Just Read… Come and Find Me, by Sarah Hilary

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On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.

DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She’s finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn’t able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.

As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him – and is about to pay the ultimate price.

* * *

Sarah Hilary delivers another belter with this, the 5th in the DI Marnie Rome series. I listened to this on Audible last month, and here’s what I tweeted at the time.

Tweet S Hilary

Come and Find Me follows Marnie and Noah in their hunt for sadistic prisoner, Michael Vokey, who’s on the run following a jail-break during a brutally violent prison riot. Vokey is a manipulator and with the police wading through the bloody aftermath of the riot, they are clear that he needs to be apprehended before more people get hurt. But with two infatuated women on the outside, and two other potential targets, Marnie’s team are stretched. And this is personal for Marnie – her foster brother, Stephen, is one of those prisoners hospitalised.

As ever, Sarah Hilary has created a tightly-plotted novel with plenty going on, and with the clever use of different viewpoints, we are kept guessing right up until the end. Because this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill police procedural; great characters, plenty of misdirection, and the ever impending sense of danger make this a real page-turner – figuratively speaking, if you’re listening on audio like I did.

And as I mentioned in my Tweet, poor Noah!

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Just Read… Strangers on a Bridge, by Louise Mangos

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When Alice Reed goes on her regular morning jog in the peaceful Swiss Alps, she doesn’t expect to save a man from suicide. But she does. And it is her first mistake.

Adamant they have an instant connection, Manfred’s charming exterior grows darker and his obsession with Alice grows stronger.

In a country far from home, where the police don’t believe her, the locals don’t trust her and even her husband questions the truth about Manfred, Alice has nowhere to turn.

To what lengths will Alice go to protect herself and her family?

***

This is a great debut by Swiss-based author, Louise Mangos, who has clearly used her own experiences of living in Switzerland to create a story with a very authentic feel to it. The mountains and lakes imagery created provides a great backdrop for this tale of dark obsession.

The blurb on the cover, “She should never have saved him”, gives you a good idea of where this story goes. Right from the start, it is clear that saving Manfred is going to cause Alice a good deal of trouble, but actually, I found that the story didn’t quite take me where I expected. Which was good!

When the authorities take no notice of Alice’s complaints about Manfred’s increasingly worrying behaviour, she becomes more and more frustrated and takes matters into her own hands – which only makes things worse. Alice doesn’t always make the right decisions, but her decisions do stay true to her character. With her husband working away for long periods of time, Alice feels isolated and the Swiss locals aren’t going out of their way to make her feel part of the community.

Good pace, good tension and plenty of atmosphere make this an accomplished debut.

 

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Just Read… Turn a Blind Eye, by Vicky Newham

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A dead girl.
A wall of silence.
DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:

I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.

Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim.

Turn a Blind Eye is the first book in a brand-new series set in East London and starring DI Maya Rahman.


 

Vicky’s Newham’s debut police-procedural novel is a cracker! DI Maya Rahman is Bangladeshi but has been living in London for most of her life, and this novel explores the strands of racial diversity that make up London’s Tower Hamlets. The school mentioned in the blurb above is Maya Rahman’s old school; she knows it well, and she knows the problems its pupils face. But Rahman’s own life is complicated too. The story starts following the death of her own brother, and this is the first glimpse we get into the issues of culture and identity that Rahman herself is trying to feel more comfortable with.

The book delves deeply into racial and cultural diversity and it’s clear that it draws on the author’s experience of having been an East End teacher herself. Even Rahman’s sidekick, Aussie Dan Maguire, has an aboriginal wife and family back home in Australia.

There’s a large cast of characters here, and we are given a number of different viewpoints. This could easily have been confusing, but skilful writing and structuring stopped that from happening – not an easy task.

I’m not from London, but from an outsider’s perspective, the atmosphere felt very real indeed, and the plot kept me guessing until the end. A great start to what is undoubtedly going to be a successful series.

