two bodies lie deep in the forest near a remote Swedish town.
HEAR NO EVIL
Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.
SPEAK NO EVIL
A web of secrets. And an unsolved murder from twenty years ago.
Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the final victim? She’d like to think so. But first, she must face her demons and venture far into the deep, dark woods if she wants to stand any chance of getting the hell out of small-time Gavrik.

Next up in my catch-up of missed reviews from 2018 is Dark Pines. Now here’s a question. Will Dean has published two books in his Tuva Moodyson series. So how the hell do I find myself with five different versions? It’s actually quite straight-forward (and with books being the only vice I’m going to admit to, it’s fair enough, I think). I bought Dark Pines on Kindle, but didn’t get around to reading it, even after hearing great things. Because I did hear great things, I got a signed paperback at CrimeFest in 2018. Still didn’t read it, but when I saw the Audible companion for a bargain price, I picked that up to (three versions now). That was my mistake.

Why a mistake, I hear you ask? I’ll tell you why. Because Dark Pines is read by Maya Lindh, and it is a fantastic narration. Maya’s voice is Tuva’s. Maya is a Swedish actress living in London, and her accent is perfect for the book. Even the odd word pronounced differently to how I’d pronounce it, makes me smile in a good way.

So when I picked up a signed copy of Red Snow at a Waterstones event in Picadilly a couple of weeks back (with Will Dean on the left of this photo, who isn’t the giant this photo seems to show!), I just had to spend an Audible credit on an audio copy too, just so that Maya can read it to me. Five versions!

Will Dean

Anyway, this is supposed to be a review of Dark Pines, but it’s going to be brief:

Fantastic atmospheric Scandi noir crime book. Tuva Moodyson is a wonderful protagonist, and the portrayal of her deafness feels very authentic and allows the author to put her in some sticky situations. The story is great, with plenty of suspects to keep you guessing, and going back to the word atmospheric, Will creates a very real feeling of claustrophobia in ten thousand acres of forest. I’m guessing living in a log cabin in a forest in the middle of Sweden will give you that sense of authenticity. Brilliant book – go buy it. I’m about to cue up Maya to read Red Snow to me!

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Review: Trust Me, by Angela Clarke

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YOU SAW IT HAPPEN. DIDN’T YOU?

What do you do if you witness a crime…but no-one believes you?

When Kate sees a horrific attack streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who attacked her.

Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but the trail has gone cold. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?

Dark, gripping, and flawlessly paced, Trust Me is the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.

Although this is the third in Angela’s social media murderer series, Trust Me works well as a standalone. Freddie Venton, working in a civilian consultant type role, and DS Nas Cudmore are both strong female leads, and whilst previous books give you their history, it’s easy to pick up and see how their almost dysfunctional partnership works well.

As you would expect, the dark side of social media plays a big part here. Kate’s a reliable type, but she’s had some wine and the police find her less than credible when she reports seeing a murder take place online. But Freddie and Nas are the perfect duo to take up the case, even if Freddie will often speak (and act) before she’s really thought about it – the perfect trait for an author to place her in jeopardy.

Trust Me is a great read, and the perfect filler to tide you over until Angela’s next book, the highly anticipated On My Life, is published on 7 March 2019.

 

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