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Archive for the ‘psychological thriller’ Category

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Good Samaritan by John Marrs, not only because I’ve enjoyed a lot of his books, but because I am joining some of the best book reviewers and bloggers on this tour, especially my tour buddy Sharon Bairden who blogs over at Chapterinmylife she’s also my go to person when I need recommendations for Scottish Crime Fiction – seriously, head over there and check out her blog if you’ve not done so already…but perhaps after you’ve read my review.

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** My thanks to Tracy Fenton and Thomas & Mercer for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

She’s a friendly voice on the phone. But can you trust her?

The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.

Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.

But now someone’s on to her—Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?

The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to…

Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.

My Thoughts & Review:

After I read and enjoyed The One by John Marrs earlier this year I was delighted to hear that he had written another book and was ecstatic to be offered an early copy to read for the blog tour (the perks of being a complete book nerd!).
I do love the creeping unease that builds throughout John’s books, there’s a danger that lurks just out of sight in the narrative that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know that it’s coming and you know that it will catch you completely unawares but you can’t help but devour the book waiting for it to jump out at you.

In The Good Samaritan we meet Laura who is the epitome of the perfect character written by John Marrs, you can’t quite work her out.  To others, she seems perfect.  She’s caring, helpful, bakes cakes to bring into her co-workers, offers to sew clothing that’s lost a button or needs hemming, and on top of all of this, she has survived cancer so she stands out as someone who is noticeable.  But underneath it all, there’s something sinister about her, she gets a kick out of helping people end their lives and working in  a call centre where suicidal people call is the perfect setting for her to cherry pick her victims.

With some impressive plotting, readers are taken on a journey through Laura’s twisted and fiendishly devious mind as she recounts moments from her past that shock and alarm at times, she’s tortured by her earlier life and wants to escape the memories by helping others who truly want to die.  And I admit, I did feel incredibly saddened for her at times, but like a yo-yo my sympathies lessened when I learned more about her, she seemed ruthless and cruel, before sneakily John Marrs changed tact and had me feeling empathy towards her again.  This is offset perfectly with the character of Ryan.  Where Laura evokes horror and shock, Ryan elicits emotions of sadness, pity and sympathy, but as the plot moves on at a rate of knots the emotions switch around as each of the lead characters assume the position of power.

The way that the story hooks readers in is absolutely key, and for those out there who love an unreliable narrator then you’re in for a treat with The Good Samaritan.  There are moments where you think you can preempt where the plot is heading only for John Marrs to swiftly pull the carpet from underneath you and leave you reeling.  The plot twists are clever and downright brilliant in places.
This is the sort of book that you can’t read whilst cooking supper or you may well end up cremating it all, or end up reading into the wee hours of the morning because you’ve been so wrapped in what happens.  And if you do manage to put the book down, you may well find that it plays out in your head, taunting you to get back to reading, making you wonder what might happen next, or make you ask what you might do in that situation.

A gripping thriller that really gets into your head!

You can buy a copy of The Good Samaritan via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

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** My thanks to Ann Girdharry for my copy of London Noir and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Memory loss, nightmares, the urge to kill – Sophie has it all. Is it really post-traumatic stress disorder? Or something more sinister? Kal is about to find out…

After a near-fatal road accident, Kal helps Sophie, a young girl in trouble. The girl’s friends are being murdered one by one. Why? And who by? Kal must kick start herself out of her downward spiral to save the young stranger. But Kal is in the grip of the London Cartel and is someone stalking the girl, or is the girl stalking someone?

My Thoughts & Review:

Can you remember a book you read last August?  I can, it was Good Girl Bad Girl.  This was the prequel to London Noir which features Kal Medi, a photo journalist turned sleuth as she tried to track down her mother who had gone missing.  For the full picture I would recommend reading the books in order, and it gives a great insight into Kal as a character.