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Just Read… When the Waters Recede, by Graham Smith

 

When The Waters Recede

I’m delighted to be part of the Blog Blitz to support the launch of Graham Smith’s latest Harry Evans novel, When the Waters Recede. Make sure you read to the end for news of an exciting giveaway!

When Waters Recede Cover

When a car is pulled from raging floodwaters with a dead man in the front and the decapitated body of an evil woman in the boot, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the investigation.

The woman is soon recognised, but the man cannot be identified and this leads the team and their former leader, Harry Evans, into areas none of them want to visit. Before they know it, they’re dealing with protection scams and looking for answers to questions they didn’t know needed to be asked.

A lot has happened to Harry Evans since my review of I Know Your Secret. He’s trying to get over the loss of his beloved Janet, and although now retired from the force, he has managed to ‘persuade’ the powers that be to let him back in a consultancy role. As the blurb says above, we’re straight into the story, with not one, but two bodies. The woman in the boot is seemingly hated by everyone, and the identity of the driver is a complete mystery.

Whilst Harry isn’t leading this investigation, it’s him his old team are looking to. And whilst he always seems closest to seeing the bigger picture here, he’s finding himself more and more distracted by both Lauren Phillips (not to mention anyone showing any cleavage) and the problems she’s dealing with.

Smith skillfully keeps us entertained, introducing new snippets of information at just the right pace to keep us readers on our toes.

When the Waters Recede is another accomplished offering by a great writer.

* * *

I recently spent some time with Graham as part of his brilliant Crime Publishment course, but if you’ve not come across him before, here’s his bio (and don’t be alarmed, he’s much more smiley in real life!):

Graham Smith Author Pic

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been the manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has three books and three novellas featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Graham can be found at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972
Website: www.grahamsmithauthor.com

!*! Giveaway !*!

When Waters Recede - 6 Book Giveaway

To celebrate the release of When the Waters Recede, Graham Smith is offering one lucky reader the chance to win all six books in the Harry Evans series.

To enter, simply sign up for his newsletter via the link provided before the 5th of June 2018 and you’ll be entered into not just this competition, but all competitions that he runs. Entrants from across the world are welcome.
http://blogspot.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=8bbfc9a3acb79a408253510a8&id=48d2dc65e5

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Just Read… Deep Blue Trouble, by Steph Broadribb

I was invited to the Steph’s launch of Deep Blue Trouble this evening at Waterstones, Covent Garden – a joint launch, in fact, with Johana Gustawsson and her novel, Keeper – by the fab Karen Sullivan of Orenda. Unfortunately scheduling (and geography) meant I couldn’t attend. That doesn’t stop me shouting about it though:

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Here’s the blurb:

Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything.

As with most of the books I get through lately, I listened via Audible to Deep Blue Trouble, the sequel to fast-paced Deep Down Dead. It is read (with a very fitting southern drawl) by Jennifer Woodward. If you follow the link to my Deep Down Dead review, you’ll see that I loved that, and made favourable comparisons to one of my favourite authors, Meg Gardiner. Steph’s first in the series is a tough one to follow, so how did she do?

Fabulously, that’s how. Deep Blue Trouble is another high-octane ride-along with mom turned bounty hunter, Lori Anderson. The blurb above gives you a decent outline of the story, but what it can’t convey is the tension Steph manages to get into the story. With the mob looking for both Lori and Dakota, and JT in danger himself, there’s a lot at stake here. And it isn’t always clear exactly who the good guys the bad guys are.

Lori wants to do the right thing by everyone, but doesn’t always make the wisest choices in trying to do that. And she’s not beyond making a few extra enemies when she doesn’t need to. But you can’t be a kick-ass heroine without kicking some ass. Even if it means you’re gonna get some bumps and bruises on the way.

If you like riding the roller-coaster, this is another fast ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just Read… Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh

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They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the courtroom start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

Visitors to this occasional blog will know I’m a big fan of Steve Cavanagh and his hustler turned lawyer protagonist, Eddie Flynn. How big a fan I hear you ask? This big:

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And why am I such a big fan? Well, I finished this book in February, and this is what I tweeted at the time:

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It’s now April (I know, I’m late!) and I’ve gotten through a decent number of books in the last two months. And am I still thinking Thirteen is likely to be the best book of 2018? You bet I am!

Thirteen is very much like the preceding Eddie Flynn books: fast-paced with a wonderful protagonist – and clever. Very clever. And by that I mean Steve Cavanagh throws cases at Eddie Flynn that are seemingly impossible to defend, which hooks the reader from the start. And watching Eddie work through them is watching a genius at work. There is no deus ex machina at work here; Flynn might have a little occasional luck on his side, but he solves them with wit, skill and flare. Which he really needs as in Thirteen he finds himself at the mercy of both corrupt cops, and a serial killer who has literally gotten away with murder many, many times.

A must read.

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Just Read… The House, by Simon Lelic.

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The perfect couple. The perfect house.
…The perfect crime.

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door.

AND NOW THE POLICE ARE WATCHING THEM.

Just catching up with a backlog of reviews, starting with The House, by Simon Lelic. I heard Simon on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club and immediately added his latest novel to my want list. I’d last read one of his books – Rupture – some years ago, and really enjoyed it, which made me want to read The House even more. I wasn’t disappointed.

I actually listened to this on Audible, ably read by Adam Newington and Gemma Whelan, narrating the parts of Jack and Sydney. Each has been keeping a diary, and are telling us the same story from their own viewpoints. The same creepy story. Sydney insists this isn’t a ghost story but doesn’t do well in convincing us of that as the tale unfolds, and more and more bad things happen.

I loved this book and the two narrators gradually reveal what has happened to them in a way which keeps the reader/listener gripped and guessing. And just a little bit spooked.

 

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Just Read… Dead Lands, by Lloyd Otis

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Even though I have a signed copy of this from Lloyd’s launch in London, last October, I actually listened to the audio version of Dead Lands, ably read by ‎Ben Onwukwe. Here’s what I thought.

Dead Lands Launch

When a woman’s body is found, a special team is called in to investigate, and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked, and suspicions deepen.

When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge – and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy.

Set in the 1970s, Lloyd reminds us with Dead Lands that policing back then was very different to today, with no CCTV, no mobile phones, oh, and Austin Allegros!

DI Arlo Breck is faced with investigating the brutal murder of investment firm employee, Janet Maskell, but some things don’t seem to add up. And just who is Alex Troy? Murderer? Innocent man? And is there more than one of him? Breck has a challenge on his hands to solve this case, and it seems that not everyone on the force is there to help him. Or tell him the truth.

Dead Lands, published by Urbane Publications, is an accomplished debut. There are a number of strands smoothly woven through the novel, against a backdrop of borderline police corruption and racial tension.

I look forward to more outings for DI Arlo Breck.

 

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Just Read… The Bone Keeper, by Luca Veste

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What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?
 
He’ll slice your flesh. 
Your bones he’ll keep.
 
Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned. 
 
Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper.  Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood.  But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone. 

The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.

This is no ordinary police procedural. Not with the Bone Keeper as the antagonist. The creature that kids sang about; the creature that could very well be real. The woman found wandering the streets has no real recollection of events, but she is sure of one thing, the Bone Keeper took her.

Despite her colleagues assigning that assertion to shock, DC Louise Henderson is not so sure. And with her own secretive past, you can’t help but think she has had some previous encounter. Was she one of the unnamed teenagers who went looking for the Bone Keeper 20 years ago?

Luca’s standalone has received praise from some big names in crime fiction, including Val McDermid, Martina Cole, Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre. And I can see why; it is seriously creepy. In Chris Brookmyre’s own words, ‘An entertainingly nasty piece of work’. It kept me turning the pages until the end, and boy, what a great end it is too.