I want to avoid speaking about the plot too much, the usual fear of spoilers and giving anything too juicy away but I will say that this book features one of the most chilling serial killers I’ve read about in a long time.  Girdharry paints a stunning picture of a killer who can charm and beguile, is clever but also can kill without remorse.  The narration from the perspective of the killer is absolutely chilling and really had me creeped out at times.
Kal has also changed between the books, perhaps the events from the previous book have taken their toll on her, but she comes across as less sure of herself, she’s wounded from fights and has witnessed things that have left scars mentally.  This in turn makes her a little easier for readers to connect with, almost as if it takes her being vulnerable so that readers can empathise with her.  In spite of all of this, she has lost none of her intelligence and inquisitive mind, which makes for fascinating and enjoyable reading.

The author’s knowledge and experience in the field of psychology shines through in her writing, the details given on the topics of post traumatic stress disorder and the psychopath give this a credibility as well as being interesting reading. Ann Girdharry knows how to write a fast paced thriller with plenty of action that has readers racing through the chapters, and she has certainly pulled out all the stops with London Noir. 

A side note, some readers of a nervous disposition might feel a wee bit uncomfortable with the descriptions of some of the injuries suffered by the victims in this book, they’re not overly graphic but I reckon it’s only fair to let you have a heads up.

An excellent follow up to Good Girl Bad Girl and I look forward to seeing what Ann writes next!

You can buy copy of London Noir via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Ann Girdharry is a British crime suspense thriller author.

A trained psychotherapist, she worked for many years as a manager in the not-for-profit sector, for agencies working with carers, vulnerable older people, survivors of abuse, and victims of racial attacks.

She currently lives in Montpellier, France with her husband and two children.

Her debut novel, GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL, is an ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD Finalist 2017.

Her second crime suspense thriller, LONDON NOIR, will be published October 2017.

 

Links

Website www.girdharry.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AnnGirdharry

Goodreads www.goodreads.com/AnnGirdharry

Twitter www.twitter.com/GirdharryAnn

 

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** My thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read a copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Can you really tell the difference between madness and sanity?
Mark Randall goes to great lengths to get himself admitted to an acute psychiatric ward and, despite being mute, convinces professionals that he is psychotic. But who is he and why is he so keen to spend time in a psychiatric hospital?
When Mark is admitted, silent and naked, the staff are suspicious about his motives.
Dealing with this, as well as the patients on the ward, Mark’s troubles really begin once he is Sectioned under the Mental Health Act. When decisions about his future are handed to Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Giles Sharman, Mark’s life is about to go from bad to worse.
Drugged, abused and in danger, Mark looks for a way out of this nightmare. But he’s about to learn, proving that you are sane might not be easy as it seems…

My Thoughts & Review:

When you read a description like the one for A Justifiable Madness you can’t help but be intrigued.  What on earth is going on in this book?  Why would you want to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital voluntarily with no need to be there?!  The minute I saw this I just knew I had to get reading immediately!

Mark Randall is a very strange character, who from the outset seems to be a little (ok big bit) odd, his actions and public nudity get him arrested and committed to a psychiatric ward in hospital, but all the while readers are aware of something else, something under the surface that’s so cleverly just out of reach that they can’t quite reach it.  Whilst the narration from Mark clearly makes him appear fully compos mentis and self aware, he is doing his damnedest to ensure that the staff on the ward believe he is mentally ill and in need of treatment.
Astutely, the author includes narration from other perspectives in this book to increase the tension and intrigue.  The two nurses on duty when Mark is admitted to the unit are wonderfully bright and interesting characters, and it is from the viewpoint of one of these nurses that we “see” Mark.  Monica gives a great insight into the care and treatment of the patients in the unit and there were a few moments that I found were quite eye opening to read about.

Without saying too much about the plot, I will say there is a creeping unease throughout the storyline, and as a reader you are aware that danger lurks ahead.  You can almost feel something isn’t right and that things could well go wrong for Mark but at the same time you can’t put the book down.  You want to know what happens and the way that this is written is superb at hooking you in and holding your attention.

A fantastically gripping read that I struggled to put down!

You can buy a copy of A Justifiable Madness via:

Amazon

 

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I am so excited to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for “99 Red Balloons” by Elisabeth Carpenter (stop singing the 1980s pop song by Nena!) and share an extract from this gripping thriller!