The Bone Keeper (which has probably the best cover you’ll see this year) is published by Simon & Schuster UK today. Go get a copy. But leave the lights on.

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Just Read… Fighting Monsters, By Rebecca Bradley

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24 hours after he walked away from court a free man, cop killer and gang leader Simon Talbot is found murdered. In his possession; the name of a protected witness from his trial. 

For DI Hannah Robbins, it’s a race against time to find Talbot’s killer, and locate the bystander before it’s too late.

But as Hannah delves deeper into the past, she begins to question the integrity of the whole operation.

Where do you turn when you can’t trust the police?

I’m delighted to be part of Rebecca’s blog tour for the launch of her third Nottinghamshire based DI Hannah Robbins novel, Fighting Monsters. I’ve previously reviewed Rebecca’s debut, Shallow Waters here (which is currently free on Kindle at the moment – click here), and the next Hannah Robbins novel, Made to be Broken, here.

With Rebecca’s background, you can count on a feel of authenticity in her police procedurals, and Fighting Monsters is no different. But this is not a story bogged down in technical detail; Rebecca weaves procedure skillfully into the story.

As it says in the book blurb above, Simon Talbot walks from court a free man, much to the surprise of everyone, not least the family of the dead policeman, and his ex-colleagues. In fact, the only person who doesn’t seem surprised is Talbot himself.

Hannah and her team have to entertain all possibilities during the investigation into the murder,  including turning their gaze towards their own. And when more bodies turn up, things get increasingly frustrating for the team.

I enjoyed the story, which is perfectly paced to keep you reading. It was good to be reacquainted with old characters, and a couple of new ones bring an extra dimension. Pasha, for example, is dealing with some unique issues herself, while trying to ingratiate herself with a team who really miss the team-member she’s replacing.

Fighting Monsters was published yesterday (19th February 2018) and whilst it can be read as a standalone, there are some plot lines (and even a named killer) which would be spoilers for Hannah Robbins first two outings, so you may want to pick those up first. And with Shallow Waters currently being free, why wouldn’t you?

 

 

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Just Read… This is How it Ends, by Eva Dolan

This is How it Ends

This is how it begins.

With a near-empty building, the inhabitants forced out of their homes by property developers.

With two women: idealistic, impassioned blogger Ella and seasoned campaigner, Molly.

With a body hidden in a lift shaft.

But how will it end?

Once again, Eva Dolan demonstrates she can weave a pretty fine tale, this time with a background of big money forcing out long-term residents of a tower block so that it can be replaced by property that will be way out of their reach.

Molly has taken blogging star, Ella, under her wing, but during a party in the largely empty tower block, she finds herself dragged into something much darker when she finds Ella with the body of a dead man. The police want nothing more than to get Ella out of the picture, so Molly is quickly convinced to help her hide the body. But is everything as it seems?

The story follows Molly and Ella, but also intersperses chapters showing the run-up to the party. These largely travel backwards in time, so I had to think about the date at the top of each chapter to make sure I knew when we were talking about. Not too difficult, but it did make my linear brain do a little work. Don’t let that put you off though.

All in all, this was a great book, very relevant to today (as always with Eva’s books), with some nice twists, and what I felt was a satisfactory (if unexpected!) ending.

 

 

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Just Read… The Deaths of December, by Susi Holliday

The Deaths of December

Okay, it’s February, not December, but don’t let that put you off.

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors . . . and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them . . .

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

This is Susi Holliday’s first book under her full name, rather than SJI Holliday. We’ve moved away from Banktoun in this Christmas standalone, which really doesn’t need to be read (or in my case, listened to whilst driving around a rainy Wales) at Christmas. And maybe this won’t be a standalone, because Susi has created some cracking characters in DC Becky Greene and DS Eddie Carmine.

Practice makes perfect, right? Well, that is very evident here. I’ve reviewed and enjoyed all of Susi’s previous books, but this really is her best yet. The concept is really very good, and the pace of the story feels just about perfect, with some nice ‘wow’ moments when you realise how some things and people are linked. Simple, yet very cleverly done.

A book is for life, not just Christmas. Right?

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Just Read… Cragside, by LJ Ross

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Not read. Listened to.

Are you afraid of the dark..?

After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realise that all is not as it appears.

When a second body is found, terror grips the close-knit community and Ryan must uncover the killer who walks among them, before they strike again…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape. 

This is book 6 in the DCI Ryan mystery series, and although there is some backstory here (e.g. The Hacker and the ongoing consequences of dealing with him) it can be read as a standalone.

I enjoyed this book and the narration, by Jonathan Keeble, is spot on. Set in a stately home, there’s a bit of a feel of a classic detective story here, and indeed a number of the characters involved are not necessarily who they portray themselves as.

There are plenty of twists and turns and the story develops nicely. In fact, I’d forgotten the prologue until we were getting towards the end, and of course that was a key part of the tale (not that that snippet will help you solve the murder!).

All in all, a great (and satisfying) read.

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Just Read… Bad Sister, by Sam Carrington

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Then

When flames rip through their family home, only teenager Stephanie and her younger brother escape unhurt. Brett always liked to play with fire, but now their dad is dead and someone has to pay the price.

Now

Psychologist Connie Summers wants to help Stephanie rebuild her life. She has a new name, a young son and everything to live for. But when Stephanie receives a letter from someone she’d hoped would never find her, Connie is forced to question what really happened that night. But some truths are better left alone . . .

In this second psychological thriller from Sam Carrington, we’re dealing with both Stephanie and Connie who are trying to escape a past that just doesn’t want to let them go. Stephanie is hiding under a witness protection scheme, with Connie trying to help her deal with the past and adjust to a new life, but when Connie’s own past is thrown glaring into the spotlight, Stephanie wants to be reassigned to someone new. That doesn’t happen, and we soon start to fear for the safety of both characters.

Bad Sister is a character-driven novel that soon draws you in. Well written, plenty of intrigue, and enough twists and turns to keep you off-balance. A great book, and is out in paperback today!

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Just Read… Roam, By Erik Therme

Roam

Woah, I am so behind with reviews, so it’s catch-up time.

First up is Roam, by Erik Therme:

Three strangers, each searching for something out of reach.

Sarah Cate, celebrating her 21st birthday, is pushed over the edge after car trouble strands her in the middle of nowhere with an angry, unstable boyfriend.

Kevin Reed, a troubled adolescent abused by a loveless father, roams the night in his black Camaro, looking to pay forward one of the few acts of kindness he’s ever received.

Scotty Mason, plagued by profound guilt and completely detached from his world, is haunted by the unshakable fear that something inside him is dangerously broken and cannot be fixed.

When their lives intersect in an unsavoury hotel with a bloody history, all three will struggle to exorcise their personal demons, unaware that a bigger threat is looming… and waiting for the right moment to strike.

This was an Audible book, which I actually listened to at the start of November. Here’s what I thought of it then:

Tweet

And that tweet largely sums it up for me. As you might know, I’m a big Stephen King fan, with The Stand being my all-time favourite. And why? Well, it’s largely down to the way SK breathes life into his characters. They become real. And to me, it seemed that Erik Therme exercised the same skill in Roam.

Not a long book at four and a half hours, but a neat one. Separate stories soon start to intertwine, as the ‘three strangers’ find their paths are on a collision course. There was the odd moment where I did question the course of action one of the characters took, but those moments were brief and fleeting. None of these three lived ‘normal’ lives, and it is our experiences that make us. And often drive us.

The litmus test for me when I’m reading a novel is do I actually care about what happens to the people? In the case of Roam, the answer was, ‘Oh yes!’.

This was my first Erik Therme novel. I’m sure it won’t be my last.

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