Description:

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Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

This is a gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist that will take your breath away.

You can buy a copy of “99 Red Balloons” via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository


Extract: Chapter 20 p.105-107

The bingo restarts, but I still can’t concentrate. Without saying, Jim has taken over my next card. I look at him from the corner of my eye. He never was a looker, bless him, but he looks better now he’s older. What’s it they say about growing into your face? It must be the case with Jim. I think about what’s happened over the last couple of days and I don’t know what I’d have done without him.

‘Come on then, let’s get your winnings,’ he says.

‘They can’t have played three games already.’

‘They have indeed. You’re away with the fairies. But I don’t blame you. You’ve enough on your plate.’

Jim’s up and ready in seconds. He kept his coat on the whole time we’ve been here. He must have cold bones these days. He stands waiting, patiently. I know I’m being slow, but there’s something about that woman that unnerves me. I’m in no rush to get to her.

He almost drags me there; my feet are so heavy. She watches us while we walk and stands when we reach the table.

‘It’s nice to see you, Maggie.’

She holds out her hand. I’ve never seen her before in my life. Her hair is too dark for her age; she must dye it – there’s not a grey in sight. She’s wearing a velvet blouse in maroon that reminds me of my great-grandmother’s curtains.

‘Do you two know each other?’ asks Jim.

‘I’ve never met you before,’ I say to her.

‘Sorry about that, love,’ Jim says to the stranger. ‘Not one for niceties, isn’t Mags.’

‘That’s okay. Sorry,’ she says. ‘I could’ve sworn we’d met before.’

She sits back down. I look at the table and what I thought were playing cards have strange pictures on them, rimmed with gold.

‘I’ll just get your prize ready.’

She counts out five ten-pound notes and puts them in an envelope. Before she seals it, she puts in what looks like a business card. She looks up. ‘Just in case you need to contact me.’

I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. Why would I need to contact her?

Jim rubs his hands, again. ‘I’m just off to the gents while we wait for the taxi. Won’t be a min.’

I want to follow him, but that would be a little undignified.

‘I’ll wait in reception,’ I say, trying not to look at her.

I only get a few feet away when I feel a hand grab my elbow.

‘Wait, Maggie.’

I turn slowly, knowing it’s her. ‘How do you know my name?’

She glances at the floor, before looking me straight in the eye.

‘I’m sorry,’ she says. ‘My name’s Dee. I remember you from years ago. When your poor granddaughter went missing.’

‘Right.’

I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before, but strangers haven’t approached me for years. I knew they meant well, but it was mortifying, heartbreaking. It was why we hardly went out.

‘I’d better be going,’ I say.

‘Maggie, please wait a minute.’

‘Hang on. Why do you keep calling me Maggie? I was always Margaret in the newspapers.’

She comes closer to me; I step back.

‘I know you probably think I’m insane – I get that a lot. But . . .’ She takes a few breaths and taps her chest. ‘Zoe’s still alive.’

 


I don’t know about you, but that’s got be seriously intrigued and desperate to know what happens next!

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour:

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Published: 10 August 2017

 

Description:

How do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?

There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

My Thoughts & Review:

The concept of this book is very intriguing and one that I was desperate to find out more about after reading such a fascinating blurb.  I did wonder whether I might struggle to get my head round the mono/duo concept, but found I accepted it unquestionably which meant I could get caught up in this deliciously clever thriller.

The idea that people can either remember the day before yesterday, or just yesterday is strangely interesting but at the same time could be fraught with danger.  Depending on how the characters record their thoughts and the events of the day in their diary means their memories may becomes skewed.  Some characters noting that because they perhaps did not keep a full detailed account of one day meant they had grey areas and could not be entirely certain about why something may have happened.  Which in turn made for some wonderful unreliable narration for readers to revel in.

There are characters are difficult to understand, granted when you are only seeing them through the eyes of another character the view is somewhat one sided.  I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of Mark, and as the plot progressed I found I was liking him less and less.  I wanted to try and understand Claire, but because it seemed that she wasn’t sure what memories she could trust or rely on what she had been told it left me feeling some sympathy towards her and wanting to find out what was being hidden and why  .  The very idea that none of the characters could really be relied upon or trusted to tell the truth makes this all the more thrilling to read.  The timescale element to the investigation turns this into a frantic page turner – the detectives trying to solve the case whilst the suspects can still remember the details without having to rely on their diary entries.

A very original plot, with superb writing and one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year, I cannot recommend it highly enough!

My thanks to the good folks at Wildfire Books for the opportunity to read this book.

 

 

 

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Published: 26 January 2017

Description:

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

My Thoughts & Review:

Her Husband’s Lover is a psychological thriller that deserves to be read with your full attention – turn off your mobile, unhook the landline, send everyone out of the house for the day and get comfy because this is a book that once started will draw you in and keep you reading all day.

Without regurgitating the plot, I will say that Crouch sets up the intensely twisting tale with a wonderful opening gambit – a woman frantically fleeing a pursuer, she is desperate, she is scared and is running for the freedom of herself and her children.  An opening like that instantly grabs the attention of the reader and draws then in.
Louisa does escape, but the subsequent crash is devastating for her, it claims the life of her children and the husband she had been fleeing.  And her injuries were so severe that she was comatose and then had to undergo intensive physio and psychotherapies as part of her recovery.  However her recovery is hampered somewhat by the vendetta of Sophie, the girlfriend of her late husband.  Sophie refuses to believe any of the “lies” that Louisa tells at the inquest about Sam, and the ruling that his death was not her fault is the catalyst for a dark and twisted quest for vengeance against Louisa.

Julia Crouch writes with a wonderful ability to get under the skin of her readers, her characters are superb creations that evoke great emotion from the captive audience.  She writes scenes that cause a reader to squirm uncomfortably but all the while they are powerless to put the book down, driven on by the urge to know what happens next.
Cleverly weaving narration by Louisa and Sophie that encompasses the past and the present, Crouch builds tension and suspense effortlessly.  This slow build allows for an incredibly powerful climactic ending that will stay with the reader after finishing.

You can pre-order a copy of My Husband’s Lover here.

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Published: 15 June 2017

Description:

A chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centring on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers…

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My Thoughts & Review:

Never before has a book been so perfectly titled, the writing, the plotting, the characterisation, the setting are all utterly exquisite.  There is a raw intensity in this book that is so thought provoking and continuously challenges the reader.  I absolutely loved this book and devoured it in a day, it’s always a good sign with me when I cannot bear to put a book down.

The plot is so clever and so sinister.  All the time I was reading it I was mindful of the passages from the Women’s Prison in Yorkshire, wondering which of the characters had ended up there, guessing and second guessing after reading the chapters that followed.
I loved the way that the reader is left wondering which of the lead characters is the unreliable narrator, and by giving the reader Bo’s point of view initially,  Stovell has very cleverly set the groundwork for her masterful plan.   The flaws of both characters are laid bare for the reader to judge as they chose.  The juxtaposition of how fate plays out for both of these characters is almost poetic – both are from broken backgrounds, neither has a good relationship with their mother and indeed suffered directly and indirectly by their hands, and the psychology of it is well played out through the development of Bo and Alice.

The way that this leaves a reader feeling so disturbed whilst reading is key, it almost drives the reader on to find out if they are right, to see whether their suspicions are right, and the way in which it builds to the penultimate section, so intense and riveting, if readers can guess what is going to happen next I’d be amazed!  I didn’t see what was coming at all, and I’ve read many thrillers (too many in some cases!) but this caught me well and truly off guard and I absolutely loved it!

The descriptions of settings in this are perfection, having been to the Lakes many times I felt that the writing really conjured some amazing imagery in my head, the way in which Grasmere was described made me feel that I was transported to the village and was craving Grasmere gingerbread.
I have no doubt that this book will feature heavily in the top books of 2017  with many readers, and it absolutely deserves to!  A truly magnificent debut from a promising author, and quite possibly one of the finest thrillers I’ve read this year!
You can buy a copy of “Exquisite” via:
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